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Five places that I will definitely return to

There are many places in the world that I have visited and enjoyed but only a handful that I have loved so much that I am sure I will return to.

With there still being so much that I want to see in the world, sometimes it is hard to justify continually returning to a place that I have already been. But I love the familiarity of returning to special places again and again. Revisiting old haunts and discovering new ones. It feels like coming home.

If you revisit places you can really get under their skin. Like they have gotten under yours.

These are the places that are very special to me. Places that I couldn’t imagine not visiting again. Places where I felt a deeper connection.


Five Places That I Will Definitely Return to

5) Paris

Beautiful Montmatre, Paris in the snow - a place I will definitely return toI know it’s a cliché but Paris lived up to my extremely high expectations. I have been fascinated by the French language and culture since I was a teenager when I studied French in school.

It is a city that I always dreamt of visiting and when I finally visited for the first time back in 2005, it was love at first sight. I think it helped that I was seeing a French guy at the time that I had met in London and was reunited with during my 4 nights in Paris.

Louvre, Paris - a place that I will definitely return toI loved the touristy attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, the lush parks and gardens, the beautifully ornamented churches, the stunning architecture, the incredible food, the shopping, the quirky sights (Catacombs and Pere Lachaise Cemetery) but most of all I just loved the feel of the place.

It felt so alive and dripping in that undeniable French culture that I had adored from afar. People were friendly and I felt welcome.

Snowy Paris by the SeineOn my second visit in 2010 we wandered the cobbled square of Montmartre, velvety hot chocolates in hand, while feathery snowflakes fell around us – it was like a scene in a movie.

This romantic city is firmly one of my favourite places in the world and I will definitely be returning for a third visit.

Notre Dame, Paris4) Pauanui

Pauanui Beach witha view along to PakuUnless you are a Kiwi from the North Island, you probably haven’t heard of this little gem, a small pine scented holiday town on the gorgeous Coromandel Peninsula.

I started going to Pauanui every summer with my family, then later with friends, from the age of 8 up until I left New Zealand when I was 21. We would go for 2-3 weeks and I used to look forward to it the whole year.

Beautiful Pauanui, New ZealandThe days spent in Pauanui were the highlight of my childhood. I grew up in Pauanui and it holds very dear memories.

Beautiful Pauanui, New ZealandI try to get back there whenever I am back in New Zealand as it feels like home. I spent long summer days bike riding, looking for shells on the beach, body boarding, swimming in the river, jet skiing, catching the ferry to Tairua, climbing Mount Pauanui and just hanging out with my best friend and the other kids who went back every summer as well.

Pauanui Beach with Paku in the backgroundMy favourite time to go is in late summer, after the school holidays, when the red stone streets are quiet and you almost get the beach to yourself.

3) London

Beautiful London - a place I will always return toMy home for nearly 6 years over 3 separate stints, I have always had a love hate relationship with this beautiful historic city.

I don’t miss the crowded public transport, the grey skies and the passive aggressive attitudes, but there are so many wonderful things about this city that I miss with a passion.

Beautiful Richmond - a place I will always return toBeautiful Kew Bridge, London - a place I will always return toThe build up to Christmas when the outdoor ice rinks and Christmas markets opened, those rare sunny days when you couldn’t contain your happiness to see such a brilliant blue sky, the bustling markets filled with fresh local produce and everything else under the sun, Sunday lunch and a pint of cider at quaint English pubs.

Wandering the Thames path in spring past daffodils and cherry blossoms, living on a houseboat in genteel Richmond, rambling through the green fields of the city’s many commons and parks, visiting world class museums and art galleries for free.

Catching a West End show followed by dinner in Soho, cheap dim sum in Chinatown and curry on Brick Lane, cheap airfares around Europe and the storied history of this ancient city with so many stories to tell.

The White Swan in Richmond, London - a place I will always return toI spent a large chunk of my life in London and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Walking Regents Canal in London - a place I will always return to2) Hawaii

Waimea Bay Estuary in HawaiiThis group of islands actually changed me as a person (sorry, I realise how lame that sounds). The first time I visited in 2009, I spent 2 weeks on the islands of Oahu and Maui on the way to Vancouver. Staying on Oahu’s undeveloped North Coast, I gained an appreciation for walking that I never had before.

As I walked along the stunning coastline and through the botanical gardens surrounded by tropical flowers and ripening mangoes, I felt a sense of peace that had evaded me most of my adult life. I haven’t stopped walking since and my life has become so much richer for it.

Waimea Bay in Hawaii - a very special place to meHiking is my biggest passion after travel and it gives me such a sense of wonder. It is now a driving force in my travels. I am fully connected to my surroundings when I am walking and Hawaii awakened this capacity for inner peace in me.

Waimea Bay in Hawaii - a very special place to meI have already returned to Hawaii once since that life changing trip, to the Big Island, and I am planning to spend a couple of weeks back there next year as well, hopefully visiting Kauai and the North Shore of Oahu.

