2016 Travel Plans

2015 is so last week.

Here at Drive on the Left, we are forging ahead, and coordinating our 2016 travel plans with reckless abandon. With a smattering of sales across many of the European low-fare airlines over the past couple weeks, we went a little crazy, booking five trips, over as many months. We are looking to finally see a few places that we have somehow managed to overlook in the past two years of European travel, and a few new destinations have been on our hit list.

So here are the five trips that are officially on the books. It looks like 2016 is shaping up to be one of our most exciting years ever!

2016 Travel Plans

Rome, Italy

Rome is the first European city I ever stepped foot in, back in 2005. I only spent one night there, and so I only managed to fit in a few of the sites. Julie has never been, having only spent time in Florence and the Tuscan countryside (tough life, I know). We both have been desperate to go to Rome, but for various reasons, it got skipped over. Since my birthday weekend in in January, I decided “enough was enough, let’s go to Rome” and booked the tickets. The bonus for Julie is that we can squeeze in a new country by simply crossing the Tiber River and exploring Vatican City. The smallest country in the world, but it still counts!

2016 Travel Plans

Berlin, Germany

This February weekend away is bound to get a little messy. Julie’s sister Michelle and her friend from the US are visiting us to celebrate Michelle’s 30th birthday in style. They are hopping around a few European cities but we all decided that Berlin should make the list. Michelle and her friend are party-centric ladies who want to explore clubs and all-night raves, so Julie’s early bed time will not be happening here. We will somehow try to squeeze in some sightseeing, in between sleeping and recovering from the previous night’s activities. Oh dear.

2016 Travel Plans

San Sebastian, Spain

I have been reading about the culinary scene in this area of Basque Country in Spain for numerous years. Piles of Michelin stars, avant garde cuisine, adorable pintxo bars. After some friends here in London returned from a trip, raving about the food and restaurants, I knew we had to finally go. Since we will be there in February, we will not get to enjoy the beaches of this coastal city, but we have planned our trip to align with the Basque cider season. This region is renowned for its cider, and apples have been grown, picked, crushed, and fermented in the surrounding hillsides since the 11th century. The cider houses are open to the public in January, once the cider is ready to be released. They serve set lunches, featuring salt cod omelets, hake with peppers, a T-bone steak for two, cheese, walnuts and quince paste, along with all the cider you can consume, poured straight from the enormous wooden barrels. Sounds amazing, if not a little dangerous.

2016 Travel Plans

Zurich, Switzerland

This trip was booked on a whim, as we had an open weekend in March. Both of us have spent very little time in Switzerland, despite being mesmerized by the stunning natural beauty of this country. The crystal clear lakes, bright green pastures and surrounding mountains make for beautiful scenery. Our plan is to stay outside of the city, rent a car, and delve into rural Switzerland, maybe with a quick side trip to Lucerne. We don’t have much of an agenda or checklist of places we need to see. We plan to relax and enjoy the views.

2016 Travel Plans

2016 Travel Plans

Slovenia and Croatia

This is our first longer trip of the year, as we will spend a week exploring Slovenia and the northern region of Istria in April. We want to maximize our time around Lake Bled in the north of Slovenia, before heading south towards Croatia. Slovenia is an often overlooked European country, especially by American travelers. It lacks a well known city or landmark, but who cares when you have gems like Lake Bled and the Alps nearby?

Istria, in Croatia, also gets significantly fewer visitors when compared with the southern portion of the country, home to Dubrovnik and the famous islands, like Hvar. Istria has plenty of rustic, hilltop towns and villages, and we are looking forward to getting off the beaten path and exploring what this area has to offer.

2016 Travel Plans

Nice, France

I return to Nice again this year, but on a solo adventure with some of my Finnish friends for Euro 2016, the major European football tournament held every four years. France is the host this year, and my friends got tickets to the Spain vs. Turkey matchup at the Stade Alliance in Nice. There will be five of us in an AirBNB in the Nice Old Town, so there will no doubt be some shenanigans. I will probably not get much sleep as I try yet again to keep up wit hard-partying, never-sleeping Finns. My liver is already trembling.

That about wraps up our 2016 travel plans thus far. Of course, it does not end there. We will take a few weekends away within the UK (Julie is researching the Lake District over Easter as I type this), and we will squeeze in another weekend away in Europe between now and June. Given that our work visas end this coming autumn, we have to figure out our next move, whether it be staying in the UK, or moving elsewhere. It is a combination of exciting and nerve-racking to not know even what country we will be living in at the end of 2016. But hey, that is life as an expat!

