Wrapped up in blanket and suffering with a dose of the Christmas flu seems like a good moment to look back on the year that was. It wasn’t a pretty year from a global standard so ruminating on a few of our travel highlights of 2016 seems appropriate in an effort to dispell some of the bad.
We began the year by wrapping up a family Christmas and wedding in New Zealand, seeing the New Year in on Auckland’s harbour front, before making our way to the UAE on a whistlestop tour to see friends. This kicked off a fantastic year of adventuring and traveling both in the UK and around the world which meant that picking only 10 of my favourite moments was decidedly difficult.
We’ve learnt so much about our styles of fun, refined how we like to see the world and are busy planning a few more adventures for the year ahead.
Watching the sun seting over the ethereal Abu Dhabi mosque
Before visiting I had worried that the Grand Mosque was going to be one
of those places that is photoshopped beyond belief, only to disappoint
in real life, but I’m fairly certain it is impossible to take bad photos
of this opulent temple.
Sleeping betwixt Dubai sand dunes
I can’t tell you in words how beautiful that sunrise was. Deep indigo
turned slowly to inky blue, soft lavender, russet red. Then, as the sun
began to peek over the horizon intense ochres turned to soft peaches and
Finally visiting Winchester Cathedral
We wanted to marvel at the serene, curious beauty of Anthony Gormley’s
Sound II reflected in the flooded crypt of Winchester Cathedral, spot the bronze diving costume of William Walker,
the man who
singlehandedly dove and emptied the flooded ramparts of Winchester
Cathedral and pay a moment of respect at the memorial to Jane Austin.
A fleeting visit to Belfast
When you have good weather (and even better, lovely locals to escort you
around the compact city) Belfast is almost unbeatable. Often skipped
through by tourists taking daytrips and overnights from Dublin to the
wonder of the Giants Causeway, there is a surprising amount of things to
do as a visitor in the capital of Northern Ireland. Sure, the highlights could be covered in a day plus a half day out to
the coast, but take a few days. Relax. Explore. Loosen your belt.
A leisurely lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
It was one of those perfect days soaking in the sunshine between rain showers and learning how to play croquet on the perfectly manicured lawns of Raymond Blanc’s 2 Michelin starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
Swimming in an alpine lake at the foot of several Bavarian castles
There are on occasion day trips that are tourist essentials where you expect chaos,
and find yourself pleasantly floating in crystal clear Alpine waters
wishing you never had to go back to the stresses of real life.
Tasting freshly caught Whitstable Oysters
Our mission was simple, to try the world-famous delicacies whilst the
ocean lapped nearby. This is what late summer days are made of.
Despite the pebbly beach woes we face occasionally (proper first world problems ala Brighton
where character makes up for a lack of granular sunshine) we strolled
off the train and followed the daytripping Londoners making like homing
pigeons to the shorefront.
Relaxing in Budapest Spas
I’ve wanted to visit Budapest for years. (I even have blog proof here in my 2015 and 2016 travel wishlist posts)
but it wasn’t until the mutter of a boys weekend reached my ears,
freeing me to sneak away for an indulgent girly weekend with a very good friend, that we managed to organise ourselves for a luxury long weekend.
A surprise weekend in Gothenburg
As a special birthday treat my lovely husband organised a secret city
break that was only revealed to me at the airport as we walked up to the
check-in desk. I knew we were going away somewhere and the weather was
likely to be cool (allowing me to excitedly pack and dream) but every
aspect of the trip was planned and researched in cryptic silence.
Cake and Schnitzel in Vienna
Vienna is grand, elegant, perfectly compact, leafy, full of delicate
baked goods peddlers, brimming with history and a thousand other
superlatives. It’s one of
those cities where you mention a visit, and everyone – and I mean
exclaims “Oh, I LOVE Vienna!”. There is plenty to do for culture
for relaxation weekends, cake on nearly every corner, gardens galore for
picnics, museums for ghosting. Just all the things.
Disclaimer: our fortnight adventuring in our Southern American Road trip just had too many moments to pick a single one so I’ve simply not included it. Watch this space.
I cannot wait to see what adventures 2017 will bring. (Recommendations welcomed below!)