30 December 2018

A Year in Leaps: 2018

It's been another busy year of travel for me, with 11 overseas trips to seven different countries, three of them for the first time (Poland, Hungary and Peru). I've been back to Toulouse, Amsterdam and Berlin, which have all been on my return-visit list for many years. I also visited KrakówAustin, TX; and Budapest for the first time, completing the Inca Trail during my stay in the latter. And, of course, I managed a few visits to New York, Washington DC and Cannes.

Despite these fun-filled and fascinating travel opportunities, my leaps this year have rather left the side down and I had very few leaping photos from which to choose my annual top travel memories shortlist. I'll put this down to a higher than usual amount of work travel this year and to travelling more often in cooler climes, when I feel less inclined to leap. Nonetheless, here are a few leaping snapshots from the year that was 2018. I will have to plan more carefully in 2019, which is likely to be the year when I visit my 40th country — a good opportunity for a special leap, methinks.

1. The 'Dead Woman's leap'
Day two of the four-day Inca Trail is often thought to be the toughest, with steep climbs up Dead Woman's Pass (so named because it resembles a woman lying supine) and the Second Pass. Our group was lucky with the weather and with the llama companions and we made it up to the top of Dead Woman's Pass ahead of schedule, and were rewarded with beautiful, panoramic views. I definitely earned this leap.

2. The 'highest navigable lake' leap
After my time in Cusco, I took a bus to Puno, a city on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake. Puno itself was a little underwhelming but I enjoyed the boat trip I took out onto the lake. We stopped for a couple of hours on the island of Lake Taquile. Despite the warmth of the sun, the water was cool and there wasn't really time for a proper paddle or swim anyway, so I made up for it with a Lake Titicaca leap.

3. The citadel leap
In June, my mum and I spent a long weekend in Budapest, the first time in Hungary for both of us. The weather was hot and sunny, which meant we spent as much time outside as possible (though I still couldn't resist visiting several Turkish baths, despite the heat). On our last morning, we climbed up the steep path to the stop of the Citadella and Liberty Monument, which offered beautiful views over the city. It was really too warm for a leap, but the view was too good to resist.

4. The Blue Lake leap
I spent a delightfully sunny long weekend in July with my family in Barmouth, North Wales. After many cold, rainy visits to the region in my childhood, I was amazed to see the transformation when the sun came out. One day we hiked up to the Blue Lake near Fairbourne, and although the sun had gone in when we arrived, the waters of the abandoned quarry were still a vibrant teal hue. The water was rather cold, so I chose to leap rather than swim.

5. The leap that wasn't
I visited New York twice in 2018, once in the spring with my family and once in the autumn for work. I love the city in both seasons and packed a lot in on both trips, including several runs, over Brooklyn Bridge and in Central Park. I thought we'd taken a leaping photo at the pond, near the southern end of Central Park, before I went off my run, but it turns out that we did not. I was particularly proud, however, to be wearing my Wolves shirt after my football team's impressive performance last season. To bring it round full circle, I got to see them play at Wembley yesterday, defeating Spurs 1–3.

It's that time of year when I start to make travel plans for next year. If you too are seeking inspiration for your next adventure, check out some of my city and country guides here. And if you prefer to let the speciality coffee scene guide your travels, you may like to read my coffee city guides.

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