A day trip from Campeche to the Edzna Mayan ruins

I love a good Mayan ruin. If they’re of the lesser-visited variety like Edzná, so much the better. With a few days in the colourful Mexican city of Campeche on the western side of the Yucatán peninsula, a day trip to the Edzná ruins was too big a draw to resist.

Edzna Mayan ruins Campeche main plaza

Look up!

Getting from Campeche to Edzná

Being fans of independent travel and public transport, a tour wasn’t an option for us. However, our outdated Lonely Planet guidebook (note to self: buy the new one – details in the box below) sent us in the direction of a bus stop that clearly hadn’t seen a bus for quite some time. Plan B came into force …

[box type=”info”]Don’t make the mistake we did: Get the up-to-date Lonely Planet Guide to Mexico before you go. Help the site by buying the guide through this link, at no extra cost to you.[/box]

Undeterred, and with the knowledge that Mexico is a country that DOES public transport and that there would be SOME way of getting to Edzná from Campeche, we did the only sensible thing possible: followed the collectivos (combi vans). A short bout of out-of-breath-ness later, this led us to a collective of collectivos all painted in red and white, parked up on Calle Chihuahua near Campeche’s market.

Collectivos are a wonder of Mexican transport, and for me, one of my top tips for travelling in Mexico.

Collectivo drivers are pretty helpful, and a few words of Spanish to explain we were going to the Edzná ruins saw us directed to a Bonfil-bound collectivo for the 55km (approx. 1 hr) journey, departing at 11am.

The ruins are a few hundred metres from the main road, but our driver detoured to drop us right at the entrance once we’d conveyed that’s where we were heading. The journey cost 45 peso per person each way (less than £2).

The Mayan ruins of Edzná

Safely dropped off, we paid the 60 peso per person entrance fee (about £2.50) and began our explorations.

The Mayan city of Edzná was a big deal in its day, particularly between 400 and 1000 AD, when it was the powerful regional capital of the western Yucatán. It was eventually abandoned around 1450 AD.

Its buildings reflect its former grandeur, and we happily hauled ourselves up and down the steep steps to towering platforms for a view over what used to be the main plaza.

Edzná's main plaza, Campeche, Mexico

Edzná’s main plaza

The highest structure is out of bounds for climbing, but the rest were fair game, so we gave our hamstrings a good workout as we posed for photos.

main pyramid, Edzna, Campeche

posing in the foreground of the main pyramid

The early buildings at Edzná are typical of the Petén architectural style (Petén nowadays is a region of northern Guatemala), with later structures showing influences of the Tardíos, Chenes and Puuc. Back in the day, the main limestone structures were often painted dark red. Others had facades adorned with the faces of gods and the mythical animals of the Mayan world. You can read more here on Edzná’s history and architecture here.

The Old Sorceress at Edzná

After the main plaza, we ventured off to the Old Sorceress around a ten-minute walk along a grassy track. But not before having acquired impromptu new hairstyles from the surrounding flora!

Reaching the Old Sorceress was Andrew’s excuse to go full-on Indiana Jones, as he scrambled off up the steep and jungle-covered un-restored pyramid.

Overall, we spent about 2 hours at Edzná, although if you’re less photo-happy than us then an hour-and-a-half would be plenty. Although not completely untouristed, most visitors to Edzná were Mexican, and we spotted a grand total of zero tour groups 🙂

Getting from Edzná back to Campeche

For public transport back from Edzná to Campeche we headed to the main road, and hung out under this road junction sign to flag down a collectivo.

how to get from Edzna to Campeche

you can hang out under this road sign to catch transport back to Campeche

The road isn’t too busy and waiting here meant transport options coming from two directions. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a collectivo coming from Bonfil back to Campeche but you may get an offer of a lift whilst you wait.

[box type=”note”]In our case, a guy in a pick-up truck stopped and offered us a lift back from Edzná to Campeche before the collectivo arrived. From prior research, coupled with my previous experience in this part of Mexico, this didn’t seem out of the ordinary. However, I politely declined as I wanted to make sure the public transport option worked so I could write this article 🙂 On a previous trip to Mexico, after a public transport fail at Uxmal caused by my then sub-par Spanish skills, I gladly accepted the offer of a lift to Mérida, resulting in a very entertaining journey with some delightful Venezuelan puppeteers!

