2019 – My reflections on another year of traveling – and my fave books and TV series – warning – Bumper Edition!

It seems I was only just writing my reflections on my 2018 travels and once again as the year is drawing to an end and I am back in Seville for the 3rd time in as many years, it is a good time to reflect on the past 12 months (and to plan for the next 12!)

I counted that I visited 35 different countries during the year and 15* of those were new countries for me bringing my total to 114 countries visited in my life time so far. *The new ones were: Brazil, Uruguay, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago, Israel, Palestine, Bulgaria, Romania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

One of my favourite things about traveling is catching up with old friends where they live, meeting up with old friends in new locations, happening to be in the same place at the same time as someone I know with no prior planning and making new friends – something I have been lucky enough to do especially on cruises. I would like to thank all those friends for making my year even better by being able to spend time with them and to those who also hosted me in their homes (and gave me unfettered use of their washing machines!) on various occasions. A BIG THANK YOU.

Rather than a post with 100 images I have picked a some faves and added the blog links for easy access to the full posts from that country if anyone is interested in finding out more or thinking of visiting.

Quarter 1 – 2019 (USA, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia)

I started off the year with Beth in Las Vegas – as you do! Then back to my beloved Vietnam for some chill time a few days in Singapore and then back to one of my second homes – the wonderful Melbourne.

Quick link to blog on LAS VEGAS – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Las+vegas

Ending the old year and almost into the New – Lady Gaga does her thing in Vegas

Eating and the beach – two of my favourite activities in Vietnam.

Quick link to blogs on VIETNAM https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Vietnam

Eating in Vietnam

Beach in Vietnam

Quick link to blogs on SINGAPORE – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Singapore

Singapore – always interesting

Quick link to blogs on AUSTRALIA – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Australia

The people I was lucky enough to work with at ANZ – a very special team.

Quarter 2, 2019 – Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls in Argentina; then cruising up the coast of Brazil and into the Amazon; Uruguay; French Guiana; St Lucia; Trinidad and Tobago; Canary Islands Spain; Morocco; Lisbon and Porto in Portugal; Israel; Palestine; Bulgaria; Romania; North Macedonia,

Quick link to blogs on ARGENTINA – Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Argentina

Recoleta Cemetary, Buenos Aires

Evita’s old pad – La Casa Rosada

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Quick link to blogs on BRAZIL – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Brazil

Quintessentially Rio

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

My lovely cruise friends

Along the Amazon

The bastard pink dolphin just after it swiped me in the eye – very ouch!

Manaus, Brazil

They love to perform and dance in Brazil

Quick link to THE CARIBBEAN – Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=BARBADOS

Cruise buddies in Barbados

Cruise buddies in Barbados

Quick link to blogs on the CANARY ISLANDS – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Canary+islands

Tenerife

Tenerife

Lanzerote Manrique Cactus Garden

Quick link to blogs on MOROCCO – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Morocco

Tangier, Morocco

Quick link to blogs on PORTUGAL – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Portugal

The beautiful tiles of Porto

So excited to finally make it to Israel with one of my regular traveling buddies Jo

Quick link to blogs on ISRAEL and PALESTINE – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=ISRAEL

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=PALESTINE

Food in Israel is yet another religion – and the best one!

Jerusalem, Israel

The Wall of Separation between Palestine and Israel

And so begins a visit to many of the Balkan countries

Quick link to blogs on BULGARIA https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria

Plovidiv Bulgaria

Pretending to pick roses in Kazanlak, Bulgaria

Veliko Tărnovo, Bulgaria

And then Romania whose least likeable part if Bucharest but the further north you go the more amazing it is. A hidden gem

Quick link to blogs on ROMANIA https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Romania

Painted monasteries in Bucovina, Romania

Northern Romania

A very new country with a very new name. Quirky but lovable with it

Quick link to blogs on NORTH MACEDONIA – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=North+Macedonia

Massive sculptures and statues everywhere in Skopje, North Macedonia

Skopje, North Macedonia

North Macedonia

Another country trying to decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Quick link to blogs on Serbia – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=SERBIA

Belgrade

Quarter 3, 2019 – continuing my journey west from the Balkans I visited Slovenia, Hungary, Berlin, Germany and then to Denmark to embark on another cruise covering the East coast of the UK, Sweden, Norway and North Germany. A couple of weeks in Belgium and a quick hop to Rotterdam, Netherlands before starting my two months in London.

