Best of 2018 – Travels

By far the biggest year of travel I’ve done, helped by taking a fifteen week leave of absence from work, in addition to eight weeks of paid and unpaid leave over the rest of the year. I visited 18 countries (13 for the first time) and made 7 trips within New Zealand. Here are a few photos from each trip (other than hiking trips which I’ll cover in separate posts). 2018 is going to be a tough year to top…

Sydney to Melbourne
A near perfect road trip through New South Wales, ACT, and Victoria, staying at Wollongong, Bateman’s Bay, Canberra, Albury, Echuca, Bendigo, and Ballarat. This trip had it all – nature, scenery, museums, heritage, Buddhist templates, paddle steamers, and Chinese dragons!

Papua New Guinea
In my mind one of the most exotic places you can visit, PNG didn’t disappoint with active volcanoes, WW2 remains, a memorable homestay, almost no tourists, swimming with dolphins, and three days at the wonderful National Mask Festival. I liked it so much that I’m going back to PNG next year.

Los Angeles
Much better than I was expecting, Los Angeles was home to some of the best modern art galleries I’ve visited, a space shuttle, the phenomenal Getty Villa, and a surprising amount of Pre-Columbian artifacts.

 

UK
The base for my fifteen week break, returning between trips to stay with family and visit National Trust and other historic properties, the rather wonderful Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden, and a day trip up to London for a taste of the Pacific at the Oceania exhibition, and explore the labyrinth like HMS Belfast.

 

Ireland
I was somewhat underwhelmed with Ireland at the time but the memories have grown on me, particularly of the Beara Peninsula, and the many castles, churches, monasteries, houses, gardens, lakes and mountains.

Albania, Kosovo & Macedonia
A fascinating, varied and often beautiful part of the world, with a huge amount to see and explore in a relatively small area. The mix of mosques and churches was unlike anywhere else I’ve been, and the natural beauty of Lakes Koman and Ohrid, and the Albanian Alps was quite stunning.

 

Prague and Brno, Czech Republic
After escaping the oppressively busy tourist areas Prague improved, though I possibly enjoyed the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno more, in particular the morbidly beautiful Ossuary underneath Saint James Church.

Bratislava, Slovakia
A pleasant if generally unspectacular place, though I did enjoy The Church of St. Elisabeth, aka The Blue Church, and Bratislava and Devin Castles.

 

Pakistan
A hugely memorable country, for the extraordinary scenery, friendly people, colourful trucks, and almost complete lack of tourists. Almost everyday, particularly in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram, was quite magical.

Peru
An amazingly varied country (making packing a challenge), allowing in the space of two weeks time in the Amazon rainforest (which makes up 60% of Peru), a three day hike in the Sacred Valley, visiting a crowded Manchu Picchu, cruising Lake Titicaca, and exploration of Lima, Cusco and Puno.

Bolivia
Home to the most surreal landscapes I’ve seen, from the epic salt flats of Salar de Uyuni to the volcanoes, lagoons and flamingos of Los Lipez, along with the fascinating cities of La Paz, Potosí, and Sucre.

Guatemala, Mexico and Belize
No photos to share yet as haven’t been there yet, but will be visiting them over the Christmas break.

New Zealand
Even after visiting all these places though I’m pretty confident that New Zealand is still the most beautiful place in the world.

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