I’m not recommending hitching with strangers. On the rare occasions I have accepted a lift (typically due to a public transport fail!) my hitching safety factors include: travelling with someone, being confident that accepting lifts is fairly “normal” wherever I am, and having a “this is ok” vibe when a vehicle stops for me. Obviously the latter is subjective, but I have turned down lifts when it hasn’t felt right. This is entirely my personal take on hitching. You’ll have your own view as to what’s right for you. If you do take up a lift in this part of Mexico, it’s customary to offer to pay the equivalent of the public transport price.[/box]

Practicalities of visiting the Edzná Mayan ruins

column at Edzna, Campeche, Mexico

silly photo-taking optional 🙂

Location: Around 55km from Campeche

Transport to Edzná: 45 peso collectivo from Calle Chihuahua in Campeche, tour or drive

Entrance fee: 60 peso

Food and drink: There’s no food at Edzná, although there is a vending machine for soft drinks. You can pick up cheap eats at Campeche’s market before or after your journey – we had yummy pork rolls for the grand sum of 20 peso each.

Take with you: Water, sunscreen, insect repellant in the rainy season, change or small notes for the collectivo and entrance fee (avoid 500 notes if you can).

To learn more about Edzná: Check out the museum under the Baluarte de la Soledad and also at the Fuerte de San Miguel in Campeche. Both have archaeological exhibits.

Where to stay: We bedded down at the Hotel Socaire in Campeche, in a room so large you could’ve had a football game in there (we didn’t). It was a fabulous place to stay.

[box type=”info”]Prices, info and exchange rates researched in January 2018. Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission and a big smile if you use them to make a purchase. There’s no extra cost to you for doing so :)[/box]

If you’re in this part of the world, I’d highly recommend the Edzná Mayan ruins as a day trip from Campeche. Have you been, or are you going? Share your experiences below.

25 (more) experiences I’m going to have before I die … updated!

Three years after first committing this list of my 25 must-do experiences to my hard drive, here’s my light-hearted look at what’s been accomplished, what’s still “on the list”, and what’s been ditched …

Why I put my 25 experiences list in writing

When I was in Bologna, I met Judy. Judy introduced me to the idea of writing down the list of things I wanted to accomplish, to help make it real.

25 experiences before I die

Hiking in the (cloudy) Annapurnas, The Himalaya

I had such a list when I was 14. I’ve since seen the majesty of the Himalaya (that one took 22 years to become reality), scored a goal at Scarborough FC’s now defunct McCain Stadium, and dated a tall, dark and handsome guy. I think I must’ve been sniffing school marker pens when I wrote I wanted to compete in the London marathon.

Still, 9 out of 10 achieved must mean the hypothesis of this entirely unscientific experiment with a sample of 2 (me, Judy) must be true. Writing stuff down helps make it happen. Not least because you’re less likely to forget it.

So twenty-(cough)-something years later, this was my new list …

The ones about new experiences

1. Live in another city or country for at least 2 months – rent a place, shop where the locals shop, absorb the culture, speak – or try to speak – the language.
What I’ve done: I’m currently (December 2017) in Oaxaca, Mexico for three-and-a-half weeks. Half (ish) way there!

2. Climb a volcano
What I’ve done. I kinda did this in Guatemala in 2013, but it was so cloudy I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, never mind that I was on a volcano. So I decided it didn’t count, and I’ll be volcano-climbing in Nicaragua in January 2015 instead. Yay!
What I’ve done: I went volcano-climbing in Nicaragua in early 2015, went up Mount Etna on Sicily in April 2016, and saw first-hand the Colima volcano in Mexico in October 2016. We’ll put this one down as accomplished 🙂

25 experiences I'm going to have before I die - Julie Sykes at Mount Etna crater - The Gap Year Edit

At the top of one of Mount Etna’s craters, April 2016

3. Take the train over the Copper Canyon, Mexico. What I’ve done: Finally ticked this one off in October 2016, and it was worth every penny!

