AT the end of our first year of travel, we posted a blog about our favourite spots - places, restaurants, beaches, parks and hotels, locations we’ve travelled to (including before our journey began) and have no trouble recommending. Now that over three years have passed since we started our adventure, we thought it would be a good time for an update.
1. Vancouver, Canada: This city on North America's west coast offers a bit of everything. It ticked a lot of boxes for us. Nearby there's snow and beach for starters. There's an excellent public transport system, a fantastic range of organic/healthy produce, lots to do and see socially, the people are friendly, there's a large alternative schooling community, it's relatively safe and, for Canada, the weather is on the mild side. The only downside was the cost of property and renting. Otherwise, we really loved it - a lot!
2. Napier, New Zealand: Known as the 'Art Deco Capital of the World', this town on the north island is incredibly pretty. There's ocean, stunning surrounding mountains, hiking trails, wonderful rivers, clean parks, loads to do and see, little, if any, traffic, clean air and not lacking anything that we'd want in a big city.
3. Kukljica, Croatia: This little village on the island of Ugljan, across the water by ferry from Zadar, is a magical place for us. It's where I spent much of my childhood during the hot summer months. The Adriatic Sea is gorgeously salty and blue. The village has charm and lots of beautiful, though mostly rocky, bathing spots. It's wonderful during the hot season, but can be harshly cold in the winter.
4. Edinburgh, Scotland: Nice for walking, plenty to see, close to the coast, variety of restaurants, compact.
2. Whale’s Tail, Costa Rica: Set in a National Park, with impressive caves you can walk through, great sand and warm seas
3. Los Frailes, Ecuador: Clear water, secluded, perfect waves, clean sand, sea temperature consistently good. All it’s missing is some shelter from the scorching sun and somewhere for refreshments (make sure you bring your own!)
4. Englishman’s Bay, Tobago: Long, intimate stretch of beautiful sandy beach with palm trees and clear green water, just where you’d imagine Robinson Crusoe making his base. There’s a shop and café on site also (not built by Crusoe, by the way).
5. Piracanga, Bahia, Brazil: We stayed here for more than 10 months in 2011. We lived practically on the doorstep of miles of vacant sandy beach. The ocean here, while often quite strong, was nearly always the perfect temperature and the sand ideal although we did have to lookout for troublesome little flees. www.piracanga.com
1. Napfenyes Etterem, Budapest: So good we ate there every day on our short stay, sometimes twice in a day. Great menu, nice staff. Almost too many delightful dishes, making our choice so much tougher (hence the reason we kept coming back) Rózsa u 39, District VII, Budapest 1077 +36-1-3135555. http://www.napfenyesetterem.hu/
2. Pure Food & Wine, Manhattan, New York: Somewhat pricey, but worth it, if only for the scrumptious desserts. Formal vegan restaurant with raw options. Jamie can't wait to get back there. www.oneluckyduck.com 54 Irving Place New York, NY 10003-2314 Tel: (212) 477-1010
3. Terra, Lisbon, Portugal: Fabulous buffet spread when we visited over seven years ago. Food is fresh and the ginger juice, though laced with sugar, so refreshing. www.restauranteterra.pt Príncipe Real, Rua da Palmeira 15, 1200-311 LISBOA, Portugal Tel: 213 421 407
4. Tiestos, Cuenca, Ecuador: Delicious food delivered in a large tagine (tiesto). The chef can make almost whatever you like and uses his ingredients so perfectly. A hit every time. Juan Jaramillo 7-34, City Centre, Cuenca, Ecuador
5. Buenos Aires Verde, Buenos Aires, Argentina: Outstanding organic vegetarian nosh, always beautifully presented, fresh and nutritious. Plenty of vegan and raw vegan options. Lovely setting, relaxed atmosphere and genuine staff. There is a menu in English. Try the salads, pizza, deserts and smoothies. Reasonably priced as well, especially when compared to most organic raw food/vegetarian restaurants. Gorriti 5657, Buenos Aires. http://www.bsasverde.com/index_en.html. Open Monday-Saturday 9am-0.30am.
