Year in Review
What I did in 2016
While people in the UK are living in fear of a rare outbreak of thundersnow which will surely bring the country to a standstill for a few
days hours, instead they should come to Ukraine and experience a real winter with minus 20° temperatures and deep snow which will last for a month at least. Even though Ukraine isn’t as developed as the UK, they still handle such weather like a pinch of salt; Trains, buses, trams all work as normal and you can even take a shortcut to the city by walking 400m across their huge frozen Dnipro river which I’m planning to attempt today.
While 2016 wasn’t a great year in terms of my published articles, I still managed to visit 5 countries and take 20+ flights between various places, while simultaneously growing my freelance web design & development business. Here are a few travel highlights from this year:
First Experience of Skiing
I started the year in the Carpathian mountains by visiting Bukovel ski resort in Western Ukraine. I’d never tried skiing before, so was quite nervous about this especially learning in a country where English isn’t very widely spoken. We managed to find an English instructor and after a couple of days we had already conquered the highest slopes in the resort. I reviewed the Radisson Blu hotel where we stayed, my skiing experience and also noted the costs of the trip so you can compare them to the more popular Austrian or French resorts.
Castles, Legoland & Hamburgers
For Easter we decided to visit Germany, primarily to visit some friends in Munich, but also explore the country. From Munich we visited the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle which was just as magical as you see on TV and in photos. We also took an alpine coaster from the top of a nearby mountain which was quite fun.
As a child I loved Lego, but I didn’t have a chance to visit Legoland, so this was the perfect opportunity to do so. We stayed in a Lego castle and visited the park over 2 days trying the various Lego themed attractions. Yuliya experienced her first real rollercoaster which was a little tame compared to what we would experience later in the year. It’s a magical place for both children and adults; you’re never too old to visit!
Next we moved on to Hamburg which is a beautiful city with it’s red bricked warehouse district, and also the worlds largest model railway, Miniatur Wunderland. One thing I really wanted to do was to visit a rollercoaster cafe where the food gets delivered to your table by a mini rollercoaster car on a track, but on the day we wanted to go, it was closed unfortunately. This may be a good excuse to visit the city again in the near future.
Italian Road Trip
In June, we flew to the romantic city of Rome. Immediately after we arrived, we left and took an overnight ex-casino ferry to Olbia in Sardinia where we hired a car for 1 week. We drove on some exciting roads and through some tiny villages to get to our destination at the Le Dune Resort in Badesi for some well-earned relaxation. We spent most of the time lounging by the pools and beaches drinking cocktails. One day when we were not being lazy, we took the car out and visited the Grotta di Nettuno cave system and the nearby city of Alghero.
After returning our car, we flew back to Rome and spent a few days exploring the city. It’s really too busy and it’s hard to get anywhere close to the sights without been surrounded by tourists or mobbed by people selling selfie sticks. It was still cool to visit though and we managed to take an underground tour of the Colosseum in Spanish which was worthwhile, even though neither of us understood anything! It was also interesting to see the all the cats that were living in the ancient ruins in the city.
Back to the UK
I decided to invite Yuliya on her first visit to the UK for Halloween and Bonfire night and after the not so complicated process of applying for a visa, she was on her way and I met her at London City Airport. We stayed at the newly opened citizenM Tower of London which had great views of you guessed it, the Tower of London. I showed her all the usual touristy sights including Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Hamleys, Harrods, etc and surprised her with a trip on a London Duck Tour which consisted of half the tour on the road and the other half on the water in a landing vehicle used in World War 2.
After London we went to Fright Nights at Thorpe Park. They have some huge rollercoasters and also several themed escape mazes for Halloween based on popular movies like Saw, Blair Witch Project and the Cabin in the Woods. Some of them were quite scary, but a great experience. The highlight of the trip was Derren Brown’s Ghost Train which is a VR ride, but I won’t tell you anything else about it in order to not ruin the experience.
After the thrills of Thorpe Park, we visited my home town of Beverley for 1 week to see my parents. We took various day trips to York, Leeds and Scarbourgh to name a few along with a drive to Dalby Forest in heavy rain before taking a forest Segway trip which was exciting.
I also visited Ukraine 3 times including a week in the black sea resort of Odessa. I almost consider my Ukraine trips, not trips any more due to the amount of time I spend here which seems to be steadily increasing year on year.
Over the next year, some highlights should include Eurovision in Ukraine along with a couple of Armin Van Burren concerts. I’ve also started writing a bucket list which I plan to publish soon with some future ideas of trips and things I want to do. Maybe there will be something you can help me achieve?