Dream destinations - our best-ever breaks, and the holidays we can’t wait to take when lockdown is over
- Credit: Myra Sandifer
Do you dream of jetting off to a distant beach, a wildlife safari or a camping break closer to home? Our readers and staff have been recalling their best-ever breaks, and looking forward to when they can travel again.
Yellowstone National Park is the all-time favourite destination for retired couple Les and Anne Bunyan of Snettisham, who enjoy visiting each year.
Les wrote: “We were due to go next week, but alas, no. We have been spending three weeks there for the past 12 years and spend our time watching and photographing the wildlife. Our hope is things will be back to normal next year.
“We fell in love with Yellowstone about 15 years ago, on a short stay of a couple of days that was part of a longer road trip in the area. We have made it our main holiday each year.
“We have seen all the normal stuff, thermal features like Old Faithful and the like, but our first love is wildlife, and we have met and made friends with several America couples over the years, even staying with some of them!
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“All our wildlife watching is from the roadside, and we have had incredibly close encounters with bears, wolves, bison and most of the other iconic species.
“I have a 500mm lens with me to get many of the shots although at times it’s hardly needed! It is expensive to get and stay there but we can highly recommend it, much better to do it independently rather than a coach trip, having your own hire car means you can stay in one spot for longer.” While Les is a keen photographer, Anne is an artist and enjoys creating portraits.
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Myra Sandifer, who lives near Ipswich, loves travelling, and, as another keen photographer, captures the places she visits on camera. She wrote: “We’ve been to Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico in recent years, which were all lovely.
“Chitchinitsa in Mexico was one of the places ticked off our bucket list.” Also in Mexico, she found Puerto Vallarta a wonderful place to visit, commenting: “Seeing the real Mexico was everything i dreamed of and more (and our honeymoon). And, north of Cancun, there were beaches you dream of visiting.”
Myra added: ““Havana, Cuba, was our first dream holiday to the Caribbean and it didn’t disappoint.”
Beauty of the Adriatic
Terry Revell of Leiston has been on 45 cruises in just 12 years, and is dreaming of when he can go on the next one.
He said: “My favourite now is the Adriatic, Croatia side, with a lot of unspoilt coastlines and great photo shots. Mediterranean ports have, over the last 10 years, become too commercial, but Croatia is a gem for great photo opportunities.
“After 12 years and 45 cruises, this year we will be cruiseless. Also, in that time, we have had a few Spanish land holidays staying with friends who live in Majorca. I think I might get withdrawal symptoms!”
A keen photographer, Terry estimates that he takes about 1,000 photos on each cruise. He is already looking forward to a planned cruise next year which will take in visits to places including Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu and Athens. He said: “We’re going on tour May 2021 - only 361 days to go. Not long, is it?”
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis also loves Dubrovnik. She writes: “I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel every year with some of my close girlfriends. Together we’ve eaten, drunk and trekked our socks off around some of the most beautiful cities in Europe - from Paris and Madrid to Seville and Lisbon.
“Stuck in my mind - probably because it is the most recent - is Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic. Clinging to a rocky outcrop, the labyrinthine city literally sparkles, from the sheen of its paved streets, to the lustrous shimmer over the turquoise waters, which gives the appearance of a veil of silver far out to sea.
“Pure magic, considering just hours before we’d been huddling from the cold outside the grey, wet terminal at Stansted. Highlights included people-watching from our beachfront apartment (it’s amazing what people get up to on boats), long, lazy dinners sampling the local cuisine, cocktails at bars carved into the city walls at sunset, and paddling at dusk off the island of Lokrum.
“We even found a ‘secret’ beach. The mini-break gave us all just a little taster of Croatia - and left us hungry to explore more of that part of the world. When we’re all able to travel again I can’t wait to take my family there. Fingers crossed.”
Honeymoon’s on hold, for now
It’s bad enough having to postpone a holiday, but even worse when it is your honeymoon.
Ben Jolley writes: “We were going to New York and Costa Rica for our honeymoon this August - but because of Covid-19 it’s now pretty unlikely. Just means we’ve got more time to save up for it though!
