Travel Review of 2018

Puerto Tazacorte on La Palma in the Canary Islands
Puerto Tazacorte

The year wasn’t without its complications and we had some disruption to travel plans, but managed to rescue the year pretty well in the circumstances. We suffered two bereavements during the year; in June Phil’s Dad died, then at the end of November, Michaela’s Nan passed away. Both of them had helped shape our love of travel: see Michaela’s story and Phil’s story.

Despite these sad losses causing one cancellation, and one delay, of holidays, it was still a pretty spectacular year, and one which has further fuelled our appetite for retiring, giving up the day job, loading the backpacks and going off to see the world. It’s going to happen, soon.

England wise, we had stays in Thame, Oxfordshire: a terrific little town with a great selection of pubs, but a weekend spoilt by the incessant rain; two walking weekends in Phil’s Derbyshire homeland; two weekends in Padstow, and visits to London and Birmingham. Padstow is a place very close to our heart, and one we are very familiar with.

March saw a terrific break in La Palma in the Canary Islands, in a terrific little place called Puerto Tazacorte. This was a backpacking trip, something we always love, nothing booked but the flights. Puglia was booked for June but was the trip which suffered cancellation, though we have now resurrected the plan for 2019.

Next up then was a fabulous trip to Asia, taking in Kuala Lumpur, Jungle trekking in Malaysia, the paradise island of Tioman, and the thrilling experience of seeing Singapore for the first time. All of it was brilliant, but Singapore in particular is unfinished business.

Our only foreign city break this year was Geneva, in November.

We finished the year in Mexico, partly in Oaxaca and partly in Puerto Escondido, both truly wonderful destinations in their own right, but with a foodie experience well worthy of the title of our blog! Mexico overlapped into 2019, so we’re up and running.

So what’s in store in 2019 now? Well, there’s a Budapest weekend; a 10-day trip to Jordan, and the resurrected Puglia trip already on the calendar, but there’ll be plenty more, plus, all things being equal, this might just be our last year at work before that travelling dream becomes reality.

Birmingham City Gas Street Basin barges and pubs

Birmingham City
Padstow Harbour Cornwall seagulls and fishing boats
Padstow Harbour
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
Tioman Island beach shack Malaysia South China Sea
Tioman Island
Oaxaca Mexico, churches & buildings
Oaxaca Mexico

Vegetarians look away now. Posted 6/1/19

Passila de Carnes asada Oaxaca Mexico
Passila de Carnes asada

Behind the main market in Oaxaca (Mercardo Benito Juarez) lies Mercado de 20 Noviembre, a frantically busy food market which is full of life. One narrow entrance here leads into a corridor within the market nicknamed locally “Passila de carnes asada”, which translates as “grilled meats passage”, and is a brilliant experience, though perhaps not if you’re vegetarian. It works like this.

Narrow passage, rammed with people walking each way. Butchers line both sides, strange cuts of raw meat hang from rails and sit on counters. Between each butcher there’s hot coals, roasting meat to order. A handful of tables are wedged between some grills, at right angles to the alley, so diners have to move to let you in. You order your meat from a butcher’s runner, who shouts instruction to the women fanning the coals and to the butcher himself. Separate vendors patrol the corridor, trays balanced on their heads; one selling veg and moles, the other tortillas. They are independent vendors needing to be paid separately, but their wares are essential for your meal.

Noise and smoke fill the air. Manic activity surrounds you. Your platter arrives. You indulge.

Fantastic.

Passila de Carnes asada Oaxaca Mexico

Passila de Carnes asada

Our travel philosophies – 5/12/18

Street food in Delhi India
Street food

And we suppose the blog theme. This is what we’re about, in brief, there’s more detail around this on the “about” pages, but this is what we’re about. We’re not youngsters, we’re looking to retire soon and go travelling for at least a year; we’re very happy backpacking, with nothing booked other than the flights, finding our way as we go, although we don’t rule anything out. You’re never too old to give it a go.

Our biggest drive is to really experience each place we visit, find its true spirit and mix with its people; learn its history and what makes it what it is today; how its past influences its present. So we seek out bars where the locals drink, restaurants where the locals eat. It’s so much easier to do that when you’re backpacking and not hidden in an international hotel: you’re in there straight away. Our aim is to put as big a portion of our spend into the local economy as we can; we don’t let travel operators and hotel chains take the lion’s share, but instead we pay local people for our bed, our food, our beer, even our hire cars, whenever we can. That all goes to make our most edifying trips, is our travel philosophy and is the biggest theme of the blog.

Right now we have high hopes for Mexico. Ten days to go.

The tradition of making Indian Tea, chai, friendly local lady in Bakkhali
Indian tea