What makes the perfect holiday?

December 5, 2013

What makes the perfect holiday? For us it’s always been a combination of adventure and activity. As a couple we’ve enjoyed some fantastic trips close to home and as far afield as New Zealand.

PODcast - JPD & CLD 3

We were both well traveled before we met. I spent two years living and working in Australia in my twenties whilst my husband went back-packing around SE Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji around the same time.

He also went on holiday to Lebanon and Syria in 2002. I’d used up all my leave so he and a friend booked a week away starting in Beirut. It wasn’t my idea of the ideal holiday destination, but he had an incredible time visiting the roman ruins at Balbeek and embarking on a wine tour in the Beqaa Valley before crossing the border to explore the souks in Damascus. Sadly not a trip you could repeat today.

Since we’ve been together the criteria for an annual holiday has remained constant. We’ve enjoyed some fabulous skiing holidays in Europe, with Zermatt top of our list. As well as the runs themselves, the views of the Matterhorn and the fantastic après ski in the car-less town make for an amazing Winter holiday experience. Not to mention the bar that makes its own caramel vodka which apparently turned down giant Diageo!

One year we decided to see how the Canadian pistes compared to their European cousins. After a quick trip to Grouse Mountain and a cosy night in Vancouver we boarded a train that snaked its way up into the mountains toward Whistler. The tracks followed the path of the Squamish River and as this was just after the annual Salmon spawning the banks were strewn with fish, who having completed their remarkable journey expire and become a valuable part of the food chain.

Whistler didn’t disappoint, but as we were aware this wasn’t a holiday we were likely to repeat we also took the opportunity to try the slopes of Banff and visit Lake Louise. The temperature in Banff was decidedly chillier than the sun drenched slopes of Switzerland, on one morning 14 below freezing at the top of the piste. I spent the day going up and down on the chairlift adding a new piece of clothing bought from the shop at the bottom on each journey.

Our Summer holidays have involved exploration and in some cases considerable exertion too. South America had been on our list of must visit places for a while when we took a holiday to Venezuela. The purpose of the trip was to see Angel Falls, nestled in the jungle and only accessible by boat and then a hike through the jungle.

PODcast - Venezuela collage

We went well prepared with mosquito nets and vast quantities of repellent. Only to discover that the river we had to navigate to get to the overnight camp and subsequently the start of the jungle trek is filled with tannin, which is mosquito kryptonite and means there aren’t any at all. Other insects did have a nibble on us though so we didn’t feel we’d missed out.

When we visited New Zealand for a friend’s wedding in 2008 we took the opportunity to experience one of the World’s top day walks – The Tongariro Crossing. It did practically finish us off though. After three days of wedding celebrations we weren’t particularly well prepared for the 19km walk through three active volcanoes. We did manage to complete it safe and sound and with a feeling of great accomplishment at the end, but made a mental note to get a decent night’s sleep before embarking on a trek like that in the future.

PODcast - The Tongariro Crossing collage

In-between making the most of what’s on offer for the modern day wannabe explorer we liked to stay fit playing tennis. Having signed up at our local tennis club and taken advantage of some professional tuition we were keen to combine our racquet skills with some Summer sun.

Our first experience of doing so was at the Lanzarote based Club La Santa, which was actually Winter sun rather than Summer. A special offer flying back on Christmas Day enticed us to try it out. The tennis was excellent but we soon painfully reached the conclusion that there are only a certain number of Christmas songs that feature on your average festive album as the same tunes blasted out over the pa every evening.

We vowed our next tennis holiday would be less aurally challenged. So the following Summer we booked our first Mark Warner holiday to San Agostino in Greece. It didn’t disappoint. The tennis academy kept us busy in the morning before we cooled down in the pool and met up with other guests for social tennis in the afternoon. We also managed to squeeze in the odd cold beer and Mojito.

PODcast - Mark Warner

We enjoyed it so much that three months later we booked another Mark Warner holiday, this time to Lakitira, larger than San Agostino but delivering the same excellent one on one tennis tuition, fantastic food and arguably an even better mojito! Tennis was such a huge part of our life then so being able to play on holiday was a no brainer.

I say this in the past tense as since I became pregnant and we welcomed the gorgeous POD we’ve been unable to play. The very day we found out I was pregnant we had a court booked at our local club and had a very strange game. The players on the court opposite must have thought us very odd with our Cheshire cat grins and appalling unfocused play! Soon after we were advised that I shouldn’t play anymore and following POD’s appearance I was unable to pick the racquet up again due to the wonders of natural childbirth.

