Google+

Brief travel map





To date, I have been very fortunate to travel to many corners of the world for work and fun. 

Many friends ask me where exacty I have been when I say 76 countries (According to TripAdvisor, 73 using UN's definition) so here goes the list and the main highlight of each place. I tried to write the first thoughts that came to my mind so they might not be the famous UNESCO World Heritage site or the top tourist attraction but rather my personal experience, my strange encounters or the product of my interactions.

I hope to inspire you to leave everything behind too! :) and if you need any tips or advise on any of the below, drop me a line, super happy to help!

In alphabetical order:
  1.     Andorra - countless trips, after all, it is just a short 2h drive from home and you are in mountains and skiing paradise! When we were kids Andorra was also the place to get stuff that was not available in Spain yet (due to the 40y dictatorship) such as Hello Kitty toys or nutella :)
    Sydney's harbour from the air
  2.     Australia - recently visited it for Christmas over a 3 week period. I had been to Adelaide before, wine tasting koala and kangaroo patting but this time I had the chance to spend NYE in Sydney, suffer Melbourne's hottest temperatures ever (remember the Australian Open being cancelled because the player's shoes were melting?), Byron Bay's hippie atmosphere and Tasmania's natural beauty and ruggedness. Nobody bets Aussies in the laid back life
    3.       Austria - only Vienna during one of the coldest winters, I had Sacher torte, coffee and wandered the Christmas Market in search of Gluehwein to warm up but the snow storm was so heavy we had to retire to the hotel early
    4.       Bahrain - for work, several times, it is such a tiny place you can almost see it all in half a day. It became very famous during the Arab Spring but it is otherwise an extremely boring nothing-happens place which is party and debauchery paradise for Saudis in the weekend
    Chobe National Park
     
    5.       Botswana - the wonderful life-size zoo of Chobe National Park, what an incredible place teeming with wildlife everywhere you constantly feel like there must be someone feeding them for so many elephants, giraffes, buffalos, crocs, birds of all kinds, hippos,......to be there quietly eating, bathing or enjoying life
    6.       Brazil - Of course Rio, Coppacabana and Salvador, you can’t miss it. But also Fernando de Noronha, voted the most beautiful beach in the world by TripAdvisor in 2014. I concur 

    Angkor Wat
    7.       Cambodia - no doubt, Angkor Wat's movie perfect temples but also Pnom Phenh which has good food, the cheapest massages ever and a crazy atmosphere you can only find in Asia
    8.       Canada - a country I hold dear to my heart because I spent a semester there as a student learning French and enjoying life. It was a truly life-changing experience particularly when the cold arrived and temperatures dropped below -20. Did you know hair freezes too and you have to be careful not to become bald in a second?

    Alpaca
     
    9.       Chile - Otherworldly Atacama Desert, Valley of the Moon, salt plains, geysers and of course, Santiago, with the very Spanish feel, I thought I was at home!
    10.  Congo Brazzaville - both Congos are very particular places. I got to go there for work and I found it a very intriguing place, as if it was keeping a secret. French croissants and sadly, my colleagues caught an amoeba and were sick for weeks. I thank my years in Africa for not having caught it myself
    11.   Cuba - a country involuntarily stuck in the past, but one that I shall return to one day with a bit more time. I was there for my graduation trip but we pretty much did the Spanish-abroad mistake of spending time at a resort in Varadero missing out on most of the cool off the beaten path places. I was young and inexperienced and I followed the flow. I shall return to venture beyond Havana and Varadero
    12.   Cyprus - a tale of a split country where one can cross the imaginary border some claim is there walking through the streets of Nicosia. A beautiful Mediterranean island with double personality
    13.   Czech Republic - in particular enchanted Prague with the pretty bridge and the cobbled stone streets and the less touristy Brno for work, in the winter, with half a meter of snow everywhere

