Another year has skipped quickly by and travel-wise it’s been another good one. 2013 was epic and I couldn’t begin to hope that 2014 would be nearly as amazing but it has and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve visited two of my wish-list destinations. I won’t say ‘bucket-list’ because I don’t believe in ‘places you should visit before you die’– you’re hardly going to go after you’ve kicked the bucket are you?
I had a big birthday this year – I mean really big – and even considered re-naming the blog ‘The Travel Biddy’. What do you think – catchy huh? Despite notching up another decade I loved my big birthday – the perfect excuse to celebrate with family and friends!
Work has been full-on and the travel and extra-long hours in the office has meant less time to work on The Travelbunny. I’ve not had the time to write as much as I’d have liked and some trips remain tucked between the pages of my journal. I owe my favourite bloggers out there an apology (you know who you are) as with so little spare time I’ve not been able to visit you as often as I’d have liked; that’s my loss more than yours but my apologies to you nonetheless.
So where did 2014 take me? There were moments of discovery with visits to two new countries; Iceland and Jordan – both were high on my wish-list and, now I’ve seen them with my own eyes, both had very good reason to be. I visited thirteen countries so far this year and I’m posting this from Vietnam so my travel year isn’t quite over yet!
The first trip of the year in January brought our annual drive to the French Alps and Morzine for some skiing. We usually hit the slopes at Easter and have lovely sunny skiing but January skiing is a lot colder so this year I packed for a winter ski trip. January is also a lot quieter and we had some wonderful days with the slopes pretty much to ourselves.
Fire and Ice in February
February brought a trip to the first of my ‘wish-list’ destinations – Iceland. I spent four days there being alternately amazed and delighted. I ate some wonderful food and enjoyed the best lamb ever; not a morsel of whale meat or rotting shark to be seen. The natural beauty of Iceland was astounding especially the Golden Circle. The Blue Lagoon was an experience I didn’t think I’d enjoy but ending up loving it. We didn’t see the Northern Lights because it was way too cloudy but Iceland was so amazing it actually didn’t matter at all.
February from ice to fire and some winter sunshine on a work trip as I took a group of incentive winners to Lanzarote in The Canary Islands. I’ve visited Tenerife and La Gomera but this was my first trip to the island and I thought it would be a winter sunshine resort and a place to soak up a few rays and dispel the winter gloom. It is all that but there’s a lots more besides; from cactus gardens and architecture built into the landscape to wineries and volcanic landscapes.
In April a trip to the Chianti region of Italy saw a fleeting visit to Florence, savouring the flavours and wines and searching out the hidden treasures of Tuscany with a stop off at Pisa on the way to the airport.
May arrived and back to Italy which is never a bad thing. This trip was my first to Sicily to sample the Sicilian relationship with food and try out one of Ben Fogle’s great adventures with Celebrity Cruises. I went with Lucy from On the Luce where we discovered the traditions and customs of Sicilian gastronomy at Eleanora Consoli’s cookery school. We explored Catania and visited the infamous and noisy La Pescheria – the fish market.
June – arrived and with it a trip to Jordan the second of my wish-list countries. We took a look around Amman the capital, visited Madaba, I fell in love with Petra, walked the Siq and gazed in awe when we emerged at the foot of The Treasury. We drove through Wadi Rum, swam at the earth’s lowest point, The Dead Sea, and ate some wonderful food. I will write about Jordan at some point but here’s a couple of pictures and one which sums up completely how I felt about Jordan.
In June we drove to Bruges with my parents and I can’t believe we haven’t done this before as the drive was only 3.5 hours door to door. We explored the pretty medieval town with its chocolate shops, breweries and lace making. And of course we sampled the frites with mayonnaise. Delicious.
The Splendido by Belmond was the hotel for our stay in Portofino, the iconic hotel overlooking the tiny port town where Richard Burton proposed to Elizabeth Taylor and The Duke of Windsor visited with his wife the former Wallace Simpson. This was a work trip but what a place to work! I took a look at the hotel’s golden book which read like a volume of ‘Who’s Who’. Grace Kelly, Charles Aznavore, Madonna and on and on. The hotel was exquisite but certainly not starchy; in the evenings the bar was alive with piano sing-alongs and dancing. The town is picture postcard pretty and the area has fantastic food – the onion focaccia was out of this world.
July came and we hopped on the train for a trip to France near Poitier for a birthday celebration with friends. Four out of six of us celebrated ‘big’ birthdays this year so what better way to celebrate together than with a few days in the French countryside.
September brought a book club trip with the girls to Malaga where we discovered the history of the town and where the locals go to eat on a Saturday.
My collaboration with Celebrity Cruises has continued with a cruise to the Mediterranean in September. We started in Venice and stopped at Dubrovnik, Mykonos where we took a day trip to Delos and finished up in Istanbul. We ate some amazing food and discovered how a massive cruise ship operates behind the scenes.
October saw my first visit to Cornwall for a wedding and time for exploring its wild and rugged coastline. We stayed in St Ives which is the perfect English seaside town. We will definitely be heading back to Cornwall to seek out more of its loveliness.
Some of the craziest search phrases over the year that brought people to my blog were ‘what colour were Enzo Ferrari’s eyes?’ and ‘pedalo sex’. Strange but true…!
November took a bit of the Big Apple and my first trip to New York in 18 years. I fell for The High Line, Instagrammed my way around the city and checked out all the free sights to see there. I loved it just as much as my first visit.
December and the last month of the year finds me in Vietnam for New Year. We’re in Ho Chi Minh City right now to see in the New Year Saigon style before heading off to Miu Ne and a bit of beach time. So from Vietnam here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year. Chuc Mung Nam Moi!