Top travel moments in 2016

2016 was a really busy year for me with several exciting trips to Europe and the US. In this blog I have tried to document some travel experiences because it is always fun to share some travel tips.

Here are my top travel moments and travel destinations of the year, in no particular order.

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway north of Belfast is a true natural wonder. It is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The area is located by the sea about an 1-1,5 hour drive from Belfast and I promise you will be amazed by these peculiar octagon shaped stones and the surrounding magnificent cliffs.

Giants Causeway

 

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia is a unique natural park with 16 terraced crystal clear lakes and some 90 waterfalls. We visited the park during the summer and despite spending several hours walking the area, we probably didn’t even cover half of it. The park is a beautiful travel destination near the Adriatic Coast and if you plan to visit, don’t miss the climb up to the vantage point next to the largest water fall “Veliki slap”.

plitvicelakes0868

 

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia

If you like modern architecture, I can really recommend a trip to Valencia, which is a new favourite of mine. Tourism in the city is on the rise and I think it is an excellent alternative to the more crowded Barcelona nearby.

In the dried river bed that runs through Valencia, a number of astonishing buildings have been built in recent years. The City of Arts and Sciences, or Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, is a complex of spectacular buildings, many of them designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava who was born in Valencia.

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe

 

Naples, Florida

Like most people, I’m a big fan of white sandy beaches and sunsets, and few places are better positioned for this than the west coast of Florida. During our latest trip to Florida, we combined a few days on Miami Beach with a week in Naples. It was a cosy town with beautiful beaches and dolphins swam round the Pier all day, which was a fun sight.

Naples Pier, Florida

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Barcelona and London are probably the foreign cities I’ve visited most times. The Catalan capital is a favourite destination and the pinnacle of a visit is of course a tour of Gaudí ‘s La Sagrada Familia. The church is moving closer to being finished and don’t miss the walk up one of the towers. The view is quite spectacular.

lasagradafamilia2016

Thanks for following the blog during 2016. Looking forward to new travel experiences in 2017.

A day in Barcelona with Gaudí

Barcelona is one of my favourite European cities and it has something for everyone. If you’re just a little interested in architecture, there are several places in the Catalan capital that you must not miss. Many of them bear the mark of the famous architect Antoni Gaudí and during one of our recent visits, we dedicated an entire day to the works of Gaudí.

La Pedrera

La Pedrera

We stayed at Hotel Nextto on Carrer del Rosselló, which had a great central location. In fact, our room even had a patio facing Gaudí’s Casa Milà, also know as ‘La Pedrera’. So we started the day early with a visit to this fantastic building. Since it was early in the day, lines weren’t too bad and it’s always nice to get into these must-see places before they get too crowded.

la_pedrera

Inside there are two amazing courtyards, one when you enter the tour and one at the end of the tour. You continue up to the roof with the odd shaped chimneys and a great view of the city. You continue down to the beautiful attic (pictured above) and further down where some apartments have been saved as a museum.

Park Guell

Park Güell

From La Pedrera we headed up to Park Güell, but a word of warning here. Upon arrival we found out that the central part of the park was sold out, not only on that day but also the day after. This part is called the Monumental Zone (main entrance, terrace, and the parts containing mosaics) and has only had an entrance fee since late 2013.

Now we didn’t worry too much about that because you can see a lot from the public spaces that don’t require a ticket. Also, we had an appointment later on in the afternoon, so we were in a bit of a hurry anyway. But if you are visiting Barcelona for the first time and really want to see the Monumental Zone up close, my advice is to book tickets well in advance.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família, or as its full name is, The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, is the most astonishing piece of architecture you will probably be able to see anywhere in the world. This masterpiece has been under construction for 134 years and it is still not completed. However, a steady flow of tourists have contributed to the financing of the project and it is estimated that the church will be completed in the next 10 years.

Since most tourists in Barcelona visit the church, it is strongly recommended to buy tickets online in advance. We bought tickets before our trip and we also added the tour up in one of the towers. When you do this you have to select a time for entry to the church and a time to enter the tower.

Anyway, you simply cannot visit Barcelona without seeing Sagrada Familia. And don’t just see it from the outside, you really must see the beautiful interior.

Casa Batllo

Casa Batlló

Another of Gaudi’s masterpieces is Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia, the same street as La Pedrera. The building was actually not built from scratch by Gaudi. Instead he renovated an existing building. During our “Gaudi day”, we stopped by Casa Batlló but we didn’t go inside. That’ll have to wait until next time 😉

If you want to read more about the works of Gaudi, there are several pointers in the Wikipedia article.