So, we asked our writers to tell us of the first country they visited and what was special about it:
When I turned 7, my parents considered me old enough (it will be proved later in the story that their judgment was wrong) to embark with me on a proper road trip through Austria, Germany and Italy.
I’d like to think that the excitement I felt for the upcoming road trip proves that I have always craved adventure. Truth is that I was going through a serious “Sound of The Music” phase and the fact that I was going to see the shooting locations made me even more hyperactive than your regular 7-year-old. Still, that, and the warm ice cream (yes, you read that right) that we tried in Salzburg are the only things that I remember. Similarly, my memories from Germany are hazy.
It was Italy that made the trip memorable (and not in a good way). Like the gourmand I was, after getting a slice of Capricciosa, I searched for a place to savour it alone. That’s how I got lost in Venice. My parents thought I went in the opposite direction. Bear in mind that this was before mobile phones, so the panic was real. Luckily, my mom always sets a landmark as “the emergency meeting spot”. I still don’t know how but we managed to find each other on Rialto Bridge.
Venice may be a dream for some, but I will always remember it as a nightmare.
The first country I visited was Portugal when I was four years old. It was a little seaside town called Tavira in the southernmost Algarve region. This was a gorgeous and quaint destination that had tourists flocking from all across the globe. Restaurants upon restaurants lined the riverside, each selling their specialties on lunch and evening menus.
I remember this one restaurant we pretty much lived at that sold the most amazing burgers, and me being the picky eater I was, would pick each and every sesame seed off my burger bun before eating it. With the sun pouring down on holidaymakers and locals every second of every day, this could not have been a more picturesque and magical destination for my first holiday.
I may not be able to remember it, but the very first time I left the UK happened when I was less than a year old. I was travelling with my mum and dad to visit my grandad in Ireland. I can't remember the first visit, but I have been back many times since and there has always been a familiar comfort in the same kind of memories repeating themselves year on year. From adventures in my grandad's rowing boat wearing life jackets, to eating strawberry bonbons at Bunratty Castle, to exploring the wonders of the rock and fossil shop, every memory I have there is a good one.
Being a quarter Irish, I always feel like the place as a whole is a second home, and spending time there is like travelling back in time. Two decades later, the Claddagh ring I got there on my 20th birthday reminds me that Ireland is a place that forever has, and always will, have a special place in my heart.