2013: My Travel Year in Review

Sunset on the Spice Isle, View from Sir Royston Hopkin’s home
Sister Karen Kuisel captures a Temecula Sunset at Christmas time

The Roaming Scribe visited new ship christenings, went on safari in South Africa and embarked on long haul trips to California and Grenada.

January

A quiet month after returning from a Voyages to Antiquity trip to South-East Asia and Burma in December, started planning for assignments in the year ahead. 

February

The British Guild of Travel Writers AGM was in the snowy resort of Zakopane in Poland. A visit to Krakow, a town that is frozen in time, before the Guild meet up was fascinating.  Hitler ‘gave it a miss’, as far as WWII bombing was concerned, apparently because it was on an ancient Teutonic trade route.  Many of us visited Auschwitz as well, an unplanned trip that was informative and moving.

   Petra Shepherd, me and Karen Bowerman

March

Amsterdam was on the cards with a record-breaking launch of 10 Viking ships by the river cruise line of the same name. 

Later in the month, it was off to Genoa for the launch of the MSC Preziosa.  Sofia Loren press conference meant seeing the star up close and personal.

April

A busy month started with a brief and enticing foody trip to Toronto.  My first time in this interesting, multi-national city. 

Then it was on to Kentucky and Washington D.C. with a brief visit in Southwest Virginia.  The week spent in Lexington was full of music and equestrian events.  We managed to liaise with a storm on our overnight trip to the Cumberland Waterfalls and witness exciting lightning strikes.  Washington D.C. was magnificent and fulfilled a life-long dream to experience the U.S. Capital.  A stay at the distinctive Monaco Hotel was definitely a highlight.

On returning from the U.S., I immediately flew to Rotterdam to join the sail out on board Norwegian Breakaway to Southampton.  The meal at the Ocean Blue restaurant on board was exceptional and we all got to meet Ellie Simpson, Para-Olympian swimmer extraordinaire.

May

May meant another shakedown, this time on the Europa 2. Considered one of the most luxurious ships in the world. 

Later in the month I indulged my interest in British music and journeyed to composer Benjamin Britten’s hometown, Aldeburgh, with Visit England.  The food in Suffolk is unique with asparagus ice cream coming out on the top of my list of new things tried.

It was then off to South Africa for a short trip to the Kwandwe Reserve and Lodge.  Going on safari is one of my absolute favourite things to do and took loads of pictures.  Rhino spottings were frequent and we even tracked these remarkable beasts on foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

June

I started the month with a week-long Dodecanese Island cruise sponsored by Variety Cruises.  Fantastic swimming in tiny isolated bays were an unexpected treat on our yacht, the Panorama II.  A stop at Santorini was startlingly beautiful.

It was off with the swimsuit and on with a fancy dress for the Royal Princess christening with the Duchess of Cambridge doing the honours.  We took a short cruise to Guernsey but were unable to tender to shore due to windy weather.

I then boarded Fred. Olsen’s flagship Balmoral for a two week cruise to Norway’s Northcape.  I adored seeing reindeer and meeting Sami tribesmen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July

The re-launch of Condor Ferries meant a day trip to Guernsey and then an overnight stay in Weymouth near the beach.

At the end of the month, there was a second trip on the Europa 2 which created lots of commissions over the next six months.

August

Nim Singh of Canada Tourism included me on the invite list for an interview with Kim Cattrell at Canada House.  An inspiring actress and feminist, it was a ‘not to be missed’ event.

Then it was off to the Moorland Garden Hotel on Dartmoor to try out Nordic Walking and see the wild ponies and the sheep that are hefted to the moor.

The Bank Holiday was a seafaring one. We travelled on Stenaline ferry, Brittania, to Holland and then stayed the weekend in Utrecht.  The Botanical Gardens are famous but we enjoyed a Mussels Foody festival as well.

The last weekend of August, I travelled to Windsor to immerse myself in the Saville Gardens and write a review of the Bel and Dragon after a scrummy pub lunch.

September

A four day cycle tour of Brandenburg included an overnight in Potsdam, the beautiful suburb of Berlin and visiting the River Elbe Nature Reserve.  A near by village is famous for storks which return every spring.  We spotted the last one left in the village just a couple of hours before it flew south.

The CLIA Columbus Day conference took place in Liverpool.  I took the opportunity to experience the Beatles Story while there and also visit the stunning cathedral.  The docks have returned to their former glory and it is a pleasure to see the Cavern (which launched the Beatles) and still is open for business.

At the end of the month, a five day cruise to the Italian and French Riviera on luxurious Sea Dream II, was my birthday treat this year.

October

A mini-cruise on Cruise and Maritime’s Marco Polo meant a visit to Ghent and Amsterdam followed by a lovely Mediterranean cruise on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.  The weather was stunning and particularly got to grips with Corfu.

November

WTM was as exciting, and exhausting, as ever but useful in all manner of information gathering.

In quick succession was a shopping trip to La Vallee Village, Paris to write an article for Cosmopolitan.co.uk followed by an excellent river cruise Conference in Cologne organised by CLIA.

An opportunity to cover the 4th Annual Beer and Rum Festival created a week long foody trip to Grenada.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the wild, northern part of the island as well as experiencing Caribbean food.  A man named Albert shared his handmade, carved coral jewellery.

December

Two weeks in California included a trip to Monterey Aquarium and Moss Landing to observe sea otter behaviour.  We drove down the coast Hwy to experience Big Sur and stayed overnight in San Luis Obispo.  On the same trip, visited relatives in Orange County and my sister in Temecula who took the featured sunset photo at the top of this blog.