Transport is the next category – any kind of transport other than planes.
It has been a year with lots of variety. The year of the tram, in some ways. Trams in Edinburgh, Budapest, Amsterdam, Helsinki and even Delft.
It could have been the year of the train too – the Netherlands, Germany, France, Lithuania and the UK. British trains aren’t big in the awards department, but the others were all great. A French TGV takes some beating.
The Lithuanian trains were a surprise – fast, modern and comfortable.
City metro travel has also featured in Newcastle, Budapest, Toulouse and London. London Underground is still dreadful. The Docklands Light Railway has improved a lot.
Does an Amsterdam canal tour count? Why not.
Then there was the cable car in Mariánské Lázně. A relic from the communist era.
A funicular in Prague. Short and sweet.
A trotro in Kumasi! A trotro is a privately operated public bus service in Ghana, using a Japanese minibus. You squeeze in tight and make friends quickly. Goats and chickens may be brought on as hand luggage.
It’s cheap. It’s different. I’d probably have taken a taxi if I’d been on my own, but I was with a local who knew what she was doing. “Obruni!” the other passengers cried in shock (and maybe horror). “Obruni” means “white man” in Twi.
I used Finnair’s coach service to get to Helsinki city centre from the airport. An excellent service and good value. Quick, clean and comfortable. Free wifi on board. It has little in common with the average Kumasi trotro.
Last but not least the Eckerö Line ferries between Helsinki and Tallinn. I like ferries. I liked those trips.
No mermaids on my sailings, but you can’t have everything.
It comes down to a choice between the trotro and the ferry. I love ferries, but there’s something about suddenly finding yourself being shoved into a cramped, sweaty minibus in a West African city.
Not romantic – Jacinta and I were not an item. She’d only taken me to hospital to get a broken tooth checked out. Exotic for sure – not Jacinta – the trotro experience.
But then the ferries. Crossing the Gulf of Finland in a storm. Seeing other passengers *ahem* realise their sea legs aren’t up to it. Passing easily through the islands and rocks of the archipelago at the entrance to the harbour at Helsinki. Pulling into Tallinn harbour and seeing the Old Town close by. A beer on deck at dusk on the way back.
The ferries get the award. Sorry, Jacinta.
© iain taylor 2015