My top 15 of 2015

Just do it, buy that ticket, get on that plane and travel. This world is way too amazing not to be explored. And you know what if you don’t like it you can always come home, at least you tried

I love writing wrap-up posts not only because it gets me thinking of all the amazing memories I’ve created over the past 12 months but it gets the juices flowing for my new hit-list for 2016. So for all you travellers or wannabe travellers I’ve compiled a list of my top 15 places of 2015 in the hope that it will inspire you to visit at least one of them in the new year. Make 2016 the year of you – travel, explore, create adventures, make friends of different ages and nationalities, eat unique food and above all Go.Have.Fun.

And so, here we go (in no particular order) –

1. Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre was my favourite place of the whole year and that’s saying a lot considering some of the amazingly beautiful places we’ve seen on our trip. The name literally means “five villages”, and Italians often refer to it as the Italian Riviera. If you want to eat the freshest seafood in the world, take in picture-perfect views and experience the warmth and friendliness of small town Italy, then I have to recommend Cinque Terre.  Just don’t go during school holidays as it gets pretty busy.
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2. El Tunco, El Salvador

This is a tiny beach-side town near San Salvador.  A surfers heaven and probably the most ‘touristy’ of all of El Salvador. With incredibly friendly locals, black sand beaches and amazing local cuisine, El Salvador as a whole is one of those places that will inexplicably forever remain in my heart.
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3. Lake Bacalar, Mexico

Between Belize and Tulum, it’s known as the lake of seven colours to locals. The water in the lake is as clear as a swimming pool and most of the town’s accomodation is dotted along the banks of the lake.  You can wake up every morning and walk just metres to go for a refreshing swim in it’s turquoise waters. The town of Bacalar (as it’s also known) is tiny, like literally 10 restaurants line the town’s streets – all incredible by the way.
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4. Hoi An, Vietnam

My favourite place in South East Asia. If you want to get some clothes made, make sure to pay Hoi An a visit. Heaps of tailors line the streets of this small town. I spent my days here wandering the cobble-stoned streets of the old town. And eating –  Hoi An is a foodie’s heaven. The ‘Banh Mi Queen’ is here – a little old lady who makes the best Vietnamese rolls in the world for £1. We spent a full day here cycling the surrounding area, through rice paddies filled with water buffalo and down to the mile-long beach.
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5. Belize

Despite Belize being in Central America, it definitely has more of a Caribbean vibe, and the locals even admit they identify more with Caribbean culture than Latino. Plus, it’s the only English-speaking country in Central America. The country itself is incredibly beautiful, like honeymoon-brochure pretty. For the adventure nut – Belize is perfection. There’s lots to do from diving the famous Great Blue Hole to swimming with Whale Sharks.
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6. Florence, Italy

Florence is one of those cities that has you saying ‘wow’ every 10 steps. We are both in agreement that Florence was our favourite city of 2015. Not only because we got incredibly lucky when we were upgraded to a gigantic suite in our hotel (it was seriously ah-mazing) but because everything about the city from it’s history as the centre of art in Europe to the food to the shopping was spot-on. Michaelangelo’s statue of David is located here and well-worth a visit. I also highly recommend climbing to the top of the Duomo for an epic panorama across the city.
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7. Lake Como, Italy

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If it’s good enough for George Clooney it’s good enough for us. As you probably already know Mr Clooney famously owns a house here. The largest village on the lakeis Como and it’s less than an hour’s train ride from Milan. From Como grab the slow ferry to Belaggio which stops at every village along the way, you can hop off wherever you like and hop back on the next ferry. The scenery is incredible, but it does get pretty chilly on the ferry so be sure to wrap up well. Belaggio was our favourite village on the lake but it’s very touristy. Varenna is also well worth a look.

 

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8. Cotswolds, England

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The Cotswolds is a fascinating part of England, it seems like its been frozen in time. Filled with limestone cottages and cute cafes, it was our favourite part of our trip across the UK. We stayed at the Wyck Hill House Hotel  – pure luxury, with the cosiest hotel bar you could imagine complete with full library and a massive fireplace. The breakfast here was also the best I’ve ever had at a hotel ever.