Julie Sykes Copper Canyon train - 25 experiences I'm going to have before I die - The Gap Year Edit

All aboard the Copper Canyon Railway!

4. Drink a cosmopolitan in a fancy New York bar. I’m good at drinking cocktails. I just need to move the venue from York to New York.
Update November 2016: In light of the US election result, I’ve decided not to undertake any personal travel to the USA for (at least) the next four years. Update December 2017: Nope, still not going!

The ones about learning

5. Become fluent – or pretty much, so I can at least talk around things if I don’t know a word – in another language
What I’ve done: My Spanish improvement was slow, but went up a notch in early 2015 when I went to language school in Nicaragua! In late 2016 I took some private Spanish lessons, which ended when my teacher moved back to Spain – boo! However, I’m now (December 2017) in Oaxaca, Mexico, enrolled again in Spanish language school for two more weeks – hurrah!

reading Hemingway on the Florida Keys - Julie Sykes 25 experiences I'm going to have before I die - The Gap Year Edit

reading Hemingway on the Florida Keys

6. Read a book by Hemingway. Cos I feel as though I should.
What I’ve done: The Florida Keys were an awesome place to fulfil this one in January 2015!

7. Learn to take fabulous photos of moving water
What I’ve done: Back in March 2015. I got some tips from a photographer guru and put ’em into practice. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to go to Iguazú Falls in Argentina on honeymoon in March this year, and now also own some filters. Sorted!

long exposure photo at Iguazu Falls - Julie Sykes 25 experiences I'm going to have before I die - The Gap Year Edit

I used an improvised filter to help take this pic – aka my sunglasses 🙂

8. Learn to ride a motor-scooter, so I have options beyond a push-bike on future Asian adventures
What I’ve done: After finding out where to take classes in my home city, Andrew and I decided we’d buy each other lessons as our wedding (yup, wedding) gifts to each other. Update December 2017: We have singularly failed to do this as yet, but it is definitely still a plan for Summer 2018 🙂

The one about love

9. Fall in love … with someone who loves me too. All together now, aaaaahhhhhh!
What I’ve done: After re-joining match.com, reading lots of books women of a certain age read when they are singletons, gone out, got phone numbers; things finally came together in August 2015 when I braved Tinder and met Andrew. We got engaged a year later, and married this February. He’s fabulous 🙂

Outside York Minster in a tuk tuk on our wedding day - Julie Sykes 25 experiences I'm going to have before I die - The Gap Year Edit

Just Married! We had a quick photo stop after our wedding outside York Minster.

The ones about achievement and challenge

10. Hike more than a week of the Camino de Santiago, Spain
What I’ve done: Sussed out some routes and figured the Portuguese Way from Porto looks good. This is one for 2016 or beyond, I reckon … make that 2018 or beyond 🙂

11. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
What I’ve done:
Er, yeah, not even looked at this one!

The ones about lifestyle and fitness

12. Run 10km in less than 55 minutes
What I’ve done: Ok, this one’s frustrating the hell out of me. After joining the almost-as-cheap-as-chips gym near my house and managing to speed up by a few minutes, I entered a 10k in August 2015, in part inspired by Sir Ranulph Fiennes! My racetime was 55:21 – a race PB but 21 seconds short of my target. Since then, I’ve consistently managed to do training runs around the 54 minute mark, but race times of 56 minutes. Grrrr.

However, a bigger achievement was that, in May 2017, Andrew and I each completed an Iron Man triathlon over the course of the month (2.4 miles/3.86km of swimming, 112 miles/180.25km of cycling, 26.22 miles/42.2km of running), raising >£300 for Macmillan Cancer Support in the process. Meanwhile, the 55-minute 10km running goal WILL be achieved in 2018 🙂

Askern 10k, May 2017 - Julie Sykes 25 experiences I'm going to have before I die - The Gap Year Edit

May 2017, another 56-minute 10k at Askern (Andrew was a lot faster!), but we raised over £300 in May for Macmillan


13. Do a regular yoga practice
What I’ve done: My yoga practice has been patchy, to say the least. I have gone to the occasional class, but occasional is the operative word. Best have a word with myself.

