Wow, 2015 is over already?!
You know what they say, time flies when you are having fun! Quite rightly, 2015 has been one of the best years and one of the tumultuous years of my life. I started off the new year with a whimper at a low point when I felt stuck at the year I would turn 30. I wasn’t happy in the job I was in, I was in financial dire straits, I was living at home, my social life was dryer than the Sahara Desert; and I completely lost interest in travelling. All I had was my utterly gorgeous face.
What the hell am I doing with my life?
That was the thought running through my head as the fireworks subsided over the skies of a grey and gloomy January.
As they say, you need to hit rock bottom before you go back on the up. The first thing I did was completely reinvent myself. Literally. This blog suddenly had a makeover and a new direction in where RexyEdventures would go. I just LOVE the new logo!
The blog was no longer a long series of what i simply got up to in my travels. It all became rather niche. Well, several niches:
Adventure Travel – As a self-confessed thrill seeker, I’m always looking to go off the beaten track and push my own limits. I hope to inspire you to join me in reaching a high that you’ll never experienced before!
Luxury Budget Travel – As I’ve gotten older and older, I crave for the finer things in life but yet I still want to travel on a budget! Find out how ‘luxury budget’ travel could be for you as I review luxury hostels, fine restaurants and tailored tours.
Deaf Travel – It is possible to travel around the world solo if you have a hearing loss. Don’t let your deafness stop you. I hope to inspire fellow deaf people and educate other travellers on travelling with a deaf person.
Unexpected Travel – A weird type of travel, but my favourite moments in travel has been those when I least expected it. I want to show you that you don’t have to plan everything. Let your travel experience wash you over!
Handsome Travel – Ah, this. Obviously, I had to modestly succumb to many people’s comments about how drop dead gorgeous I am. So, only to please them, I set up a page on how beautiful destinations could be rivalled by this handsome face.
You can find out more in great detail about these niches thanks to a very hilarious video travel blogger interview with Backpacks and Bunkbeds:
Now let’s find out what I got up to in 2015!
Other than running a competition and entering a few such as #IceColdAdventures, I was mostly based up in my hometown of Kingston Upon Hull, re-discovering what this historical East Yorkshire town has to offer. Such local activities included getting girlishly scared on chilling Beverley Ghost Tour and walking alongside the River Humber during epic wintry sunrises.
But the key feature of January definitely has to be when I made my first ever GoPro video! (Thanks to the Papua New Guinea UK Tourism Board for awarding me with a GoPro Hero 4 Silver for my winning contribution on their Blogger Ambassador programme.)
Taking time out from my job in Hull for a long weekend, I headed down to London simply for a bite to eat at Beigel Bake on Brick Lane (as you do) and take a ride on the Emirates Cable Car Line over the River Thames:
This video was a completely new learning process for me and to this day, I’m glad I’ve got the GoPro. Who knows, I could be making more Video blogs in 2016…(featuring me, of course, I’m not going to let you down…)
January articles you should be reading:
Iceland: My #IceColdAdventures in Iceland
Hurray, I was in
warm very mildly warm Barcelona!
With David of Two Bad Tourists, we spent four days in Spain’s second biggest city. We went on great sightseeing trips with Rainbow Barcelona Tours checking out Gaudi’s architecture, the incomplete yet famous Sagrada Familia and delving deep into the city’s history. I rather enjoyed it so much that to Madrid-loving David’s consternation, I proclaimed that Barcelona could easily could be better than Madrid. (He was utterly furious!) While I was there, I also reviewed an up and coming luxury hostel where you should definitely be staying in if you are in the city: TOC Hostels Barcelona
Check out my GoPro video I made of my time in Barcelona:
Despite how freezing it was in Barcelona at the time, it always remained sunny and the atmosphere was truly golden. I was really disappointed about having to return home and thus I promised myself I would return. With bells on, if I must have to!
Barcelona Articles you should be reading:
Yotel, Gatwick Airport, UK
As I was taking an extremely early morning flight from London Gatwick Airport, I stayed in Yotel, situation within South Terminal, to review their premier rooms. Again, the GoPro came out (and some of my clothes):
Just to let you know, contrary to popular belief, I was not going to the toilet in the video! It was a lovely comfy stay and I was a little scared that I would oversleep and miss my plane. Thankfully, I didn’t. I made it with five minutes to spare…
Dating SIX Travel Bloggers
Okay, we all know that February is the month of love thanks to Valentine’s Day. But to date six travel bloggers at once on that special day? That’s just plain greedy. But what can I say? They wanted a date with me. I challenged these six bloggers to come up with the best date and the winner will be whisked away on a special treat.
