The end of December is always a natural time to reflect back on the year gone by and what better way to sum it up than to look at its most memorable moments. In 2014, I visited four new countries and re-visited a few, as well as finding the opportunity to uncover beautiful new parts of the UK and even my own city. Here are some of my travel highlights from 2014:
Spotting deer at Studley Royal
I visited Studley Royal deer park early in January on the perfect kind of frosty yet clear winter day, exactly the day for a country walk to stretch your legs and fill your lungs with fresh air. From setting off unsure if I would spot any animals to ambling across the park surrounded by deer, so numerous and varied, it surpassed all of my expectations.
Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland
Every moment in Iceland was a highlight in itself but this has to be the one that stands out since it was something I had wanted to witness for so long. When I ventured out late in the evening, I was fully aware that we might see nothing and may even have to bear a few nights out in freezing temperatures to get a glimpse. It therefore felt like a stroke of pure luck that conditions were perfect that first night and immediately the lights began their show, dancing across the sky for hours. Somehow I haven’t yet blogged about the Northern Lights but here is a peek at one of my photos.
Street Food with StrEat Palermo
Sicily was another trip full of highlights but the day I spent eating my way around Palermo with StrEat Palermo was possibly my travel highlight of the year. A day spent eating is a day well spent in my opinion, but Palermo’s street food offers up so many delicious treats that it really was on another level. Combined with Marco’s knowledgable and humourous guidance, I felt like I got a true insight into the city’s heart and soul.
Escaping the heat in Jardin Majorelle
Heading to Morocco in the midst of the summer heat was probably a pretty brave move but there is always something to be said for visiting a city or country at the “wrong” time. Laid-back and lazy, Marrakech takes a well-earned rest during Ramadan. This slower pace makes it an ideal time to explore away from throngs of other visitors or over-zealous shop-keepers. With temperatures well into the forties (celsius), Jardin Majorelle was a haven away from the oppressive sun and baked air. The leafy shade of the gardens and walled café with cooling sprinklers was not to be missed on a sultry day.
An encounter with a sloth
One Wednesday in October Pete and I decided to treat ourselves by booking a day off work and travelling over to Chester Zoo. Aside from a few school groups, we virtually had the place to ourselves. On our first visit to the sloth she was (unsurprisingly) sleeping and largely out of view, but when we returned later in the day she was out and about and treating herself to a few carrots and leaves. It was wonderful to see this majestic creature in the flesh.
It would be difficult to pick a defining moment from my trip to Bruges but there is something so magical about it so navigating its meandering streets and canals is all you really need to do. It’s a fairytale town, isn’t it?
Did you visit anywhere new in 2014? What were your travel highlights?