The ones about being creative

14. Design and sell something artsy.
What I’ve done: Yeah, not done that. Yet.

15. Own a Sulca weaving. He’s a weaver based in Arequipa, Peru, who I visited back in 2007. One day one of his works will be mine. One day …

16. Do cool textiles things in Oaxaca, Mexico. Cos I love Oaxaca. And all things Mexico. And textiles.
What I’ve done: Well, I’m in Oaxaca at the moment (December 2017), so that’s a good start! I’m doing a very good job at window-shopping for cool textiles … but this trip’s all about the Spanish.

The ones about how I earn money

17. I will continue to work hard, take pride in what I do, be decent to people no matter who they are, and live my values. How people respond to me is up to them, but I’m hoping it’ll be good 🙂
What I’ve done: I set up my Limited Company, specialising in marketing and communications, back in June 2015, and interesting work is still coming in. I also have some cool business plans to develop in the early part of 2018.

18. Publish a book
What I’ve done: Got an idea, learnt from an author at a book-publishing talk. Not much else.

19. Get a travel / travel-related article published in a national magazine or newspaper.
What I’ve done:
Hmmmm, this one’s not a priority at the moment – one to revisit in the future.

20. Develop sources of active or passive income
What I’ve done: Errr, compiled a reader offer page and included affiliate links (where I get a small commission) in some of my posts. If you want to use them, that would be awesome! I have a few other irons in the fire too – linked to #17 and my business.

The one from Bologna

21. Have the courage to follow and act on my gut feel earlier and not succumb to some British “being polite and nice” thing I seem to do, even when there’s no need. This doesn’t mean be rude to people, rather that I don’t have to extend the hand of friendship to people whose actions deserve only civility.
What I’ve done: Put it into practice in Bologna (and since)

view over Bologna - Julie Sykes 25 experiences I'm going to have before I die - The Gap Year Edit

Bologna – it’s inspirational just to look at it!

The one about getting up early (I am NOT a morning person)

22. See the sun rise over Bagan, Myanmar.
What I’ve done:
The current treatment of the Rohingya population in Myanmar means this one’s on hold.

The one about development

23. Volunteer abroad for at least a month, in a capacity-building role (not “voluntourism”).
What I’ve done: Since November 2015 I’ve been mentoring young people volunteering in Zambia and Uganda in all things business and marketing, via the Challenges Worldwide ICS programme. I’ve also started volunteering on a local community project in York this year (2017).

The ones about my family

I can’t completely influence these, but I can certainly offer my emotional support:

24. For my Cambodian sponsored child to fulfil his dream of becoming a policeman.
What I’ve done: In September 2015 I learnt that my sponsored child’s family had moved away from the area – I suspect for economic reasons, so I will never know if this one comes to pass. Since then I’ve been sponsoring a little girl in Bolivia.

25. For my mum and dad to go abroad. Neither of them have ever left UK shores. Getting them passports will be a challenge, getting them on a plane nigh-on impossible. I’m thinking Eurostar. Maybe Bruges?
What I’ve done: In hindsight, I’m thinking this “must-do” is more about me than it is about my parents. Mum, frankly, isn’t interested; and I’m not convinced Dad is anymore, either. I’ll play it by ear!

So, there you have it … some progress made in 2017! These experiences have already made my life richer, and I hope some of them have made – or will make – others’ lives even just a teensy bit richer too.

Why experiences are important to me

When originally writing this list three years ago, I was thinking about how my abiding memories have all been about the experiences and feelings I’ve had and shared, and the people I’ve met along the way. They’ve not been about anything I’ve bought, with the possible exception of the hangover I had when I was 19, resulting from the fact I’d bought about 16 vodkas 😉

In my view there’s no need to wait until New Year to make a list of what matters to you. If this post touches a chord, why not write your own list, and – where you can – see what you can do to make it happen …

What experiences have been your most memorable? Have you accomplished something you’d previously put in writing? Will you make your own list? Share your ideas and thoughts below.