Gotta love this country – pretty, nice people and inexpensive!

Quick links to blogs on SLOVENIA – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=SLOVENIA

Ljubliana, Slovenia

I was pleased to be back in Budapest for the first time in many years. Great history old and more recent and re-inventing itself all the time. It is kind of like Berlin in its way.

Quick links to blogs on HUNGARY – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=HUNGARY

Grand Synagogue in Budapest

The old city on the hill in Budapest

Had only been here fore a long weekend before so two weeks was an amazing opportunity to see as much as possible – which I did of course. Another place where the recently of history still hangs heavy but counter art culture is thriving and it is also a reasonably cheap part of Germany. Loved it.

Quick link to blogs on BERLIN – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Berlin

Another brick in the Wall

The Jewish children who got away and the kids who didn’t

The best traffic lights ever in the former East Berlin

A couple of days in Copenhagen before and after my cruise

Quick link to bogs on Copenhagen, DENMARK – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Denmark

The charm of Copenhagen

Another Seabourn cruise begins with a visit to Sweden

Quick link to blogs from cruise to Oslo, Gothenburg, the UK and Scotland, Bremen, Germany and the Kiel Canal

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Oslo

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Gothenburg

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Alnwick

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Edinburgh

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Invergorden

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Shetland+

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Kiel

Gothenburg

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Thi military Tattoo in Edinburgh
At John O’Groats – the top end of the UK
Sampling whiskey – as one must in this part of the world
My home for two blissful weeks
The Shetlands in the sunshine – a rare sight
More of the Shetlands – Lerwick – so beautiful

Cruising the Kiel Canal, Germany

Two weeks in Antwerp, Belgium was a real treat – what a lovely little country this turned out to be. Very underestimated and, mostly, not full of tourists.

Quick link to blogs BELGIUM – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Belgium

Mechelen, Belgium

Rotterdam – a short hop from Antwerp and going through a bit of a revival.
Bruges, Belgium

Lier, Belgium

Quarter 4, 2019 – UK, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Heidelberg Germany, Tenerife and La Gomera, Canary Islands and Seville Spain

Quick links to September and October UK visit

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/2019/09/

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/2019/10/

Perry Green, Henry Moore’s former house and studio – with Sylvie
With Christine – one of many fab meals to celebrate some of my friends’ big birthdays
Who knew Liverpool was genuinely FAB. One of my big finds of the year!
Anthony Gormley at Crosby Beach
First ever visit to Blenheim Palace – with Lorna
The City of London gets more and more interesting as old and new architecture somehow seem to work.

And at the start of November it was time for another big birthday celebration trip – this time for Trudy. Touring Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Mauritius (and I went on to the Seychelles) was amazing and we liked it so much we are back in SA in early 2021!

Quick link to blogs on SOUTH AFRICA – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=South+Africa

Quick link to blogs on ZIMBABWE AND BOTSWANA https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Botswana

Quick link to blogs on MAURITIUS AND SEYCHELLES – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Mauritius.

https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Seychelles

Victoria Falls – dry at the end of the dry season. Rain was due any day but actually the situation has worsened since then – big problem that Zimbabwe doesn’t need at the moment
Elephants loving their mud bath
On the luxe train Rovos Rail – and Alan is wearing a jacket and tie!
Hermanus South Africa – another place we are returning to in 2021
The wine regions around Franschhoek – and yes we will no doubt be back here too
A sunset like this every night in Mauritius
We experienced a once in a lifetime chance to walk with lions. Was I scared – well…..just keep telling myself they were big pussycats! An unexpected highlight of 2019.

Back in Europe for a cool spell in lovely Heidelburg, Germany

Quick links to Frankfurt and Heidelburg, GERMANY – https://whatsusiebdidnext.wordpress.com/?s=Heidelberg

Heidelberg and Gluhwein

And then I needed warmth again – so off to Tenerife and La Gomera to stay with Florence and Michael

The extraordinary Auditorio in Tenerife- look familiar?

And for the Yuletide season I ran away to Seville – again!

Plaza España, Seville December 23

Seasons good wishes to all

And where next?

