Wow, I can’t believe that my blog has just turned four years old. Not only does it remind me of how far I’ve come with this site, it’s also a little reminder of how many great memories I have in my own personal travels and also in my career.
In 2013 I launched my website Oh So London and wrote anonymously. I then later ‘came out’ as the author a year or so later and in 2015 I played around with a sister wedding blog, Oh So Hitched. That all changed again in 2016 when I decided to scrap the wedding blog and bring it all back into one blog again. Then most recently, in 2017, I underwent a brand change and turned Oh So London into The Travel Journo, making it much more about my travel writing.
I feel I still have a lot to learn about blogging and wish I’d paid more attention to the online lectures we had when I did my NCTJ (back then I was all about print). I trained as a journalist and writer, working across newspapers and magazines initially. So when I started out in blogging, I didn’t really have a clue about how to make it a success. In fact, I still cringe a little bit at some of the old pieces I wrote (that’s normal, right?).
However fours year, I’ve learnt quite a bit. I finally know a little bit about SEO and I finally get some of the techy stuff like plugins, alt tags, making the most of your photography and how to promote your site, yaddah yaddah yaddah. What I like most about this little corner of the internet is it allows me to share lots of great things alongside my travel writing career. I don’t pretend to be the biggest, greatest blogger on earth. But I do hope it offers a little bit of inspiration for those who can’t get enough of travel and food. So in honour of four years in the blogosphere, here are my favourite 20 blog posts of all time.
I hope you’ll continue to stick around, because there’s much more to come.
Top 20 Favourite Blog Posts from Four Years in Blogging | The Travel Journo
(and FYI, my job as a freelance travel writer involves more time sitting at a desk in my flat in South London than drinking wine in a beautiful part of Africa, but that picture wouldn’t look quite as exciting would it? So forgive me).
1. A Winter Wonderland at Carlton Bank, North Yorkshire
I grew up in Yorkshire, but rarely write about it, so this is one of my favourite posts as it reminds me just how lucky I was to grow up in such a pretty part of England. Carlton Bank forms part of the North York Moors and boasts incredible views from the top. When it gets a good covering of snow in winter, it looks absolutely stunning. This picture-led blog post is a little reminder of that. Read it in full here.
2. Eating Our Way Around Malaga: A Foodie’s Guide
I love it when a destination really surprises you. Malaga did that as for a long time, it was overlooked by prettier parts of the Costa del Sol so I really wasn’t expecting to find such an interesting selection of restaurants. After a few days of hunting down Malaga’s best eateries, I wrote a mini guide for foodies in search of authentic Andalusian cuisine. Read it in full here.
3. A Bean to Bar Tour at The Rabot Estate, St Lucia
St Lucia is such a dreamy place that I’d go back there in a heartbeat. But aside from its stunning beaches and unique Piton mountains, it’s also home to The Rabot Estate, a historical cocoa plantation and boutique hotel by Hotel Chocolat. We took the bean to bar chocolate-making tour which followed by a cacao-infused meal at the Rabot restaurant. This is such a great attraction for anyone visiting the island and I’d highly recommend it. Read about it in full here.
4. Theresa Roberts: The Lady Behind Jamaica Patty Co.
As this blog started out as a restaurant review and London-focused site, it only seems right to include a piece about a fantastic eatery in London. One of my favourite parts of my job is meeting interesting people and I loved meeting Theresa Roberts, a Jamaican-born business woman who has brought some of the tastiest Jamaican patties to a busy street in Covent Garden. As a huge fan of Jamaica and the Caribbean, I’d like to see more places like The Jamaica Patty Co in London. Read the full piece on Theresa and her fantastic business here.
