So here it is, 2013 already. We’ve surpassed George Orwell’s big brotherly dystopia by a full 29 years, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is 12 years in the rear view mirror and we’ve survived two major doomsday prophecies pretty much unscathed. Suck on that Nostradamus! Eat my shorts Mayan calendar chief! And, despite the fact we’re slap bang in the middle of the future, there’s at least another 25 years by my reckoning before the ice caps fully melt and we have to grow gills like Kevin Costner in Waterworld and spend the rest of our lives in leathery speedos drinking our own reconstituted urine. Awesome, I’ll be 60 by then so I’ll have nothing better to do anyway.

But planning for watergeddon aside, as you do get a fraction older (mathematicians amongst you will have deduced that I’m currently grappling with my mid-30s) you do start to think a bit more about what you want to achieve in any given year. Suddenly, along with gym memberships and promises to drink less, January brings new goals celotaped in large font to the wall above your desk like EXTEND BLOGGING NETWORK and MAXIMISE COMMERCIAL REVENUE… along with a list of rules like NO FACEBOOKING DURING WORKING HOURS and GET UP BEFORE NOON YOU LAZY B@ST@RD. This year I’ve also printed out a colour photo of two sun-kissed bikini-clad Brazilians on a tropical beach (…girls I should add) to remind me to tuck away some extra dinero for that Carnival and World Cup 2014 double header. That’s motivation for you!

One month into 2013? Well let’s just say some aspects of my new efficient working life are functioning better than others…

Anyway, despite the fact that I still haven’t mastered the art of moving from behind the sheets before midday, Urban Travel Blog has started 2013 in scintillatingly good form. Stories-wise and we recently coaxed the inimitable Craig Robinson out of retirement to pen one of our In The Zone guides to his favourite Western Berlin hang out – Kreuzberg. (And the good news is he’s promised to enlighten us about Friedrichshain soon too! If you’re not familiar with his work I strongly urge you to check out this article about beach bars in the German capital for a taste of his sardonic style!). Meanwhile our top contributor, the lovely, ever-roaming Sasha Arms, has complemented her Havana travel guide of 2012 with an intriguing first-hand look at the Cuban city’s madcap museums in our latest Top Five feature. And new kid on the blog (pun copyrighted!), Marissa Tejada, recently showed off her sterling journalistic credentials by reporting on the frozen yoghurt trend that has taken off in Athens, Greece. Get reading amigos!

From a commercial point of view things are just rosy too. We’re delighted to announce that Urban Travel Blog has cemented its friendship with the lovely folk at Go with Oh Apartments. We’ve been casting them longing glances for a while now (yes we don’t just partner with anyone here!) and they’ve officially come on board as a proud UTB sponsor. Check out that cute banner on the right and see what’s cooking! Apart from being one of Europe’s best known apartment providers these guys also create some fantastic, highly-useful travel content of their own, on their Barcelona, Rome and Berlin blogs. Plus part of the proceeds of each booking you make with them go to chariddy mate. So do check them out, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Not only that but a little-known flight company known as British Airways has also been in touch. Chris Osburn was the man who had the tough job of boarding a plane from Gatwick to stuff his face with pizza in Italy and jot down some recommendations for their brand new Perfect Days app. Anyhow sounds like a great little app (for those lucky enough to own an iPhone) and you can read how Chris got on in Rome right here.

Finally I was lucky enough to get a little early Christmas present last year from the folk at Flylite. They sent me a quite beautiful fold up hand luggage bag to review and use. Despite cooing at its charisma and cleverness, in the end I must confess I stuck with my existing cheap Chinese hard-case knock off. The Flylite is waaaaayyy cooler and also has shoulder straps so you can switch from ground-hugger to backpack for rugged terrain, however the lack of hard shell just wasn’t for me. I need packing discipline! But anyway, thanks guys… my mum is very pleased!

Double finally… check out this nice infographic by HRS on Hidden Gems of London. Urban Travel Blog contributed a little tip from our article about pop up bars and restaurants in London.

That’s it for now… LOADS of great new travel adventures and guides on their way in the coming weeks so stay tuned. And remember… there’s only 25 years til Waterworld so don’t spend it stalking your ex on Facebook!

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