I’ve been travelling full time with my wife Genie since February 2015—mostly driving around Europe in a second-hand Toyota, but with occasional detours to places like North Africa and the Caribbean.
This page is a record of that trip, in reverse chronological order. So you can see the most recent photos at the top, and gradually go back to 2015 as you scroll down. It’s a work in progress, so I’ll keep updating the older sections with new photos and adding more as we go to new places.
One thing I realise as I post these is that there’s a conflict between my view of the trip and what I captured on my camera. The highlights, for me, have been the people I’ve met, the things I’ve learnt, the cultures I’ve come to understand. But the photographs I’ve taken are mostly of places.
Perhaps it’s a generational thing—when I’m having a good time talking to someone, the last thing I think of doing is pulling out my camera and recording the experience to post online. Also, Genie’s a real photographer, and often when she’s photographing someone, I don’t want to get in the way by pulling out my cameraphone and making it like a paparazzi gallery. In any case, I’ll try to fill in some of the stories with text as I go.
Right now we’re in northern Croatia, on the Istrian coast, enjoying some much-needed sunshine.
Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria
January was about skidding around on snow and ice in the far east of Europe, chasing after various folk festivals and traditions, from ice bathing to some fascinating festivals of clear pagan origin that reminded me of the ancient birth and renewal rites I’ve read about in books like The Golden Bough.
The year began with islands, starting in the Canaries and then taking in Madeira, the Azores and various Caribbean islands. Then we were back to mainland Europe, spending the rest of the year in eastern Europe: Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia and Greece.
This was very different from the blue skies and warmth we usually associate with Greece, but the warmth of the people kept us going through the snow and ice.
We were lucky to be able to attend a traditional wedding in the mountain village of Ribnovo, a two-day affair involving outdoor dancing in freezing temperatures, a bride with her face painted, wedding gift displayed outside, and more fascinating traditions.
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Madeira & the Azores
After spending the first three months of the year in Morocco, we spent the summer island-hopping through the Mediterranean, and then headed to the Canary Islands for Christmas and New Year.
From Sardinia, wetook a ferry across to Naples, drove across Italy and took a ferry from Bari to Corfu:
Then we went to Crete for the wedding of our friends Nikos and Polla.
After that, we spent several months in mainland Greece, mostly in Patra. It was good to be in a part of Greece that, unlike Athens and the islands, is mostly neglected by foreign tourists and so allowed us to enjoy an authentic local experience.
After a few unmemorable days in Ibiza, we spent about a month in Mallorca, mostly at a beautiful hotel in Costa dels Pins that we could barely afford, doing no sightseeing and just recovering from the fascinating but exhausting months in Morocco.
Then we moved on to Menorca, where we saw a mix of natural beauty and culture both old and new.
Ceuta, a small enclave of Spanish territory on the north coast of Morocco, is a strange and disturbing place, which I wrote about more in this post on the violence of borders. We easily crossed a fortified border that has cost other people their lives, stayed the night in a hotel, did a quick tourist visit around town, and hopped on a ferry to mainland Europe, which is visible from Ceuta but impossible for anyone with the wrong passport to reach.
Morocco was a beautiful but confounding experience. So much to see, so many wonderful people, but also such poverty and inequality, with the problems that crop up when that poverty collides with mass tourism from richer nations. I wrote a few posts about our experiences there:
- Living on the Road
- In a Desert State of Mind
- The Pull of the Road
- The “Blue Town” of Chefchaouen
- Happy International Women’s Day? Not in Morocco
This was a year for northern Europe, with a couple of months in France and the Netherlands followed by a circuit around the Baltic states and Scandinavia, of which Norway was the highlight. Then we had a month in Barbados and discovered Portugal in the autumn.
We started off by driving through France to Italy, which we loved so much that we spent four months there and only saw half of it. Then we spent a month in the Slovenian mountains before exploring central Europe. The big surprise was how much we enjoyed our tour of the former Yugoslavia and then Albania. We finished up in Greece, which is like our second home.
I grew up hearing about the breakup of Yugoslavia on the news every day, with the Serbs mostly painted as the villains, so I must admit that I approached visiting Serbia with a lot of prejudice. But those negative expectations were completely dispelled, and Serbia ended up being an unexpected highlight of the trip.
Since the country is such a strange shape, we tackled Croatia in several pieces: Zagreb and the north first, and then dipping into Dubrovnik later, on our way from Bosnia to Montenegro. We’ll fill in the rest another time.
What to say about Italy? We stayed for four months and only covered half of it. We drove in from France to Liguria and went slowly down the western half of the country, across into Sicily and down to Malta. We planned to drive back up the eastern side, but only got as far as Molise before summer came, the crowds increased, and we decided to leave most of the northern part of Italy for another time.
This was just a brief stop on our way from France to Italy, and it felt like enough time. Gawking at the luxury cars and helicopter-decked yachts of the super-rich got old quite fast.
Our trip began in February 2015, so after a ferry across the Channel we drove south as quickly as we could. We visited Avignon and Arles, and then drove along the Cote d’Azur to Nice.