Potential Rexy Romances:
Who’s the winner? Well, I’ll be revealing in February 2016…
See More: I Dated Six Travel Bloggers
Staying in a Prison in London
I was back in London yet again for a close friend’s birthday after my trip to Barcelona! Meanwhile, at the same time, I reviewed an eccentric hostel in London called Clink 78. Set in a 200 year old courthouse, there are actually usable prison cells on the ground floor that are used as private rooms. Naturally, I simply had to check this out and discover if the ghosts of criminals past would haunt my dreams…
See More: Review: Clink78 Hostel London
Other February Articles you should be reading:
Despite coming three times over three years to Manchester Christmas Markets, I never really saw Manchester and its character. So, I made an executive decision to check out the city one sunny March weekend and discover what Manchester revealed to me for a quick weekend guide for you:
See More: A Quick Weekend Guide to Manchester
Staying in the glitzy Palace Hotel just round the corner from Oxford Street Station, I was able to explore the Northern Quarter, Canal Street, the city centre, the libraries and of course, Salford Quays.
Still staying in Hull at this time, I treated my Mum to a special dinner in Hull’s Marina and within one of the converted warehouses: Al Porto. This Italian restaurant holds a rustic atmosphere and somehow I managed to upset one of their Italian staff by trying to order a wine that wasn’t Italian! Lovely food though!
See More: A Taste of Italy in Kingston upon Hull
Traverse Blogging Conference in Kingston Upon Thames
The end of March brought about my third time at Traverse Travel Blogging Conference, this time taking place in Kingston Upon Thames near London. Meeting up with fellow travel bloggers, I learned a great deal on how to improve my blogging skills and take advantage of new trends such as Pinterest, Travel Content Writing and video blogging. It’s a great conference for those who are working in 9-5 jobs and travel blog in their spare time. Taking place over a weekend, you’ll certainly get a lot of this particularly in the networking meet ups and competitions such as the popular beer flip cup team challenges:
There was also a competition by official sponsor, Kingston First, that I entered by writing what you thought about Kingston Upon Thames. Happily, I won! Check out the winning blog article:
With a multitude of prizes, I would be taking advantage of them later on in the year…
Other March articles you should be reading:
April was a little bit of a quiet month as I prepared for the craziness of the next month and actually managed to land myself a new job to start in June in London!
I had a nice long Easter Saturday in York catching up with a family friend and had a lovely wander on the ancient castle walls…posing for the camera.
See more: An Easter Saturday in York
When I left my old job halfway through the month, I took it as a huge opportunity to discover East Yorkshire in my drives through the region with the dog visiting key places including Withernsea, Patrington, Burton Constable and Hedon. My dog was that excited, she was sick all over the seats of my brand new car…
See More: Wet n Wild Dog at Withernsea
April articles you should be reading:
Belfast and Northern Ireland
As soon May 1st rolled over, I was on that plane with Flybe from Leeds Bradford Airport to Belfast City. It was my very first time in my final country of United Kingdom that is Northern Ireland! With the warm generosity of my friend Daniel and his lovely partner in crime, Tor, they showed me round the best of Northern Ireland in one bank holiday weekend.
This land of Game of Thrones proved to be very bitchwitching and beguiling that I immediately agreed to come back to Northern Ireland hopefully in 2016. There are so many great places to re-visit including Port Rush, Bangor, Giant’s Causeway and of course, Belfast itself. I still haven’t finished writing about my time in Northern Ireland yet!
Read about Northern Ireland:
Shortly after I came back from Belfast, I soon whisked myself off to Liverpool, my next great 2015 British destination, with only one objective. That was to see S CLUB 7 Reunion live at concert at the Echo Arena! Yeah… I was pretty excited. Not as excited as Catch Calan who came with me all the way from Dubai! Watch this space, as I still yet to write about seeing C Club 7!
However, it wasn’t all just about seeing S Club 7. We saw the city too and, do you know what, I very much preferred it to Manchester. I adored the clean and grand architecture and the shimmering history of the city. So much so, I declared that Liverpool was as handsome as yours truly in a video:
#iTrekHere with Trek America
Shortly after Liverpool, I was found on yet another plane to the biggest trip of 2015. That was the 10 day long #iTrekHere trip with Trek America covering three states (Nevada, Utah and Arizona) and a multitude of National Parks to excitedly hike in before letting loose in Las Vegas!
