Tis the season for looking back at 2016 and recounting the best (and worst) of our travel experiences across the year. As we’re in our 1st year of blogging & haven’t written a similar post before, we are going to report categories and numbers that are generally interesting. We’ve picked experiences that have broadened our horizons (blog name plug).
Our year in numbers
Countries visited: Scotland, England, Gibraltar (all technically part of the UK but very different experiences), India, Philippines
Distance covered (air + train + road): 32,000 miles / 51,500 km (4x Earth’s diameter)
Distance covered in mainland UK: 3000 miles (a bit more than London to Inverness round trip 3 times).
Number of blogposts: 77 (about half our 2016 trips are still unblogged but some of our USA / Europe backlog has been covered)
As Dalek did a 5 week solo camping trip in Scotland, all the categories will also have a Scotland specific component.
Best overall city (village for Scotland)
Gibraltar, British Overseas Territory (Blogpost): Our first caving experience at Lower St. Michaels cave deep inside the Rock of Gibraltar was extra special. Add to that great food (a Malak baguette lunch is a must), a beautiful & walkable town and dolphins to get a city near-perfect for a long weekend trip. 💯
Honourable mention: Puerto Princesa, Philippines for good food, sunrises & activities.
Luss, Argyll & Bute, Scotland (Blogpost): Maybe the prettiest village in Scotland with its beautiful houses, Loch Lomond on one side and hills on the other. Plus it’s a quick boat ride away from two scenic hikes, the quick Conic Hill or the lofty Ben Lomond.
Honourable mention: Torridon, NW Highlands for its super-scenic location & amazing hiking nearby. Would be top dog had it not been so difficult to get to using public transport.
Best nature-related experience
Mangroves in Puerto Princesa, Philippines -Yodas pick (Blogpost): As we live in the UK, we don’t get to see mangroves & we got to see a large growth literally next to our first lunch restaurant in Palawan.
Kayaking in the Small Lagoon, El Nido, Philippines – Dalek pick (Blogpost): Definitely a once in a lifetime kayaking experience where we entered a limestone lagoon through a small opening & saw fantastic formations while being on turquoise waters in bright sunshine.
Hiking a hill ridge in Sligachan, Skye, Scotland (Blogpost): This was on Daleks bucketlist for a while. Though the start of the hike was very boggy, the views of the Cuilins were amazing & a herd of wild deer in the brief sunshine at the top was a bonus.
Best non nature-related experience
Visiting the Bodleian libraries, Oxford, England (Blogpost): Which Harry Potter reader has not imagined being part of Hogwarts? Visiting this famous University of Oxford library fulfilled that dream partially as the library & Yule ball scenes in the HP movies were shot there.
Drinking the world’s most peated whisky (Blogpost): Daleks whisky enthusiasm overflew on getting to taste the world’s most peated whisky, the Octomore 7.1 and 7.2 by Bruichladdich Distillery in Islay. It tastes much different than what he’d ever imagined.
Top 3 plates of food (no particular order)
Razor clams at Blue Anchor, Gibraltar: We’ve never had razor clams before this. They were super fresh (you could taste the freshness) and served in a great garlic sauce. The other seafood served was really good but this dish stood out. TripAdvisor
Lechon at Rico’s Lechon, Cebu City, Philippines: We had our minds blown by the Spicy Lechon (roast pig) served at Rico’s. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Lechon is Cebu’s speciality dish but we weren’t quite prepared for how melt-in-the-mouth tender and perfectly spicy the meat is. It’s worth flying to Cebu just to eat this, don’t order less than 250 gm per person. TripAdvisor
Gold Flake Cigarette & Darjeeling Tea Panna Cotta, Bohemian, Kolkata, India: Bohemian was our first experience of Indian ingredients cooked with western techniques and all the dishes were executed great. But this dessert in particular is art. And we’re don’t even smoke! TripAdvisor
Note: we ate the dish before photographing it so here’s a picture of a really good Cigar mousse eaten during the same meal
Worst day of travel
Day trip in Bohol, Philippines: We had pre-booked a private package tour to see Bohol’s sights in a day and it started great with the chocolate hills. But seeing the state of all the animals & their appalling living conditions throughout the day soured the experience greatly. We vented out in this blogpost but it affected us deeply.
We highly recommend hiring scooters and seeing Bohol for yourself making sure that the python enclosures are skipped. The negative TripAdvisor reviews say it all.
Most disappointing food experience
Seafood at KaLui, Puerto Princesa, Philippines: We use TripAdvisor regularly to find places to eat and KaLui (a seafood restaurant) is rated #1 in Puerto Princesa. The food was sub-par in general with flat flavours and even overcooked fish in a dish. The only good thing about our lunch were the fruit juices. 😦
We started writing this blog regularly in Jan 2016 with the goal of helping atleast 5 travellers by providing relevant travel related & public transport information. As the year went on, we found ourselves sharing more about our personal experiences alongside practical info / facts and it has gradually transformed into a therapeutic outlet for us.
2016 has been a great year of travel for us…we’ve explored caves, climbed mountains, lost passports, visited stunning beaches, pooped in a floating bathroom, learned proper camping, eaten delicious food from all over the world. Personally, we have moved in together again after a 1 year gap.
All our readers have been so supportive and appreciative of our blog and pictures, and showered us with compliments and good wishes. Thank you so , so much for the love and support; we cannot tell you how much we appreciate it.
Here’s looking forward to another great year of travel! Hope you enjoyed reading this post / our blog and we’ll see you again in 2017!
© 2016 Beyond Our Horizons