How to buy Copper Canyon train tickets

Since March 2016, you can no longer buy Primera (first) class tickets on Mexico’s Copper Canyon train – boo! This post gives details on how to buy your Copper Canyon railway tickets before you travel, without having to pay a USD $100 tour operator premium.

Andrew and I travelled on the Copper Canyon railway in October 2016, from El Fuerte to Creel. Here’s how we managed to get Primera tickets in advance, and some pitfalls to avoid.

copper canyon railway tickets - all aboard!

All aboard!

Do you mean I can’t buy Primera Class Copper Canyon train tickets on the train any more?

That’s right, you can’t. According to our train conductor, the rules changed in March 2016. Previously, you could buy your Copper Canyon railway Primera tickets at the Viajes Flamingo office in Los Mochis, or purchase them on board the train. Advanced purchase was only really seen as necessary during the high seasons of Christmas, Easter and during the Summer.

All of that is no more. Since March 2016, you can only buy Economico class tickets on board the Copper Canyon train.

How not to buy tickets on the Copper Canyon train

Andrew and I journeyed on the Copper Canyon railway (aka El Chepe) from El Fuerte to Creel in October 2016. It was Andrew’s birthday on the day of our trip, and – despite our belief at the time that we didn’t need tickets in advance – we none-the-less wanted them in our hot and sweaty palms to avoid any unexpected birthday surprises!

Oh, how glad we were we made that decision!

copper canyon railway tickets - boarding the train at El Fuerte

Glad, very glad!

How not to buy Copper Canyon train tickets #1 – Email

One week to go: I emailed the address on the El Chepe website (this link is to their new website, which launched in April 2018) in my best patchy Spanish, to ask if you could buy tickets at El Fuerte station or if we could only get them on board. I never got an answer.

How not to buy Copper Canyon train tickets #2 – Turn up at the Viajes Flamingo office in Los Mochis

One day to go: After six hours travel from Mazatlán on an early  morning bus, we stumbled with our backpacks through the near 40oC heat from Los Mochis bus station to the town’s Viajes Flamingo (travel agent) office.

Arriving (slightly sweatily), we were told they no longer sold tickets. Ah! Apparently the only place to get them was at Los Mochis train station, a few miles out of town.

How we (finally) bought our tickets in advance

We found a man with a taxi, who did us a round trip from Los Mochis town centre to the train station for MXN$200 (you could probably knock MXN$20-$40 off that if – by that point – you could be bothered to bargain. I couldn’t. Plus, the taxi driver was very helpful!).

You’re then at the mercy of Los Mochis train station’s opening times (not all day every day and slightly random, from what we could piece together – best to call and check!).

If the ticket office is open, buying them in person at Los Mochis station is easy. You will need to show photo ID, and you can buy tickets for any start/end point station on the Copper Canyon railway.

Two Primera class train tickets one-way from El Fuerte to Creel cost MXN$2509 (about £100 as at February 2017).

Relieved, we got our taxi to drop us off at Los Mochis 2nd class bus station to hop on a bus to El Fuerte for the 2 hour MXN$50 journey. The Copper Canyon train departs from Los Mochis at 6am and from El Fuerte at around 8am, so this option gives you an extra 2 hours in bed! Plus, El Fuerte is really pretty.

[box type=”info”]Our bed in El Fuerte was at the rather lovely and very reasonably priced Hotel la Choza. It’s very centrally located, with a tasty restaurant menu to boot. If you use this link to book the hotel, I receive a small commission and a big smile, at no extra cost to you. Thank you :)[/box]

copper canyon railway tickets - El Fuerte

Pretty El Fuerte – literally “The Strong!”

Other ways to buy your Copper Canyon railway tickets before you travel

By phone – here’s the page with the numbers. You need to call at least two days before your journey. According to the train conductor, and another couple we spoke to, this option works! If we were to travel again, this is what we would do.