Hawaii truly awakened my spirit.

1) Vancouver

Stanley Park in Vancouver - one of my favorite places in the worldThe one place in the world that I have been that I thought ‘THIS is my place’. I have never felt such a powerful sense of belonging anywhere else outside of my home country, New Zealand. Whenever I think of Vancouver I instantly feel happy.

Hiking in Vancouver - one of my favorite places in the worldI love nearly everything about this picture perfect city. The friendly and forward thinking people, the delicious cuisine, Granville Island Market, the abundant wildlife, the driftwood strewn beaches, the spectacular sea wall, the funky neighbourhoods and the alpine mountains taking pride of place in the background.

Vancouver viewsThe only thing I wasn’t too keen on was the long rainy winter but my love for this city is so strong that it didn’t bother me much.

Jericho Beach in Kitsilano, VancouverThe five months that I lived in Vancouver were some of the best months of my life and we weren’t even doing anything exciting, just living a simple, frugal life, but I have never felt so happy just being somewhere.

I was back for a month last summer and I will be back for a couple of weeks next summer as well. This breathtaking city is my happy place and I will live there one day, somehow.

Stunning Vancouver - my favorite city in the worldSo these are my special places in the world. They all played a part in shaping me into the person I am today. I hope to find other places in the world that I feel this way about but if I don’t, that’s OK.

Because they are enough.

What are the places that you will return to?

19 Comments on Five Places That I Will Definitely Return to

  1. I agree with you Katie, it’s a cliché but Paris is a city that for us, has everything. The beautiful historic buildings, great food and for me it seems so much more laid back compared to back home in London where everyone’s on a mission to get somewhere.

  2. Nice list! There are plenty of places mentioned here that I still have to visit, but London would be on my list of places I’d definitely return to, in fact in some ways I manage to always go back there, I lost count of how many times I’ve been, London is too nice! 🙂

    • Same with me, I went over on a two year working visa and ended up on a student visa after that then a de facto visa on my South African boyfriend’s Ancestry visa! Nearly 6 years in total I ended up living there! I will definitely be back again although maybe not to live again 🙂

  3. Hi Katie, isn’t it so hard to narrow down to just 5? I’ve been to many of the places on your list (expect Pauanui). I need to start thinking of my top five to return to for my post. Definitely Italy. I’ve been there twice and still want to move there some day. Paris would be good just because the one week I spent in Paris every museum was on strike so while I enjoyed times in parks, Montemarte, etc, I didn’t get into the Louvre or any famous museums. London would be good since I’ve only gone twice for a week each but it was for business and I didn’t get to see much but I don’t think it would be at the top of my list. So hmmm. 1) Italy, 2) Hawaii, 3) French Polynesia (Huahine was my favorite of the three Islands I’ve visited because it was the least touristy), 4) NYC — is it silly to say NYC since I used to live there and go back to visit or for work all the time — but still, it is NYC, I have to keep going back, 5) ???? San Fran, Arizona, Costa Rica, Spain… ack! I don’t know. Since I love to try new places all the time it is really hard to decide.

    • I know what you mean! There are quite a few places that I definitely want to return to – I was just going to say France rather than narrow it down to Paris as I love the whole country and have been 8 times so far. Sydney is definitely another place that I love and will always return to but I live here at the moment so didn’t put it on my list. I definitely agree with Italy too, and the UK, Greece, Mexico, US, Canada – it is definitely hard!

  4. Great list, Katie! Sadly, Hawaii is the only place on your list that I’ve visited. I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I still haven’t made it to London or Paris. I must fix this soon. I’ve been itching to get to Vancouver for ages but the flights are often more expensive than they are to Europe! But I hear nothing but fabulous things, especially from all my Canadian friends, so I have to make it there one of these days.

    Thanks for the nomination, by the way 🙂

    • Definitely make sure you get to Paris and London! Hope you love them as much as I did. I know what you mean about prices to fly to Vancouver, flights cross country in Canada are so expensive! We ended up flying from Chicago to Seattle then taking the bus up when we needed to get from East to West 🙂

  5. Great post. I will definitely also return to Paris, and London is my favourite place in the world! I’m a kiwi from the North Island and I haven’t heard of Pauanui =( It looks beautiful though

  6. Great post!

    I know what you mean, though, about not wanting to repeat visit too many places, as there is always still so much else to discover.

    But I think, like you, I’ll always want to go back to the places that have meant a lot to me over the years: London and Paris are also on my list, as is Melbourne, where I lived for a year and made some great friends and memories. Also the Isle of Man, which I visited earlier this year and instantly claimed its place as my favourite unsung destination.

    Vancouver looks like my kind of place, too – I may have to add it to my wishlist.

  7. I completely agree with you about getting inner peace by walking out in nature, I am the same way.

    And unfortunately I actually have already done this! I’m the one who nominated Cory! But thanks anyway, and I’m sure there’s still time to nominate somebody else? xx

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