It’s 5pm on New Year’s Eve. I’m sitting wrapped up in my blanket, with a box of Miniature Heroes calling to me from across the room. I’m hoping that reflecting on my travels this year should be the perfect distraction!
This year got off to a very slow start travel wise, but in June I was lucky enough to visit Ireland for the first time to celebrate the wedding of two very close friends. On a joyous, alcohol fuelled, live music fest of a trip, we managed to squeeze in discovering the craic in Galway, exploring the coastal roads of Connemara and wandering through the streets of Dublin. Ireland has a magical appeal: it might be the people, the accent, the cider, or perhaps a heady combination of all these factors that really does make the Emerald Isle worth a visit if you haven’t been before.
My next jaunt saw me visit the small Eastern European country of Slovakia in July. Yes, an unusual choice I hear you thinking, but when a best friend called me and said ‘Fancy Slovakia next weekend?’, it seemed like a great option. And do you know what, it was. We stayed in the small capital Bratislava, filled with beautiful historic buildings contrasted with stark communist architecture. It’s easy to spend a weekend just wandering around this hidden gem of a European city, benefiting from a distinct lack of tourist overcrowding unlike so many of its counterparts.
By September, I was desperate to get away for more than a couple of days, and the solution came in the form of an exciting trip with my best friend to a destination I had always dreamed of visiting: Cuba. This Caribbean island had always intrigued me, with its 50’s cars, crumbling architecture and communist regime. I was taken aback however by just how incredible this all was in real life, and even more so by the hospitality and warmth of Cuban people, as I touched upon in this blog. Splitting our time between the buzz of Havana and the laidback time warp that is Trinidad on the south coast made me feel that I was able to really experience the many faces of this wonderful country, far away from the all-inclusive resorts. Since my return to the UK, it has been announced that the US intends to end its trade embargo with Cuba which I am sure will signal dramatic change in the country. While on one hand this is fantastic news for the Cubans in terms of the new opportunities it could offer, I am still glad I got to experience this amazing country now before these come about.
I rounded off 2014 with a short hop over the channel in December to the small yet perfectly formed island of Jersey. I was lucky enough to be able to visit for work, using my time to explore all the corners, indulge in incredible seafood, and witness some incredible winter sunsets. Jersey is so often overlooked as a destination, but only a 30 minute flight from Southampton, it makes for the perfect weekend getaway whether you like fine food, outdoor activities or are just a keen photographer like me!
2014 has been another fantastic year in terms of being able to tick experiences off of my travel bucket list. Excitingly 2015 is also already looking promising, with a safari in South Africa potentially on the cards for January, a snowmobile trip in Spitsbergen, Artic Norway coming up in February, and a big family holiday to Thailand and Singapore at the end of March. Not only is this going to the first family holiday we’ve had in years, it will also mark the first time my Dad leaves Europe – exciting times lie ahead!
Thank you to everyone that has read my blog this year, it really does make my day when I see the visitor statistics going up or a post gets a like from one of you wonderful people. I wish you all a fantastic New Year celebration tonight, and here is to an amazing 2015!