22 December 2016

A Year in Leaps: 2016

Each year, as part of my year-in-review top five lists, I like to look back on some of the most memorable places I travelled to this year and, because I enjoy taking silly leaping photos in new places, picking out my favourite five leaps of the year is a fun way to do this. Alas, there were a few particularly memorable trips this year during which, for various reasons, I didn't get the chance to take a leaping photo; most notably, my recent holiday in Reykjavik, where a photo with the Northern Lights in the background would have entailed a 12-second levitation. Even in a leap year, I wasn't quite up to the challenge.

1. The 'she's a waterfall' leap. Multnomah Falls, Oregon, USA.

I'd long dreamed of making a coffee pilgrimage to Portland, Oregon, and although a work trip to Washington, DC, wasn't an especially convenient excuse, I really enjoyed my time in the Pacific Northwest. One day, I took a tour to the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Even on a cold, grey weekday in February, the famous Multnomah Falls — the second largest year-round waterfall in the United States — was very busy. But I found a gap in the crowds and a fellow tourist kindly took my leaping photo. For more detail on my Portland coffee experiences, this is the post you are looking for.

2. The leap 'at the end of the Universe'. Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam.

I spent two weeks travelling around Vietnam in the spring and if you haven't been to the beautiful and varied country before, I would highly recommend it (I have my handy two-week itinerary here). One of the highlights was a two-night cruise on Indochina Junk's Dragon's Pearl, which takes you through the famous Ha Long Bay — home to almost 2,000 small limestone islands making for some stunning views, even when it's cloudy or rainy. On our last night, we had a wonderful barbecue feast inside a cave on one of the islands, which was a memorable experience, but before dinner, we had a bit of time on the beach at Hon Co Island, where one of the 17 other passengers on the Dragon's Pearl took a photo of me jumping for joy. I had plenty of great coffee in Vietnam too; check out my coffee guides to Saigon and Hoi An, and Hanoi.

3. The 'original leap, reconstructed'. Paris, France.

I used to spend a lot of time in Paris, but my trips have become less frequent over the years. After reconnecting with an old friend last year, I went to visit him in Paris for a long weekend in June. The city was recovering from flooding but it didn't stop us from having a great time as we roamed through the city, stopping regularly to visit many of the caf├ęs in Paris's newly burgeoning speciality coffee scene. And, of course, I couldn't walk through the Louvre without taking the opportunity to reconstruct the first leap, more than eight years ago now, that started me off on this leaping kick.

4. The 'infinite' leap. Amalfi Coast, Italy.

My cousin got married in Sorrento in August and my family and I took the opportunity to explore some new-to-us parts of southern Italy, including Naples, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. If you have a choice, I would avoid the Amalfi Coast in August as it is very hot and exceptionally busy. However, August was when we were there so we tried to make the best of it. Our Amalfi Coast tour was great fun — we hired a driver and adored visiting the postcard-perfect Positano, sat in a long traffic jam in Amalfi town and then made it to the village of Ravello, perched in the hills, high above the sea. It only seemed right that at the beautiful and peaceful Villa Cimbrone, we should seek out the Terrazzo dell’Infinito (Terrace of Infinity) for an infinite leap or two.

5. The 'if I leap here often enough, will someone let me move to this city?' leap. New York, USA.

Unusually, I only managed one trip to New York this year but it was a fun one, with my family in October. On our first full day in the city, it poured with rain but early birds that we were, we had already walked over an ominously foggy Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan long before the heavens opened. I have walked the bridge dozens of times over the years, and have run over it and leaped on it almost as many, but it remains one of my favourite things to do in the city and I never tire of that fabulous skyline view.

I already have quite a few holidays and overseas work trips booked in for next year — in February alone, I will be going to the US and on very brief visits to Spain and Italy — and I'm still planning on taking advantage of my company's new sabbatical policy to organise a slightly longer than usual adventure in the autumn. I'm always looking for new destinations to add to my ever-growing travel to-do list so please let me know in the comments if there's somewhere you think I should visit.

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