My unforgettable Travel Moments
COVID-19 is yet raging in Germany and most parts of the world. My last trip dates back to June. Since then, I have kept myself busy with fitness and yoga at home, SEO online training, reading, chilling, and … remembering some of my most memorable travel moments. So I thought to summarize them in an article. Those moments during my travel made me feel delighted. Not an easy task if I consider the past almost 40 years (and over 50 countries), but I have challenged my old brain, and here we go. I tell you about the best vistas in cities, exotic animals, the world's tallest buildings, and much more. My apologies for the poor quality of some images from the 80s, light-years before smartphones' invention. So here we go!
The Golden Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand
My first trip to Asia in 1981! I was working for TUI and spent two weeks in Thailand for a vacation. Apart from the exciting nightlife, I was enthused by all the temples in Bangkok. I still remember my feelings when I saw the golden Buddha at Wat Trimitr in Bangkok's Chinatown. This 5.5-tonne statue of a seated Buddha dates back to the 13th century and measures nearly 5 meters in height. Watching this masterpiece was one of my most precious moments in Bangkok.
Flight from Colombo to Kathmandu, Nepal
I spent my second vacation with TUI in a beach resort on the island of Sri Lanka. Since a colleague was working in Nepal in those days, I decided to visit her. I bought a ticket from Colombo to Kathmandu for almost 1,000 USD. When I was flying over the gracious Himalaya and seafood was served on the plane (oh well, those were the days), I forgot about the ticket's cost. The view was breathtaking, and I still remember it as if it was yesterday. Memorable moments in Kathmandu? Many. The most impressive was undoubtedly a funeral. A crowd took the body, wrapped in a white shroud, to a river where the dead person was dived in holy water and burnt. Oh my gosh!
Encounter with a GREEN Mamba, Kenya
I worked in this beautiful country for almost a year, escorting safaris. The memorable moments (good and bad ones) are countless (you may wish to read the full article about my stay), but an exceptional encounter was probably the most remarkable one. During the round trip through Tsavo National Park, we arrived at Mzima springs, a great spot to watch hippopotamus. It was possible (not allowed) to leave the bus to walk a little path up to the springs, the bathtub of those giant animals. With ten people behind me, a green mamba (deadly poisonous) crossed our way. Luckily, most snakes are as afraid of human beings as we are of them, so the reptile disappeared quickly into the bush. I only told my guests about this when we were safely back on the bus- you should have seen their faces.
Sunset in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the 80s and 90s, I traveled a few times to Brazil, including for very personal reasons. I never missed out Rio de Janeiro since I fell in love with that contradictory city from the beginning. As a result, I have many memorable moments. Going up to the Sugarloaf and the Corcovado with breathtaking vistas are indeed part of those memories. However, I will never forget the sunset when leaving a club in Botafogo at dawn. The sky around the bay was blazingly red. Stunning sceneries with all the mountains and the sea in the front. Yes, Rio de Janeiro might be the most beautiful city in the world for its landscapes. Too bad there is so much misery at the same time.
Snakes in Sri Lanka
When working for another tour operator in the 80s and 90s, I went to many destinations to contract hotels. One of them was Sri Lanka, the exotic island in the Indian Ocean. One day our agency kindly arranged an excursion with a private driver (oh yes, I was spoilt) who drove me to the island's most exciting sites. Shortly before arriving in Kandy, the country's holy city, I spotted two snakes in a marsh and asked the driver to stop. Luckily, I had a big camera with me. I got out of the car and cautiously approached the snakes, who were busy with a mating dance. They did not notice me (obviously, they were much in love with each other), so I could quietly take my photos. The driver who was watching the scene almost went mad. However, he admitted that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get such type of images.
Stingray in the Maldives
From Sri Lanka, I usually went to the Maldives to sign contracts with hotels in that stunning island world. In those days, the hotels were not as luxurious as today, and the capital city Malé was just a bigger village. I traveled from island to island by speed boat and in one instance also by plane to the Ari Atoll, which was developed for international tourism. I thought I had a very cool job in those days. What was a memorable moment other than the local travel? The sighting of a stingray from the terrace of my hotel room in a cabin built on stilts. Too bad, I did not have a camera with me that morning.
Penguins, sea lions, and a blue whale in Patagonia, Argentina
During my trips to Brazil, I also visited neighboring countries such as Argentina. Buenos Aires was already a beautiful city in those days, with lilac jacaranda blooming all over the place. I went on an excursion to Patagonia, which looked like the end of the world. However, it is a paradise for animals. For the first time in my life, I saw penguins in their natural habitat. The lonely coast was full of relaxing (and stinking) sea lions, no human being apart from a driver, a guide, and a couple that traveled with me. The absolute highlight was the spotting of a giant blue whale, the world's largest mammal. And guess what – we could see that impressive creature from the beach without having to jump on a boat. Incredible and unforgettable!
