After a difficult couple of years, and with no travelling outside the UK, I finally took to the skies again in early 2022 to resume my love of travel.
A few of my initial trips were purely just to relax and enjoy the freedom to travel again. Many of the trips were return visits to places that I love, but I also made some trips to destinations that I have never been to before, including Mykonos, Transylvania and Istanbul.
WorldWideWill’s Return to Travel
Here are just a few snippets from my first year and a half of being back in the air…
A Return to Santorini
The first trip I managed to make post-pandemic was a return to the idyllic town of Oia in Santorini. I had already planned this trip long before anyone had heard the infamous words ‘Covid-19’ or ‘pandemic’, but due to the many months of travel restrictions it had been rearranged three times.
For this return to Santorini I stayed in the same beautiful cave house (Yposkafa) that I stayed in on my first trip to Santorini, which I’d booked on Airbnb. I had originally planed to re-visit Santorini for a week, but after the numerous rearranging I only ended up staying for four days. During my trip I did manage to explore more of the island than I had before, and tried some new restaurants as well as visiting another of Santorini’s fantastic wineries.
A Relaxing break in Mallorca and a bustling city break to Palma
I’d been to Mallorca many years ago when I was much younger – a week in Magaluf with friends to be exact. Unsurprisingly I don’t remember much about the trip, but I do remember we didn’t really see much of the island as we stayed in the resort for the duration of the trip.
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands and boasts some idyllic beaches, beautiful towns and countryside. For my first trip back to Mallorca I booked a 4 night stay at the Iberostar hotel in the resort of Cala Millor, which is located about 90 minutes from Palma airport. The resort itself is a typical Spanish holiday resort with a long sandy beach with many shops, bars and restaurants. The Iberostar Cala Millor hotel is located in a quiet area at the far end of the resort, close to a large national park which offers some fantastic walks along the rugged coastline.
For my second trip I booked a weekend break to Palma. Palma is a lot different to the resort towns dotted around the island. Palma is a typical bustling Spanish city with great tapas and lots of history. Visit to the Cathedral, and a trip to Sollar on the 111 year old wooden train are a must!
A Quick Hop to Tenerife
This trip to Tenerife was very last minute, with barely any time to plan. Some friends had booked in advance and asked me at the time to join them, but due to work constraints I wasn’t able to make it. A few days before they were due to fly, my situation changed and I managed to rearrange things with work and hop over to Tenerife to join them for the first two nights of their trip.
Despite it being very last minute I managed to find an Avios reward flight out of Gatwick with British Airways, but unfortunately only one way. I did however manage to find a one-way flight back to Luton Airport on Wizzair. This was a bit inconvenient as my car was parked at Gatwick, but fortunately there is a direct train service between the two airports which takes just over an hour. For this trip I managed to get a great last minute deal at the Arona Gran hotel for two nights including breakfast and dinner in a sea view room for just over £250.
Exploring Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania is somewhere that I have always wanted to visit, the mystical legend of Count Dracula has always fascinated me and was one of the main factors that drew me towards Transylvania. In the past year have now made two trips to Cluj-Napoca, in the heart of Transylvania, with a third trip already booked.
The city of Cluj-Napoca is the capital of Transylvania, and is a beautiful gothic style city very similar to Prague, but on a smaller scale and with less tourists.
For each stay I have booked a fantastic two bedroom apartment with super fast wifi, located just a short 10 minute walk from the picturesque city centre, for only £35 per night. I have used this as a base for both trips as well as my upcoming trip, but on my second trip I also travelled to the cities of Targu Mures and Brasov, where I stayed for a night so that I could visit Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle.
Lanzarote Summer Holiday
I last visited Lanzarote on a family holiday as a teenager, but I have some great memories from my visit and always hoped to return.
I hired a car on this trip as I wanted to visit some places on the island that I visited many years ago as a child. These included; Cueva de los Verdes and the Timanfaya Volcano where the food is cooked on the heat from the volcano. I also enjoyed driving around the island and enjoying the dramatic views over Lanzarote’s lunar landscape.
For this trip I booked a 3 night half board break at the Barceló Teguise Beach Adults Only for around £200 per night.
Long Weekend in Mykonos
Mykonos is one of the Greek Islands thats been on my travel list for many years, and 2022 was the year I made it happen. There is something wonderful about the Greek Islands and each one has its own charm and Mykonos was instantly one of my favourites along with Santorini.
For this trip I booked the 4* Andronikos hotel on a Bed and Breakfast basis. I went off season, in early October, and this set me back about £300 per night. The hotel is located just a 10 minute walk from Mykonos town, so within walking distance of all the shops, bars and restaurants.
One of the highlights of this trip was renting a quad bike for the day to go out and explore the island and visit some of its beautiful beaches.
I loved Mykonos so much that I returned again this summer, albeit just for a day! Yes, a day trip out of Gatwick in the morning, spending the afternoon on the beach, before an early dinner at Tokyo Joe’s which I discovered on my previous trip, then returning to Gatwick on the evening flight.
Return to the Big Apple
I booked this three night package trip to New York in the British Airways sale for the amazing price of £1200pp for Club flights and 3 nights half board in the Rui Plaza hotel near Times Square. The only drawback of this trip was that the flights were from Dublin, so a quick nip over to Dublin the evening before was needed, along with a night in an airport hotel. The perk of this trip was finally getting to try out British Airways new Club Suite on a long haul route.
The ancient city of Istanbul, where east meets west, has been calling me for far too long, so when I spotted a 5 night deal to Istanbul for less than £450 for hotel and Club flights I couldn’t help myself and booked it straight away. This was one action packed trip, with no time to sit down! There is so much to see and do in Istanbul, even after 5 days there was still plenty more I didn’t get the chance to see, so I’m already planning a return trip.
A Rustic Christmas Market
After a couple of years of not being able to visit one of Europe’s fantastic Christmas markets I decided to try somewhere new and booked to visit Riga. Riga is the capital of Latvia and is a traditional Baltic city with an equally traditional Christmas Market. It is without a doubt one of the the most rustic Christmas Markets that I have visited and the snow that we had during our stay was quite literally the icing on the cake!
At the time of writing this I have a few trips planned, two Christmas market breaks, the first to Innsbruck in Austria and then to Cluj-Napoca, Romania a week later. Two long weekends, the first being to Tenerife, and then to Corfu next Easter. And as it’s my 40th Birthday in January 2024, I will be going to Monaco for a day trip on my actual Birthday with family and some friends. We will be flying into Nice, then I have chartered a Helicopter to take us to Monaco for lunch. Last but not least I will be visiting Cancun in Mexico for 9 days just after my birthday. I’m very much looking forward to kicking back and relaxing, but also looking forward to visiting Chichén Itzá, which has been on my bucket list for a long time.