Enjoy the rest of the winter suckers readers, I’m off to Brazil! And I’m unrepentently smug about it. It’s been a long time coming after all…

It was back in 2001 that I and two fellow swashbuckling musketeers, after grinding away in the office for a couple of depressing post-Uni years, began to bounce the idea around of a long haul travel adventure. Naturally, I just immediately assumed that we’d start by jetting straight into South America for a hedonistic beach holiday extraordinaire, where sampling the local culture would involve little more than sipping cold caipirinhas on warm sands amongst bevies of beauties dressed in micro-bikinis. You can imagine my shock then when they sat me down to discuss the itinerary and had already settled on bussing through the ex-USSR, followed by the Transsiberian railway from Moscow to Beijing and three months of slogging through ricefields in China. Okay, it was f@cking awesome (more on that another time maybe), but I did always wonder what would have been if only I’d been allowed to sketch the globe with my finger and trace us an unforgettable voyage of sun, sea, sand and sexy ladies.

I might not come back! (Photo credit: Ivan Hernández)

Now that day has come. Sadly I will be travelling solo, but on the plus side I will be the sole master of the compass and day-long bus journeys into mosquito-infested rural backwaters are strictly off the agenda… so far my plan is to fly into Rio de Janeiro, spend two or so weeks there, polishing up my Portuguese (in fact, I’m an absolute beginner… but how hard can it be?), before heading to Recife for Carnival… as I’ve heard this north eastern city offers a more authentic and fun alternative to celebrating the festival in Rio. After that there’ll be time to call in on one or two resort towns before visiting the much-hyped Iguazu Falls and passing over to Argentina, where my flight back to Blighty awaits me in Buenos Aires.

It should be quite the adventure, and I will of course be blogging about my travels in a series of On The Road posts, taking over from Vince Robbins who shared his Asian adventures with us last year. If you’re rather admininster colonic irrigation to Jeremy Clarkson than read someone else’s travel diaries, then fear not, we’ll still have some regular, less self-indulgent travel reports and new city guides from the rest of the team in the coming months. (One of which will see Michael Bailey try his hand at a 19th Century martial art…).

New Urban Travel Bloggers

Talking about the team, it behoves me to welcome newcomers Margherita Ragg and Nick Burns on board, as they have stumped up with not just one but two stellar stories in 2014 already. The first was one of my favourite ever UTB photo stories… a look at the hisssssstoric serpent parade that takes place in Cocullo in Italy ever year. If you’re about as manly around snakes as Indiana Jones, then look away now! The same team also filed this insightful guide to the multi-faceted fashion capital of the world.

One of many fascinating shots in our Snake Festival Photo Story.

What else? Well we also welcomed another newcomer to the blog, a mischievous New York comedian and bon vivant, named Duval Culpepper, who knows how to turn a quiet evening of bowling into a blurry night out in the Big Apple. And we welcomed back an old friend, Anna Spysz, who took these fun photos of furry felines in Israel, during her recent sojourn to the Holy Land.

Thank You Backpacker Spot

Finally I’d like to say a big thanks to The Backpacker Spot, a cool new travel initiative run by a friend of mine from Barcelona, who a) sent me a sexy fire-engine-red power adaptor, which is sure to come in handy on my travels (especially as I have a mix of English and European plugs for my electronic gear!). And b) also kindly put forward three of their World Travel Diaries for 2014 to our readers in a little competition we ran over on our Facebook page… you are too late to join in this time, but do “like” us for more giveaway and travel news in the future. Obviously you can head to The Backpacker Spot’s website to purchase these and one or two other very handy travel goodies.

Right, that’s about it for now folks, but do stick around for some stories from Latin America, and who knows, even a bit of sage advice here and there. As usual you’ll find me on Twitter, but you’ll also find an even more twittery me on the On The Road account, where I plan to be more active with updates and photos! The same goes for our On The Road Facebook page… come over and show us some love.

Tchau amigos!

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