What a first half of a career break to travel the Americas and Europe we’ve had! Over the past nine months we’ve drank Hurricanes in New Orleans, stumbled upon new bands at South by Southwest in Austin, trekked to Machu Picchu, cycled the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia, discovered that Colombia is actually safe, and have just skied at Whistler in Canada! Oh yeah, and Craig proposed!
Guess what? The 2016 itinerary is just as intriguing!
Never mind bringing in the New Year with the bells, we’re brining it in with a bang. Straight after my 31st birthday, Craig and I are heading down to sophisticated Seattle and what better way to feel rejuvenated after the festive period than a food tour of Pike Palace Market! We won’t be sleepless in Seattle after a massage and night in a spa suite – unique! I also want to see that monster under the bridge.
After Seattle, we take an investigative trip to Portland to test how hipster is Portland? Many fellow travellers have proclaimed that we ‘look’ Portland so we’re interested in the craft beer, food trucks, and bikes of ‘home’.
After a week in the Pacific North West (PNW) of America we fly to the Sunshine State, Florida! It’ll be the first time we’ll have felt the sun on our backs in three months. This may sound ridiculous but remember we’ve had six months of summer since March! Our destination in Florida is Orlando – Disney, Universal Studios, and a space geek fest at the Kennedy Space Center. (For Craig anyway, you’ll find me by the pool!)
Mid-January we fly from Florida to Nicaragua in Central America with Spirit Airlines which appears to be a better marketed Ryanair / Easyjet type of budget airline. The plan so far is to take a ‘staycation’ in Las Penitas for a fortnight then spend the next month swimming, diving, kayaking, and ziplining around Nicaragua. We’re pretty light on plans for this stage of the trip but eager to spend time in Ometepe (see image) and The Corn Islands. A night dive would be incredible if possible too!
We’ll be rounding off our trip to Central Am by flying out of Costa Rica to Austin. As much as I’d love to explore rainforests, watering holes and the pura vida (pure life), our budget dictates otherwise! I’m hoping for a fortnight ‘work away’ somewhere in Costa Rica but the response hasn’t been overwhelming! Why Austin again?! We’ll be touching down in the one of America’s coolest cities just in time for a repeat visit to SXSW music festival to abuse the free gigs scattered all over this fun city.
April / May
By Easter we will be back in Europe. We have a one-night stopover in The Big Apple on the way back. Craig is yet to see any of New York so we’ll take a whirlwind tourist trip and eat some nice food before flying to Oslo, Norway.
Time in Norway has been put on the back burner for a trip with a bigger budget! The initial plan was to fly from Oslo to Hamburg, Germany and spend a week in the big German cities – Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, and Munich then make our way down to Slovenia, possibly by car or train but we’ve now realised that our money won’t stretch that far!
The new plan is looking more like two months spent in Eastern Europe. I took my first backpacking trip there back in the early 2000s (inter-railing with friends, great way to see Europe!) Hopefully we’ll do a bit of ‘work away’ or a ‘home stay’. Although all of this is subject to change, that’s the nature of a life on the road!
For example, we’ve just realised that the ever-evolving Snowbombing Festive in Austria starts within a week of us landing in Europe so now we’re thinking about ditching planned time in Ibiza, Spain, for skiing by day and raving at night, I like working out for my party time! Word on the street is Idris Elba (Luther, The Wire, possibly the next Bond) is DJing, that I have to see! Craig might be getting dumped!
Lake Bled, Slovenia
We definitely fly to Marbella to meet Craig’s family at a villa which is a 15 minute walk from the main town. I’m told that I’ve not to be put off by the ‘no carbs before Marbs’ TOWIE (horrible British TV programme) version of Marbella as it’s actually beautiful – beaches, marinas and the Sierra Blanca mountains as a stunning backdrop. After five days celebrating Craig’s Aunt’s 50th and his brother’s 30th we’ll be in search of a Spanish adventure and hoping to put our Spanish lessons into practice!
Marbella Old Town (Casco Antiguo) by Kamyar Adl via Flikr CC 2.0
As it stands, we hope to spend some time in Brighton as it’s fun and close to London but we’re flexible. My Dad is looking forward to spending his summer holidays in Brighton, he has no idea it’s the gay capital of the U.K!
