Follow in my footsteps – photos of my feet around the world

Many years ago I read a great travel article about a London photographer, Tom Robinson, who documented his travels by taking pictures of his feet in weird and wonderful places. His feet are eventually joined by his new girlfriend’s feet and later by their daughter’s feet. My friend Paula, who has joined me on several travel adventures, decided to set up a shared Facebook photo album for us both to start adding our own feet photos to, which as we live on different continents is a great way for me to see what she’s up to! She came up with the fabulous title of ‘Adventures our feet didn’t want to be left out of’. Here’s a selection from the album…

T and Ps Feet, Ahipara, New Zealand

Ahipara, North Island, New Zealand
It’s a long way down!

I first went to New Zealand in 2002, as a very green backpacker, on my first proper trip. I spent a year there, working and travelling, and fell in love with this amazing country and its spectacular scenery. Paula emigrated to New Zealand a few years back and now I try to get over to visit every few years. This photo is from a 2012 trip, when Paula was running a small backpackers in the Far North. After trudging a very long way from Ahipara town, at the foot of Ninety Mile Beach, clutching our plastic toboggans, we eventually found these sand dunes and had a fine afternoon clambering up and tobogganing down.

Ts Feet, Austrian Alps

St Johann in Tirol, