As we approach the end of 2015, I’d like to reflect on the year and remind myself of the amazing adventures I’ve had. I’m very lucky to be able to travel and see the world, with my husband, and I truly do believe that it makes you a more rounded and open-minded person. Experiencing new cultures opens up your eyes to what lies beyond your own little world and heightens your senses as well as your curiosity. So where did our travels take us?
New Year in New York
We started 2015 with a bang by celebrating New Year in New York. We absolutely love New York and it’s so magical at Christmas time. We stayed in the New York Palace, which has amazing views of St Patrick’s Cathedral and Manhattan. It’s also perfectly located for 5th Avenue, Central Park and Grand Central Station. A couple of my husband’s friends happened to also be in New York so we spent New Year’s Eve with them at Spice Market in the Meatpacking district. It was a great night!
One of the highlights was going to see a play on Broadway. I bought the tickets as a gift for my husband as part of his Christmas present. We’ve been to New York three times but never been to a show on Broadway so it was a real treat. We went to see This is our youth, which is set in the 80s and starred Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson and it was absolutely brilliant!
My birthday in Berlin
We’d never been to Germany so for my birthday present I asked my husband for a trip to Berlin. Both of us are really interested in WWII history so it was a fascinating trip. I’m not going to lie… with its Brutalist architecture, Berlin is quite an ugly city but it’s got a lot of charm. We spent three days in Berlin, which was just enough time to explore sights such as Checkpoint Charlie, Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburg Gate and walk around neighbourhoods such as the multi-cultural Kreuzberg.
Family and friends in Bologna
My husband is from Bologna so we often go back once or twice a year. It is such a beautiful city, full of history and amazing food. In fact, Bologna is the birth place of Lasagne, tagliatelle Bolognese and Tortellini so you’re in for a real culinary delight! Take a walk around the University area, where Bologna University is the oldest in Europe – it was founded in 1088 A.D, in fact. And don’t miss the twin towers, just off from Piazza Maggiore. Venture down the little streets and you’ll find shops selling fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, flowers and restaurants and bars.
A fabulous break in Cape Town
My husband started a new job in April so we had some time to go away for a break before he started. We decided to go to Cape Town as the weather is really nice in March – not too hot – and also the exchange rate was really in our favour. We stayed in a villa in Camps Bay for the first four nights, and flew my mom down from Durban to stay with us for the weekend. We had a great time exploring Cape Town and eating good food. We took a little boat trip to Seal Island and also went to Groot Constantia, which is Cape Town’s oldest vineyard. For the other half of our holiday, we stayed in the fabulous 12 Apostles hotel. We’ve been to Cape Town before so we made sure we did some things we hadn’t done before such as visiting Kirstenbosch Gardens, which has a spectacular tree canopy walkway.
A wedding in Lot-et-Garonne
Over the Easter weekend my friends Nadia and Simon tied the knot at the exquisite Château de Lisse in Gascony. We stayed in the little town of Nérac, which was utterly charming. I’ve only been to Paris, Calais and Biarritz so it was really nice to have an excuse to visit a part of France we may not have otherwise got a chance to visit. If you do go to Nérac be sure to take a little boat trip along the river and also eat at L’art de Vivre, which was fabulous!
A long weekend in Palermo
We spent a long weekend in Palermo in July and it was amazing. Palermo is the ultimate city break as you have the history and vibrancy of a city along with beautiful beaches. We stayed at Villa Igeia, which is almost inbetween the city and beaches so is a great location. It also had a spectacular view of the marina. Palermo has some great little beach spots dotted around so keep your eye out whilst you’re travelling by bus, car or (like us) scooter.
Sun and relaxation in Taormina
We spent a week in Taormina back in 2012 so we thought it was about time we paid it another visit. Taormina is on the east coast of Sicily and about a 30 minute drive from Catania airport. It’s a wonderful place to explore for a week as there is plenty to see and do. Be sure to visit the ancient Teatro Greco, the grotta azzurra as well as Gole Alcantara. And definitely have a traditional aperitivo!
Another break in Cape Town
We usually take a two week holiday towards the end of the year but this year my husband only had a week. We wanted to go somewhere that was relatively warm, didn’t have a major time difference and wasn’t too expensive… so Cape Town it was (again)! Although it’s an 11 hour flight, the flight is overnight and in the UK Winter the time difference is two hours so there is no jetlag. We decided to spend three nights in Franschhoek and then three nights in Cape Town. The winelands are just breath-taking… I highly recommend you visit either Franschhoek, Stellenbosch or Paarl if you’re visiting Cape Town as it’s only an hour away. If you’re a foodie, then you are in for a real treat!
Looking back on this year, it has been a wonderful ride. We are off to Munich for New Year so watch this space …there will be a blog post or two coming soon.