Kempinski Ishtar Hotel Dead Sea Jordan - image zoedawesIt’s the end of the year and, along with many others, I’ve been looking back over the past 12 months and reflecting on all that has happened. On a personal level it was a big year as my son finished school and started university in Liverpool, so much of the time seemed to be spent nagging him to revise. I was also redesigning my training and coaching business to focus on the tourism, hospitality and creative sectors. But there was time for some top travel trips and very special memories in 2015.  Here are my favourites; some unsual ideas for your own holiday next year..

Top travel experiences of the year

Getting up close and personal with grizzly bears in British Columbia

Grizzly bear cubs Knight Inlet BC Canada - zoedawes

I have never experienced anything like it. To go grizzly bear watching and get within a few metres of these huge, furry beasts as they make their way along the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest is truly wonderful. I can still picture the misty, rain-dappled waters of Knight Inlet and see powerful paws delicately turning over stones to find tasty morsels hidden below. With highly knowledgeable, friendly guides, a variety of transport modes, clothing, equipment and excellent meals all provided by Knight Inlet Bear Lodge, there is really nothing to think about except enjoying every moment.

Gary and Zoe Knight Inlet Lodge BC Canada

Being without internet connection and far from ‘civilisation’ is also a great for a ‘digital detox’; much needed in this day and age. If you love wildlife, the outdoors and bears this will be perfect.

Finally visiting Petra and floating in the Dead Sea, Jordan

Petra from Siq Jordan - zoedawes

In Autumn this year I fulfilled TWO life-long ambition on a memorable trip to Jordan. I first saw a picture of Petra and of somone floating in the sea reading a newspaper when I was a child. Since then I have wanted to experience both., but had no idea they would both be possible in the same country – Jordan. The ancient city of Petra didn’t disappoint, being much bigger and more impressive than expected. The Dead Sea was very different. The whole area is now a big resort with large modern hotels catering for holidaymakers from Jordan and further afield. It has the air of a posh Blackpool, though many of the hotels were half empty due to the current situation in the Middle East. We stayed in great luxury at the Kempinksi Ishtar Hotel (NINE swimming pools!). ‘Swimming’ in the Dead Sea is a highly organised activity, with help in covering yourself in mud (very gloopy) and floating for a few minutes. It’s very difficult to stay upright and the water stings like crazy if you get it in your eyes. But I did it and have the photo to prove it!

Floating in the Dead Sea Jordan - zoedawes

There are many other sights to see in Jordan, we had no problems in Jordan and I would highly recommend visiting now, subject to the usual Foreign Office advice.

Discovering British Royal Heritage on first trip to Germany

House of Hannover - Marienburg Castle

Have you been to Germany? I hadn’t until this year, when I went to explore sites relating to the Hanoverian royal family. I stayed in Hanover (Hannover)  which is only a short flight from the UK and a very buzzy city. Highlights of the Lower Saxony trip included the baroque beauty of Herrenhausen Gardens, historic Celle with its beautiful castle and medieval town, beautiful Buckeburg Castle and a guided tour of charming Marienburg Castle.

New Town Hall Hanover Germany - zoedawes

If you’re looking for a weekend break with a difference, pop over to Hanover and you’ll discover a city of vibrant culture, relaxed night life, good food and drink in a historic region with very regal connections.

International Happy New YearWherever you are and whatever you do, have a VERY Happy New Year full of quirky travel and much joy.