2016. It will certainly not be boring.

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  • January 8, 2016

    Great plans! You both seem to be making good use of the weekends by making short and sweet trips. I’m curious what you think of San Sebastian, I’ve heard a few good stories about it but it’s not really on my radar yet. Maybe your lovely food photos can convince me otherwise 😉
    Dominique recently posted…Düsseldorf – Day TripMy Profile

    • January 10, 2016
      Julie

      Most of our knowledge of San Sebastian has come from foodie friends – I think it’s a really well known food haven. We’ll see shortly!

  • January 9, 2016

    Those sound like amazing plans! I so wish I lived in the UK so I could take advantage of the flight deals too. One day. One day. 🙂

    Berlin is an awesome city and I can imagine you guys will have a great time. Rome is a city I need to give another chance one day. And the others on your list…they all sound good. Especially Slovenia and Croatia. I can’t wait to visit them.
    Stacey recently posted…Travel Goals for 2016My Profile

    • January 10, 2016
      Julie

      Thanks Stacey – I just read up on your travel goals for 2016, which sound equally fabulous!

  • January 9, 2016

    Tempelhof Abandoned airport in Berlin is a must! Enjoy!

    I have got Australia confirmed, and hopefully new york at somepoint!

    • January 10, 2016
      Julie

      Thanks for the Berlin tip – we are trying to figure out how to show my sister a good time for her birthday!

  • January 9, 2016

    Sounds fab! I’m getting itchy feet too but as I’m currently job-hunting we can’t get too carried away with booking trips! Copenhagen is booked for April, and we’re just putting the final touches to our Croatian trip (Dalmatian coast for us!). Possibly try and fit in Berlin and Madrid later in the year…it’s a very Europe-centric year for us too 😁🌎

    • January 10, 2016
      Julie

      Sometimes, a European-centric year is the best. Short flights. Easy connections. At least, that’s what I keep telling Drew (who would rather venture further afield!). Cheers!

  • January 10, 2016

    This looks like a jam packed year of adventure. As an ex-pat I often feel that I should consecrate any available holiday time with going to the home-country, but you’re after giving me the kick in the bum I needed! Time to visit a few “on the list” places! It doesn’t have to cost the earth. Just a matter of booking those low fares and letting things happen!
    Carmel recently posted…In good companyMy Profile

    • January 11, 2016
      Julie

      We tend to go home once or twice a year at the most, so that leaves plenty of time to explore! It is key too if you can get your family to visit you abroad, meaning you don’t have to travel home as often…

  • January 11, 2016
    Rachel

    I am very envious of your travel plans and would definitely encourage another trip to Ireland, particularly Northern Ireland. Belfast is a very nice city and we have some wonderful scenery along the North Coast & Ards Peninsula which may appeal to Game of Thrones fans 🙂 We also have amazing food and beer and an ‘Ulster Fry’ which is the most superior of breakfasts as it has all the Irish breads including potato and soda bread 🙂

    • January 11, 2016

      Thanks for the recommendations. As an American expat, I love the banter within UK and Ireland about the difference in breakfast fry ups and who does it best. It is a very serious debate among my British and Irish friends!

  • January 12, 2016

    It is nice to see Slovenia on your list. It really is a beautiful county with a lot of interesting sights 🙂
    Jesper, The Biveros Effect recently posted…Slovak Garlic SoupMy Profile

    • January 13, 2016

      That’s why we want to go there! Ever since we saw photos of the countryside, the mountains, and Lake Bled, we knew we had to visit.

      • January 23, 2016

        We visited Slovenia a few years ago, going to Ljubljana and Piran. I’m sure that you will like it 🙂
        Jesper, The Biveros Effect recently posted…Observations From The BoatMy Profile

        • January 25, 2016
          Julie

          We can’t wait – and i just realized this morning that we haven’t planned a single thing – just the plane tickets. Fortunately we have a little while before we head over there!

  • January 19, 2016

    I envy how easy it is to flit around Europe and have cool weekend getaways! Aside from my “big” trip to Asia this spring, I’ll be focused on North and Central America this year.

    • January 21, 2016
      Julie

      I’m jealous about you going to Asia. We need to head back to SE Asia at some point, since it has been 5 years since our last major Asian excursion. Maybe that will make the list for 2017!

  • January 22, 2016

    awesome plan….u must visit Istanbul as well 🙂
    Saad Waqar recently posted…Skiing in Uludağ, BursaMy Profile

    • January 25, 2016
      Julie

      Oh, we have – Istanbul is one of our favorite places of all time! We will definitely be back!

  • March 30, 2016

    Great travel plans! I also plan to visit Croatia this year. I read that they will have a special tour to Nikola Tesla’s home town, the town where he studied and the city where he worked. I think that it will be really interesting! 🙂 happy traveling!

    • April 2, 2016
      Julie

      Ooh, that sounds like a great way to spend time in Croatia! We will look it up!

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