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- Year in Pictures
Travel-wise, 2016 was one of the best years of my life. In January, I was lucky to go on a business trip to Aswan, Egypt, where I admired the vast history around me and my best ever view from a hotel room. In April, I embarked on a 3.5-week trip of a lifetime to my dream country – Chile – followed by one week in the Falkland Islands where, conveniently, Alan and I got married. In June, I spent a blissful week in Greece where we took our dressy wedding pictures and filled up on fresh seafood and ouzo. In August, I was off to Bolivia where, amid the altitude struggles, I did my best to explore La Paz, Lake Titicaca, Sucre, Potosí and the Bolivian Altiplano. I also crossed the border to Chile, with which I managed to fall in love during my first visit earlier in 2016.
I then spent most autumn weekends out of London, briefly exploring several exciting destinations including Timisoara (Romania), Corfu (Greece) and Liechtenstein, which became my 80th country ever visited. In November, Alan and I were back in Hong Kong – our favourite Asian city – before continuing to the Japanese archipelago of Yaeyama. We embraced the local history and culture during our short visit; I was indeed so inspired by Yaeyama that I have signed up for Japanese classes in London starting in January.
Finally, in mere days I will depart to New Zealand where I will travel from Auckland to Napier via Tongariro crossing and Taupo, and on to Wellington to reunite with Alan. Together we will celebrate the arrival of 2017 in New Zealand’s capital, cross to South Island on New Year’s Day and explore the west coast by car, including such unquestionable highlights as Doubtful Sound, Fox Glacier and Te Anau Glowworm Caves.
But that’s next year! For a more detailed account of the departing year (and fewer photos), please take a look at my annual 2016 Newsletter. As always, all photo albums from my travels can be found on Flickr @anutele. I also try to post regularly on Instagram @anjciallover.
Without further ado, let’s recap my favourite travel moments from 2016. It was a great year!
1-2 January: Hand in hand, Alan and I welcome the arrival of 2016 in Cartagena, Colombia. The rooftop of our hotel overlooks one of Cartagena’s best known landmarks, Puerta del Reloj, and fireworks are going off all around; the view is magnificent. We wander around the city for the next couple of days, soaking in the last vibes of the Caribbean living before returning to the wintery bleakness of London.
11-15 January: I fly off to Egypt on a business trip and have a fantastic time. It is my first ever visit to Aswan, and I love the city’s dramatic setting on the Nile, its hundreds of sailing boats and its incredible historic artefacts in a sheet desert environment. A privileged banker, I get to stay at the legendary (and luxurious!) Old Cataract hotel, once frequented by the likes of Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill. A night time visit to Philae Temple’s sound and light show becomes one of my brightest travel memories of all time. This is not a holiday though: I also visit a patch of chocking desert near Aswan and run from meeting to meeting in the madness of Cairo – thankfully also managing a couple of evenings at large to explore this busy city.
~Aswan / Cairo, Egypt
27-28 February: On my only weekend away of the month, I travel to the city of Bari in Italy’s south. Strangely outside the standard list of Italy’s highlights, the Bari old town looks very charming. I do not linger here though and visit two more destinations in the Apulia region: the town of Alberobello with its superb traditional “trulli” buildings and Lecce – also known as the “Florence of the South”, it is full of striking examples of baroque architecture.
~Bari / Alberobello / Lecce, Italy
25 March-8 April: My most eagerly awaited holiday of the year arrives! I almost shake with excitement as I land in Chile, the country I have been dreaming of visiting for years. The following two weeks take me from the unpretentious capital city of Santiago to Easter Island (very aptly, during Easter), Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. I am left speechless by the solemn “moai” figures on Easter Island and tire myself out cycling around the entire island in a day. As last time in Argentina, Patagonia amazes me with its spectacular natural beauty. I hike the “W” circuit of the Torres del Paine National Park and find magnificent landscapes (and fellow hikers) almost at every step. Finally, I fly to Puerto Williams on Isla Navarino, Tierra del Fuego archipelago, for some sheer remoteness – yet with a surprising amount of comfort given the logistical challenges in transporting anything here.
~Santiago / Easter Island / Punta Arenas / Torres del Paine / Puerto Williams, Chile
9-16 April: Alan catches up with me in Punta Arenas, and we are off on our most coveted flight of the year, to Mount Pleasant airport in the Falkland Islands. We spend a week in the archipelago (not at all dictated by the once-weekly flight schedule, of course) and squeeze in many kilometres of road tripping around East Falkland island and a short flight to Pebble Island in the north. Most importantly, we get married at the Registry Office in Stanley, the archipelago’s main settlement, and get treated to pints of the local Peat Cutter brew all night: what a perfect wedding day.
