I know, I know, 2016 has been universally a pretty shocking year, and I think most of us are glad to put it behind us and move on. I would be lying though if I said it had been all bad... for me, it was a year in which I travelled more than I ever have before, doing 14 international trips and countless U.K. weekend getaways. Nothing, I know, compared to some lucky seasoned travellers, but for a girl from NZ where one international trip a year has always been considered a pretty good year, I feel extremely grateful for all the experiences I've had and places I've seen in 2016.
For any of you that have had a look at my Instagram account you'll know I m pretty keen on taking photos of my travels. Luckily for me, so is my boyfriend Jesse. This is lucky for 2 reasons:
He's willing to take photos of me in all these exciting destinations and has slowly become what the world calls an Instagram boyfriend (and a grest one at that... win.)
For our birthdays this year - which are very close - we put our money together and bought a schmancy new camera neither of us could have afforded alone.
Having become pretty enthusiastic about travel photography throughout the year, and as the end of the year is here, I'm looking back on my favourite snaps. It hasn't been easy, but below I have collated my single favourite shot from each trip, and they've got me with seriously itchy feet... again. Thanks for all of it 2016, it's been spectacular. Bring on another year of seeing the world, one small corner at a time!
JANUARY: Berlin, Germany
I started the year with a group of friends in Berlin. I was colder than I've ever been but that didn't stop us from doing a walking tour and exploring the - often tragic - history of the city. For me, by far the most memorable moment, and one of the most harrowing I've ever had, was visiting the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Seriously eerie, even more so in the freezing temperatures, it's a hard place to photograph but I tried to capture the way it felt.
JANUARY: Brighton, Sussex
One of the U.K's most popular seaside spots, everyone thought we were crazy visiting Brighton in winter but I absolutely loved it. Rather than spending our time on the beach, we spent almost all of it fireside in cosy pubs, cafes and antique shops, usually filled with books. Definitely not what the town is mostly appreciated for, but I feel we got to see a side of Brighton usually only enjoyed by residents, and it couldn't have been more charming.
FEBRUARY: Blockley, The Cotswolds
Because Jesse is a bit of cheeseball/dream, he planned a surprise weekend in a tiny, middle-of-nowhere Cotswolds village for Valentine's Day, and rented a cute cottage... something I'd always wanted to do. The first signs of spring were showing and the whole weekend was spent doing little walks through the village and surrounding countryside, even hopping over the hill to a neighbouring, equally gorgeous village with the best pub I've ever been to. I'd say this shot sums up the whole tranquil trip pretty well.
FEBRUARY: Verona, Italy
My big sister is very good to me really. Despite being in the U.K. for over a year more than me and doing so much travel, she saved her first trip to my second home, Italy, until we could do it together. Purely based on price, we chose the Northern town of Verona for our trip. I desperately wanted Lauren to love Italy as much as I do, and wasn't sure if Verona would deliver, not knowing what it was like myself. Let's just say, I had nothing to worry about. It was every bit the beauty you expect from this magnificent country; fantastic food and wine, beautiful men, history galore, outdoor frescoes and green shutters to boot.
MARCH: Bergen, Norway
The destination for our Easter trip this year was Norway's beautiful Bergen. The weather didn't turn it on for us, and sadly a lot seemed to be closed over Easter weekend, but we did manage a cruise around the famous surrounding fjords and it was all kinds of magical... the scenery was exactly what I'd imagined it would be, and this photo is definitely the closest I came to capturing its majesty.
APRIL: New Zealand
My first trip home since moving away, this wasn't a trip when I explored anywhere new, but rather reconnected with the place I ultimately call home. It reminded me why I'm so lucky to do so. Case in point, this view from Wanaka's Mount Roy. Love you Aotearoa.
MAY: Amsterdam, Netherlands
A quick weekend getaway with girlfriends, Amsterdam was exactly what I hoped and more. Gorgeous canals, bikes ahoy, amazing boutique shops, beautiful black brick buildings lining the water, very tall, good-looking people and yes, coffee shops!
MAY: York, Yorkshire
My favourite U.K. town I've visited to date, every street in the old town of York is as picture perfect as the last, so I just had to pick one as my favourite! Pretty much mandatory for any history geek.
