As the New Year beckons, I like to pause a moment to mull over the places I travelled in 2017. Let’s savour the favourite moments and skip over the less fun bits, as a rosy glow settles over the year just gone. As a travel blogger I’m often asked to name the favourite place I’ve visited but I find it’s an impossible choice; like deciding which of your children you love most, or choosing between street food and Michelin Star when both can be so delicious in different ways. So come with me on this short journey through my travels this year and dip into some of the fun places I visited which I hope may inspire your travels in 2018.
February – Winter sports in Seefeld, Austria
In February I joined some friends in Seefeld, Austria for a winter sports holiday with Crystal ski. I’ve always been a bit of fair-weather downhill skier, so this time we took the chance to try out lots of alternative snow sports, like cross-country ski and winter hiking, that left us feeling fit and healthy, but with less danger of injury. I’ve visited Seefeld in both winter and summer and can highly recommend this attractive resort that seems to offer something for everyone and is just a short transfer from Innsbruck by train or taxi. Check out these hotels in Seefeld.
Read More: Seefeld in Austria: A winter sports guide
March – showing blogger friends around Bristol
You’re probably aware that I’ve lived in Bristol for 25 years and love its creative spirit, so it was a pleasure to show around blogger friends Jennifer and Eric who were visiting as part of a project with Visit Britain. From the Bristol’s harbourside, to Brunel’s iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, to the Upfest street-art murals, we managed to pack it in and I wrote about all the things I enjoyed showing them in Bristol in the article below. Check out these hotels in Bristol.
April – a weekend in Petworth West Sussex
This year I’ve been trying to explore more of the gorgeous British countryside, and was captivated by the gently rolling landscape of West Sussex on a spring weekend with my sister. We enjoyed the splash of yellow rapeseed in the fields and the pretty villages with their red brick and stone cottages, visiting the delightful market town of Petworth and staying at the Halfway Bridge Inn in Lodsworth. Check out these hotels in Petworth.
April – a staycation in Bristol at The Grand Hotel
In the heart of Bristol’s old city, you’ll find the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel, where I stayed with my husband to check out the hotel, after its recent refurbishment. It’s just a stone’s throw from Corn Street, where Bristol’s merchants would gather to make their deals and pay ‘on the nail’, built of honey coloured stone, with wrought iron and stained glass at the entrance. The new design cleverly combines references to the hotel’s Victorian heritage, with fresh style and a bit of street art thrown into the mix. Check out these hotels in Bristol.
May – a short tour of Scotland with friends
On a weekend in Scotland with friends, we managed to visit not one but three castles in Scotland, each with a fascinating story to tell. We were based in Edinburgh and had a good look around the castle, but also visited Stirling Castle as well as the fortified historic home that is now the Black Watch Museum in Perth. You can’t visit Scotland without visiting some of the castles that give a flavour of the history and life in Scotland, on both a royal and domestic scale. Check out these hotels in Edinburgh.
Read More: 3 impressive castles in Scotland to visit
June – a stay at Backwell House in Bristol
In keeping with my aim to explore more places in and around Bristol, I stayed with my husband at Backwell House, a honey stone Georgian boutique hotel just outside Bristol. It felt as if we’d been invited to stay at a stylish friend’s country house, with flowers gathered from the garden and comfy chairs pulled up around the fireplace. The hotel was previously a family home and after a year’s renovation has opened as a nine bedroom boutique hotel and restaurant, with countryside views and a charming walled garden. It’s an ideal choice if you want to combine the buzz of Bristol with the relaxation of a country house hotel. Check out these hotels in Bristol.
June – a Mediterranean Cruise with Voyages to Antiquity
In June our Renaissance and Rivieras cruise took us from Rome to the islands of the Mediterranean; Corsica, Sardinia and Elba, with stops to explore the heritage of Renaissance Italy at Lucca, Pisa and Florence. If you love to dip into the history of the Mediterranean, to understand the cultures and landscapes that create the countries we see today, then I’d highly recommend the Voyages to Antiquity cruise that was arranged through Titan Travel.
July – Castellón Spain with the Bristol Bloggers
In July I joined a trip from Bristol with our local group of Bristol Bloggers and Influencers, flying from Bristol Airport to visit the Castellón province of Spain. I was previously unaware of the charms of this region, that sits between Valencia in the south and Barcelona to the north, with broad sandy beaches and mountainous nature reserves. While we Brits have been missing out, the Spanish and French visitors are enjoying their sunshine holidays here, but with direct flights from Bristol and Stanstead to the new Castellón airport, there’s really no excuse not to visit! Check out these hotels in Castellón.
Read More – 10 fabulous things to do in Castellon Spain
July – enjoying the mountains in Vorarlberg in Austria
July was a perfect time to visit Vorarlberg in Austria, with wildflower meadows speckled with yellow daisies, lush green pasture and stunning mountain scenery. In this most westerly province of Austria, I discovered a natural landscape that is enhanced by world class art, with food that is sophisticated yet true to its roots and a chance to unwind in nature without compromising on comfort. If you are looking to get away to the unspoiled beauty of the mountains this summer, I can highly recommend Vorarlberg. Check out these hotels in Vorarlberg.
