CD-Traveller’s travel highlights and trends: part two

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Continued from Sunday

The CD-Traveller team share their favourite 2012 travel experiences and look at the top spots for 2013


2012 highlight: Costa Rica

Ahhh… sitting in a natural “hot tub” looking out over the Arenal Volcano and the lush jungle around The Springs Resort in Costa Rica – do I look relaxed? Costa Rica was a long-time dream of mine and I greatly enjoyed my visit last January, 2012. One worries about ‘dream trips’ (they might not live up to expectations) but this one certainly surpassed mine. The beaches were lovely, the people warm and friendly, but nothing prepared me for the biggest thrill I’d ever had in my life – rappelling down a 50m cliff in a rainforest near the Arenal. I still can’t believe I did it – and I doubt I’d do it again, but was it fun? You bet!

2013 tip: Cuba

Next year’s plan is to visit Cuba, BEFORE it becomes overloaded with my fellow Yanks (we tend to do that, you know!) Since Obama plans to ease up on travel restrictions, authorised tour operators lead trips to Cuba now and they sell out very quickly. My plan is to wing it all by myself – and explore, experience and enjoy. I’m fascinated by the Cuban culture, resiliency and passion for life, despite the odds the people have had to face.



2012 highlight: Borneo

A first visit to Borneo (Malaysia) where there was a constant sense of the forest lurking to close in, vivid sunsets, followed by starlit nights and on the river clouds of fireflies and red crocodile eyes in the shallows and banks.  Skulls in huts and orangutans in trees. Even a Rainforest Music Festival (July). And thoughts about James Brooke, the White Raja and others who sailed away from Falmouth past the Lizard to the South China Seas.  And one of my best reads this year was Philip Marsen’s The Levelling Sea.

2013 tip: trips across the Channel

Continental camping, growing use of Chalets and better quality mobile homes etc. With no glimmer of light in the UK economic gloom, family budgets will continue to be stretched with little left for holidays.  But holidays will happen with substitution for cheaper jaunts.  Brands like Hoseasons and Canvas Holidays talk of bookings this year and 2013 being: “nearer, shorter and later – the Loire rather than the South”.


2012 highlight: Slovenia

Nestling between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia is completely unspoilt. Only two million residents live in 20.273 sq kms. Prices are low, the crime rate is practically nil, the food’s organic and locally produced, the wine’s excellent and the people are friendly.

The summer’s sunny and in the winter there’s snow. There’s a wide choice of activities available everywhere at very reasonable prices, so you can kayak in the morning, go horse-riding in the afternoon, then throw yourself off a mountain to paraglide into the valley below. In winter there’s skiing, tobogganing, or ice sculpture!

2013 tip: Somerset

A Blockbuster film called Glastonbury, Isle of Light is being made in 2013 in Somerset. It will put the County on the map! Many events are planned, including Food Fairs, Festivals, etc. Take a coach trip there. Visit Longleat, Bath, Wells, and Weston-Super-Mare’s newly-rebuilt, modernised  pier. They haven’t restored it Victorian-style.

Clark’s Village, on the old Clark’s factory site, has over 90 factory outlet shops, including Clark’s. It’s still growing. The main shopping area is adjacent to it, so it’s a Shoppers’ Paradise. Coach trips are now luxurious, often picking you up by car from your home.



2012 highlight: Taiwan

Last February I spent a couple of days purifying body and soul at the Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Taiwan, leaving behind many of the pleasures we enjoy – alcohol, meat, fish, coffee, tea, and even milk, to name but a few. The shaven headed monks and nuns wear long woven brown robes with light beige leggings and thick woven boots – for them not even leather sandals are allowed.
The highlight was going to prayers at the main shrine at dawn and then sharing with the monks and nuns a vegetarian breakfast eaten in total silence. Put Robin Nowacki’s Monks into YouTube to see a video.

2013 tip: Any country outside of the Eurozone

I feel destinations out of, and close to, the Euro Zone, will benefit from those looking for a good value deal in these hard economic times, so countries like Poland and Bulgaria could become more popular, also Turkey should remain popular and gain numbers if it manages to keep out of the troubles in the Arab World.

Emerging Far East destinations like Vietnam and Cambodia will continue to grow in popularity and will start to be joined by the Philippines.

Travellers will be cost conscious booking more package holidays from tour operators to make sure they don’t go over budget. This they will do online.

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