A complete highlight for me from that trip definitely has to be the 12 mile hike into the Grand Canyon. It was utterly mind-blowing and to this day is one of the major achievements that I list. Shortly following that, other highlights included living like a Native American in Monument Valley, helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and horse-trekking right next to a huge 1,000 ft drop in Bryce Canyon! Check out one of the videos that Travizeo made:
I’ll always remember fondly the trip full of wonderful sights and breaking experiences. It was also interesting to see how a USA Travel Blogging press trip worked with not only YouTubers but also Fashion and Beauty bloggers.
#iTrekHere Articles you should be reading:
After just landing back in the UK from USA, I only two days grace back at home in Kingston Upon Hull before I had to rush down to London at the end of May to start my new job as a Marketing Manager for a national charity! And the manic week of my first job didn’t stop came the weekend as I was flying off yet again for a long weekend in Munich in Germany for a stag weekend!
Staying at the exclusive Pullman Hotel in Munich, this was our base as we partook in drinks and bratwurst in the beer gardens after spending a whole day full of activities such as clay pigeon shooting and football in Olympicstadium Park! I had visited Munich before so it was a great chance to impress my friends by being their tour guide across the city the next day.
See more: A Stag Do in Munich
Wedding in the Cotswolds
Ah, the stag do I went to earlier on in the month? It’s not for this wedding. It would be a completely country affair as I went to attend my university housemate’s wedding in the Cotswolds at the Royal Agricultural College. It was an absolutely lovely wedding and of course, us housemates danced up a storm on the dance floor!
See More: A Wedding in the Cotswolds
Overall, June was a bit of a quiet month as I settled into my career but more good things were yet to come.
June articles you should be reading:
Surprisingly, I didn’t even set foot outside of the UK during July. I was keen to stick with my job career but it doesn’t mean that I stop travelling. I’m always passionate about travelling in your home country and experience activities and events that you need to discover.
I went back home in early July to scatter my uncle’s ashes at Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire, a place where he absolutely loved to go. As he was a committed traveller himself, he has inspired me to follow his footsteps around the world. He would have pleased that the family got together in a beautiful location and try some crab sandwiches at the lighthouse there!
See More: Crab Sandwiches at Flamborough Head
The following weekend, I was back in London for its Unity Day on the River Thames where we took a river cruise for the whole day. It was a grand sightseeing experience of my capital city, indeed!
The following weekend was a great highlight for me this year. It was one of my best friend’s Indian wedding! A hugely colourful display of singing, dancing and rituals, it was ever so interesting and fun to share the joy of their marriage with everyone.
The rest of July saw me undertake charity work for DELTA (Deaf Education Through Listening and Talking) at their Summer School before coming back to London and moving house from one London place to another.
July articles you should be reading:
North York Moors
It’s another stag do! These events always happen when you are around the age of 30 where you see all your friends getting married and having kids and yet you’re still the same perpetual traveller that shows no signs of setting roots!
An old friend who I used to mentor at University, he shares the same Yorkshire ideals as me. Where better than to set his Stag Do in no other place than… Yorkshire of course! We hired a chalet in Cropton Forest in the middle of North York Moors (with hot tub, of course!) and undertook a lovely hot walk from Goathland (Heartbeat country) to Grosmont following the old steam railway lines.
See More: Re-discovering the North York Moors
We also headed to Newby Hall for a bit of a grand country escape too!
Queensway Astor Hostel
Now officially moved into my new home in London, the first thing I did in my very first week was stay in Astor Hostels in Queensway for two nights! A hugely friendly welcome, the private room was fantastic and the social atmosphere a buzzing. If you ever want to stay in London on a budget, Astor Hostels is your best bet.
See More: Review: Astor Hostel Queensway
Kingston Upon Thames
Using my winning prizes I gained from the Traverse competition earlier on in the year, I managed to get myself a gorgeous stay at Warren House, a beautiful Victorian private house (now a hotel) with perfect landscaped gardens. It was a very romantic setting. Afternoon tea was had also in their exquisite dining room here where I also had a very yummy breakfast too!
They also had a gym, a swimming pool and utterly stunning gardens too to take a walk in and peer beyond at Richmond Park where herds of deer roam.
Other winnings included vouchers for the Kingston Food Market, return trips on Turks Cruises on the River Thames to Hampton Court Palace and a hamper of goodies!
And finally, as I searched high and low, last time in Kingston Upon Thames, I found the Coronation stone where ancient Anglo Saxon Kings were crowned upon. Huzzah!
Hampton Court Palace
Also, during my time at Kingston Upon Thames, I took the Turks Cruise over to one of the Historic Royal Palaces: Hampton Court Palace. As a firm royalist, it was a dream of mine to visit one of the places I’ve read about extensively. It was lucky that the Palace was celebrating its 500th anniversary and to celebrate, there were time plays being acted out. The characters were important royal figures in history including Queen Elizabeth I who you could watch and immerse yourself into the key events. I totally recommend visiting Hampton Court Palace if you’re ever in London.
