Yes, some people may view ‘end of the year’ posts as either boring, narcissistic or a combination of both, but personally I like to look back on the year gone by and focus on the highlights. A form of gratitude. Reliving the fun and the smiles. I travelled so much in 2015, I thought it would be nice to revisit some of these trips now the year is over. In fact, all of my standout memories from this year are travel-related.
In no particular order (except the order in which they occurred to me), I’d have to say my travel highlights were:
No surprises here! We enjoyed our third trip to Japan in October and, chicken pox aside, we had a wonderful time there. Just the right mix of relaxation and excitement. Tokyo, as ever, was a blast and Kyoto was still beautiful and relaxing. Our trips on Shinkansen were really memorable and my addiction to Japanese stationery was fuelled with too much time spent in Tokyu Hands.
Every time I pick up my Midori notebook, I’m reminded of the visit.
Due to the impact of chicken-pox, we’ve already booked our next visit for late in 2016. Which, if I’m honest, is just a convenient excuse. There’s so much more to see and do in Japan an we both feel like it’s the most relaxing place on earth. So I’d be heading back regardless.
This year was also mega-busy on the work front. On the one hand, it was the first full year of running my own business (!!) and I wasn’t about to turn down even a day of work. This meant over 14 weeks away from home, visiting places like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Singapore and Kuala Lampur for weeks at a time. I met some great people, saw some amazing sights and learnt a lot on each visit.
Going to Asia on business class took a lot of the sting out of it, but a hotel bed is never (in my experience) a replacement for your own, so coming home was always a pleasure. I really enjoyed my time in Singapore and after my last visit, could find my way around no problem – even giving directions to others. I’d like to go back and maybe combine it with a trip to somewhere else in Asia.
Another positive side-effect of all this business travel was getting (finally) ‘Gold’ status with British Airways’ frequent flyer programme. This has helped with other trips, including free upgrades, speedy boarding and access to lounges galore. If you’d asked me five years ago how much I’d enjoy this, I don’t think it would have registered on my list of travel must-haves.
Now, I’m worried about when I’ll lose it! Talk about First World problems… There’ll be a lot less business travel in 2016 (by choice) as I’m not sure I’d enjoy another 14 weeks away from home.
Travel for fun
Not all travel was for work. We started the year as we meant to go on, with a long weekend in Paris. Later in the year, we spent time in both South Beach and Iceland (could they be more different?!) and really enjoyed both. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed South Beach – the combination of food, sun and high camp was great.
Iceland was just stunning from start to finish. Incredibly friendly people, delicious food and scenery that would blow your mind. I’ll definitely return to see more of the place and spend more time in the natural hot springs. Very different to my favourite onsens in Japan, but fun all the same. Once you get over the smell of the sulphur…
So what next?
Well, 2016 will see us back in South Beach for some Spring sunshine and in Japan (exact destinations unknown at this stage) later in the year, but I’m sure we’ll squeeze in some time in Spain as well. I’ll be in Dublin in February and a few quick trips to Barcelona in the first half of the year. I definitely want to make more of business travel and enjoy the destinations when I can.
I’ll probably take the Caledonian Sleeper to Scotland again and hopefully a few more weekends elsewhere in the UK. Yes, I love travel. It’s probably where the vast majority of my disposable income goes – and sharing the photos and memories on here helps keep it all fresh in my mind.
The above pics are only the merest glimpse into the ton of photos I took this year. Maybe I’ll look back over some more of them and share them on the blog in the coming year.
Anyway, if you’ve made it this far, well done! Wishing you all the best for 2016 😉 Happy travels!