Boat trip on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Another excursion from Rio de Janeiro took me to Bolivia, one of the world's poorest countries. I remember getting breathless in the streets of La Paz – no wonder since this capital city is on 4,200 meters and you should avoid walking too fast. My most memorable moment was a boat tour on the mysterious Lake Titicaca, 3,800 meters above sea level. From the boat, I could see the borders of the neighboring country Peru.
Wadi Rum close to Petra, Jordan
A business trip to Egypt, Israel, and Jordan was a unique experience. In those days, the borders between Israel and neighboring Jordan were closed. To travel from Eilat to Akaba (both cities located on the Red Sea, just a few kilometers apart), you had to go to Egypt and take a (very dirty ferry from Nuweiba to Jordan. Israel and Jordan were enemies in the late 80s, so I traveled with two different passports. At each border crossing, I made sure to use the "right" passport. When arriving in Aqaba, I almost ended in prison since the officer saw a stamp of Taba where I had crossed the Israeli-Egyptian border. After a discussion with the customs officer, I managed to get out of the building. The following trip made up for this little inadvertent adventure. I stayed a night in Petra, the historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan, with its sites dating back to the 4th century BC. It was already a rather popular tourist attraction with bedouins trying to sell camel safaris in those days. I walked through the gorge, and after just a few minutes, I was in a stone desert, the Wadi Rum. I never forget that moment. No people, only a few birds were circling above me. Rocks as far as you could look, no noise. Strangely enough, I thought this would be a great place to die. Please don't ask me how I got to this thought, but I often remembered it.
The Beaches of Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica
In the early 90s, I went to Costa Rica to travel around the country on my own. Costa Rica is a paradise for nature lovers, with volcanoes, coffee plantations, rain forests, and beautiful beaches. I saw crocodiles resting on the banks of a river. A giant spider was sitting in a net just in front of my window in a resort. I never opened that window for obvious reasons. My highlight was an excursion to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast, a pretty empty beach resort in those days. I felt like Robinson Crusoe as the only person on the beach, just visited by iguanas from time to time. When seeing this scenery for the first time, it was one of my most memorable beach moments.
View from the Twin Towers in New York, USA
Years later – I was already working for Destination Canada – I went to New York after business meetings in Toronto. What a difference compared to Canada! Everything was hectic, noisy, people often shouting at me. However, I truly enjoyed my stay with gorgeous weather in October. In 1998, the Twin Towers were still standing, so needless to say that I went up to the roof (I still have the entrance ticket). In those days, the World Trade Center was the tallest building in the US with 526 meters (including the antenna). The view of Manhattan and the historic Empire State Building was merely breathtaking. It is still heartbreaking to remember what happened only three years later.
Flightseeing in the Yukon, Canada
During my longtime work for Destination Canada, I traveled almost 100 times to the world's second-largest country, sometimes only in and out for a meeting. Luckily, I also took the opportunity to explore the country, either on my own or on organized tours. One of them was a trip to the Yukon in 2014. Yukon Tourism had organized a flightseeing trip over Kluane National Park. A small plane took us over the glaciers close to Alaska with views of Mount Logan, Canada's highest mountain with 5,959 meters. Deserted snow-capped landscapes with lakes, wild goats here and there, and majestic mountains. Such an excursion makes you feel so small and humble, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After landing, the Yukon Tourism representative did a little interview with me when we jumped out of the plane. Frankly, I had tears in my eyes when I spoke about what I had just seen. You will find the full story on my blog post about the Yukon.
Yoga on the Beach of Tofino, Canada
The first I came to Tofino on Vancouver Island, my first thought was, "Oh, I could live here." Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, rainforests, and a lovely little village that is very popular among surfers. The outdoor activities are endless – from walks through the rainforests, whale watching, surfing, walking on the beach, or practicing yoga! Ah – and one of my favorite resorts in Canada is right here, the luxurious Wickanninish Inn.
Café del Mar in Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena is one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America, a UNESCO Heritage Site. I loved to stroll through the little alleys with all the colorful houses and churches. The highlight of my day was a sundowner at Café del Mar, high above the city with cool music, lovely people, and a fantastic view.
View from the Willis Tower in Chicago
Yes, Chicago! I love that city, even in winter. The most magical moment was a visit to the Willis Tower (although many people had the same idea). An elevator brings you to the 103rd floor at an elevation of 412.4 meters, where you can enter a glass balcony and get your very instagrammable photo taken.
Sunset over the Dead Sea, Jordan
In 2014, I returned to Jordan, where I spent a few days in Amman and on the Dead Sea. The sunset with a view of Jerusalem's mountains in the background was one of the most spectaculars in my life.
Skyline of Doha at night
In 2011, I spent New Year's Eve on a plane to Doha, the capital city of Katar. I arrived at 2 am and took a cab to my hotel. When approaching downtown, the scenery was magic – the Indian Ocean in front and futuristic skyscrapers in the background. Priceless for someone who is into modern architecture.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai
Dubai – love it or hate it. I have to admit that I like this crazy city built in the desert. I remember the first moment when I saw the Burj Khalifa, currently the world's tallest building with 828 meters. Who could not be impressed? The evening light shows are spectacular although there are too many people around.
