I grew up in South Africa and feel very fortunate to have spent my childhood living in both the city and spending holidays on our families farms. Living in the city gave me the opportunity to enjoy time with friends and take part in a variety of sports. There were no phones, Sony Play stations or online games when I was growing up, so many hours were spent either in our garden playing cricket with friends until late or on the tennis court. My early childhood years spent on our family farms gave me my adventurous side, learning to drive tractors aged 12, shooting rats in the chicken pen (badly) and waking up at 5am to go fishing. Today my spirit of adventure still lives on and no holiday is planned without a bit of adventure included.
Since leaving South Africa in 1999, I have lived in Palm Beach and subsequently London. Whilst I still miss the outdoor lifestyle I grew up with in South Africa, my passion for travel has been met living in London, where I have been fortunate to travel to over 80 countries.
Q&A with Graham - Europe & Indian Ocean Specialist
What is your favourite travel memory?
I grew up in South Africa watching action movies which typically involved the Americans beating the Russians. As they were filmed by American studios, you would often see the Americans infiltrating the Kremlin. I got the opportunity to travel to Russia one winter many years later. To this day I still vividly remember dressed in several layers of clothing, standing in Red Square, in absolute awe, reflecting on my childhood memories.
Your most annoying travelling habit?
If you asked my wife, this would most certainly be getting to the airport way too early. I’m a stickler for being punctual. This does however mean she has time to shop to her hearts content in duty free.
What 5 things do you always travel with?
Power bank for my mobile, laptop, passport, Go Pro and generally too many clothes!
What is on your bucket list?
The trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to China through Mongolia is one of those epic trips I have always wanted to do. I remember watching Ewan Mc Gregor and Charlie Bowman in the Long Way Round thinking, one day….
You are stranded on a desert island with 2 famous people, who are they?
Bear Grylls to find a way of getting us off the island and sourcing our food. Trevor Noah to keep up our spirits when we realise there is no way of getting off the island.
My Favourite Destination
I first travelled to Thailand in 2002 and visited Bangkok and Ko Samui for the first time. Having travelled extensively through Europe, this was my first introduction to South East Asia. Patpong Road in Bangkok was certainly an eye opener. Nevertheless I loved the buzz Bangkok offered. My first visit to Ko Samui was special. Still relatively undiscovered, we landed at an airstrip barely long enough for the plane to land. As we exited the plane, we had to carry our own luggage through two thatch roof huts, which was the terminal building. This was Thailand nearly 2 decades ago. I’ve since returned to Thailand 6 times and visited most the islands. Whilst a lot busier than it was back in 2002, its still one of the most beautiful countries I have visited with amazing resorts, divine food and a myriad of things to do.
Throughout my travels there are some experiences and memories which stand out. I would like to share these recommendations with you for some travel inspiration..
Island - Thulhagiri, Maldives
My wife and I finished a 3 week Asia honeymoon tour at the Thulhagiri Island Resort in the Maldives. We were upgraded to a water villa which had direct access to the sea along with a glass bottom floor in the living room. The island itself was tiny but perfect in so many ways. We are both active divers and so we relished the opportunity to dive the very easily accessible nearby reef teaming with fish, turtles and reef sharks. Most of all though we loved walking through the trees on the island, which were home to a wonderful array of colourful and happy budgies.
Hotel - Cavo Tagoo, Mykonos
As someone who loves modern art, beautiful seascapes and truly exceptional service, one of my favourite hotels is the Cavo Tagoo in Mykonos. The hotel is beautifully decorated with a very a very stylish lobby area, exquisite attention to detail and even a pool bar made from a Koi fish tank. The truly spectacular sunset views from the hotels infinity pool, must be one of the most unforgettable sunset memories in my travel career.
Recommendation - Croatia Small Ship Cruise
One of my most memorable trips was a Croatia small ship cruise I did in Summer 2019. We sailed on a brand new luxury 170ft motor yacht from Split to Dubrovnik for 7-nights with 34 other likeminded guests from the US, Australia and the UK. We enjoyed delicious on board dining and interesting daily excursions, which included wine tours, oyster tasting experiences and visits to spectacular waterfalls. Everyone on board loved being able to swim off the back of the yacht in crystal clear bays and dining in different restaurants on shore each evening. We started the cruise as complete strangers and by the end we were like a happy family on board. No other trip I have been on has provided as much value and fun memories for the $3,000/£2,300 per person cost.
Short Break - Iceland
Let me start by saying I love Iceland. Not only because of its spectacular landscape but it was the last stress free country I visited before the Covid-19 pandemic hit! If you are looking for a 4 to 5 night escape, then I highly recommend spending a couple of nights in Reykjavik and 2 nights in Vik. A day trip to the Golden Triangle is a must, as is a super Jeep safari up the glacier, which is so much fun. Get out of Reykjavik and spend a couple of nights in Vik, which is the perfect spot to see the Northern Lights and beautiful landscape. Enjoy a dip in the Blue Lagoon before you board your flight home.
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