I do enjoy a spot of reflection in these final couple of weeks of the year and this year I thought I would look back at some of the travelling I did in 2017.
Of course, this year was quite hectic with all the wedding planning and getting married in July. But on reflection it looks like I did get in a few trips as well. Quite a few were press trips both for this blog and for The Travel Hack. But Raj and I did manage to get a few romantic getaways in and it’s been rather wonderful.
My travel summary is more diverse than I realised, from skiing in the alps to temple tours in Thailand, from lazy weekend breaks to wine tasting in Portugal. It’s been interesting!
To pretty much start of the year we took a long weekend break in West Wales. It was just after New Year and my Birthday (it’s the 3rd if you’re getting me a card *wink* *wink*) and actually one of the cheapest times to go away. We hired out a cottage at the Bluestone holiday park and enjoyed a blissfully quiet few days simply reading, playing board games, drinking red wine, and cooking delicious meals. There was no internet, no television, and just us enjoying each other’s company.
The weather was pretty grim, but it didn’t bother us too much. We found Bluestone to be different to what we expected. It was much smaller than we imagined (I think we had Centerparcs scale in mind) and the facilities were very much geared towards families with kids. We did hire a buggy to get around the holiday park which was useful as it was built on a hill and Raj can’t walk up and down those with his knee disability. It was a bit of fun but not many places to go. We did enjoy the light show they had though, and our cottage was super cute.
In March I took a couple of flights over to Innsbruck to try out a spot of spring skiing at the gorgeous resort town of Kitzbühel. I totally recommend flying into Innsbruck airport, it’s one of the most dramatic landings I’ve ever taken. You come swopping in over the snow capped mountains, take a hard left, and then through the valley catch the crosswinds for a super bumpy landing. Apparently only specially trained pilots can land at Innsbruck! It’s quite the experience.
I spent a couple of days with a fab group of people from across Europe. I had some one-to-one ski tuition from an excellent instructor. Ate so much hearty food from the mountain-top ‘huts’, and marvelled at the extremely picturesque town of Kitzbühel.
Sadly, my right knee was causing me a lot of pain again so I had to cut my skiing short (for some reason, any down hill activity causes me pain, it’s so random). Thankfully, it’s not a bad looking place to chill out when you’re on the top of mountain in the Alps mountain range.
PORTUGAL – #1
In April I had an awesome time eating and drinking my way around Porto in Portugal. I was on a guided trip with the folks from atWill travel and they showed me some incredible delicacies from this northern region of Portugal. Porto is in the Duoro Valley and home to the world famous fortified wine, Port. I was really taken by the lovely city that is Porto, I think it often gets overlooked for the larger, trendier Lisbon futher south, but Porto was utterly charming.
One day was spent going inland on a tour around the vineyards, learning about the port making process, the history of the wine, and of course tasting it. We also had one of the best meals I’ve ever had at a tiny restaurant near the museum which opened up especially for us. It was incredible (I really must blog about that meal some day).
We also went on a long foodie walking tour around the city of Porto. We sampled different local dishes at different restaurants. Plus we got to see loads of the city that is full of interesting architecture and amazing street art.
Immediately after my return from Porto I was back on a plane, this time with Raj, to visit the luxury spa resort of Galgorm in Northern Ireland. We had a gorgeously relaxing couple of days at this hotel and spa. We were upgraded to the suite and it was one of the loveliest rooms we’ve ever stayed in. It felt super luxurious, and the design elements were incredibly satisfying.
We spent our time decompressing, sleeping, chatting about the future, brainstorm ideas, journalling, reading, and of course spending time in the well-equipped spa. The Galgorm was had plenty of hydrotherapy rooms, a large pool, and plenty of relaxation spaces. We also had a few fabulous breakfasts in one of the most photogenic breakfast rooms I’ve had the pleasure of eating in. And the service from the staff was top notch.
Oh, and Raj got a ride in the hotel’s Rolls Royce’s. He was a very happy man indeed.
In May we did a quickie overnight trip to Boulogne in Northern France. We drove down in Deborah the Van (you won’t believe how insanely useful it has been to own a big white van these past two years) to visit a few supermarkets (French supermarkets are awesome, I could spend all day there!) where we picked out some potential wedding wines.
We stayed over in an AirBnb apartment, and set about trying ALL of the wedding wine (I accidentally got totally sloshed – apparently you’re supposed to try each wine, not drink each wine, ooops). The following day, nursing a stunning hangover, we drove back to our supermarkets to purchases loads of wine for our wedding. Wahoo!
PORTUGAL – #2
For my second trip to Portugal we went to the Algarve as our mini-moon. The day after our wedding we waved goodbye to our families and drove straight to Luton airport (aka. the worst airport in the UK – disclaimer, I haven’t actually been to every British airport but I’m taking a pretty good guess that this is the worst. It was awful…maybe a story for another time).
Within a few hours we were up in the air and settling down at Faro airport. The moment that warm balmy Mediterranean air hit our faces we sighed with relief. The wedding, as lovely as it was, was rather stressful. Being able to have a few days in the heat and away from it all was perfect to start decompressing from it all.
We chose an all-inclusive hotel not far from Vilamoura. It was the first time we’d done this style of holiday and we were kind of bemused by it all. After years of independent travel it was quite a novelty to not have to decide where to go eat, and to just sit by a pool for a few days.
We liked to not having to think about cash or cards, and just spending the days in the sun. But I must admit that by the last day we were getting itchy feet and were ready to move on. Maybe next time we’d benefit from a few outings whilst at an all-inclusive.
Thailand was my big trip of the year, and possibly the most memorable. I am still trying to write up all of the posts I wanted to share with you, and I have a hard drive full of video files that I can’t quite get through yet. It was such a big trip that I want to make sure I do it justice when I make a video of it.
Part of this trip was a press trip with the Thailand Tourism Authority, but I also extended the trip on both ends so that I could spend more time there independently both for work and personal reasons.
On the return back from Malaysia I had the shock of a lifetime to find my husband stood in the airport in Bangkok waiting for me. He had secretly flown out to Thailand to spend the second week with me. It almost turned into a bit of a honeymoon really. It was so romantic and overwhelming and awesome. (I really must share that story in full with you too).
Oh, Thailand… the country where Raj and I first met. The country that keeps drawing me back to it, again and again. The country that has the BEST food (trust me, I wrote a post about 47 different dishes/food you should try in Thailand).
Please watch this space for more of my Thailand adventures, I am determined to get it all recorded and shared here on the blog. It was a fabulous trip.
And that’s my travel summary! I think. That is my 2017 travel in a nutshell. I had a quiet autumn this year, a really lovely chance to bed in to our home and the colder seasons. I’ve been working hard, spending quality at home time with Raj, and of course growing our family. That’s quite an adventure in itself!
Here’s to 2018 and whatever exciting travel plans await…
Read more of my travel stories here