‘Don’t let plans ruin your holiday’
My best holiday ever…
It’s a tricky question but a recent road trip around Europe clinches it. It was the most unexpected holiday ever, and therefore, due to my lack of expectations, turned out to be better than I ever would have dreamed of.
It was during my last few weeks in Cambridge. I had just finished college and work and was enjoying a few days of relaxing and planning my move to London.
One night, I was out with a friend, Lucy, who had arranged to meet a couple of people she hadn’t seen in a while. One of them, Simon, was talking about how he was going to Geneva in a few days. I commented on how my sister lives 15 minutes away from there and how I hadn’t seen her in over six years.
He explained how this trip to Geneva was part of a road trip he had organised and that there was a spare seat in the car if I wanted to tag along. How could I refuse? Apart from travelling around Europe for 10 days, I was going to get to see my sister and nephews after such a long time.
Two days later, I was in the car on my way to Oxford to pick up another one of the passengers, Nigel. The three of us then travelled to Dover and jumped on the ferry to Calais.
Simon had ‘lost’ his sat nav and therefore I was appointed map reader. At this point, may I point out, I had never used a map in my entire life. I had to direct us to the final passenger’s house: a chocolate factory in Belgium; home of the lovely Valerie.
Miraculously I navigated Simon straight to the front door of one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen. We spent the night in the chocolate factory, in sleeping bags on the floor, and awoke to freshly made chocolate for breakfast.
We spent some time in Belgium, had the best hot chocolate in Germany, saw some beautiful castles and churches in Luxembourg, enjoyed some nightlife in Geneva and I got to spend some quality time with my family in Gex, France.
Apart from the few days I spent at my sister’s house in France, we slept in tents every other night, meeting lots of interesting people along the way.
On the last day of the holiday, Simon found his Tom-Tom in the glove compartment. Nevertheless, getting lost and reading maps made the holiday all the more exciting! I think he did it on purpose...
I would never return to…
Nicaragua. This was one of the ports of call I visited on board the Queen Victoria while working on the ship as one of the principal singers in the production shows onboard.
There is absolutely nothing to do in Nicaragua except walk on dusty roads and have people follow you around asking you if you want to buy things or give them money.
The most dangerous place I’ve visited…
Also Nicaragua. My boyfriend and I were walking through the streets trying to find something to do or see.
This man started following us and asking us where we were going. We said we were looking for a beach. He told us to follow him and continued to walk with us in silence.
Eventually, the streets became more deserted and we began to feel uneasy as there was no one else around. I envisioned him trying to take our money and cameras, and therefore we decided it was best to turn back and get back on board.
He might have just been trying to help us but after the countless stories we had heard and warnings the ship’s security officer had given us, we decided it was best not to take that risk.
My favourite city…
It’s a toss-up between Honolulu and New York, but I think I’m going to have to say the latter. The Big Apple is just bursting with so much life. It’s a surreal place! It feels like you’re in your own personal movie all the time, and there’s a sense of opportunity surrounding you; like anything is possible.
It’s such an iconic place for a performer to go. There are billboards everywhere advertising all the Broadway musicals.
Not to mention the buildings – they are humongous! Plus, it’s so easy to get around. You can walk almost everywhere.
My most memorable experience on an aircraft…
I was very young and we were on an extremely long flight. I remember there were announcements that we had to make an emergency landing.My parents told me they had run out of fuel so they needed to land in order to stock up before crossing the Atlantic. Only last year did I discover that this was a big fat lie. Somebody had kicked the bucket and they needed to get them off the plane.
My most treasured holiday souvenir…
I collect elephants and more recently have started to accumulate a few owls and frogs from my travels (ornamental ones, not real ones!). They are all equally treasured.
However, one of my most prized souvenirs would have to be a hand-made rose made out of bamboo by one of the islanders of Mauai, Hawaii. I wish I could remember the man’s name.
I still recall him giving me the rose when I was about five and jokingly telling me that he loved me and that he would marry me when I was older. Sounds creepy I know!
My biggest gaffe abroad…
I was travelling to London for an audition. Apart from it being my first time in London, it was also my first trip abroad alone, so I had painstakingly printed out countless maps, directions, tickets, reminders and so on, just to make sure everything went according to plan.
