We have always enjoyed travelling, fitting holidays and adventures in and around university and later, full-time work. But as 2014 dawned, we both made a resolution: to travel more and see as much as our salaries and jobs would allow. We might end the year poor, tired after rushed weekend breaks, and with zero holiday allowance left, but at least we were travelling. So, here is a snapshot of where this resolution took us.
February – Canada
The year kick-started with a trip to Canada, to visit Vancouver and Whistler. Canada is a place we have always wanted to visit, with dreams of snowy mountains and friendly, laid-back cities. Thankfully, this dream was proven true and it’s definitely a place we want to visit more. Vancouver has been described as ‘Manhattan with Mountains’: amazing food, cultural life and a city buzz, but with a twist of mountain air, outdoorsy looking people and a more laid back feel. It is the sort of place you would want to live and would feel instantly healthier just being there.
To get to Whistler, we took a beautiful snowy bus ride (on the infamous Greyhound coach) through the mountains, overlooking lakes that were so still and clear, they looked like mirrors. The scenery was breathtaking. Whistler is of course a ski resort and we had a great few days here skiing (we use that term loosely) down its forest trails and eating plenty of yam fries. Wow, they are addictive.
Tip: a week in Canada was much too short. Instead, dedicate a few weeks to taking the famous Rocky Mountaineer train through its beautiful mountains, or visit a different Canada altogether in Montreal or Quebec. These are two cities most definitely on the list.
March – Norway
We have written a blog post on this trip before but to sum up Norway? Stunningly beautiful; clean; friendly and expensive. We visited Bergen, but next on the list would be Northern Norway and Tromso. This is a country we’ll definitely keep coming back to.
May – Venice and Verona
We were a little apprehensive about visiting Venice, simply because it could well have been a tourist-trap hell. It was, however, a stunningly beautiful city. The outer islands are definitely worth a trip, including the colourful gem of Burano. We also hopped on a train for a day-trip to Verona. Again, we knew very little about this city but it completely charmed us. Small enough to walk around in a day and see all the sites, you don’t need any longer than a lazy weekend here. Top site? The famous Juliet’s balcony. Indulge in a little tourist cliche and buy a love lock to hang near this famous site!
May – Cyprus
This was a trip we took with our other sister and it was nothing other than a week of sunshine, relaxation and food. However, Cyprus does have an impressively interesting history and still remains divided between Northern and Southern Cyprus, with Northern Cyprus being predominantly populated by Turkish Cypriots and Southern Cyprus being home to Greek Cypriots. Relatives still remain apart from each other, divided by a UN buffer or ‘Green Line’ as it’s more commonly known. Home of Aphrodite, there are also some impressive Ancient Greek ruins to visit across Cyprus. These have been kept in beautiful condition, and are scattered with blue and green mosaics and the ruins of amphitheatres.
June – Amsterdam
Living in the UK means we’re lucky enough to be able to jump on a last minute flight to most parts of Europe. Amsterdam was one of those trips. A quick 45 minute flight from the UK, Amsterdam is a great place for a weekend visit. Aside from being a very fun city, Amsterdam, particularly in the summer is just lovely. Think bikes, flowers, canals and sunshine. We’d highly recommend the very fun Heineken Experience if you like your lagers!
August – Cannes and Monaco
With August came sunshine and the South of France. I have already written a blog post about this so will summarise it as: turquoise waters, super yachts and incredible food. The whole area had an air of sophistication about it, with a regular soundtrack of clinking wine glasses, fast cars and the sea. I would recommend visiting the villages that sit further back from the shore, where we stayed. Rustic, traditional and authentic, these are a welcome break from the glittering Cannes or Monaco. Think of the sound of grasshoppers, shady vine yards and old farmhouses.
September – Paris
This year we turned 28 and with it came a birthday trip to Paris. My blog post on this can be found here and covers an excruciating display of public affection. Sacrebleu!
Seville was a special trip for me (Claire), which you can read all about on our blog post. I didn’t have huge expectations of Seville before I visited but it now sits firmly as one of my all-time favourite cities. Small enough to walk, but crammed with enough beauty to last a life-time, this city is a big must.
November – Isle of Skye
This was one of our absolute favourite destinations this year. We tried to explain why in our blog post but we’re certain it still does not do the beauty and tranquility of Skye justice. It’s heaven, really.
December – Washington and New York
The year ended on our trip to the US to indulge in some Christmas festivities. This was an amazing trip for us! We knew very little about Washington DC before visiting but found it to be a city crammed full of history, beauty and culture. NYC was predictably crazy and cold. We spent an awful lot there and there is not much more to say than that.
So, 2014 was very busy for us in terms of travel, or as busy as you can get whilst juggling full-time work. It was a brilliant year and has led us down paths we’d have never imagined this time last year, including this blog! Our main lesson learned was that you do have more time than you think. That Sunday on the sofa? Swap it for a day-trip to somewhere you’ve never been before. There’s plenty of time to catch-up on TV but there may not always be opportunities to travel and explore. Force yourself if you must, but get out there!
Our new years resolution for 2015? Repeat and repeat some more!