Travel tales

On the Luce in 2014: The Take 12 Trips round-up

On the Luce in 2014

Looking back on the last 12 months, 2014 has been a year of travel surprises. There have been a couple of trips I never imagined I’d be taking, some unexpected destinations, plus the odd travel disaster when things didn’t go quite to plan (oh Canada!). But altogether it’s been a great travelling year, with return trips to a few old favourite destinations as well as some great new discoveries across Europe and in the UK. 2014 has also been the year of the ‘Take 12 Trips’ challenge. Back at the end of the last year I joined in the challenge, started by Clare at Need Another Holiday, to take at least one trip each month. It could could be anything from an international trip to a local weekend or even a day out, but you had to incorporate some travel into every month. So how did the challenge go? Here’s my monthly travel roundup of 2014…

January

After getting out of hibernation mode and dragging myself away from the fire, my first trip of the year was up to Manchester. As well as catching up with friends I also saw a bit more of the city with a visit to the People’s History Museum and a fab afternoon tea at Sugar Junction. I also went down to London to interview traveller and adventurer Ben Fogle, followed by a photography session along South Bank at dusk.

Manchester

Sunny winter days in Salford Quays in Manchester

February

February saw me heading further north to Newcastle for the Traverse travel bloggers conference. My first bloggers conference was a real inspiration, both from the sessions at the event but also from meeting so many of my favourite bloggers in person at long last. I also got chance to have a quick look around the city of Newcastle from our base in Gateshead, connected by the bridges across the Tyne.

Newcastle's Tyne Bridge

The Tyne Bridge in Newcastle, as seen from the Sage Gateshead

March

By the time it got to March I was in desperate need of some sunshine, so I headed out to Morocco with my husband for a  mini-honeymoon with a touch of luxury. We totally fell in love with Essaouira on the coast, from the blue fishing boats in the harbour to the sunsets over the ramparts. In between relaxing on our riad roof terrace we learnt how to cook Moroccan style and wandered through the medina and along the wide sandy beach. Marrakech was all kinds of crazy after Essaouira’s laid-back pace but we found ourselves another gorgeous riad bolthole for when the madness of the souks got a bit too much.

Essaouira in Morocco

The Essaouira ramparts glowing as the sun goes down

April

April was a quiet one with a long Easter weekend back home in Herefordshire. I made couple of trips to London, where I took my sister on a birthday tourist day with a tour around the Houses of Parliament, lunch at Westminster Abbey and an afternoon in Hyde Park. It reminded me how many things I still have left to see in London despite spending ten years living there. I also got to talk wine with the fantastic Oz Clarke – probably the easiest interview ever as he never stopped talking and had so many great stories!

London Eye

The London Eye at night

May

May was my busiest month yet. After talking about it for years I finally made it to Norway with my mum, where we explored the pretty city of Bergen before taking a scenic train ride out to Flåm. The scenery of the fjords was just unbelievable, and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of Scandinavia (once I save up). I’d only just unpacked from this trip when I was onto the next, traveling to Catania in Sicily to try out a new Celebrity Cruises shore excursion. We toured the city’s food markets as well as learning to cook like a Catanian up in the foothills of Mount Etna. Then right at the end of the month I took a quick jaunt to Liverpool, just long enough to get a taste for the city and explore the renovated Albert Dock.

Fjord reflections in Norway

Reflections in the fjord from Flam

June

June saw me doing something I never imagined I’d do – taking a cruise around the Mediterranean! Despite being a pair of boat-phobes and total cruise novices, my mum and I ended up as complete converts after a week on board the Celebrity Equinox and are already planning our second cruise trip. Our route started off in Venice in Italy, before sailing down the coast of Croatia to Dubrovnik where we walked the city walls. Next was Greece with stops in Corfu and stunning Santorini, as well as at the site of the original Olympic Games in Olympia. From there it was on to Ephesus in Turkey before we finished up our trip in Istanbul.

