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Travel wasn’t at the top of my priority list in 2016 for obvious reasons. Despite that, though, I managed to fit in visits to 4 new countries: that’s 4 new cities and 4 new currencies I had to wrap my brain around (still not sure I’ll ever get to grips with the Hungarian Forint though…).

No matter how little or how much you’ve travelled, I find it’s always worth looking back at the little moments that made you smile. For one final hurrah to the horror that was 2016, here are my 13 favourite travel moments of the year:

1. Waking up on my first (and only) morning in Copenhagen to find my ears had finally popped

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Ahh the sweet, sweet relief of waking up to find that my ears had FINALLY popped after a whole day of walking around after my flight with one working ear. I’ll never again take my hearing for granted…

2. Finding Nyhavn after a long, meandering walk

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I expected to fall in love with Tivoli Gardens when we visited Copenhagen. But it was closed, so that plan went out the window pretty quickly. Instead, I found myself loving the colourful buildings in Nyhavn. Even though I’ve seen photos of it hundreds of times in the past, it just seemed so much more brighter than I expected. It’s the kind of place that you could imagine being atmospheric no matter what time of day or what season. And I don’t think it’s actually possible to take a take a bad photo there…

3. This cat at the Copenhagen cat cafe

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No idea what this cat was called, but my boyfriend and I fell in love with it instantly. It just found chairs to sit on, looking like a grumpy old man waiting for his order to turn up. If anyone ever goes there, please let us know whether it has finally received its order.

4. Stumbling upon the Copenhagen Street Food Market

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We thought we were just walking around an old dockyard, but instead we stumbled on the entrance to Copenhagen Street Food Market. One of the big advantages to following the locals…

This was one of my favourite food experiences of the year. Not only did they have every type of food available, but I also found a beer I actually liked – which is practically unheard of.

5. Staying in our Airbnb in Budapest

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My first experience of Airbnb had me wondering just why I had left it so long to try. Our Budapest Airbnb was my ideal little home: two adorable bedrooms, flowers everywhere, and a Smart TV with Netflix. Why did we ever leave?!

6. Experiencing the wonders of Szimpla Kert (and getting offered a carrot)

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For someone who likes to be in bed by 7pm, the very fact I have a ruin pub on this list just goes to show how amazing it really is. With various rooms dedicated to everything from quiet drinking to meals, impromptu gigs and dancing, Szimpla Kert is like a shopping mall in one building – albeit one with no shops, just something to suit everyone.

The rough, vintage decor was completely up my street – as was the fact someone came round selling (peeled) carrots. I laughed so much my boyfriend felt really bad, so he ended up buying one. And I just sat there watching a jazz gig, chomping down on my carrot. Best night ever.

7. Seeing koalas for the first time EVER

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I cried with happiness. The koala cried with happiness. The janitor witnessing this monumental occasion cried with happiness. It was just all-round beautiful.

8. Visiting the Terezin Concentration Camp

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Putting this on a list of my ‘favourite’ travel moments of the year seems wrong. But my day trip to Terezin was one of the most thought-provoking, harrowing and – above all – interesting trips I’ve ever been on. As a history graduate with a particular interest in anything to do with World World 2, a visit to Terezin was one thing I was determined to do when I visited Prague. From the haunting sight of the noose, to the compact rooms which held the prisoners, the trip has certainly left its mark on me, and opened my eyes even further to the atrocities of the war.

9. Having my French corrected by a waiter in Café de Paris

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In the middle of a posh Monte-Carlo brasserie is probably not the best place to bust out my year 8 French and let the waiter know what’s in my pencil case. He got a chuckle, before then making it his life’s mission to get me to say ‘Merci’ properly.

10. This guinea pig moment in Monaco

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Why are there so many guinea pigs huddled together? I have no idea. I didn’t ask. I was too busy just melting to the floor with excitement, trying to work out how to get them all in my bag.

11. Anything up high in Monaco

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Some people think you need oodles of cash to have a great time in Monaco, but I was all about getting high for as cheap as possible. Physically high, that is. From viewpoints at the Zoological Garden to the Exotic Garden, there’s no doubting that Monaco is best viewed from above. There’s nowhere else quite like it.

12. Taking a morning stroll around Norwich

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While my mum was sleeping in one morning, I decided to take a 10-minute early-morning stroll around the hotel to get my bearings. The bridge along Fye Bridge Street gave me this spectacular shot of the colourful Quay Side buildings, topped off with the hazy sight of the Norwich Cathedral spire in the background.

13. Ordering all the room service in our Norwich hotel

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Normally when we go away, my mum and I are all about the saving of pennies. But this was a break with a difference, and which called for us to have room service literally every single night we were there. I lost count of the number of posh desserts and fancy cheese/pickle sandwiches I had. They even rustled up some plain omelettes for my mum as that’s what she fancied, and brought it up in an uber-fancy cloche. Cos that’s just how we roll now…

I’d love to know what your favourite travel experiences were of 2016, no matter how small you feel they were!

emily