Hong Kong stopover

If you’re faced with a long journey from New Zealand back to the UK, Hong Kong is a great place to stop for a few days, as I did earlier this year.

It’s an incredibly concentrated city, packed with eye-watering high rise blocks and people streaming everywhere. But it also has the odd pocket of calm, including Stanley Bay and Kowloon’s Walled City Park.

Views are everything in Hong Kong, and you can see them by taking The Peak tram. My hotel – the Harbour Grand – had a great rooftop platform to take photographs from and drink in the sights. The city is also the ideal place to visit former Portuguese colony Macau across the water.

I stayed in Hong Kong when the weather was grey and wet. The territory is now facing stormy times, but I hope its special sheen as the Pearl of the Orient remains for many decades to come.

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Land of eagles

British holidaymakers flock in their thousands to nearby Spain, Italy and Greece. This is a country which is equally close but remains practically undiscovered.

Albania has it all. A coastline bathed in sunshine, epic mountains, castles and mosques, not to mention a fascinating capital city, Tirana.

The country’s unique selling point is the decades it spent in isolation ruled by socialist dictator Enver Hoxha. Thousands of bunkers from that era pepper the countryside while grandiose statues and murals aren’t hard to stumble across.

There was a diversity of photographs to capture in Albania, while it felt energetic and surprisingly modern. We know the Mediterranean far too well, but this is a twist on the familiar that’s well worth checking out.

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Cool capital

Welcome to the world’s most northerly capital city. Reykjavik is the hub of Iceland, a small nation two hours north by air from my home in Manchester, UK.

Wrapped up warm, I spent a day exploring it by foot before seeing some of the country’s amazing landscapes and quickly realised it wasn’t your regular city.

It feels quite small and parochial in some respects, yet has some bold, landmark architecture including the elegant Hallgrimskirkja and ultra modern Harpa concert hall.

A bus ride to Perlan’s beautiful viewpoint makes you realise the rugged Icelandic landscape almost closes in on Reykjavik – a unique capital city for what is no ordinary country.

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Swiss sojourn

In this year of travel, it was nice to be invited on a relaxing break by a friend and simply tag along. It was my first visit to Switzerland and the lakeside city of Montreux. A budget flight from Manchester to Geneva and an efficient train ride later, we had arrived.

A stay in a genteel hotel with a stunning Alpine view and walks along the shore of Lake Geneva made this a proper little holiday, with the scenery and quaint old part of the town keeping my camera busy.

Queen legend Freddie Mercury had a home in Montreux and one of the city’s main attractions is a statue dedicated to his memory. It’s easy to see why he decided to spend time here.

As for Switzerland, it’s clean, works well but will eat into your holiday money. A cheaper lakeside alternative could be Ohrid in North Macedonia, but the polished backdrop of the Alps is hard to beat.

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