    The pyramids
     
    14.   Egypt - the intriguing pyramids and the annoying touting, all at once. "Do you want a ride on a camel?" "A miniature pyramid" "A piece of jewellery" "A...anything you can think of", in your language, even if it is uncommon Catalan and guessed by a simple glance, a real skill perfected after years of staring at tourists' faces
    15.   Fiji - for the most unbelievable diving which ensured that I was never going to enjoy a dive again, always feeling like I was being cheated, nothing compared to the Rainbow Reef
    16.   France - on numerous occasions to Paris, Perpignan, Marseille, Aix en Provence, Nice, Lyon, Montpellier, Toulouse... the French always so French, the country so beautiful
    17.   Gambia - while on a trip to Senegal, crossing the tiny country was a very unpleasant experience splashed by the dirty waters of the Gambia River, cow poo, dead animals, excruciating heat and dust. Everywhere. A country I should go back to to do it some justice
    18.   Ghana - in transit, on my way to the only place I would actively avoid visiting (no sugar coating), Nigeria.
    19.   Greece - Only Athens and nearby coastal area on a company off-site. Note to self: go back for island hopping one day

    Kids in rural Honduras
     
    20.   Honduras - for a life-changing volunteering experience of almost two months. I learned the value of helping others, for myself not for others, and understood that helping is a very selfish yet admirable act more of us should exhibit. A time of curfews, shootings, youth gangs, poverty, misery yet so full of hope brought about by a priest who devotes his life to helping others get out of poverty and have a better life, for real
    21.   India - on a high-end luxury train journey like a Maharaja, across the Rajasthan. I was always afraid of going to India, selfishly feeling that I didn't want to witness such poverty, loss and death so opted for the "easy" luxury option which was, as expected, perfect. Yet the little man in my conscience tells me I should return to see the real India

    Borobudur
     
    22.   Indonesia - many times but fondly remember the visit to Borobudur celebrating my birthday in the most magical of places, Aman Resorts with views of the temples. Unforgettable
    23.   Ireland - Dublin and the countryside, for a wedding of a dear friend. Guinness, Kilkenny and Belfast 
    24.   Italy - as a teenager with my school. A place I shall return to several times in the future but which, like Greece, remains in the bucket list for when crazy remote travel is no longer an option or family requirements call for a safe and easy place 
    25.   Japan - for Sakura, this year, sharing in the craze around the beautiful flower blossoming season, the food of Osaka, the history of Kyoto

    Petra
     
    26.   Jordan - too many times to remember, to Petra three times, to the Dead Sea twice, to Aqaba, to the desert where they filmed Lawrence of Arabia. Went to Amman for work and to visit friends several times. A modern Arab city

    Masais in Nairobi
    27.   Kenya - too many times to count, for work, for fun, for the love of nature. I avoided Masai Mara and instead headed for less visited areas. Add in a touch of Mombasa as well. I was there throughout the entire political violence following elections in 2007. I continued to travel yet had to evacuate twice due to increasing concerns for our safety. We had satellite phones, a stack of cash and an evacuation company who would air lift us in case of a coup 
    28.   Kuwait - for work. Does anyone go there for any other reason? Unchanged and barely reconstructed after the Gulf War despite the amount of wealth, one can still see the effects of mortar attacks and fighting on the walls of most buildings
    29.   Lebanon - sadly, only for work, twice at the brink of a civil war, tanks in the streets, concerns over safety. The population you ask? They continue partying and enjoying the Mediterranean life as if nothing happened. Too many years at the edge of a war have taught them to love the moment, every moment
    30.   Luxemburg - short, very short, trip for work, a gem in the middle of the mountains of Europe

    Lemur in Madagascar
     
    31.  Madagascar - one of my favourite trips of all times. What a magical place, people and collection of natural phenomenon unique to the country. Lemurs, roaming chameleons found like you find stray dogs in Europe, stunning alien rock formations and incredible unspoiled beaches. A must! I also experienced the coup when I was there for work