Hammam in Istanbul
In 2016, I spent New Year's Eve in Istanbul. I remember the breathtaking vistas of the Bosphorus and the busy atmosphere in the old town. However, my most memorable moment was visiting the city's most beautiful hammam (Turkish bathhouse) with a full treatment. It is nothing to compare with the usual spas we enjoy. Wellness at its best. Read the full article here.
A swim in Monemvasia, Greece
Who does not love to swim in the sea? I can't get enough of that. One of my unforgettable beach moments was in Monemvasia, during a visit to the stunning Kinsterna Hotel. In October, Monemvasia was almost empty. I went to a beach close to the little town. There was just a lady with her dog, no one else. I was the only person swimming in the yet warm Aegean Sea with breathtaking views of Monemvasia's famous rock – heaven on earth.
Sunset in Sidi Bou Said
I have been to Tunisia many times, and I even worked there a long time ago. I visited the country's most beautiful village three times – and every time I was raving about Sidi Bou Said. What makes this place so unique? The location on a cliff above the Mediterranean Sea, the houses in white and blue, and the magic sunsets (best to see from Café des Délices). Read the full article.
Return to Palma de Mallorca after 37 years
I started my tourism career on the Spanish island of Mallorca a long time ago. In 2017, I returned to Palma de Mallorca and fell again in love with this exciting city. The visit to the impressive cathedral, the city's landmark, brought back many memories.
Drive to Corralejo, Fuerteventura
My trips to the Canary Islands, both for business and leisure, are countless. As a result, there are many unforgettable moments. Among them is a hike up to the Teide, Spain's highest mountain with 3,718 m, the magic sunsets in the South of Gran Canaria, the Montañas del Fuego ("Fire Mountains"- volcanoes) in Lanzarote, and so on. However, I always had that feeling of total happiness when I drove from Fuerteventura airport to Corralejo, always next to the Atlantic Ocean and spectacular views of the neighboring islands. That was always a very special moment for me, pure happiness.
Palácio Belmonte in Lisbon, Portugal
I have been to many luxury hotels. Many of them are unique (link). However, this bespoke guest palace on a hill in Alfama, Lisbon's historic neighborhood, is not an accommodation; it is an experience. Over 500 years old and with only 11 guest suites (all of them are different), Palácio Belmonte is full of culture and history. The views of Lisbon and the Tagus River are second to none. Highlight: a wonderful breakfast served on the terrace of your suite.
Climbing a mountain on the island of Lobos
Oh yes, the Canary Islands are in my heart! When visiting Corralejo in the North of Fuerteventura, I suggest booking an excursion to the uninhabited neighboring island of Lobos. The hikes on this little island are second to none. Climb the Montaña la Caldera (127 meters), sit down, and enjoy the breathtaking views of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
The Onsen at the Kranzbach, Germany
In January 2019, I spent a few days at the stunning Kranzbach Hotel in the German Alps. It had snowed a lot for days, but it was a bit foggy. I took an outdoor bath in the onsen, a Japanese pool with a high temperature, when suddenly the sky cleared up, and you could see the giant Alps, including the Zugspitze, Germany's tallest mountain with 2,966 meters.
Coffee at the most South-Western point in Cornwall, UK
I went twice to Cornwall in the UK, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Breathtaking beaches and landscapes, historic villages and lots of nature. Out of the many memorable moments, I remember having a fantastic espresso at the Wavecrest Café on Europe's most South-Western point with a breathtaking view. That moment could have lasted forever!
Hike through the Swiss Alps in Engelberg
In August 2019, I visited the charming resort Engelberg in the Swiss Alps. I went on a hike by myself to spend the night in a remote cabin. The scenery on my walk was breathtaking – hardly any people and just nature. Suddenly, I heard a loud whistle and spotted a groundhog standing on a rock. It disappeared before I could get out my camera. Even without a photo, I will never forget this wonderful moment.
Sunset on the island of Santorini
Greece has over 3,000 islands, and most of them are spectacular. I have visited Crete, Mykonos, Patmos, and Spetses, which are all worth visiting. However, the most impressive was Santorini, the mystical island on the rim of a massive volcano. When we arrived in the little town, the sun was going down, and street musicians played on a singing bowl, a magic moment.
Chilling at the Purobeach Clubs in Spain and Portugal
I am a big fan of design, cool music, and beaches. Over the past few years, I have visited two Purobeach Clubs in Mallorca and at the stunning Portuguese Algarve. I remember our photo shooting in Vilamoura/Portugal in April – hardly any people, the calm Atlantic Ocean, and the soft music coming from the beach club. No better way to relax!
Wine Tasting in Lugano, Switzerland
Probably the most scenic wine tasting I ever had - on a glorious day in Lugano/Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. I tasted excellent wines "al fresco" at the wonderful Fattoria Moncuchetto, high above the breathtaking landscapes of this fantastic part of Switzerland.