Every year as we try and add new adventures and experiences to our travel itinerary, it only makes us much more happier. We don’t go by how many countries we strike off, but look at what we’ve seen and experienced as a key factor to define our travel.
We road tripped around Portugal at the end of 2013, and welcomed new year in Lisbon after enjoying the winter sun in Algarve. The city is chic with grand squares, intriguing architecture, beautiful red colored roofs, amazing bridges and great night life. Lisbon is a perfect blend of old and new architecture and culture. You can’t miss out the charming yellow trams traversing through the city.
2. Re-discovering the Paris charm
Some cities cannot be visited just once and be done with. Paris is one such city that we love visiting again and again. There’s a certain charisma in the city that you never get tired of. In our last trip, we enjoyed long walks along Seine river, explored quite arrondissements, took some night shots of the famous landmarks, ate lot of croissants & crepes and explored the Catacombs of Paris.
This is a dream come true moment, and by far the biggest leap in our travel. It was very expensive and to travel in sub zero arctic weather, it took a lot of courage to book our flight to the arctic city, Tromso. But when we were out there experiencing Arctic lifestyle, we knew it was going to be the best experience ever.
Sami are the indigenous people of Scandinavian countries. They make a living by breeding and raising reindeers. Adoring a brightly colored dress and a coat usually made of reindeer fur, we experienced and heard the stories of Sami people and the way they used to live in Lavvo tent. Quite an intruding experience.
6. Taking a trip to charming Isle of Mull
Western Highlands of Scotland is blessed with many unexplored gems and sleepy villages. We chanced into exploring Isle of Mull in the summer last year, and it immediately won our heart with its winding roads, quaint villages, rolling hills and gorgeous coast. Read about Isle of Mull’s 20 offbeat experiences here.
We haven’t written yet about NorthUmberland coast routes, but we chanced up to be there twice last year. There are undisturbed beaches, stunning castles, northeast countryside, islands and they make a perfect place for bird watching in summer and star gazing in the winter. In picture – Hauxley Natural Reserve.
Last year, we spent a lot of time travelling in and around Scotland with our friends. Needless to say, we had a grand time. 20 of us camped in the serene highlands just close to one of the highest mountains – Ben Nevis during summer.
First encounter with water rafting and we can’t say how much we enjoyed it, that we decided to do more water sports in all our forth coming trips. Despite the cold ridden weather in Scotland, River Tay offered good rapids and adventure.
Great Britain is blessed with many stunning national parks, mountain and coast lines than any other country. North York Moors is one such national park with a whopping area of 1436 sq kms. Lying close to the park gracefully hugging the coast is the Whitby town, famous for its Dracula stories and Goth Weekend. We explored the beach, Whitby Abbey, climbed up the hill to get this gorgeous view.
We both enjoy watching live sports, and we delved into booking some of the games when the tickets opened up for CWG Glasgow 2014. Staying in Edinburgh worked to our favours, and we saw Rhythmic Gymnastics finals and Track Event finals which gave us the opportunity to see Husain Bolt’s electrifying run.
Be it Gaudi’s or Moorish architecture, Spain has won our heart and fascinated us. When we decided to explore Canary Islands, we were thrown with tough choices, because we knew all the islands are beautiful – some had volcanoes, some with moon like architecture. We chose Gran Canaria, and it left us speechless as we traversed around the length and breath of this miniature continent.
This year we stayed in diverse accommodations, and one of the most memorable has been staying in a cave house in the northern countryside of Gran Canaria. These are the oldest kind of dwelling, and a lot of these cave houses are being converted into cosy accommodations to provide travellers with enriching experience. One of it’s kind that everyone should experience.
Yet another experience we haven’t accounted in our blog is the story of how we tortured ourselves by walking the whole length of Maspalomas sand dunes under the scorching summer sun- not done yet- in beach sandals! Yes, you heard it right! Our feet were screaming in agony at the end of the 2.5 hour “adventure” (covering about 5 kms or more maybe). More on it later, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful natural landscape we’ve seen last year. The dunes change the course of the shape to the gust of the wind, and there’s a lovely pond named La Charca close to the lighthouse that serves as a temporary home for birds migrating Europe to Africa.