JUNE: Vienna, Austria
Another quick weekend trip, there was no way we had enough time to see everything Vienna had to offer, but we did our best, ticking off all the royal buildings within the Palace Grounds, and the incredible National Library. This photo, as well as showing some of the royal style that was everywhere, also depicts how I was constantly looking onward and upward to the next amazing sight! Some places need more than a long weekend to explore.
JUNE: Swansea, Wales
I'll be honest, this was the one trip I did this year that I didn't really enjoy. Jesse was running a half marathon and I was part of the support party. While I don't doubt there are pretty parts of the city, we didn't see any of them, except this seaside view from the place we were staying, making this my only nice picture of Swansea! Must get back to give it a second chance...
JULY: Paris, France
I'm lucky enough to have a girlfriend living in Paris only a couple of blocks from the Eiffel Tower, so I visited her for a weekend this summer and was treated to a tour of her favourite spots, cafes and stores. It was dreamy, and Paris being so beautiful, I have more photos I want to frame from this trip than perhaps any other. This one stands out though and captures the vibrancy of the city so well, and indicates that there's so much beauty that can't be captured in one photo. This was by far the best busker I have ever seen!
AUGUST: Rye, Sussex
The cutest town I have ever been to, Rye makes my imagination go wild about what England must have once been like. Its old cobblestone streets are famous and often used for filming locations, not hard to see why. Definitely visit if you get a chance!
AUGUST: Corfu, Greece
Sometimes you just want to go somewhere you know sun and sand are guaranteed... Corfu met these needs for 10 blissful days, serving as the ideal summer destination. It was mostly just lazing on beaches and playing with stray kittens but we still got in one day of exploring and history-seeking. This pic from Corfu Old Town is my favourite, simply because it's so unmistakably Greece.
SEPTEMBER: Venice, Italy
Not a bad place for a birthday trip that doubles as somewhere to celebrate your 5 year anniversary... plus a place to test out your new camera. No explanation required for the below... just Venice in all its beauty.
OCTOBER: Oslo, Norway
I know two trips to Norway in one year seems excessive but unlike most holidays, this one was for purely sentimental reasons i.e. to have a reunion with 2 very special friends I made during my high school exchange year, one of whom happens to be Norwegian and a brand new mum. For this reason, as much as I did enjoy seeing this lovely city - which actually felt similar to Kiwi cities - my favourite picture from the trip has to be with these 2 beauties, who I hadn't seen for 4 years, even though it is a little blurry!
OCTOBER: Hellvellyn, Lakes District
One of my friends bypassed the standard night out for her birthday this year and opted instead for a weekend hiking in the Lakes District. It was magnificent, the scenery was stunning, the pub at the end was as welcome as a pub has ever been, and the air was a refreshing break from London. The whole weekend was like one big inhale and exhale, just what we all needed! This is my favourite snap from the trip, just because it shows the perspective of people in the landscape, and the challenge the hike was.
NOVEMBER: Rome, Italy
Nothing and nowhere is quite like Rome, and the ancient Roman Forum has to be amongst the most spectacular man-made sites on the planet. Again, there are too many photos from this trip than I'll ever have use for, but this one of me standing before the mighty Colosseum has to be my favourite, even though it still doesn't capture how awesome it is!
DECEMBER: Bologna, Italy
Jesse surprised me with a trip to Bologna - one of the forerunners for the Italian city we will relocate to in a eventual future. He seemed to think he owed me for going home to New Zealand over Christmas, and really, who am I to disagree?! It was beautiful, all small wine bars and medieval brick buildings and the tastiest bolognese pasta I have ever tried. This pic shows the old architectural style the best.
My sister and I wanted to experience authentic European Christmas markets so decided to go out and find them, while exploring a new city. Luxembourg was gorgeous, and perfectly dressed up as a winter wonderland, glühwein, fairy lights and all.
DECEMBER: Disley, Cheshire
For Christmas, my cousin and her family decided to take me and my sister in, being so far from home and all. Their beautiful big house in this quaint English town provided the perfect setting for the big day, and despite going for walks in the surrounding grounds of Lyme Park (A.K.A. Mr Darcy's home from the BBC adaptation of P&P - swoon) my favourite picture from the trip is their lounge on Christmas Eve... the stuff of dreams!
DECEMBER: Stockholm, Sweden
Watch this space - I've just arrived in Stockholm and will end 2016 here... I can't choose my favourite picture from the trip until it's over!