2015 – An exceptional year in my travel world

 

Sunrise over the Mandina Bolong.
Sunrise over the Mandina Bolong.

2015 was a great year for a travel hack like me with visits to 20 destinations in 13 countries and the chance to write for four national publications for the first time.  Thanks, everyone for coming along for the ride!

Children with a prized donkey.
Children with a prized donkey.

Mostly I will remember 2015 as the year I visited West Africa during the height of the Ebola crisis but in the relatively safe country of the Gambia.  My favourite place was the Matasuku Forest where I stayed for two nights.

Coming in a close second was a week in lush, green Sri Lanka which was an eye opening experience.

Me and elephants at the Pinnawalla Orphanage, Sri Lanka.
Me and elephants at the Pinnawalla Orphanage, Sri Lanka.

 

Sigiriya is a rock fortress and soars 660ft into the sky
Sigiriya is a rock fortress and soars 660ft into the sky

It was also my first time to Japan and Korea.  This trip was far too short to get a handle on these fascinating cultures.

Tokyo on a rainy night
Tokyo on a rainy night

 

Young girl dress in Victoriana in Hiroshima
Young girl dresses in Victoriana in Hiroshima

 

I found out all about Charlotte, North Carolina but also visited Asheville and the Smoky Mountain National Park.  OK, I did try out a bit of moonshine as well!  Can you blame me?

Statue representing the Future at corner of Trade and Tyron Streets
Statue representing the Future at corner of Trade and Tyron Streets

 

Storyteller Tim at historic train depot, Bryson City, North Carolina
Storyteller Tim at historic train depot, Bryson City, North Carolina

 

Remarkably, this was the year that I visited Ireland (adored the place) and Sweden for the very first time.  But with two extraordinary cruise trips – one on the P&O Britannia …

Atrium on P&O Britannia
Atrium on P&O Britannia

which included a stop at gorgeous Santiago de Compostela in Spain and one on the American Queen steamboat – I also managed to slot in trips to seven states in the U.S.A.

The enigmatic Mississippi River
The enigmatic Mississippi River

 

The American Queen Steamboat
The American Queen Steamboat

One of these states was Illinois for the opening of Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels, Chicago.  A whirlwind of a trip if ever there was one.

A ferris Bueller style parade at the opening of the Virgin Hotels, Chicago
A ferris Bueller style parade at the opening of the Virgin Hotels, Chicago

 

A week in Ontario, Canada meant a chance to spend time on breath-taking Manitoulin Island where I was able to get sleepy in a tepee – there were loads of great activities including zip-lining, canoeing and tree top walking.

Canoeing at sunset on Manitoulin Island
Canoeing at sunset on Manitoulin Island

A story for Easy Jet Traveller about Rimini and the wonderful food in Emiglia Romagna, Italy was definitely a highlight though it was my second trip to this country in two months.  The first was to Milano for the BGTW AGM which included a hop up to Lake Garda and Lake Iseo.

Finally, it was over to Los Angeles to visit family but also write a story about the crazy food trends there.

2016 – Bring it on!