It’s pretty much been the most fascinating and fun year of my life. It’s been a year where I’ve had no fixed abode for the whole 12 months; spend my time in/on three continents; learned to love Starbucks and Coldplay; embraced Flickr and Twitter; found out (self diagnosed via a lot of web research) that the migraines I get aren’t migraines, but show all the signs of being cluster headaches; begun wearing baseball caps regularly; not cut my hair since 10 January (apart from having it thinned out a bit in Milwaukee); and have yet again failed to give up smoking cigarettes (the best I managed this year was five days when I was in Brasília).
Here, self-indulgently, are a few photos of the highlights of my year. I say “a few,” but that’s a bit of an understatement; the post has ended up being quite large, so, if you can’t be arsed to reminisce with me – and who can blame you – I won’t be offended if you click away to another website.
1 January. Royal Festival Hall, London, United Kingdom Blog post
The best New Year’s Eve event I’ve ever been to: Super Furry Animals and Deerhoof and friends and a pleasant walk amongst drunken people and party debris.
13 January. Plaza de toros México, Mexico City, Mexico Blog post
Going to a bullfight is horrific in the ways you’d imagine, but despite that, a thoroughly pleasant afternoon.
16 January. Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico Blog post
Getting drunk on a pretty boat with pretty ladies and him-out-of-The-Shamen.
20 January. Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico Blog post
A goalless draw between Club América and Puebla, but so very cool to be in the stadium where Maradona scored those wonderful (in different ways) against England.
30 January. Punta Gorda, Belize Blog post
Kayaking through jungle and visiting a butterfly farm.
4 February. Snake Cayes, Belize Blog post
Not only snorkelling for the first time in my life, but getting to know lovely new friends.
7 February. Panama City, Panama Blog post
Getting a yellow fever shot that I’d stupidly neglected to get before embarking on my travels. For some reason, I didn’t take any photographs of the day, which is a shame. It’s all very clear in my head, though; especially Maria’s tits.
8 February. Panama Canal, Panama City, Panama Blog post
Just really damn impressive.
10 February. Punta Gorda, Belize Blog post
Being bitten by a kinkajou.
24 February. São Paulo, Brazil
A great day spent hanging out with my friend Juliana. I can’t really remember laughing so much in one day; visiting the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, and later watching the Oscars on telly.
27 February. Brasília, Brazil Blog post
A stunning city; the massive skies, Oscar Niemeyer’s buildings, and Juliana’s family who welcomed me into their home with such warmth.
1 March. Brasília, Brazil Blog post
The first of three trips to the cinema to see There Will Be Blood.
6 March. São Paulo, Brazil Blog post
Zooming around on the back of a Brazilian girl’s motorcycle in the early hours of the morning.
10 March. Curitiba, Brazil Blog post
Getting drunk with strangers.
15 March. Florianópolis, Brazil Blog post
The twelve hour Santo Daime marathon.
20 March. Ingleses, Brazil Blog post
Getting a tan.
26 March. Campo Bom, Brazil Blog post
Seeing Brazilian football for the first time: Clube 15 de Novembro vs. Grêmio.
29 March. Punta del Este, Uruguay Blog post
Being sat on my own in a fairly ropey restuarant, trying to stifle the shoulder-shuddering laughter when reading the translations on the menu.
30 March. Punta del Diablo, Uruguay Blog post
Being dropped off by a bus at the end of a 5km road that lead to this tiny fishing village, not knowing where or if there was anywhere to stay.
9 April. Ushuaia, Argentina Blog post
After spending a few days in Buenos Aires and felling sorry for myself, I flew down to the southernmost city in Argentina, and spent an afternoon on a small boat on the Beagle Channel looking at sea lions.
12 April. Ushuaia, Argentina Blog post
Walking on a glacier.
13 April. Ushuaia, Argentina Blog post
Drunk landlady in her underpants.
15 April. El Calafate, Argentina Blog post
Best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
17 April. Buenos Aires, Argentina Blog post
Bumping into an old friend from London on a pedestrian crossing in smokey, smokey Buenos Aires.
