2016 has been a great year of travel for me! I kick-started the year with a chilly visit to Amsterdam in January and celebrated my 24th in Edinburgh in March. As the weather got warmer I spent a long weekend in Berlin in May, which was nice as my previous visits to Munich and Dresden had been extremely chilly!
I started a new job in London, meaning I’ve now moved (back) there. I love living in London, and it serves as a great meeting place when old travel friends come to explore the capital! You also see something taking place almost every day, too, most of the time just by stumbling across it. So always keep your eyes peeled!
I’m now working in the travel industry, which I love. In mid-September, I flew back to the Far East. Starting with one week in China, I spent a day and half in Beijing, a few days in Shanghai, and a day trip to Ningbo to meet my Chinese teacher. I flew from Shanghai airport to Seoul, where I spent one hour in the airport (I am still classing that as a visit!), before flying onto Tokyo.
I didn’t know what to expect of Japan; to be honest, I thought it would be similar to China. But it was worlds apart from my expectations and I had a wonderful two weeks there. I spent one week in Tokyo, where I stayed at an amazing hostel and made some good friends; together we went to baseball games, dinners, museum and temple visits, and last but not least, Japanese karaoke. I also met up with three English teachers I had worked with in Prague, who are now teaching in Tokyo. I got to meet some of their friends and again, went for more karaoke! (I also learnt that karaoke is a Japanese word!)
I spent my second week in Kyoto, where I learnt that the name of ‘Tokyo’ was created by taking the first three letters from Kyoto and swapping them round to the end to create the name Tokyo– maybe this was obvious for others, but not for me…! Whilst I enjoyed Kyoto, I didn’t really spend much time there. I was still able to visit Nijo Castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine, Nishiki Market, attended a Geisha performance and explored the geisha district.
As I had a Japan Rail Pass, I took day trips to Nara, Osaka, and Hiroshima. My hostel friends from Tokyo were, weirdly enough, all staying in Kyoto at roughly the same time- so I never really felt like a solo traveller. A few of us headed to Nara where we wore kimono for the day and went temple-touring whilst feeding biscuits to the deers! I met up with a Tokyo hostel friend in Osaka the next day- it was rainy but we still made the most of it and ate some delicious sushi (Osaka is the foodie-city of Japan). The next day, a couple of us took a sombre visit to Hiroshima, where they have the peace memorial cenotaph, memorial park, A Dome building remains, and a museum dedicated to the disaster which is certainly worth the visit. After taking all of this in, we took a ferry ride across to Miyajima Island, where one orange torii shrine ‘floats’ in the water at high-tide. It was a quiet island with a traditional feel to it, and was refreshing from the fast-paced city life.
I spent my last weekend back in Tokyo, where I met up with my teacher friends again and stayed in a capsule pod hotel- so much fun! On my last night I stayed in another capsule pod which was actually inside Tokyo airport- but I’ll write about my Japan trip in the new year!
So, yes, looking back, 2016 has been a busy year, travel-wise for me! I have Dublin booked for March, and I’m interested in exploring more of England in 2017. One of my favourite articles I posted has to be this one on why travel doesn’t always have to be far away.
I hope you all had fabulous 2016s and I look forward to reading about your adventures in the new year!