This was 2015
London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland, Taupo, Nelson, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Queenstown, Warsaw, New York, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London, Campinas, St. Petersburg, Mumbai, Doha, Bologna, Helsinki, Kraków, The Hague, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Lombok, Kuta, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Berlin, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oslo, Paris, Perth, Melbourne, Auckland, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Berlin.
Chronological list of places I visited in 2015.
It’s that time of the year again when everyone publishes a “best of 2015” list and looks forward to what 2016 may bring. While I did take 73 flights and flew 132.334 miles, I also spent a lot of time on the ground… No shower in the sky, 300m² suite or luxury resort this time, let’s talk about experiences.
The Tongariro Crossing is a 19.4km walk in a National Park on the North Island of New Zealand and has highlights such as Mount Ngauruhoe, Red Crater, Emerald Lakes, … It was probably one of the best experiences of 2015. New Zealand scenery is simply stunning and absolutely beautiful. You can read more about my trip here.
When I first visited Russia in January 2013, it was freezing in Moscow at -26°C, but I thought that was the perfect time to visit the city. People who I met all told me the same thing: “visit St. Petersburg in Spring or Summer, it’s much more beautiful then”.
So in May I did just that, explored the Hermitage (which is enormous), went to the Opera at the Mariinsky Theatre and of course visited the Church of the Savior on Blood which, on the inside, reminded me a bit of the Vank church in Isfahan, Iran.
If you plan on visiting Russia, keep in mind that you will need a tourist visa.
Mani Bhavan is a house in Mumbai where Gandhi used to live & work and is now a museum & library. For my first visit to India, I spent two and a half days in Mumbai and roamed around the city like I always do: a list of only a few things I really want to do or visit and the rest depends on what crosses my path along the way.
I also did a bike tour in the morning with a guide from “Reality tours & travel”, I can really recommend this tour, but just know that Mumbai is different…
It doesn’t always have to be Milan or Rome, why not try Parma or Bologna for a day or two? This picture is taken from the top of the Asinelli tower which requires a lot of steps to get there, not recommended for people who are easily afraid of hights.
I’ve been to Warsaw many times, but this time we visited Kraków so that we could also go on a tour to Auschwitz. I think no further introduction is needed… While visiting Chernobyl left quite an impression, it’s nothing compared to how you feel in Auschwitz. No one other than the guide talked for the duration of the tour of the barracks.
There’s only 1 room where you can’t take any pictures, that is exactly the room you won’t ever forget.
In August I spent almost 3 weeks in Indonesia of which 1,5 weeks on Java and went from Jakarta to Bandung to Yogyakarta before flying to Lombok where I would be facing Mt. Rinjani.
When I was planning my trip to Iran, some people said that I should skip Tehran, which is absurd. Same thing with Jakarta, stay at least a day before continuing your journey by train. I stopped in Bandung to visit the nearby tea plantations and Kawah Putih (White Crater) in Ciwidey.
Kawah Putih is a highly acid crater lake with lots of sulfur, I’m not sure if it’s actually that safe. I even had to stop taking pictures and make a run for it because I couldn’t breath…
In Yogyakarta I went to Borobudur temple (Buddhist) at 3.30AM in the morning to see the beautiful sunrise, however clouds interfered and it was rather grey. In the afternoon I visited Prambanan(Hindu) with clear skies.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from that trip: do not hire a private chauffeur/guide when in Indonesia, rent a motorbike instead, but I would recommend wearing a helmet.
Picture shot with a DJI drone while floating in the Dead Sea, you can also check the video.
The water is so ‘thick’ and salty that if you go in the water, waist deep you just ‘levitate’ and start floating. After a few minutes the saltiness can really hurt you know where, make a run for the showers on the beach and don’t rub your eyes!
Also worth mentioning: Masada
Picture taken from the viewing platform of 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa. Took my mother for her birthday on her first international trip in 10 years! I visited the Burj Khalifa for the first time 2 years ago on 31/12/2013 when I spent New Year in Dubai
P.s.: Buy your tickets in advance online (as always)!
Okay, so one picture taken at luxury resort, but the hotel was the destination! Spent my birthday at the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso & Spa in an overwater villa with view of Mt. Otemanu! Picture taken at midnight from the terrace of the villa. I could go on & on about how beautiful and picture-perfect French Polynesia is!
I already booked flights to Valencia, Mallorca & Tokyo and that’s just for January and February. I prefer to visit cities where I haven’t been before, so I might be going to places such as Podgorica, Valletta, Ljubljana, Tbilisi, Hanoi, Langkawi, …
Other than those destinations, I will be visiting at least one country that isn’t a typical tourist destination, it might be North Korea or Bhutan, but it may also be an island that I actually wanted to visit in 2015 but couldn’t due to ‘political unrest’.
There’s only one thing I’m worried about… for my birthday
- in 2012 I walked the Great Wall of China,
- in 2013 I drank champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower and rented a Ferrari in Las Vegas,
- in 2014 I was a speaker at Frequent Traveler University in Amsterdam, recorded the Vienna Destination video for SPG TV and stayed in the Bristol Suite in Hotel Bristol Vienna
- in 2015 I visited French Polynesia, kayaked in Tahiti, biked in Moorea and relaxed in Bora Bora
What the heck am I going to do in 2016???