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Travel Highlights 2016!

It has been such a fantastic year filled with many amazing travel moments, from discovering a secret island in Greece and watching the snow fall over a 500 year old Czech cathedral to ghost hunting in a medieval town and pulling pints in the Guinness Storehouse. I’ve managed to narrow them down to my top 10 in this…my travel highlights 2016.

1) “Free things to do” challenge in London

I started 2016 with a cheeky little trip to London to review Clink78, an awesome hostel based in a former Victorian Prison. I decided whilst I was there to make a trip out of it and set my a challenge to do as many free things in London in a day as possible (including a photo op at Platform 9 3/4!).

I used my 30 Free Things to do in London post as a check list and didn’t spend a single penny all day. Check out my video below to see how I got on ;)

2) Staying in Titanic’s headquarters in Liverpool

I have had a long-time fascination with the story of Titanic, I’ve watched countless documentaries, visited the 100th year sinking anniversary exhibition in London, watched the movie a million times and even visited the Titanic Museum in Belfast where it had been built.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that Titanic’s head quarters were still based in Liverpool (where I’m originally from) and is open for bookings as a fancy-pants hotel and spa? The building began being renovated after I had moved to Manchester so I never knew a thing about it!

So for our anniversary, Mr Footsteps and I decided to have an overnight stay in this gorgeous hotel and enjoy some relaxation in the spa (which was originally JP Morgan’s vault). Sounds odd, considering the building’s links to Titanic’s tragedy I know! But the building itself has been so lovingly restored and celebrates the romantic and optimistic era that Titanic came to be in the early part of the 20th century.

All the rooms have such character with large elegant beds and turn-of-the-century inspired interiors and furniture. We also had an amazing view of Liverpool’s sea front and thankfully were blessed with amazing weather during out time there. I promise I’ll do a more detailed post in the future on this as there are just too many beautiful pictures to share here!

3) Ghost hunting in Lincoln

For my birthday, I was surprised with a weekend away in Lincoln, a beautiful medieval city with Roman ancestry roots. It was my first time there so I couldn’t believe all the historical treasures that I found whilst I was there and I totally nerded out! One of the highlights of the weekend was a ghost tour, starting from Lincoln Castle.

Now, I am a firm believer in the paranormal so this tour was right up my street and it turns out Lincoln has a hell of a lot of skeletons in its closest. We didn’t see any ghosts on the tour but just listening to our guide regale us with the spooky legends on a cold February night sent shivers down my spine…especially when I found out we were staying in the most haunted hotel in Lincoln! If you want to hear some of the stories comment below and I’ll do a special ghoulish post on it ;)

4) Visiting Kutná Hora in the snow

During a trip to Prague in February, I enjoyed spending a little time in Kutná Hora, a city East of Prague known mainly for Sedlec Ossuary, a chapel adorned with human skeletons. Despite some of the city’s more morbid attractions (!), it was a fascinating place and so beautiful in the snow. It was such a magical experience looking over the little red terracotta roofed houses in the town from the top of St. Barbara’s Church. A Church that had begun construction in 1388, but wasn’t actually finished until 1905!

5) Going to Cardiff for Traverse

In April I went to my very first Traverse event, which is the UK’s biggest travel blogging weekend conference (and quite frankly should be the annual pilgrimage for every travel blogger based in the UK!). Whilst I was there, I attend inspirational talks, creative workshops, caught up with old blogger friends and made some lovely new ones too!

All of this was topped off by an afternoon spent in a marvellous graffiti workshop, which was so much fun!

6) Discovering Spinalonga in Crete

For a little early summer sunshine (ok very early), I headed to Crete at the end of May. I’ll be honest with you, the weather wasn’t great for half the time but on one of the best days we had, we ventured off to the island of Spinalonga and it was such an amazing experience.

Due to its strategic position, Spinalonga was originally used by the Italians and fortified to protect the entranceway of the port of Ancient Olous. Later on, between 1903 and 1957 it became the last leper colony in Europe.

It is so hard to believe that an island with such crystal blue waters and dreamy venetian architecture has such a dark history. Once people were found to have leprocy, they were left on the island and not allowed to return home. They were given an allowance for food and water and medical attention, however because there was no cure for the disease at this time, they were essential left on the island to live out the remainder of their lives.

The people sent to the island created their own community there so the island is filled with the ruins of houses, shops and communal buildings. It was such a fascinating place.

7) Birthday surprise at the Cliffs of Moher

For Mr Footsteps’s birthday in August, I surprised him with a three day trip to Dublin, a place we had both been dying to go to years and we both just ended up falling in love with! One of my favourite memories was spending an incredible day at the Cliffs of Moher, on a day trip from Dublin.

After keeping the trip a secret for weeks, I could barely contain my excitement to tell him the morning of his birthday because I knew that going to the Cliffs of Moher would make his special day unforgettable.

8) Pulling pints at the Guinness Storehouse

Another amazing experience that I had in Dublin was visiting the Guinness Storehouse. The Guinness Storehouse is synonymous with Dublin and is a symbol of Irish pride so it was definitely top of my list of things to do whilst I was in Dublin and I was not disappointed.

I learned about the history behind Guinness, how their iconic advertising campaigns have evolved over the years, how to pull the perfect pint, enjoyed lunch with a Guinness themed menu and then finished in their Gravity Bar with a 360 view of Dublin. It was fantastic!

9) Spending a weekend of adventure in Swansea Bay

In August I had the pleasure of being invited to Wales by Visit Swansea Bay, to spend a weekend taking part in all the awesome adventure activities Swansea Bay had to offer.

I tried my hand at indoor surfing, visited a 12th century castle, scaled a 30ft climbing wall and ate dinner with a 360 view from Wales’ tallest tower. If was such a fun-filled weekend, I wrote a weekend guide for you lovely lot :)

10) Making friends with a herd of adorable Alpacas

Alpacas are one of my all-time favourite animals. So imagine in how much of a, ‘pee-myself-with-excitement’ state I was in upon finding out about an Alpaca farm down the road from where were staying on a weekend away in Loughborough at the end of August!

I mean, they’re cute and super super friendly, what’s not to love? But getting to learn all about them, interact them and have them literally eat out of the palm of my hands was just such a cool experience! They really are the most adorable animals on the planet and are just like living, breathing teddy bears.

I loved the experience so much, I’m seriously considering running an Alpaca farm as my retirement plan!

And that was 2016, phew! Thank you so much for being part of my journey in the last year and for reading this blog. Your continued support is what makes me all gooey inside and makes me so happy, I can’t thank you enough!

For more of my 2016 adventures, I’ve put together this awesome travel montage below. Here’s to another year of amazing travels! What were your travel highlights of 2016? Let me know in the comments below :)

 

 

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About the author

Hi! I'm Mel a full-time Marketeer and part-time adventurer. I’m a British travel blogger who loves nothing more than immersing myself in different cultures and exploring new places. My goal is to inspire all of you office dwellers to follow your travel dreams whilst still working your 9-5.