A Banner Year in Travel
The year is almost done. With the cold and dreary winter weather, a feeling of melancholy begins to set in, so I sit here and try to remember all the great traveling Jim and I did in 2014.
It’s been another banner travel year for Jim and me. We’ve visited 20 countries, and a few of those were brand new to us, five for me and seven for Jim. He hadn’t been to Singapore or Malaysia before. Some that were new to both of us were: Brunei Darussalam, Qatar, Iceland, Faroe Islands, and Latvia.
Over the years, we’ve developed our own travel style. Narrowed down, we like to be in control, so we usually rent cars and drive, drive, drive. We’ve taken a number of great car trips this year: Canada, the Rocky Mountain Parks; U.S.A., Southeast heading to Disneyworld and Harry Potter World, Iceland, the Ring Road; France, the province of Brittany, and at the end of the year Morocco.
When we have decided on a destination, we always take some of the same things into consideration. Along with hitting some of the big sights in a country, we love food, world heritage sites, fantastic landscapes, and meeting people.
We started off the year in Malaysian Borneo, Brunei Darrusalam, and Singapore. The above photo shows us not far from Mt. Kinabalu National Park, and we’re learning the real-life version of “rain forest.”
The rain can be inconvenient as it comes down in torrents, but being able to see the world’s largest (and stinkiest) flower as well as bunches of proboscis monkeys along with a plethora of flora and lots of animals.
In Brunei, we were treated to the beauty of the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, which shone gold both day and night.
We also took the opportunity to visit the Royal Regalia Museum, which was a true lesson in the “haves” and “have nots,” as we walked barefoot through such oppulence as a golden arm to hold up the sultan’s head as he is being crowned.
In Singapore, we gorged ourselves on the delicious food, going from food stall to food stall and trying everything from the chicken above to their signature dish, chili crab. The absolute best part of the city-state was wandering around the amazing Marina Bay Sands – Gardens by the Bay.
On the way back to Germany, we stopped over in the small country of Qatar. We visited its only world heritage site, Al Zubarah, as well as watched the camels being readied for the Saturday afternoon races. It was a quick, but eye-opening stop, and we loved our short time in this desert country.
Back in central Europe, we flew for a quick weekend in northern Spain where we walked the world heritage walls of Lugo and wandered around Santiago de Compostela. We drove down to Austria where Jim skied, I took photos, and we enjoyed a pretty day in Innsbruck. Not far from home, we couldn’t pass up attending one of the many local fasching parades where, like these bumble bees, kids of all ages dress up and let loose.
In April, we headed down to Croatia and did a week-long road trip, taking in such majestic sites such as the stunning Plitvice Lakes and Trogir, an old Venetian city. We met fantastic people, and were wowed by the gorgeous countryside.
The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is well worth a day trip from Dubrovnik, and the views are breath-taking.
The same can be said for Mostar in Bosnia and Herzogovina. A beautiful little city, with a very Ottoman feel to it. And this little side trip also made us another type of memory. Pictured below are our travel buddies. When we went to Bosnia, we had reached a milestone with them. 25 countries (on 3 continents). Pretty sweet, huh? When you find good travel companions, you don’t give them up!
We were not done with road trips, though, and we spent the entire summer doing them, starting off in Alberta, Canada and the Rocky Mountain Parks.
Where we really enjoyed a number of world heritage site, and most of the puzzling Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump.
In the States, we gathered the daughters and headed down the entire east coast from Connecticut to Florida.
Pictured are a few of our stops: New York to see some iconic spots, Pennsylvania where we were surprised at the Eastern Penitentiary Museum, and Boone Hall Plantation outside of Charleston.
Iceland was everything we’d read it could be. The heat of the geysers and traipsing through Thingellir National Parks were two of our highlights.
For the week we rented a cottage in France, we chose the province of Bretagne enjoying Cap Fresnel, crossing over and remembering the battles of Normandy, and even eating oysters from Belon.
Then we were off to the Czech Republic where we “took the waters” in Karlovy Vary, then up to Krakow, Poland where we were reminded of the horrors of war when we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Another new country, we headed to Riga, Latvia for the Worldwide Photowalk. Here we met some amazing local photographers, and since the walk only had about eight people we basically got a private tour through this majestic world heritage city.
In late October, we flew to Greece and participated in TBEX, a conference for travel bloggers. While we were there, we also enjoyed Athens and a tour to Corinth.
For the rest of the year, we visited Christmas market after Christmas market with my favorite being the Dresden Stollenfest in early December.
And as this post is being published, we are making our way around Morocco. As you can see, we have many posts still to write on some of these amazing destinations. We had such a fantastic year in 2014, and we’re looking ahead to 2015 and where it may take us.