This year has been a pretty good one for random trips – I’ve not been anywhere too far but have been to a lot of good places so I thought I would do a little review of where 2015 has taken me…
Where – La Rosiere, France
What – A week of yoga and skiing with Soulshine Retreats (technically two days of skiing after spraining my knee…).
Stayed at – Green Rides’ Chalet Montperron – stay here, it’s wonderful!
Review – I can’t say anything bad about this – I went on my own (as did about half of our group), and found a wonderful group of people. Green Rides staff were amazing, food and wine were plentiful and delicious. Soulshine Retreats founder Soulla was the most fantastic teacher – the evening Yin classes (with a little Yoga Nidra thrown in) in front of the fire are the way every day should end. La Rosiere is a lovely little resort, with skiing suitable for all levels – from me pootling down a green run (still…) to taking a trip over to Italy for the less gravitationally challenged skier.
Highlight – Skidoo-ing up the mountain to drink Chateauneuf du Pape before lots of melted cheese for lunch.
Tips – If you’ve not been away on your own as part of a larger group, finding a holiday as specific to your interests as this is a great start – it was the first time I’d tried this sort of thing and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
Where – Moscow & St Petersburg
What – A whistlestop tour of two cities
Stayed at – Hilton Leningradskya in Moscow, Corinthia in St Petersburg – both gorgeous hotels with wonderful breakfasts (champagne & the top Russian football team for breakfast in St Petersburg, yes please!).
Review – Really glad to finally get to Russia! Moscow was interesting – great to see Red Square, amazing clothes & sledges (!) in the Kremlin museum and the most bargainous Nobu you’ll ever eat, but I don’t feel a great need to go back. St Petersburg I loved – such a beautiful city, I think if I were writing a more full review I would be overusing ‘beautiful’ a lot, maybe mixing in a little ‘stunning’ when it came to describing the Winter Palace & the Church of the Saviour on Blood.
Highlight – The Winter Palace in St Petersburg – unbelievably stunning, with amazing art (I’m definitely going back to visit the Summer Palace). (Also, arriving in Moscow rather tipsy and with a new taste for caviar thanks to former footballer Andrei Kanchelskis being far too generous with his luxe wine and caviar picnic when he sat next to us on the plane!)
Tips – Leave lots of time to get your visa sorted (I got mine wrong twice and had to go back to the visa office – easy for me as it was down the road from work, but not if you don’t work in EC1!). Russian visas are detailed and confusing – Russia now knows more about me than I can remember myself.
Where – Athens
What – Sunshine, columns and a bit of paddling
Stayed at – Hotel Melia Athens – great hotel with rooftop pool
Review – This was a great trip for an extended weekend as it had everything – heaps of history (obviously…), culture, sunshine, great food (really recommend Athiri for amazing food in a lovely fairy-lit courtyard). It was lovely to be able to go and explore in the morning and then spend the afternoon by our hotel pool with a view of the Acropolis…
Highlight – Athens itself was great, but I loved our little trip over to Aegina – blue sea, mostly empty beach, sunshine…
Where – Dubrovnik
What – Touristing & chilling
Stayed at – Villa Klaic – one of the most lovely places I’ve ever stayed – the people who run this guesthouse are amazing (but avoid if you don’t like stairs – there are very many!)
Review – Another great pick for a relatively short trip, and somewhere I would definitely go back to. Dubrovnik is a stunning city, with beautiful buildings, blue sea, great food (we genuinely didn’t have a bad meal in all the time we were here). There are lots of little things you can do – cable cars to see over the city, many boats to islands (I loved our island day trip to sunbathe and swim off the rocks and would definitely do more), kayaking, walking the city walls. We wanted a break which was relaxing, fun and interesting and this was exactly what we got.
Highlight – The general gorgeousness of Dubrovnik – it is just such a beautiful place to be.
Tips – Walk the walls first thing or last thing – it’s a long walk in direct sunlight and you don’t want to do it when it’s hot!
Where – Rome
What – Seeing the whole city in a day
Stayed at – Scott House Hotel – convenient to the station, with lovely staff.
Review – It cost me the same to fly back from Dubrovnik via Rome (inc hotel) as it would to have gone straight back to Stansted, so why wouldn’t I?! I walked for 9 hours in 40degree heat and saw everything – Parthenon, Trevi Fountain, Vatican, Colosseum, Roman Forum etc etc… And I managed to fit in arancini, pizza and two ice creams. I hadn’t been to Rome before and totally fell in love, will be returning soon (for more than 20 hours in total).
Highlight – Managing to see everything!
Where – Umbria
What – Escaping, plotting, laughing & eating
Stayed at – Tribewanted Monestevole
Review – is here!
Highlight – The amazing people I was with (hi guys!)
So yes, 2015 has been quite a good one for going to new places, and I’m already looking forward to 2o16 which so far will include dancing in the Sahara, shopping in Essaouira, Easter in a random place still to be decided, yet another trip to the Cote D’Azur & Corsica and maybe another yoga retreat somewhere far-flung and sunny.
Where have you been this year – anywhere I should add to the list?