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Category Archives: salem

2016 – The Year of Travel

Rather than write a month-by-month account of this year like I did in 2015 and 2014, I decided to focus on one aspect of this year I have loved…travelling.

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Ian and I have been lucky enough to have several exciting holidays this year and all of them hold really special memories from dancing in a Russian nightclub at 1am to drinking mojitos on the streets of Havana to zip-lining through the Jamaican rainforest to sailing around Boston Harbour in the sunshine!

UK

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Not all of our trips have been abroad this year – I love exploring the UK just as much. We had several fun trips to London in 2016 (my favourite being for New Year’s Eve when we went to watch ‘Wicked’), took a mini-break in Wells, went camping in Tewkesbury and celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on the beach in Devon

Cuba

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Probably my favourite destination of the year, the days we spent in Havana were amazing. I have wanted to visit Cuba ever since I studied Caribbean Literature at university and it was such a fascinating trip. We wandered the streets drinking mojitos and daiquiris and admired the beautiful classic cars cruising along. I am desperate to return.

Jamaica

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We spent a day here and it was as cool and as chilled-out as I was hoping. We went through the rainforest on zip-wires before enjoying jerk chicken and Red Stripe beers on the beach.

Grand Cayman

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An interesting place to visit and a beautiful destination for a beach holiday. I didn’t see much more than the beaches but we certainly had a lovely, relaxing day here dipping our feet in the Caribbean Sea.

Mexico

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We had a great tour of the island of Cozumel where we squeezed in a chocolate factory, the beach, tequila tasting, an artisan market and fish tacos and margaritas! It has pushed mainland Mexico to the top of my to-visit list.

France

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I spent a long weekend in a beautiful house for my best friend Cat’s hen weekend earlier this year. Maybe not the best-planned trip, but we enjoyed an awful lot of cheese, champagne, macarons and a day in Aix-en-Provence.

Berlin

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Ian and I had a mini-break here and experienced our first (and disastrous!) AirBNB. Despite a rocky start with our accommodation, we had a fab time exploring the city, stopping off at several beer gardens.

Sweden

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A couple of days in Stockholm have started off an obsession with the Scandi countries, somewhere I hadn’t really visited before. We didn’t have long here but did get to visit the Vasa Museum, eat cinnamon buns, wander through the Old Town and see a beautiful sunset.

Estonia

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I finally made it to Tallinn and it was as beautiful as I had hoped. Quaint, cobbled side streets, castles and lovely, old buildings, I really liked it here.

Russia

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I never thought I would be visiting Russia but we spent a day exploring St. Petersburg and I was really taken with it. It is a spectacular city, with vast, iconic buildings steeped in Russian history. We managed to see most of it plus a good amount of people watching on the main street through the city, the highlight being the stunning Saviour of the Spilled Blood Cathedral.

Finland

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I absolutely loved Helsinki. We stumbled upon several small markets and wandered along the port. I fell in love with the interior shops and am determined to return and savour some of the local restaurants.

Boston

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Our final trip was a week in Boston. We love visiting the States and both really enjoyed Boston. It was a cool time of year to visit to experience Halloween and the run-up to the presidential elections and we managed to watch an ice-hockey and a baseball game as well as sampling a lot of lobster and local craft beers.

That was actually a really fun post to write as I love looking back through old photos and remembering when and where they were taken. I really do believe that travel broadens the mind and money spent on adventures and experiences is never wasted. Here’s hoping for many more escapades in 2017! xxx

Travel Diaries – A Week in Boston (Part Two)

Day Four

Our fourth day in Boston started with my first ever cronut! Man, this was delicious.

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We got the train to Salem which was about 40 minutes away. I have to say that we were both kind of disappointed by it. You would think that Salem, a place renowned for its spooky heritage, would be great around Halloween but it was all a bit try-hard and tired. There were some street performances which were fun to see and the graveyard and memorial sites were interesting but there were too many witch museums and haunted houses – all claiming to be the original/ scariest/ most authentic.

We had a walk along the coast before visiting Salem Beer Works. Here we did two beer flights, working our way through some East coast beers and some seasonal specials. I had a delicious cinnamon beer and a fruity one with real blueberries floating in it. I think there was a fairground and parade that opened in the evenings in Salem which may have been better to see.

After returning to the city, we found a bar to watch the Liverpool game then headed to TD Garden for our first ever ice hockey game. We were watching the Boston Bruins who are meant to be quite good but ended up losing. However I was happy as we got to see a fight within the first few minutes followed by regular scuffles throughout the game!

Day 5

The next morning, we were up and out early for a tour of Sam Adams craft brewery…yep drinking before 10am! This was a great little tour where we found out a bit about how the brewery started and worked our way through some samples.

Afterwards we got the T to Chinatown and had the best lunch. We ordered a Mongolian hotpot which came in a split bowl filled with two different types of stock, placed on an electric hob on the table. Separately, we had plates of fresh vegetables, raw prawns and beef, cooked rice and some noodles which you drop into the stock and allow to cook. This was a bit messy but a really fun lunch!

We did a spot of shopping that afternoon then headed back to TD Garden, this time to watch Boston Celtics. This was our first basketball game and it was really fun. There was a bit more atmosphere than the previous night (and it wasn’t as cold!) and we won too! We also had free t-shirts as it was the first game of the season.

Day 6

Our last full day started with a big walk along the river. We had some lovely  views of the city and wandered down Charles Street to Boston Common to enjoy pumpkin-spiced lattes in the park surrounded by squirrels.

We decided to have a final blow-out seafood lunch and I had read good things about The Barking Crab. We started with clams and prawns in garlic butter then I had a lobster roll and Ian had a mixed seafood platter. You really do have to indulge in seafood in Boston – it was so fresh and tasty.

I had been building up to a Sephora visit so I sent Ian back to the hotel and indulged in an hour of me-time, coming away with quite a hefty bag which I will share soon!

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For our last night, I had booked us tickets to ‘Rise of the Jack ‘o’ Lanterns’: an art exhibition made entirely of carved pumpkins. We went out for Mexican first then headed to the show.

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It was really amazing to see the skill involved and the exhibition took place in a darkened room which really added to the atmosphere – I took a lot of photos…

Day 7

We were travelling home today so spent the morning packing before a trip to the Boston Public Library. This is such a beautiful building and it had a really cool map exhibition too.

We had our final meal at 5 Napkins Burgers where I had one of the tastiest burgers of my life topped with smoked onion and rosemary relish and melted gruyere cheese…wow!

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I don’t feel I can write about a trip to America without mentioning the result of the elections this week. In the UK, Trump was presented as a total buffoon with Hillary as the voice of reason but when we were in the States, the constant adverts on TV painted a very different picture with Trump being a ‘true American’ whereas Hillary was a ‘criminal’ following the email scandal. Ian and I even remarked that it looked like quite an even race between the two of them which is why I wasn’t totally surprised at the result.

However, that isn’t to say that I am not completely gutted at the result either. I hope Trump has enough skilled, sensible and experienced people around him to keep him in check but bigger than that is the message of sexism, racism and homophobia that I feel has triumphed. Polls have shown that young Americans mostly voted in favour of Hillary so you can only hope this is just a four year blip in the history of a country that I truly love to visit.