5. Eating ‘Slow’ Sustainable Food @ Cornercopia, Brixton Village
There are some restaurants doing really good things out there for the slow food movement and during the days when I was reviewing lots and lots of restaurants, I discovered Cornercopia right on my doorstep in Brixton. Canadian chef ‘Blue Jay’ is a really inspirational lady and singlehandedly cooks all the food in this little eatery. It’s seriously good food too – very wholesome and homely yet packed with interesting flavours and in keeping with the slow food movement, it’s all sourced from local businesses in Brixton and grown in allotments and gardens nearby. Big up Cornercopia. I loved writing this piece and if you care about tasty food – and doing good at the same time – I highly recommend you pay them a visit. Read about them in full here.
6. A Five-Star Stay at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
The Royal Crescent Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel and Grade I listed townhouse in Bath and is part of the Royal Crescent – a famous Georgian landmark in the city. I was very excited to be able to visit this hotel as part of a review, just in time to see their new wedding garden and to get some time in their beautiful spa. The rooms here are so beautiful, you don’t want to leave them and they’re perfectly suited for a romantic weekend away. The food at The Dower House restaurant was also fantastic. Read the piece in full here. And you can read about the Dower House restaurant in a separate piece here.
7. A Dreamy Airbnb Stay at Somewhere West, Jamaica
In the lead up to our wedding in Negril, Jamaica, we needed a place to stay that was relaxed, personalised and would allow us to tap into a local’s knowledge about the best places to visit. Somewhere West delivered exactly that. From our super helpful host Angi, to the delicious breakfasts they cooked for us, Somewhere West was a fantastic place to start our two weeks in the Caribbean and ‘feel like a local’ while we were there. Read the piece in full here.
8. The Travel Journo’s Guide to West End Negril
The West End of Negril in Jamaica is in my opinion, a great place to spend a proper holiday where you just chill out, eat out, party and soak up sublime Caribbean scenery. It’s also home to some of the coolest hotels that ooze that barefoot luxury that the Caribbean does so well. This includes the lovely Rockhouse Hotel where we stayed. That’s why I put together this travel guide to the West End of Negril – to try and persuade you to go! Read the full piece here.
9. 20 Reasons to stay at Jakes Hotel, Treasure Beach
Jakes Hotel is one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed. Located in the rural Treasure Beach on Jamaica’s south coast, it’s where you come to slow down and relax – and I mean really relax. I left feeling so chilled after this trip. Inspired by Gaudi’s architecture, the place is made up of really colourful and whimsical design. We stayed here for our honeymoon and in this piece I shared 20 reasons to visit this wonderful corner of the Caribbean. Read the piece in full here.
10. Cooking Venetian Cuisine with the Enrica Rocca Cookery School
Another foodie one coming up here. Except this time, I attended a cookery class with Charlotte and Claire of the Enrica Rocca Cookery School. This well-known cookery business was founded by their mother, Italian-born Enrica Rocca. And while she runs their Italian school in Venice, Charlotte and Claire are educating Londoners about honest Italian cooking from their home in Notting Hill. It was a great hands-on experience and I learnt so much about sourcing seasonal produce from local suppliers. I also really enjoyed blogging about this great foodie experience. Read the piece in full here.
11. A Nikkei Supper Club by The London Foodie and Stellenbosch Wines
I’d never been to a supper club before I attended this one with The London Foodie and Stellenbosch Wines. The invitation for this came at the perfect time because it was just a couple of months before our big Africa trip, which included a week in South Africa’s beautiful wine region. This was the perfect introduction to South African wine and Luiz Hara – aka The London Foodie – cooks the most incredible food. If you want to find out more about Luiz’s supper clubs and his tasty Nikkei food, I suggest you read more here!
12. Fostering Godoma the elephant at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
One of the first things we did when we kick-started our Africa trip was to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – a very special place that has done so much for wildlife conservation, thanks to founder Daphne Sheldrick. Following our visit, we fostered Godoma, one of the orphaned elephant and we still receive updates on how he is getting on. We will never forget this amazing experience and I highly recommend it if you travel to Kenya. Read the piece in full here.
