Travel is a big part of our lives and 2016 was no exception...
We travelled to some of the 'usual' cities we visit most years... New York, Tokyo and London, but also had the chance to visit some new destinations. We travelled to Bhutan with some friends, Stellenbosch and Cape Town and then I met up with some friends in Phuket for a winter break.
Bhutan had been on our travel list for a while and we got together with 3 friends and arranged a private trip taking in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Gangtey. We travelled around in a 4x4 which is an absolute necessity as the roads are quite bumpy. Having a private driver and guide gave us great flexibility when deciding where to stop for a rest, where to eat lunch and what time we all wanted to leave our beds in the morning.
Bhutan has quite a restrictive policy to limit the number of tourists that are allowed to enter which does mean that the whole country is fairly unspoilt. Restaurants and hotels are still very traditional. Wi-fi isn't always available in fact - nor is electricity, but I really think that his all adds to the experience and charm.
The people were incredibly friendly and accommodating. The food was a little basic, we ate chilli-cheese with almost every meal, but there was always plenty of food and there was always an abundance of fresh local vegetables.
They aren't breaking any gastronomy records in Bhutan but the amazing scenery more than makes up for that.
Most of the locals actually wear traditional Bhutanese clothes as they go about their daily activities. Traditional clothes are required for school children and all government employees and people entering government buildings.
As a Buddhist country, there were lots of beautiful temples and monasteries to visit and no shortage of stunning photography opportunities....
a little later in the year we visited South Africa as part of a trip to a conference my husband attended. Last time we visited South Africa we only stayed in Sun City and Johannesburg and so this time we decided to add on a week of holiday time and flew to Cape Town and drove along the coast to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
Driving around the wine districts of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch in South Africa was fantastic. Beautiful rolling hills with vineyards and both towns were packed with boutique hotels, B&B's and fabulous restaurants.
We did the wine train / bus in both areas, allowing us to leave the car and stop off at some wineries along the routes. Most offer tapas sized plates of breads, cheese and dried meats to accompany the wine tasting sized glasses of wine while some even have full restaurants.
We bought some great wines that we had shipped home and thoroughly enjoyed sharing them with family and friends.
The drive along the coast line south of Cape Town was beautiful, we had great weather, and even got to see hundreds of penguins at Stoney Island Penguin Colony.
In November I travelled to meet with some friends at their amazing villa in Phuket, Thailand.
This trip was all about relaxing and food. I've visited Thailand and Phuket many times to there wasn't any need to race around exploring and we didn't waste any time getting settled, visiting the local wet market and getting started on cooking dinner - with the help of the villa staff - of course, and having lots of foot massages.
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