By internet – not really. There’s (currently) no online booking facility on El Chepe’s website (yes, their new website says there is, but … where?). If you want to pay USD$100 extra per reservation, however, there are tour agencies who can help you out.

By email – as described earlier – don’t bother!

What if I haven’t bought my Copper Canyon train ticket in advance? Can I blag it?

The short answer: Maybe. But don’t count on it!

The longer answer: If you sweet-talk the conductor they MAY let you buy a Primera ticket on board. This is more likely during low season – see the info box below. However (having seen a couple negotiate to do this over more than an hour during our October trip), this was only because the rules had recently changed and hadn’t / still haven’t been well publicised. Now more time has passed, the helpful conductors may not have the latitude to be this accommodating.

If you fail, you’ll be moved to Economico class.

[box type=”info”]March 2018 update: A reader rode the Copper Canyon railway this February. They travelled Economico (aka Regional), but said they spoken to passengers in Primera who had been able to buy tickets on board because it was low season AND the train wasn’t fully booked. If you are 100% set on travelling Primera and would be upset at being moved to Economico, you may decide this isn’t worth the risk. If any reader tries this option, please do let me know how you get on in the comments below so I can amend the article and keep future travellers updated. Thank you 🙂

The newly relaunched Chepe website (April 2018) only talks about buying in advance – up to four months beforehand in high season for both Primera and Economico. The relevant pages for the small print are here and here.[/box]

The day we travelled, Primera and Economico classes were two parts of the same train, so you could try your luck blagging a Primera ticket and then move to Economico if you aren’t able to buy one on board.

However, on other days (here’s a schedule) the Economico train is a completely different train that runs an hour or more behind the Primera train. You may have a fair wait if you get kicked off!

What’s the difference between Primera and Economico classes?

Primera Class on the Copper Canyon Railway

Primera Class

In Primera you get a bit of commentary from the bilingual conductor. You also get more leg room.

Primera has a dining car serving breakfast and lunch (I can recommend the breakfast chilaquiles). Prices for food are inflated, but not stupidly so. Breakfast dishes were around MXN$100-130 pesos, coffee MXN$30.

The downside of Primera is that you’re not allowed to take your own food on to the train. However, you can grab a quick late lunch snack in the short stop from the food vendors at Divisadero station. In Economico you can bring your own food on board.

An advantage of Economico is that locals using the train for public transport purposes aren’t so fussed about stunning views – they’ve seen them all before! It’s therefore easier to grab an inter-car vestibule and snap those all-important out-of-window-train-moving pics!

taking pictures from the Copper Canyon railway

Takin’ a picture takin’ a picture of the world outside the train

And … Copper Canyon train tickets are about half the price in Economico.

After all that effort, is the Copper Canyon railway worth it?

Absolutely! It’s a wonderful experience. And stunning! But that’s a story for another post …

Have you travelled on the Copper Canyon railway recently? How did you buy your ticket? If you know of any updates on ticketing, do share your tips in the comments below 🙂

The stories behind The Gap Year Edit’s twelve top Instagram pictures of 2016

Yup, it’s that time of year again … where I share the stories behind the scenes from your twelve most-liked 2016 pictures from The Gap Year Edit’s Instagram account.

#12. Bamburgh, Northumberland, England

The beautiful beach at Bamburgh, Northumberland - The Gap Year Edit instagram pictures 2016

The beautiful beach at Bamburgh, Northumberland

I got my feet wet taking this picture in May – the beach at Bamburgh, Northumberland. Miles and miles of sandy wonderfulness, with a medieval castle overseeing it all. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone about it!

#11. The Sage Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, England

Sage Gateshead - The Gap Year Edit Instagram pictures 2016

The very shiny Sage Gateshead

This picture from July was taken from the top of The Baltic arts centre, looking out over the banks of the River Tyne. Gateshead – and the iconic Sage Gateshead – sits on the left; the vibrant city of Newcastle on the right. The Sage opened in 2004 and is a celebrated concert and live music venue.