~Stanley / East Falkland / Pebble Island, Falkland Islands
21 May: I join Alan for a sunny day of fantastic beer and juicy sausages in Duesseldorf (where Alan works most of the time), the capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia region. We visit my favourite restaurant, called Eigelstein; shamelessly, it serves Kölsch, a beer brand from Cologne and the fiercest rival to Duesseldorf’s Altbier.
28 May-5 June: It is time for another holiday and I travel to my favourite summer destination of all time, Greece (where else!). Serifos becomes my 40th Greek island ever visited and definitely lands in the top 5 of Greek islands I have enjoyed most to date. I then meet Alan in Paros, and we have a superb time driving around the island in search of deserted beaches. We also have our wedding photos taken, with excellent results (see below). Finally, we travel to Paros’ satellite island of Antiparos where we visit the world famous cave and otherwise leisurely conquer the small island by foot. As always, Greece is spectacular.
~Serifos / Paros / Antiparos, Greece
2 June: This deserves a separate entry! We have been preparing for this day for a very long time, and finally enjoy our bridal photo shoot with the talented Bernard Pretorius (who took all the below photos). Needless to say that getting photographed as a bride in the stunning backdrop of the Greek islands is many a girl’s dream. I am so happy that Alan (i) convinced me to buy a proper wedding dress and (ii) wore a kilt himself. We were quite popular on Paros that day!
~Photo shoot with Bernard Pretorius / Paros, Greece
25-26 June: I need to check up on my favourite power plant in Slovenia (work stuff!) and use the weekend to visit an entirely new part of the country for me: the Adriatic coast. This region’s culture is inextricably linked to that of Italy, and Italian is an official language alongside Slovene. I absolutely love the historic coastal cities of Piran and Izola: their narrow streets and pretty tiled roofs instantly give away Venetian influence.
~Piran / Izola, Slovenia
16 July: Alan and I enjoy our top summer day in London: where else but in the self-proclaimed “Home of Cricket”, at Lord’s Cricket Ground! England is bowling against Pakistan on this third day of the test match, the hampers are overflowing, our neighbours are jolly and the sun is plentiful. Few English pleasures top a sunny day out at the cricket. The next day we play tourists in London and finally ride the Emirates Air Line cable car.
~Lord’s Cricket Ground / Royal Docks, London
23-24 July: I use my expiring Lufthansa miles to fly to Greece for a weekend. Unfortunately, the outbound leg is with LOT Airlines, who live up to their (not exactly stellar) reputation by delaying my flight by an ever-increasing number of hours amid a total lack of updates. I miss several connections but eventually make it to the island of Poros for exactly 20 hours. I minimise my sleep and make every minute in my Greek paradise count.
13-14 August: Alan and I decide to travel to Somerset, visiting Taunton and (for some strange reason) Weston-super-Mare. A beautiful county town, Taunton comes across a little melancholic in the evening hours, and we retreat to a pub for far-too-much of Somerset’s celebrated cider. The next day, we visit Weston-super-Mare, a supposedly resort-type place and leave puzzled; let’s just say that Hastings looked posh in comparison!
~Taunton / Weston-super-Mare, England
27 August-8 September: It is time to return to South America! I land in La Paz and instantly feel the burden of the 4km altitude – something that accompanies me for most of the two weeks in Bolivia. From La Paz, I travel to the mysterious Lake Titicaca and walk the entire length of Isla del Sol, encountering stunning views and ancient Inca sites along my way. I then fly to the capital of Sucre and absolutely melt in its gorgeous colonial architecture (and its lower altitude). The journey takes me on to the mining city of Potosí where I am left gasping for breath after visiting a working silver mine. I then battle the absence of road traffic in the entire country on the so-called “pedestrian day” to reach Tupiza, from where I embark on a 4-day jeep trip to Uyuni through the Bolivian Altiplano region. The views en route are some of the most incredible I have ever seen: the Altiplano’s alpine lakes, geothermal fields, stretching salt flats, volcanoes and rainbow-coloured hills are beyond magical.
