Looking back, looking forward

As 2018 approaches it seems a good time to look back on my travel exploits from 2017 as well as to see what my plans for 2018 are.

2017:

The first trip of the year myself and Vanessa travelled to Sri Lanka in March. We had heard such good things from our friends and colleagues about the place and were not disappointed. Amazing scenery, friendly people, great food and an interesting history made for a fantastic 2 week holiday as we toured around the island with our private driver.

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Eastern culture in Sri Lanka (Dambulla)

Next up was a 8 night trip with a couple of poker buddies to Eastern Canada in June. Flying into Toronto, we hired a car and went straight to Niagara Falls for a couple of nights, where a spot of gambling and getting soaked on the Hornblower river cruise were the highlights. Back for few nights to the modern city of Toronto before a train journey to French Canada and Montreal for a great poker room and interesting Gallic culture to finish the trip.

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Multi-cultural and modern Toronto

A cancelled stag do to Budapest was replaced with 4 great days in the English Lake District. Staying in Ambleside we had some great walks to Rydal and Grasmere, up the Langdale pikes and visited the more remote Buttermere Lake. We also marvelled at the crazy people doing the Lakeland 50 and 100 mile fell race.

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The English Lakes, looking back to Ambleside from Langdale Pike

The following month (August) a group of us flew to Belfast for a friend’s wedding. We managed to take in the UNESCO World Heritage Giants Causeway as well as learning about the recent ‘troubles’ and sectarianism that exists in Belfast and Northern Ireland. We also had time to get roaringly drunk as is tradition at an Irish Wedding.

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Part of the Peace Wall, Belfast

A few weeks back to the grind was soon alleviated with an amazing holiday to the Greek Islands, taking in the magical vistas of Santorinithe lesser visited Naxos and the party island of Mykonos, before finishing in the rough and ready cultural capital of Athens.

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Portara at the Temple of Apollo on Naxos, Greece

As the process of buying a house took up a lot of time (and money!) I was only able to squeeze one final trip in before the year came to a close. As my football team Manchester United drew Benfica of Lisbon in the Champions League group stages. Here a 48 hour trip was rightly focused on drinking and the match itself. I did however manage a few cultural sights including the Belem Tower, Barrio Alto, Sao Jorge Castle as well as plenty of SuperBock beer and Pasteis De Nata, Tudo Bem!

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Tram in Barrio De Alto. Lisbon

So as 2017 draws to a close my sights are set on plans for 2018 and it is promising to be an exciting year.

2018:

After my work’s leave embargo for the first 2 months of the year has finished myself and Vanessa will be jetting off to Barbados in March for a ‘flop and drop’ beach holiday. Although Vanessa does not really understand the word ‘relax’ so no doubt we will take a chance to leave our All Inclusive resort to explore the island.

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Barbados, hopefully we have similarly nice weather!

Next up is the big one where subject to leave approval I will be taking a 2 month sabbatical in July and August. The plan, although not fully finalised, would be to fly into Astana, Kazakhstan to meet some friends who are currently living there. After a few days there we will take an overnight train to Yekaterinburg, one of the host cities for the Russia World Cup, subject to FIFA treating us well in the random ticket ballot! After this I have either the option to take the famous Trans-Siberian east or else take the overnight train back to Kazakhstan and further explore Central Asia. I am currently undecided on which option to take so please vote in the poll (currently on the homepage) for what you think  I should do.  Either way I will find my way to Bali, where Vanessa will join me for a 3 week trip around Indonesia. As the weather in South East Asia is not great in July and August I then plan to fly back to Europe to spend my last 3 weeks in the lesser visited Balkans taking in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia.

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Perhaps a trip on this train beckons

This will bring me back at the end of the British summer and as yet the rest of the year is open so watch this space!

 

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