‘May you all find a marvellous adventure’ is the key motto of My Travel Monkey. And it’s a phrase I stand by – not just for myself and my family, but for all my readers who want to be inspired to travel and get out and explore.
To me, adventures come in all shapes and sizes. That’s the brilliant aspect of an adventure. From the unusual and exciting, to a one-off experience that has never been encountered before, it doesn’t have to be in an exotic destination, or an adrenaline-fuelled activity. Adventures can be stepping out of your comfort zone, or exploring somewhere for the first time. For me, though, it’s sharing wonderful moments with loved ones and having it etched for ever in the recesses of our minds.
Before Monkey, I was lucky enough to have lots and lots of exciting adventures. From watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu, scuba diving in the Maldives, walking on the Great Wall of China, sleeping in the Australian bush to trekking the Himalayas and sailing down the Nile – it’s easy to plan these exciting expeditions when you only have to think of yourself.
But having a child doesn’t mean the adventure has to stop. Since our boy was born, my husband and I have made a point of trying to carry on as normal. In fact, we’ve probably had more mini-adventures because of him. It’s deeply rooted in us all, and we’re proud that we have a little explorer in our midst.
Here are some highlights of our most recent adventures – long may they continue…
Admiring the shimmering night sky in sub-zero temperatures just to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. It was so surreal to view this natural phenomenon not once but twice – while Monkey was making snow angels.
Dipping our toes and sinking into the world’s most famous geothermal pool – the Blue Lagoon as well as discovering a hidden gem, Gamla Laugin – a hot bath in the middle of the Icelandic countryside.
Venturing into the unknown… After picking up a hire car in Reykyavik, we headed on the famous Icelandic ring road to discover all sorts of wonderful, natural spectacles from steaming geysers and magnificent waterfalls to black volcanic beaches with nesting puffins. Every single day proved to be a big adventure in Iceland.
Eating our way through countless pintxos bars in the Catalonian old town of San Sebastián in Northern Spain. It didn’t matter we had a four-year old with us – the locals didn’t bat an eyelid. Monkey’s favourites? Beef cheeks and octopus.
Navigating the streets of Thailand in a tuk-tuk. Monkey adored the ride on countless occasions as we weaved in and out of traffic, people jostling in the markets, and zipping along the main roads at some speed! It became a daily must for our little man.
Taking a bike ride through the coastal gems of Hua Hin in Thailand. Starting from Kao Kalak beach, we braved the heat to sample fishing life, temples and our last stop, a spectacular watch tower in one of Thailand’s largest mangrove forests.
Undertaking the winding, cobbled streets of Siena in Italy. Finding hidden nooks and crannies, street art, shops and ice-cream parlours. We loved playing a family game: ‘Can we make our way back to the square without a map?’ And we did!
Running down the gangplank with excitement as we boarded a whale watching ship. Not only did we get to sail around and take in the beautiful scenery of southern Faxaflóiback, our patience was rewarded when we followed a pod of white beaked dolphins and caught a glimpse of a Minke whale.
Exploring the back roads of Burgundy in France, and getting to experience living history through fairytale castles, cathedrals and villages. Tasting fine wines in Chablis and going deep underground to the crypts, made even more exciting when Monkey touched a fossil dating back millions of years…