A Year in Review 2016: A Brummie Abroad


I decided to make sure I lived up to the ‘A Brummie…Abroad’ part of my name this year, visiting 7 countries this year, 5 of them new. (Can I really count Bosnia & Herzegovina as we only drove through briefly?  Technically I have stood on Bosnian soil and had my passport checked by a friendly Bosnian border control man so I’m counting it).  Mr Fletche and I have flown from 4 different UK airports (choosing price over convenience…sometimes a good idea, sometimes not).  We’ve used krone, krona and kuna – and the good old euro.  We’ve seen sunshine, rain and fog – sometimes in the same holiday.

Here’s a rundown of where 2016 has taken us…

Copenhagen:  OK, so we didn’t love Copenhagen…and you can read why here.  But lots of people do so we must have caught it in a really bad mood.  The good things were that Nyhavn really is as pretty as in the photos, with its boats and coloured buildings.  There’s a great street food scene (only we couldn’t get to it as the bridge hadn’t been completed).  We did an excellent free walking tour.  It’s lovely when the sun comes out (which it did for about three glorious minutes).  Walking around the lakes.  Watching The Flying Doctors in Danish.  The beer choices at the fab Barking Dog bar and at Norrebro Bryghus.  The fact that you can get to Sweden easily…

Norrebro, Copenhagen
Reflections of Copenhagen…

Malmo: This is a really easy daytrip from Copenhagen, plus you get to travel across the magnificent engineering feat that is the Øresund Bridge.  Malmo is a seaside town, and has a funky line in beachfront architecture along with lovely little town squares.  We had slightly better weather on our day in Sweden, which probably gave us a more positive impression than with Copenhagen.  This was also the only place we picked up a souvenir Christmas bauble this year!

Malmo, Sweden
Misty Malmo. Home of Candy Crush.
Malmo, Sweden
The”Turning Torso” skyscraper which made me think I was hallucinating…

Croatia – Dubrovnik, Makarsla, Zadar, Split, Korcula, Cavtat.  Yes, it was another one of our crazy “all-of-the-places-squeezed-into-a-two-week-holiday” trips.  And it was fantastic.  We fell in love with the country, with its towns, with its countryside, with its food, with its wine (especially the wine) and with its amazing waterfalls and National Parks.  Once you get used to the battered old rental cars, Mr Fletche will attest that it’s a pleasure to drive around Croatia, with its mixture of winding mountain rounds and excellent toll road system for the major roads that link the North and South.  It’s hard to pick a single highlight from the trip but my top 6 moments would be:

  1. Swimming in the pool at the base of Krka, despite ripping my legs to shreds on the rocks
  2. Taking a slightly worrying detour across the mountains whilst heading for Zadar
  3. The view from our apartment in Korcula
  4. Swimming in an ice cold bay at Kornati National Park
  5. Zadar Sunsets
  6. That iconic view of the red rooftops of Dubrovnik/Kings Landing

Oh, and Dubrovnik Airport was a nightmare.  Not sure who was to blame but queuing at check-in way past your plane boarding time is not the best impression to leave tourists with.

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Montenegro:  We booked a daytrip with Viator to Montenegro, and this was another highlight of our Croatian holiday.  Montenegro is truly stunning.  Lakes, mountains, walled cities, beaches.  Even the crappy weather couldn’t disguise the beauty of this country; if anything the low hanging cloud and mist made the mountains look far more dramatic.  We visited Perast, Kotor and Budva and we could easily have spent longer in each of these towns.  If you’re in the area, definitely add Montenegro to your must-see list.

Sveti Dordje - Saint George - Island
Sveti Dordje, Perast, Montenegro

Bosnia:  We crossed the border on the D8 from Croatia into Bosnia & Herzegovina.  10 minutes later, we’re crossing back from Bosnia & Herzegovina into Croatia.  Does it count?

Tenerife: I was determined to squeeze another quick holiday in before I started my new permanent role…so much so that I managed to defer my start date by a week… We intended it to be a relaxing week in the sunshine, and hiring a car maybe for a day or two but we ended up booking the car for the whole week and traversing every road and highway on the island.  Really surprised by Tenerife, it’s so much more than 2-for-1 shots, goldfish bowls and foam parties at Veronicas.   Where we stayed in Costa Adeje was a bit “Brits Abroad” and I think I’d definitely like to try Puerto de la Cruz in the North next time.  I did a blog about all the great spots you can discover with a rental car in Tenerife here.

Parque Rural Anaga, Tenerife
Tenerife, roads winding out to sea
Sunset, Beach, Los Gigantes
Best spot for sunset at Los Gigantes
Windy roads, Masca Valley, Tenerife
Loved watching the cars, buses, van and cyclists navigate this road!
Masca Valley, Tenerife
The beautiful Masca town and gorge – worth the scary drive

Porto: Our final jaunt was a wedding anniversary trip to Porto.  It’s a beautiful city with much to discover and it’s also a great base for exploring Northern Portugal.  The most recent blogs are now online!

Câmara Municipal do Porto – the town hall dominates one end of Avenida dos Aliados
The stunning, azulejo-covered Igreja do Carmo, and its neighbour, Igreja dos Carmelitas
Our first glimpse of Porto hills, with Torre dos Clerigos always a beacon in the distance
Praca de Ribeira. Porto
Praca de Ribeira. Porto
Port tasting at Sandeman

Time to think about 2017 but what’s been your travel highlight of 2016?


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