Cruising into Santorini

Cruise ships down in the caldera in Santorini

July

July was all about the journeys too, but this time it was back on dry land with a rail trip around Europe. We started off in France where I celebrated my birthday with fireworks and light shows among the canals of Strasbourg. Then we travelled up into the Swiss Alps, along one of the world’s most scenic train lines. We crossed over into Austria to spend a few days in the ski resort of St Anton, for my first taste of summer up in the mountains. Then our final stop was Vienna, where we wandered through fairytale architecture, visited the Spanish Riding School and Schönbrunn Palace, and tried to escape the sweltering heat.

Swiss train views

Swiss mountain villages from the train through the Alps

August

August was spent close to home, with trips around Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, plus plenty of weekend BBQs in the garden. I travelled in style on a vintage car rally to Chavenage House in the Cotswolds and visited the fascinating medieval Mappa Mundi in Hereford. I also paid a return trip to my old home city of Oxford as well as visiting the former wartime codebreakers’ base at Bletchley Park.

Chavenage House

Chavenage House in the Cotswolds

September

September started off well with a sunny trip to beautiful Northumberland, where we rented a house overlooking Lindisfarne Island and spent the week exploring castles and ruined priories. But it all went wrong en route to Canada. A delay to our first flight meant we missed our connection, and a combination of a four-hour queue to rebook, a seat shortage following a pilots’ strike and lost bags on the way to London meant we spent our first wedding anniversary in the airport. With only a short time in Quebec we ended up cancelling the trip and rescheduling for next year – with a refund and compensation to ease the pain a bit!

Lindisfarne Island

Looking across the island to Lindisfarne Castle

October

October saw me head back to Italy for the third time this year, to one of my favourite parts of the country for a week on the Amalfi Coast. We were based in the peaceful hillside town of Praiano, away from the worst of the crowds and crazy traffic, where it was still plenty warm enough to sunbathe on the terrace and swim in the sea. When we did manage to drag ourselves away we took a return trip to lovely Sorrento as well as exploring the buried Roman ghost city of Herculaneum.

Amalfi Coast views

Flowers on the balcony of our Amalfi Coast apartment

November

November was all about short trips around the UK. I headed back to Manchester to tour the BBC studios in Salford Quays and take a trip on board Concorde, then was back up north again for a first visit to the beautiful Peak District. It was misty and cold, but perfect for hiding out in our cosy cottage, as well as taking a trip to see Chatsworth House’s fabulous Alice in Wonderland-themed Christmas decorations. I also took a couple of trips to London, to get travel inspiration for 2015 at the huge World Travel Market exhibition and to see the incredibly moving display of remembrance poppies at the Tower of London.

Tower of London poppies

Remembrance poppies at the Tower of London

December

I couldn’t go a whole year without a Paris trip! In an annual family Christmas tradition, we sang carols at the Albert Hall before catching the Eurostar to Paris for a festive weekend. The weather was bleak so we sheltered among the Impressionists in the Musée d’Orsay and checked out the giant Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette, with plenty of cheese and wine to keep us going. There were more Christmas festivities closer to home in Cardiff on the #xmascardiff blog trip. I indulged my Doctor Who geek side with a trip to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay, as well as exploring the castle and the city’s Christmas events.

Paris rooftops

Looking across the Paris rooftops from the Musee d’Orsay

So that was my 2014 travel year – and my Take 12 Trips challenge completed! It’s been a great reminder that even if you’re not doing a ‘proper’ trip, you can get your travel fix, whether that’s with a local night away or day trip, or even just incorporating a bit of sightseeing into a trip for work or to see friends. And although the challenge is over that’s something I’ll try to keep doing on in 2015 and beyond.

My 2014 travels saw me visit nine countries (Morocco, Norway, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, France, Switzerland and Austria), two of which were new to me, as well as discovering new parts of the UK. And there’s lots more to come next year – details of my travel plans for 2015 coming soon, but until then thanks so much for reading and wishing you all a very happy Christmas!

Which were your favourite destinations of 2014?

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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Darlene
    December 23, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    You have had a wonderful year! Congratulations on meeting your goal. Our goal was to move to Spain, which we did in November. Merry Christmas!!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks so much – and hope you have a lovely first Christmas in Spain!

