Merry Christmas. Enjoy These Repeats 2011

Merry Christmas. Enjoy These Repeats 2011

Last year, trying to write something Christmassy while putting as little effort into the task as possible, I came up with the inspired idea of writing about things I had already written about.

Repeats’ I shouted, metaphorically jumping out of the bath. ‘What could be more Christmassy than that?’

This year, devoid of any pretence to do anything different, I have resolved to do the same and repeat the repeats idea.

The beginning of the year saw us snowed in in Irish countryside wondering where the next bottle of wine was going to come from. After much verbal and physical abuse to our mobile internet conenction, we were soon to move away from the internet blackspots our families chose to live in in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to start our long route home to Turkey via the Middle East .

We quickly got used to the backpacker life living together in a little room and foolishly climbed Mount Sinai before our plans were interrupted by the protests in Egypt. Though we were in the country from the first tents being erected in Tahrir Square to the toppling of Mubarak we were sheltered from the political struggles if not the economic effects of the revolution in Dahab.

Despite overstaying our visa by two weeks we were tempted to make a return visit to Cairo and Giza to get the Pyramids to ourselves and wondered if for this reason it wasn’t a good time to visit Egypt.

Instead we decided to explore a new country and moved on to Jordan, staying in Aqaba a few days before visiting the country’s premier site, Petra. Fans of ruined cities will also get a kick out of Jerash to the north.

We had planned on visiting Syria but events there forced us to change our plans and we went instead to Beirut, a city we quickly fell for despite cheap accommodation being thin on the ground. Having developed a taste for recent warzones we then spent ten days in Northern Iraq.

Our adopted home country received more attention this year than last. This was in part due to spending a couple of weeks in cave hotels in Cappadocia, one of which offered volunteer work. We also photographed the Apollo Temple in Didim and pondered why winter seems longer in a tourist resort in Turkey. I also wrote a piece about my birth place when London exploded into rioting.

Aside from a guest post on working abroad as a linguist articles on working abroad were thin on the ground during our travels but later in the year we pondered the anatomy of a working traveller and work opportunities in backpacker hostels including in Amsterdam.

We also suggested places to volunteer in Albania and Cusco, an A to Z of Gap Year Travel and launched a new website listing free and cheap volunteer work abroad.

Other topics we covered this year include child begging, the travel class system and the travel blog interview merry go round.

Expat life was also explored in our interview series Why I Live in… where we looked at expats and travellers living in Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia, Cusco, Berlin, Australia’s Sunshine Coast and Santa Cruz de Laguna, Guatemala. We also questioned Sara Grazia and Henry Lee on their forthcoming around the world travels.

Wandering Earl inspired our My Bad Travel Photo series contributing his own effort on Hong Kong. Slightly better pics were taken of St Katherine’s Monastery, Erbil Citadel and Beirut street art.

Merry Christmas,
Shane & Deirdre

Image courtesy of Thomas Ormston

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