I have been extremely lucky and travelled a fair bit in 2013. So here are my random awards – THE WILLIES – for the year
BEST LONG HAUL AIRLINE: BRITISH AIRWAYS
No airline gets everything right all the time, but I think BA gets it right more often than most, and I don’t agree with those who think it’s fashionable to bash it just because it’s a national symbol. After a dip a few years ago – my goodness some of those crew could be right battle axes – I have had some great flights this year with very friendly staff. And on their re-vamped fleet (A380s, 787s and some 777s – sadly only those) the inflight entertainment is pretty much there with the best in the industry.
Best short haul airline: easyJet
Again, for me this comes down to crew. I have had several easyJet flights this year where the crew seem to have remembered that flying can be fun and went above and beyond in customer service.
Surprise hit – long haul: Bermuda
If I had a penny for every time someone said “oh you won’t like it, it’s boring” before I set off for Bermuda, well I’d have around 7 pence by now. But guess what? I loved it. Laid back, great people, awesome beaches. The only major negative points are on cost (not cheap!) and not be able to rent a hire car, although I do understand that the island would be one great big car park if that was allowed.
Surprise hit – short haul: Italian Dolomites
I was fortunate enough to travel to this part of Italy twice this year – once for skiing and once in summer. It is an incredibly stunning region and I think the Dolomites knock the Alps into a cocked hat. Add in the mix of mouth-watering Italian/Austrian cooking and it is somewhere I would highly recommend whether for skiing, hiking or just eating!
Back-country touring near Cortina d’Ampezzo
Surprise hit – mid haul: Marrakech
I went to Marrakech in the 1980s and just remember the hassle so I was somewhat hesitant when I went back in November. I’d heard things were less ‘aggressive’ now and it was true. Maybe it was the 27 degrees while Britain was shivering in Autumn, or evening cocktails on the roof of Riad El Fenn, wandering around the souk or looking in the more modern shops of Gueliz, but this time round it was an altogether much, much more positive experience.
Pool of the Year: Espace Henri Chenot, Merano, Italy
I know I have an incredibly tough job (cough cough, splutter, choke) but honestly, sometimes, you can only get free wifi around the pool. Well, that’s what I tell the other half.
Espace Henri Chenot. Merano
Breakfast of the year: Caravan, Kings Cross
I do like my breakfasts and for me, Caravan, behind Kings Cross is consistently good and my regular go-to. I hope to discover plenty of new breakfast/brunch places in London next year.
Gratuitous pic of the year for dreaming of travel on a rainy, winter day in London: Ipanema beach, Rio de Janeiro
This was Ipanema on a Sunday afternoon last February. But are they happy? (!)
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Thank you to everyone who has made my travels possible in 2013, not least my long-suffering other half who puts up with 4 weeks’ holiday-days a year while I trot off all over the place, and never once complains.