    Lake Malawi
    32.   Malawi - for work and for fun, road tripping and spending quality time in the lake, on the shore and on an island in the middle. Pure bliss
    33.   Malaysia - almost everything there is to see: Cameron Highland (nay), Malacca (yay), KL (n/yay), Lagkawi (n/yay), Sipadan (yay diving nay everything else). Although worth visiting I have mixed feelings and reviews of the trips

    Hotel room view
     
    34.   Maldives - WOW. Underwater restaurant, over water villa, jacuzzi, wine pairing dinner, tepanyaki under the stars. Need I say more? 
    35.   Malta - a British take-over (I guess that is what Mallorca must look like too with the Germans) or a really beautiful place full of history
    36.   Mauritius - in the low season, lots of rain! But pretty country, culture and village life in the capital not just a pretty beach or resort. Nice to drive around and to discover without being "stranded" on an island
    37.   Monaco - on a short visit on our way to Italy. Evokes F1 and luxury, the princesses and prices, the tabloids, the super yachts

    Shopping for Moroccan lamps
     
    38.   Morocco - Marrakesh in its full glory. Shopping spree, Riads, beautiful restaurants, cooking lessons and fine villas. A great NYE
    39.   Mozambique - I almost bought a house there! Backpacking on public transportation visiting most of the south. Absolutely unspoiled beaches and tiny towns, fresh seafood, more travellers on road trips than expected though still very few. Stunning sunsets

    A monk reading a book
     
    40.   Myanmar - a country closed to the outside world for so long has managed to preserve life in yesteryear. I was fascinated by their culture, the peace and friendliness of the people, unaccustomed to tourists. Yangon was a discovery of temples, street wandering and a 3h circle train ride which was the best insight into the culture and ways of living of the population, messy, crazy, crowded yet logical, if that is possible
    41.   Netherlands - who in Europe has not been to Amsterdam at least once or twice? exactly
    42.   Nigeria - the only country which I shall not return to. It was a steaming hot violently aggressive, scary and dirty place. I could not find solace anywhere, even in the hotel, despite being a Sofitel, had brown water, electricity was off every hour, the AC did not work, humidity crept through the windows. From the office we heart shooting, two drivers fighting over a car space. The airport was a daunting prospect, even with escort. The Kalashnikov loaded escort car did not help improve the feeling of safety. All the memories of 3 months there are blurry and unpleasant
    43.   Oman - a pearl in the Arabian Peninsula, a tranquil Arab country with plenty of history, traditions and frankincense to keep you entertained. Don't miss the Chedi Hotel, a must for all Dubai residents as a weekend getaway albeit the high prices

    Palau's Rock islands
     
    44.   Palau - speechless. One of the most incredible countries packing so much punch in such a small size. It has nature galore, diving, jellyfish lake, snorkelling, kayaking and a very interesting American/Micronesian influence hard to place
    45.   Philippines - a country I worked in for more than 2 years traveling every week from Singapore. I would recommend the Philippines to anyone feeling down, the happiness and positivism of the population will touch your soul and I can guarantee you that you will smile more and feel happier, luckier and more grateful. Filipinos do know how to make life better and, more importantly, they live in one of the last hidden gems, a country so vast and so beautiful that would deserve months of exploration of its marine eco-system, UNESCO accredited rice paddies, chocolate hills, tiny monkeys, underwater world and never ending list of sightseeing options
    46.   Portugal - a neighbour you pop by for coffee, with a great balcony, fabulous beaches and islands and historical sights. It will always be there and I will surely return
    47.   Qatar - much like Bahrain, a place you would only really go to for work, there is not much to do and the place is seen in a day. A Dubai in the making

