January always seems to be a good time to go away if you ask me and this year I found some cheap Ryanair flights at only £50 return to Wroclaw, the fourth largest city in Poland and as we had previously been to Krakow and enjoyed it there we quickly the decision was quickly made to visit the historic capital of Lower Silesia.
We enjoyed a wonderful weekend in this charming Polish city and enjoyed it so much that we have made arrangements to go to Warsaw early in 2015.
Twelve months previously in March 2013 we had travelled to the small town of Sigüenza about one hundred kilometres north east of Madrid on the road to Zaragoza and Barcelona and we liked it so much we decided to return for a second visit.
One of the reasons was to see the Semana Santa for a second time. This is one of the most important traditional events of the Spanish Catholic year; it is celebrated in the week leading up to Easter and features a procession of Pasos which are large floats of lifelike wooden sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion.
There is a pub quiz question that comes up regularly and which I always get wrong, which is ‘what is the nearest country to the United Kingdom’ and the answer of course is Southern Ireland or Eire but I always forget about the border with Northern Ireland and blurt out ‘France, it must be France’. Not surprising then that until now I have never visited the country.
2014 has been a big year for me as I reached the birthday milestone of sixty years and I was planning something special to celebrate the occasion and then some friends asked if we would like to visit Ireland with them and that seemed special enough so we set about making travel plans.
In 2004 I celebrated my fiftieth birthday with family on the Greek island of Santorini. On the final night I treated everyone to a birthday celebration meal in a taverna and drank far too much Mythos Beer, Ouzo, and Metaxa Brandy and rashly declared that we would do the same thing in ten years time when I would be sixty. I went to bed and promptly forgot all about it.
My children didn’t forget. As 2014 got ever close they kept reminding me about the offer that I had made that night and so eventually I had no option but to deliver on the promise. Sadly the Boss Bar in Santorini closed down sometime between 2004 and 2006 and so I needed to find a suitable alternative and decided upon the village of Kalami on the island of Corfu which we had enjoyed a couple of years previously.
The end of the Summer usually means the Greek Islands for our travels but this year we were breaking with tradition and although close by to the Dodecanese we were visiting mainland Turkey instead.
At the end of the holiday I drew up a balance sheet of our visit to Turkey. I had enjoyed the antiquity and the ruins, the temples and the ancient cities; the long walks along the coast; the friendly people; Bodrum; our excellent apartment courtesy of our friends Steve and Kath and the weather. On the other side of the balance sheet was the dogs, the litter and IMX Travel but overall I declared the holiday a resounding success and look forward to returning to Turkey as soon as the travel itinerary allows.
At the end of the year we travelled with friends to Hungary and its capital city Budapest. We had been before in 2007 but only for a couple of days which wasn’t nearly enough time to see the sights of this magnificent city so had no objections to going back for a second time.
Budapest was an absolute revelation, I had not been expecting anything so grand, it was easily as good as Vienna and in my opinion much better than Prague, the scale of the city eclipses Bratislava and Ljubljana and I liked it as well as any other city I have visited.
2014 has not been our most prolific travelling year – that was in 2007 when we managed to get away somewhere twelve times, once every month. Airline tickets were cheaper then and we didn’t have grandchildren so I doubt we will doing that again soon.
Just six overseas trips this year and oddly, although I often say that I won’t go to the same place twice this year half of our travels were to places that we had enjoyed previously – Sigüenza, Corfu and Budapest and I think we will try and avoid repeat visits in the future if we can.
So now the serious business of planning for 2015 really begins. We will start with a city trip to Warsaw in February and then see where the rest of the year takes us…