2014: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As a new year begins, it’s a great time to put the kettle on, relax, and spend a little time reflecting on all the things we did in the last twelve months.

Granted, we don’t want to remember everything we did (fortunately, as I get older all the cringe-worthy stuff gets less and less each year I’m pleased to say), but I think a bit of light-hearted rumination allows us to focus on the things we learnt and how we can positively move forward with it in 2015.

From a travel point of view I had a fab year. I left my stomping ground at least once a month (bar December) and had a nice fix of Scandinavia, with a quick visit to Finland, a couple of visits to Sweden and a few trips to Arctic Norway at the beginning of the year.

But I would say 2014 was slightly less about Scandinavia, and more about visiting the places that have been crowding my wish-list for far too long – Russia, Lisbon and Madrid to name a few.

I thought about doing a ‘best of’ kind of review, but I realised that wouldn’t be a true reflection of my year, so instead, I give you my most memorable moments!

1. Worst night’s sleep

Moscow hostel
No welcome sign, no windows, no nothing – it’s hard to believe from the outside that this hostel in Moscow could be anything else than a brothel (at least to non-Russian speakers).

2. And best night’s sleep

Sorrisniva igloo hotel
It may not have provided me with the longest night’s sleep, but hands-down a night at the Igloo Hotel in Northern Norway was, by far, the most memorable.

3. Most awe-struck moment

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon
This one is tough but I think Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon takes the prize. Seeing ice cube-like floes on a black beach just blew me away!

4. Poshest thing I did

Swan Lake, Saint Petersburg
You can’t go to Russia without seeing the Ballet darhling!

5. Best kiss

Tromso Vilmarkssenter, husky sledding
I would never usually kiss and tell but I can’t resist sharing my hot totty from earlier this year in March. Gorgeous, isn’t he?

6. Most stomach-churning thing I ate

Harkarl, rotten shark, Iceland
Hakarl, also known as rotten shark.

7. Tastiest thing I ate

Ravintola Pollowaari restaurant, Finland
I spent the whole time drooling in Finland. The whole time.

8. Biggest disappointment

Audrey Horne
London. I didn’t make the most of my time in this mega city, but there’s no point beating myself up about it. Besides, I’m not over with London yet, I have a feeling I’ll be back for a second attempt…

9. Most exciting thing I did

Whitewater rafting, Finland
With whitewater rafting also comes a screaming competition. I won.

10. Most peed-off moment

Joan Crawford
I caught a man trying to pickpocket me in Paris. Completely enraged by the immorality of it all, I shouted and swore at him – not my usual style but it did the trick as I watched him weasel his way back into the crowd. Doing a Joan Crawford is definitely the way to go in a situation like that.

11. Best new experience

Flotation suit, Finland
Getting taped and zipped up in a flotation suit so I could venture down a Finnish stream like a human buoy was a strangely therapeutic sensation, bobbing along to the rhythm of the water.

12. What I definitely won’t miss

Rush hour, London Underground

London. Rush.Hour.

13. Favourite city of 2014

Lisbon, Portugal

The people, buildings, food, museums; everything about Lisbon exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to see more of Portugal now.

 14. Freakiest Museum visited

Hunterian Museum, London
It’s a tie between the Hunterian Museum in London and KunstKamera Museum in Saint Petersburg. Morbidly delicious.

Now I’d love to know what your most memorable moment of 2014 was?!

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.

'2014: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' have 25 comments

  1. January 6, 2015 @ 8:55 pm Julika

    What a great year, Shing! I love that Lisbon became one of your favorite cities! And I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for you!


    • January 20, 2015 @ 12:51 am admin

      Going to Lisbon when I did is partly due to the wanderlust I felt after reading your posts Julika!!


  2. January 6, 2015 @ 9:59 pm Colleen Brynn

    Wonderful list! I’m still amazed that you tackled that shark. I left that task up to my boyfriend. He actually seemed to enjoy it!(???) haha
    Sometimes I swear and yell when I travel too, which I like to think isn’t my norm, but I find it to be effective for accomplishing… well, lots, really.
    Also, you can’t be done with London yet, because that is where we are meant to frolic. Or will we frolic elsewhere? (!)


    • January 20, 2015 @ 12:55 am admin

      Hah! Your boyfriend has a tough gag reflex, or maybe he’s just deeply perverse 🙂

      I know, I haven’t forgotten about our future frolic Colleen!! London is still a great place for this happen 😀 but the world is our oyster, right?


  3. January 6, 2015 @ 11:21 pm The Guy

    Great round up Shing, it looks like a fabulous year for you. Maybe less of the weird Russian hostels and strange museums and more of the fun stuff for 2015?

    Floating down a river sounds like fun.

    I certainly hope you get chance to enjoy London again. Our capital has so much to offer.


    • January 20, 2015 @ 1:13 am admin

      I agree, no more Russian hostels, but totally still wanna still see more strange museums!!

      If you get the chance to float down a river, I def recommend it! Me too, I’m not done with London. Hope you’re having a great start to 2015!


  4. January 7, 2015 @ 9:47 am Eleanor

    Sounds like an exciting year, despite some little setbacks!


    • February 24, 2015 @ 1:41 pm admin

      Hi Eleanor! I reckon setbacks make us stronger, eh?! 🙂


  5. January 7, 2015 @ 3:52 pm CL (RealGunners)

    For a moment, I thought I saw Mr Bean in Picture #12!

    I wouldn’t have guessed London would rank as your biggest disappointment. I thought you were having a great time by the looks of your posts..


    • February 24, 2015 @ 1:42 pm admin

      Haha I see the resemblance, but not quite 😀

      Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love London, but I was disappointment with my lack of engagement with it, I should have made a greater effort. Next time, I will!


