One Last Day In Paradise – Part 1

Travel Talk

Recovering from an operation and its complications I allowed my mind to wander. How would I spend my last 24 hours with no travel restrictions anywhere in the world using the technology of Dr Who? It has to be David ‘Broadchurch’ Tennant though, he was the best. Where would I revisit? Allow me to fantasize.

The village of Gudvangen, Sognefjord, Norway I’m awake at 5am. I am an early riser since I hit 50, many years ago. Sat on the balcony drinking coffee and sailing serenely down Sognefjord in Norway. It’s cool and oh so misty. It had not dawned on me, until now, that the dawn chorus had yet to wake. Slowly as the ship cut through the still grey water, all manner of bird and wildlife began to stir. And as I sit a 3D natural history programme floats by. Breathtaking and dramatic and a wonderful start to the day.

It is a quick hop over to Lake Louise, Canada now. Just in time to catch the rising sun bringing life and awe to Victoria glacier. It’s the best time to visit too. Quiet and minus the tourists. Unfortunately no sighting of moose or elk today.


Peckish now. And today is not the day for this diabetic to worry about what he is eating. It is a day to indulge.


Lake Louise, Canada Hotel Rivalago in Sulzano, Italy is amazing – probably my favourite hotel in the world. With gardens that run into Lake Iseo it is such a perfect spot. Breakfast is a grand affair. It is too good to miss! So much temptation. Stay for a couple of weeks and try a different fruit juice or jam or marmalade or bread or cereal every day of your stay.

I’m sat with my lovely wife Barbara on the grey metal love seat in the garden. It’s as far as we can go before getting our feet wet. Swans, inquisitive at our feet. Eating fresh strawberries, mango and pineapple. A magnificent view. Lake Iseo is quieter and less commercial than its brash neighbours of Como and Garda, yet all the better for that.


I need a walk now. I’m here at my favourite castle in the world – Bamburgh. It sits majestically almost magically on the Northumbrian coast. Strategically superb and defiant and what’s more, it looks like a castle should look.

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, England As a child I wanted to live here. It was my castle. I never did of course but never failed to be emotionally moved by the sight. If I close my eyes I can see the outline of this fortress silhouetted against a North East sky. The sky is always so fresh and light and invigorating here. The beach is fabulous. Fine golden sand and rock pools to explore in abundance. The view into Bamburgh along the B1342 from Budle Bay is simply stunning, probably one of the finest sights in the world. A view which never fails to stir the emotions and produce a tear. A final walk on the beach now and a final look at my castle.


Driving inland now, just time to drive through Cragside estate near Rothbury and admire the azaleas and rhododendrons which are in full bloom. This was the home of William Armstrong , a Geordie boy made good. Fairytale-esque and the world’s first home to be lit by hydroelectric power.


Lake Iseo, Italy And whilst in gardening mood it’s time to tip toe through the tulips in Keukenhof near Amsterdam. My favourite flower, so many varieties. Fragrant and beautiful. Displays so perfect it makes you want to go out and pick up a trowel.


All this travel is making me hungry. Eidfjord in Norway is lovely. The mountains form a protective overcoat around the town which is at the end of a fjord. Most places around here are at the end of a fjord. No 10 a white clapperboard cafe is a favourite. Sitting on the terrace the sun lifts our mood. The apple cake and cream and coffee are very welcome. Why not, let’s have seconds! More coffee Doctor?


Monte Isola sits like a dumpling in the middle of a clear blue Lake Iseo. We take the ferry across from Sulzano to Peschiara Maraglio and turn left and walk lakeside to Sensole. 7km more and we’ve trekked the island, walking through vineyards, tiny hamlets and up hill and down dale. Utterly gorgeous. Cars are banned here. Scooters roam free in this modern day Jurassic Park. Paraphrasing Orwell “two wheels good four wheels bad”.


Beam me up Scotty,  D T is from Bathgate. Time for lunch.

•  Read One Last day In Paradise – Part 2

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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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