Writing up about my various highlights of 2017 got me thinking more about my favourite travel moments of the year. While I “only” visited 3 countries this year (wow, yes, forgive me, I know I sound such a knob writing that, but travelling to various countries is a bit of a must for travel bloggers), I experienced some massive travel highs which I never could have imagined I’d have at the start of this year. And that’s not to mention the various trips around the UK I took, from Tunbridge Wells to Andover, Manchester, Canterbury and Scarborough…
These are the travel moments I will remember for years to come!
Scoring an incredible Airbnb in Venice Canals
On my first trip to LA back in 2015, we were treated to a quick 20-second look at the Venice Canals during our one-day coach tour. I can remember thinking they looked BEAUTIFUL, so on my return trip with work we didn’t have to think long about which part of LA to stay in. We managed to find a gorgeous three-bed flat with a rooftop terrace overlooking the canals. Of all the 4 places I’ve stayed in LA (over two trips) this was by far my fave!
Visiting my very first Caribbean beach
Caribbean beaches with their white sands and transparent water have always seemed like a bit of a myth to me. Paradise like that can’t *really* exist, can it?! Well, we found our own slice of paradise just outside Havana at the Playas de Este beach. Despite it being rather windy and a little overcast at times, we still had the best time lounging around, taking leisurely walks across the sand and having the occasional swim in the sea. It was pure lush, and it’s definitely made us want to return to the Caribbean sooner rather than later.
Seeing a cat riding a Batmobile at Manchester’s Cat Cafe
I mean, do I really need to explain this one any further? It’s a Bat Cat. Batman. Catman. If anyone needs me I’ll be watching this video over and over again.
Going up the CN Tower in Toronto
I remember writing about the CN Tower EdgeWalk during one of my many travel internships many moons ago. While our trip didn’t (thankfully) involve circling the top of the 356m-high tower whilst harnessed up, taking a lift to the top was a real ‘pinch me’ moment.
Seeing dolphins pop up at Venice Beach
Venice Beach can be hectic at the best of times, but I’ve never felt so peaceful than at the end of Venice Fishing Pier. The heavy wind blowing in my ears shut off all the talking around me, and my bare arms and legs were just pleased to be out in the open air, basking in the LA sunshine. After a few minutes of staring out towards Santa Monica pier, we noticed a bit of commotion and noticed there were several dolphins bobbing up and down just metres away from where we were standing. We watched them swim closer to shore, getting closer and closer to the surfers who, amazed by the sight of them, started paddling towards them. Definitely one of my favourite travel moments ever!
Getting a masterclass in making cocktails in Havana
I figured that if you’re going to learn how to make cocktails anywhere, it’s got to be in Havana. This was another Airbnb experience I found on the website, and it was the first thing we did when we got to Cuba! We were taught how to make mojitos, daisuiris and Havana Specials behind the bar of a paladar, a privately owned Cuban restaurant, in our own 1-on-1 lesson.
Experiencing Fall in LA
There’s something about America where they just do everything better. I’ve been to New York during summer, and the West Coast during Christmas, but seeing just how LA does Fall/Thanksgiving kinda puts all my Halloween efforts to shame. Did somebody say pumpkins? Here, have 5,000.
Chasing after the wildlife in Toronto
From cooing over black squirrels to following this hunk swooping just metres above our head, it’s fair to say that we looked like massive tourists in Toronto…
Finding this view over Havana
On our first full day in Havana we took a free walking tour and ended up across the bay by the Christ of Havana. I’m pretty sure we would never have found our way over there on our own, which made getting to see this view all the more sweeter.
Eating the best lemon cake in Tunbridge Wells
As day trips go, my one to Tunbridge Wells was pretty sensational. Not only did I get to see my friend and her newly purchased home, but we got to sample what’s quite possibly the greatest piece of lemon cake ever. (At Juliets And More, if you’re ever in the area and find yourself in need of a sugar hit.)
Dancing at Tropicana
Was Havana’s iconic Tropicana a bit of a tourist trap? Yes. Did we pay way over the odds for a fancy night out? 100% yes. But it was one of those places where you just wanted to let go, push your worries to one side, and join in with all the spirited dancing. The rum might have had something to do with this, to be fair…
Hiking up into the Hollywood Hills with rescue dogs
Spending time with rescue dogs in my front room would still have made this list of my top travel moments of 2017. It just so happened that it happened while hiking up Runyon Canyon, a hiking route I’d run out of time to do the first time I was in LA, so it was a fab little combo.
Having cocktails with a view at the top of the Parque Central hotel
Call it clichéd, but finding a rooftop bar to sip cocktails and watch the sunset is one of my favourite things to do in any country. On one of our final evenings in Havana we enjoyed a few mojitos at the top of Parque Central hotel, arriving just as the sun was starting to set over the city.