Exploring and experiencing a new destination always sends a delicious tingle down the spine – we know we’re going to have great adventures, see things that leave us awestruck or make us smile, eat wonderful and not so wonderful food and at some point make fools of ourselves.
On occasions, the mode of transport that we’ve used to get to a new location has added a tasty dollop of exotic spiciness and adventure to the whole experience.
These have been some of our favourite ways to arrive at a destination.
Water Taxis in Symi
Step on board, chill out… and get slightly intoxicated. Getting to remote and idyllic beaches on the Greek Island of Symi involves taking a water taxi from Symi Town. These transported us to picture postcard bays with the most intense cyan seas and where vine-covered tavernas provided respite from an unrelenting Greek sun. The getting drunk part? Too much retsina over long meze lunches mixed with the obligatory ouzos that came as part of the water taxi fare.
River Boat in China
There’s something old school travel about journeying by river boat. Cruising up the Yangtse is one of the world’s great river trips. It provided a fascinating insight into life on a river that turned out to be more industrial than pagodas and pandas. The ridiculously early and jaunty wake-up music that couldn’t be turned off will stay with me forever.
Toyota Land Cruiser in Africa
Travelling between Safari lodges in Tsavo East and Tsavo West in Kenya by a dirty and dusty khaki Toyota Land Cruiser felt much more like the real deal than by one of the zebra mini buses. It was the way to get up close and personal with some local critters.
Luxury Train in Asturias
The most decadently luxurious way I’ve travelled anywhere was on the El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo; a sexy, sleek train that gently rolls along the track through exquisite countryside between San Sebastián and Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. Overwhelming opulence, first class food in first class dining carriages, a disco car and the most sophisticated shower I’ve never been able to figure out made it one of those classic travel experiences.
Fishing Boat on Bute
The last time we visited the Scottish Island of Bute, my birthplace, we did so in the most magical fashion. We sailed from Troon on my brother in law’s fishing boat, a lovely wooden affair that looked like something straight out of Para Handy. We sailed glassy waters through the Kyles of Bute, where basking sharks cruise and wild goats add life to the purple clad hills, for a barbecue on a get-away-from-it-all highland beach. Even though it was April, it was sunny and warm; a minor miracle in the West of Scotland.
By Foot on La Gomera
Let’s not forget arriving somewhere on those trusty plates of meat (feet – if you’re not familiar with Cockney rhyming slang). The two of us, a guide, a mule and a muleteer trekking through the Atlas Mountains to North Africa’s highest Berber village was very Treasure of the Sierra Madre. But the biggest WOW walking moment was when walking between hotels on the Canary Island of La Gomera, checking route directions for Inntravel, we descended a steep merchants’ trail from way up high to the town of Hermigua.
By Classic Car in Barcelona
The most fun mode way to arrive anywhere was during a tapas tour of Barcelona in bright yellow and blue Seat 600s (seiscientos). These little sweethearts turned heads at every bar we parked outside and made much more of an impact than if we’d turned up in a gleaming red Ferrari (which is so yesterday’s way to arrive anyway).
Parachute in Costa Brava
The most relieved I’ve ever been to reach a destination was getting my feet back on Terra firma following a sky dive at Empuriabrava in Costa Brava. Jumping out of a plane and free-falling for 60 seconds before the chute opened and I floated to safety was one of those things that I’m very glad that I’ve done; with the emphasis being on the word ‘done’.
Skimming the Water in a Dhow at Lamu
Arriving on a runway the width of a country lane on Lamu’s neighbouring island in a tiny plane flown by a pilot wearing no shoes was different in itself. But transferring to a small Arab dhow, complete with assorted animals and Hessian sacks filled with rice to glide across the waters to Lamu itself, one gunwale disturbingly level with the water, was just about the most exotic way we’ve arrived anywhere.
The Quintessential Bond Moment – Arriving in Style at Krabi
Still to be outdone though is our transfer to Krabi from Phuket. After being dropped off by a chauffeur driven air-conditioned car at a jetty in the middle of nowhere, a speedboat piloted by an officer in a pristine white uniform was our next mode of transport. Reclining in the back of the boat as we scythed through the water below Krabi’s incredible limestone peaks had that Bond theme off and running big time in my head. The golf buggy transfer to our villa at the Rayavadee Hotel (still the most impressive place we’ve stayed) after stepping off the speedboat (windswept but beaming) finished off this sensational way of turning up at a destination.