2016 was really the year of travel for us. It saw me take;
- 18 flights
- 2 Eurotunnel returns
- 1 Eurostar return
- 1 ferry trip
- and visit 7 countries
Not since before I was pregnant with with our twins (now 3 and a half) have I taken so many trips. Although exploring with small kids and food allergies (me, not them) is something I feel lucky to be able to do, in all honesty there are times when I wonder why we don’t just stay at home and have an easier life. However, just as I didn’t stop travelling where I wanted to when I was diagnosed with food allergies / intolerances, having two small children hasn’t stopped me from travelling either!
With the impending start of full time school for the twingos in September (when my summer born babies will only just have turned 4 *weeps*) I wanted to document a year of travel that is unlikely to recur for quite some time.
New Year / early January – Stavanger, Norway
Mr D and I have a deal in which we go away somewhere every year for New Year. In addition, I absolutely love a random city break and Stavanger was the only destination available for a BA Air Miles redemption the day before we wanted to travel. Stavanger it was.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this city. You can read some of the things we enjoyed doing in this post. Since then, there is not a week (often a day….) in which one of the twins doesn’t ask to go back to Norway. Which also led to the next trip…
Late January / early February – Bergen, Norway
Bergen has been on my travel wish list for quite some time. Although perhaps not an obvious choice for a city break in winter (it was cold, dark and snowy) nonetheless we thoroughly enjoyed it.
February – Isle of Wight, England
A weekend over on the Isle of Wight. I never get bored of taking the ferry over from Portsmouth; I always feel like I’m off on adventure.
On the gluten free front, there are increasing number of places catering to those with a gluten intolerance on the island. It’s great to be able to go for a pub lunch and find gluten free options. I thoroughly enjoyed this gluten free sticky toffee pudding with custard.
Late February – Innsbruck, Austria
An early flight meant that the kids were zonked by the time we arrived into Innsbruck. They slept in the buggy while I enjoyed a deliciously warming bowl of goulash and this epic slice of gluten free chocolate heaven.
The return flight showed me that adults cause every bit as much (in fact more) trouble on flights when a well known person sitting in front of me put on a full “don’t you know who I am?!” diva spectacle.
March – Calais, France
A day trip to France to restock the wine cellar and take the car out for the first time in over a month (we’re lucky where we live we don’t need the car very often). I got to check out the gluten free items in the French supermarket. Definitely making steps forward!
April – Tokyo, Japan
Two weeks in Japan to visit my sister who lives and works in Tokyo.
We stayed in an Airbnb (our first experience) close to Yoyogi station. The location was perfect for getting around and local amenities.
I loved sleeping on traditional tatami mats (there were beds!) but at times the layout of the Airbnb house didn’t really work for us.
In terms of gluten free eating, Japan posed an enormous challenge. There were options but it wasn’t easy, My gluten free trip report blog post is still languishing in ‘draft’…
Late April / May – Dorset, England
We stayed in a beautiful stone cottage with not just one, but two AGAs. Low beams and an inglenook fireplace, quality furnishings and a very well stocked kitchen – with wine fridge – made this the archetypal ‘down from London’ cottage. I finally got to visit Chesil Beach, found unexpectedly good gluten free options at Abbotsbury sub-tropical gardens and even enjoyed gluten free fish and chips in Weymouth.
May – Verona, Italy
While Verona itself is an attractive city, it’s also perfectly located for us to take day trips to Venice and spend the day at Lake Garda. On the gluten free front, I enjoyed several really great gluten free pizzas on this trip, including on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda and in a pizzeria directly opposite the Roman amphitheatre in Verona.
Watching an opera here in the open air is definitely on my travel wish list for another trip.
June – Turin, Italy
Another trip to Italy and more gluten free pizza.
As ever I enjoyed checking out the huge variety of gluten free products in the local Italian supermarkets, including finding gluten free Peroni in the tiny supermarket next to our hotel. You can read my complete guide to gluten free travel to Italy here.
Late August / September – Dordogne, France
Our drive down the Dordogne in south west France was broken up with an overnight stop in Saumur, in the beautiful Loire Valley and in Fontainebleau outside Paris on the return.
In the Dordogne we rented a house which had everything I could hope for. Located in a small village but with a full size supermarket, the house was well equipped for travel with small children. The large swimming was fully fenced and completely secure. Also in the garden, the kids were thrilled to find a trampoline, slide, swings, Wendy house, ride on tractors, bikes scooters and on and on. In fact the house had more toys and equipment than we have at home.
Mr D was happy to find a high quality BBQ. Me? All of the above meant I had moments to relax for more than 5 minutes, a first for a holiday since the twins were born. On our last night, the village held their fête du canard to which all the town was invited. A band played, food & wine were on offer and it was a super atmosphere for us to be included in, a real highlight of 2016.
October – Paris, France
I spent a few days in Paris for work. I promised myself I wouldn’t race all over Paris in search of gluten free finds, as I have on previous trips. I did manage a dinner with old friends who live in Paris and a stop at Helmut Newcake to pick up a salted caramel eclair for the train home. Plus ça change…..
November – Oxford, England
A wedding in Oxford for an old university friend gave Mr D and I the chance to have our first ever night away from the twins at the same time, while all 3 grandparents babysat back in London. We stayed in a Premier Inn as it was convenient for the wedding location. I’ve never stayed in a Premier Inn before but was impressed with the size of the room, comfy bed and breakfast in the onsite Beefeater was well signed for gluten free options.
December – Barcelona, Spain
A brief stop in Barcelona. We enjoyed a walk around Las Ramblas, accidentally found ourselves walking along Barcelona’s equivalent of New York’s High Line, but somehow managed to miss the more obvious sights in Barcelona.
December – Brisbane, Sunshine Coast & Sydney, Australia
Our longest trip to date with the twins; to Australia for Christmas and New Year. Australia is a great place to be gluten free. But conversely I’ve had a couple of run ins in which I’ve been told something is gluten free, only later to find out it’s not.
But generally I found an excellent variety of savoury items labelled as gluten free in the supermarkets. It was interesting to see *much* less sugary gluten free items in Australia (cakes, biscuits etc) than in the UK. And in surprising news for readers in the UK, I only spotted one gluten free brownie on our trip! I will blog about my gluten free finds in Australia in a few weeks.
Phew, what a year of travel 2016 was! I hope this post has shown you that being a mum of young children and/or having food allergies / intolerances doesn’t need to hold you back from travelling.
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