Well I can say I will be departing 2019 and starting 2020 on a plane! Nothing new there then….

BOOKS – my two absolute favourites are starred

Given I travel a lot and because I have always loved books, I get to read and listen to Audible books a lot more than I had time to before. My favourites this year are:

All the Bernie Gunther novels – a Berlin detective series written by a Brit (Philip Kerr) and set in the 30s and 40s – it was one of the reasons I had to spend time in Berlin this year and I even called my travel buddy after him – Bernie the Berliner Bear

The Testaments – Margaret Attwood – I remember reading the original, then much later watching the TV series and unusually bought this the day it was released. Attwood writes about a dystopian world where the women’s role is scarily not as far away from today’s world as it ought to be. Let’s hope it stands as a lesson and the movement for gender equality thrives.

Becoming* – Michelle Obama – I recommend the Audible version as she reads it. Authentic autobiography by one half of a couple who seem to do the right thing whenever they can – too bad that is not recognised in the way it should be.

Everything I never told you – Celeste Ng – an excellent look at a mixed race (Asian/Caucasian) family and the things that are never spoken about. I like it so much I have waited a year to read her next book – will do that in January so that I can eke it out. Hope she write more.

Mythos – written and read by Stephen Fry (so Audible is a must) it is his take on Greek mythology as only he could do it. Accurate but funny and fascinating.

Me – Elton John. Nothing Elton John does can be anything other than fab in my books and I loved this canter through his legendary life as well as reliving things that were going on in the UK at the same time.

Last Tattoist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris – based on a true story of love and hate. This book and its sequel have become quite controversial given it is supposed to be based on a true story but either way – it is a darned good read.

The Dutch House – Ann Patchett – great writer and the story of a House and the lives of the people who live in it at various times.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter *- Kate Morton – very similar theme to the Dutch House but it also transcends time back and forth.

TV SHOWS – my two absolute favourites are starred

Although I enjoy movies my travels mean that unless I am in an English speaking country it is hard to get to see that many movies on the big screen in English. Luckily I think we live in an age where many of the best writers work on TV and cable channel now, so here are my picks for 2019. I also love that Netflix produce a lot of shows in languages other than English – so yes it requires a bit more effort to read the subtitles but that’s worth it and you almost feel fluent in any language you listen to by the end of it!

Money Heist – Spanish Ocean’s 11 type series but far more subversive. I love every bit of it of the first three seasons.

Bonus Familie – Swedish but for a change this is not “noir” at all but a light hearted look at a modern family where the divorced couple and their new spouses share child care from former relationships and have their own kids too. It’s frightfully Swedish and everything tries their best to behave properly – nice and light.

Cuckoo – a Brit comedy that I thought was silly at first but somehow keep enjoying anyway!

Succession *- Wow! And I thought I knew about succession planning!! This is the best series of the year. Keep watching – the tension builds with each episode.

The Crown – maybe the things going on in the 60s and 70s are not as exciting as the first series but we are now in an era where I remember the events occurring outside the royal family so I enjoyed the social history aspect of Season 3.

The Handmaid’s Tale – great script, acting and nail biter. Can only cope with one episode a day but boy it’s good.

Derry Girls* – adore this Northern Irish comedy set during the troubles of the 70s and 80s in Londonderry about a bunch of potty mouthed school girls – always funny and at times poignant – it is another period of history I remember well.

Killing Eve – Phoebe Waller’s writing credentials are excellent and the bizarre cat and mouse game of the two protagonists are mesmerising as are Jodie comer’s character’s clothes.

Patrick Melrose – I hated all the characters but nevertheless thought Cumberbatch was brilliant as was Hugo Weaving.

Fauda – this time an Israeli series about a former Israeli Defense force fighter who comes back into his old job. It is set in Jerusalem and Palestine and has a cliffhanger at the end of each episode. It started in 2015 but I have only just discovered it so have 3 seasons to enjoy.

3 thoughts on “2019 – My reflections on another year of traveling – and my fave books and TV series – warning – Bumper Edition!

  1. Suzanne Brienza

    Hi, such an enjoyable recap! So glad you enjoyed your travels and they were done safely. I look forward to seeing your journeys in 2020. Wishing you all the best for the New Year and happy travels and be safe! Luv, Suzanne

    P.S- hope to see you in Florida!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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