Considering I have a full-time job with a pretty low holiday allowance, 2012 has been the best year ever for travel. I’ve been lucky enough to win a holiday competition, save up for and indulge in a two week tour, and watch our friends get married abroad – all in 12 hectic months. So here it is, the best of my year in travel for 2012.
April – Learning to relax in the Caribbean
I’m a city girl, obviously. But we all need to take a break from ‘the norm’ every now and then, so when I won a two-week break in Aruba thanks to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines I was so excited about relaxing. Aruba is the best place to learn how to let down the barricades and just allow yourself some calm – something which I hardly ever do on holiday. I love to surround myself with bustle, but it’s just as nice to people watch on the beach (without being pervy) and enjoy the sand between your toes. I even dyed my hair pink for the occasion, which was a great talking point with some of the locals!
Aruba taught me that beach holidays don’t always mean lounging by the pool with a hangover courtesy of the all-inclusive bar, nor do they mean wasting a week when you could be doing something else. This beach holiday included a visit to the Butterfly Farm, spending a day being a pirate, walking along the Caribbean sea bed, snorkelling for the first time, eating dinner in bed, and taking an adventure jeep tour with the coolest Arubans on the island.
June – Getting engaged at the Grand Canyon
I can’t really miss this one out, can I? To add to the already exciting year, we went and got engaged at one of the 7 Natural Wonders. Apparently he’d been planning it ever since we booked our Trek America tour in 2011 and only picked up the ring 3 days before we flew to Los Angeles. Seeing the Grand Canyon in person was pretty much the #1 reason we picked the Western Wonder, so to be lucky enough to get engaged there is something I’ll never forget.
June – Partying in Las Vegas
The day after our engagement the Trek was scheduled to arrive in Vegas for two days of sightseeing and debauchery. Our first time in Vegas, spending it celebrating with the group was amazing. Our trek leader had arranged a meal together and a surprise limo ride along the strip before dropping us off outside The Bellagio to watch the famous fountains. Then we partied the night away 55 floors above the bright lights at Ghostbar! What a view it was …
July – Finding the mothership – 1 Infinite Loop
Since we had 3 days to explore San Francisco, we decided to take one of those mornings to make the trip to Sunnyvale and visit Apple HQ. You can’t get inside the actual building, but you can take plenty of photos outside with the ‘1’ sign and buy some merchandise at the Company Store. A few people tried making their way into the offices, but security promptly led them out! We took the very scenic route to get there, which included an hour’s CalTrain journey and a 20 min bus ride, but it was well worth it!
September – Losing my voice at the Paralympics
A self-confessed Olympic cynic, it only took two minutes of the opening ceremony to change my mind. After that, I was hooked. It was too late to get tickets for the Olympic events, or at least passes that didn’t cost a month’s salary, but we did manage to score some Paralympic athletics tickets for September. I’d gone from wanting nothing to do with the sports and dreading my commute to work, to watching as much as I could on iPlayer and losing my voice screaming so much in the stadium. It really was amazing to experience the greatest sporting events in our very own London. There’s nothing like a bit of British pride to get you all wired up!
September – Our friends get married in Greece
Weddings, weddings everywhere! September meant taking my first ever Ryanair flight to Greece in order to see our friends get married in the beautiful hills of Kos. Only a 3 day trip (since our holiday allowance was already very, very stretched), we literally flew in on Tuesday, enjoyed the wedding on Wednesday, and flew back to England on Thursday! Even though we only saw a small amount of Kos, it felt amazing to have a quick break on the beach and reclaim a bit of sun while London was experiencing wind and rain. I managed to top up my tan a little and we celebrated our friends wedding in style!
So 2012 was a pretty amazing year for us and I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to enjoy it all. I couldn’t have wished for a more adventurous year. Let’s see what 2013 holds!please note: some header images are from unsplash.com