TOP TEN IN 2010 – my travel highlights of the year

The end of the year is nigh, so it’s time for looking back to see what little lurks in the deep recesses of my failing memory.

Three continents, fourteen countries, some excellent meals and some terrible coffee are in there somewhere. Most of the many queues, airports and train stations have fortunately been forgotten, though an October night sleeping on the carpet at Singapore’s Changi Airport was memorable for the wrong reasons.

Here, in no particular order, are ten experiences I intend to remember for a long time…

1. Best cycling of the year was the Great Victorian Bike Ride. It’s crowded and it poured with rain, but the organisation was brilliant and the route across northern and central Victoria was comfortably challenging. We particularly enjoyed the leg from Nagambie to Seymour via Heathcote, and the hills around Yea.

My year's best bike ride was, for once, not in Holland.

2. Best sports event I was privileged to attend was the Giro d’Italia, Amsterdam, Netherlands. I also went to see the Tour de France leave Rotterdam, but the Giro wins because it was possible to get closer to the riders. The course itself also offered more variety than le Tour and it made for a better race.

The Giro flashed past my vantage point before I could say, 'Good on ya, Cadel'.

3. Most relaxing place Riau Islands, Indonesia. It’s become an annual event for me to make a pilgrimage to Telunas Beach Resort. Yes, I get paid to go there and teach writing classes, but I’m yet to tire of waking with the South China Sea lapping under the floorboards of my hut.

Fish trap, Riau Islands, Indonesia

4. Best quick weekend away - Melaka, Malaysia. I was lucky to have a couple of days free between teaching jobs in Singapore. Whipping up to the old colonial town of Melaka was a very good decision.

Old houses along the Melaka River, Malaysia

5. Best new (to me) place in the Netherlands – Deventer I only stayed in Deventer because it was a convenient hub for a cycling trip in Overijssel with my brother-in-law. It turned out to be one of the nicest Dutch towns I’ve ever visited – and I’ve seen most of them.

Deventer, a town of cafes, bookshops and antiques

6. Happiest accident - Turin, Italy. We didn’t plan to visit Torino, but when we were offered a one week apartment swap there we didn’t hesitate to accept. And we were very glad we did.

You have to love all things Italian, well, maybe not their government, oh and the mafia...

7. Most OTT architecture - Riga, Latvia. Those Art Nouveau architects didn’t know where to draw the line. ‘Less is more’ was not in the lexicon.

Extraordinary facades - not necessarily beautiful, but certainly impressive

8. Tolerable tourist trap – Bruges, Belgium. Okay, I know Bruges is popular, but it’s for very good reasons. What the Belgians weren’t able to preserve, they reconstructed to make it look preserved. For a small town, it still has a few quiet corners.

If you can somehow escape the tourist hordes, Bruges is brilliant.

9. Unexpected pleasure. Tallinn, Estonia. To my shame, I knew little about Estonia and had no expectations of Tallinn. It quickly became one of my favourite European cities.

Tallinn, old world charm, but stylish too

10. Best walk Himalayas, Nepal. Well, of course it was. There would be few hikers who’ve been here who didn’t rate their time in Nepal as a lifetime highlight. We walked a part of the busy Everest Highway up towards the famous base camp. Even better than the views of the big mountains I found the less travelled paths around the villages in the Paphlu area. There were few other trekkers and exceptionally friendly local people. Fantastic scenery was a given.

I've done a lot of walking in my life, but nothing beats this.

All in all, a very good year.

May 2011 be just as good for us, dear readers of RT’s LOTR. Suggestions for new, unexplored destinations will be gratefully accepted!

17 Comments

Filed under Cycling, Hiking

17 responses to “TOP TEN IN 2010 – my travel highlights of the year

  1. Thanks for sharing, Richard. Great blog and marvelous photos. Happy 2011 to you!

  2. bagnidilucca

    What a great selection. I have my ready to go. I think you need to visit Bagni di Lucca in 2011.

    • BdL, I’ve even checked out how to get there. Is flying from Amsterdam to Genova the best option? We’ll keep in touch…

      All the best for 2011, and thanks for your blog too.

      • bagnidilucca

        Pisa is the closest airport. Florence is also close. Otherwise Rome, Milan and Genova would be OK. There are good train and bus connections from these places if you don’t wish to drive. Of course, you could always cycle.

  3. Telma

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. May you have many more, so that we can can enjoy them with you.

  4. Wonderful selection, Richard. I’m going to put them all on the list, even the ones I have some time in, like Torino. The government should be reclaimed from Berlusconi and his cronies, but the food is fabulous. Nepal looks great! Sorry I missed Bicycle Victoria.

  5. You have had a great year. Only place I visited was Tallinn, Estonia and I found that city extremly great! Especially on summer in the old town.
    Thanks for sharing these great photos!

  6. That’s a super recap of your year 2010! I’m looking forward to your posts in 2011.

  7. shawjonathan

    Life on the Road indeed! Happy New Year Richard.

  8. I might check out that place in the Netherlands – I’ll be nearbyish in Germany this spring.

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