30/12/2016

Top 10 Travel Highlights of 2016


                                                                        14 countries, 14 flights, 17 trains, 10 buses, 6,453 photos and 250 go pro videos. That's my 2016 in numbers.

Looking back 2016 has been my best travel year to date. I was incredibly lucky to travel to so many beautiful countries. Out of the 14 countries I visited 13 were ones that I had never been to before! When I started planning this post and thinking about my favourite travel moments I realised just how lucky I've been this year. At the beginning of 2016 I had no travel plans at all but managed to see so much!  I've decided to put together a travel highlights post of the top ten travel experiences I had in 2016.

1. Having a girls get away in Barcelona


My first trip of 2016 was in April when I headed off for four days to escape revision for final year exams. This was my only holiday trip of 2016 (the rest were backpacking) so it was nice to pack a suitcase full of nice clothes and plan my evening outfits rather than pack everything into a rucksack. We went at the beginning of April. We were supposed to go the last week of March but then there were air strikes and our flights got cancelled so we had to re book after a lot of stress (thanks for letting us find out ourselves Ryanair; a text would have been nice). The weather was surprisingly warm and I  hadn't expected this so hadn't packed quite right! We didn't quite see everything, partly because we spent most of our last day in bed recovering from our night out but we managed to see enough of the city (and the nightlife!). My favourite place was Parc Guell, I loved all the tiles that decorated the area.

Park Guell, Barcelona





                                   2. Relaxing in Mexico


I'd always thought of Mexico as an All Inclusive holiday destination or where Americans headed for Spring break. But I was wrong, there is so much more to Mexico that Cancun. I saw some amazing towns and ruins on my two week adventure around Mexico. We didn't see quite as much as we had hoped partly due to not being able to travel to some of the places (more on that in another post) but what I did see completely changed my thoughts about Mexico being just a holiday destination.  That being said, although it was a backpacking trip, it was a very relaxed one. We went to lots of beaches including Tulum which was absolutely stunning. We also spent a couple of days at a spa hotel reading by the pool. I've never had a beach holiday so spending time relaxing between towns was a great way to celebrate the end of university. 

Tulum Beach, Mexico



                                       3. Hiring a golf cart for the day in Isla Mujeres 


As much as I enjoyed all the relaxing in Mexico some days I needed a bit more than just sitting on the beach or in a cute restaurant. When we arrived in Isla Mujeres we saw that you could hire out a golf cart so that's what we did! It was great, I only drove it for a bit as I didn't have my glasses with me and didn't want to risk crashing into anything! I'm not actually that blind but you never know. The island is relatively small so we managed to drive around it and stop off at various destinations. It was also great as we could pop back to our accommodation if needed.

Golf buggy, Isla Mujeres

                                         4. Visiting the Taj Mahal


I wrote a whole blog post dedicated to my visit to the Taj Mahal so won't go into much detail here but it was one of the highlights of my trip to India. The building is stunning and being able to see it in person and explore the grounds was an amazing opportunity.

Taj Mahal at sunrise



                                  5. Spending two days on a house boat in Kerala, India 


Another highlight from my trip to India. This was on the top of my list when I was making my itinerary for India. It was lovely to relax on a boat for two days. There was no internet which made it even more relaxing and I managed to get through two books. The food was also great, we had our own chef who prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was so much food!


Kerala house boat

Alleppey India





 

                          6. Walking up Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka 


I very nearly didn't do this. I woke up at 5am on the morning and decided that I'd rather not pay to walk up a massive rock when I'm terrified of heights. I then got up and decided that I couldn't just not go and try. I should at least go and see whether I could walk up. So that's what I did. And guess what? It wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. I mean I did nearly break down in tears when I had to walk up some scary stairs to realise that the area they led to was optional and didn't get me any nearer to the top. But other than that it was ok. I was very relieved to get to the top and enjoy the views and I'm glad I pushed myself to do it.


Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka


                                                                7. Exploring Hallstatt, Austria


I wrote a whole blog post on why I loved Hallstatt so much so it's no surprise that it's one of my top 10 highlights. It's just so pretty!

Hallstatt, Austria


                                    8. Going on a frontline tour in Sarajevo


When we visited Sarajevo my friend Sophie talked me into staying at the war hostel. This hostel supposedly allows you to stay in the conditions you would have had to live in during the Bosnian war. It's obviously no where near what it would actually have been like but the beds are just mattresses on the floor and the rooms are full of posters and newspaper stories regarding the war. The person who runs it refers to himself as zero one, his family survived the war so he decided to set up the war hostel to educate others about it. As part of your experience there are tours you can go on. We chose to do two of them, the frontline one and the scars of Sarajevo. Both were very much worth the money. For both tours Sophie and I were the only ones on the tour so we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted and learnt so much. The frontline tour was very eye opening. There is still a lot of evidence of the war around Sarajevo including bunkers and there are still many land mines around.

9. Visiting Poland


Poland was the last country I visited during my Interrail trip around Europe. I wasn't completely sure what to expect but I really enjoyed the parts of Poland I visited. I also got the opportunity to visit Auschswitz, while I wouldn't describe this as an enjoyable experience I'm happy that I got the opportunity to visit. It was definitely eye opening. The Uprising Museum in Warsaw also taught me a lot about the second world war and Poland. There was so much I didn't know about.

Krakow main square


                                  10. Taking an overnight train from Goa to Kochi


When we booked our overnight train I did not, for a moment, think that it would be an enjoyable experience and I certainly didn't expect to be writing about it in a travel highlights post. This was my first overnight train experience. I'd been on an overnight bus in Myanmar (that most definitely was NOT a travel highlight) but trains were new to me. We were in third class meaning there were three levels of beds rather than two.  I had the bottom bunk. There were no curtains but I made one with one of the blankets I was given. As soon as I made my makeshift curtain I was able to relax. I really hate the idea of people watching me sleep and being on the bottom bunk meant that every time someone walked passed they stared at me. The fact that I'm the palest person in the world and female probably didn't help. The beds were surprisingly comfy, I had plenty of snacks and when the sun rose there was a great view! It definitely made me more up for doing other overnight journeys.

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I really enjoyed writing this post, looking back at 2016 has made me realise that it wasn't actually that bad from a personal perspective. What were your travel highlights in 2016?

Sophie

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