    Manao Island in Samoa
     
    48.   Samoa - stunning mountains, cliffs, beaches and remote areas. National parks that call for trekking or walking, swimming in hidden spots and extremely hospitable locals. Laid back Savai'i island contrasting with more rugged main island. Communal sharing and living to the extreme
    49.   Senegal - a country with much to offer but hard to travel through. Muslims, animists, Catholics, desert, beaches and lots of history in the capital. Not just Paris-Dakar but also a major center of Medieval slavery at a nearby island declared UNESCO World Heritage, not for the faint of heart

    Singapore river
    50.   Singapore – home today. East meets West, melting pot of cultures. Take the metro and come out in India or in China, truly. Singapore has managed to master a convivial atmosphere of opposing cultures living in harmony
    51.   Solomon - inspires remoteness, exudes beauty, naturally shown to the eyes of a stranger who seeks it. Diving at its best, WWII aficionado spot, unspoiled tourist destination. I saw not a single tourist in a week
    52.   South Africa - at an impasse between the Apartheid past and the developed future. Young generations battle it out against stereotypes in a country with such beautiful landscapes, beaches, wineries and savannah that you could enjoy all Africa’s at once
    53.   South Sudan - The bottom of the development curve, a country so beaten up by war and destruction that very few roads stand. It is by all accounts, a failed country, one which deserved all the help it can get and one whose future is to be decided. A country which was very much at odds with its Northern half and which seems like it belongs in Africa more than it belongs to the Middle East. I almost died in a car crash while flying Sun Air, a local airline, to Juba the capital from Khartoum in the North. I found out what I would do if I thought I had a few second left to live
    54.   Spain - My country, my home, my everything. I might be biased but I do strongly believe that the quality of life we have in Spain cannot be matched. I have not found a place where living takes on such a real meaning. We will never be rich but we will live life happily

    Sri Lanka's fishermen
     
    55.   Sri Lanka - felt very much like a safer less extreme version of India. Friendly population not invading your personal space, tea plantations, temples, sacred rocks, pilgrimage sites and an empty coastline all to yourself. Enjoy the best it has to offer
    56.   Sudan - unlike its Southerner brother Sudan holds an oil treasure which will provide it wealth for years to come. It also has an incredible amount of pyramids, more than Egypt they say, hidden in the dessert, hard to get to unless you speak Arabic, can drive a 4x4 through the dunes, get all the road permits from the Government and follow a GPS. But if you manage, you will be rewarded with Indiana Jones type discoveries, you will wonder why the rest of the world knows nothing about it. And the people? They are extremely friendly and open to strangers. But remember, no alcohol, no music and no party, entertainment is reduced to sitting at the park chatting with your friends. UN presence having a real impact on the local population. I lived through shootings and closure of Embassies. On the ground it always felt very safe
    57.   Swaziland - tiny tiney country in the mountains landlocked by South Africa on all sides with peculiar African traditions and limited sights, a good weekend getaway from Joburg

    Palmyra
     
    58.   Syria - Catholic, Arabic, churches, Mosques, entire Roman cities, Medieval castles and fortresses, all in one. Syria will give you everything you need in a relatively small country. Take the bull by its horns and jump in! By bus, by train or by car, once the civil unrest stabilizes, it is a great place to see historical places, learn about the old empires and soak in the beautiful architecture. Palmyra and Aleppo are stunning

    One of Thailand's many beaches and islands only accessibe by private boat
    59.   Thailand - enough stories to write a book, destinations to fill many travel guides, cultural shocks to scare the bravest. Thailand sparkles on its own with a friendly population, unmatchable islands and beaches and extra good and cheap food and accommodation. It is a backpacker’s dream, a known paradise, yet still manages to surprise me every time. From wineries to treetop dining, from movie like diving to lonesome beaches (yes, there still as many of them!). It is sure not to disappoint
    60.   Timor Leste - one of those yet to be discovered destinations that I am keeping to myself by writing a blog post on it! Go on, get there and take in the sea, sun, sand and everything else all to yourself

