2016 Review!

 

2016 was another whirlwind of a year and I managed to squeeze in trips to 8 different countries across 3 continents! All of this while working a full time desk job! My penchant for gallivanting at the weekend was in full flight and I also had a bit of a luxury trip this year. So here is a little run down of my Year and how I managed to visit 12 cities in 8 countries in one year!
 
February 2016 – Amsterdam
Having taken a short break in January to recover from my month in India, my first trip of the New Year was to Amsterdam. I was very lucky as this was a kind and generous gift from my lovely boyfriend. We pack a lot into our weekend visiting all of the hot spots and indulging in the fabulous Dutch food. We drank delicious whipped cream vodka from an ice cup, visited a real live windmill, learned about science and the history of tulips and walked along the canals and crooked houses and the red light district. It’s safe to say that we got a lot done in Amsterdam.

 

March – Marrakech
My best friend and I love to travel and hoped to book a weekend trip to make the most of the public holiday for St Patrick’s Day. We planned to book a cheap Ryanair flight and pop off somewhere in Europe for the weekend, but came across the idea of heading to Morocco. This was the perfect trip for us, because it was so far from home culturally, but so close and so cheap to get to. We stayed in an amazing Ryad right by the medina and through ourselves fully into Marrakech. We visited a waterfall in the Atlas Mountains, shopped for trinkets in the Souks, had delicious street food in Jamma El Fna and experienced our first Hammam treatment. Not bad for 1 day of annual leave eh?
April – Coventry, Royal Leamington Spa & Stratford-upon-Avon
 
In April I made two trips to England to visit my brother. On one occasion I went alone and we spent the day eating and drinking around Leamington Spa. We also visited the famous baths for which the town gets its name and a walk in the park on a bright and sunny day, followed by dinner in a Reggae inspired restaurant.
On my second visit I had my parents in tow and we enjoyed a game of Rugby League in the Ricoh Arena, soon after we popped into the casino where I tried my hand at some gambling. The next day we visited Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Shakespeare and walked along the quaint traditional houses and the cobbled streets. We finished our day with a delicious meal in Kenilworth where I tried my first Oysters.

 

May – Edinburgh
 
In May I had a work trip where I was presenting some research at a conference in Edinburgh. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of the city, but I had a nice dinner in a restaurant facing the castle and I had a quick spin around the city before leaving for the airport. This leaft me with just enough of a taste to want to come back.
June – Prague, Paris, Bordeaux, St Emilion
 
June was a very busy month for travel and we started the month with a trip to Prague for the bank holiday weekend. My boyfriend and I packed a tremendous amount of activities into our 2 days including visits to Prague Castle, Numerous Churches, TWO Mirror mazes, John Lennons wall, Charles Bridge, Petrin Hill, The astronomical clock…. I could go on but maybe you should just read the post! We also tried some absinthe and not to mention plenty of food. We went home, tired, but full and Happy.

 

A week later we set off for Euro2016 and flew to Paris. We had an eventful trip in Paris with our plans scuppered by the public service strikes. Still, we made it to a number of alternative sites, including the grave of Oscar Wilde and garden of love….. trés romantic!
A week later we were in Bordeaux and watching the Boys in Green again. We had a fantastic time exploring this City and the nearby towns. We climbed to the top of Europe’s biggest Sand Dune in Arcachon and wandered through the beautiful vineyards in Saint Emilion.
September – Amsterdam
 
July and August were quiet months as was September, although I did have a business trip back to Amsterdam. On this occasion I barely even left the Airport, but I got my fix of Dutch Culture with a dinner of Kroket, frites and Mayo, eaten on delft and beside a giant Tulip. I think that’s a Dutch enough experience right there!
October – Moldova & Mexico
 
One month later I was off on another adventure to the least visited country in Europe. We arrived in Chisinau and I took an immediate dislike to the place, but that soon subsided and I really got into the vibe of the City. We watched as elderly couples danced in the local park, visited the national museum and watched over the skyscape in the Sky bar. We also saw our fair share of churches and markets and got a real feel for what it is like in the least visited country in Europe. There was also wine and football!

 

My biggest Luxury in 2016 was my trip to Cancun, Mexico and this was a very different experience for me. Along with my friend, we opted for complete self-indulgence and booked an All-inclusive resort. This was the first time in my life I have been to somewhere so lavish. We lay by the pool and chilled out, but more importantly, we visited the Mayan Pyramids and one of the 7 wonders of the World, Chichen Itza! We also visited the Mayan ruins at Tulum and El Rey.We swam in the Caribbean sea and snorkelled in the natural park at Xel-Ha. We partied hard at a foam party in Cancun and we had plenty of tequila. This holiday was the perfect mix of relaxation, exploration and rocking our socks off. Yay!

 

November – London
In November I made an annual trip to London for a conference and again while my time was very limited, I managed to squeeze in some Christmas shopping on Oxford Street and a coffee with a friend from India who I hadn’t seen for a year.
December – Birmingham
 
What better way to finish up the year than with a trip to the Christmas Markets? This time I had the company of all (well most) of the people I love. My Mam, Dad, Brother and boyfriend all joined me for a festive trip to the Birmingham Christmas markets. We had such good fun shopping and tasting some of the culinary delights including that massive Bratwurst and some hot chocolate.

 

Well that is all for 2016. As you can see I managed to fit a lot into my year travelling to places like Paradise and places rich in culture and History. I was to thank everyone who took the time to read my blog in 2016. It has been a special year and your readership means an awful lot to me. In fact, it inspires me to travel even more!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and I will see you again in 2017 for more adventures
Clair

 

Xxx

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