This post is inspired by my friend Sarah who has written one of these on her blog the last two years, it’s such a cool way to look at the year, to take in the good as well as the not so good travel experiences of the past 12 months! I’m adding a couple of my own categories too.
2019 was a great year for travel for me, I was lucky enough to have adventures near and far, for work and for fun! It made me realise how much I truly love travel, the perspective it gives me and the way it makes me feel. It was an exciting year in general as S and I bought our first house together, my sister got married and we made lots of wonderful memories close to home and further afield. Always grateful.
Favourite travel moment: Sledding in Innsbruck with S – We hired sleds from a ski resort, and after a bit of a struggle to find the trails, we found this amazing snowy trail in the woods and spent the whole afternoon sledding down through the forest. It was so fun, exhilarating and unique and we loved it. It was great to escape to somewhere snowy for a few days as we rarely get it in Devon.
Favourite new place: I think that the Azores topped the list of my favourite new place this year. It was totally unexpected to even go on the trip (for work), it happened days after I had moved into my new house, it also fell on the same week as a friend’s wedding, my sister’s house move and a family funeral so it couldn’t have been worse timing…but it was amazing. It was a breath of fresh air, a step out of my comfort zone, an amazing place with the most stunning landscapes and friendly people. I spent a week filming and photographing animals, landscapes and people and it was an amazing creative escape. We hiked around lakes, found secret waterfalls, swam on a black sand beach and got caught in multiple crazy rainstorms all while documenting and carrying 15kg of camera gear! The fresh pineapples that we got to eat every day were amazing too!
Favourite place I returned to: Cornwall – we did two long weekend trips to Cornwall in the spring and loved both of them so much, everything was in bloom, the beaches were empty and we spent days walking the coast path, cosying up in greenhouse cafes and exploring the outer edges of the county. It’s lovely to go exploring so close to home and one of the air b n b’s we stayed in had 4 dogs that the owners let us walk both mornings we were there!
Favourite hike: We hiked in the late afternoon, along a deserted coast path from Lizard point (the most southerly point of the UK) to Kynance Cove and it was the most stunning hike, we were high above the ocean, the light was milky white and pink and there were wild rabbits and horses around. When we got to Kynance cove, it was etheral and magical the way the light was hitting the rocks. We walked back during sunset and made it just as the lighthouse at Lizard Point was turning on. It was the first night of our Cornish roadtrip and absolutely beautiful.
Worst travel moment: Arriving late into Gatwick on the way back from Innsbruck and having to drive back to Devon. We were delayed on the flight then I left my kindle by a water fountain and didn’t realise until we had got the bus back to our car. Luckily someone handed it in, so we drove back to the airport, got it and then began the four hour journey which ended up taking 7 hours as half of the motorways were closed and we took all this detours down hair pin turns in tiny villages in the dark with massive lorries coming the other way, it felt so sketchy and we were exhausted from all the travelling. We had hoped to be home by 10 but weren’t until 4.30am…and up for work at 7! Luckily the trip was amazing and more than made up for it, but from now on, we made a pact to pay a bit extra for flights from a more local airport.
Favourite Wildlife spotted: My favourite animal that I saw in 2019 were the monkeys we saw in Singapore – my dad and I managed to see one of only wild 60 banded langurs in one of the nature parks on the island. It was incredible and so cool to see up close and witness how they move and act. We also saw lots of macaque monkeys too.
Funniest travel moment: Being on top of a mountain in Scotland with S and my sister as a crazy wind and rain storm blew in that we were somewhat unprepared for. It was a great start to the day though and once the clouds cleared the views were amazing!
Favourite Park visited: El Retiro Park in Madrid, during my visit to see my lovely friend Darina, we spent a lot of time hanging out in Retiro Park, soaking up the sun, reading, talking, laughing and walking! It is a beautiful green space in the middle of the city and I would definitely recommend a visit there. We also went boating on the lake there which was beautiful.
Worst accommodation: The worst accommodation was actually on the aforementioned work trip to the Azores islands, we stayed in uni halls and they were all decorated with stone cement walls and matching cement furniture, it was a bit of a prison vibe that we all had a good laugh about. However, the worst bit, was the entrance, to get to it, you had to walk down sloped grassy verges and at night they were covered in jumping cockroaches! So I just had to run for it and hope one didn’t crawl up my leg.
Best Meal: The best meal was at Din Tae Fung in Singapore, an amazing place that serves dumplings by the dozen, it is a tradition of ours whenever in Singapore and this year did not disappoint. Veggie dumplings, egg fried rice, wilted garlic greens and steamed bao buns – it is so good.
Worst meal: Again the worst meals were on the work trip to the Azores (which was an incredible trip despite these factors!), I am veggie and along with a few others on the trip, we were treated to beef and kidney bean stew, ham and potato soup and then on the last day, when we had explained we were veggie, a chickpea stew that looked inviting but tasted as though it was marinated in sea water, it was so salty! However the nights when we didn’t eat at the uni, the food was incredible and so delicious and fresh.
Most emotional travel moment: One of the most emotional travel moments was close to home, when some of my family came to stay in Devon and have a weeks holiday, it was just so wonderful to have that quality time with them in the Devonshire countryside. I am so grateful for quality time with family especially living a bit further away. My grandmother wasn’t particularly well that week so we all banded together, took care of each other, cooked meals and just cosied up together as the rain fell (typical august in England).
Favourite Landscape: Innsbruck, Austria – The snowy landscapes of Austria stole my heart, we took beautiful tram rides, went on hikes and gazed out of our air b n b window at all the views! It was just stunning.
Favourite Country: While visiting my parents in Singapore in November, we took a flight to Vietnam and spent 5 days exploring Hanoi and the countryside of Ninh Bin Province, and it was just amazing to immerse myself in a new country and culture, as soon as we left the airport, the sights, sounds and smells were overwhelming and so interesting to watch. Even though we hadn’t slept much the night before due to an early flight, my eyes were wide open taking everything in. I love that feeling of inspiration you get as you see all these unique parts of a country for the first time. The people in Vietnam were so generous and friendly and it was just a beautiful place, the scenery was gorgeous and it felt like we just scratched the surface of all there is to explore. It was an eye opening trip, to see some the pollution and poverty in some parts of the country made me really appreciate everything I am lucky to have access to here in England.
So, that’s my round up! Wishing you all the best for 2020 and hope it is an amazing year of travel!