2010; the year in review

It’s been an interesting year. For this writer, it’s been a year of re-entry into the world of words after some time away; a year filled with opportunity and with new experiences. It was the year I joined On The Go Tours, the year that I successfully completed a lengthy visa application process, a year in which I travelled again beyond the realm of the United Kingdom and experienced – for the first time in a long while – what it is to arrive in a foreign place and be greeted by complete strangeness.

Here’s my list of the most memorable experiences I’ve had this year.

Best meal of 2010:

The chef carves the duck for us. Delicious!

Thinking back over the memorable meals I’ve had this year, one that sticks out is the Peking Roast Duck we ate on our final night in the Chinese capital. Food is important to me; when I travel somewhere I really want to be able to sample the best that the region has to offer. I have to say that Roast Duck in Beijing, China would take a lot of beating!

Coming in second and definitely worth a mention would be the first dinner we had on board the felucca as we sailed the Nile. Cooked on board by our Nubian hosts, we enjoyed simple, delicious and filling fare that just kept coming. After a hard day lying around on the deck of a felucca as it gently sailed the Nile, there was nothing to beat it.

Best trip:

Joining On The Go Tours has opened up some wonderful travel opportunities, opportunities which I took full advantage of. And I plan to continue doing that! Egypt is a truly amazing place to visit. I reconciled my keen awareness of the fact that I was plainly and unmistakeably a tourist when I realised that Egypt has perhaps has the oldest tourist attractions on the planet. People have been flocking to see the temples, tombs and monuments of this incredible place for thousands of years, and with good reason. If you haven’t been, make 2011 the year that Egypt blows your mind.

Abu Simbel

The incredible Abu Simbel

Another memorable trip would be the road trip to Glastonbury and the ensuing weekend. I’m a music fan and a performer too, so musical performances are an important of my life. Organising the Glastonbury weekend and travelling there was by no means stress-free for us, but we had an amazing time and had some unforgettable experiences. The weather was fine, the crowds were amped, and I nearly wet myself when I saw the size of our stage. Playing Glastonbury was the musical highlight of the year, and I can’t wait to see if I can top it in 2011.

Profound travel experience of the year:

Alright, let’s get deep and meaningful here… You may have read my Reflections on Egypt blog already, in which I related a profound experience I had when visiting Luxor Temple by night. Religion has been responsible for a lot of silly things, and it’s hard to justify mass deception. But looking at the incredible monuments, temples and tombs that give us such insight into ancient civilisations, it’s hard to write it off as completely useless. Without it, would we have such wonderful places to explore and marvel at? Would the ancient Egyptians have been quite so prolific if there wasn’t such an urgent need to satisfy the whims of fictitious gods?

Martin Schoeller for Time Magazine

Most influential person of the year:

Time Magazine has already put forward the watery-eyed uber-nerd and overlord of the internet Mark Zuckerberg as their person of the year. (Is anyone else a bit creeped out by that photo?) Ignoring for a moment what sort of person he might be (not that it matters, but it’s hard not to think about it after watching The Social Network) I think he’s had more of an influence in our professional and social lives than most. I have to agree with Time.

Places I want to visit in 2011:

Home. I haven’t been back in over 3 years. It’s time for a visit; to reconnect with my roots and all that wishy-washy sort of stuff.

India. I’ve always been interested by India, mostly because Indian food was a memorable part of my culinary upbringing. (My Dad cooks a mean curry!) Putting fears of Delhi-Belly aside, I’d love to visit and learn a little bit more about this incredible country.

What were your best travel experiences for 2010? What places are you most looking forward to seeing in 2011?

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