“In NY we were going to stay in Times Square - in the centre of it all - and were planning to see all the main sites/buildings - Statue of Liberty, Rockerfella Centre, Empire State Building, see a show on Broadway, Brooklyn Bridge - as we’ve not been there before.
“Costa Rica is somewhere we decided on because I love sloths. The country is their natural habitat, so we were going to go on a sloth adventure. We also planned to do the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park.”
Motorbike ride to Paradise
Simon Weir writes: “Last year I took four months for a trip-of-a-lifetime break, riding across America, Australia and New Zealand. The trouble is, there’s a strong desire to make that trip of a lifetime a regular thing and I’m desperate to go back. Maybe not for four months, but I’d love to revisit and explore more of New Zealand - particularly to the South Island.
“Even a week would be good, setting off from Christchurch. I’d hop over Arthur’s Pass to the west coast, going south to the Haas Pass to Wanaka, then over the Crown Ranges to Queenstown and Glenorchy, before returning to Christchurch via Tekapo. Miles of breathtaking scenery, good food, friendly people - a real dream destination.”
“There’s a place called Paradise outside Glenorchy, but don’t be fooled by the name! There’s not much there - though it was used as (I think) Lorien in the first Lord of the Rings film.”
Fish restaurants, villas and hidden beaches
Spanish and Mediterranean resorts are among many people’s top holiday destinations.
Andrew Clarke writes: “My dream holiday was a trip to Menorca in 2002. It was a bit of an adventure because the children were still quite small, and it was our first foreign trip since the children had been born.
“What made it special was the fact that, through a friend of the family, we hired an apartment in a Spanish community called Es Castel, a small town on the outskirts of the old English capital Mahon.
“It was situated over a narrow road down to a slipway which gave access to the estuary that eventually became Mahon harbour, a natural deep-water anchorage. It played host to a bewildering array of cruise liners which paraded past our balcony at a rate of two or three a day. The view over the water was spectacular. We were also within walking distance of the community shops and a town square which had been a former British military parade ground when the British army were stationed here during the Napoleonic wars.
“Menorca is the only other place to have Georgian sash windows on its buildings - at least on this side of the island.
“We hired a small, dreadfully underpowered Fiat to explore the island with. The most hair-raising part of our adventures was driving up an incredibly steep winding road to get to the top of the highest mountain, El Toro, and visit the monastery there. It was first gear all the way and praying we didn’t meet anything coming the other way.
“It was a holiday of eating in fish restaurants, exploring Roman villas with amazing mosaic floors, finding lots of hidden beaches, taking trips around the island by boat, jumping off the deck and swimming in the clear waters of the various coves. It was idyllic. We have been back many times but the first time was something special.”
Danielle Lett wrote: “I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to have had some great holidays before we went into lockdown, but one that sticks out in particular was when I went to Benicassim back in 2016 with one of my best friends. It’s a music festival in Spain, and a couple of days before the festival, my friend and I flew into Barcelona, where we had two days of sunning on the beach, sightseeing and enjoying amazing food and drink before we got the coach down to the festival.
“The next four days were then spent enjoying an incredible lineup of music, and not heading back until the early hours of the morning when the sun would start to come up. And even though I lost my phone in a taxi a few hours before our flight, the memories will always be there (and thankfully backed up on the iCloud!)
“In terms of dream holidays I’m yet to take, Las Vegas has been at the top of my bucket list for years now. With all of the money I’m saving this summer by not going away, it might have to be something I look into for next year...”
Enjoying French sunshine, food... and football
France is another favourite destination for many people from East Anglia.
Katy Sandalls writes: “I visited Nice last summer after recovering from a broken ankle. I’d only handed back my crutches for good days before and was overwhelmed by the freedom going out again brought me.
I was lucky enough to see England take on Scotland in their opening game of the Women’s World Cup. Good food, good company and the beautiful Riviera. What more could I want?”
Judy Rimmer writes: “I have fond memories of visiting the Loire Valley in France on my honeymoon in 1984. We toured an apparently endless succession of chateaux, in breathtakingly beautiful settings.
