As you may have seen from my previous post I have set myself a challenge to visit 30 countries before turning 30. Since writing this post I have managed to tick another 3 countries off the list and we’ve been busy making plans for the coming year. Although we would love to be able to go away every month, we have debt we need to clear and a mortgage we need to start saving for so the next year or 2 is going to be a bit more relaxed on the holiday front (well that’s the plan anyway). With that in mind and after spending hours trawling through Holiday Pirates I have found some super cheap weekend breaks that are really affordable and completely within our budget. Today I wanted to look back at my year in travel and show you my highlights as well as set out some goals for 2018. I’ve decided to share my peak and pit of each trip as per one of my favourite travel bloggers Sarah.
I was quite apprehensive about visiting Amsterdam because of it’s reputation and to start off with I didn’t really enjoy the first day as I struggled to get into the culture. I wish we had done our walking tour on the first day as this really opened my eyes and was the turning point for the holiday for me. It’s safe to say we ate our way around this beautiful Dutch city but to me thats the best part about a new culture.
Peak: Grabbing last minute tickets to the Anne Frank House which was incredibly moving and humbling. Something that I think everyone should experience.
Pit: Waking up super early on the last day to go for breakfast at the highly recommended Bakers & Roasters only to arrive less than an hour after opening to a 45 minute queue.
We actually only spent 24 hours in Belgium as this wasn’t a planned trip. We left it really last minute booking our flights home from Poland and it actually turned out a lot cheaper to fly to Brussels and then fly home from there. Plus the flight from Brussels to London is only 50 minutes so this was over in a flash and meant we had a whole day to explore the capital of the EU. It actually turned out to be 28℃ when we visited so it was a beautiful day to explore. With only 12 hours we crammed in a whistle-stop tour of the city trying out all the local delicacies as we went. You can find out more of what we got up to here
Peak: Fries are actually originated in Belgium and so you can find frites stands on every street corner. This is a carb lovers dream and I was absolutely in my element. We managed to find a small little stand recommended to us from our tour guide who served the best chips I have ever had!
Pit: Spending the afternoon searching for a car park which promised spectacular views over the entire city only to find this had in fact closed a year before we visited.
We actually visited Budapest twice this year once in the Summer and once at the beginning of December. Whilst visiting in Summer we did a tour of the Opera house and I mentioned how incredible it would be to visit in Winter and watch the Nutcracker ballet. We discussed and thought why the hell not, so as soon as tickets were released we snapped up two and headed for a long weekend the first weekend of December. We spent the weekend exploring Christmas markets, filling up on hot chocolate and mulled wine and eating far too much but I couldn’t think of a better way to kickstart the festive season.
Peak: Outdoor ice skating which was absolutely hilarious as Gavin is the definition of Bambi on ice.
Pit: We chose a beautiful handmade bauble to put on our tree as a little reminder of the trip but sadly this broke and never made it onto the tree.
This was a completely spontaneous trip after I found return flights with Ryanair for £40 for the both of us. We headed for a long weekend to relax after a hectic Christmas working in hospitality and basically spent the entire 3 days eating. I knew before we went that Scandinavia was expensive but thanks to plenty of research we managed to find lots of affordable places to eat and drink and the sights were beautiful. The only downside of visiting in January was the bitter cold that was unbearable so I definitely want to visit again in more mild temperatures.
Peak: The incredible meal we had at Honey, which although it was pricey was completely worth every penny. The whole concept works and everything I ate was absolutely divine.
Pit: Having to end the walking tour early because we were so frozen from the snow and ice that consumed the city on our first day. It took us a good hour of sipping hot chocolate to warm up!
Poland is somewhere that I have been wanting to visit for a while now and after a great deal on a hotel and flights there for the bank holiday weekend we decided to go for it. We opted for the capital city Warsaw and were both pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the city is and how much we enjoyed our time there. We took more of a relaxed approach and spent the days soaking up in the culture and getting lost in the Old Town.
Peak: Spending the afternoon wandering around the roof gardens of the University of Warsaw which were absolutely breathtaking.
Pit: The public transport is so so difficult to navigate you basically have to be a top spy to crack the code. Countless times we couldn’t find the right tram spot we needed or the right bus so we just used the one tram to the centre and back to our hotel and then walked everywhere else.
The first year we were together I surprised Gavin with a trip to Berlin for his birthday as it somewhere he had wanted to visit for a very long time. This year I opted for Prague as this is somewhere we had discussed before and was quite affordable for the time of year we were visiting. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but all the sites we saw were absolutely beautiful and I loved the medieval, gothic feel the city had. Prague Castle is the most incredible building with so much history to take in. I would’ve liked to spent more time exploring this part of the city.
Peak: Thrashing Gavin at glow in the dark mini golf which I surprised myself by really enjoying.
Pit: Booking the first cheap hotel we stumbled across only to find out later on that this was in fact situated in the football ground and was actually quite far out from the centre of the city.
For 2018 we wont be going on any extravagant trips much to my dislike but we simply cannot afford it. We are hoping to go away in April for my little brother’s 21st but we are yet to agree on a destination so until we decide I have no idea. Besides that we are hoping to fit in a few European weekend breaks including:
Berlin – The first place we visited together and one of our top 3, there is so much history and culture to soak up I really don’t think you can do this place justice with just one trip. Berlin will always have a special place in my heart as it was the beginning of my travel obsession and it’s been far too long now since I lasted visited this gorgeous city.
Barcelona – Again there is so much more to see in Barcelona that we weren’t able to squeeze in while we were there. I was surprised at how beautiful the city is and how magnificent the architecture is which is not something I ever thought would be of interest. Plus the Casa Vicens opened this year which is the first house designed by the great architect Gaudi and I am absolutely dying to see it – from the photos I’ve seen it looks absolutely incredible.
Ireland – Another place which has been high up on my list for a while now is Ireland! I’ve heard so many good things about the place and I would absolutely love to do a Game of Thrones locations tour around to see some of the beautiful sights.
Iceland – I have been obsessed with seeing the Northern lights for a while now but after reading review after review it’s clear we are going to need to save a bit before going to Iceland. Top of my list are the blue lagoon and the Golden Circle tour.