#10. Berlin, Germany

Berlin architecture Karl-Marx Allee - The Gap Year Edit Instagram pictures 2016

uniformly incredible apartments on Karl-Marx Allee

I loved this pic, taken on a July city break to Berlin. It’s of Karl-Marx-Allee, the example of Berlin architecture that made me wonder if Communist-era apartment blocks could actually be the epitome of cool. I wrote about this and other cool Berlin buildings here.

#9. Beningbrough Hall, near York, North Yorkshire, England

photogenic tree at Beningbrough Hall - The Gap Year Edit Instagram pictures 2016

photogenic trees abound in Beningbrough Hall’s parkland

This rather fine specimen of a tree can be found in the grounds of Beningbrough Hall, a red-bricked Georgian mansion 9 miles north of York. Beningbrough makes for a rather fine day out from York by bike, as we discovered in June.

#8. Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, England

Fountains Abbey Cisterian monastery - The Gap Year Edit instagram pictures 2016

Ecclesiastical symmetry at Fountains Abbey

Your 8th most liked photo was from my April visit to Fountains Abbey, a former Cisterian monastery located near Ripon in North Yorkshire. There are some rather lovely walks through the gardens, but it was the former abbey itself that got my attention: gotta love a bit of ecclesiastical symmetry!

#7. Berlin, Germany

Berlin panorama Victory Tower views photos - The Gap Year Edit Instagram pictures 2016

Gorgeous uninterrupted views from the Victory Tower

Another shot from Berlin – this time a rather fine view from the Victory Tower, aka the Siegessäule. Try saying that after a few beers! (Confession: I may have been drinking wine in one of the Tiergarten beer gardens before schlepping up the steps to the top of this tower and taking this photo).

#6. Comala, Colima, Mexico

Comala Mexico sunset - The Gap Year Edit instagram pictures 2016

Sunset over Comala, Mexico – magic!

Mexico, god I love Mexico. The sky bestowed upon us the full hue of colourful delights whilst staying in the “Pueblo Mágico” (magical town) of Comala back in October. Pinky swear I’ll finally get round to writing about our trip there in the New Year 🙂

#5. Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire, England

Roseberry Topping Yorkshire - The Gap Year Edit instagram pictures 2016

Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire, complete with a very keen runner!

If you step on it, you can climb Roseberry Topping from car park to summit in nineteen minutes; as Andrew and I discovered in October. You will be knackered by the time you reach the summit, though! The reward all around is stupendous views: this one’s looking back up to Roseberry Topping from one of the many footpaths that criss-cross this northern-most part of the North Yorkshire Moors.

#4. Saltaire, near Bradford, West Yorkshire, England

Saltaire canal reflections - The Gap Year Edit instagram pictures 2016

reflections in the Leeds-Liverpool canal at Saltaire, West Yorkshire

Reflections ahoy in the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, which flows aside the former industrial mill town of Saltaire, near Bradford. The mills that thrived during the Victorian era and beyond are now home to offices and (on the opposite side of the canal out of shot) the wonderful Salts Mill, complete with David Hockney exhibits. We visited on a rather chilly March day.

#3. Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, England

Fountains Abbey undercroft - The Gap Year Edit instagram pictures 2016

The undercroft at Fountains Abbey

I had a lot of fun snapping pictures here, the undercroft of Fountains Abbey. Another shot from my April visit, it was quite a feat to capture this scene without hoards of visitors wandering through.

#2. Whitby, North Yorkshire, England

199 steps Whitby - The Gap Year Edit instagram pictures 2016

On the 199 steps in Whitby, North Yorkshire

There’s something magical about the North Yorkshire coast. Whitby’s old town, for example, looms under the shadow of a graveyard and a ruined Benedictine abbey, both inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Dress up here in blood-drenched clothing on one of the twice-yearly Goth Weekends and no-one will bat an eyelid. Or, on a brisk March day, take photos looking back down the 199 steps (count ‘em) to the Abbey.

