flying

I’m extremely lucky because I get to travel a lot for my work but also have the flexibility, by being freelance, to get to take time out to travel in my own time. Travel is without doubt my favourite thing and I find that I’m constantly thinking about it. I like having somewhere booked in my schedule because I find it easier to stay motivated knowing that soon I’ll be off experiencing somewhere new (scenery, culture, food, people, history).

I always get asked where my favourite places are that I’ve been to so I thought it would make sense to post that up on a blog. I didn’t have a specific amount of places I wanted to mention but for now I’ve picked 5 and I might modify or add to that in future as I feel the need.

I’ve decided to leave out South Africa because that’s where I grew up and then also England because that’s where I am based now. I’d love to hear where your favourite places to go are so please let me know either by commenting here or messaging me on Twitter or Instagram.

In no particular order and for different reasons, here you go …

1) New York City (in particular Manhattan)

I cannot really remember a time where I wasn’t thinking of visiting / experiencing New York City and it all sparked off from movies I’d seen over the years including Big, Home Alone 2, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Serendipity, Mr. Deeds and Elf (some of my favourites). It was even more motivated after getting into TV series like Friends, Sex and the City, How I Met Your Mother and Spin City.

Anyway, my wife and I decided randomly to plan our first trip over and although I was excited I was equally as nervous worrying that I’d built this trip up too much in my head and that I might be disappointed. This all eased the second we landed there and I can remember it like it was yesterday … I was overwhelmed with the scale of everything, the nostalgia that I was feeling and the worry that the trip was going to come to an end before it even started.

Everyone talks about different parts of New York City and everyone has their favourites but for me the place I connected with most was Manhattan in particular. I loved how busy it was and I loved that it really didn’t sleep. I’ve been over there now about 7 times and every time it is the same … it has an energy that I feed off and I find myself feeling really inspired with my work and to take photographs. It’s definitely cliched to say but it gives me a sense that anything is achievable and I’m sure that this feeling won’t be the same for everyone but it’s one of the only places that I get this feeling. I’d wake up every morning and be out exploring by 6am, before most people get up, and I’d be out until after 2am each night doing the same.

My favourite places to spend time are Central Park, Times Square (6am while it’s dead), China Town, Little Italy, Lower East Side, Grand Central, the High Line and then anywhere that the water touches (so great to explore on skateboard or bicycle).

If I ever won the lottery the first thing I would do is buy an apartment in Manhattan so I could spend more time there.

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2) Taiwan

Taiwan is insane in every way. My wife lived and taught English there for a year back in 2005 and I went out to visit her during the time … we both fell in love with it then and have been back a few times since.

Traveling is all about experiencing culture for me and Taiwan’s culture will blow your mind. I could imagine it being overwhelming for a bunch of people because it’s so different to what most people are used to but if you’re open minded and willing to make the most of the experience then you’d fall in love quickly. The smells are mad, the food is different, the language barrier is massive, the city is flooded with people, the beaches are beautiful, the nature parks are everywhere and the locals are some of the most friendly people I’ve ever come across.

It’s not touristy at all and finding your way around is easy enough with a bit of pre-planning and patience. We always fly into Taipei and spend a few days there before heading out and exploring the rest of the country – this allows us to enjoy the city life, traditional temples, shopping, night markets, mountain hikes, lazing at the beach and riding scooters along the coast.

Such a great place … possibly my favourite of all!

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3) Germany

My family originates from Germany and I had a bit of a German upbringing in South Africa with my dad owning a German butchery and enjoying the holidays like celebrating Christmas on the 24th of December.

Once I started traveling and got the chance to visit Germany for the first time it was weird how it felt a little bit like I had arrived at my place of birth even though I wasn’t born there. I definitely felt a sense of belonging and so many great memories of growing up and spending time with my Oma came to mind. I loved that.

I’ve visited Germany so many times since then and every city is quite different to each other with my favourites being Cologne and Frankfurt (the latter possibly being more because I have close family there). Germany is great in the summer but my favourite is visiting in Winter over Christmas so that we can explore and enjoy the Christmas markets … they definitely seem so much more about family and enjoying each others time together than making money like most other countries. It’s so beautiful.

I spend a lot of time running and cycling in the forests there and it’s highly recommended to anyone who needs some fresh air.

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4) Austria

I went on my first proper snowboarding trip to the Alps in 2010 and it blew my mind how much snow there actually is. We’ve pretty much gone back twice a year since then and it still isn’t boring. Even if you hate snowboarding I think anyone would enjoy the views … one of my favourite things is to just lay on my back in the snow on the mountain and enjoy the scenary and silence.

We’ve explored a few places but my favourite is the area between Salzburg and Innsbruck towards Kirchdorf, Oberndorf and Waidring. Cannot wait to go again soon.

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5) Malmö

I’ve only visited Malmö twice before but I found it super beautiful and one of the first places in a long time that I could realisticall imagine myself living when I’m an old man.

I love a good coffee, pastry and a walk in the park (or on the beach) and this place allows me to do all of this with a smile on my face … what more could you ask for.

It’s so funny because I’ve spoken to a few people about this since the first trip and one of them asked if I was mad because they found Malmö extremely boring. I couldn’t understand so I asked for varification and they said that they find it too nice, too clean, too quiet, too safe and the people a bit too friendly … sounds like heaven to me. Haha. I think after growing up in the chaos that is South Africa this seems like the biggest selling points for me.

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