There’s no doubt 2016 was a bit of a rubbish year for many reasons, including for me, the loss of my dad. But you can’t write off a whole year of your life, so while other people have been glad to see the back of it I’ve been reflecting on what was good – and for me it was definitely a good year for travel.

Here’s a brief round up of 12 of the trips I’ve taken this year, some close to home and some far away, but all new experiences and reasons to remember the good in 2016. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to explore and make happy memories for 2017. 

1. Boulogne

After two nights in lovely Le Touquet we decided to pack up and visit Boulogne on our way to get the ferry home on New Year’s Day 2016. Although it was a bank holiday and mostly closed we spent a lovely couple of hours seeing the old town and walking round the city walls before having lunch in a quirky little cafe. A surprisingly nice town and definitely worth a return trip when we have more time.

2. Myanmar

What can I say about this fabulous country. Without doubt one of my best trips ever. Each of the five places we visited were uniquely different and left us feeling enriched for having been there. Getting out of the UK in February is always a joy but this destination made it extra special and gave me lots to write about.

Yangon

Yangon’s amazing Shwedagon Pagoda

Bagan

A monk enjoying the sunset at Pyathada Paya in Bagan

U-Bein Bridge, Mandalay

Sunset at U-Bein Bridge, Mandalay

Inle Lake

A fisherman dropping his net at Inle Lake

Ngpali

Ngpali Bay beach, the perfect place to end our trip

3. Dublin

I’ve been to Dublin many times to visit family and my trip in March was no different as it was for my aunt’s 80th birthday party. A fantastic night and weekend seeing lots of family but also a chance to see some of the sights of the beautiful city that my mum called home.

The famous Halfpenny Bridge over the Liffey river

4. Highclere Castle

Easter weekend was also with family in Gloucester and included a lovely day out in Hereford for a browse around the pretty old shopping streets. Then on the way home I paid an unexpected visit to the real Downton Abbey. Even if you’re not a fan of the show the impressive Highclere Castle, near Newbury, is well worth seeing. Details of where and when to visit are in my post.

Downton Abbey

5. Regent’s Park

May certainly wasn’t the first time I’d been to Regent’s Park, but I’d never been to London Zoo before. It’s a really nice place to visit with lots to see and do. A couple of months later I was back at the park for my annual visit to the open air theatre and afterwards found a beautiful private house and garden called the Holme which we were able to visit as part of the Open Gardens scheme. 

6. Falmouth

In early June I finally got to Falmouth to visit my niece and see her fine art degree show. A beautiful place and a great time to go as all of the university’s art course students display their work and visitors are welcome. Here’s a few tips for planning a weekend trip to the pretty Cornish town.

Falmouth

Amy’s fantastic art installation for her degree show

7. Milan

It had been a while since I’d been to Italy so our July trip to Milan was a welcome return. Lots to see including the fabulous cathedral and lovely Navigli, the area where we stayed that has pretty canals lined with a multitude of restaurants and bars. Read more about it in my post Making memories in Milan.

8. Lake Como

A real bonus of a trip to Milan is how quick and easy it is to do a day trip to Lake Como. It really is a stunningly beautiful lake with some gorgeous villages on its shores. We got the train from Milan Centrale to Varenna and after lunch and some exploring there we hopped on a ferry to Bellagio. Read more about it in my post Rediscovering lovely Lake Como. 

Varenna

The stunning Villa Monastero in Varenna

Lake Como

Bellagio – just as pretty (and hilly) as I remembered

9. Buckingham Palace

I’ve lived in or near London for over 20 years and seen the main royal residence from the outside lots of times, but decided this was the year to actually get around to booking a tour of the State Rooms. Really glad I did as they’re pretty fab and we had the added bonus of seeing the Fashioning a Reign exhibition, 90 years of the Queen’s clothes and accessories. Some really gorgeous dresses from years ago and an amazing collection of hats. Afternoon tea at Villandry in St James topped off a great day out.

10. Salisbury

Another day trip in August over the bank holiday weekend was to Salisbury, a medieval city in Wiltshire. It’s a really nice place to wander around and do a bit of shopping, but also has a 13th century cathedral with an impressive and very tall spire as well as an original copy of the Magna Carta on display. 

11. Copenhagen

I’d never been to Scandinavia before  and Copenhagen was a great place to start. Plenty to see and do, not as expensive as I expected and the flights were cheap. Perfect for our annual September girls weekend. Didn’t do much blogging in the latter part of last year but a post with info and tips will be coming soon.

12. Seville

I really wanted to end the year with some blue sky and sunshine and Spain is usually the best bet for that without going long haul. I’d been to Seville as part of a bigger trip to Andalucia about 8 years ago and always wanted to go back. We got the blue sky and sun in abundance, lots of Cava on our hotel rooftop and visits to some of the city’s fabulous places like the Alcazar pictured below. A great New Year trip and a blog post coming soon on this one too.

Seville