As 2017 draws to a close and the new year approaches, I keep seeing “round-up” blogs from every travel blogger we follow. And so, not one to let green cheese pass me, I thought I’d better do the same.
Granted, we don’t have a full year’s travel under our belts yet, but looking back on these past (almost) five months, I actually cannot believe all that we have done, seen and experienced already.
I’m not a big New Year fan, I never have been really. It always makes me sad, I don’t even know why. But as soon as Jackie Bird starts the countdown, that Edinburgh castle cannon fires and the bells start chiming I always feel dead sad. And I often have a wee blubber.
I don’t do New Year resolutions. Tried that, it’s always about losing weight, and I always fail by January 3rd. So what’s the point.
This year started out pretty much the same as every other year; weans in bed and Jason and I accidentally bringing in the bells while we watched Netflix in bed. If you’d have asked me in January 2017 what we would be doing by the end of the year, I’d have never guessed it would be this.
After a really stressful first six months of the year, and faced with the option of having to sell our house to release the equity to pay for court costs, we decided on a bit of a whim, no a total whim, to take that money and instead spend it on ourselves.
We decided in the June, sold our house in July, bought Winnie on the 14th of August and left for our adventure two days later. Completely unprepared, no clue what we were doing or how to do it and with no real route or budget set.
But despite all the things that have gone wrong, we are honestly having the time of our lives.
We started out in France and done so much when we were there! Paris was the highlight though, and we blew around 3 months budget on Paris and Disneyland alone. In hindsight, Disneyland was completely unnecessary and we spent money there that really would have been better spent (and gone further) elsewhere. Looking back I think Disneyland was more of a guilt-buy; something we thought we owed the weans as a consolation for uprooting them. Plus, we were in Paris and we had shit tonnes of money in our bank that we thought we’d never run out of. WRONG.
We did have an amazing time though and seeing their little faces when they met Moana made it all worth it.
In September we did the Picos Mountains and discovered Winnie’s hatred for steep terrain. And also that her cooling fan didn’t work. On top of the oil leak.
We then headed into Portugal and spent an amazing 5 weeks covering the whole of Portugal. We done Porto, Aveiro, Coimbra, Obidos, Vouzela, Evora and Lisobon as well as plenty of beach days and swimming in lakes. Portugal has been one of our favourite countries so far and we definitely recommend you visit there if you can.
September also saw us have our most epic motorhome fail. After getting wedged between two houses down a narrow Portuguese street and burning out our clutch in the process, we were thankfully rescued by a local man and his tractor.
We noted at this point, Winnie hates steep and narrow terrain.
October and November
We also covered Andorra in November and although we planned to spend a couple days here, on crossing border control we quickly realised that Andorra isn’t part of the EU, therefor it wasn’t part of the free data roaming on our mobile networks. This sounds a bit bratty and first-world-problems-whingey, and I know it’s totally ridiculous. But, we totally use our phones for everything; SatNav, guides for visiting and touring cities, and for translating. The roaming costs were extortionate so unfortunately, after doing a quick shop and grabbing some lunch, we left Andorra.
We still ticked it off the list though.
December has been magical. And finally we feel like ‘real’ travellers as this month we covered three countries that we have never been to before.
Germany has been just out of this world and I cannot think of anywhere more special or festive to spend Christmas. If I could, I would spend the whole of December every year here. It’s easily our favourite country so far.
Christmas time for us usually means trying to book and plan in advance one, or two, family days to do something Christmassy with the kids on Jason’s days off work. It’s usually hectic, stressful and expensive.
This year, we have spent the full month visiting Christmas markets all over the country, visiting Santa and overindulging in all things Christmas. Everywhere we went was sprinkled with Christmas lights, wreaths, beautifully decorated Christmas trees and we even had snow. Lots of snow.
Christmas this year has been really inexpensive. Our kids aren’t spoiled or greedy anyway but I think being away means there is so much less pressure to buy ‘stuff’ just for the sake of being able to tell friends, family and Facebook about all the expensive shite Santa brought this year. We also don’t have the room and the toys that we did bring with us have mostly sat in the storage boxes up on top of our spare bed/mezzanine level as our weans are out exploring, playing and adventuring every single day and don’t bother with them.
We only spent a total of £500 this year on presents, for the three weans. They got everything they asked for plus a few wee extras and honestly, they (and we) have had the best Christmas ever as we’ve been able to enjoy every minute of it together.
We’ve also just done Lichtenstein (I didn’t even know that was a country!) and spent a couple of days in Switzerland. (Videos to be added shortly, keep an eye on our YouTube channel).
So here we are, it’s Hogmanay and we are now in country number eight. Eight!
Tonight, we will bring in the New Year with a little glass of wine and toast an amazing year past and an even more amazing year to come.
2018 for us, kicks off with three months spent in Italy, on a truffle farm completely immersing ourselves in rural Italian living. And we cannot wait.
After that, well, who knows! The world, or rather Europe, is our oyster.
From all of us, we wish you a Happy New Year!!
Lang may yer lum reek!