16. Discovering Copenhagen in Kayak
Cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam are blessed with lovely canals, and what better way than seeing them through kayak. We loved kayaking around the canals of Copenhagen and seeing the beautiful architectures that form part of the city’s history.
Copenhagen is such a cyclist friendly country they have separate lanes for cyclists in almost every part of the city. We’ve been waiting to try our hands on segway and when we found Copenhagen offers segway tours, we were uber excited to experience it. And it’s environment friendly, easy to maneuver and we highly recommend segway tour while in Copenhagen. They take you through most important tourist attractions of the city and it comes with an audio guide.
Just at the outskirts of Copenhagen is the unspoilt Dyrehaven Park with myriad open spaces & a place to spot plenty of red and fallow deers. The whole park is a natural haven making it ideal for cycling, horse riding, jogging or simply walking. We walked around this park for almost 4-5 hours, got lost happily, and found our way back to the hotel. We spotted locals enjoying the early autumn sunshine, a running stream, golf courses, beautiful pond and an old castle here.
20. Exploring the backyard of Edinburgh – Scottish Borders
Scottish Borders is one of the overshadowed place in
21. Staying in a mansion house with friends
We spent a weekend in the Toftcombs, a classic baronial style red sandstoned country Mansion House, set in the idyllic countryside of Scottish Borders. The house is grand and we had it exclusively for ourselves over one of the weekend with friends. One of the most memorable time we had in 2014.
22. Fringe festival,Christmas Market & bit of sightseeing in Edinburgh
We love Edinburgh! How can we not be part of their renowned fringe festival & Christmas celebrations. This year too, we saw the fringe fireworks, visited the Christmas market, sipped Gluhwein, savored crepes and roasted chestnuts. They are always part of our itinerary as long as we live in Edinburgh. We also visited Craigmillar Castle for the first time, and can’t believe we missed it out all this while. They offer great views of Edinburgh, a little different from what we see from their famous Castle, Calton hill or Arthur’s seat.
While most of the tourists settle for desert safari and dune bashing, we felt it to be the most cliched attraction. Hence we chose desert camping, a quieter way to enjoy the desert atmosphere (and to spare our necks from getting sprained!). We spend the enjoyable evening in the red sands of Ras Al Khaimmah doing sand boarding, camel safari and slept under the canopy of stars that we longed for.
One of the masterpiece architectures of UAE and an icon of Abu Dhabi, the Grand Mosque is a symbol of grandeur,elegance and tranquility. We were mesmerized by the tall white marble pillars embellished with a gold at the top to look like a palm tree. The arches, dome, minarets and works on the marble simply left us speechless. This opulent mosque has world’s largest chandelier (most alluring!), can accommodate 40000 people and the main prayer hall houses world’s largest hand-knotted carpet.
25. Welcoming New Year in #Dubai
-> Day trips to highlands
-> Trekking up Ben Ann mountain,
-> Eating out at the Loch Lomond International Festival
-> Exploring castles in and around Scotland & England
-> Road tripping around UK national parks
-> A trip to Birmingham and Nottingham
-> An impromptu midnight trip to Galloway forest in search of Northern Lights
-> Exploring Gretna gateway village, Scotland
Sometimes we planned out our trips, but most of the times we just followed our feet. The unplanned trips have been the most successful ones for us. Our mantra: “Take out the car without knowing where we are going, stop it wherever you mind wants it to, and start exploring”. We were surprised this has took us to so many gorgeous hidden gems of the country.
That was our 2014 round up. We hopped over in 8 countries, visited approx 18 cities and explored plenty of little towns.
How was 2014 for you? Share with us about one of your highlighted trips/ experience of last year?