2015: A year of indie travel

I’m often surprised when I look back over photos from the last twelve months to see how much I’ve done… and this year is no different. 2015 has been an amazing year, full of good times, not-so-good times, and time with friends and family.

January

We saw the new year in in our temporary home of Alcalá de Henares, where I was doing a master’s degree. We’d been based there since September 2015 and stayed until the end of June, so it was a pretty long stretch for us. Luckily, we loved it — and who wouldn’t? Not only is it Unesco world heritage listed, it’s full of lovely people and delicious tapas.

Plaza de Cervantes in Alcala de Henares
We spent a lot of time in the Plaza de Cervantes.

February

We’re always happy to have an excuse to visit our old home of A Coruña, so we took advantage of a long weekend to fly up to visit our friends Oliva and Guille at Carnival time. They (and another friend, Alba) had created some spectacular costumes for us to wear, and we enjoyed watching the parades and looking like idiots while eating tapas.

March

I had to knuckle down to work and study, but Craig headed off to Berlin to attend a conference and hang out with awesome people. I wasn’t too jealous — after all, it was at least ten degrees warmer where I was.

visit the Brandenburg gate
I got to go to Berlin later in the year, so I wasn’t too jealous…

April

April was a month of family visits. First, my brother Simon and his fiancée Katie hopped over from London to spend Easter with us, and then Craig’s parents visited for a week in the middle of the month. We made sure to explore Alcalá and Madrid with them, and headed over to Valencia for the weekend.

Family time at the Puerta de Alcalá
Katie, Simon, Linda and Craig at the Puerta de Alcalá.

May

The big event of the month was a trip up to Lloret de Mar in Catalunya to attend the TBEX travel bloggers’ conference. It’s always great to catch up with our travel blogger friends, some of whom we’ve known for almost ten years — as long as Indie Travel Podcast has been running.

After TBEX, Craig headed up to the Baltics with JayWay Travel and I returned to Alcalá with my friend and workmate Alisa. While Craig explored Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, I finished my thesis and went on school camp with a hundred preteens.

The summer palace at Kadriorg, Tallinn
However, I was jealous of missing the trip to the Baltics.

June

Our last month in Alcalá was spent in good company. My sister came over for a visit with her son Henry, and our friend Janine joined us part way through the month. We all hopped in a car together for a quick trip around Portugal with a stop in Segovia along the way, and Janine and Craig finished the journey with a week-long surf school in Peniche.

After my graduation, Janine, Craig and I headed north to take part in the Haro Wine festival — yep, we threw wine at each other for a beautiful, sticky morning.

At the wine fight in Haro Spain
We got a little damp.

July

Janine had never walked a Camino de Santiago, and we are always keen to do another, so we hiked 300km from Oviedo to Santiago over two weeks or so. We started as a group of three and finished as seven, and for some reason we called ourselves the Smurfs.

Female bloggers also walk the Camino Primitivo
One of the many views on the Camino Primitivo.

After a quick stop in Coruña (to show it off to Janine) we hopped in Alba’s car to head to Toledo for Oliva and Guille’s wedding. It was a beautiful day in a gorgeous location and we felt privileged to be invited to take part in it.

We had a few days in Madrid, during which we caught up with a few friends and ate tacos, then flew to Berlin for something completely different.

August

We were housesitting in the outskirts of the city and thought we’d just get down to work — but it didn’t work out like that. Instead, we spent heaps of time with our friends Claudia and Holger; Frankie and Jesus; Adam; Javier; and Natalie and Stephanie from Context Travel. We did find time to walk the dog twice a day, though!

We even spent time at the beach while in Berlin!
We even spent time at the beach while in Berlin!

From there, we caught a bus down to Prague, where we stayed with the excellent Charles of JayWay Travel. Our friends Graham and Jon were over from New Zealand, and Janine and our Camino friend Clothilde joined us for a wonderful couple of days together.

Too soon, it was time to go — we flew to England for another housesit.

