#Wanderlust: A Year in Travel (2014)

Those who know me well know that if I could I would travel any chance I get – this also explains this blog’s travel slant i.e. ‘in transit’. Blame it on the fact that I spent many years studying and not travelling as much as I would have liked to. Suffice to say that in a period of 6 years I made up for that by visiting many destinations, whether they were in Europe, America, or Asia. Among my favourite cities are undoubtedly Paris, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Tokyo, and New York. Obviously Thailand and Cambodia now have a special place in my heart and I would go back in the blink of an eye.

Anyhow, what has 2014 been like in terms of travel? Following the success of 2013 (which included the following: Athens and Rhodes; Moscow and St Petersburg; Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo) I thought that this would be a massive record to beat. Ever. So I admitted that it would be difficult to outdo such an unexpectedly good year of travel. Luckily, as things turned out, it was even better, to my sheer delight. Now, looking back, I realize how amazing it was.

The reasons travel in 2014 outdid the previous year were twofold: I guess planning for travel became ingrained in my calendar and accounted for in my yearly budgeting, but there were also some unplanned travel routes, which I sure did not turn down. So, together with the major summer vacay, I added on a couple of shorter trips.

It all started well by kicking off the New Year in Nuremberg, followed by a number of days in Munich. The magical atmosphere in Christmas is something Germans are renowned for, and the shopping deals were unbeatable. Then a couple of days after Easter, I went on a working holiday on the Tuscan coast in Italy which included visits to a number of private wineries and many delicious meals.

In summer, it was time for the biggie: Southeast Asia. This meant an ideal mix of cities, beaches, jungles, and mountainous terrains. Starting and ending with Singapore, the holiday included the following: Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket (and 14 islands); Vietnam: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Hoi An; and Cambodia: Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat).

The cherry on the cake? Going to Oxford once more (for a conference) and to Calabria (Italy; for a family wedding). So here is a selection of photos. Enjoy :p

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Nuremberg: churches and castles; walking in the corridors of history: visiting the location of the Nuremberg trials:

Nuremberg

New Year in Munich: more churches, palaces and strolling along the city centre for some good old January sales:

NY in Munich

Along the coast of Tuscany: from Gaudi-inspired art to wine-tasting sessions; lunch nearby the quaint town of Bolgheri; hearty traditional meals and hiking in the Bolgheri Oasis for some birdwatching:

Tuscany 1

Tuscany food

A day in Elba: Napoleon’s place of exile and home to wondrous sights and beaches:

Elba

Southeast Asia – Singapore – nighttime and breakfast at Gardens by the Bay:

Singapore

Beaching it in Thailand’s paradise:

Beaching Thailand

Back to Bangkok: seeking some peace and quiet in Lumphini Park while trekking down Komodo dragons on a pedal boat; the contrast of traffic congestion and Buddhist / historical palaces is something unique in Bangkok:

Bangkok

Historic city of Ayutthaya, formerly known as Siam and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site:

Ayutthaya

A taste of Chiang Mai: visiting the Long Neck Karen tribe; experiencing rafting and a ride on the oxen; the breathtaking views from the mountain of Doi Suthep:

Chiang Mai

On to Vietnam…first stop: Hanoi – rich in movement, culture and history: enjoying a pedal boat ride; attending a traditional concert; visiting historical monuments, and taking in the nighttime amid the cackle and boisterous vibrant attractions:

Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh: a city of contrasts – the Catholic influences side by side the Buddhist temples; the prison is in memory of all those who lost their lives during the Vietnam war:

Ho Chi Minh

Hoi An: one of my favourite stops in Vietnam: the boat ride, the walk around town, the lovely evening dinner, and the street markets full of colour:

Hoi An

Finding peace and serenity while trekking the ruins of My Son:

My Son

Upon writing this post, I realised that I had almost forgotten to mention another reason for which Vietnam was and is worth visiting, and this was Halong Bay. I guess that deserves a post of its own. Halong Bay was special because I got the chance of sleeping on a typical Vietnamese ship, witnessing sunset and sunrise, canoeing and swimming in the cool waters, as well as cruising around the bay for 2 days:

Halong 1  Halong 2

Back to Ho Chi Minh: taking a trip along Mekong Delta:

IMG_7299

Angkor Wat (Siem Reap, Cambodia): another UNESCO World Heritage Site. No comments needed to describe the serenity I experienced here:

Cambodia

Here’s hoping for an equally great year of travelling in 2015. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

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