    Vava'u archipelago
     
    61.   Tonga - humpback whales, pretty islands, expat archipelago, super yacht anchoring point
    62.   Turkey - Like Greece and many other Mediterranean countries Turkey is vast and almost impossible to consume entirely. It is the contrast of new and old, East and West, Catholic and Muslim, open and reserved, conservative and progressive. Enjoy crystal clear waters, unspoiled coastal towns and goats, everywhere! Lots still to see so it is on my "For when I get old" bucket list. Istanbul remains the best example of Orient’s magic
    63.   Uganda - Gorillas and work. I spent a long time working there, first for one of the largest mobile companies then helping to launch an operator for the bottom of the pyramid. I worked on the product, tested it in wet markets surrounded by goat's blood and dead animals, I survived a coup and mayhem in the streets, all to finally be part of something bigger. I also got invited to participate in an African women association meeting, met with very inspiring African women trying to make the world a better place, for real. And they helped me believe that change is possible. And then I had the privilege of sharing an encounter with the gorillas on what is, to date, one of the most enchanting experiences I have ever lived
    64.   UK - work, pleasure, fashion, shopping, love...London is the reason I am here today. It bred a love for travel, a need to meet everybody else in this planet that is different from me, it opened my mind, London will always be a place I wish I could live in save for the fact that the rain and lack of sun would actually make me depressed. Till next time, London 
    65.   UAE - a madness and a need for bigger, larger, taller and more grand in everything. I moved to Dubai when Dubai barely existed and I saw it grow up and become an adult. In the meantime, I got lost a million times in construction, I got bored of the same old high end restaurants, I enjoyed the freedom of high salaries and the duality of Dubai. Lots of rules not letting you do anything yet everybody looks the other way pretending they never saw what happened. Until some silly foreigner breaks the rules too obviously and has to be reprimanded. Then the city makes the news. Or that time when it actually went bankrupt and it had to sell its soul to the devil (aka Abu Dhabi) renaming its tallest building Burj Khalifa instead or Burj Dubai. Dubai, you will never change but I admire your flexibility, your ability to come back from the ashes and your perseverance
    66.   Tanzania - in love with Tanzania, my favourite country in Africa. It could be a result of the long time working there but the younger, more hipster, more laid back and safer brother of Kenya has so much to offer you would never finish sightseeing. From Zanzibar to Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro and Serengeti Tanzania is full of world renown sites. It is the one place in Africa where you can experience all of it
    67.   US - love-hate relationship with the big country but surely a duality that will require several other trips to clarify

    Waterfall in main island
     
    68.   Vanuatu - such a small place and such a wide range of options. From diving with dugongs to ship wrecks (the largest ship wreck, Kennedy's ship, sank there), from land diving (inspiration for bungee jumping) to blue lagoon swimming, from active volcanos to dangerous kava, Vanuatu is a country which would fairly require a month to properly visit. Do it. The experience at Tanna volcano, constantly exploding was a breath-taking moment. I felt so small face to face with nature's anger I suddenly understood our time on Earth is dependent on it being well taken care of
    69.   Vietnam - too many visits to count yet still unsure whether it is a country I want to return to or I had enough of. The French South or the German North? The islands or the mainland coast? Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi? Is Halong Bay truly mysterious or simply overrun and dirty?
    70.   Yemen - beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. In the case of Yemen, it is on everyone's eyes. Sana'a is an incredible postcard perfect city made of gravity defying medieval sky scrapers
    71.   Zambia - the best alternative to East Africa's safari monopoly, Zambia has rivers, Victoria Falls and a neat and friendly city. Not to mention its lavish national parks full of the Big 5
    72.   Vatican = Sistine Chapel
    73.   Taiwan - Great street life, street food, art, architecture and small town feel. It is a strangely cosy place, like the Sri Lanka of the Far East, China's younger brother. I was very positively surprised with Taiwan, having no expectations it seemed a pace I could live in