Read More – 10 reasons to visit Vorarlberg in Austria
July – a summer festival in Basingstoke, Hampshire
The Hampshire town of Basingstoke has plenty to see and do, both in the town centre and in the unspoiled countryside nearby. I visited in July to discover some of the summer activities of the Made in Basingstoke festival, celebrating the connections with Jane Austen who lived nearby and highlighting the creativity, food and heritage that’s on offer locally. If you’re visiting Hampshire and plan a visit to Basingstoke, check out some of the things you can enjoy in and around the town. Check out these hotels in Basingstoke.
Read More – 10 things to do in Basingstoke this summer
July – exploring Victoria in British Columbia, Canada
On my trip in July to British Columbia’s capital of Victoria, I discovered a youthful spirit, with trendy bars and cafés, a world class food scene and a lively harbour where something was always on the move. There are plenty of adventure and wildlife experiences on the doorstep, as I found when I went hiking, cycling and even snorkelling with seals! It seems that Victoria has something to interest every type of traveller, so if you are spending a few days there, do read my guide on what to see and do for your perfect weekend in the city. Check out these hotels in Victoria.
July – a long weekend in Graz, Austria
In July we were seduced by the charm of Graz, the second city of Austria, with a Mediterranean joie-de-vivre and packed café terraces on sunny summer days. On our weekend break we tasted our way through the regional specialities that make this city the “Capital of delights”, wandered through Renaissance courtyards and enjoyed the juxtaposition of cutting edge modern design with medieval red tiled rooftops. With a direct flight to Graz from Birmingham it’s easier than ever to visit the city, which makes a perfect weekend break destination. Check out these hotels in Graz.
Read more: How to spend a perfect weekend in Graz
August – up and away at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta
All too often I’ve been away during the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, but this year I was determined to do it properly and was there over the whole weekend. The image of hot air balloons drifting over the Clifton Suspension Bridge, seems to have become one of those iconic postcard shots and the skies of the West Country are full of hot air balloons throughout the summer. I was thrilled to take my first ever balloon flight during the fiesta, drifting over the city with a bird’s eye view of the harbour and city streets. Check out these hotels in Bristol.
August – exploring Hyde Park in London
I was brought up in London (well Richmond if that counts) and while visiting my parents spent a spare day exploring Hyde Park and Kensington Garden. I was struck by how much fun it can be to be a tourist in your own backyard, seeing familiar places that you probably wouldn’t spend much time in, unless you happen to be showing a visiting friend around. I wrote this guide on things to do in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, just in case you care to visit this lovely park when you are in London. Check out these hotels in London.
September – staying in Anglesey with Airstream
In September we were off to Anglesey for the weekend, to stay in a sleek and silver Airstream caravan. I’d never been to this far corner of Wales but was charmed by the unspoiled countryside and wide sandy beaches, with plenty of walks through the sand dunes to blow the cobwebs away. Check out these hotels in Anglesey.
Read More: Our Airstream adventures in Anglesey
September – sea views in Cornwall at St Michael’s Mount
I love to visit Cornwall at any time of year, so a stay in September at the Godolphin Arms overlooking St Michael’s Mount was both energising and mesmerising. We woke to hear the sea swishing below us, opening the curtains to reveal St Michael’s Mount surrounded by water at high tide, its wooded slopes rising to the castle perched at the top. Once the tide had turned, we crossed the causeway to take a guided tour of the Mount, an ancient site of pilgrimage, and also visited the charming Cornish town of Penzance on our way home. Check out these hotels in Cornwall.
Read More: A weekend in Cornwall at St Michael’s Mount
September – Hiking on the Salzkammergut trail
When I heard about the new Salzkammergut long distance hiking trail, I knew this would be a wonderful way to explore the beautiful lakes and mountains region of Austria. September saw me hiking with a friend starting in the Alm valley, on a trail that would take us through the forest and past picturesque mountain lakes, overshadowed by high peaks. Our three day walk ended beside beautiful Attersee in the hotel where artists and composers such as Gustav Mahler spent their holidays. Check out these hotels in Salkammergut.
October – A historic hotel in Oxford
In October I was in Oxford, staying in the Vanbrugh House Hotel which was built as a family home in the early 18th century. This stylish boutique hotel once had its back to the city walls, but now sits among restaurants and cafes with the bicycles of students whizzing past to catch out the unwary. I took a walking tour to hear the stories from within the courtyards of the Oxford Colleges and watched the punts drift by on the river from the safety of the bank in the Oxford Botanic Garden. Check out these hotels in Oxford.
December – Christmas at home in Bristol
I finished the year in Bristol, enjoying some of the Christmas spirit of my home town, where the lights twinkled in the trees, the baubles were up and the scent of mulled cider and sizzling sausages filled the air in the Christmas Markets. In previous years I’d been exploring the Christmas markets of Germany, but this year I was happy to be in Bristol, exploring all that my home town has to offer. Sometimes you take the best things in life for granted, when they are sitting right under your nose! Check out these hotels in Bristol.
In 2018 you can expect to see me writing more about Bristol as I really want to shine a spotlight on the city I’ve lived for the last 25 years, which is being fast becoming the new, cool place to visit in the UK and I’ll also be visiting other places around England in between my overseas trips. But don’t worry, I have plans for some more exotic destinations too, which should come together in some really interesting trips in the next few months.
I want to thank you from my heart for following my travels here on my blog and my social media channels and hope you’ll join me on many more trips in the coming year.