Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Phil Hopkins
Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent
1:00 AM 2nd January 2024

Grandma’s Wisdom And Globetrotting In 2024

Group Travel Editor for the Media Titles, Phil Hopkins, takes a brief look back at 2023 and overviews where he’ll be visiting in the first quarter of 2024. So, sit back and take some inspiration from our very own resident globetrotter!

Photo: Chris Lawton on
Photo: Chris Lawton on
My Grandmother used to say: “Travel finishes an education.” I never forgot that piece of wisdom and, ever since, have been hopping from one country to the next.

I found myself on my first ever Press Trip to Soviet Moscow in 1981, two years later pounding my way across the Australian Outback and climbing ‘Ayers Rock’ when you still could, thumbing my way round the perimeter of Ireland and even camping my way from New York to the Florida Keys……and I’m still learning!

It got me thinking about 2023 and where I went over the last 12 months. How often do we tell ourselves what we didn’t do without giving much credit for what we DID do!

My year began with a review of the beautiful Coniston Hotel on the outskirts of Skipton in North Yorkshire, where I remember being fascinated by a painting on the bedroom wall that presented itself as art but doubled as a radiator, and the outdoor jacuzzi with to-die-for views of the Yorkshire Dales

I learned about all things ‘The Beatles’ when I dropped in to say hello to the Radisson Red Hotel in Liverpool, and took so much joy from visiting Penny Lane, seeing the famous ‘barber shop’ and having the church that inspired McCartney’s Eleanor Rigby pointed out to me.

London’s Treehouse Hotel became an informal gateway to the West End’s Garrick Theatre where I saw one of the ‘must see’ shows of the year, Bonnie & Clyde, whilst savouring the joys of this slightly quirky hotel where Paddington Bear stood watch over my bedroom and a manual typewriter took pride of place in reception!

It was a year of contrasts.

The Forest Pines Hotel on the edge of Scunthorpe allowed me to not only have a wonderful spa experience, but to also do something I was advised against: visit Scunthorpe! I did and wouldn’t rush back; however, I saw it through MY eyes, not someone else’s, whilst taking in the beautiful town of nearby Brigg for the first time. Every cloud has a silver lining!

There was a visit to Verbier in Switzerland, one of the finest ski resorts in the world, only I went in summer and partook of probably Europe’s finest classical music festival.....

.....whilst experiencing the joys of ‘square pizza’ in Detroit, when I visited Michigan.....

.....learning about Henry Ford, Motown music and Traverse City, where the wine flows freely and cherry pie is a way of life in what is probably America’s finest cherry producing area.

Daish’s coach holidays opened up Llandudno to this Welsh virgin and I was fascinated to learn about the Alice in Wonderland story.....

.....whilst Ambassador Cruises were instrumental in introducing me to one of the finest tropical gardens in Europe – once a former landfill tip – blind crabs and Lanzarote’s artistic visionary Cesar Manrique.

Yes, it’s been an adventurous year full of fun, flights, hard work and Covid jabs!

But what of 2024?

Well, between now and the end of April I will be bringing you news from Germany’s City of Music, Leipzig, once home to the likes of J.S. Bach, F. Mendelssohn, R. Wagner and Clara and Robert Schumann, whose authentic places can be visited as part of the Leipzig Music Trail.

Photo: Paul Kapischka on
Photo: Paul Kapischka on
The famous composer Dimitri Shostakovich also visited Leipzig in 1950 to act as a juror at the Bach Competition and, to mark the 50th anniversary of his death in 2025, the Gewandhaus Concert Hall in Leipzig is dedicating its biannual festival to this great musician of the 20th century. Look out for more later this year.

The first and second cities of Estonia – Tallinn and Tartu – throw open their hospitality doors in February, but not before, I have returned to Verbier in Switzerland to sample probably the world’s most famous ‘Royal Ski Resort’……. this time WITH snow!

Thailand beckons in March/April, not only as a way of thawing out after Europe, but to take a look at OUTRIGGER Khao Lak Beach Resort, one of the country’s rising ‘peaceful’ destinations on the Andaman Sea coast. See here

Photo: Mathew Schwartz on
Photo: Mathew Schwartz on
……………………and all of that gets me to the end of April!

When I was staying at The Treehouse Hotel in London, I never forget seeing a hand written note on a chalkboard as I entered the main restaurant. It read: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat just get on.”

Gran used to say: “He who hesitates is lost” and, had she still been alive, she would have been an advocate of that other equally famous saying: “The answer’s yes, now what’s the question?”

Here’s to 2024. The answer’s yes, now where are we going after April? Watch this space!