PODcast - the Doves

Now I’m back fighting fit and POD celebrates her third birthday on Christmas Day. Last year we took her to Turkey where we had a lovely but sedentary two weeks. We’re now planning where we can go next Summer that meets our old criteria and allows POD to have a safe but active time. She needs to be worn out!

The chance to introduce her to tennis and all the other sports on offer on a Mark Warner Summer holiday would certainly fit the bill.

PODcast - Dove collage

 We would relish the opportunity to become a Mark Warner Holidays’ Blogger Family. This post forms part of our application.


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  • Emma December 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Charlie, a great round up of your travels. Lovely to see the pics in there of Taranaki. Ah… Memories and all that!

    • Charly Dove December 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      We must chat Taranaki Emma – did you do the Tongariro Crossing?

  • Honest Mum December 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Stunning pics. Wow you guys are so well travelled, so want to visit NZ! I’ve not travelled that far but it’s on the list. I was lucky to travel a lot with the films and also for fun (although attending Cannes and other film festivals is definitely fun too)…don’t get away as much with kids though, really craving some sunshine! Lovely post!

    • Charly Dove December 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Thank you lovely. We did a lot before POD came along, you don’t realise until you write it all down. You must visit NZ one day, I’d love to go back and do South Island. Cannes must have been awesome 🙂

  • Notmyyearoff December 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Wow you’ve done so much travelling – Good luck! I reckon you would be a brilliant holiday ambassador!

    • Charly Dove December 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      Thank you so much Tas, what a lovely thing to say. Fingers crossed 🙂

  • Dragonsfypoppy December 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    As you know, Charly, from comments on your other posts that I just adore hearing about your travels. Your photos are always such a lovely accompaniment to your words. Wishing you the best of luck with this, really hope it works out! xx

    • Charly Dove December 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. It’s always good to hear the travel posts are enjoyable. We’d love to be a Mark Warner ambassador 🙂

  • Nell@PigeonPairandMe December 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Wow – go Charlie! Sounds as though you’ve had some fabulous adventures. Best of luck with the competition – you’d make a great Ambassador. x

    • Charly Dove December 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you so much, we’d love to be ambassadors. Been so lucky in the past, it’s rather nice writing about it 🙂

  • Louise December 6, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I wish I had done a bit more travelling when I was younger – you have some fantastic memories x

    • Charly Dove December 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you Louise, we’ve been lucky in the past. Quite nice writing it all down 🙂

  • Jaime Oliver December 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

    good luck honey xxx

    • Charly Dove December 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you Jaime, you too 🙂

  • Iona@redpeffer December 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Good luck! If you don’t get this one, I’m sure an ambassadorship for photography holidays abroad would be right up your street 🙂

    • Charly Dove December 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      That’s such a lovely thing to say Iona, thank you 🙂

  • Kriss MacDonald December 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    You’ve been on some amazing trips and sounds like a Mark Warner holiday would be perfect now to have with Pod. Plus your photos are always stunning. Good luck!

    • Charly Dove December 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Thank you so much Kriss, we would love to be ambassadors 🙂

  • Verily Victoria Vocalises December 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Crikey you’ve been to some amazing places! I would love to go to NZ and Whistler and Angel Falls and…well anyway, good luck! Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  • Charly Dove December 7, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Thank you Vicky, we’ve been lucky in the past. Good luck to you too 🙂

  • Sarah December 7, 2013 at 12:48 am

    GORGEOUS post filled with incredible memories (and of course beautiful New Zealand!). Loved reading this x

    • Charly Dove December 7, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Thank you, good to hear you enjoyed reading it – we have a few tales from NZ! Just a short spell in North Island, would love to see the South. Hope you’re not missing it too much 🙂

  • Coombemill December 7, 2013 at 1:06 am

    You really have travelled the globe and it looks wonderful from all your photos. I so see where you are coming from as we are lovers of active holidays too. I hope you can keep a level of the excitement you enjoy as Pod grows up.

    • Charly Dove December 7, 2013 at 1:14 am

      Thank you Fiona – I don’t suspect you’re a family of beach loungers either! For now we’d love to enjoy active family breaks. We’d love to take POD away to far away places one day, I hope we can *plots master plan*

  • Claire December 7, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Wow you have had some amazing holidays, great pictures and post 🙂 thanks for linking up to the weekend blog hop 🙂

    • Charly Dove December 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you Claire – we’ve been lucky in the past. Lovely to look back on what we’ve done. Thank you for hosing 🙂

  • MummyTries December 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Best of luck Charley. Your travels sound amazing and I’m seriously impressed you can remember such detail! #PoCoLo

    • Charly Dove December 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      Thank you so much, keeping everything crossed 🙂

  • What makes the perfect holiday? December 24, 2013 at 9:52 am

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