Where to travel next?
The greatest fear for most world travellers must be the feeling that I’m experiencing right now; of falling behind the game, not being among the first few to discover the next new cool destination, missing out on an emerging destination until you read about it in a travel magazine, by which time, if you’re anything like me, there seems little point in visiting, as half the travelling community would have been, seen and documented the place.
It’s human nature to want to be first to experience something, or at least it’s certainly my nature, when it comes to travel. I say, ‘first’ but how do we measure ourselves? Personally, it’s a reflection of a combination of people around me: friends, family and social circle as well as travellers – those who do it for passion or for work and who I’d expect would be in the know. Not forgetting a huge element of any travel; finance.
I was definitely up there with the first few to holiday in certain Middle Eastern places such as Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Reading the latest Abercrombie & Kent brochure, I have most definitely missed the boat on places such as Patagonia, Argentina, Japan, Bhutan, Burma…. Aaa argh!!!!! The frustration is immense but it is just impossible to expend the time and money to go everywhere.
I’ve just returned from a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to North India. The first 2.5 weeks were spent travelling on a reasonable budget, staying in Indian classification 3 and 4* hotels. The following 3.5 weeks were in the ultimate luxury. Had I only tried the first segment, I’d have never wanted to return to North India. We were ripped off by the travel agent, got the worst service possible, spent the time win a driver who didnt know his way anywhere resulting in us being horrifically lost in the Himalayas. His minimal driving ‘skills’ meant we got a puncture, but he hadn’t replaced his spare tyre which had been punctured, leaving us in the midst of the terrifying mountains for 3 hours as he searched for help, and basically left me panicking to the point I’d lost hope of seeing my loved ones ever again.
The contrast that was to ensue was mind-boggling. I stayed in the Taj Palace hotels, some of the world’s most iconic hotels, which are the equivalent of Buckingham Palace, in which the Royal family still reside, but a tiny portion of which have been converted into super-luxury hotels. For someone who’s had their fair share of super-duper luxury holidays, the hospitality bowled me over.
At each of the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur’s blue city, the floating Lake Palace in the midst of Lake Pichola in serene Udaipur, the pink city, Jaipur’s Rambagh Palace, an oasis of acres of calm in the chaotic and bustlin madness of Varanasi at Nadesar Palace and the impressive Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, I was actually made to feel like a true Princess. The main difference is it was all seemingly genuine and heartfelt. I was utterly spolit, being fed Royal dishes and eating out of solid gold crockery in lavish royal grand ballrooms, staying in the royal, grand royal, Maharani and Presidential suites 5 times the size of my flat in London, being waited on by a personal butler at each, for whom nothing was impossible nor would take long to achieve. It was surreal!
Amongst all my luxury holidays, this flies straight into my No 1 spot for incredible hospitality. And I just did not expect that of this part of the world!
Had I experienced either portion of the trip alone, i’d have returned with an extremely skewed perception of India. But having seen both, they truly reflect the dichotomy that is the sub-continent… The wealthy middle and upper classes live a life of luxury unimaginable to most British counterparts. But the working classes and labourers struggle to fund the basic necessities of life and live hand to mouth. There are no regualar nationwide benefits, help or basic provision for those who can’t work, somehow they have to if they’re to feed themselves and their families and provide some sort of roof over their heads, be it if only for that night.
Speaking of money, for someone who travels purely for the love of it, I cannot justify spending anymore right now on another lavish trip. But my birthday is fast-approaching and it’s tradition to head somewhere spectacular. Having just done spectacular, it will need to be somewhere reasonable.
My travel partner thinks Marrakech, Venice or The Amalfi coast. I’ve been to the first two and I have a policy not to visit anywhere twice, as it seems a waste when the are so many places I haven’t explored in the world. I was thinking Jordan or Beirut, as we’ll only have around 4-5 days. I’d love to do both, ideally Jordan and Syria, but he refuses after our Bahrain experience in the conflicts. Or perhaps Tel Aviv in Israel, which seems steeped in history and culture. But these places are all rather expensive for just a few days. Did someone mention the word, ‘compromise?’
- Top Five Most Expensive Hotels in India (articles4friends.com)
- Paradise On The Lake (thedailybeast.com)
- Rajasthan: A family adventure in India (independent.co.uk)
- The Road to Romance Begins With Abercrombie & Kent’s New Romance Travel Concierge (prweb.com)
- Diamond Jubilee Weekend: a guide to the 2nd-5th June celebrations (itv.com)