I’ve taken some time over the past few days while I’ve not been at work to sort my laptop out, and all my photos. It was an amazing reminder of all the fabulous places I’ve been to and all the things I’ve done this year. I actually had felt like I didn’t do enough of what I wanted this year, but I’ve still done so much and it was nice to be reminded. So, while I was beyond hungover and wallowing in Quality Street earlier this week I put together this list of some of my 2017 travel highlights.
The Principal in Manchester was pretty amazing. The place is full of character, the bar was very cool and I loved the lobby. Other favourites have to be The London in New York, and the Malmaison which is one of my favourite UK hotels. I always enjoy staying at the one in Newcastle and this year I also stayed at the one in London which was quirky and lovely too. Next year I really want to try more of the Principal Hotels, especially the ones in York and Edinburgh.
I think the Jet 2 Christmas flights are amazing. They put on the festive specials from cities in the UK that they don’t usually fly from in November and December, aimed to jet you off to NYC for your Christmas shopping. The staff get fully in the spirit, and its so nice to fly direct from Newcastle.
Best authentic meal
I’ve had some bloody good scran this year, and stand out meals include the food we had at Jack and Rachael‘s wedding in Belfast, the risotto I recently had onboard the ferry, the Sunday dinner we had at Hawksmoor in Manchester, and the wagu beef skewers from right on the doorstep in Aveika, Newcastle. I also really enjoyed a hot dog from a vendor in the middle of Central Park, and the heart shaped pizza in Florence!
Can you tell I struggled with this one? My favourite meal from all year though, has to be the home made, saffron and prawn pasta I had in Florence. That pasta was phenomenal, and I can’t stop thinking about it months later. Pasta in Italy, literally doesn’t get any better.
I love a good posh brunch, eggs benedict with smoked salmon, and a Bloody Mary. The best I’ve had this year was from Parc in Philadelphia.
I love short breaks and weekends away in the UK, and I’ve done a fair few this year. I would usually say Rockliffe Hall, because the place is amazing, but I’m going to give this one to Keswick Reach Retreat in the Lake District because it was totally surprising how much fun we had there. It’s the middle of nowhere, but very cute and drinking gins in the hot tub was a personal highlight.
This has to be New York. We were only there for a short time but got to see so much of it and having not been for years it was amazing to rediscover it especially at Christmas.
Most surprising place
When we booked up to go see my sister in Philadelphia I honestly didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know much about the place, so I was very pleasantly surprised when we went. Caroline took us to some great restaurants, and it was actually a really interesting place, especially the old town which is full of American history. There’s more to come on this city next year when I get round to writing up our visit!
Best tourist activity
Best seasonal event
When I happened to be wandering around Sloane Square in London in May I found that the shops and local businesses were all preparing for Chelsea in Bloom. They each had their own unique flower displays in keeping with the 2017 safari theme, and it was great to see them all by chance.
Without a doubt The Crown pub in Belfast. The oldest pub in the city and the coolest traditional pub I’ve ever been in. If you’re a fan of Peaky Blinders you’ll enjoy a visit here.
Totally overpriced but the Red Carpet at a total of $25 in the London Hotel, NYC was my favourite cocktail of the year.
Landmarks ticked off the Bucket List
At the start of 2017 I went up The Shard with Kieran, which was incredible. The views of London were amazing. And also Top of the Rock in New York of course. We caught both places at sunset and both are things you have to put on your bucket list.
Travel is getting so expensive these days, but occasionally you can snap up a good deal. Sign up directly to every email list, and follow every operators Facebook page as both are the best places to get the best deals. That and booking early. My best deal this year was the £10 Virgin trains to London for Black Friday.
I got my Gucci bag from the flagship Gucci store in Florence. Without a doubt my favourite souvenir of the year.
I thought I’d throw this in because as amazing as discovering new places can be sometimes things aren’t always what you’d hope they would be. I’d wanted to go to Portobello Market in London for ages, but have never had chance when its been open. I went in November, and it was a big fat fail. Some of the antique shops were interesting, which is obviously what it is but to be honest I just wanted to get out of there. I much prefer Portobello Road when the market is closed.
My biggest regret is not having a signature Philly Cheesesteak when I was in Philadelphia. Apparently they’re hangover food and I just didn’t ever have a hangover. We also ate some delicious and huge meals so I was never hungry for one when we passed the street stalls.
And lastly – places I’ve returned to that never get old
Amsterdam and London are both places I could go back to again and again. I love the streets and canals in Amsterdam, and how much London has to see and do.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed following along with what I’ve been up to and the places I’ve been this year, and maybe even given you some inspiration for next year too. What are your 2017 travel highlights? Any recommendations?