So it’s December, and time for a spot of reflection upon what has been another blimmin’ good year of travel for yours truly. Back home there were a few first world problems to deal with, but on when on the road I had nothing but good times.

France, Slovenia, Wales, England, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Ireland, France again, Wales again, Ireland again. It was a European tour of awesomeness, with a surfing trip to the Canary Islands thrown in for good measure (and some sunshine).

I know end of year round up posts aren’t overly popular with some bloggers, but personally I’m rather fond of them, as they help me take stock of what I’ve achieved over the course of the past 12 months, and reading such posts from other bloggers helps me build up no end of inspiration for using my annual leave next year.

Anyway, I’m rambling.  You came here to see travel related Instagrams, so here they are.

My top 15 travel Instagrams from 2015 …

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1. Valmorel, France (Feb)

So lets kick this off with a quick video … hey, no one said these were only going to be Instagram PHOTOS, video’s are fair cop too.

While the footage isn’t the highest rez it could have been, I still love this video of myself and my mate Andonis (@thecounterintui) boarding in Valmorel, France.

We’re actually going boarding together in just over a month, dragging another friend from Valmorel, Pete (@CompassChasers), along too.  Eyes pealed for that announcement in just over a weeks time.

Read more about Valmorel –> The cost of 5 days snowboarding in Valmorel

A video posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

2. Bled, Slovenia (March)

My visit to Slovenia in March was also centred around snow sports, and getting my gf onto a pair of ski’s for the first time.  She was a pro and I was really proud of what she achieved over the course of 3 days skiing at Vogel.

However, I just can’t ignore the fact that Bled is a stunner, a 10/10.  To wake up to this every day for a week before heading into the mountains was a pleasure.

Read more about Lake Bled –> Scenes from Lake Bled, Slovenia


Bled in all it’s glory. Sad to leave, but so glad we visited when we did. #Slovenia #nofilter #picoftheday


A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

3. Ljubljana, Slovenia (March)

Same trip as above, different city.

In order to reach Bled we first needed to reach Slovenia, and the main airport in Slovenia is located on the outskirts of its capital, Ljubljana.

Now what kind of traveller would I be if I wasn’t to spent at least 1 day exploring the Slovenian capital, especially when considering the kind of views offered from up on the walls of its mighty castle.

Read more about Ljubljana –> 24 Hours in Ljubljana

Looking out over Ljubljana from atop its castle #Slovenia

A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

4. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands (April/May)

Back in the day I could actually surf a bit … but that was a long time ago!  … before the belly.

Despite my waining fitness levels, I have never lost my love of board sports, and when an opportunity to work with @planetsurf popped up in April, I was totally on board (pun intended).

I really should have exercised my arms more in preparation for my week in Fuerteventura.

Read more about surfing in Fuerteventura –> Learning to Surf Fuerteventura with Planet Surf Camps


Last wave on the day, too tired to even attempt to stand up so just body surfed in. #lazy #surfcamp #GoPro


A video posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

5. Venice, Italy (May)

Venice was amazing, no doubt! But where most people buzz about the canals, I would have to say that the below was probably my favourite part of the city – the Palazzp Contarini del Bovolo.

It’s kind of a hidden gem.  Hidden because you are unlikely to find it while out simply strolling around venice, but not so hidden because it is actually on Google Maps, so easy to find in that sense.

A stunning palace where Gothic meets Renaissance.  It may not be typical Venice, but it is beautiful!

Read more about exploring Venice –> G+ Stories: Three days exploring Venice

Tucked away in one of the Venice backstreets, a palace where gothic meets Renaissance. Beautiful! #italy

A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

6. Copenhagen, Denmark (June)

It’s not often I do photo’s, so here’s the back of my head (the best bit).

Now in all seriousness, Superkilen park in Copenhagen was super duper, a real highlight of my long weekend spent therein Copenhagen during the month of June.  This park is a 3-stage park, made up of a red, black and green zone, with each zone being made up from facilities and countries all over the world.  For instance there is a basketball hoop from the USA, and benches from Slovenia.

Located in one of the most diverse areas of the Danish capital, the park was designed to bring all the different local communities together.

Read more about the joys of Superkilen –> Superkilen – The Copenhagen park made up of 108 objects from 60 different nations


Just chilling out in Superkilen park #Copenhagen #visitCopenhagen


A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

7. Paris, France (June)

Paris at dusk, C’est Magnifique

Need I say more?

… thought not.

Read the full post –> Climbing the Eiffel Tower at dusk

Last photo for the night. Looking out over the Champ de Mars #paris 🇫🇷 #eiffeltower

A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

8. Abersoch, Wales (July)

A visit to Abersoch in north Wales was like going back through a beautiful time warp.

Nostalgia levels were through the roof as a few friends and I spent a couple of days on the beach building sandcastles, sitting in old style deckchairs, eating fish and chips (while warding off monstrous sea gulls) and just generally enjoying what you might consider a classic British holiday.

Read more about Wales here –> 5 Reasons to take a road trip to North Wales


Welsh beach life. I could get used to this!


A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

9. Skellig, Ireland (August)

So who’s seen Star Wars episode 7 already? If you have, you might just recognise those two grey islands lurking out at sea in the below Instagram.  Those are Skellig Michael and neighbouring Puffin Island, UNESCO site #757 and a set for scenes shot in episodes 7 and 8.

