Ten Things To Do In 2014

It is that time of year where we start looking forward towards the new year. With this I am going to list ten things I want to do in 2014. Some look similar to those who read my 2013 post.

  1. Purchase the domain name for the blog – this is one of those carried over from 2013. I have received plenty of encouragement from my fellow bloggers. They have advised that this is the next logical step to take. I have found out it is not as expensive as I thought.
  2. Take blogging more seriously – I am determined that 2014 will see me spend more time on the blog. With that I will become more professional. I will be concentrating not only on content but also the look of the blog. Of course any advice will be gratefully received.
  3. Sort out my social media – to be honest my social media is in a mess. It has become too cluttered and needs to be tidied up. Facebook is my biggest priority.
  4. Use independent coffee shops – Nothing wrong in using the chains but in my experience the better tasting coffee is found in the independent shops.
  5. Become fitter – What was clear on my last trip was how unfit I had become. Changes to my diet have been important. Also I have been on a exercise regime which I have lost some weight. Sadly, Christmas has seen me put some of it back on but I know that I am capable of becoming fitter.
  6. Reach out to more bloggers – I have been lucky that I have established some good relationships with some travel bloggers. In 2014 I want to extend that to more. I read a lot of travel blogs and I am looking to reply more to the posts.
  7. Be less fearful – Last year I wanted to introduce myself to the travel industry but held back. I explained in a previous post that this was down to fear of failure. In order to build the blog I need to get over this fear. After all, the worst thing that can happen is that they say no to me.
  8. Be more spontaneous – There is nothing wrong with planning but it can stop you doing things on the spur of the moments. What my travels in 2013 taught me was that I could be more spontaneous and not miss out on potential experiences.
  9. Learn a new skill – You are never too old to learn something new. I've always wanted to learn another language. Also I am exploring the possibility of taking TEFL course. We will see where this takes me.
  10. Upgrade Travel Tech – This may not happen but I am always on the lookout for a bargain.

These are not new year resolutions but targets that I've set for myself. I hope that you obtain your goals for 2014. I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Steve

 

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The Highlights of 2013

In terms of travel 2013 was an excellent year for me. I felt that I had become a proper traveller. This gave me a sense of achievement which was added to the growth of the blog.

2013 saw me undertake two trips in Europe. In March I visited Vienna and Budapest. Despite the weather being cold I had an amazing time. While both cities had come up to my expectations, I was particually taken by Budapest. The city had a faded charm to it and I was left wanting more.

Zentralfriedhoff, Vienna
 
National Day, Budapest

However, the main highlight of 2013 was the trip to the Balkans in September. I was lucky that work allowed me to take three weeks off work. It was also my first multi-country trip too. I enjoyed the constant travelling and experiencing different hostels. The people I met along the way was also a bonus. For the first time I felt like a traveller. This trip changed me and the smile has still to leave my face.

Split
Dubrovnik

 

Mostar
Sarajevo
Belgrade
Ljubljana
Zagreb

I am looking forward to 2014. In my head I have more trips planned which I will announce soon in a future post. If it is half as good as 2013 I will be a happy man.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photos of the Week – My Christmas Dinner

This weeks photos are of my Christmas dinner.

Carrot & Coriander Soup

Traditional Turkey Dinner
 
Not so traditional cheesecake

Travel bloggers enjoy photographing their food and sharing it with everybody. I am no exception. Yesterday I spent a great day with my family. As for the meal itself, it was delicious.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo Essay – London

These are some photos from my visits to London in 2013.

Statue of John Wesley
Liverpool Street Station

Brick Lane
Outside Buckingham Palace

As you can tell some of the photos are not of the obvious places you would see. I look forward to visiting London more in 2014.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo Essay – Budapest

As 2013 comes to a close I would like to share some of my photos from my travels. The first photo essay is from Budapest.

The Chain Bridge
 
Beethoven was here
Inside the market

I hope that you have enjoyed some of my photos. Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Photo of the Week – Roses of Sarajevo

This week's photo was taken in Sarajevo. As I was walking around the city I noticed red blotches on the pavement and I was not sure what they were. It was only when I went on the free walking tour that I was told these were the roses of Sarajevo.

Roses of Sarajevo
They are placed in the spots where people fell and died during the siege of Sarajevo. Red signifies the blood spilt. Red is also why they are called roses. Sadly, you will see several of these roses in Sarajevo.
Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.
Steve

 

Day 10, 17 September – Oh Rainy Day to Up the Saddlers

I was feeling somewhat melancholic this morning as I was about to leave for Sarajevo. One of the main attractions of the Hostel Madjas was the tour around Mostar and the surrounding countryside. Today the majority of the hostel were going on the tour. My stay coincided with the days the tour was not running. I felt that I was missing out. Before I left I had a bit of a panic. Where did I put my iPod? I searched frantically. What was I was going to listen to for the rest of my trip? For what seemed like the fifth time I searched by backpack. Lo and behold the iPod turned up, panic over.

As I made my towards Mostar bus station I noticed that the weather felt colder and the skies were darker. It matched my mood. The journey into Sarajevo went smoothly enough. Travelling across Bosnia is a cheap option. It is also quicker than the train with more services. Also I had another chance to view the beautiful countryside. When the budget airlines start serving Bosnia Herzegovina it will really take off as a tourist destination.

