Belgium / Croatia / Europe / Iceland / Mexico

My tops and flops of 2014: Part one, the tops

2014, Kotor, Monteenegro, Backpacking Europe in Summer

It’s fair to say I travelled far more in 2014 than I expected. I kicked the year off working a bar job for minimum wage, but by living at home and being lucky enough to have a good deal of flexibility when it came to holiday, I managed to squeeze in trips to Mexico, Iceland, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Tips certainly do add up!

In June I waved goodbye to my days and nights pulling pints and jumped on the career ladder. I moved across the UK to the beautiful and bike friendly university city of Cambridge and accepted my fist graduate job in Public Relations. Working 9-5 with limited time off significantly curtailed my travel plans for the rest of the 2014 but I did manage to lose my Eurostar virginity and zoomed off to Paris and Bruges, getting caught up in an austerity strike in the latter, as well as a couple of work trips to Belfast and Mallorca. 2014 was also the year I got to know my own country better. I explored York, Bath, Liverpool, Oxford and Cambridge as well as a hefty chunk of time in East London. In fact the only months of 2014 where I didn’t leave Blighty’s shores were March and April.

So 2014 was a pretty travel-heavy year.

Mexico

Uxmal, Mexico, Yucatan, Ruins

2014 was the year that I found my favourite country in the whole world. I never expected to feel so passionately about Mexico. In fact, my trip there was almost by accident. I’d returned home after my internship, tired and desperate to get going with my career, worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a grad job in the shitty UK economy, and one night aimlessly browsing the internet saw a £258 return flight to Cancun from Birmingham International (I’m still sure this price was a mistake) – my local airport, in just over a week’s time. Five minutes later my bank balance was considerably lighter and I was orchestrating a frenzied online shopping campaign for a bikini and sandals in January. Not easy my friends.

My parents thought I was going to get murdered by drug dealers, my friends asked ‘why Mexico?’ and I didn’t have a clue what I would do at the other end of the flight. The day I took off, I was a jumble of nerves.I needn’t have worried – I loved, loved, loved Mexico. The vivid colours, the warm people, crumbling colonial towns, ancient ruins and addictive street food. I’m still squeezing lime juice onto everything a year later. I ferried and bussed around Isla Mujeres, Valladolid, Merida, Izamal, Tulum, Uxmal, Chichen Itza and Playa Del Carmen, and wished I could have stayed for much, much longer.

Iceland

Hallgrímskirkja, View Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland

Relentless Mexican heat was followed up by a trip to somewhere just a tad cooler – Iceland. I’ve always wanted to celebrate my birthday abroad, so flying into the the northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik, for my 23rd was perfection. Four days in the land of ice and fire flew by – being sprayed by erupting geysers, trekking on an extremely fluffy Icelandic horse across lava fields, luxuriating in the milky-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon with a Skyr shake in hand, sightseeing in hip, cooler than thou Reykjavik – and that includes the beautiful, bearded blonde men, swoon. Iceland is now one of my favourite countries in Europe.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Game of Thrones, King's Landing

A love affair with Game of Thrones led me to Dubrovnik in June. The medieval walled city is one of the most visually stunning places I’ve had the good fortune to visit. Day trips to tiny, mountainous Montenegro and overlooked Bosnia-Herzegovina made this one of my best trips to date. I spent my time reading Game of Thrones on my kindle (what else?) on tranquil Lombok Island, stuffing my face with lemon gelato, sampling Croatia’s fantastic red wines, Matuško Dingač was a particular favourite, and indulging my geeky side with a self-guided Game of Thrones tour, which the fans among you can read all about here.

Bruges

Bruges, Belgium, Horse drawn carriage, Bruges Christmas Market

My final trip abroad of 2014 was to see Bruges’ Christmas markets and find a beer I actually like. Was it touristy? Without a doubt. Cobblestoned streets, horse-drawn carriages and chocolate, beer and waffle stores were everywhere – and I loved it. Unfortunately my trip was cut short by a rail strike in the West Flanders region of Belgium, and I ended up spending an unexpected night in Belgium’s capital city, Brussels. Now I loved Bruges, but Brussels is easily the WORST city I’ve visited in Europe, and perhaps even worldwide. More to come in my flops of 2014 post. But for 24 hours I meandered happily around Bruges, munching on sweet waffles topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar, snapping pictures of the bright lego-brick houses and getting to grips with the local beers – I learned I DO actually like beer, but only if it’s bright red and cherry flavoured. Come at me Kriek. I did a Colin Farrell from In Bruges and climbed the Belfry, took a canal trip and thoroughly enjoyed a tour of De Haalve Maan Brewery.

What were your top destinations in 2014? Were any of my favourites yours too? Leave a comment below!

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7 thoughts on “My tops and flops of 2014: Part one, the tops

  1. Bruges and Dubrovnik are two of my favourites too – packed with more tourists than people who live there, but there’s a good reason for that. My absolute 2014 favourite was Kalami in Corfu – quiet, green and blissful!

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