6. Have you traveled anywhere this year?

Before long 2018 was coming to a close and it was time to set New Years resolutions for 2019. Along with the classic “I will join a gym” and “I will not place ASOS orders at 2am in the morning when I can’t sleep” I decided my main goal for the year ahead was to visit 5 countries. Unlike the other 2, I am proud to say I achieved it!

1. Canada

I kicked the year off with a trip to Canada in February to see my brother. Ben had decided to cross the pond and do a ski season out in the stunning town of whistler and it gave my dad and I the perfect excuse for a holiday! My plan originally was to go snowboarding but that was put on hold when I managed to fracture both of my wrists 2 weeks before we were due to go out (well done me!). As a result I had to find other ways to keep occupied whilst my family were off bombing down the mountains and to my surprise there was actually plenty to do! I went for walks through the snow covered Forrest, went for a massage at their Swedish spa and even managed to make it up the mountain in one of the cable cars to take in the view. I have 2 blog posts written in more detail about what to do in whistler when you can’t ski that I will link here (adventurous) and here (relaxing). It was lovely to see my brother and his girlfriend after 5 months of them being away and also a great escape to a beautiful winter wonderland. Hopefully next time I go though I won’t have 2 hands in casts!

2. Croatia

My trips abroad came to a bit of halt over spring so when May came around I was desperate for some time away! The problem was, I couldn’t actually find anyone to come with me. My friends were all saving up their precious holiday days for a long trip away over summer and my boyfriend had just started a new job so didn’t feel he could take time off yet. So I went on my own, as I now recommend everyone should do once in their life. To begin with I booked into a cute air BnB but then figured I might get a bit lonely not talking to anyone for 4 days so I swapped to a hostel right in the old town of Dubrovnik. The city itself was beautiful and I was also lucky enough to be there when the final season of Game of Thrones was released (kings landing is filmed in Dubrovnik) so was able to watch an episode in the very place it was produced. I have a blog post of what to do in Dubrovnik here and also one about my game of thrones tour here. Everyone in the hostel was incredibly friendly and I ended up on a day trip to Montenegro with a girl I met one night over dinner (so technically that brings my country count to 6.) that you can read about here. Looking back now, I kind of see this trip to Croatia as my test run for my big trip away next year, I wanted to see if I enjoyed being away on my own and staying in hostels before committing to it for months, thousands of miles away from home. Clearly I loved it!

3. Marrakech

Just like I struggled to get away over Easter, I found it virtually impossible to get any time off over summer so my next holiday didn’t come around until September. This was my bonus holiday of the year as I won my ticket on the plane in a raffle put on by my job. We got flights and accommodation paid for, as well as tickets to a 3 day festival in the desert called Oasis. I didn’t have a clue what to expect from this holiday as we didn’t know where we were staying until we pulled up at the front door but we ended up being well and truly spoilt! Marrakech itself was like no where I had ever been. I had heard nothing but horror stories before we went out and, yes, it is incredibly crowded and busy and i wouldn’t think about doing it on my own as a young girl but it had the most incredible energy that radiated in everything from the people to the architecture. We spent most mornings wandering around the markets, the afternoons were dedicated to lounging by the pool and then we danced the evenings away at the festival. (We possibly danced a bit too hard on the last night, getting back to the villa at 6am and then leaving at 6:30am to catch our flight home. That was not a fun experience!) The highlight of Marrakech for me though was definitely the food, it is a must spot for the foodies of the world out there!

4. Italy

As the nights started getting darker and the cold was coming in, my boyfriend and I felt like it was time to get away for a bit. We looked for cheap flights on sky scanner and ended up getting a great deal for flights and a hotel in Lake Como. I have always had a soft spot for Italy and Como did nothing but make my love for the country grow. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel on the edge of the lake, with the most insta-grammable pool I have ever dipped my toes into, and managed to get the balance of adventure and relaxation just right. We would spend a day out exploring the breathtaking town of Como and beyond either by boat, walking or funicular and then the next day we would head to the spa in the hotel or hide from the downpours in a local pizzeria. The highlight of the trip for me was probably the views from the top of Volta’s lighthouse in Brunate. As it was a quiet season at the lake we had the whole place to ourselves and followed up our climb with a fresh slice of chocolate and pear cake and a cup of tea. I can definitely see why lake como was the inspiration behind the phrase “la dolce vita”!