Being a Bad Tour Guide in London
Surely after living in London for a few months, I should be confident enough to show couple of friends round London?
I took a couple of friends, starting from Camden Town to finish up at Greenwich Palace, but throughout I made catastrophic mistakes. But in the end, Freddie redeemed the day with his fantastic photography skills for his Facebook blog: Millman Photography.
Read my hilarious account on my bad tour guiding here: How to be a Bad Tour Guide in London
September started with a traditional bang as I was back up north for a beautiful and relaxed York wedding at the York Royal Hotel. But it wasn’t until a few days later that I finally left the UK to an overseas destination since June:
Joining seven other travel bloggers, I went on a press trip to another Spanish destination of the year: Benidorm. I have to say that this press trip was the most enjoyable of the year for me! Having the right people getting on together is absolutely crucial to the success of the trip. So, I’d like to tip my hat to Button and Bly, Two Bad Tourists, Breakaway Backpacker and Gay Star Travel for being such great travel buddies!
So, what did we do in this unfair reputation of a city that is meant to have overweight Britons swilling alcohol past their sunburnt lips? Well, there were wild adventures, high adrenaline activities, gorgeous food, beautiful beaches and the Benidorm Pride. I absolutely loved it all! And my mind was completely changed about Benidorm:
In October, I was given a great accolade from UK Mobility promoting me as an inspirational disability travel blog to follow. I felt very privileged and as a result, decided to promote deaf travel further.
See More: 15 Inspirational Disability Travel Blogs
As Autumn rolled over, I was immediately out of the country again to soak up the last rays of warm sunshine in the Netherlands with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines UK. This time, I checked out the popular and buzzing second city: Rotterdam.
Completely destroyed in World War II, the city has become rebuilt itself in modern architecture, becoming a playground for architects around the world. However, my favourite part definitely has to be the port of Rotterdam and its panoramic Erasmus Bridge.
But one of the best features of my weekend long stay has to be King Kong Hostel, an eccentric and cool luxury hostel based in the ‘Cool’ district of the city where nightlife reigns supreme.
See more: Review: King Kong Hostel, Rotterdam
September articles you should be reading:
October was a relatively quiet month for any actual travelling. However, there were a lot of networking opportunities in London whether it was the Pop Berlin shop in Shoreditch by the German National Tourist Office, An Evening of Carnival by Thomas Cook Airlines, Travel Massive and the Traverse Mingle too!
One of the highlights in October was my 30th Birthday celebrations! After I reconciled to the fact that I am now in a whole new decade, I decided to have a bit of a day out for my friends and I in London. Starting with a Quirky Tour of London through Westminster and Covent Garden, we ended up having drinks in my two favourite establishments: Gordon’s Wine Bar and Tattersall Castle. Following on, we took dinner at Barrio Central before heading out into Central London. It was a fantastic day!
Other than working a lot throughout this month, I managed to squeeze in a unique review of Pullman Hotel in London St Pancras on behalf of Hotels.com. Check out this quirky video:
The World Travel Market suddenly descended on us at the beginning of November This would be my third time attending this yearly event. It was fine but I did manage to walk away with a lot of contacts for 2016 Travel planning… stay tuned to find out what they could be…
Again, due to a lot of work, I didn’t have to chance to travel much. But I managed to sneak in a quick day out to Stratford Upon Avon in mid November.
Meanwhile, I still received awards from various publishing websites such as FlipKey and the travel legend that is Map Maiden:
Things started winding down now Winter arrived in the UK. Christmas was in full swing with meals and meets in Manchester and Peterborough. By mid December, I returned home to spend time with the family.
But I was very chuffed to be awarded by Trivago to be one of the top 16 Travel Blogs to watch in 2016:
See more: Top 16 Travel Blogs to watch in 2016
My last review of the year would see me return to London Astor Hostels but this time at their Victoria branch. Set in Pimlico, it’s a great place to be in Central London if you are looking for an affordable place to stay but in a great location:
See more: Review: Astor Hostels Victoria
December articles you should be reading:
Wow. I was pretty overawed myself how 2015 was a bloody fantastic year for me and for you too. I really want to to say thanks to you all for following me and supporting me with your comments and likes on all of my social media channels particularly on Instagram and Facebook.
2016 : What now?
I haven’t actually planned anything yet. But I have a few thoughts already within the first six months of 2016… check out this clue of a present I received on Christmas Day:
Exciting eh? Bring on 2016! May it be as good as 2015!