2013 has been a pretty big travel year for me. I’ve visited fourteen different countries including six brand new ones taking my total number of countries to 33. Not bad!
I began the year watching fireworks light up the sky over Edinburgh Castle surrounded by other lovely travel bloggers. We were at the beginning of a whirlwind trip around Scotland seeing all that my beloved country has to offer. Everyone adored their time in Scotland and I was like a proud mother hen showing off the best parts of my country to everyone. Shockingly for Scotland the weather even behaved and we had warm temperatures, no snow and very little rain. Thanks, Mother Nature!
My next big trip was to Berlin, Germany for a pretty big travel trade show called ITB. It gave me the chance to explore Berlin a little more – a city that I absolutely adore – and meet up with lots of my blogger friends from all corners of the earth.
After Berlin I enjoyed some travel around Scotland (which included staying in a castle – just call me Princess Emma!) and England. I adored Brighton and it’s quirky, eclectic atmosphere as well as it’s fun nightlife and laid-back ways.
I then visited three countries in six days – Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. I was exhausted by the end of the trip but saw some adorable places that I’d like to return to with more time to explore.
I had only a few days to unpack and repack between that trip and my next – a cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean with Celebrity Cruises. I flew to the beautiful city of Venice and from there I sailed to Dubrovnik, Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples, Catania in Sicily, Valletta in Malta, Kotor in Montenegro, Split in Croatia and then back to Venice for a glorious two days docked in the city.
I flew home from Venice with just enough time to unpack and repack my battered and well travelled suitcase for a trip to Paris with my dad. I’d never been to Paris before (shocking, I know!) but I fell head over heels in love with the city and am desperate to return and explore more of it.
This was followed up by some travels throughout the UK and then a fabulous week in Lagos, Portugal with my two best friends. We did little more than lie by the pool, discover some stunning beaches, eat good food, sample some delicious cocktails and just generally enjoy ourselves. It was perfect!
I got to fulfill a travel dream in September when I travelled to India with my mum. She’s wanted to visit the country since she was a teenager and she finally decided to take the plunge, even better that she decided to take me along for the ride! I found India frustrating, challenging, beautiful, inspirational, harrowing and incredible all at once. India really is one of those places that hits you with so many emotions you’re often not sure whether you’re coming or going.
Dublin, the next place I visited, was significantly less confusing and culturally shocking than India to say the least. I enjoyed exploring this incredibly walkable city on foot and learning more about the turbulent history of Ireland as a whole. Not to mention the great nights out and world famous Irish craic!
My final big trip of 2013 saw me getting on a flight to Hong Kong to embark upon Silversea’s Silver Shadow cruise ship and sail through the South China Sea. We sailed from Hong Kong down through Vietnam and ended our cruise in Singapore.
I was stunned by the sheer size of Hong Kong but even more shocked when I did some research on the population crisis in Hong Kong and realised that many people in the city are living in micro-apartments or cages that are only a little bigger than something you would leave your dog in.
I fell in love with Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The people were so incredibly friendly and the city had such an interesting history that I loved learning about. I also loved the mix of old, French influenced buildings standing side by side the modern luxury offices and apartments. A curious juxtaposition.
2013 has been busy, challenging, wonderful and rewarding. I remember the laughter, the conversations, the tears, the struggles, and all of the interesting and unforgettable people I have been lucky enough to have crossed paths with these past twelve months.
I’m enormously grateful to have been lucky enough to have had the opportunities and experiences I’ve enjoyed within the past twelve months. I know this lifestyle isn’t normal or conventional but it works for me and I hope 2014 brings more of the same. More countries, more cities, more experiences, more adventures and more wonderful people.
Onward, to 2014 and all the adventures it brings!