2014 – A Personal Retrospective

As 2014 draws to a close, it’s time to look back at some of the memorable moments of the year from among the 17 countries visited.

One of the first trips I took outside Europe this year was to Algeria.  Things got off to a bumpy start when I was detained by the police on arrival, but once released into the country it turned out to be a very enjoyable trip.  The spectacular Roman ruins at Djemila, set among verdant rolling hills, were alone well worth the journey.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them and see the captions!

At Easter, I visited the tiny island of Malta, a country packed with history and culture. Beyond the stone fortifications of the capital Valetta, wild flowers filled green fields, fields which a few weeks later would be parched under the hot Mediterranean sun.  The fishing village of Marsaxlokk with its brightly painted fishing boats was one of the places I particularly liked.

Another small island state on this year’s itinerary was Bahrain.  Like Malta, it has a rich history with archaeological sites from the Dilmun civilisation dating back thousands of years.  It was in Bahrain that the Middle East’s first oil well was dug.  It also has a snazzy Grand Prix circuit!

In March, my book ‘From Souk to Souk’ – based on my journeys in the Middle East – was published.  I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big ‘thank you!’ to all who came to the launch event at Waterstones, Brussels.  It saddens me, though, to see some of the places I visited and wrote about now torn apart by war.  And I wonder about the fate of the people I met.

A visit to Switzerland in the summer included the pretty town of Gruyère, home to the eponymous cheese.  I also travelled to Albania and Montenegro.  I first visited the latter in 2008 and, after retracing my steps along its dramatic coastline, ventured into the rugged but beautiful interior of this small Balkan country.

Another country with impressive landscapes is Iceland.  On this occasion, I had just one goal in mind – to be lowered into the magma crater of the volcano Thrihnukagigur.  It felt just like something from Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’!

While in northern latitudes, I took the opportunity to stop off in Greenland.  The trip certainly whet my appetite to go back when snow is on the ground and for more Arctic adventures.

For many years, I have wanted to fly in a fighter jet.  This year I was finally able to realise the dream in Germany, flying in a Czech-built L-39.  Barrel rolls and g-forces made for an unforgettable experience!

The last big trip of the year was to South America and the breathtaking series of waterfalls at Iguazu on the border between Argentina and Brazil – the beauty of nature at its best!

I hope you have enjoyed this year’s postings.  I look forward to sharing more pictures and experiences with you next year!