A Year in Review

Many of my travels recently have involved seeing my favourite bands or singers playing in different cities around the world. Combining my love of music and travel is a great way to see the world. As well as spending time with friends I get to visit parts of the UK and beyond that I may never have visited and enjoy a gig in the evening. Also, when travelling solo it takes the pressure off finding something do in the evening. Often the loneliest bit of travelling solo for me.

However, when most of your favourite bands and singers tour in the same year it’s always a bit crazy!  At the beginning of the year I thought I’d get to see a few European cities I’d never visited.  I never imagined I’d be heading back to my favourite part of the world at the end of the year. Just goes to show you never know what the future has in store :o)

I started the year a bit closer to home and through the spring visited Glasgow, Sheffield and Belfast. Belfast is always one of my favourite cities to visit. It’s been named by Lonely Planet as one of top regions to visit in 2018 and I can’t disagree. It’s a nice place to go to a gig too, venues within walking distance and always a great crowd.

Summer days

Over the summer I visited Dublin, Loch Lomond, Manchester and Norwich. I’ve been to most of these places many times but am always grateful for the opportunity to return. Loch Lomond is even more stunning than I remembered. One day I hope to be able to explore it properly.

I’ve never been to Scandinavia so when the chance of seeing a gig in Stockholm arose I didn’t have to think long.  A mix of old and new, it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited.  I can’t wait to return and see more of Sweden.  

View of Stockholm

Thankfully the gig was in an arena rather than stadium like the UK leg of the tour. To me stadiums gigs are the worst type of gig, you pay a load of money to look at the neck of the person standing in front of you (I’m short!), not eat all day and have to cross your legs for seven hours. No thanks :o) It was definitely an experience seeing a show in Scandinavia, I’ve never seen a crowd so quiet. I think they enjoyed it though.

If one beautiful European city wasn’t enough, I had the opportunity to visit Prague a few weeks later. Prague has been on my travel wishlist for a long while and it didn’t disappoint. I think my friends and I must have walked all over this charming city taking in the sights and sounds. While wandering around we stumbled across the National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror.  If I’m being honest, I’m not sure this would have made it on our sightseeing list but I’d say it is a must if you are visiting Prague. It’s an incredibly moving and thought provoking memorial and is still stuck in my mind many months later.

Prague
View over Prague

The show was at Letnany Airport, one of the oldest Czech airports but is now used for shows and outdoor events. Thankfully we had the weather for an outdoor show, no rain!  There was no quiet crowd here, the atmosphere was amazing. The perfect way to end my tour.

Heavy Entertainment Show- Prague
The Heavy Entertainment Show, Prague

I never need an excuse to visit Australia but when my favourite band announced a tour there it was a dream come true. There was absolutely no way I’d miss that…

Downunderland Tour

It seemed like November would never arrive but eventually, it was time to make the long trek down under. I actually love long haul flights, even in econcomy :o)  Just being able to switch off and not worry about anything other than what film you are going to watch or what meal to choose. I’d fly long haul every trip if I could!

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Australia and New Zealand before so there wasn’t anything new to see on this trip but as most of my previous trips were solo I was looking forward to having some company.

First stop was Perth. The last time I visited Perth was December 2006 and the England Cricket team still had an (admittedly) small chance of winning the Ashes. I love the laid back vibe of Perth and the combination of city and beach life. There has been a lot of construction since my last visit with a new waterfront area and new offices/residential blocks and a hotel being built.  Perth feels like a city on the up…sadly the same can’t be said about the English cricket team who suffered another series defeat in the Ashes!

The Bell Tower, Perth
The Bell Tower, Perth

On a previous trip I took the train, the Indian Pacific, from Perth to Adelaide.  Across the Nullarbor in two and a half days.  Yes two and a half days! And I didn’t even see Adelaide as I jumped on a flight to Melbourne.  This time I took the sensible option and flew.

I don’t remember seeing much of Adelaide, back in 2002, as it was pretty much a stop off for other things – a trip to visit friends in Murray Bridge, the last stop before the Outback Eclipse or the start of an Adelaide to Melbourne road trip.  Sadly I didn’t see much of it this time either.  Oh well there is always next time…

Melbourne was up next. I’ve had some great times in Melbourne, attended some amazing sporting events, done all the Neighbours tours (obviously as a Brit) but there is just something that doesn’t do it for me. I’m firmly in the Team Sydney camp in the Melbourne v Sydney debate. Maybe it’s too European like for me?  I’ve not yet been able to figure out why…maybe on my next trip.  That said, I had a few fun days hanging out with some new friends and seeing my first Aussie TV show being filmed.

Sydney is my favourite city in the world so I’m always happy to spend a few days here. The view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House never gets old and the day my stomach stops doing a little flip when I see it for the first time in a while is when I’ll stop visiting. Even though this was a short visit, I still managed to squeeze a few of my favourite things in – watching the world go by over a drink at the Opera Bar, the weekend markets in The Rocks and strolling along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.

Sydney Opera House
Me in my favourite place…

Brisbane was the last Australian stop on this part of the trip. On my previous trips Brisbane has been a stopover on my way up to Noosa or down to Byron Bay so this time it was nice to spend a day wandering around the Southbank.  I’m always amazed when I see the city beach. What a great idea, if only we had the weather for that in London!

If you’ve gone all that way for a few gigs you might as well cross ‘the ditch’ for the New Zealand leg of the tour. So Wellington and Auckland it was.

Last time I was in Wellington was in 2008…I had to go all the way there to see England win an overseas cricket series :o) I love how compact the city is, everything you need is within easy reach. Sadly there was only time for little sightseeing, a trip on New Zealand’s only funicular railway to the city lookout and enjoying the cafe culture with my backpacking pals who now live there.

It always seems to me to get anywhere in New Zealand you have to pass through Auckland, well that’s what all my previous trips have been like. You might spend a day or two there but really you are just passing through on the way to Bay of Islands, The Coromandel, or the South Island. This time was nice to spend a day wandering round and enjoying all the bars and restaurants Viaduct Harbour has to offer.

Afer a few days back in Sydney it was time to head home. I broke up the long flight home with a stopover (and another gig of course) in Dubai. I’m always in two minds with Dubai. I can see it’s appeal, a fairly short flight from the UK, great weather, lots of beaches but I just find it a little soulless. However, the gigs there are always amazing. Dubai Media City is a great venue and most people seem to arrive about 20 minutes before the start of the show rather than the day before in the UK :o) So that was 2017…I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.   SaveSave

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