Last year has been one of the best years, if not the best, of my travel adventures. Living in London is fantastic as it is, and being able to travel rather easily to different parts of the world was a bonus.
2015 was quite a contrast to my travelled destinations in 2014, as I decided to explore new places. Not only did I set foot in unfamiliar places, 2015 also marks the dawn of these first-time travel affairs:
- First solo trip
- First wedding holiday
- First American road trip
- First In-N-Out burger
- First taste of drip coffee
- First time in prison, a defunct one that is
The theme of my travel last year was predominantly fostering friendship, exploration and adventure in the key cities around the world — travelling with friends, visiting friends and meeting new friends — it has been a fantastic ride and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
1. Los Angeles
Oh LA, it was like love at first sight. I can name a hundred things that I love about Los Angeles , including daily mundane things like taking a walk in flip flops and not feel weighed down by excessive layers. The city is blessed with year-round sunshine, friendly people, stunning panoramic views and a whole lot more; a scale that is incredibly hard to keep up with largely due to its sheer size. Big thanks to my travel buddies, Bibiana and Liz for the amazing company, and to my new found local friends, Sean and Siong for the faultless hospitality.
2. San Francisco
Hip, trendy, forward, savvy… you name it, San Francisco’s got it. This upbeat city really captured the essence of an all-round ideal city, so much is packed into one neat package and handled with great care. Despite spending only 3 days in San Francisco, I got acquainted with it quite well especially in the neighbourhood of Mission, thanks to my host, Siong. Some said San Francisco is a place surrounded by reality, I found that hard to disagree.
I can hardly believe that I have left it 6 years before finally bringing myself across the Channel tunnel to Paris, one of the most visited destinations around. I couldn’t have asked for more when the weather showed us a great Parisian summer at 25ºC with 9 hours of sunshine, it was joie de vivre. Ditch the familiar images of the Eiffel Tower imprinted in your minds, it is even more magnificent in person and should be experienced up close and from within. Indulge in local French cuisines made with love, admire the density of Paris with its building blocks lined up neatly, lounge by the Seine river with nothing but good company or a book – these are among the many pleasurable experience in Paris. Forget the doctor, the food for your heart and soul is here.
Spending one day in Brussels may have just about got me through the main attractions of the city, such as the Grand Place central square, the royal palace, and a whisk through the chocolate cafes. As unassuming as the bureaucracy hub of Europe may sound, there is in fact more to it where more days would be necessary to do it justice.
Bruges may just be the modern girl’s best friend — it is a fairytale like medieval town rich in not only history but also chocolates. Anyone with a sweet tooth will appreciate Bruges (and Belgium in general) to the core, as there are dessert and chocolate shops at every corner, more than you would find convenience stores in urbanisation. My most distinct memory of Bruges was waking early in the morning and meandering around the old buildings before the city comes to life.
There are reasons why Stockholm is classed as one of the very few top cities and has the best quality of life — it is Europe’s first Green Capital, environmental friendly, there’s good governance that care for the wellbeing of its society, it is very safe and clean. Of all the countries to travel solo to, Stockholm was the obvious choice. It turned out to be smaller than I had anticipated, but with great transport links, it meant I got around easily and explored most of the top areas including the one and only Vasa museum. Thanks to the Stockholm tourism board for sponsoring my city tour, and most of all my Swedish friends and host who pretty much voided my presumably lonely solo trip and turned it into a fun and authentic one. Thank you Emmanuel and Maria.
Cape Verde, I’m coming for you soon.
Here’s to more great travel adventures. Happy new year everyone!