5. Tenerife

Around 8 years ago now my grandad moved out to a small coastal town on the island of Tenerife and every year since I have gone out for at least a long weekend. This year my mum and I decided to embrace the chance to get some winter sun and we flew out over the first weekend of December. To me the small town of san blas now feels like a home away from home. We know where to stay, where to eat, where to walk so whenever we go we generally do nothing but relax and indulge in paella and tapas. We spent most days and evenings out with my grandad, as well only see him once a year, and the rest of the time we lounged by the pool or read our books on the balcony. I can definitely get used to 26 degree weather in December!

6. England (bonus)

I set my resolution as 5 different countries but I have also been lucky enough this year to go on 3 short stay-cations across England. For the August bank holiday my family and I packed up the car and drove down to Bournemouth for a gloriously sunny weekend at the beach. We played plenty of board games, explored the Jurassic coast and I got absolutely annihilated at a game of mini golf on the coast. For my step-mums 55th birthday I joined her and 20 of her friends in a church air BnB in Somerset. A lot of wine was drunk and cake eaten but we also went out to explore the beautiful Wells cathedral and did some shopping in the clarks outlet city. My biggest trip away in England though was the week I spent in Cornwall with my boyfriend. We made the 6 hour drive down to port Isaac and stayed in the most adorable farm house a 5 minute walk from the coast. The weather was not on our side but it meant we had the place to ourselves and went on plenty of walks where the only company we kept were cows and sheep. It can be easy to forget how many wonderful places England has to offer and I am looking forward to exploring more of the place I am lucky enough to call home.

2019 ended up being a big year for travel for me so it feels quite surreal to say that 2020 is going to be even bigger! It’s not often you can say you’re going to go to 4 countries in January alone! Think I’m going to have to come up with a new resolution for next year.

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Top 5 countries I’ve visited

Hello Lovelies, I have been lucky enough to travel to around 15 countries throughout my life and picking my top 5 has been hard because every place is beautiful and amazing in it’s own way. I’ve looked through photos, diaries and my good old brain and decided that these are the places I have left with the best memories of! Just to put it out there these have all been family holidays so I haven’t been backpacking and truly exploring these places but I do feel like I got a great experience of each of them.

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Tenerife – This one has a big personal connection for me as Tenerife is where my Grandad lives but that aside from that I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a lovely holiday at a cheap price. A 4 night stay in a 4* hotel cost £330 each for my boyfriend and I (flights included!) Not only does it pretty much have garaunteed sunshine, the food is unbelievable with lots of freshly caught fish and gorgeous tapas dishes! There is a million and one things to do from shopping to kayaking with dolphins, mini golf to go karting, you will never have a boring day that’s for sure. The landscape is unique, covered in black rock beaches and beautiful blue sea, not to mention the volcanoe! I know I’m going on a lot here but I love Tenerife and would seriously recommend it to anyone looking for a quick getaway!

 

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Italy – Where to start with Italy? Well firstly the food is unbelievable, pizza and pasta yes please! There are endless amounts of historic sights take in from the Colosseum to the Pompeii. If you’re after gorgeous landscapes head to lake Garda or the Amalfi Coast. If you want more rustic Italian living then you need to check out Tuscany! What I’m trying to get across is Italy has a little bit of everything and a lot of pizza (what more could anyone want!)

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Costa Rica – This one is a little bit (actually quite a lot) further afield but no less amazing! The main thing to be said about Costa Rica is you will never meet more positive/friendly people in your life. There is also a huge variety of wildlife, such as sloths and howler monkeys, that you will see just casually hanging from trees as you drive around! The weather is a little bit more temperamental but that’s all part of the rainforest experience and you will seriously come to love the rain during the humid days. I had some amazing life experiences in Costa Rica, like white water rafting and zip wiring over a volcano, but there is so much more I want to return to and explore.

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Canada – I’ve wanted to go to Canada since I was about 5 and was lucky enough to go last summer. The main thing to be said is that it is absolutely beautiful! Wherever you go it will be stunning but I found the drive between Jasper and Banff to be the most breathtaking. Just like in Costa Rica, everyone is so unbelievably lovely and friendly and I think it has a great balance between nature and city life! If you want a big bustling town then Vancouver or Toronto were very lively but then just a few hours out you will find giant forests and gorgeous waterfalls to go hiking in and around. A winter ski season out there is definilty something I want to try! 

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America – This one is a tricky one because how do you fit America into a paragraph. It’s impossible so I’m going to go for my highlights. Up there has to be New York (which you can read my whole blog post on here). Orlando is also up there for the theme parks (in particular Disney!) For a variety of things to do I think California is brilliant because you can go from hiking in Kings Canyon to sunbathing on a Santa Barbara beach. My favourite city in California had to be San Francisco though, it is just down right cool!

There we have it. These are my top 5 places I have visited and I would love to know your top ones! Or if you’ve been to any of these places I mentioned what did you think?

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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