Postcard from Doug: 2016 Year in Review

Postcard from Doug: 2016 Year in Review

What a year 2016 has been! And during this, our 30th anniversary year, I’ve been very busy traveling.

First Quarter – Siberia or Bust

The year started out with a very interesting winter trip to Siberia together with award-winning travel writer Sophy Roberts and photographer Michael Turek. Sophy later published wonderful articles in the and , in which she gives shout-outs to MIR, as Siberian specialists.


I continued on this same journey overland to the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, and then on to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. I had a crazy flight path: First Seattle-Paris-Moscow-Irkutsk, then drive into Mongolia, then air to Bishkek. That flight was delayed by a day in Mongolia, due to weather on the Mongolian steppe. I ended up landing in Bishkek just in time to be driven directly to Almaty in Kazakhstan, to make a connection to Uzbekistan. Whew!

While at the Plov Center in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Doug watched 4 giant caldrons cooking up the tasty national dish. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

While in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Doug saw chefs cooking up plov, the tasty national dish, in four giant cauldrons
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

 

A welcome performance at Travel Week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Drums and dance at TravelWeek in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Second Quarter – Sao Paulo, Space, and Central Asia

Off to Brazil for a few days for TravelWeek Sao Paolo – a luxury travel fair for our partners down south.

Next, I led our very exclusive Inside the Russian Space Program trip for our partner Smithsonian Journeys. An exciting time, with a perfect launch of the Soyuz to the ISS (International Space Station). Smithsonian is going to do it again in !

View of the Gagarin launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

The Gagarin Launchpad at Baikonur Cosmodrome
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Then I undertook a special inspection trip to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (including a revisit of Astana, Kazakhstan, transformed into a very modern city over the last few years).

Kyrgyzstan horse games, near Burana Tower. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Kyrgyzstan horse games, near Burana Tower
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

 

Browsing a market in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Browsing a market in Marrakech, Morocco
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Third Quarter – PURE Delight and Space Bust

Annie and I journeyed to PURE in Marrakech, Morocco, a luxury travel fair for our partners from around the globe in a fabulous setting.

Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Red Square in Moscow, Russia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

From there I flew directly via London to Moscow for the next MIR Space trip: disappointingly, when I landed in Moscow, I learned that – for the first time since we’ve run this trip – the space launch was delayed and then cancelled. We made the best of it with several days of interesting Moscow visits, and pledged to try again for the next launch.

The largest helicopter in the world at Russian Federation Air Force Museum in Monino, Russia. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

The largest helicopter in the world at Russian Federation Air Force Museum in Monino, Russia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

 

A fantastic night launch of the Soyuz. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

A fantastic night launch of the Soyuz
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Fourth Quarter – Space Trip Replay, Thanksgiving in Georgia, and Belgian Beer

I headed back to Moscow and Baikonur for the rescheduled Soyuz launch on MIR’s Inside the Russian Space Program journey, and a great group of travelers returned, undaunted by our earlier attempt, to witness all the behind-the-scenes activity, and to see the Soyuz launch. It was worth the wait!

The Yuri Gagarin statue at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

The Yuri Gagarin statue at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

I continued on to Tbilisi, Georgia for a Thanksgiving at Pheasant’s Tears in Signagi, where they surprised me with a special turkey dinner!

A Georgian table, set for Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

A Georgian table, set for Thanksgiving
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

En-route home, we stopped for a few days in Brussels to attend the “Wine, Beer, Rebels” festival of French and Italian artisanal vine growers and Belgian brewers.

A Christmas Market in Brussels. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

A Christmas Market in Brussels
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Only home for few days, I returned to Central Asia with a short visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the first part of December.

Doug enjoys life in a field of wild poppies in Kazakhstan,on the road from Bishkek to Almaty, Kazakhstan

Doug enjoys life in a field of wild poppies in Kazakhstan,on the road from Bishkek to Almaty, Kazakhstan
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

A typical travel year? In some ways, yes, and in others no. The number of journeys isn’t unusual for me, but some of the places and times of year were new and fresh. It’s always nice to get back to the places I know, to re-familiarize myself with the incredible draw of our destinations, remind myself of the beautiful sights, smells and sounds, and to re-connect with the fantastic people.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season and wonderful journeys in the coming New Year. Hope to see you on one of our exciting MIR journeys in 2017!

Top photo: Zipping around Lake Baikal on a snowmobile. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

PUBLISHED: December 21, 2016

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