13. Sundowners with the Giraffes at Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, dates back to 1932 when Sir David Duncan created the house, inspired by a Scottish hunting lodge. Later, in the 70s, it was bought by conservationists who wanted to care for the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes who roam the parkland around here. Now, guests can interact with the giraffes, have breakfast with the giraffes and it really is one of the most unique hotels in the world. We popped by for sundowners and it was one of the most special things to write about during our travels around Africa. Read the post (and watch my video about our visit) in full here.
14. Go on, be a dare-devil: Dive into Devil’s Pool
I’m scared of heights so could very easily have skipped this trip. But something was telling me to man up and brave the trip to Devil’s Pool – the natural pool that’s formed on the edge of the mighty Victoria Falls. As fish nibbled at our feet and the waters dropped over 100 metres below us, it was terrifying but completely exhilarating. Check it out – I hope it inspires you to do it if you’re ever in Zambia. (NB you can only do it in the dry season). Read the full post here.
15. An Ultra-Exclusive Stay at Sausage Tree Camp, Zambia
Sausage Tree Camp in Zambia really is the epitome of luxury safari. From the moment we touched down on the Jeki airstrip, we knew we were in an incredibly special place. From seeing elephants playing in the river, to the butler service we had in our room, this was one of the most exciting places I’ve written about, and one of the most exciting experiences in my whole travel writing and blogging career. Read about our experience at Sausage Tree Camp in full here.
16. A Canoe Trip Down the Great Zambezi River
I cover a fair bit of luxury now on The Travel Journo but I hope I manage to share the adventures that you can have in between all the fancy hotels. One of the things that made our trip through Africa so amazing was the range of activities we got to do. Canoeing down the Zambezi river in Zambia really was one of those pinch-me moments. Hippos were just metres away from us and wildlife roamed on the river banks, making us feeling incredibly vulnerable, yet humbled by Africa’s nature. Read the piece in full and see a video I made about the experience here. Anabezi camp was also a highlight – so if you’re into safari, make sure you also check out this amazing place (and Sausage Tree’s sister camp) here.
17. Things to do at Gibb’s Farm, Tanzania
There are some hotels that really do nail the unique factor and Gibb’s Farm is one of them. Perched on the edge of a valley (read breathtaking views) close to the Ngorongoro Crater, this collection of homely-but-chic cottages offers an unforgettable experience. Farm to table dining, garden tours, a sustainable ethos and a long list of activities for guests are just some of the things that make this place worth visiting. Read my piece about the many things you can do at Gibb’s in full here.
18. Our Christmas Day on the top of Table Mountain
You can see that Africa is taking up a large proportion of this list, simply because I had some of my best travel experiences of my life while we were here. This includes our trip up Table Mountain – a very different Christmas Day for us and one I won’t forget writing about for a long time! I mean it’s not every day you get to stand on top of one of the world’s most iconic mountains in a Santa hat, is it? Read the piece in full here.
19. A Paradise Stay at Zawadi, Zanzibar
Zawadi hotel only just opened last year so it was very exciting to recently write about this place for The Travel Journo. The place is very bespoke with just a handful of villas and it’s located on the utterly gorgeous south east coast of Zanzibar. If you’re looking for honeymoon inspiration or simply somewhere to get a serious taste of paradise, read the piece in full here.
20. Babylonstoren: A Chic Farm Stay in the Cape Winelands
The last post on my list has to be Babylonstoren, a chic wine farm in the Cape Winelands that fuses a laid-back attitude, seriously chic rooms and the most breathtaking mountain backdrop in one unforgettable place. The wine here is top notch, the gardens are gorgeous and the people make you feel right at home. I have loads more to write about on The Travel Journo about the Cape Winelands and I would go back to this region in a heartbeat. For now, you can read the review of Babylonstoren in full here.
What are your all-time favourite posts in travel blogging and do you feel you’ve learnt a lot since you started out in the crazy world of blogging? Feel free to leave a comment below – and as always, thanks for reading.