1) Seeing puffins "fairly" up close in Newfoundland in June.
I love puffins! The best place to see them in Newfoundland is at a lookout in Elliston. No bobbing about on a boat in the water like I did in Iceland - just have a decent lens on your camera or even better binoculars and there they are, just across from you. What a thrill! They nest here from May until late September; returning to the sea for the rest of the year. Elliston has the closest land viewing of puffins in North America.
The scenery wasn't bad either - lots of "doo doo" covered rocks but that's okay.
2) My time in Budapest Hungary in early April.
I really loved that city and can see me returning for a week or so, preferably in the winter...so I can wander the museums and sip hot chocolate in coffee shops, shoot moody black and white photos and even better...try out one of the many warm mineral baths every day!
Beautiful St Mathias church
Shoes on the Danube...a sculpture dedicated to the thousands of Hungarians (mostly Jewish) who were assassinated by fascist Hungarian Arrow Cross militants. They were ordered to take off their shoes, were shot and their bodies fell into the Danube. Horrific.
A classic view of Budapest...taken from the grounds of Buda Castle with the Hungarian Parliament Building on prominent display.
View from Pest across to Buda Castle with the endearing Little Princess sculpture. (looks more like a jester to me). Directly behind her are tram tracks.
3) My week in Fort Kochi, India in early March
After my fun but exhausting tour of Sri Lanka I needed some downtime. I had anticipated this so had booked 8 days at a small homestay in the charming little enclave of Fort Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is just what I needed. I absolutely loved wandering the streets, popping into cafes, walking along the seafront and watching the fishermen operate the Chinese fishing nets. I got to be such a familiar figure that at least one rickshaw driver would yell "hey, Canada" when I walked by! It is someplace that I definitely hope to return to. As a solo female I felt totally safe however I would be a bit cautious wandering around certain areas at night .
You can buy these and get a nearby restaurant to cook it for you - maybe next time!
I walked down this street a lot!
And yes, I befriended the local doggies...providing them with water. The local shopkeepers feed them so they tended to turn their nose up at (most of) my offerings but they never said no to some cold water.
For a typical day for me in Fort Kochi click here
4) A week in May in the beautiful Lake District
I think this is now my favourite part of England now...okay, except for London. Then again there is just so much to see in England and it's so beautiful it's hard to pick a favourite.
I stayed in a bed and breakfast in Ambleside and it was a perfect base. I took day trips to explore more of the areas that are difficult to see with public transport, attended a picnic in Peter Rabbit country and had a delightful walk in the Grasmere area. And so much more! And guess what? I'm going back next year!!!
Heading over the Wrynose Pass
The broody Wastwater in the Western Lake District
Rydal Water near Grasmere
Castlerigg Stone Circle
5) A gathering of elephants in Sri Lanka in February
I was lucky enough to be in Sri Lanka AND in the right area to see a gathering of elephants in Kaudalla National Park. This happens only once a year when the elephants migrate for fresh vegetation. I have seen African elephants in the wild in Kenya but I have never seen so many elephants in one place before. Something I will never forget - well as long as I have all my marbles that is.
Windblown and less than flattering photo but I was in heaven!!!
For a post on this day click here.
6) Hiking the Skerwink Trail in Newfoundland in June
This is a trail I had heard about forever but never thought I would get the chance to do it. But I did -with a little help from my friends. Despite the windy overcast weather, it was still incredibly beautiful and I am so happy I did it. I've written a post about it.
Beautiful beaches, excellent public transport, cream teas galore, more thatched cottages than you could shake a stick at and donkeys! I absolutely loved my week on the Isle of Wight and wish I could have stayed there longer. Ah well, there is always next time!
Thatched cottages in the gorgeous (very touristy) village of Godshill
Chocolate cream tea....heaven for this chocoholic
Osborne House, summer home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert - it was amazing and I would definitely go back again. I still need to write a post on this place!
The beach at Sandown
8) Having my base in London.....
Anyone who reads this blog knows how I feel about London. One day I will write a post about "London and me". I fell in love with the city when I was just 22 and while sometimes the crowds (damn tourists!) get to me I know I will always love it. It's been such a privilege to be able to visit so often (this last trip was number 27) and see the changes that have happened since my first visit in 1975. I am fortunate to have a wonderful place to stay in Streatham (South West London) with a fabulous host who is now a dear friend. I just discovered this year that my great-grandparents were married in Streatham at a church near my second home - how cool is that?
The Horseguards are always fun to see. I love the fact you can be bopping around central London and hear a "clop, clop, clop" and sure enough there they are prancing by.
Spring in St James's Park - St James's Park IS London to me. Everytime I go to London I have to go there and I think to myself (or sometimes scarily - even say it to myself out loud when I am alone) "Now I am in London".
9) My time on the island of Guernsey in late March
I had been to the Channel Island of Jersey twice before but never to Guernsey. I decided to change that so spent six days on the island. While the weather could have been better I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and wouldn't be adverse to revisiting - especially along with a third visit to its rival island Jersey.
Looking back towards the main town on the island; St Peter Port
Torteval Church - and sheep!
One of Guernsey's wonderful beaches....
It's time to fire off the cannon at Cornet Castle in St Peter Port
10) Standing under frolicking polar bears at the Journey to Churchill exhibit in Winnipeg
Seeing polar bears in the wild is still on the bucket list. For now, seeing orphan polar bears happily playing with each other (and watching seal TV...the seal exhibit is next door with a glass wall in between) will suit me just fine.
Now I can't wait for 2019!