‘Considering LT and I both work full time, we managed to cram in an impressive array of adventures this year. We made it across Western and Eastern Europe, into Scandinavia and North Africa, and ended our year of exploring with a tour of South Korea. These are the essential travel destinations we saw in 2018…’
January: Destination Marrakesh
Les and I kicked off 2018 in style by celebrating my 40th surrounded by history and sun. in Marrakesh.
Having never travelled to Morocco before, I was keen to explore the Red City. Although, as an introvert, I found the constant hassle we received in Jemaa El-fna square *really* anxiety-inducing, I loved Marrakesh. The winding streets of the Medina were amazing and the architecture was outstanding.
This is our 3-day itinerary.
March: Destination Madrid
As the second celebration of my 40th birthday (because why have one when you can have two, right?), my Mum, sisters, cousin and friend booked up for a 4-night girls-only break to Madrid. This was my 3rd visit to the Spanish capital.
Unfortunately, the extreme weather had other ideas and most of us didn’t make it to Spain. My family’s flights were cancelled due to snow in Edinburgh. As my friend and I were flying from Liverpool, we were the only ones to arrive in Madrid.
We still had a great time exploring the city. Me and Budd spent a day exploring Reina Sofia, del Prado and Thyssen galleries, which I’d been desperate to do for years. Also, as our trip included a Sunday, we also hit up the legendary El Rastro market for some shopping.
April: Destination Dusseldorf
After grabbing extremely cheap flights to Dusseldorf with Ryanair, LT and I made the most of a holiday weekend.
Staying in an Airbnb on the harbour by Mediahafan, we trekked for miles through the pretty German city and ate far too many pastries. We loved the Japanese history of Dusseldorf and loved drinking bubble tea in the Japanese Quarter.
Les’ favourite sight was the ruins on Kaiserpfalz Castle on the banks of the Rhine. For me, I loved the architecture of Neuer Zolhoff and the transformation of the harbour area.
May: Destination Zadar
May saw us take our first ever trip to Croatia. I’d long been itching to visit Zadar and, since I like to think I’m in charge of The Travel Plans, that’s where we ended up. Travel Bug is *really* in charge as he does the best research while we’re at work.
We spent a full week walking around the Old Town, drinking beer in the sun and taking in the sights. We also snuck in a bus ride to the nearby city of Sibenik. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling great, so we didn’t do as much as we’d originally planned. Another time, perhaps.
June: Destination Liverpool
In June, we took a wee trip across the Welsh border and spent the weekend in Liverpool. We were keen to visit the Terracotta Warrior Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, as well as enjoying the usual friendly atmosphere of the Merseyside city.
Liverpool’s my favourite UK city, so I never miss an opportunity to make the drive and check out what’s new. In terms of essential travel destinations in the UK; it’s always at the top of the list.
July: Destination Porto
In 2013 we visited Lisbon and fell in love with everything about Portugal. This year, we decided to head to Porto for a few days of relaxing in the sun.
As it turned out, there was no relaxing in the sun, as there was way too much to see. We booked a little Airbnb apartment with a balcony overlooking the University and barely set foot in it. The flat was above a churros shop, so stopping at home was a calorie-laden extravaganza.
We adored the Dom Luis Bridge and visiting the Port distilleries on the banks of the Duoro. Our trip also gave us the chance to explore the nearby cities of Guimaraes and Braga.
August: Destination Cologne
We had such a good time in Dusseldorf that we headed back to Germany to check out the sights and sounds of Cologne.
Over the course of 5 nights, we took endless walks across the Rhine and viewed the skyline from the Kolntriangle. I was absolutely thrilled at being able to sit in the Cathedral and hear the organ being played. It was definitely one of the highlights of the year.
Cologne made it to the list of Favourite Cities Ever. I would visit again in a heartbeat. This is despite the fact that it was SO busy due to the time of year and, well…introvert alert.
November: Destination Helsinki
We managed to sneak a 24 hour trip to Finland on a layover to Seoul. We made the most of a rushed trip around the top sights in the city and boarded for SK wishing we could stay longer.
I loved the architecture and atmosphere of Senate Square and was really taken by the beautiful old brick warehouses around South Harbour. Les loved the Scandinavian light for taking photos.
November: Destination South Korea
We had what felt like a lifetime’s break between our trip to Cologne and the two-week tour of South Korea. However, with full-time jobs, that’s the way it has to be.
We planned a few nights in Seoul, before heading south on the bullet train to Busan. From there, we caught an internal flight to Jeju Island before returning to Seoul. Obviously, we couldn’t travel so far from home and NOT visit the DMZ to check out what the North Koreans were up to…
The people, the culture, the food (OMG the food…), the history and, the fact they have an *actual* cafe where you can pet doggos, made it the Best Holiday Ever.
I have so much to write about our trip to SK that it might take me until this time in 2019 to get through it all.
At the time of writing, we visited 14 cities, 8 countries (4 of them for the first time) and spent many happy hours exploring. Here’s to 2019 and kick-starting our New Year with a city break to Valetta.
What were your essential travel destinations for 2018?