Year in Review: 2016

It’s that time of year again, when it’s good and proper to look back on what happened in the previous 12 months and smugly congratulate yourself for how awesome a year you gave yourself. It may have been a bit of a shite year if you care about your celebrities being alive, and we may have taken a step closer to total global sociopolitical chaos… but on reflection, it appears that I had a pretty sweet ride, particularly on the travel front.

I kicked the year off in with my parents in Sotogrande, Spain, watching the 2016 fireworks over the Rock of Gibraltar with a temperate glass of Rioja in hand. We then ventured over the sea to Tangier where we followed a hyperactive local around the city and were persuaded to buy a lot of things we didn’t want. A few months later I got a new job that paid actual money and I immediately took two weeks off because my Chicago Boys came to town. We toured Edinburgh and went to Barcelona, Liverpool and London, then took a road trip through the Scottish Highlands. A few months after that, I flew to Rio de Janeiro to visit my best friend slash platonic life partner who was out there pioneering space CPR and we drank caipirinhas on the Copacabana before moving on to São Paulo to see what the caipirinhas were like there. Then I thought it would be nice to go to Chicago because I missed my peeps and wanted to jump in Lake Michigan before it all dries up in the apocalypse we’re probably headed towards. I actually did some work at my job for a few months, and then I asked for some more leave and went to Singapore for a whistle-stop tour of the roof bars there and the wedding of my very good friend Fish.

It’s only now I’ve written all of this down that I realise I managed hit up five continents this year, which was totally unplanned. So, in celebration of a year well travelled, I thought I’d share with you my favourite picture I took in each destination, partially obscured by some pretentious white boxed text, along with some of the highlights from that trip (If you can click on the photo, it means there’s a blog post about that trip. If you can’t… I’m working on it).

8

Sotogrande is a strange place. Kind of fake in a Disneyland sort of way, but still sorta charming. Was nice in winter when it wasn’t crawling with British tourists. Highlights include:

  • standing on the beach looking at the stunning views of the Pillars of Hercules
  • excursions to Tarifa, San Roque, Gibraltar
  • looking at fancy boats
  • wine and tapas
  • wine and tapas
  • when I dropped a whole jar of pickles and spent an hour washing them and removing shards of glass
  • wine and tapas

6

This was a spontaneous adventure, and we were ill-prepared for the chaos that meets you right off the boat, but it turned out to be a splendid trip mostly due to our new friend Shamir. Highlights include:

  • being chased along the promenade by Shamir prior to becoming his friend
  • the egg market – I have never seen so many eggs in my life
  • the meat and fish market – mindblowing scenes
  • all other markets
  • lunch on a balcony by the Kasbah
  • pomegranate juice at Salon Bleu
  • Shamir’s constant banter
  • the carpet shop
  • bartering in the carpet shop

7

Barcelona is fun any time, but this time I’m with my Chicago Boys so it’s extra fun. Highlights include:

  • Gaudi tour
  • beer and tapas
  • seeing the non-progress made on La Sagrada Familia
  • beach frivolity
  • wine and paella
  • sex
  • walking hungover around Park Güell
  • making our own sangria at the airport

9

Alex and I rented an unnecessarily large four by four and took it from Edinburgh to Inverness and back via Glencoe. Highlights include:

  • Alex learning how to drive British
  • lunch in Luss by Loch Lomond
  • prancing in the heather
  • recreating that Skyfall scene in Glen Etive
  • beers outside at the Kings House Hotel
  • gins inside at the Kings House Hotel
  • sex
  • scrambling up Buachaille Etive Mòr
  • scrambling down Buachaille Etive Mòr
  • sunburn
  • jumping off cliffs into the River Etive

2

I may have got stuck at the airport for 23 hours and spent the whole trip with no luggage but it was totally worth it because Rio is out of this goddamn world. Highlights include:

  • eventually arriving
  • meeting lots of cool people at our Airbnb
  • hanging out with new friends on Ipanema Beach
  • caipirinhas
  • taking a swan pedalo out on the lagoon at sunset
  • wearing all of Christina’s clothes
  • Sugarloaf mountain cablecar
  • Bhrama beers at the top of Sugarloaf mountain
  • pterodactyls everywhere
  • pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese dough balls)
  • Copacabana frivolity
  • not getting zika

3

São Paulo is a giant concrete beehive with more soul than you and she doesn’t care that you don’t think she’s pretty. Highlights include:

  • caipirinhas
  • the whole Jardins neighbourhood
  • discovering the coolest bar in the Jardins neighbourbood, Bar Balcão
  • caipirinhas
  • face swapping the renaissance art at MASP
  • seeing an 8-foot wide spider web with giant spiders in it
  • graffiti
  • meeting up with some friends from Rio
  • doing laundry at a laundromat with a full bar, modern art and 80s beats
  • breakfasts in Jardins
  • still not getting zika

5

Chicago is my home from home. I discovered last year that there are not many things I like more than a Chicago summer, so I went back for more. Highlights include:

  • homemade chai and brunch with Haresh
  • my homecoming party
  • Spanish galleon at Navy Pier
  • frivolity with my Castle Crew
  • hanging with Sam Ross and wee Nancy
  • binge watching Stranger Things with Tara
  • Free José González concert in Millennium Park
  • canoeing down the Chicago River
  • Weekend in Indiana with Alex
  • Swimming in Lake Michigan
  • sex
  • 312 Wheat Ale
  • weekend in Wisconsin with Holly and Syed
  • scrambling at Devil’s Lake State Park
  • swimming in Lake Monona
  • Divy biking the 606
  • architecture river tour
  • reunion with Paulina
  • last breakfast with Haresh

4

I struggle to understand how Singapore even exists. In my short time there I came to the conclusion that the only way to accurately describe this place is to call it an alternate universe sci-fi utopia with really good Asian food. Highlights include:

  • the Airbnb in the red light district
  • the rooftop pool in said Airbnb
  • reuniting with my MSc peeps
  • the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay
  • rooftop bars
  • Lao Pa Sat food market
  • Fish’s wedding
  • the 8-course Chinese banquet at Fish’s wedding
  • pool party in between wedding sections
  • wedding drinks at bar on top of Marina Bay Sands
  • brunch in Clarke Quay
  • Chinatown frivolity
  • visiting Buddhist and Hindu temples
  • Guttons Bay food market
  • Bugis Street market
  • tasting jackfruit, durian and mangosteen
  • the Saga of the Forgotten Jackfruit

And that’s all I did (other than all the stuff in between). 2016 might be hard to top, but I’m already pretty excited about what 2017 has in store – both the known and the unknown. Watch this space, guys.

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