It's that time of year again -- when I reflect on the past 12 months, document the places I've visited and reminisce about travel memories, adventures and achievements.
This is my tenth year writing these! If you care to low-key stalk my whereabouts for the past nine years, you can view my travel summaries here: 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2020 / 2021 / 2022.
In 2023, from a travel standpoint, I was most proud of the fact that I became a member of the Travelers' Century Club (TCC) - an international non-profit social organization for travelers who have visited at least one hundred of the world's countries and territories.
Enough chit chat, let’s get to recapping...
I was in Manama, Bahrain, of all places, at the start of 2023. I was only there for about 28-hours, on an extended layover, as I made my way back to London from Muscat, Oman. The short stint worked out well though because the weather was rubbish. To circumvent the dampness, I visited the man-made Reef Island for lunch and then visited Gold City, where I treated myself to something sparkly to ring (💍) in the new year.
In an attempt to combat the bleak, post-festive slump that the UK bestows upon its residents in January, I escaped for a weekend to the picturesque seaside Tunisian village known as Sidi Bou Säid (which means "Little Paradise"). It bears a striking resemblance to Santorini, with its white and blue architecture. It wasn't quite as warm as I had hoped it would be, but it sure was beautiful...and inexpensive.
The whole month of February was spent with my family in Madeira, Portugal. I had been once before, but only for a weekend. This time, I got to know the island more intimately and really took advantage of all the eating, drinking, hiking and Carnival festivities that Madeira had to offer!
Aside from one countryside weekend spent enjoying long doggie walks, cherry blossom blooms and lazy pub lunches, I stayed put so I could catch up on life admin and with friends after being gone the entire previous month.
Over the four-day Easter break, I enjoyed the historic sights, winding alleyways, shopping, buzzing riverside and distinctive cuisine that made Lyon, France a perfect destination for a long weekend.
At the end of the month, I jetted off to Ibiza, Spain, with a group, to celebrate a friend's birthday. I was pleased to find the island to be just as fun and beautiful as I remembered it from previous visits.
On 6th May 2023, the UK celebrated its first royal Coronation since 1953. The Prime Minister proclaimed Monday, 8th May 2023 an additional UK bank holiday, in honor of His Majesty King Charles III. I took advantage of the extra day off and utilized it as part of a wider France wine tasting tour - in which I visited various châteaus throughout Bordeaux, Saint Émilion, Beaujolais, Sancerre, Chablis and Paris.
Because I had to renew my work visa (for the final time), I was forced to remain stationary and wasn't able to leave the country for what ended up being ten consecutive weeks. I used this time to partake in all of London's summer offerings. I played a fair bit of tennis, picnicked with friends, visited Wisely Gardens, took a boat trip down the Thames, watched Wether at the Royal Opera House and attended the Cinch Championships tennis finals.
I also dined at Le Petit Chef, which wasn't the most delicious tasting menu I've ever consumed, but it was a fun concept. This theatrical experience used 3D projection mapping and holograms to take me on an immersive culinary journey with the world's smallest chef, as he cooked right on my table, and found himself in precarious situations along the way.
I was lucky enough to score a pair of tickets to Wimbledon on the men's singles finals day. This was my fifth time attending the Grand Slam tournament and I love it more and more every time.
I also had the pleasure of experiencing the relentless conditions that the heatwave of 2023 behest upon Spain when I visited Madrid & Toledo. Watching the peacocks display their feathers in Retiro Park was one of the highlights, but there were many culinary delights along the way as well.
For a week of relaxation (despite still having to work), I went to my aunt and uncle's new house in Pine River Pond, New Hampshire, USA. I thoroughly enjoyed lake life and got to see some spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
After New Hampshire, I spent a week in Connecticut, catching up with friends and family. There seemed to be a bit of an unintentional sunflower theme during my time in CT, inclusive of a maze and vase painting.
There are a myriad of reasons to love travel within the Autumn shoulder season, not least of which includes temperate weather nearly globally, fewer crowds/kiddos and lower costs on flights and lodgings. This year's trip between the peak and off-seasons was spent in Southeast Asia.
I was in Singapore for one day/night, to visit a friend. I hadn't visited in 13 years, so there was a lot to see and do during my short stay.
Then, it was onward to Indonesia, where I monkeyed around Bali, Nusa Penida, Borneo, Java and the Komodo National Park islands, for the better part of three weeks.
Immediately following my Southeast Asia trip, I went to Athens, Greece, to top up my tan and eat all the Greek food. I heard mixed reviews about Athens before visiting, and, although it was gritty, I really enjoyed it.
I got into the Halloween spirit in Romania. I stayed in Bucharest but made a special trip out to Bran Castle (home of Dracula).
COVID may not have been working against the travel industry so much anymore, but other setbacks started to rear their ugly heads. This time, in the form of a recession, bedbugs and war. I had three, back-to-back, trips canceled in October due to circumstances relating to these issues - Prague, Amsterdam and Paris.
On 18th November, I hit the Big Apple for a couple of wild nights, before taking the train to Connecticut to celebrate Thanksgiving. It's always a hectic, but fun and delicious week filled with family, friends, gratefulness and carbs. This year, I was extra thankful for the special guests who surprised us from Florida and Georgia.
After the craziness in New York and Connecticut, it was off to Barbados, for a full week of R & R. Beautiful beaches, clear sea, delicious seafood, boats, sunsets, rum, lovely people and swimming with turtles were just a few of the many highlights!
2023 was great for me personally, travel-wise, but it was a weird year overall. There were many world changes - natural disasters, economic turmoil, humanitarian crises and the ravages of terrorism, conflict and war. Hopefully next year will be calmer and simpler and full of further explorations for everyone!
STATS FROM 2023 TRAVELS:
Trips: 13 (14 in 2022)
Air Miles Flown: 60,027 (2.4x around the world)
Airline Segments Flown: 34 (29 in 2022)
Airlines Flown: 10 (10 in 2022)
Amount of Time Spent in the Air: 132 hours (121 in 2022)
Total Countries Visited: 12 (16 in 2022)
New Countries Visited (blue bubbles below): 5 (7 in 2022)
Continents Visited: 4 (North America, Asia, Africa & Europe)
Nights Spent in a Hired Accommodation: 84 (60 in 2022)
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