I arrived at about 11 p.m. and needed to find my hostel which, I found out later, was only a three-minute walk away from the station. I started walking in the right direction but unknowingly passed the street leading to the hostel and continued walking.
After 30 minutes I stopped dead in my tracks and had a think, before deciding to walk back the way I came.
I must have walked up and down the street for about an hour with my suitcase before finally finding the hostel.
I felt like such an idiot but also rather enjoyed it as I felt independent in a big city and even if I did get lost, I had no deadlines and no one to please. It was a liberating feeling.
The friendliest people…
Probably Americans. They’re so friendly and helpful, especially in shops.
I never travel without...
A diary. I always like to log my holidays in a book of some sort and stick bits and pieces like tickets and receipts in there.
The taxi ride I will never forget…
I was on the way back to the ship from a shopping centre in Los Angeles with my fellow singers. The taxi driver decided not to restart the meter. I made a note of the meter reading in order to calculate how much our taxi journey would cost.
Halfway there, the taxi driver caught my eye as I was looking at the meter and decided to switch it off. I wanted to say something there and then but decided to wait till we arrived back at the ship, in case he kicked us out.
When we arrived I asked him why he switched the meter off. He charged us a lot more than it would have cost if he kept the meter running. He then went on to accuse me of being racist!
Whether he was Japanese, Italian, Indian or Zimbabwean, I would have still asked him the same question. I didn’t think we were being fairly treated so I spoke up, politely. In return, he accused me of being cheap and discriminating. If I was in the wrong, I would have apologised, but I had done nothing except ask a perfectly reasonable question.
My friends had to drag me out of the cab as I wasn’t going to accept his unnecessary insults. Hopefully, he’ll treat other people fairly next time.
My all-time favourite holiday photo...
A photo taken on a trip to Hawaii with my parents. It makes me giggle that I was such a poser, even then.
It was an amazing holiday. We walked through rainforests, explored volcanoes and even got to ride in a helicopter over waterfalls and beautiful sights used for many films including Jurassic Park. I was a very lucky girl.
An unforgettable hotel...
I once visited Europa Park in Germany and spent three nights at one of the resort hotels, Castillo Alcazar. As the name implies it was a castle.
I’m a big fan of fantasy films and Harry Potter. Yes I know I’m in my 20s but I’m a big kid at heart. Staying there was magical. It felt like I had been transported back in time despite the ample plug sockets and fancy bathroom.
I return most often to...
London and Malta; depends which way you look at it. Malta will always be my home but I’ve lived in the UK for five years now so I always end up travelling back to Malta as my holiday. It’s always great to see friends and family and catch up on some sun. I will be there in August this year actually – can’t wait.
My ideal travel companion...
I want to say something really cheesy about how my boyfriend is my perfect travel companion just to embarrass him but he’d probably kill me. Besides, he hates the heat so if I was going anywhere sunny, he’d be a nightmare and far from ideal.
Did I mention he’s coming to Malta for the first time with me this August? Ha! It’s going to be awesome.
My ideal travel companion is someone spontaneous who is up for trying new things and is also decisive. I hate wasting time deciding what to do.
I also dislike people who complain too much and forget to enjoy the moment. I would also prefer a holiday companion who isn’t a big drinker as I’m more into exploring than partying.
Country with the best cuisine...
Italy. I’m a sucker for buffalo mozzarella and extremely thin pizza. This probably has something to do with my Italian genes.
My next holiday plans…
I’m coming to Malta in August to put on a concert at St James Cavalier on August 26, but I don’t really think that counts as a holiday. My next big plans are returning to Australia as I don’t remember much of my first visit. I want to go for at least a month with my boyfriend when we can both afford it.
My dream trip…
Three weeks in Orlando, Florida riding as many roller-coasters as possible. I did it once when I was nine but I want to do it again now. And spend an even longer time there.
I partied hardest in…
Milan. One of my closest friends, Enrique, and I went up to Milan for five days after finishing our A Levels to celebrate. We spent one night in a nightclub dancing. I didn’t have one drink but I danced a lot. Does that still count?
My travel tip…
Make some plans but don’t let them rule your holiday and stress you out. Be open to doing things you didn’t necessarily intend to do.
Don’t expect everything to be perfect because it won’t be, and all that worrying will end up preventing you from actually having a good time.