Reflections on 2010: my favourite bits

Me having lunch at Cape RaoulComing to the end of a year gives me a good reason to look back and think about all the things I enjoyed.

It’s been a pretty big year for me. I finished off my year long trip around Australia, which was a tremendous experience. I decided that travelling was the way forward, and rather than returning to the UK, came to New Zealand (with a short detour to Germany. For reference, this is not the most cost effective route.) I acquired a girlfriend to travel with, changed my hairstyle, and started telling you all about it on these pages. Read on for five things I’ll remember 2010 for.

Summer in Germany
A classic German beer from CologneI’ve always wanted to live somewhere in Europe other than the UK, if only for a short while, so when the opportunity to throw my plans asunder and head to Germany for the summer arose, I leapt at it. I lived in a quite wonderful house with some fascinating people and managed to see quite a bit of Germany in the process, including Berlin, Cologne and Bonn.

I drank beer in the sun, partied, ate  fine barbequed food, learnt about German weddings and German love, and most important of all, made a whole bunch of new friends. Good times, and experience I can highly recommend.

Climbing the Castle Rock
Me at the top of the Castle Rock. I know it's a great look... it was hot! I try, wherever possible, to do a lot of walking. And 2010 has certainly been a great year for walks. I climbed Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain, hit the summit of Mount Doom, and got seriously wet in Australia’s Barrington Tops. But my walk highlight of the year has to have been the climb up Castle Rock in New South Wales, Australia.

Whilst perhaps not quite as well known as some of the other walks I did, this was a truly challenging adventure, involving frayed ropes, isolated waterfalls and barely legible signs carved into bits of decaying rock face. The best part of all, though, was that for nearly the entire walk I was alone, with hardly a soul in sight.  An awesome outdoor adventure, and certainly my favourite hike of 2010.

A brief return home
Oxford in black and white The thing about long term travelling is that we start to lose our idea of what home is. Friends and family members are left far behind and have to get by on postcards, e-mails and the odd crackly phone call from a phone box. So when the chance arose to pop across from Germany to the UK and catch up with friends and family, I grabbed it with both hands.

Returning home after a long term trip can be a fairly jarring process, and is the subject of many travel bloggers posts. Friends have not seen you in an age, life has moved on, and you can feel both out of touch and out of place. Luckily, there is a solution to this problem, which is to lubricate it with plenty of beer, have as much fun as possible in a short space of time, and then take off into the sunset again.

Which was what I did. I crashed book launch parties, toured the beer gardens of London and Kent, hung out in trees in Oxford, and spent a week wandering around the Welsh mountains with my parents. A memorable experience, and one I look forward to repeating at some point in 2011.

Venturing to New Zealand
Coming to New Zealand, the next big chapter in my travelling adventure after a year spent touring around Australia, has been a great experience so far. From the early days spent wandering around Auckland trying to sort out bank accounts and vehicle purchase, through to some incredible hikes, bubbling pits of mud and stunning beaches, it’s been an excellent way to cap off the last third of the year. And there is still so much of New Zealand to see and explore! I, for one, can’t wait.

Tongariro and Ngauruhoe

A day out in Shanghai
For one day to particularly stand out, it has to be fairly special. And the day out in Shanghai was that, largely because it was so unexpected. En-route from Frankfurt to A lot of teaAuckland we had a thirteen hour stopover in Shanghai, and took the chance to explore this fascinating Chinese city.

We ate noodles from a street stall, attended a Chinese tea ceremony, posed for photos with Chinese tourists, chatted with Chinese university students keen to improve their English, rode the world’s fastest train, navigated the underground system and got caught up in a pedestrian rush hour. It was a really fun experience, and even more so for being Vera’s first Asian encounter. Not, I suspect, the last.

Well, those were my highlights of 2010. It’s been a fun journey, and 2011 looks promising thus far. If you’d like to share your highlights of 2010, feel free to hit the comments box below. Enjoy 2011!




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