Take 12 Trips

Back in January I stumbled across a blog post on TheTravelHack challenging people to take 12 trips throughout the year – #Take12Trips. At this point I already had some weekend breaks booked to get me off the mark – a stag do, a marathon and a wedding. The other 9 would have to materialise in 2016 as we went along.

My 12 long list eventually looked like this being fortunate enough to get my 12 trips in early … and I missed January anyway. Always grateful that I have the ability to visit so many places, and aware of the environment impact of flying I’m pleased to say the 12 trips conveniently broke down as:

  • 4 by train
  • 4 by car
  • 4 by plane

Trip 1 – Paris – February

First up a work conference in Eurodisney Paris. It was low season but there were still a surprisingly large number of families around. The alarm has to be set at 4am to get there on the Eurostar. Ouch!

Meeting Minnie Mouse in Eurodisney

Meeting Minnie Mouse in Eurodisney

Trip 2 – València – February

A stag do in València for our pal Osman. Not the most obvious stag do choice but much better for it as we weren’t surrounded by lots of other stag dos! It was lovely to experience t-shirt weather so early on in the year, explore the food markets and follow Valencia’s snaking green park all the way to the beach.

Valencia's 'City of Arts and Sciences'

Valencia’s ‘City of Arts and Sciences’

Trip 3 – New York – March

An invite to present to a sales team in New York – another fortunate “work” bonus leaving plenty of time to explore out of work hours during the 7 days I was there! I also became the very first person to stay in my hotel room at the newly opened ‘INNside New York NoMad‘ up on 27th Street. My favourite location is always Central Park and I ran 8 miles around it with Christy Turlington as we both trained for our repective marathons – London and Brighton.

Running arund the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park

Running around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park

Trip 4 – Isle of Wight – March

Sad news followed with my Uncle John’s funeral in the Isle of Wight. They say you only meet your family at weddings and funerals and this was one of those such occasions. It was lovely to catch up with my 3 cousins and Auntie though and we were all blessed with nice weather.

Leaving on the ferry from the Isle of Wight back to the mainland

Leaving on the ferry from the Isle of Wight back to the mainland

Trip 5 – Cardiff – April

I kept my 100% record and attended the 4th and latest instalment of the Traverse travel blogging conference in Cardiff. Another great effort by Michael, Paul and the team. A highlight was being taken around Cardiff Bay in a rib at speeds up to 50 mph!

Our view we had at the 'Traverse' travel bloggers' conference in Cardiff

Our view at the ‘Traverse’ travel bloggers’ conference in Cardiff

Trip 6 – Brighton – April

Another of the initial “booked in” trip where I ran the Brighton Marathon together with 5-6 friends from the Hitchin Running Club. I feel I’ve now  “done” Brighton having cycled to it 3x in the “London to Brighton” bike ride, run around it in the marathon as well as visited the town many “normal” weekend breaks too.

Brighton and its wonderful Brighton Pier

Brighton and its wonderful Brighton Pier

Trip 7 – Cyprus – May

A  random trip to Cyprus with my mate Chopper for some proper, early Summer sun. With only 4 months of the year gone so far I was already over halfway on trip number seven. We stayed in Aiya Napa but drove west to Limasssol and north up to Girne, crossing the border into the Turkish occupied region. It was strange seeing the capital city Nicosia with blockades, barriers and border guides running through its middle!

Inside one of the sea caves near Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Inside one of the sea caves near Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Trip 8 – Belfast – May

Belfast in early May featured a trip for me and Rob of Hornblower Travels to see our Irish friend Emma, back in her homeland … but sadly with one friend down due to pregnancy (preferring not to fly after 28 weeks). The Games of Thrones tour was a highlight, culminating in the Giant’s Causeway and Rob wrote a little post about it.

The spectacular frontage of the Titanic museum in Belfast

The spectacular frontage of the Titanic museum in Belfast

Trip 9 – Cotswolds – August

The Cotswolds is very twee and makes the perfect location for a Summer wedding. On this occasion the marriage of my girlfriend’s brother Matty to his now wife Megan. We stayed in Lower Slaughter! Sounds omninous but it was absolutely delightful, like something straight out of ‘Midsomer Murders’.

Back from a run around the beautiful little village of Lower Slaughter

Back from a run around the beautiful little village of Lower Slaughter

Trip 10 – France – September

Lyon > Grenoble > Alps to cycle up the formidable and world famous Alpe D’Huez! The climb is 8.5 miles long, has an average gradient of 8.1%, consists of 21 hairpin bends and involves 1.2km of climbing! I recommend it to anyone! Just stick it in the lowest gear and off you go … for an hour and a half.

