While I do agree that 2016 has been a year that will fuel pub quizzes for at least a century, it’s been a pretty great year for me personally. Whilst I’ve always loved travelling, 2016 really saw the start of the obsession. I graduated from University, created Real World Runaway, crossed off 5 countries and 7 cities from my bucket list, visited a few old favourites and planned a whole 18 months of travel for 2017/18. But travelling isn’t just about where you go, what you do there is also fairly important. So in the spirit of ending the year on a high (we all need some positivity in 2016), here are my favourite bucket list experiences I crossed off this year!
1) Tearing Up the Slopes (Or At Least Trying To)
Skiing, (well snowboarding really), has always been something I’ve wanted to try, and with university coming to an end, I thought 2016 was my last chance! Whilst I was a pretty dreadful snowboarder, I found out that actual time on the slope is only a very small part of ski life. From amazing scenery to mountain top bars to fantastic food (so much cheeeeeeese!), you can have a great time in the mountains without having to hurl yourself down one!
2) Travelling Just to Catch Up with Friends
Last year, some American girls turned up in Newcastle and quickly became some of my favourite people. When they left in June, I couldn’t wait to organise a trip to see them. Me and Pete travelled to Baltimore at the end of October to experience Halloween, American style. Baltimore is not somewhere I ever thought I’d end up, but getting to be there with locals (and friends) was great. We got the full US college experience, from on-campus Starbucks to house parties complete with beer pong and even went pumpkin picking at an orchard. We definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun if we were just dropped off in Baltimore with nothing but a travel guide. Sometimes who you’re with matters more than where you are.
Also, AMERICAN DON’T DRESS SCARY FOR HALLOWEEN. We had a serious Mean Girls moment as we turned up to a Halloween party as zombies and people literally asked us “why are you dressed so scary”. They were very quick to treat the token English outsiders as celebrities.
3) Surviving an International Festival
I’ve always been a big festival fan. A weekend with your friends, glitter and some of the world’s best bands is my idea of heaven. The issue with this is that I’m from Britain and unfortunately the combination of rain, mud and a lack of showers does not make me a very happy bunny. This year I went to my first international festival, Sziget in Budapest. Whilst it wasn’t quite up to the standards of Glastonbury, the atmosphere was brilliant and we definitely weren’t short of things to fill the 7 days with. The festival is close enough to Budapest to head into the city for the morning, stay in a hostel if camping isn’t for you or use the spas to keep on top of your personal hygiene (although the camp showers were some of the best I’ve seen at a festival). I can’t wait to try out some more international festivals, away from the dreary British weather!
4) Taking in the Scenery by Train
I’ve obviously been on trains before but the gruelling 3 and half hour journey from university to home did not exactly sell me on the idea of sitting on an 8 hour journeys around Europe. Budget won out though and I boarded my first train between Prague and Budapest. As usual, I was wrong. I don’t know whether England is ugly or I’m just so used to the view that it goes straight over my head, but the scenery on the journey was beautiful. We got to see so many things that you’d never see by car or plane and the cabins were comfortable and private enough. I’d definitely recommend booking in advance though as I assume getting a seat drastically improves the journey.
Hope everyone had a great holiday season and a happy new year! What were your favourite travel firsts of 2016? And what are your plans for 2017? Let me know below!