Before we had children, Ram and I were lucky enough to fit in lots of travel all over the world. Many of our holidays involved road trips, including some fantastic scenic drives, and I thought I'd share a few of my favourites. Although when I say drive, what I really should say is that I've been driven, as Ram luckily does the vast majority of the driving and I'm generally in charge of navigation (although that can sometimes be just as stressful as the driving!)
The Big Sur, California, US
Our first real road trip together was a holiday to the West Coast of the United States back in 2005. We spent several weeks driving our way between large cities and through National Parks, but the stand out scenic drive was along the Big Sur, following Highway 1 down the coast from San Luis Obispo to Monterey.
We stopped several times along the route to admire the scenery, and I particularly remember hiking down to Jade Cove, although we didn't find any jade! We also took in the 17 mile drive on the Monterey Peninsula which is very pretty.
The Great Ocean Road from Adelaide to Melbourne, Australia
The Great Ocean Road is another coastal drive between Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia, and takes in some amazing scenery, with fantastic rock formations like the 12 Apostles. There are also some lovely little towns along the way like Apollo Bay and Port Campbell. We stopped in each for one night, and if I ever move to Australia (don't worry Mum, we have no plans to!) this is where I'd want to live.
In Apollo Bay we took a glow worm tour where a local man took us to see glow worms on his land, and as we walked back to his house where we'd parked the car, the night sky was just amazing. I've never seen the Milky Way so clearly, and you could stand and stare at the stars for hours. In fact the man told us that he didn't own a television, as who needs one when you have a sky like this outside your house, and what he said has stuck with me years later.
This is a very treacherous part of coastline, and there are lots of information panels on the route giving you more information about the ships that met their end there, it was absolutely fascinating. The colour of the sand is an amazing dark yellow/orange colour which I've never seen anywhere else, and the whole stretch of coast is absolutely beautiful.
Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon, Iceland
When we booked a holiday to Reykjavik, we thought that we were booking a city break, but we quickly realised that most of the interesting sights are outside the city - luckily we had booked a hire car! We spent one of our first days there driving the Golden Circle, a route which takes in the National Park Thingvellir, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the Strokkur geyser as well as lots of other beautiful scenery. This inspired us to attempt a longer drive - to Jokulsarlon, a large glacial lake filled with icebergs.
We visited Iceland very early on in the season and there weren't many other tourists around, so we were a little daunted by the long drive and spent quite a bit of time planning, and contemplating whether we could manage it. We set off very early one morning and are so glad that we did. It was a long drive, but the road was flat and empty, and with only one road going around the island it's impossible to get lost!
The scenery in Iceland is volcanic and deserted, and it feels as though you are driving across the moon or another planet. On the way you pass a glacier that you can walk right up to and on (although we didn't go far as it's not the best idea when you can hear the ice creaking and cracking next to you!) and it was fascinating to see.
The Icefields Parkway, Canada
We encountered more glaciers along the Icefields Parkway in Canada. This route is a lot more touristy, and you can only approach the glaciers under strict supervision. We took a tour on a special bus which drove us to a carefully fenced off area that you could walk around on (and yet I still managed to fall in up to my knees in icy water!).
The Icefields Parkway drive itself runs through the Canadian Rocky Mountains Park from Banff to Jasper and takes in some beautiful sights along the way, like the spectacular Lake Louise as well as other bright blue lakes, tucked away between the mountains and forests.
Uluru to King's Canyon, Australia
Our drive from Uluru to King's Canyon through the Australian outback was another drive that we found the thought of a little daunting. It involves driving for many hours through the bush, with just one stop en-route at Curtin Springs cattle station which literally is in the middle of nowhere. If you break down you could be waiting for help for a very long time, and the heat is deadly.
Fortunately, as I realised when we drove along it, although there aren't many other drivers on the road, there are enough, and I'm pretty sure that someone would always stop to make sure that you were all right, and to send for help if you weren't. It was a very very hot drive, as even the air conditioning couldn't stop the sun streaming in, but we packed plenty of water and took along lots of CDs for some tunes and it was a brilliant drive. We didn't see a lot of wildlife but we did spot a tornado like storm of orange dust which was pretty cool.
These drives were much easier to undertake child free, and on our more recent family holidays the driving has become more about just getting to the destination rather than enjoying the journey. But there are still a few drives that I hope to experience one day, and hopefully share rather than endure the experience with the children!
I'd love to visit Iceland again one day, and this time spend a week or so driving the Iceland's Ring Road around the whole of the country. I imagine that a great deal of the journey would be quite isolated, but there are places to stop, and lots of things to see on the way. It probably wouldn't take much work in the way of navigation as there is only the one road to follow, so I could sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Another drive that I'd like to take, although definitely not as the driver, is the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It looks like a stunning drive, although perhaps also terrifying with lots of steep drops!
Have you taken any of these drives? Or do you have completely different ones on your wish list? I'd love to hear about them!