Review of the year 2016
Despite a house move – and subsequent endless weekends spent decorating and driving to and from every DIY store in a fifty mile radius – I’ve managed to fit in a few trips this year. What follows is a review of my favourite travel moments from 2016 and what I’m looking forward to in 2017.
There are a few countries on my “still to visit” list that I really should have ticked off years ago, and Sri Lanka was one of them. I finally managed to get there in March and had a fabulous week riding trains and exploring the southern half of the country. Here are some of my posts from that trip; I’ve you’ve never been, I’m sure you’ll want to add it to your wish list.
Sigiriya – to the tune of Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer…
Tea time in the hill country – dare you swallow and not spit?
Uda Walawe – watching the elephants play!
From Sri Lanka, it was a short hop across the Indian Ocean to the beautiful island archipelago of the Seychelles. This one had been saved as a potential honeymoon destination, but in the end we opted for a US road trip and I visited the Seychelles as a solo traveller. Anse Source d’Argent was every bit as sublime as the glossy travel magazines would have you believe, and being able to do the trip on a budget without sacrificing style and comfort was an added bonus. Definitely one to return to one day.
New York – but this time in business class!
I’ve almost lost count of the number of trips I’ve made to New York and there’s much to read on this blog that will explain to you why it’s a city that has held my interest for so long. But this year, I travelled in style with British Airways for less than the cost of an economy fare, courtesy of a very attractive error fare. It’s likely my article on how to blag a business class fare on the cheap is going to be in the Sunday Times Travel Magazine before the spring, but in the meantime, I blogged about error fares here:
Stockholm and Sweden’s High Coast
I took a slight detour on the way back from NYC and visited Stockholm, another place that’s been on my bucket list for a while. The Swedish capital was fun to visit, its ABBA museum exceeding expectations and the outlying islands providing an alternative to city traffic. I then drove up to the High Coast area for a few days in the splendid isolation of some of the country’s best beaches and sheltered harbours. If you’ve never heard of this part of Scandinavia, then I’d urge you to check it out.
Extremadura – hidden Spain
I’m a big fan of Spain and was delighted to have the opportunity to explore a region that has been overlooked by Brits – Extremadura. With a mix of stunning natural beauty, characterful towns packed with history and outstanding food, it ticked all the boxes and then some. I only scratched the surface, but my short trip has left me keen to return. My guide is just an overview; it will get you started but to fully explore the region before you go, then I’ll point you in the direction of native Irene Corchado and her excellent site:
September brought with it the opportunity to spend some of hubby’s air miles and a respite from the muddle that is our half-finished house. We chose to fly to LA for the weather, but having been there before, headed south down the coast for a few days in San Diego and then inland to the heat of Palm Springs. Good food, lots of sunshine and a chance to witness the crazy run up to the elections first hand before returning home to even crazier news a month later when the result was announced. The highlight of the trip, for me at least, was a visit to San Juan Capistrano, one of SoCal’s mission towns:
A few day trips to end the year
With two dogs to take care of, I need to juggle the trips I make so that they are well looked after. One of the ways I achieve this is to take shorter trips which means my husband can work from home to keep them company. So, the last three trips of the year were day trips: to Budapest, Regensburg and Copenhagen. I’ve done many such trips and it is always a big surprise to realise how much it’s possible to fit in without the day feeling like one big dash from sight to sight. To see what I mean, check out these three and the previous similar trips I’ve made. It’s also a great way to get your travel fix on a budget – flights for that day out to Regensburg (flying to nearby Nuremberg) cost less than a fiver.
And so, that was my travel year; I hope yours was as satisfying. What’s in store for 2017?
To kick off the New Year, I’m off to Puerto Rico for some winter sunshine and a chance to explore the historic sights of San Juan’s Old Town. Then a couple of months later I’m off to South America for Uruguay’s gaucho festival and a chance to finally visit Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni. After that, who knows? Writing some background material about the ‘Stans for Kalpak Travel has put Central Asia on my radar, a part of the world that suits my preference for off the beaten track destinations. Georgia looks like a strong contender right now, along with neighbouring Armenia and some fascinating breakaway republics, but nothing is set in stone. I’ll be keeping an eye on those error fare notifications just in case…