Tis’ that time of year to once again wrap up what has been a pretty decent (probable understatement) year for travel here at www.backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk.  Much like last years summary post, I should probably point out that even though I work the 9-5 my work place is pretty cool and let me buy-back extra holiday.  It means a little less in the pay packet each month, but its worth the hit when as a result I get an extra two weeks off work to explore the world.

So, what did I do with those 35 precious day? I traveled my ass off of course …

Jan – Feb: Grenada

In late January I was lucky enough to be invited over to Grenada by my girlfriends farther … and mother … and sister number 4 … and sister number 6 … it was a bit of a family do.   We even got an island tour from uncle Claude who runs a taxi on the island. It was cool to see where Esther spent a fair chunk of her childhood, and it was amazing to visit my first caribbean island, it really was paradise.

We spent the majority of a 3 week stint on the less touristy east side of the island up at Esthers dads place just outside of Grenville.  We utilized our time by sampling rum, learning how chocolate is made, swimming in waterfalls tucked away in the depths of the rain forest and of course we spent a bit of time on the beaches.

Grenada, Grand Anse

Grenada, Belmont Estate, Cocoa Plantation, chocolate

Grenada, seven sisters waterfall

April:  Ireland

Completing the tour of places in which my girlfriend spent her youth, in April along with 2 friends Esther and I embarked on a 9 day roadtrip around the emerald isle.  Starting in Belfast we drove from the birth place of the titanic around the north coast, stopping at the Giants Causeway, Derry and then onto Donegal.  Donegal was a unanimous favourite amongst all of our gang.  Our amazing hostel overlooked the Atlantic and just minutes away there was the most amazing beach called Silver Strand.  Upon (regrettably) leaving Donegal we also stopped to look out from Europes highest sea cliffs – Slieve League.

It was at this point that we separated from our mates and rented a separate car to go see all Esther’s family and friends.  Our first port of call was Country Caven where one of Esthers sisters lives.  We spent the night, staying up until the early hours listening to old family stories and how Esther was supposedly well behaved when she was younger … hmmmm!?!?  Our next port of call was Galway where we sampled in the famous nightlife and a spot of Irish Dancing.  From Gallway via the cliffs of Moher to Limmerick and a girls night out ( I know I was confused too), and finally onto the small town of Newcastle West to see some more of Esthers friends.

In the words of her mates …

It was gass lads

road trip to northern ireland and ireland
Giants Causeway, northern ireland
Cliffs of Moher, ireland

June:  Croatia

Fast becoming one of my favourite destinations, during July Esther and I were lucky enough to squeeze in a mini 3 night break in Croatia.  More specifically we stayed in the gorgeous Croatian town of Zadar.  Renting a local apartment we were just a 10 stroll from the beautiful old town where we loved doing nothing more than sitting down on the promenade with an ice cream and watch the sun go down each evening whilst the Zadar sea organ played us a relaxing melody in the background.

sunset in zadar, croatia
greeting to the sun, zadar, croatia

Aug:  London

OK so I didn’t travel to far off lands in August, the further I traveled was from east to west London but, with bloody good reason.  Never have I known an atmosphere in London like the one I experienced this past summer as Olympic and Paralympic fever swept the nation.  I was lucky enough to snare a £10 all day pass to the Olympic park during the paralympics.  That pass including entry to the Olympic park (duh), and the option to watch goalball, wheelchair baskertball, football and tennis, providing there were spaces.  It was an absolute bargain!

Sept: Spain

I was lucky enough to visit Spain twice during the course of September.  Firstly I visited Madrid on a mates stag-do and later in the month I was lucky enough to spend a week on Fuertaventura with a few friends.

Madrid was a whirlwind, non stop from the moment we met at a local pub to catch our coach to Luton Airport.  Cue bars, beers, jambon, more beers, bar crawls, fancy dress and almost getting robbed in board daylight.

Fuertaventura was a much more civalised pace, although beer still played a large part … well it’d be silly not to indulge having paid for an all-inclusive.  Yep that’s right, despite this blogs primary focus areas being backpacking and hostels, I am slowly branching out into other types of travel.  A relaxing week under the sun with friends was bloody amazing I have to tell you, not the most adventurous week away I’ve had in my life, but I laughed hard, ate seriously well and most importantly completely de-stressed.  We did venture out of our resort on occasions,  most notably to try our hand at sea kayaking, it was great fun and considering I hadnt seriously kayaked since I was in my teens, I was unashamedly impressed with how easily it all came back to me.

What does 2013 hold?

So that was 2012, now what about 2013?  Well once again at my workplace they’re running their holiday buyback scheme, so i’m able to purchase extra holiday in addition to my usual 26 days annual leave.  So far I have purchased 10 extra days, but there is potential for another 10, that could men 46 days annual leave which, for a office bod aint half bad, even if it does mean I get paid a bit less each month.

So what am I doing with those 36 days of precious leave?  Well I already have these beauties booked so 2013 is already looking pretty good already :)

Jan – 5 days Snowboarding in Bansko, Bulgaria

Mar – A 7 day roadtrip around Scotland

Mar – A weekend break to Iceland in the hope of spotting the northern lights

Apr – 3 weeks backpacking around Loas and Cambodia

July – Irish Wedding

Sept – Sisters wedding in Turkey

Any tips for the above or comments on my 2012?  I’d love to hear them so just leave a wee comment below.

Thank you!!!

All that now remains to be said is a HUGE thank you to anyone and everyone who has read this blog over the last 12 months.   It means so much to get positive feedback and makes my blogging that bit more enjoyable.  I hope you all have a great xmas and have an amazing NYE lined up.  See you in 2013 :)