And your favourite Gap Year Edit Instagram picture of 2016 was …

#1. Whitby, North Yorkshire, England

Whitby at Golden Hour - The Gap Year Edit Instagram pictures 2016

Gorgeous Whitby at Golden Hour, your favourite 2016 picture

Yes, Whitby again! The red-tinged daylight of golden hour, just before sunset, had Andrew and I running ‘round Whitby like demons (or Dracula!) possessed. This picture, taken at the bottom of the 199 steps up to the Abbey, captured the moment perfectly.

There you have it. Why not have a read of last years’ favourites? Follow along on The Gap Year Edit’s Instagram for pictures of my mildly adventurous travels from both UK shores and further afield.

Have you ever visited somewhere having only seen a photo? Did it live up to the pictures?

Revealed: My travel plans for Summer and Autumn 2016

If “where can I go next?” is normally the first question on your mind the minute you arrive home after a holiday, you’re not alone!

where to go next? Travel plans 2016

Where to go next??

After much flight-price-stalking, saving up and work-contract planning; my travel plans for the rest of 2016 are fixed. “Next” is now just around the corner. Can’t wait!

First up, it’s Berlin!

A July city break of culture, history and wurst awaits.

Travel plans 2016 Berlin | The Gap Year Edit

Berlin, baby! Image licensed from fotolia.com

My schoolgirl German will be getting a dusting down after (cough cough) years as we explore the historical WWII sites and the Berlin Wall, get under the skin of the city arts scene, and have an obligatory cocktail atop the Fernsehturm (TV tower).

Why Berlin?

Berlin appeals for several reasons: its artsy reputation, the opportunity to learn something more about our recent history, and – I can’t lie about this – a new FlyBe route from the catchily-named Doncaster Sheffield Robin Hood airport, which has made it far more affordable to get to from Yorkshire.

The fact I’ll be there (almost) for my birthday and that I can wax lyrical about a “hat that has three corners” in the native lingo has absolutely nothing to do with it 😉

My Berlin travel style

Cheap flight (around £80 return), a nice central apartment (approx. £75 per night) so we can come and go as we please, a few meals out, the occasional cocktail, and not forgetting the wurst! We won’t be crazy big spenders, but we’re not scrimping either.

Back to Mexico!

I’m beyond excited about going back to Mexico. Since travelling there for six weeks in 2007 and a further two weeks in 2009, I’ve been longing to return and see the bits I didn’t get chance to visit first and second times around.

The Copper Canyon (Barranco del Cobre) is top of the list. How amaze-balls does it look?

The Copper Canyon Mexico: travel plans 2016

The incredible Copper Canyon. Image licensed from fotolia.com

Longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon (yup, really!), the Copper Canyon has been on my “things I MUST do” list for what seems like FOREVER. We’ll be catching the train from Los Mochis to Creel before hiking, biking and – possibly – horseback riding our way into the canyons’ depths.

Flights are booked for October, and the Copper Canyon will be just part of our three-week trip.

Why Mexico?

I love it! And … did I mention I love it? The vibe, the food, that it’s easy to travel around and get talking to local people, the history, the culture, the crafts. Have I sold you on Mexico yet?

Our itinerary is pretty flexible, but looks something like: Mexico CityGuadalajaraColima (including volcanoes) – Mazatlán – Los MochisCreel (for the Copper Canyon) – Chihuahua – ending in Mexico City for Day of the Dead (Dia del Muertos).

Day of the Dead, Mexico travel plans

We’ll be in Mexico City for Day of the Dead on 2 November. Image licensed from fotolia.com

The challenge is narrowing down where to go. It’s easy to spend weeks if not months traversing Mexico!

Mexico travel style

A mix of outdoorsy and city, travelling independently and staying in simple B&B/Airbnb-style accommodation. Buses and possibly the odd cheap flight will be the norm. We may take one or two organised trips in the canyon, or to the volcanoes near Colima.

We’re budgeting around £1700 each for a three-week trip. This includes our transatlantic flights (which we found through Skyscanner) from the UK, plus all food, accommodation, transport, insurance and activities.

I’d love if you could take a moment to share your top tips for Berlin, the Copper Canyon and Guadalajara. Which sites can’t I miss? Where does the best wurst? Spill the (Mexican) beans below …