The first six months of 2013 have proven to be just as eventful as the same period last year. 2013 kicked off in a quiet way – I spent most of the winter months at home in Amsterdam, and what a winter it was! Not only was it excruciatingly cold, it seemed to last forever and the snow just kept coming!

Keeping warm in a wintry Amsterdam.
Keeping warm in a wintry Amsterdam.

My first trip was to Belgrade in Serbia where I assisted the German National Tourist Board by speaking at the International Tourism Fair about their youth travel programme. It was just as cold and snowy in Belgrade and I didn’t get to see much of it but what I saw certainly intrigued me.

My next stop was Madrid! Gosh, I love this city. It was a great joy to stroll around the city for a few days, hanging out with the locals in the Mercado de San Miguel and uncovering great things to see and do in Madrid.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Not long after that trip to Madrid, I found myself in the chaotic streets of Marrakech in Morocco. This city, with its ancient souks and alleys, stunning palaces and ditto courtyards, was a truly exotic experience. My travel mates, Dave & Deb (@ThePlanetD), added a dash of adventure and we had a brilliant time exploring the city together.

Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech
Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech

From Marrakech, we flew to Berlin where I gave a presentation at ITB Berlin, the world’s biggest tourism trade fair. It was really cool to meet my fellow bloggers and catch up with what everyone’s doing.

Several weeks later, I was on a plane to the south of France. I visited Marseille for the first time – and loved this city by the Mediterranean Sea which this year is proud to be the European Capital of Culture – and then hired a car, driving around the Provence, with lovely Avignon as my base.

The historic Vieux Port in Marseille.
The historic Vieux Port in Marseille.
The Papal Palace in Avignon.
The Papal Palace in Avignon.

Brazil was my next stop. Melvin (@traveldudes) and I spent four glorious days in Rio de Janeiro, surely one of my favourite cities in the world. The weather was perfect for some beach time and lengthy walks around the city. From here, we flew to Sao Paulo, where we did various presentations at the WTM Latin America tourism trade fair.

Me at the top of the Corcovado mountain.
Me at the top of the Corcovado mountain.

Two days after returning home from Brazil, I was on another plane, this time to Bologna for the launch of Blogville. It was a very quick visit to attend the press conference and do several media interviews, and before I knew it, I was on another plane home! A few days later, I found myself landing in Johannesburg for the start of the #MeetSouthAfrica blog trip. I had a terrific time in South Africa, visiting places and regions I’d never been to before such as Johannesburg (which was a very pleasant surprise!), the Pilanesberg National Reserve (where we went on an unforgettable safari), the Free State and the lovely oceanside city of Durban. One of my highlights of this trip was meeting one of my readers in his hometown. In Durban, I attended and spoke at Africa’s largest trade fair, INDABA.

Bertrand, one of my readers, showed us his hometown and took us to one of his favourite watering holes!
Bertrand (far left), one of my readers, showed us his hometown and took us to one of his favourite watering holes!

After spending a few weeks in Amsterdam and attending the TBU travel bloggers conference in Rotterdam, I crossed the Atlantic yet again, first to Montréal. My first time in this city and I loved its laid-back pace and fabulous diversity. I can so see myself living there, one day perhaps!

Having my very first poutine in Montréal!
Having my very first poutine in Montréal!

From Montréal, I flew to Toronto for the TBEX travel bloggers conference. I was pretty overwhelmed to be in the company of 1,300 travel bloggers but I had a great time meeting many American and Canadian travel bloggers (whom I’d only known via social media) for the first time. The highlight of my stay in Toronto was of course calling the incredibly luxurious Four Seasons Hotel my home for several days!

My Four Seasons 'home' in Toronto! :-)
My Four Seasons ‘home’ in Toronto! 🙂
We partied into the night on Centre Island with this stunning view of the Toronto skyline.
We partied into the night on Centre Island with this stunning view of the Toronto skyline.

Now it’s time for a break

Several years ago, I decided, after a long spell of travelling and blogging (and feeling rather jaded), to treat myself to a holiday. Totally offline. Just time for myself. It was the best thing I did that year! I came back reinvigorated and with a renewed passion for travel and writing. Since then, I’ve made it a custom to have a ‘digital detox’ break every year. No blogging and not a single tweet! After six-odd months of travel, I’m really looking forward to my break, which starts tomorrow. I’ll be somewhere in Europe, up in the mountains but close to the sea, in an accommodation that doesn’t offer wifi. I won’t have my laptop nor my camera with me. No pressures. Just me and time for myself.

My next post is scheduled for the 24th of July. Until then, please feel free to soak up some travel inspiration via my Velvet Escape World Map. Take care & travel safe!

Remember… “Go explore. Experience. And be inspired“. 🙂

13 Responses

  • Hi Keith !

    Congratulations for all your traveling and good blog. I am from Costa Rica and one of my goals this year is go to Europe, I have never been there but I read so much about it that I will do everything I can to go.

    Take care

  • Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for your lovely comment. It sure is great to travel with fellow bloggers – it’s always lots of fun and it motivates me immensely.
    I had a fabulous break in Spain – as with all holidays, it went by so quickly! Oh well! 🙂

    All the best with your novel!


  • I just found your blog through the NY Times. Love this post and love the site. Thanks for sharing all your experiences with us. I traveled a lot in my 20’s but haven’t done much lately.

    I love blogging and love that it’s connected me with so many new friends. It’s cool to see you with blog friends (above), too. I think that’s what keeps most of us bloggers at it.

    As for the digital detox, I’ve had to implement that, too. I love my time online but it really is a job and everyone needs a break from work. I’m taking a longer hiatus now since I’m writing a novel and feel like all my creative energy needs to be invested into this draft, but I hope to be back online soon.

    Best wishes and nice to “meet” you. Lisa

  • Wow, that’s amazing year so far, I’m exhausted just reading about it, but what fantastic destinations to visit in this alone!

  • WOW..Keith! I was curious to know whether you now have a Personal Assistant to pack and unpack your luggage with your tight traveling dates from one to another. No blogging, no tweet, no camera (not even a camera on your smartphone?), no laptop..LOVE the digital detox idea. Just an idea for your big break next year : Tegal Wangi Beach in Bali – you need to climb down the steep rocky hill to these ‘jacuzzi on the sea’. Find the beach on my blog (after your digital detox ends 🙂 ) Congrats Keith!

  • wow that’s great i really appreciate your passions thumb up bro, love to read your article nice pictures as well.

  • Great to meet you in Toronto! Enjoy your time in the mountains, near the sea. You know how to pick the perfect place to detox! 🙂

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