And on the 4th day, we reached the shores of Norway. I was expecting snow-capped mountains rising out of the sea from all angles with small colourful sea-side villages dotting the shoreline and I got exactly that and then some, reminded me a lot of New Zealand…with more fish. Along the way we learnt a lot about Norwegian culture thanks to the historians and biologists onboard, a country that has played the hand it was dealt extremely well.
Mission to the Arctic. I booked this trip in the first week of 2015 in a bit of a yolo moment, I’d always wanted to go to the Arctic Circle and getting there via the Norwegian Fjords on a ship seemed like the perfect way to see Norway.
I’ve been wanting to go to Poland ever since I came to Europe, and Kraków is always put forward as the city to prioritise over the capital, Warsaw. So we assembled a great crew and took one of the May bank holidays to explore and also take a somber day-trip out to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
When coming up with a shortlist of locations for 2015’s long weekend of snowboarding, Spain, Slovenia and Bulgaria were thrown around, the village of Bansko in Bulgaria seemed like the best bet. Over the past few years they’ve spent tens of millions on the village and lift system, it’s still mega cheap and the terrain, while no Alps, looked pretty decent. So we ventured East.
One of the many travel-related things I wanted to do upon arriving in the Northern Hemisphere was to snowboard on all four sides of the alps. All that remained was the incredibly expensive Swiss Alps, and with the window being over the New Year period it was even more spendy than usual. So we decided to be smart and stay on the much cheaper Italian side at Brueil-Cervinia which lies on the border with Switzerland and in the shadow of the legendary Matterhorn. Armed with a shiny new GoPro, a guy with skis and advice from the Wizard we gave the place a good look.
I’ve been to Austria a few times now and Vienna was the last city I really wanted to see. It used to be the centre-piece of the Austro-Hungarian Empire so the collection of art, buildings and architecture is pretty impressive. Being December the Christmas markets were at max volume, it was impossible to go round a corner without stumbling upon one, the Austrians love Christmas.
I’ve wanted to go to Chicago for a long time and the All Blacks playing what some would call an “exhibition game” at Soldier Field seemed like a pretty good excuse to make the trip over the Atlantic. With a former local (Kris) to show me the sights, we drank and ate our way around easily the most impressive architectural city I’ve been to…even gives New York a run for its money.
Although not the reaching towering heights, the biggest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales offer some spectacular scenery and a decent workout for the legs. I’d been wanting to do this “challenge” for a few years now after hearing about the 24 hour version. 16 hours of driving, 50km of walking and 4000 vertical metres climbed, here’s how it went down.
After Croatia last year, island hopping on a yacht is definitely the best way to see the Med. The Greek Islands need no introduction and we got a crew together and filled a Medsailors yacht for a week of swimming, drinking and eating. After getting back on dry land, a few days on Santorini and its world famous sunset was next up followed by some time checking out Athens.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games was in Glasgow and I managed to get some tickets for a few of the events, after that the Highlands beckoned and we ventured as far north as mainland Britain goes at John O’Groats before checking out the otherworldly Isle of Skye.