Aside from Star Wars, I should tell you that at some point between the 6th and 8th Century, Skellig Michael was  the chosen destination for a small group of monks who, in their pursuit of greater union with God, withdrew from civilisation to this remote and inaccessible landscape.

Read more about The Ring Of Kerry here –> 15 Stunning Reasons To Road Trip The Ring Of Kerry

10. The Cotswolds, England (September)

I like flying, but airports can be tiring, especially those early flights where you’re literally sleep walk through security.

With those early mornings in mind, and a wanting to experience travelling without the hassle of such checks, I hopped in the motor and drove just 2 hours down the road to the beautiful Cotswolds. It was a nice relaxing weekend of travels, which culminated in visiting the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens where this this little cutie was spotted going for a run with mum. Magical!

More info about a Staycation in the Cotswolds –> Taking a staycation in the Cotswolds


Baby rhino goes for a wee run, with mum in hot pursuit. Probably the cutest thing you’ll see today. #RACstaycation #cotswolds


A video posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

11. Kilkenny, Ireland (September)

Yep, Ireland again, but I wasn’t complaining.  Kilkenny was a new experience for me, and working with Expedia, I would be delving into the world of traditional Irish sports, mainly Hurling.

Hurling was great, and the Kilkenny team went on to win the All Ireland Final in Dublin during my visit, but while the Kilkenny team are the most decorated Hurling team in history, the smallest city on Ireland (fact) has more to offer than just sporting prowess.

Now I’m not normally a history buff, but Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile was an incredible attraction(s), but walking it led me to, through and up (there is a tower to climb) the best that the city had to offer.  At minimal cost, I was really impressed and learned a great deal around the history of this part of Ireland.  The story of the window in the photo below was of particular interest, but you’ll have to read the post below to find out the intricate details.  Let’s just say Cromwell had a part to play.

Read more about Kilkenny’s medieval history here –> 45 photographs of Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile

A peak inside St Candice’s Cathedral. #kilkenny #Ireland 🇮🇪 #sonyalpha

A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

12. Noord, The Netherlands (September)

My first ever visit to Amsterdam was all thanks to the guys at Clink, who invited me over to help celebrate the opening of their latest hostel, Clink Noord.  They also laid on a fab tour of their local neighbourhood, which although only a short ferry ride from Amsterdam’s central train station,feels a millions miles away.

Noord king of reminded me of the Meat Packing District in Copenhagen, and that’s a good thing!  Independent breweries, cafes and art studios were in abundance, making use of previously unoccupied office buildings and warehouses.  My favourite part of Noord though had to be the below.  Found by fellow blogger @the_hostelgirl when she got lost while out on her bike, this open air cinema/bar/bbq located at an old abandoned petrol station was the perfect way to spend my last night in Noord.  The film was crazy, but I expected nothing less and loved every minute of it.

Read more about why I loved Noord here –> 3 reasons to Love Noord – Ale, Art and Cinema

13. Amsterdam, The Netherlands (September)

I kind of wish I’d made more of a plan before visiting central Amsterdam, but at the same time exploring off the cuff was also a refreshing change.  There was no rushing to certain sites for certain times and so it was all a little less stressful and a lot more leisurely.

Joined by the mrs for the weekend, we took in a walking tour, ate our own body weight in pastries, took to the canals, sampled Dutch beer(s), I went to the Amsterdam Arena (the gf doesnt like football) and we also took in lots and lots of street art.

I must admit to enjoying the leisurely pace of our weekend. I’m usually so intent on seeing as much as I can, but what with Amsterdam so close and soon to be accessible via Eurostar, I was happy to leave a few things for next time.

More details about exploring Amsterdam this way –> Sightseeing in Amsterdam without a plan

14. The New Forest, England (September)

A band of merry men gathered around a roaring fire, bbqing meat, drinking beers and toasting a friends impending marriage and last few days of freedom.  Grrrrrr!

Very manly … well, until the temperature dropper to a Arctic like 2°.  The sunset that evening was stunning, and a real tribute to this beautiful part of England, but we didn’t half miss a bit of cloud cover come bed time, and when we all started to whine like little children.

That sunset though!

Read more about surviving the cold of the New Forest here – Review: SPRAYWAY Men’s Crag Jacket


New forest sunset. Beautiful! #camping #dorset #sunset


A photo posted by Neil Barnes (@packsandbunks) on

15. Conwy, Wales (October)

Less than 3 months after my visit to Abersoch, and it was back to north Wales once again.  I wasn’t complaining!

Arriving in Conwy by train from London, along with a few other travel blogging chums we set about eat and drinking our way around this part of north Wales.  Seriously, there was so much food!!

Lucky for us we did also find time to go outside and get a breather.  I say that, we actually went mountain biking, zip lining and then exploring the Conwy city walls and it’s castle, but we never expected to find the below, a street art subway located just metres away from Conwy historic fortifications.

Made for a nice photo don’t you think?!

Why should you visit Conwy –> 7 Magnificent reasons to visit Conwy, North Wales

Merry Xmas and a happy new year!

And that’s a wrap for 2015.  Romeo Done!

I hope you liked the above from my Instagram account (psst, follow me using the link below), and enjoyed my blog posts throughout the course of the year.

There is more to come in 2016, but by all means if you have any requests or recommendations for this blog moving forward, please just let me know.   I’m happy to take on board anything you guys want, the only thing I can’t promise is better spelling :)

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year all.

happy xmas

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