From a young age I’ve loved travelling, going away on holiday to escape reality for a little while, experiencing new cultures and trying different things that I wouldn’t do in my normal 9-5 life. This year, 2018 – the year Elle Goes Global was born I was very fortunate and incredibly lucky to have the chance to visit seven countries in one year and tick even more things off my ever-expanding travel wish list. If you are looking for some inspiration about where to book on your next holiday, take a look and discover where Elle went in 2018…
In April 2018, I travelled to Valencia with my parents for Easter Bank holiday weekend. I love going away over the bank holiday weekends because it means you can go away for a holiday without taking any time off work which is very important when you have limited annual leave (like me).
Before visiting Valencia, I knew very little about the city apart from the things I had learnt from my Lonely Planet guide book. We spent three nights and walked EVERYWHERE (and I mean everywhere) – with a fascinating blend of gothic and utopia architecture, tasty sangria and delicious cuisine – you won’t want to miss out on this Spanish city!
If you’d like to learn more about the city why not find out how you could spend 72 hours in Valencia for some inspiration for your travels and take a look at this fantastic travel guide for local insider tips:
I’d never planned on visiting Oslo, like many of the places I visited in 2018 the Norwegian capital hadn’t found its place on my travel wish list. After watching Miss Saigon in Southampton back in February, my boyfriend and I got drunk and booked a holiday to Oslo. When we woke up the next morning we thought… oh we should probably find out what there is to do there now. So the research began, I took out several books from the library and researched a few things online. Communicating back and forth with our AirBnB host we developed a list of things we were keen to see and do during our trip.
So many people told us repeatedly that Oslo was expensive, and yes like many of its Scandinavian counter parts it really is! But we managed to visit for a very low cost and if you’d like to do the same why not check out my Oslo: on a shoestring tips.
Home to a rich history of vikings, contemporary architecture and wacky sculptures we were pleasantly surprised by everything that Oslo had to offer. For more inspiration, why not learn how to spend 72 hours in Oslo.
As part of our holiday to Oslo we decided to embark on a road trip to Gothenburg at the tip of Western Sweden. But we didn’t stay there over night, no we drove there and back in one day – mental? yes but a LOT of fun. This road trip was actually my favourite day of the whole holiday purely because it was a mix of planned things intertwined with some spontaneous sights (the scary Elk) and my first but brief driving experience abroad – eeek!
We drove along the western coast from Oslo stopping at several places along the way including ancient rock carvings representing fertility and our favourite place – the fishing village of Fjällbacka. Above the village we found the most spectacular view point overlooking the islands that sit off the coast of Sweden – a real breath taking moment! Once in Gothenburg we had the most stunning dish of steak, sausages and pork (pictured above). And who could go to Sweden without visiting IKEA? Not us! We enjoyed meatballs and then headed back on the road again, keep posted as in the next couple of months I’ll be sharing my Oslo to Gothenburg in a day blog.
One of the clear perks of my job this year was my trip to Mauritius. I’d visited this exquisite Indian Ocean island back in 2008 with family but my 2018 trip in June was with work. My first ever work trip away! I stayed at four of the stunning Beachcomber properties; Shandrani, Canonnier, Trou aux Biches and Paradis (pictured below) and visited Mauricia, Dinarobin, Victoria and Royal Palm.
After writing about this stunning destination for so long, I can honestly say that the one word that does it justice is – Paradise. I discovered many incredible Gastronomical delights a real treat for my taste buds including an unforgettable beach BBQ complete with fire show. The Mauritian people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met and I was so lucky to have the chance to stay in some of the most stunning rooms I’ve ever seen.
Real highlights from my whistle stop tour include showering outside under a canopy of glittering stars, paddle boarding in the Indian Ocean and being surrounded by angel fish on my snorkelling tour.
Madeira lies off the northwest coast of Africa but it’s principally a Portuguese island. When you first hear about it you instantly assume it’s a holiday destination for old people, but you’d be wrong to stereotype it this way. Before I visited in August 2018 with my parents the only thing we knew about Madeira was its namesake wine and cake, but after just a few hours there me and my parents fell truly madly deeply in love with this volcanic island. We stayed in a luxurious James Villa property, when we go on holiday we do it well! If you’d like to learn more about my trip, make sure you read Elle Goes to Madeira.
With a diverse volcanic landscape, the northern side of the island is home to hot springs and black sand beaches, whereas the south boasts hotter temperatures and caves! Our stay just so happened to coincide with the religious Festa da Senhora do Monte festival, where towns and villages decorate their streets with flowers and tuck into traditional street food. There are so many wonderful things about this island that I can’t wait to return again one day, in fact there are 5 things that will surprise you in Madeira (keep an eye out for that upcoming post).
My favourite part about the whole trip aside from relaxing on a sun lounger and basking in the glorious sunshine was sitting at a bar in Nuns Valley (pictured below) admiring the panoramic views with a beer in hand and tasty chestnuts as my snack!
In August 2018 I embarked on my second holiday of the month a week staying at my boyfriend’s friend’s villa with him and a group of his friends near Paciano in Italy. Aside from enjoying lots of gorgeous red wine, tasty food and admiring the beautiful villa view, we managed to pack a lot of fun activities into our trip. Including an afternoon messing around in pedalos, exploring the picturesque Paciano and a learning how to conquer Siena in 24 hours (upcoming guest blog post I wrote for Addicted to Travel). This area of Italy is truly magical – rich in culture and a real delight for foodies. I actually enjoyed being able to spend a little bit of time quietly sitting and relaxing as I had gone through a challenging time personally literally days prior to going to Italy.
