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It’s official. The sun has set on 2014. And, as the new year is a time for reflection, I thought I would look back at 2014. Through sunsets! Because you never know what you may learn from a dying day, a dying year and, er, a dying … hm. That sounds a bit negative.
Let’s try again. Because at the end of the day …. no, I hate that phrase. (If only I had a year’s worth of sunrise photos, this post would sound all perky and optimistic, like the early-rising person I am … not.) Oh, I give up. Let’s tell it straight. Here it is, an uncensored permanently-jet-lagged travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. The Seychelles
When I pause to reflect, I realize 2014 was a milestone year for me. In January I turned to travel blogging full time, rather than just blogging about the extra bits from trips after I had squeezed out all the important stuff for my freelance travel pieces. My first major trip as a full-time travel blogger was to the Seychelles, so thank you Bea Broda, for recommending me, because what a trip it was.
What this travel blogger learned from a Seychelles sunset
That if you are George Clooney and take your girlfriend Amal to the Seychelles and watch the sunset together, you will marry her in Venice in 2014. Takeaway: miracles and new beginnings take root in the Seychelles. Especially if you’re a millionaire celebrity.
A travel blogger’s life in review. Through sunsets. Cannes
When your sister’s friend tells you she is on one of the juries for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and that she can bring a friend, and would you like to go, there is only one answer. Yes! So thank you Kristine Greenaway for providing an entree into a world I don’t belong in. (But secretly enjoy thinking I do.)
What this travel blogger learned from the Cannes Film Festival
Sadly, after being asked to pose for a German magazine for an article about fashionable older people in Cannes, she learned that she is not, and never will be, a starlet. Takeaway: Film may be illusory, but so is the world in her head.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets: Vichy
Because I refused to return home to Canada, my husband joined me in France. So thank you, husband, for being a good sport and realizing that you married a incurable nomad. (Who is not a starlet.) And thank you for going to yet another European spa town, Vichy, where we drank from all the healing springs even though we weren’t supposed to without a spa doctor’s consent.
What this travel blogger learned from Vichy
That she is a spa nonconformist who likes drinking disgusting stinking mineral water. Takeaway: If you drink mineral water from the wrong fountain in Vichy, a number of French people will come up and start gesturing wildly, shouting non! and pointing to their stomachs.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Lyon
Mark and I ended our trip to France in Lyon, home of the bouchon, a tavern-style restaurant where canuts, or local workers, traditionally ate. Bouchons specialize in all the meaty things you probably wouldn’t eat at home, but in Lyon, you do: from pickled ox muzzle to chicken liver omelettes.
What this travel blogger learned in Lyon
That her husband is a true food adventurer and will eat any gristly greasy slab of meat you throw at him. Takeaway: Now she understand why he says he likes her cooking.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Churchill, Manitoba
After the glamour of Europe it was shock to suddenly find myself in Churchill, Manitoba, a remote Canadian outpost favoured by belugas, polar bears and German tourists. Here I kayaked, snorkelled and sang with belugas, saw polar bears from a distance and lived to tell the tale.
What this travel blogger learned in Churchill, Manitoba
Belugas don’t bite (unless you’re plankton). Takeaway: It will be impossible ever to eat beluga caviar with abandon again.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Banff and the Rocky Mountaineer
Who doesn’t love the train? My ride on the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff reminded me how much I love the Canadian Rockies, how much I enjoy talking to strangers on trains and how captive audiences are the very best audiences of all.
What this travel blogger learned from Banff and the Rocky Mountaineer
That Canada has a lot to offer and that she shouldn’t turn her back on it the minute the Cannes Film Festival calls. Takeaway: It is unlikely Cannes will be calling anytime soon, so she might as well keep riding the rails.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Toronto
Much as I like travel, sometimes it’s nice to be home and actually have time to get on a bicycle. This is a sunset photo from our favourite cycling trail in Toronto at Leslie Spit.
What this travel blogger learned from Toronto
There is no place like home. Takeaway, there is no place like the Cannes Film Festival either.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Cuba
Finally! Am I the only Canadian travel blogger who has not been to Cuba? What took me so long? So thank you, Iberostar Resorts & Hotels & Resorts, for inviting me. I had no idea how stunning the beaches in Cuba were or how many bars Ernest Hemingway drank in in Havana but now that I do, I’m a Cuba travel expert.
What this travel blogger learned from Cuba
The beaches are stunning and Ernest Hemingway drank in a lot of bars in Havana. Takeaway: She is not a Cuba travel expert.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Riviera Maya
The chance to go on a romantic vacation with Mark to the Riviera Maya in Mexico, as part of my new blog ambassador role as Transat Holidays Luxury Travel Expert was, frankly, delicious.
What this travel blogger learned from the Riviera Maya
She really does like long walks on the beach. Takeaway: Her life is a tired cliché.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Sun City and Pilanesberg National Park
Whoaa! The chance to go to South Africa with Sun International Hotels & Resorts to cover the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City was a trip I could not turn down even though it meant long boring adventures in Pilanesberg National Park involving lions, hippos and giraffes. Kidding! I love lions, hippos and giraffes.
What this travel blogger learned from Sun City and Pilanesberg
Game reserves rock. Animals rock. South Africa rocks. (But she still doesn’t understand the big hooha about golf.) Takeaway: Real Africa is better than Lion King and Khumba put together.
A travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Johannesburg
Johannesburg was a wakeup call. While I understood about Nelson Mandela and freedom and what he did for South Africa in a vague admiring sort of way, I never understood the deep feelings people in South Africa have for him and how much he really accomplished. In fact, coming face to face with how little I knew about South Africa’s history and fight for freedom, was one of the most shameful episodes of my personal 2014.
What this travel blogger learned from Johannesburg
She learned that every visitor to South Africa should tour Soweto and visit the Apartheid Museum (except that she hates when travel writers say, you must, you need to or you should, so in retrospect, just carry on).
But she does believe travellers who know as little as she does would be wise to talk to people who were personally affected by Apartheid so that they can get a hint, just the tiniest heart-felt hint, of what Nelson Mandela did for South Africa and how much he is truly loved and missed. Takeaway: Nelson Mandela movies make a long South African Airways flight home seem much faster.
And finally, a travel blogger’s year in review. Through sunsets. Zambia
My African journey ended in Zambia, where I stayed at the Royal Livingstone Hotel that overlooks the mist from Victoria Falls and where I had more adventures than I thought possible for a luxury travel blogger to comfortably, or even uncomfortably, engage in. And then a zebra almost nipped me in the bum because I got too close to one of her sisters.
What this travel blogger learned in Zambia
Not to get too close to wildlife even if they are cute and sport stripes, and that the best way to go through life, the very best way, is with a suitcase. Happy New Year everyone.
Read more about travel writing: Why Travel and Writing are Lovers