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9. Palenque, Mexico

Shrouded in thick lush jungle with howler monkey’s as your alarm clock, Palenque is like something from an Indiana Jones movie. We stayed in a  tiny wooden cabin in the midst of the jungle right next to Palenque’s Mayan ruins. A day trip to these ruins is a must, they are extraordinary and sort of awe-inspiring. We ate every night at Don Mucho’s a yummy restaurant literally in the middle of the jungle – the walk there is interesting (you might just spot a howler monkey or three).

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10. Valencia, Spain

A smaller less-touristy Barcelona but a great destination in its own right. The third largest city in Spain and perceived by some to be the ‘ugly sister’ of both Barcelona and Madrid. Completely inaccurate in my opinion. Beautiful churches and pretty roman architecture line the streets of the  old town. Orange trees are everywhere as well as massive open squares filled with cafes that stay busy until 3am – what’s not to love. Sorry Barcelona, but Valencia holds my heart in Spain.

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11. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Or more accurately perhaps Angkor Wat – one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a must-see if you’re visiting Cambodia. Siem Reap still maintains its Cambodian roots but it has been very westernized, on account of the sheer amount of tourists that pass through here every week. If you visit here – be sure to get to Angkor Wat for sunrise, it’s outstanding and pure magic.

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12. El Remate, Guatemala

A teeny-tiny town built along the edge of  Lake Petén Itzá. With less backpackers than its neighbour Flores. El Remate was where we based ourselves for the magnificent Tikal. Tikal is a must must-do, it’s the most impressive Mayan ruins we saw on our trip (and we saw a lot believe me). We spent the rest of our days lounging by the lake, chatting with the super-friendly locals and enjoying the luxury of our treehouse above the lake.

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Flores, Guatemala

13. Gili Air, Bali

Picture three miniscule desert islands, fringed by white-sand beaches and coconut palms, sitting in a turquoise sea: the Gilis are a vision of paradise. These islands have exploded in popularity, and are booming like nowhere else in Indonesia – speedboats now zip visitors direct from Bali. We stayed at Gili Air which is the more ‘couple-friendly’ of the three islands. It’s still rustic enough to feel like a tropical island experience, but I foresee that in 10 years time it will be developed beyond recognition unfortunately

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14. El Tortuga Verde, El Salvador

Not an actual town or village, but I class it as a destination in its own right. This was our accommodation in El Cuco, El Salvador and it sidelines as a turtle sanctuary during turtle hatching season. You can learn to surf here, practice yoga, or enjoy a fresh coconut drink at the restaurant looking out to the sea. Before the sun goes down grab a beer and sit on the beach to witness the best sunset of your life!

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El Cuco, El Salvador

15. Whistler, Canada

Where we live at the moment 🙂 And home for the next two years and honestly, it’s the prettiest place we’ve ever lived. I have to pinch myself sometimes, because I can’t believe I live here. Our life at the moment involves steaming hot chocolate in a cosy cafe, a glass of red wine in front of a fireplace and skiing!

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Thanks for reading,

Aimee & Paul x

 

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16 thoughts on “My top 15 of 2015

    1. I absolutely loved El Salvador it captured our hearts for sure, I love how unexplored it still feels and the people there are the nicest of any country we’ve been to. I hope my posts encourage at least one person to visit there, it doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion.

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  1. Sounds like you had a pretty fabulous year! I hope 2016 is just as adventurous and full of memories for you. I can totally understand how Cinque Terre was your favorite. We visited in 2007 and it has been one of my biggest travel highlights to date. Only sad thing was that this was the day I forgot to put the charged battery back into my camera so I only have memories, no photos!! Memories will do though!

    Happy new year!

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  2. Looks like 2015 was a busy year for you. Are you planning to continue at the same pace in 2016? Whistler looks pretty cool and, I bet, cold too ;). El Cuco photo is absolutely stunning with so deep wonderful colors. It’s interesting that you mentioned Valencia. You are so right that it is too often overlooked. Speaking of Spain, my personal favorite is Andalucia. Not a particular city or town, but the region in general. It is so different and so laid-back in comparison to the rest of the country. Wishing you happy travels in 2016!

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