I travelled less this year than last, and I travelled less than I’d originally planned, for a lot of reasons, but largely because I wanted to spend some time at home.
However, I did still fit in some trips, mainly for business, although a couple to see people as well. Here are some of the stand-out points from my 2016 travels.
Falling in love with Dublin again
It’s one of my favourite cities, not least because of the people I know who live there. This year, I was there to talk to the digital forensics research team at UCD, and the walk to the bus stop in the morning involved walking past lots of beautiful houses, which is one of my favourite things to do.
Finding an abandoned orphanage hidden down a side street in Preston, and taking a load of photos
There was a bit of time to spare before my train was due to leave, so I wandered around, and down a little unassuming-looking street, found this old orphanage, which was atmospheric as hell and I kind of want to live in it.
Being singularly underwhelmed by Switzerland
I’d been wanting to visit Switzerland ever since I changed there on my way back from somewhere else once, and saw the sunrise over the mountains as the plane took off.
On paper, it sounds like the kind of place I’d fall head over heels for: breathtaking scenery, pretty architecture, little towns with lots of history, and everyone speaks French.
But in reality, it did nothing for me. I’m not sure if it was because I was ill while I was there – probably that was at least partly the case – but I think it was also that everything is so prohibitively expensive. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you have to do mental gymnastics every time you want to buy chips (£10??!) or a bottle of orange juice (£8?!!).
The one thing I did enjoy about it was the ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs in the hotel room:
Remembering how much I love Belgium
Belgium is a country I seem to end up in fairly frequently – I’ve been to Brussels twice this year – and visiting it never gets old.
Even when it’s fucking freezing outside and I’m traipsing around in the rain, lugging my… well, luggage… because I have a few hours before I need to get on the Eurostar and I’m paranoid about leaving bags in hotels.
It’s a beautiful city, and one I’m sure I’ll revisit many times. I look forward to each of them.
Midsummer in Barcelona
While Caitlin was still living in Barcelona, some of us went over to say hello in the summer. On the 24th of June, in a night that felt very special and somehow magical, three of us sat watching the coloured fountain which graces the city.
Visiting Lancashire the day after the EU Ref
I was gutted about the EU Ref result, but life goes on, so rather than sitting at home feeling crappy about it, I went to a conference in Lancashire.
Up there, people didn’t seem unhappy about the result, mainly because most of them had voted for it. My mother, who lives there, said she was completely unsurprised at the way the vote had gone. I had been surprised, but that’s because I live in the London bubble – and not just the London bubble, but the quartier français bubble, which puts me in a particularly EU-friendly space.
Walking around Preston after the first day of the conference, I found the above monument, and it felt apt.
Waking up on November 9th
Not to be outdone by the result of the UK’s fearmongering, the US elected a fascist brute as president. I was in Brussels on results day, staying in a beautiful hotel. I woke up at 3am, thought I’d just check my Twitter feed briefly before going back to sleep… just in case… and then suddenly I was very, very awake.
Discovering old churches in Brussels
I do enjoy a good church. It’s something about the stillness inside them, and the knowledge that so many people have passed through. As if bits of their lives are etched into the bricks themselves.
Those were my stand-out travel moments of 2016. What about yours?