On the podium after completing Alpe D'Huez

On the podium after completing “Alpe D’Huez”

Trip 11 – Bournemouth – October

Another running event but this time “just” a half marathon along the beautiful south coast. Half marathons make so much more sense than “full” marathons. Not everybody can do a “half” as you still have to  put in the training … but at least it’s not a crazy marathon, allowing you to still walk around the next day! The four of us ran for charity Every Mother Counts

Completing the Bournemouth half marathon for charity 'Every Mother Counts'

Completing the Bournemouth half marathon for charity ‘Every Mother Counts’

Trip 12 – Norfolk – October

Hornblower Travels celebrated his 40th birthday so 12 of us descended on a small village near Cromer in Norfolk. An AirBnB in an old barn no less. A fun way to spend the weekend, and not too raucous. Well a few of us are in our 40s now 🙂 The more of the UK I see, the more I realise there is still to see in my home country!

Cromer Pier in Norfolk

About to stroll along the pier in Cromer

So that’s my #Take12Trips! Anybody else been able to do the same? I wonder what lies in store in 2017 🙂

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15 questions travellers are asking Google

Google auto-complete is undeniably helpful when you’re searching for something and can’t remember the exact search term phrase, or simply just want to speed things up. It also provide some amusement when typing in such phrases as “Why are Americans” or “Why is Britain” just to see what stereotyped questions others have been asking.

I was recently inspired by an article in the Independent where Czech Jakub Marian asked Google.com “why is [COUNTRY]” for each of the countries in Europe to see what auto-completes popped up. Denmark came out fairly well “Why is Denmark … the happiest country in the world“, whereas Spain faired less well “Why is Spain … so poor“.

On the same theme I decided to try some travel related questions using Google.co.uk.

1. So first off “why is travelling” Ok – fair enough. Travelling can be “tiring“. Sitting down for hours on end shouldn’t wear you out but it just does. Maybe watch a film? Move about? Have a coffee. Be less tired.
Why is travelling

2. … but at least backpacking is “fun” 🙂
Why is backpacking

3. Talking of which you’ll need an actual backpack. Some people are finding them to be a bit “expensive” though, buy they generally last for ages so you’ll get a good “cost per use” out of it at the very least.
Why are backpacks?

4. But why are rucksacks “measured in litres?” Mmm – good question. To compare the capacity of a backpack you measure their volume (technically only the parts that are self-contained by zips), and the litre is the unit for volume … so we use litres. By the way “Rucksack” comes from the German words “rucken” and “sack” meaning “back sack”.
Why are rucksacks

5. And if you’re “old skool” what about suitcases!?  Also “so expensive” Yup – I don’t understand why people pay £8 to have them shrink wrapped at the airport either?! I’m guessing it makes them more secure, can seal a damaged one, while giving people a bit of extra “peace of mind” at the same time?
Why are suitcases

6. Maybe you’re taking a bit more of an extended gap year rather than just a week in the sunshine in Benidorm. Great news here! It seems gap years are “good“!
Why are gap years

7. So for most people, travelling starts at the the airport. But “so expensive?” They can be. Money exchange rates are worse at the airport for those “captive audience last minute” type buyers and most of the food is at a premium too. There’s always time for the ritual of having a pricey pint before take off though.
Why are airports

8. Once at the airport you’re off through passport control … with your “expensive” passport! I can see a pattern developing here. My 10 year passport cost me £72.50. The price of just 2 lattés a year. I’ll take that! Bargain!
Why are passports

9. Now I do hope you have your travel insurance because it’s “very important” … and obviously “so expensive“. Although I despair at those horror stories when we hear of a young party-goer falling from a Spanish balcony and it’s subsequently  reported they have no travel insurance and need repatraiting at great family expense. So get some!
Why is travel insurance

10. And as you queue to board the plane you’re bound to ask yourself why planes are “white?” Well apparently they’re mostly white because white doesn’t fade and its easier to sell a white plane on afterwards. I’ve never had to sell on a 747 myself though so this hasn’t been an issue for me.
Why are planes

11. Now you’ve finally arrived at your destination, undoubtedly tired, and you head to your hotel. But why are airport taxis “so expensive?
Why are airports taxis

12. And as you gaze out of the window travelling to your hotel you’re likely to ponder why hotels are “so expensive?” too.
Why are hotels

13. Maybe you should have booked a hostel instead but why are they “so cheap?
Why are hostels

14. Anyhow you have a wonderful time, take many photos, “social media” your trip while away and commit to writing some blog posts on your return as blogs are “important“.
Why are blogs

15. …but most importantly bloggers are fortunately ever so slightly more “influential” than they are “annoying“!! 😉
Why are bloggers

Do you have any other amusing travel related Google auto-complete suggestions?