Fin! We’ll be heading home to find accommodation in Fife, Craig will be joining his brother who is now running his business and I’ll be back to school to share 18 months worth of travel photos with my students! Jokes, my boss doesn’t want to hear that. I’ve already planned my first night out with my friends – karaoke in Edinburgh!
The important thing I’ve learned about planning during this trip is that there is no point over planning but do always have a plan for where to eat if you are travelling with a fussy eater – 67% of relationships have ended due to hanger induced arguments!
Why not hover over image & pin to your 2016 Pinterest board?!
Where We’ve Been
2015 has been ridiculously thrilling. We’ve conquered in nine months what some people manage in a lifetime.
We kicked of our travels in The Big Easy, New Orleans. This was my second visit to this hot mess of a city! Next up was SXSW in Austin where we stalked old bands and discovered new ones (we loved it so much we’re going back). After a week in the States we embarked on our first trip to South America, Peru eased us in nicely. That country really does have every type of terrain. We did two treks, the Lares Trek to the famous Machu Picchu and the lesser-known hike in and out of the Colca Canyon. We also sand-skied down some dunes!
By April we had bussed all over Peru and crossed the border into the more deprived Bolivia. A highlight for me was a trip to Uyuni de Salar, Bolivia’s Salt Flats where we took silly photos by day and romantic shots by sun set. By this point we were in need for a bit of down time so booked an Airbnb in La Paz, I can’t describe how good to felt to have our own space after a month of hostel dwelling.
Fellow travellers urged us to go to Colombia. It hadn’t even popped up during the planning stage of the trip but Craig worked out flights and budget, we had the time so we flew to Bogota for three and a half weeks of city and beach hopping! Colombia is still our favourite out of the three South American countries we backpacked around. Do consider it in any future planning!
Like rum? We do! Cuba was always a definite on our itinerary but by the time we got there we were on total travel burn-out and found our three weeks expensive and tiresome. There is only so many times you can be asked if you’d like to buy cigars! However, we did enjoy some diving, cycling, and socialising. The lyric ‘If you like Piña Coladas‘ will forever be ingrained in my memory!
July / August
Craig returned ‘home’. We touched down in Vancouver, Craig gave me a whirlwind 24 hour tour of his favourite city before we took a gorgeous boat trip up to the Sunshine Coast, which would be our home for the summer. My parents came to visit and we took a road trip up the Coast, swimming in lakes and crashing wakes. I volunteered at a yoga centre, Craig had lots of long lies (which he never does in Scotland). Life was pretty slow and peaceful.
September – January
City time! We moved down to Vancouver and settled in the Kitsilano area. We became friends with another Scottish couple, Karen and Craig, who fast became our B.C buddies! Four Scots Abroad took many day trips to lakes, some frozen, some not! We’ve skied, snowshoed, and shared silly stories in the past four months. Another highlight was our trip to the Canadian Rockies with West Trek Tours (Lee and Francesca as our guides), still one of the best weekends of lives. Lakes, mountains, wolves, and a party bus! I flew to Toronto to meet my best friend, Helen. We shopped, dined and day tripped to Niagara Falls, a perfect week away from Craig. Pretty swiftly after I returned we received a visit from our good friend, Jen G. We biked the Vancouver Seawall, saw a bear in Whistler, and ate Thai (my favourite, Craig’s least!) Craig proposed on Hallowe’en, my favourite day of the year. Craig’s brother, Kyle, was next to fly 3000 miles to see us, bearing gifts of HP brown sauce and Chanel perfume! He can come back. Just as I was beginning to build a solid social life with my Friday hangouts with Maddy and festive shenanigans with Danika, it was time to part ways. Oh well, we’ll just have to go back!
We are so very lucky to have the support of our families (who accept the choice we’ve made to leave Gemma and Craig shaped holes in their lives), friends (some of whom spend a ridiculous amount of time in the air to see us), and readers who continue to follow our trip and support our blog! We wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2016 and remember – are you waiting for it to happen or making it happen?
What are your plans for 2016?