30 December 2019

A Year in Leaps: 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, and a new year begins, it’s time for my annual round-up of my favourite five photos of the year that feature me jumping for joy in various locations. Regular readers will know that I use this post as a way of looking back on my travels throughout the year. And this year, I visited nine countries, including three that were new to me — Estonia (new), USA, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia (new), Malaysia (new), Singapore, Spain and France. I also visited several major cities for the first time, including Chicago, Lausanne and Seville, while also returning to New York, Berlin and Cannes. I’m currently in the process of planning my foreign travel for next year, and torn between flying west and east for my main holiday. Stay tuned!

1. The bean leap — Chicago, USA
By happy coincidence, most of my favourite leaps of the year featured lakes, or at least bodies of water. You might have to squint a bit to spot Lake Michigan in my photo in front of Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean, Chicago's Millennium Park. I had to get up early to take this photo, but luckily, I was staying close by at the Fairmont, which made for a convenient stop-off on my morning run.

2. The Slovenian Ljeap — Lake Bled, Slovenia
I spent a long weekend in Ljubljana at the end of August and one of the highlights was the day trip I took to Lake Bled. It was a gloriously sunny day, and I walked around the lake, swam, visited the fairytale Medieval castle and, of course leaped. Like most of my leaping photos, I used the self-timer mode on my iPhone, this time with a new mini-tripod, which I’d recommend highly, even on the uneven surface of the lakeshore. 

3. The 'shoud've brought my hiking boots' leap — Snowdonia, Wales
At the end of a family trip to Barmouth in July, we decided to retrace the steps of my childhood and climb Cadair Idris, a mountain I mainly saw enshrouded in mist on account of us usually visiting in the autumn and winter. We weren’t really dressed for a proper hike and although it was a sunny day at sea level, as we climbed further up, the mist and rain descended. We did make it to Llyn Cau, a heart-shaped lake most of the way up towards the summit, before turning round and descending. The photo wasn’t as good so it didn’t make it into this blog, but on the same holiday, I also enjoyed leaping on what Guinness World Records have now classified as the steepest known street in the world, in Harlech. 

4. The ‘save me from the heatwave’ leap — Lausanne, Switzerland
Arriving in Lausanne in July, the day before a science journalism conference, I found the city extremely sweltering. Luckily, I had worn my swimsuit under my clothes, so after caffeinating at The Coffee Project, I headed down the hill to Lake LĂ©man and jumped into the water. I did, of course, leave my clothes on the shore, although it was so hot that I was tempted to jump straight in. 

5. The island paradise leap — Pulau Perhentian Besar, Malaysia
The only leap not to feature a leap, this photo of one of my favourite beaches in the Perhentian Islands does at least feature the South China Sea. I spent almost three days there during my two week trip to Malaysia and Singapore, and other than a bit of island exploration, there isn’t much to do beyond swimming, snorkelling, diving and sunbathing. Although a small island, Pulau Perhentian Besar boasts numerous beaches and if you’re willing to walk a little further away from the resorts, you can usually find your own private piece of paradise. The snorkelling was particularly good at the pictured beach, with the coral reef starting barely two metres away from the shore. I found Nemo so many times I lost count and saw many other marine species too.

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