Somewhere I would highly recommend visiting is Il Fontanaro Vineyard –there are several adorable Labradors waiting to greet you upon your arrival. And you won’t want to miss out on the chance to enjoy wine tasting or a cookery class, but before you head home make sure you pick up some delicious wine and organic olive oil.
In September 2018 I headed to Amsterdam with three of my friends for a two-night stay in this amazing city. I’ve visited before but each time I go I discover new things and fall even more in love with this place.
Of course there is the liberal side to the destination; the coffee houses, the red light district, the sex shows and museums but we stepped away from all of that (apart from a hilarious stroll through the red light district) – I must be one of the rare few people who has never touched a cigarette or any form of drugs! Instead we embraced the cultural side of this Dutch city whilst narrowly avoiding any incidents with bikes!
Going away for the weekend, we avoided having to take too much time off work and managed to enjoy a budget trip away to learn how you can visit this city without breaking the bank read my Amsterdam: on a shoestring tips. Spending time with friends who I see every couple of months was so precious as it allowed us to create long last memories together and start planning our next group trip away!
Aside from the gorgeous architecture, beautiful UNESCO world heritage canals and yummy stroopwafel my favourite part of the trip was the Heineken Experience – I mean three free beers who wouldn’t enjoy that?! If you want to learn how to spend 72 hours in Amsterdam keep posted as soon I’ll be sharing my advice.
Various places in UK
Throughout the year I enjoyed various weekends away within the UK. My home country is so diverse that you can hop in the car, drive two hours down the road and feel like you’ve been transported to an entirely different country (which of course is the case if you go to Wales or Scotland).
For my 24th Birthday in March 2018, my boyfriend took me away to Bristol. We enjoyed a hilarious stand-up comedy show in a cool quirky venue before tucking into tasty duck and soy sauce pizza, visiting the suspension bridge and enjoying my fantastic birthday presents – a cool vintage bowling alley and Segway experience (I smiled the whole way around it was so much fun I’d 100% recommend it). We followed this up with a morning of him enjoying a Clay Pigeon experience and a very snowy stay in Bath! Visiting the fascinating Roman Baths and uncovering the historical artefacts before enjoying a gorgeous meal at the Art hotel with a glass of bubbly – it’s only your birthday once right? And finally a very funny people watching session involving the ‘infamous candle incident’ (you had to be there) in a 1920s themed Gin bar.
Then in August 2018 me and my boyfriend headed on a little road trip to the Brecon Beacons with two of our friends. We visited waterfalls, watched people gorge walking (maybe I’ll try it one day), explored a cave and tucked into a succulent burger at HILLS before embarking on a spectacular steam railway journey and drive across the Black Mountain Pass.
For my boyfriend’s 25th Birthday I decided to plan something extra special given the fact he’s now basically an adult and half way towards 50. So in September 2018 we travelled back in time to the 1930’s (not literally because I don’t have a TARDIS clearly that birthday wish when I was 10 just isn’t coming true…) and spent a fun action-packed day at Goodwood Revival. The tickets for 2019 have now been released so if you are looking for an incredible and immersive day out why not learn more about my day Stepping back in time.
We also conquered the Isle of Wight in a day making a sand cat called Marcus, taking the chair lift down to the Alum Bay beach (pictured below) and getting windswept at Freshwater Bay. Of course, we took the picturesque military road along to Ryde to savour some Isle of Wight gin (is it even a holiday without gin?) before jumping back on the ferry to stay at our cosy AirBnB in Southsea. That evening although we were ill we had dinner at the wonderful Koh Thai (incredible food and possibly the best Thai I’ve had) before enjoying more – yes you guessed it! GIN at the cool and contemporary Gin and Olive bar.
With my boyfriends friends from University now living in Cambridge I have been lucky enough to visit this beautiful city at least three times this year (I’ve actually lost count – it could be more) each time to enjoy something different! If you’d like to learn how you could spend 24 hours in Cambridge have a read of my guest bloggers Addicted to Travel’s post.
I think we might even be going to Oxford for an anniversary night away in December and enjoying a Gin afternoon tea which I’ll be sharing photos and writing a post for you to enjoy over the next few months!
So, where will Elle go in 2019?
As you can imagine I don’t plan on just sitting around in Surrey next year, if I did you’d have less inspirational travel content to enjoy and I’d have permanent holiday blues.
I already have a family holiday booked for Iceland in February – I’m super excited to explore the hot springs and geysers (and hopefully, fingers crossed, please cross your fingers for me) the most wonderful natural phenomenon the Northern Lights.
I’m in the process of planning a Ireland road trip with my boyfriend for April 2019 we hope to combine Dublin, Connemara and the Giant’s Causeway.
And finally my other travel plan for next year, is a bumper three week trip to New York (my favourite city) Toronto, Vancouver and the Rockies including Banff and Jasper with my parents – Canada is somewhere I’ve dreamt about visiting for a long time so I’m literally counting down the days!
Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting blogs, Instagram posts and Facebook updates based on all these destinations in 2019!
As always I’m sure there will be a few spontaneous weekends away and other holidays in 2019 to share with you as well, I wonder how many countries I’ll visit in 2019…..
So, where will 2019 take you? And what was your favourite travel experience from 2018? Let me know in the comments below