~La Paz / Isla del Sol / Sucre / Potosí / Tupiza / Altiplano / Uyuni, Bolivia
9-10 September: As pretty as Bolivia is, I cry the tears of joy as I cross the border to enter Chile and its notably superior comforts after days of traipsing around showerless in the Bolivian Altiplano. During my all-too-short 2-day stay in the postcard-pretty town of San Pedro de Atacama, I watch the sun set over the Valle de la Luna, and rise over the El Tatio geyser field. Chile is my favourite country at the moment, and I cherish every second being back. Most importantly, it is on the transfer to the nearest airport in Calama that I first hear the music of Soda Stereo – Latin America’s biggest rock band ever – which has hardly left my playlist to this day.
~San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
17-18 September: Reunited with Alan, I travel to our third ever Channel Island – the tiny Alderney a short flight away from the larger Guernsey. It is the northernmost island in the archipelago and, as such, the nearest to both Britain and France. The low-altitude flight to Alderney on a tiny Trislander aircraft becomes one of my top travel highlights of all time, and we love exploring the rugged island on foot.
~Alderney, Channel Islands
1 October: One can never have too many bridal photo shoots. We travel to Riga for another set of wedding pictures, wearing the same kit as in Greece and introducing the autumnal setting so prevalent in this part of the world, this time of year. The weather cooperates: see for yourselves! (photo below by Julia Usovich)
8-9 October: I jump on a low-cost flight to Timisoara, ever so grateful for the abundant cheap weekend destinations from London. Timisoara is Romania’s third largest city and sits at the great crossroads of cultures, histories and languages. Albeit somewhat neglected, the city is strikingly beautiful.
15-16 October: I meet Alan in Zurich, promptly board a train to Sargans and connect with a bus to Vaduz, Liechtenstein. The international border crossing is amusingly understated and it takes us a while to realise we are in another country! Visiting Liechtenstein is a treat: we walk up the hill to admire the eye-pleasing view over the capital city of Vaduz and Vaduz Castle, the living quarters of the local prince. We also have the most delicious dinner in the company of local fire corps orchestra and walk to another city – Schaan – on a strikingly sunny day. Oh, and Liechtenstein becomes my 80th country ever visited.
~Vaduz / Schaan, Liechtenstein
22-23 October: I no longer even remember when I last spent a weekend in London! I embark on my last visit to Greece this year and, as always, Corfu is the easiest weekend destination as far as Greek islands go. The island’s bus service greatly reduced for the winter, I am forced to walk 20km from Agios Stefanos to Palaiokastritsa (gorgeous), visit the south of Corfu for the first time (disappointing) and feast on traditional Greek fare at Pergalos, my favourite taverna in town (as always, top marks).
5-7 November: And it’s off to Hong Kong, my favourite city in Asia! Alan and I are beyond thrilled to travel on an Airbus 380 for the first time, and get to sit on the top level (albeit not in Business). It is our second visit to Hong Kong, and we get to stay in Wan Chai this time. I absolutely love the street market and the numerous eating options, including my favourite meal of the year, at Djapa (Japanese Brazilian fusion) in Wan Chai. We also visit Lamma island and the historic neighbourhood of Stanley, and do the mandatory crossing of the Victoria Harbour aboard a Star Ferry… twice!
~Hong Kong, China
9-13 November: From Hong Kong, we travel to Yaeyama archipelago, remote Japanese islands that lie much nearer Taiwan than “mainland” Japan. We explore the pretty Ishigaki by bus and foot, amazed by how undiscovered the north of the island is. The local cuisine is fantastic to the degree that I decide to return here one day and write a food guide to Ishigaki. We also visit three outlying islands: Iriomote (with its wild jungle), Kohama (with its two viewing hills and long stretches of deserted beaches) and Taketomi (with its irresistibly cute narrow streets lined with stone walls). Japan never disappoints.
~Ishigaki / Iriomote / Taketomi / Kohama, Japan
3-4 December: On my last weekend trip of the year, I visit Granada, Spain. Despite recovering from a cold, I find the time to admire the city’s well-preserved Moorish heritage and manage to get into the world-renown Alhambra Palace at very short notice. I also meet Nellie Huang of WildJunket for the first time – what a treat!
Here goes to many more travels and adventures in 2016!
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
[…] less text and more photos, take a look at my annual 2016: YEAR IN PICTURES post. As always, all photo albums from my travels can be found on FLICKR @anutele. I also try to […]
Hey Nellie! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I am also well chuffed that we managed to meet up this year – and it was a pleasure to meet your family as well! Hope you get a really nice break in the Middle East ^_^ Happy Christmas and a great 2017!
What a fantastic year you've had! Love your photos from Cartagena and Easter Islands. It was so good to finally meet up with you. Shame you weren't feeling too good and that we had too little time to hang out properly. I'm sure our paths will cross again! Here's wishing you a kickass 2017!