2017 – A Year in Travel

2017 – A Year in Travel

This year has been one of the best in travel for me in my whole life. I’ve gone on four separate trips, all of them memorable in their own way, with each of them giving me fond memories for me to look back on. In all, I went to three out of four of my planned destinations at the start of 2017, which was not bad going at all, and the changed destination worked out very well indeed.

Being away to four separate and very different countries did much to remind me that travel is a privilege, not a right, and those who are able to partake in it are very fortunate to do so. I know full well that there are plenty of travel bloggers out there who travel full time, and I understand how all too easy it is to envy them.

But there are far more people out there who just can’t travel at all, and who are equally envious of people like me. It’s something that keeps me grounded and level-headed as I find myself pining for the next open road adventure, or wistfully wishing I could just visit those places on my ever-growing bucket list already. So where did I go in 2017?

I started by accompanying my School to Iceland in February. The ‘land of ice and fire’, as it is known in many quarters, and with very good and justified reason, as the two geological extremes can be found here. There are volcanic eruptions and soothingly hot geothermal lagoons at one end of the scale, and magnificent glaciers at the other.

All combine to form a stunningly beautiful landscape of near mythical, ethereal proportions; settings fit for Game of Thrones among many others. I also had the good fortune to witness the eerily beautiful natural phenomenon that is the Northern Lights; not, perhaps, on the scale you see on National Geographic and the like (we were in a semi-urban environment), but beguiling all the same…and, yes, I was fortunate indeed to see them.

Peru was up next. I would be lying if I said that the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu wasn’t the most anticipated highlight of the trip, and the experience did not disappoint, although it was touch and go whether we would be able to actually see the legendary ruins thanks to relentless rain from day two of the trek onward. Thankfully it cleared in time for the obligatory postcard shots!

But it wasn’t all about that, and I certainly don’t want to sell the rest of the Peruvian experience short. Lake Titicaca is another astonishing highlight, with a reminder of how one can engage in traditional, simple living off the land. Other scenic highlights could also be found in the likes of the Colca Canyon and the Sacred Valley, both of which are located near interesting cities in their own right.

Mongolia is an achingly beautiful country, and another with its own, unique aura, largely inspired by Genghis Khan, but also by the simple, nomadic lifestyle of its sparse population. Much of the pristine, unspoiled nature of its scenery means you can go for days without seeing a soul, be that in the vast sweep of the lush steppe or the harsh, desolate beauty of the Gobi Desert.

For all of that, though, my highlights all pretty much came in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Here, I volunteered – another great, and contrasting, stint of teaching following on from that in Uganda several years prior – which provided me with a true, beneath-the-surface glimpse of the Mongolian lifestyle. And then I experienced the awesome Naadam festival as well as, oh yes, a North Korean restaurant…

My original plan was to visit Australia and Malaysia for my last trip of 2017, but this fell through, and I instead found myself in Poland, which was not a bad late substitute! I haven’t got round to blogging about it yet, but suffice to say here I also got to experience both urban – Warsaw, Krakow – and rural, in the form of Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains, gems.

For now, all I will say is that one experience here absolutely stood out above all others: that at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. It’s very difficult to sum up what visiting here is like in a few words without sounding flippant. Suffice to say that it’s an important place to visit, as it shows what human beings are capable of. All it takes is demonization of one or more groups of whole people to begin an agenda of murderous racism…something against which we must remain ever vigilant.

So that was my 2017. Undoubtedly a great travel year. 2018? It’s shaping up to, just maybe, be even better…

15 Comments

  • Catherine

    December 29, 2017 at 1:39 pm Reply

    Wow – you really did have amazing travel year! We were also in Iceland and totally mesmerized by the whole country. Peru, Mongolia and Poland are all places I’d like to visit.

  • Followingtherivera

    December 29, 2017 at 5:25 pm Reply

    I can totally understand why 2017 was a good travel year for you! You went to many different continents and saw some wonderful experiences! I’d never thought of Mongolia before, but now am considering it!

    • Joe

      December 30, 2017 at 7:50 am Reply

      Oh yes, Mongolia is definitely a place I recommend. Hope you do get to go there one day! 🙂

  • Amrita Sen

    December 30, 2017 at 4:56 am Reply

    You had an extremely great travelling year. And it is true that travelling is a privilege. Hope you have a wonderful travelling year ahead too.

  • Medha

    December 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm Reply

    I agree with you. When I look at people who’re travelling full time, I envy them too. But then I realise there are people who can’t and that just makes you so grounded and thankful for the privileges you have. You’ve done some really good amount of travel this year – Iceland and Peru have been on my bucket list for a long time now. Wish you an even better travelling 2018 ahead. Cheers.

    • Joe

      December 30, 2017 at 12:23 pm Reply

      Thank you Media, I wish the same for you too, and hope you do get to visit Iceland and Peru in the not too distant future 🙂

  • Suma Shah

    December 30, 2017 at 1:34 pm Reply

    Wow, what an amazing travel year you have had in 2017. Iceland and Peru are two of my dream destination, hope to visit them soon. All the best for future travel adventures and many more such beautiful memories.
    Suma Shah recently posted…Hagia Sophia: A church, a mosque and a MuseumMy Profile

    • Joe

      December 30, 2017 at 4:52 pm Reply

      Thank you, you too! It seems that Iceland and Peru are definitely two places that many folks want to check out 🙂

  • Bistra Yakimova

    January 3, 2018 at 1:40 pm Reply

    Wow, Iceland, Peru, Mongolia in one year! That’s a dream come true! So happy you managed to visit so many amazing places! I really want to visit Mongolia in 2018, so let’s see. 🙂

    • Joe

      January 3, 2018 at 5:44 pm Reply

      Thank you, and I hope you do get to visit 🙂

  • Justine

    January 9, 2018 at 5:05 am Reply

    Those are all awesome places to visit in 2017! Why did your plan to visit Australia and Malaysia fall through? Hopefully you can make it here (Aus) this year! Happy travelling!
    Justine recently posted…Mount Martha Beach, Victoria, AustraliaMy Profile

    • Joe

      January 9, 2018 at 3:46 pm Reply

      Long story…mostly to do with family who I have out there who I had hoped to visit. If I can’t make it this year will try again in 2019 🙂

  • Antonina

    January 9, 2018 at 7:41 am Reply

    Great choice of countries, very diverse and unlike each other. An yes, I feel envious 🙂 But also glad for you at the same time. All the best in 2018!
    Antonina recently posted…5 reasons to visit the Gargoti Mineral museum near NasikMy Profile

    • Joe

      January 9, 2018 at 3:47 pm Reply

      Thanks Anotonia, same to you! 🙂

  • Amanda Thurman

    January 9, 2018 at 7:41 am Reply

    You’re right those are some very diverse places! I really want to visit Iceland and Peru myself.

Post a Comment

CommentLuv badge