  6. January 7, 2015 @ 11:01 pm Charlie

    Oh my gosh, was that Finnish stream not freezing!?!? Good work on overcoming that pickpocket too!


    • February 24, 2015 @ 1:44 pm admin

      Noooo it was amaaaaaaazing Charlie! Although… some water did seep through the suit so I was a little soggy afterwards!

      Ahhh yes, those pickpocketers messed with the wrong person haha.


  7. January 8, 2015 @ 12:38 pm Megan

    no windows or signs at a russian hostel? nooooo. you don’t say. oddly enough, my worst sleep of last year was in moscow’s airport. surely a hostel in the city would have been worse though LOL.

    great year! hopefully we cross paths this year at some point! best of luck in your travels to asia! and once i stop having crap wifi im going to be excited to follow along! <3


    • February 24, 2015 @ 1:48 pm admin

      Haha, I agree, the floor of Moscow airport would at least be more convenient that fumbling around in the dark trying to find the hostel in the middle of the night in Moscow city, and then wishing I had never found it when I did.

      I hope we cross paths too Megan and I’m already enjoying the travels you’ve taken thus far in 2015!


  8. January 8, 2015 @ 2:48 pm Pam

    A great post Shing! I can totally understand how and why London was a disappointment, I have several friends that live or have lived there, and life can be hard..
    I’m looking forward for you to move to SE Asia and read about your updates from there!
    Go Shing!! Have a great 2015 girl! 🙂


    • February 25, 2015 @ 2:16 am admin

      Life can be hard in London, it’s such a big and fast-paced city that finding your sanctuary amongst it all can be a struggle. But for those reasons – big and fast-paced – are also why I love it. The irony.

      I’m already enjoying your 2015 posts Pam!


  9. January 19, 2015 @ 5:04 pm Sarah

    I love this list! Very impressive! The museum, the ice rocks, the creepy looking hotel in Moscow… What a great year you’ve had! I had no idea Finland was the place to be for a foodie trip!


    • February 25, 2015 @ 2:17 am admin

      Hi Sarah, I had know idea that Finland was the place to go for a foodie trip either! A complete surprise, but a very, very good one!


  10. January 25, 2015 @ 1:35 pm EMMA

    They look like some brilliant highlights. That white water rafting looks epic.

    My highlights would be trekking up the mountain to look down upon the Plitvice lakes in Croatia, pretty much everything I did in Japan, and popping up to Malham Cove to pretend I was evading Voldemort via a rock climb at Gordale Scar in the North York Moors.



    • February 27, 2015 @ 10:13 am admin

      Isn’t Malham Cove mind-blowing?! One of my favourites too! I’d love to go trekking and catch the view of Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, in fact I’d love to go anywhere in Croatia full stop.

      I’m heading to Japan next month so I will hop over to your blog again!


  11. February 10, 2015 @ 6:03 am Mike

    Best Kiss, Favorite Post – but I’m biased Shing 🙂 I loved the trip down Memory Lane 🙂


    • February 27, 2015 @ 9:46 am admin

      Thanks Mike! Let’s hope we keep adding to Memory Lane in 2015 too!


  12. February 17, 2015 @ 8:54 am phoebe

    Hello Shingaling, I finally booked Iceland, and guess what, I planned it around getting over to Jokulsarlon…only to find it was one of your best experiences of the year! Wahoo! Any last minute recommendations for around there (Vik etc)? we’re doing basic golden circle tour, a day drive out to Jokulsarlon (and staying over there) and 2 nights in Reykjavik…have you been to Kex or Dill? You know the foodie in me is planning ever meal!!!
    Fun post darling. I’ll be going on about Iceland on http://theediblewoman.co.uk/ soon too xxxxxx


    • February 27, 2015 @ 9:42 am admin

      Phoebs sorry for the late reply, I hope you get this before going! Whoop Whoop Jokulsarlon! You’re going to love it, make sure you stop off at various places, and try and time it so you’re there for sunset, and also make sure you cross the road to the black beach opposite, I’m not sure what it’ll be like in late Feb or early March but it looked pretty spectacular in October when I was there.

      If you haven’t already left the UK, have you booked accommodation in Vik? As I stayed in the Icelandair Hotel and I really recommend it. Once there you should go to Dyrhólaey, it’s the southernmost tip of Iceland, I’ve written briefly about it here http://www.theculturemap.com/black-beaches-iceland/ but the picture doesn’t capture the essence of the place so you should google image it!

      Also, between Vik and Jokulsarlon is Skaftafell, make sure you go to Svinafellsjokull, you should see a sign for it on your left, it’s a glacial tongue of Vatnajokull ice cap. You can park up your car and just hop out, and take a wander around. There was nobody there when I went but it’s not obviously sign posted so that might be why. If you go, you’ll be able to take some cool shots infront of the glacier arm too! 😀

      On your drive to Vik you should stop off at Skogafoss Waterfall too, it’s pretty epic (it’s also known as the curtain waterfall), one of the most famous ones in Iceland.

      I’m afraid I haven’t been to Kex or Dill, I hope you go though and report back to me! Another thing, I noticed you didn’t mention the Blue Lagoon. It’s closeby to the airport so if you can squeeze it in go for it! When you arrive in the airport I think there’s a shuttle bus that goes there, if not you can go in the evening during one of the nights you’re in Reykjavik, I think it’s perhaps about 35 mins away and it closes at 9pm (double check website). Also, whilst in Reykjavik go up the Hallgrimskirkja Church for a panoramic view of the city.

      Let me know it you have anymore questions m’dear, and have a blast!


  13. March 2, 2016 @ 9:16 am Iceland | A Beauty Connoisseur of the World

    […] Jokulsarlorn Glacier Lagoon : http://www.theculturemap.com/2014-good-bad-ugly/ […]


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