  • Reply
    Stacey @ One Trip at a Time
    December 24, 2014 at 3:23 am

    What an amazing year you’ve had! Sorry to hear Canada didn’t go better for you but glad to hear you’ve rescheduled it and will still make it, just on another day. I can’t wait to read those posts. I hope my home country treats you right! 🙂
    Any chance you’ll be doing another ‘Take 12’ Challenge in 2015? I loved the idea and am planning to take the challenge myself in the coming year. Can’t wait to see what travel surprises might be in store for me this year too.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      It was such a shame about Canada – I’ve been wanting to go for years so can’t wait to finally get there! I’ll definitely keep up the Take 12 Trips Challenge into the next year, it’s been great to remind me to see places nearer home too. Hope you have a great 2015 with lots of fantastic travels!

  • Reply
    bevchen
    December 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Wow, and I thought my year was full!

    Have a wonderful Christmas. I hope Canada works out for you next year 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 24, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Yes it’s been a pretty busy one, looking forward to a lazy week back home now! Hope you have a lovely Christmas too and a great 2015 to come.

  • Reply
    mrted57
    December 24, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    What a great idea. I wonder if I qualify? I’ll have to think about it. I wish I could visit Italy twice in one year and btw happy anniversary!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 27, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Of course, everyone is welcome so hope you can join in! I’ve been very lucky with Italy this year, fingers crossed I’ll make it back there in 2015 too as it’s one of my favourite countries.

      • Reply
        mrted57
        December 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm

        Me too. I hope you make it to Canada. May I suggest visiting the Bay of Fundy as well as Quebec. As you know Canada is such a huge country. So much to see and do there.

  • Reply
    restlessjo
    December 26, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Another happy and busy year, Lucy. 🙂 Hugs!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 27, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Thanks Jo, it’s been a great one – here’s to more of the same for both of us in 2015!

  • Reply
    Twist of Fate.me
    December 26, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    What an amazing, busy year you’ve had in 2014! Are you planning on moving to Canada?

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 27, 2014 at 10:07 am

      It has been fantastic! Just visiting Canada at the moment but I’d like to go and spend an extended period of time out there someday, there’s so much to see.

  • Reply
    malaysianmeanders
    December 26, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    I think I need to apply the Take 12 trips idea to 2015, and open up my mind to looking for adventures close to home, not only abroad. Your 2014 looks wonderful. I’d love to visit both Norway and the Doctor Who experience some day. I hope you spend your 2nd wedding anniversary in a more fun place.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 27, 2014 at 10:10 am

      It has been so good for reminding me to explore near home too. Norway was definitely a highlight of the year and I loved the Doctor Who Experience – hope you manage to visit both someday and have a great year to come±

  • Reply
    Madhu
    December 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Wow! This is going to be hard to beat Lucy! Here’s hoping you do! 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

      It certainly is! I have a few plans in the pipeline for 2015 so here’s hoping it can live up to this year.

  • Reply
    tammyonthemove
    December 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    You interviewed Ben Fogle? You lucky thing. I loooove him! What was he like?

  • Reply
    samselim
    December 27, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    What an amazing year of travel! Loved all the England ones, I keep meaning to write or about our UK travels, it’s been great exploring local travels here as well 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 28, 2014 at 11:56 am

      Thanks, yes it’s easy to forget about all the local travels but I’ve seen some great things near home this year too, so will try and carry it on for next year too!

  • Reply
    natculturalmagpie
    December 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Croatia seems lovely!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Croatia was great, I only saw a taster in Dubrovnik but hope to see more soon.

  • Reply
    Kelly
    December 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    You definitely packed in a lot of travel within a year Lucy! Bergen and the Fjords are just stunning, it reminded me a lot of New Zealand with it’s natural beauty. Can’t wait to read about all your adventures in 2015 xx

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks, yes the fjords in Norway are so like New Zealand, both beautiful countries! Hope you have a lovely, travel-filled 2015 to come too x

  • Reply
    Rebekah
    December 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    sounds like a lovely year- hopefully 2015 is great as well. Norways sounds amazing

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 29, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks, it’s been a good one, and Norway was one of the highlights. Hope you have a great 2015 too!