19 April. Buenos Aires, Argentina Blog post
Boca Juniors. Specifically, their fans.
20 April. Buenos Aires, Argentina Blog post
Watching Paraguayans huddled around a radio in the centre of Buenos Aires listening to the results of their native country’s election.
2-5 May. Puerto Iguazú, Argentina Blog post
An excellent few days beginning with chatting in broken English and Spanish to a pretty stranger on a bus; seeing the breathtaking Iguazú waterfalls, and having drunken fun in a casino with two Italians.
10 May. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Blog post
Visiting the Rocinha favela.
12 May. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Blog post
A real sightseeing day, going up the big Jesus thing and Sugar Loaf mountain and seeing exactly how magnificent Rio is.
18 May. New York, NY, United States Blog post
Being back somewhere where I can easily communicate was lovely. Getting drunk with friends, meeting random Yankees fans, and ending up drinking more on a rooftop in Manhattan.
7 June. Pittsburgh, PA to Milwaukee, WI, United States Blog post
After only a few hours sleep, taking a monster journey through five states, and getting to know some American people along the way.
10 June. Beloit, WI, United States Blog post
A few games into my tour of baseball stadiums, I joined my friends Rebecca and J.P. on a little trip to the small town of Beloit to see the Snappers.
12 June. Chicago, IL, United States Blog post
Wrigley Field. Beautiful.
14 June. Chicago, IL, United States Blog post
The best hot dog I’ve ever had.
17 June. Denver, CO, United States Blog post
Meeting new friends and having a right laugh at a ball game.
28 June. Wenatchee, WA, United States Blog post
4 July. Estacada, OR, United States Blog post
Watching the insurgents celebrate their independence.
17 July. San Francisco, CA, United States Blog post
Eating some fantastic pizza with an ex-girlfriend’s husband and finding out what a great bloke he is.
24 July. Los Angeles, CA, United States Blog post
Going to Marina del Rey and seeing where Dennis Wilson died. No plaque, nothing particularly attractive about the place, but somewhere that I’d always dreamed of visiting.
25 July. Los Angeles, CA, United States Blog post
Dodger Stadium: the most beautiful stadium I’ve ever visited.
27 July. San Diego, CA, United States Blog post
What’s not to love about this?
9 August. Barnet, United Kingdom Blog post
It was a real headfuck being being back in London, but going to see a football game with my mate John was the highlight. Great, after six months or so away, to hang out with my mate and just natter about shit.
18 August. Berlin, Germany Blog post
Travelling to Berlin, and it feeling like home.
19 August. Berlin Germany Blog post
8 September. London, United Kingdom Blog post
Sitting in my mate Jackie’s kitchen, systematically searching for every previously unfound street named after a date and completing the A year of streets project.
22 September. Berlin, Germany to Aalst, Belgium Blog post
I spent my birthday on a train travelling to what at the time felt like it’d be my new home. Didn’t quite turn out like that, but at the time it was exciting.
18 October. Ostend, Belgium Blog post
Spending a cold, windy afternoon walking along the seafront, listened to episodes of This American Life on my headphones (something I tend to do is stock the episodes up so I can have a nice binge of three or four in one go).
5 November. Aalst, Belgium Blog post
In a cold attic, watching live streams of US television coverage of their election, and, thankfully, the Republicans not winning.
8 November. Strasbourg, France Blog post
Hanging out with my lovely friend Silke in a lovely town.
5 December. New York, NY, United States Blog post
Simply stood getting cold, looking at a beautiful sky over New York Harbor for about half an hour.
18 December. Bellingham, WA, United States Blog post
Lots and lots and lots of snow, a white Christmas.
And there’s still two more days to go, so maybe there’ll be something else noteworthy.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far, thank you. I feel like I’m always going on about the travelling I’ve done this year. It had a greater effect on me than I ever imagined, and something from those travels, particularly in South America, passes through my head daily. I miss it, and can’t wait to do it again one day. But, after a few more weeks in the States, I’ll be heading back to Berlin, looking for an apartment, getting my stuff out of storage and settling down for the foreseeable future. I’m very much looking forward to it. Here’s to a wonderful 2009 for all of us.