“We also sampled a wonderful array of French food and wine, going to tastings at several vineyards and tucking into set dinners at our hotels, with such delicacies as pike and guinea fowl on the menu. I do remember, though, that one hotel persisted in serving the ‘delice de Diane’ as the dessert following every meal. This turned to be a piece of tinned peach adorned with a glace cherry and a dollop of Dream Topping!
“We have often vaguely thought of returning to the region since, but, nearly 36 years on, we haven’t done so yet, although we have travelled to other areas of France. I do dream of going back, and taking a few more tours around the amazingly romantic castles and vineyards.”
Dream holidays closer to home
Not all dream holidays have to be long-haul, or even abroad.
Paul Geater writes: “When I was younger I dreamt of doing something really extravagant like visiting New Zealand or crossing Canada by train. But with age the idea of sitting in a metal tube 30,000 feet above the earth for hours on end has become less appealing.
“I don’t remember ever having a real holiday nightmare - and last year’s trip to North Wales with lots of steam railways, castles, and an idyllic day at Portmeirion was truly wonderful. I still hope that we may be able to get away to Whitby in September for a week of visiting the coast, countryside and stately homes in that part of the world (along with a couple of days at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s steam gala) but that does remain rather in the lap of the gods!
“But possibly the holiday I will look back at most fondly over recent years was in 2018. I’d been having a difficult year and spent some time in hospital - but was feeling better at the end of the summer and we managed to book a holiday flat in Cromer for a week.
“I’d been to Cromer on holiday as a child, and it’s always remained one of my favourite places in the world. The weather that week was perfect for late September. We took part in the North Norfolk Railway’s 1940s festival, we visited the seals at Blakeney, we went on a cruise on the Broads and we sat on Cromer Pier in the evening with a cold Aspall before going to see the world’s last true End of the Pier show.
Travelling from Ipswich to Cromer is not the longest journey I’ve ever made to go on holiday - but it was a real dream break!”
And camping in Norfolk is the perfect break for Emma Lee.
She wrote: “As you essentially have to build your accommodation yourself, opinion is divided as to whether camping actually counts as a holiday. But I find a back-to-basics break wonderfully restorative. And living in Norfolk, you only have to travel a few miles and pitch up to feel like you’re really getting away from it all.
“Each summer I look forward to my trip to my favourite campsite on the coast, disconnecting and the pace of life slowing down. And I can’t wait to be there again, when government guidelines allow.”
What are the top ‘bucket list’ destinations for East Anglian travellers?
This year’s holidays might be on hold - but keen travellers are looking far ahead.
Despite not being able to travel at the moment, some are already booking trips to their dream destinations for next year, or even for 2022 for some long-haul holidays and cruises.
Lee Hunt, director of Deben Travel and Cruise Ready, based in Woodbridge, said: “I think people now are wanting to take off their lists those iconic places that they may have been putting off for many years, because of family and work.”
He also said many people were looking to visit family in other parts of the world, like Australia and New Zealand. He thought recent events had made them feel this is something they want to do as soon as possible rather than putting it off.
Lee said the sort of “bucket list” holidays that people were enquiring about include:
Rio de Janeiro - Desire to visit the famous Brazilian city, with its statue of Christ the Redeemer, grew as a result of the 2016 Olympics, and Lee said a recent BBC TV series about Brazil had also created a lot of interest.
The Canadian Rocky Mountaineer - As its name suggests, this famous train travels through the spectacular scenery of the Rocky Mountains.
South Africa - Photographic safaris and visits to game reserves have grown in popularity.
India’s Golden Triangle - Interest in holidays to India has partly grown as a result of TV shows such as The Real Marigold Hotel.
Cruises to Norway and the Northern Lights, and also Alaska - Many people are looking to book more unusual cruises to the sorts of places they might never see otherwise.
Understandably, people may feel nervous about booking holidays ahead at the moment, but Lee said that you can have confidence by booking through a reputable company and checking you have the relevant ATOL and ABTA protection.