I arrived into Sarajevo just after lunchtime. Now all I need to do is find my hostel. With the best will in the world the instructions to find the hostel can take some working out. The tram was simple enough but navigating the streets to find the hostel took some doing. I was tired, in a bad mood and now it was starting to rain. Could the day get any worse? After about 30 minutes of aimless wandering I found myself on the right street. Soon I was at the Hostel City Center. The first thing I noticed was that I would have to climb several flights of stairs. Once at the entrance I had to remove my shoes. That was no hardship. I checked in but not in the room I had originally booked. I did get some money back. While I was chilling in the lounge area the heavens opened up. When it rains in the Balkans it really rains. This will occupy me for the next couple of hours.

Eventually the rain did stop so I decided to venture outside. It felt cold but I was happy just to get out and see Sarajevo. The old city centre has a beauty to it. I heard the call to prayer. It was the first time that I realised I was in a prodominantly Muslim country. This was also an opportunity to get my bearings. I had a further two days to explore the city in more depth.

Back at the hostel I started talking to Tom. He was from Scotland and was spending the week in Sarajevo. We were getting on rather well. Tom suggested that we go into the old town for something to eat and I agreed.

Like the majority of cities there are people who will try and entice you to eat in their restaurant. Tom however, had his own recommendation. I enjoyed the veal kebabs washed down with a beer. While inside we noticed the Champions League featuring Manchester United was showing on the TV. This was a good way to spend the evening. It reminded me that my beloved Walsall was playing a big match tonight. Away to to local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves). I followed the match on my phone. When the final whistle blew Walsall had won 1-0. I could not stop myself letting out a shout of joy. The day which started out with me feeling fed up left me feeling elated.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling. Up the Saddlers.

Steve

 

2013 – How Did I Fare?

At the start of the year I set myself a target of 10 things that I wanted to do in 2013. So, how did it go for me?

  1. Purchase the domain name for the blog – this did not happen. A must for 2014.
  2. Take better photographs – I have received positive comments about some of my photos. I also feel that my photography has improved.
  3. Spend at least two hours a day on the blog or travel planning – To be honest I did tend to drop in and out of the blog. Need to spend more time on the blog in order to get more out of it. Better time management is in order.
  4. Start making contact with my fellow bloggers – I did manage to make contact with some of my fellow bloggers and have established some good relationships with them. Of course, I need to put myself out more by offering to put out guest post.
  5. Start introducing myself to the travel industry – Simply put it did not happen this year. Maybe, it was a case of holding myself back in case fear of refusal. More courage is needed.
  6. Attend a trade show – This did not happen though I did attend the Destinations Show courtesy of Tucan Travel.
  7. Explore my local area more – Started to do this more. Also visited more of the UK as well. Will continue to do this more in 2014.
  8. Make more contact with local people – This has been a success as I have been staying in smaller hostels. These are tended to be run by local people. They give you the places to go away from the tourist crowds. The kindest people I encountered was in Belgrade.
  9. Sort out my travel finances – I did not save regularly though I had enough money for my travels. I do however, need to budget more.
  10. Upgrade my travel tech – I did upgrade my iPad to the iPad 4 64GB. I am not a full time travel blogger so it is more than enough for my needs. I will add a keyboard in the new year. I have also just recently purchased the iPhone 5C, blue 32GB.

I think I will give myself 5 out 10. I will be publishing my 10 things to do in 2014 before the year is out.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Day 9, 16 September – Jump to it

Yesterday we were teasing Renud the French guy about the joys French toast or eggy bread depending where you come from. Matia must have overheard us as for breakfast we were served French toast. I am enjoying this hostel. Sitting outside in the sunny weather sharing breakfast with good people. Today as with most days travelling I will be saying goodbye to most of the people who I was with at the restaurant last night.

As this was the last full day I would be spending in Mostar I thought I would explore the town more. Mostar is quite small with the places of interested situated around the Stari Most. This is the focal point of the town. I popped into a nearby bookshop. Inside they showed a continuous video of the bridge destruction and rebuilding. It must have been devastating to witness at the time. I even jumped when I saw the mortar hit the bridge.

Following on from that I visited the museum that was next to the bridge. It is interesting as it told the history of the Ottoman occupation. You move on to another section where you are told the story of how the bridge the original bridge was built. You can only admire the ingenuity of the engineering. It is also worth watching the video of the reconstruction too. I found that to be moving.

Mostar is definitely split into two sides. One Croat, the other Bosniak. There were obvious differences. The Croat side seemed to be more wealthy while the Bosniak side appeared more run down. As I walked across the city I noticed a large shopping mall that looked totally out of place. The Mepas Mall is a typical modern shopping mall. I had been told that a hospital was demolished to make way for it. Aledgially, money changed hands and a replacement hospital was built out of town. I moved away feeling sad. I needed something to cheer me up, ice cream.

For the second day in a row I made my way to the Palma Ice Cream parlour. Two scoops of ice cream washed down with a complementary glass of water was just what the doctor ordered. Feeling refreshed I made my way back to the old town.

The best ice cream in Bosnia Herzegovina

I had yet to see anybody jump off the Stari Most. However, when I reached the river bed I saw two people practicing from a smaller diving platform. One of the swimming club members was training them. Another member was checking from the bridge. Once he said everything was alright then they could jump off the main bridge. The crowd was waiting for the first person to jump. Dressed in a wetsuit he jumped in. A round of applause followed. About ten minutes later the next person appeared ready to jump in what looked like the same wetsuit. How very hygienic! He also jumped in to great applause. Had I considered jumping? No way.

Geronimo!

I had to be back at the hostel for 5pm and the evening meal. Tonight it was a hearty soup with bread. Met new people and we seemed to get on well. The evening was spent chilling out in the lounge. We then decided to head out and ended up at the Coco Loco. Sitting outside with no light seemed a surreal way to end my final day in Mostar.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve