2015 has been a pretty good travel year for me.
It started as you would expect in January when I went to Iceland to celebrate my 50th birthday. We did not manage to see the Northern Lights, but had a fabulous time in a Winter Wonderland of waterfalls, hot springs, glaciers, unusual churches and loads of delicious comfort food.
Our choice of accommodation also enhanced our experience greatly –Ambassade Apartments were delightful and very central with seriously friendly owners. Thoroughly recommended.
Next up 36 hours in Paris staying in Montmartre. It coincided with the scallop festival (la fête de la coquille St Jacques) when Parisiens gave thanks to the plentiful supply of shellfish. As ever we had a brilliant time – no terrorist will ever deter us from going to one of our favourite destinations.
My third overseas trip of the year was a whistle stop visit to Barcelona to take in the March Champions League football match against Manchester City. Not a lot of sight seeing, but having been at least ten times before, just being in the Catalan capital was good enough for me.
Next up it was a football theme again. I took Mrs Wilbur to Milan for a cultural trio of Giselle at La Scala, Da Vinci’s mural of The Last Supper and the Milan derby at the San Siro between Inter and AC Milan.
Throw in a clamber around the rooftop of the duomo and a brilliant first Air BnB experience and we had a truly memorable experience to treasure.
April & May were fallow months, before a trip to Normandy in early June. This trip was momentous as the first time we took our dog abroad, courtesy of Eurotunnel.
First stop Rouen with its fine cathedral, unique astrological clock and pretty little streets filled with cafes, before heading to our friend’s country retreat near Vire.
We also took in Le Mont-Saint-Michel and Honfleur, both delightful, if a tad touristic places.
As is the norm, we spent the summer months at home enjoying the countryside and coast as well as our own garden (lots of plum jam to make again!).
This also gave me time to finish and publish my travel book based on my train travel in 25 countries in Eastern Europe. On The Beaten Track is of course available for download or paperback from Amazon.
October saw the big one – a trip to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Luang Prabang and Bangkok.
My illness altered plans somewhat, but we still had a magnificent time in South East Asia. I feel that I need to return to Angkor Wat as I wasn’t at my best during our time there (great excuse to get the rucksack out again!) – I simply love that region and the Mekong is definitely my favourite river.
We finished the year with a very nice day trip to Boulogne-sur-Mer in France – all in all my wanderlust was just about sated.
Plenty of UK trips too to the likes of Chester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Brighton, Exeter, Torquay, Manchester, Brighton, Shrewsbury, Ironbridge & of course London, plus some music legends ticked off too – Chaka Khan, Paul Weller, George Benson, Larry Graham of Sly & The Family Stone fame, Sugarhill Gang & Grandmaster Melle Mel amongst others.
December saw me meet one of my heroes in Michael Palin. It was also a great thrill to give him a copy of my book. Would love it if he read some of it!
So what of 2016? Thus far I only have a long weekend in Athens in January booked up, but have a wish list drawn up of Myanmar, Norway, Segovia in Spain (thanks to Spain expert Andrew Petcher for the tip) and Troyes in France.
I also fancy a Middle East burst to Oman, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, which I hope to fit in at some stage.
I wish everybody a wonderful travel filled 2016 – see you next year.