So the final day of the year is upon us…
And what better time than now to recap the last 12 months of my travels and adventures – because there’s nothing like leaving it until the last moment!
As I mentioned on yesterday’s 2013 photo round up, I’ve managed to enjoy a great mix of destinations this year that were both new to me and familiar from previous visits. And although my adventures have remained confined to only two continents for now, I succeeded in finally making it to the number one destination on my wishlist, back to my long-time favourite place on the planet, and also back to properly experience a destination I only scratched the surface of last year. And that’s only half of it! So I’m feeling pretty blessed right now on the travel front.
I don’t think I’ve revealed this previously, but all my motivation – as if I needed any – for my travels this year actually came from one meaningless, flippant comment I heard sometime after I arrived home after my 2012 travels:
“Well I guess you’ll settle down now you’ve got the travel thing out the way…”
It’s funny how something so small can end up driving you on to make the absolute most of your time and do as much as you can possibly do. But the way that comment got my back up confirmed to me that it wasn’t an itch I needed to scratch, this is just what I love and get the most enjoyment out of doing, and I was damn well going to keep doing it!
Heck, I can’t even remember who said it now! Still that was the moment I was resolved to make it to at least five countries this year, despite the confines of my full-time job, and five trips and six countries (slightly debatable, I know) later I’d like to think I showed not only them, but more importantly myself that it can be done.
Here’s a brief overview of each trip to sum the year up:
March/April – Tokyo & Nikko, Japan
Although my travels for this year didn’t get started until late March, they kicked off in awesome style – with a trip to my dream destination of Japan.
I even had to wait an extra day to get there after accepting BA’s deal on my original overbooked flight. But the compensation meant I could make the most of my funds and enjoy incredible Tokyo and beautiful Nikkō to the maximum.
Highlights included my awesome “local” area of Asakusa, a great day of temple spotting around Nikkō’s UNESCO World Heritage area, an unplanned visit to the Tokyo Tower, visiting a Tokyo cat cafe, the amazing kindness of all the people I met… Ah who am I kidding?! It was all a highlight!
A dream come true.
- That Time I Booked a Flight to Japan
- That Time I Talked to You From Japan
- That Time In a Tokyo Cat Cafe
- That Time I Headed East for Hanami
August – Amsterdam, Netherlands
This one I didn’t expect at the start of the year.
Going stir crazy at my desk at work during a surprisingly sweet summer, I decided had to escape for a brief European summertime jaunt. And then decided it was time to return to Amsterdam!
Excitement built even more when I managed to round up a possé to accompany me, making it the first trip I’d gone on with friends in a few years. The numbers grew when our amigo Beery decided to join us for the last two days – 12 hours later he arrived!
An amazing Saturday cycling around every corner of the Dam with two of my best buds probably ranked as my favourite day of the year. A free tour of the Heineken Experience was pretty cool too!
- That Time I Quickly Recapped My Amsterdam Weekend
- Five Photos From… Amsterdam – In Selective Colour
- That Time In the Heineken Experience
September – Barcelona, Spain
I just couldn’t keep away…
My Barcelona return was sorted out as far back as April, and I was as excited as ever to return. Putting my new camera to use was the name of the game, whilst also checking out some of the city’s best vantage points, such as Tibidabo and Montjuïc.
Whilst I didn’t have the greatest time in my initial choice of accommodation, strolling the streets in the late summer Spanish sunshine is always paradise for me. An epic final day where I enjoyed splashing out and pretty much walked myself into the ground capped off yet another awesome week in my one true city love.
¡Te amo Barcelona!
- That Time I Was Back From Barcelona. Sadly.
- Five Photos From… Barcelona – Up High
- That Time I Took a Trip Up Tibidabo
November – Dublin, Ireland
I really need to get writing about this one!
We decided to make the short trip over the water to the Emerald Isle for Chelcie’s birthday, and spent a fun, but very chilled three days in Dublin. A bit different to most of my trips in recent years and our travels of 2012, this time we ate out in some classy joints, relaxed in a pretty plush hotel and even took the touristy tour bus!
Still despite our general laziness we saw all the sights we wanted to see, including Trinity College Library, St Patrick’s Cathedral and St Stephens Green. And yet again we managed to get lucky with the weather, with bright blue skies every day. Although being November it had got pretty damn chilly by this point…
November/December – Hong Kong & Macau
If I hadn’t expected to head back to Amsterdam at the start of this year, well er… This one I hadn’t expected less than 6 weeks before I actually departed!
All year though I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Hong Kong and how I really had to go back and see it properly. Turned out all I needed to persuade me was some parental encouragement!
What a decision it was – An incredible week full of fun, food, new friends and photos in the City of Light, with an additional adventure to quirky little Ch-Iberian Macau making it six countries for the year. All my shocked friends noted that it was “a long way to go for a week”, but it was oh so rewarding. Seeing the view from The Peak at night was simply jaw dropping, delicious dim sum delighted, whilst cruising down to the more laid-back and beach laden south side of the island was a majorly pleasant surprise. It’s definitely not Hong Kong-crete to me, but probably the destination that’s second only to Barcelona in my eyes now.
- That Time I Was Headed Back to Hong Kong
- That Time Hong Kong Was Hella Good!
- Five Photos From… Hong Kong – In Selective Colour
Back at home…
What about on my home turf? I seemed to be in London once a month during the first half of the year, with five visits totted up by June already – Muse gig, Champions League Final festival and work party/carnage aside, I can’t actually remember how I totted up so many. But that’s the way I prefer my London visits – short and sweet!
Back in more chilled Devon it hasn’t been the most exciting year – why do you think I kept escaping? – but we did finally have a summer to enjoy, and that saw the skimboards brought out and the beaches packed with tourists. Oh and us lot barbequeing away on the warm evenings. More of the same next summer please!
And finally – 2014…?
After all of 2013’s excitement, especially in the latter half of the year, I’m now in the strange position of actually having no concrete plans in place for 2014 yet…
But by that I only mean that nothing is locked down and confirmed thus far!
Yes the list is as big as ever, and these are the places I’m hoping to hit up right now:
- Sweden – Stockholm
- Portugal – Porto
- Spain – Valencia, Barcelona
There’s no guarantee I’ll actually get to all of these though. And if you’re thinking that’s looking a bit Euro centric, well that’s true – I’m super keen to head west across the Atlantic and get exploring that part of the world, but it may have to wait until 2015 when there’s the possibility of a very sweet opportunity open to me. Still I’m not one for planning ahead, so let’s wait and see what happens over the next 12 months. And in the meantime hopefully I’ll be able to explore many more corners of this continent, both solo and with my lovely lady!
But that’s my 2013 all wrapped up, and I’m stoked to say that it’s been a pretty ace one! Hooray!
Thanks again for reading along and getting involved this year! Hope you’ve enjoyed it, and I hope that, if there’s one thing you’ve taken from reading this year, it’s that you CAN still see the world as well as holding down a full-time job!
Here’s hoping your 2013 was just as awesome, and here’s to a great 2014 of adventures & experiences – Happy New Year!!!