What a year!

After a couple of years that had some ups and downs 2019 has been amazing

Best experiences this year, more or less in chronological order…

ROME

Vatican City visit – Saw the legendary Sistene Chapel, though I was more impressed by the hallways leading up to the chapel

Colosseum – Wow, stepping into this arena is incredible, imagining what took place here in its heyday blows the mind.

Rome in general – A place that had been on my list for a long time and I finally got around to going and I loved it. Everything is so close together and every corner you turn has a spectacular monument from the most famous civilization to walk the earth.

FLORIDA

Orlando, Miami and Clearwater – All Florida but each with its different character and I enjoyed them all. The beaches and food and the general vibe wins it for Clearwater for me, though my favourite meal was in South Beach, Miami at Shuckers where I had a couple of Hop Gun beers a plate of oysters and some tuna sashimi which were all delicious.

BELIZE

Riding a horse up to Tenochtitlan in Belize – Lovely relaxed way to ascend up to the one of the abundant and beautiful Mayan ruins in this part of the world.

Tour of ATM cave near San Ignacio, Belize – Eerie, interesting and unforgettable. Wade, trek, swim and clamber up to one of the most amazing caving experiences in the world with human sacrifice remains and much more in the heart of the Belizean jungle

Scuba Diving at San Pedro marine reserve off Ambergris Caye in the Caribbean Sea off Belize. Three awesome Caribbean Reef Sharks spotted along with scores of Nurse Sharks.

GREECE/TURKEY

Athens – Another absolutely legendary city that I visited for the first time this year. A bit raw but has an incredible vibe. Meal in restaurant up the hill with a view over the city and the Acropolis was amazing. Olives from the shop round the corner from the hotel were delicious, though I am still a Spanish olive aficionado first and foremost!

Crete – The prize for jaw dropping artefacts goes to the Minoans, I can’t put into words how amazing the visit to Knossos was and the museum in Heraklion was one of the most impressive museum I have been to (up there with the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo and the Istanbul Archeological Museum which were both incredible and the excellent King Hussein’s car museum in Amman)

Other highlights – Santorini, Milos, Kusadasi (for Ephesus) – these all deserve a very honorable mention, Milos in particular was a beautiful island which I would like to visit again.

ZAMBIA

Victoria Falls – My visit to Livingstone was great, seeing the beautiful Victoria Falls was fantastic. The walking safari in Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park, getting close to the rhinos was really cool and the river cruise on the Zambezi was also very enjoyable.

Safari (twice) at South Luangwa – WOW, WOW, WOW!! I had always thought I wasn’t really that bothered about going on safari but I thought that while I was in Zambia I ought to try it. I think I was very lucky but the experience of seeing all the animals I spotted was totally unforgettable. I really enjoyed the morning game drives, and I am not usually a morning person, but waking up at 430am was worth it to see all the lions, leopards, elephants etc. I could go on for years about how amazing it was. I am hooked and will be planning another safari trip in the not too distant future. Although my next such trip may well be a gorilla expedition in Uganda/Rwanda, probably in 2021.

UK

I flew back to the UK a couple of times during my stint in Zambia, once for my friend James’s stag do and wedding and the other time for Dad’s 70th birthday, both of which were great get-togethers.

THE RETURN HOME

As much as I have had a great time away from Spain/Gib this year I am definitely looking forward to getting home. Sleeping in my own room and bed, having my kitchen back and pretty much guaranteed 24/7 electricity as well as seeing friends again will be great. I have been away for about 7 months of the year so it will be nice to have a time of being a bit more settled back at home for a bit at least.

So…..how do I follow up next year??? I don’t know yet but I am gonna give it a damn good try in the year I turn 40!

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