  • Reply
    duaba
    December 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    What a great travel year!!! I’ve never been to a travel bloggers conference. Maybe that should be on my list for next year?

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

      There are so many blogger conferences it can be hard to choose which to go to – I really liked Traverse as it was small-scale and not too intimidating, with lots of practical sessions. Or there are the big ones like TBEX which are on a huge scale. Both good chance to learn and to meet other bloggers and brands – maybe I’ll see you at one next year!

  • Reply
    Kate Turner (@ohhellospain)
    December 29, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Such a great idea! I’ve done mine retrospectively, but will be following your example and making sure to do a monthly roundup next year. You’re lucky to have visited Italy several times – I’d love to go back there as one of my 2015 trips.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 30, 2014 at 10:46 am

      I don’t seem to be able to stay away from Italy, I’m already scheming on how I can get back there in 2015! The monthly round ups have been fun, it’s a good way to remember what you do and to cover some of the smaller local trips that might not make it into a full blog post!

  • Reply
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels)
    December 29, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Wow, what a year for you! I completely agree with what you said about travel not needing to be a proper trip. It’s all a state of mind, as far as I’m concerned.

    Couple of things:
    1) I’m dying to get to Norway! It’s been a dream of mine since childhood.
    2) How did you like Corfu? Would you recommend it over the other islands?

    I look forward to seeing what travels 2015 has in store for you!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 30, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Norway was amazing, my mum and I had been wanting to do the trip for years so I was so happy to finally get there. Corfu was only a quick cruise stop so I didn’t get a chance for a proper look around but did like what I saw – I see some more Greek island hopping in my travel future! Hope you have a fantastic 2015 to come too!

  • Reply
    Cathy Sweeneyc
    December 29, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Never a dull moment in your 2014 travels! I wonder if we passed each other in Paris at the Musee d’Orsay and Galeries Lafayette — we were there Dec. 4-7. Here’s to more great travels in 2015!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      December 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

      We were just a week behind you in Paris! Hope you had better weather than we did, but it’s always a beautiful city to visit. Hope you have a fantastic 2015 to come too.

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  • Reply
    Maddie
    January 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Congrats on completing the challenge Lucy 🙂 I’m seriously impressed with how much you managed to fit in while travelling part-time. I oohed and aahed over so many of your photos this year but I think Norway struck a chord – the scenery looked unbelievable. Can’t wait to see what you get up to this year!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 7, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks, it’s funny I didn’t think of it as being a particularly epic travel year as I never went anywhere long-haul but reading it all back actually it was a great one! Here’s hoping for lots of travels for us both in 2015.

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  • Reply
    Mandy
    January 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Just discovered your blog and was happy to come across this post! I also made a goal of taking 12 trips in 2014 (or rather of flying at least once every month in 2014) so it was fun to find someone else with a similar goal. =)

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 12, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks, yes it’s been a great challenge to do and I’ve really enjoyed discovering new places near home and far away! Looks like you had a great travel year too, here’s to more of the same in 2015.

  • Reply
    Anvi Gupta
    January 12, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I loved this “Travel Calendar”. All the places mentioned in these blogs are amazing. I enjoyed reading about each and every destination. June would be my favorite month because I would love to visit Caldera in Santorini. Thank you for sharing these locations with us.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 12, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Thanks so much, Santorini was one of my highlights of the year too, I would love to go back and spend some more time there!

  • Reply
    A Place Like Me In A Girl Like This
    January 19, 2015 at 11:10 am

    This is great! I’m going to join the challenge for 2015. However, my favorite trip for 2014 was Malaysian Borneo.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 19, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Fantastic, welcome on board to Take 12 Trips. Malaysian Borneo sound fantastic, hope you can manage to beat that this year!

  • Reply
    khoado456
    February 9, 2015 at 4:44 am

    Wow what an amazing you had! Many more amazing one to come. I want to take this challege too

    • Reply
      Lucy
      February 13, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks, it was a great year! Good luck with your Take 12 Trips challenge for 2015 too!

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