1. KL City Park, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Bang on the doorstep of the Petronas Towers and an enormous shopping centre is a large fountain which backs on to a great park. Whether it's jogging, walking, kids play or splashing in water, this park has it all. It's where I infamously smashed up my shins doing box jumps on marble columns (I slipped!) We spent countless hours there with our kids in the second-to-none children's play area.
2. El Retiro, Madrid, Spain: Outstanding and in the city centre (near Retiro subway). Has many jogging paths and exercise areas as well as a lake with boats, cycle routes and quieter, shaded areas to sit.
3. Munich Olympic Park, Germany: By the former Olympic stadium, these manicured grounds near the centre of the city were used for the 1972 Games. The park has a lake and river and is perfect for running, cycling, rollerblading or just strolling.
5. Bosques de Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina: We stayed just a few blocks from this park. I went running there a lot (it can get busy) and Zenchai and I hired bicycles. We also went there for days out in the sun, just to play about on the grass. It's a huge park with beautiful gardens and monuments as well as a lake in the middle where you can rent paddleboats to calmly take in the scenery and relax.
1. Iguazu Falls, Argentina: Truly breathtaking, immense natural wonder on the Brazilian and Argentine border. Well worth the ridiculously long bus journey from Buenos Aires and wait for the lashing rain to subside.
2. Milford Sounds, New Zealand: Spectacular scenery on the South Island, visions I can't imagine you'd find anywhere else all in one place - mountains, lakes, hills...every corner turned delivered something special.
3. Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia: Down Under's answer to the Grand Canyon. Impressive views, walks and cable rides.
4. El Zapato/Cajon Dam, Capilla Del Monte, Argentina: This site took us by surprise. We were on a walk, looking for the dam and stumbled upon an immense mountainscape that looked like something from 'The Land Of The Giants'.
5. Superclassico Football - River Plate v Boca Juniors: A truly memorable occasion for any footy fan - the biggest rivalry in the Argentine league. Whether it's at the River Plate Stadium, where the 1978 World Cup final took place, or Boca's smaller, but more cauldron-like ground, this is an unmissable fixture, more so for the bristling atmosphere than the football.
1. Villa de las Aves, Uvita, Costa Rica: Fabulous two-floor house-type buildings with private jacuzzi, kitchens and a communal pool set in grounds surrounded by trees, animals and birds. With delightful owners, too - from Australia and UK, this is a spectacular place within reach of Costa Rica's great beaches. http://www.villasdelasaves.com/
2. Bahia Principe Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Mexico: All-inclusive resort hotel close to crystal clear sea water and private white sandy beaches.
4. Hip Hotel, Maastricht, Holland: Super sleek, funky one-time apartments converted into themed hotel rooms at affordable prices. There’s secure parking also, but at a fee. http://www.st-martenslane.com/
5. Intercontinental, Chicago airport: Comfortable, tasteful and sheek. 5300 North River Road, Rosemont. Tel: (847) 544-5300
1. Parkour, Vancouver: Of all the activities we have introduced Zenchai to, this was the best. He couldn't get enough. What kid wouldn't want to run, tumble, climb, crash, jump and generally have heaps of fun exploring movement? http://www.originsparkour.com/
2. Wall Climbing, Kuala Lumpur: We took Zenchai along to the largest indoor climbing facility in Asia - and it is huge. It's all supervised and, while a little daunting, children get the chance to scale some enormous walls and grow in confidence.
3. River Play, Piracanga, Brazil: During our stint at an eco village, we lived close to a river, which was perfect for children. Zenchai learned both to kayak and swim here in addition to spending countless hours just playing.
4. Children's Museum, Buenos Aires: Although the cost of entry wasn't low, it was worth it. Children got to role play and dress up to their heart's content. Zenchai used to beg me to take him here.
5. Waterfall, Chiang Mai, Thailand: This northern Thai city is surrounded by waterfalls of various sizes. We found one on a Sunday afternoon and the kids loved it so much we couldn't tear them away.