September

We’d never heard of Oundle before we accepted the housesit, and it wasn’t anything like what we expected. There was so much to do — pub visits with the neighbours, walking tours, a visit to the theatre. I even went to a blogging festival near London (where I almost froze, but at least in good company). We were sad to leave, but not too sad — we were going to Moldova!

Oundle war memorial in Oundle UK
Oundle was beautiful and surprising.

October

We’d wanted to attend the Moldovan wine festival for at least eight years, so you can imagine our disappointment when it was called off when we finally had tickets to the country. No worries, though: alternative activities were put on, and we enjoyed them in the company of a group of Moldovan and Romanian bloggers.

The Moldovan flag flies over the Et Cetera vineyard.
The Moldovan flag flies over the Et Cetera vineyard.

Our trip to Ukraine was postponed as a result of my incompetence, but we got there eventually. We loved spending time with local people in Odessa and having a Performance Foundry mini-conference on a boat in Kiev.

Kiev was gorgeous -- Santa Sophia Cathedral blew us away.
St. Sophia Cathedral is one of the most spectacular buildings we’ve ever seen — and we’ve seen a few.

November

The weather really started to cool off at the beginning of November, and heading back to England probably didn’t help matters. However, we had a stunning day for watching New Zealand win the Rugby World Cup final, and only shivered a little while travelling across London for the World Travel Market conference.

Watching the big game at the rugby fanzone in Richmond.
Go All Blacks!

Most of the month, though, was spent in Mexico with Janine and our other best friend, Ange. We hung out in Cancun for a week before starting our epic road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula, during which we ate a lot of tacos and only had to pay three bribes.

December

Cuba was our next destination, where we were joined by another friend, Luis. We loved staying in casas particulares (local homes) and trying rum and cigars in various spots around the country.

Classic car in Cuba.
Cuba is full of awesome classic cars.

Pin me on Pinterest!
Pin me on Pinterest!

It was sad to say goodbye to Ange, Janine, and Luis, but they had other plans and we were heading back to Mexico to hang out with other friends. Pete and Dalene had told us they would be spending Christmas in San Miguel de Allende, so we decided to crash the party and head there too, with a one-week stop in Querétaro along the way.

An indie travel 2016

2015 has been an epic year, especially since we thought we’d be travelling slowly. Next year though, we really should be slowing down: we’ve got a housesit lined up in Panama, and we’re heading to Colombia for three months after that. We hope to explore a bit more of this part of the world before heading south again to hang out with family and friends in Australia and New Zealand towards the end of the year.

What are your plans for 2016? What was your highlight of the last year? Leave a comment below.

Latvia in 15 fantastic Instagram photos

Riga is the capital of Latvia and one of my favourite cities in the Baltics, as I rediscovered when I was there earlier this year. Latvia’s the middle of the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, located in the north of Europe — below Finland and west of Russia.

While you check out the Latvia Instagram photos, take a listen to our Latvia podcast: hit play below or find episode 303 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Riga

Livu square in Riga's old town is full of colour, a great place to be on a sunny day.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Another awesome building in Riga. This city is so pretty!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

The style of buildings in Riga's old town is so ornate, I could look at it all day.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

I've posted some close-up shots, now here's a view of Riga from above.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

I LOVE this spiral staircase, hidden away in Riga's old town.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

On the water in Riga

A bit of blue sky and tranquil water in Riga, Latvia.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Riga has its tranquil spots!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Riga is beautiful enough by day, but by night, and on the water, it's awesome.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Night kayaking on the Daugava River in Riga, Latvia. It was an experience… We saw beavers!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Rundale

This kid can't wait to get away from Rundāle Palace in Latvia… I wanted to stay!

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Rundale Palace in Latvia is really quite an impressive building.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Even the ceilings at Rundale Palace are impressive.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

We've gone from outside to inside Rundale Palace, this is a close up of one of the chandeliers.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Come join us on Instagram by searching for indietravel — we’re having heaps of fun!

Craig travelled through Latvia with Jay Way Travel as part of the #jaywaybaltics trip (see posts on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, you name it). More details on our Baltics page.

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Pinterest pin for Latvia Instagram photos