2016 took me to 8 countries (Mexico, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Poland, America, England) and 4 American States (Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri)! Today I share my top 10 favourite experiences and places that I visited!
Xplor, Playa Del Carmen – Mexico
I can’t believe how little I’ve wrote about my trip to Mexico! Especially when I think Xplor was one of the best attractions that I’ve visited! There are several very similar attractions all in one area, I chose to visit Xplor for the wide range of activities they had on offer which included:
-14 zip-lines including water landings and a water slide.
-2 off-road buggy routes that go through caves, water and across bridges (6.2 miles)
-Underground cave swim
-2 underground cave paddle raft routes
-Buffet lunch and unlimited fruit and drink stops
It poured down all day during my visit…(not what you plan for when you visit somewhere like Mexico!) but Xplor was the perfect attraction when a beach day is out of the question!
The John Lennon Wall, Prague – Czech Republic
There was something special about the John Lennon Wall, so much so that me and my Sister visited it TWICE during our weekend stay! During our first stop at the wall, we spent ages just looking at all the brightly coloured (mostly) positive/inspirational messages. On our second passing, there was a busker playing an acoustic guitar. The tone of his voice was just so relaxing and he was playing all the type of easy listening popular music that we liked. He managed to pull in a fair sized crowd and it was lovely to see so many people of different nationalities, come together and all sing along with him. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Vydopna Railway Restaurant, Prague – Czech Republic
My favourite restaurant of the year goes to Vytopna! The food service was ridiculously quick, but the fun part was that all the drink orders are brought to EVERY table via a miniature railway that runs around the whole restaurant! Please note: hot drinks and ‘unstable’ cocktail glasses are brought to the table by the waitstaff. These are shown on the menu though.
Afternoon Tea, Tiptree – UK
Afternoon tea is such a British thing to have! I love cream teas, I’ve literally had millions of them, but this year was the first time I had gone for a proper Afternoon Tea! A cake stand with warm scones, cream, jam (in the choice of 4 different flavours), a selection of cakes and finger sandwiches, was plonked down between me and my Mum and we were allowed to pig away at the lot. Tiptree Jam can be found in several places around the world and the factory is literally 30 minutes from my hometown in England. What better place to have an afternoon tea on the doorstep of the factory?! (Which smells AMAZING in the summer, I would drive by it with the windows down just taking deep breaths as I went by it!).
Sunsets in Lapad – Croatia
Sometimes being a budget traveller works out in your favour! On my visit to Dubrovnik, I opted to stay a cheap bus ride away from the Old Town, in the nearby town of Lapad. I saved a whole heap on the accommodation cost and could even justify spending extra on a sea view, balcony upgrade and I’m so glad I did! I spent the evenings sat on my balcony watching the sunset from the perfect angle. Just look at the colour of it, I didn’t even need to edit it!
I stayed at the Hotel Adriatic which is located in a quiet bay with a beach and some lovely bars (Cave Bar More is partly built in a cave!) and restaurants.
My favourite country I visited this year was Bosnia! I enjoyed my stops in Mostar and Pocitelj. I loved the feel of the villages with the narrow streets and stone buildings. It’s hard to imagine that there had been a war in this country during my lifetime. There are still battle scars on some of the buildings but everyone I met was very friendly and lovely. *Tip*: If you visit the public toilet at the mosque in Mostar…it’s just a squat toilet and the floor is wet. I had to wear my backpack and balance my jumper on my head!
Maze Escape Room, Krakow – Poland
This was such a fun experience that had me and my Mum buzzing with adrenaline for hours! Escape Rooms are becoming more and more popular with different themes and levels of difficulty. It can often be tough to find one that lets less than 3 people take part but we found this one that allowed just 2 participants in Krakow. Our room had the aim of diffusing a bomb and then cracking the code to unlock the room. There were various tasks and clues, along with red herrings and many surprises! We completed the room in 1 hour 10 (we were allowed to run over as no one was booked for the slot after us) and only used the ‘walkie talkie help’ a couple of times. We were really proud of ourselves for how much we managed to figure out alone and the way we worked together as a team!
Clacton & Hastings – The UK Coast
I love the British coast. There is something that fills me with child like excitement when I visit! I visited Clacton-on-Sea on Father’s Day with my Mum and Dad, we had fish and chips on the sea wall and messed around on the pier…having a go on the Go-Karts and the ‘Wild Mouse’ style rollercoaster! 10 Reasons to Love the Great (but tacky) British Seaside. We also went camping in Hastings (Battle of Hastings!) over the May Day bank holiday weekend! This involved lots of ice cream, walking across the cliffs, visiting castle ruins and riding on miniature steam trains! May Day Celebrations – Hastings UK
Chestnut Mountain, Illinois – USA
In the winter, Chestnut Mountain is a Ski Resort (yep! In Illinois, USA!), however I visited in the summer when it is home to: an Alpine Toboggan, a zip-line, crazy golf and Segway tours through the forests. One of the chair lifts was open and there were a few hiking routes to various viewpoints overlooking the Mississippi River! Even in the school holidays the lines weren’t ridiculously long!
Dickeyville Grotto, Wisconsin – USA
I discovered the Dickeyville Grotto purely by chance. I knew about the Grotto of Redemption in Iowa, which is over 3 hours away from where I am in Dubuque, but just happened to be passing through Dickeyville, Wisconsin when I spotted that they too had a Grotto! What’s even better is that it’s only a 15 minute drive from Dubuque! I thought it was colourful and creative and I can’t wait to visit again when it’s not blowing a blizzard outside! It kinda reminded me of Antoni Gaudi’s work, which I fell in love with when I visited Barcelona, Spain in 2015! You can read more about my visit in this post: What do Henry Ford and the Dickeyville Grotto Have in Common?
What are some of your 2016 Travel Highlights?! I would love to know! I’m always on the lookout for new travel inspiration!