One year ago today, we hopped on an Emirates A380 plane and flew to Dubai for the start of an intensive 5 week long holiday. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate our milestone wedding anniversary in every major city or town in our itinerary.
Our travels took us for the first time to Dubai where we spent four nights mesmerised by everything we saw and experienced in this captivating Emirati city. Among many activities, we met with family, swam in the hot waters of the Persian Gulf, went on a Dubai Desert Safari, experienced a visit to the Jumeirah Mosque and enjoyed a celebratory indulgent afternoon tea at Burj Al Arab. When it was time to leave, we vowed to return to Dubai to further explore a city that captured our interest.
With the heat of Dubai behind us, we headed towards the cooler temps of London. The city is a regular stop for us in Europe, where we’re privileged to have good friends who travel long distances to meet us for a pint or a bite to eat. We also take time out to visit a much loved aunt who has since slipped away. We crammed in a little sightseeing, a visit to St Pancras station, a chilly walk along the Thames, spent a fun evening dining at Jamie’s Italian in Canary Wharf and scored last minute seats on the Chef’s Table at the innovative Bocca di Lupo.
From London, we went to Sicily for the first time and stayed with family in the seaside town of Mazara del Vallo in Italy’s south west. We lived in Mazara’s old Kasbah and experienced sights, smells and a dream lifestyle. We ate a seafood meal we can’t forget. We stood out like the tourists we were but were welcomed by the people of this town as if we were locals.
In Sicily, we visited the ancient ruins at Agrigento. We drove through Marsala and Trapani with their characteristic salt marshes. We ascended the beautiful town of Erice where the view blew us away. We took a bus ride to Palermo and spent 24 hours exploring the city on foot. We ate at a typical trattoria and were the last to leave after drinking too much grappa and watching the heavy downpour from our indoor table.
We boarded a plane to Venice and stayed with family in Mogliano Veneto, just 10 kilometres away. The quiet town became our hub from which we explored Treviso, Vicenza, Verona and Padova on day trips by train. We spent two days in Venice and the Lido and another day island hopping between Murano, Burano and Torcello. We ate and drank, and stumbled across food festivals and mercato in Mogliano Veneto. We lost ourselves in the fresh produce at the Rialto food and fish markets in Venice.
Lake Como and Milan
Another train ride took us to a place that Mr G refers to as most beautiful place on earth, Como. We stayed on the shores of Lake Como and took various boat rides to the nearby towns. We visited Villa del Balbianello in Lenno, also known as the James Bond villa from the film Casino Royale. We spent a full day in the enchanting town of Bellagio, meandering its narrow streets, visiting the gardens of Villa Melzi and eating gelato. We celebrated our wedding anniversary again on Locanda dell’ Isola Comacina, the fabled restaurant in the middle of Lake Como with an unparalleled water view and almost had the entire restaurant to ourselves.
We headed to Milan where we took a breather from the hectic schedule. We slept in, recharged and visited the interior of La Scala theatre in its glory. We dined at the memorable Pane e Acqua before we bid Italy a passionate arrivederci and landed in Charles-de-Gaulle airport for the remainder of our trip.
In Paris, we met with family, revisited many sights, ventured to Ladurée Champs-Elysées and Ladurée Bonaparte. We ate at many of our favourite Paris bistros, cafés and restaurants. We dined at the grandeur of Guy Martin’s Le Grand Véfour and sat in the banquette where Josephine used to meet her Napoleon. We said ‘je t’aime’ at the ornate Pont Alexandre III bridge at 4 pm on our anniversary date. We celebrated at night with the twinkling lights of Paris below us, where we were treated to a fine dégustation dinner at Alain Ducasse’s Le Jules Verne at the top of the Eiffel Tower. As the lightshow outside our window table began, we clinked glasses of Champagne, blew out a candle and looked into one another’s eyes. This was what life was all about.
Today, as I reflect at the beginning of that trip one year ago, I feel nostalgia for those times and blessed for the shared experiences with Mr G. Writing for Gourmantic gives me the opportunity to relive these memories and share them with a wider audience. A year later and 270 published posts, I still have many more travel and food articles to write, travel advice and information to offer, words and photographs with which to inspire.
This morning, I woke up to this email from Burj Al Arab Hotel, and the memories merged like a slideshow of my favourite travel photographs.
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