Freedom to travel is a wonderful gift and the release from Covid shackles was a blessed relief. For any traveller, it was like a release from prison.
Toulouse & Andorra
Travel wise, the year got going in April with a journey to Andorra via Toulouse. My mate Hamish and I took a train close to the Andorran border and then a taxi into what was for us both a new country.
We loved Toulouse, and although Andorra didn’t light any flares for us, we enjoyed some hikes & a cable car up into the mountains.
Scotland & Yorkshire
Next up was a driving tour up to Scotland & North Yorkshire in May.
The scenery in the Scottish Highlands is stunning. Our trip there took in Perth, Inverness, Loch Ness, Applecross, Isle of Skye & Oban.
The drive down to North Yorkshire via Edinburgh & Melrose was beautiful. The leg from the M6 at Tebay Services and across the Yorkshire moors being particularly picturesque. The Leaderfoot Viaduct over the River Tweed near Melrose is also quite some sight.
We rented a cottage in the Dales at a village called Aysgarth, well known for its waterfalls. Using it as a base we drive around the lovely Dales and visited towns such as Richmond & Ripon, as well as taking in a steam train round trip from Bolton Abbey to Embsay.
As is normal practice, the summer months were largely spent at home going to music festivals and enjoying the garden. I also saw Manchester City win the Premier League, Exeter City secure promotion and took a ride on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex.
We did however manage an escape to Devon in August to visit family. The heat was in the late 30s, so exploration had to be tempered somewhat. We split our time between Torquay & Exeter, visiting seaside towns and Dartmoor.
Edinburgh & Dundee
With a friend that lives in Edinburgh, it is almost rude not to pay a visit during the Fringe. This year was no different. We also went to Musselburgh Races and took a train to Dundee.
R.I.P Queen Elizabeth II
Our majestic Queen sadly passed away in September after over 70-years on the throne. I ventured to London to see the queue to pay homage, and the floral tributes.
September into October saw the big one. A Scandinavian tour with my long-time buddy Poll. I am still blogging about the trip that took in Finland (Helsinki & Kemi), Sweden (Lulea & Gallivare) and Norway (Narvik, Bodo, Trondheim, Oslo & Bergen).
We were joined by our wives in Oslo for the trip that used trains for the majority of the travel.
Later in October we headed for Athens for a family wedding. Unbelievably it was our first visit there for over 3-years!
Stockholm & Uppsala
November saw me return to Sweden, this time to Stockholm with Mrs Wilbur, my nephew & his husband. The trip was wrapped around going to see Snarky Puppy play in concert, but we had a wonderful time visiting museums (ABBA, Vasa, Modern Art) walking around the city and taking a day trip by train to Uppsala.
I travelled to Devon again in November to see Exeter City v Ipswich Town and stopped off in Shaftesbury on the way to see Gold Street, famous for the Hovis advert directed by Stanley Kubrick.
My final foreign trip of the year found me in Malta, my penultimate European country. I visited to see some friends and watch a few World Cup matches.
It was early December and the weather was gorgeous. I loved seeing Valletta & Mdina in particular.
Home & London
“The best thing you will see, is the holly that will be, on your own front door,” says the song. So, so true. Even better when it snows!
God willing I have a few trips planned.
Dublin in March to see Mrs Wilbur’s niece who lives there.
Rhodes in April, home to the Church of my guardian saint, Agios Fanourios, and the island where I proposed to Mrs Wilbur in 1999.
July to Italy to see Depeche Mode in concert in Milan. We plan to also visit Bologna, Modena & Parma, plus to complete my European ‘set’ with a journey to San Marino.
I plan a big trip for November/December with my regular travel buddy Hamish. The Philippines will be the main destination, possibly via Seoul in South Korea.
That just leaves me to wish you all a vert happy 2023 that is full of love & travels.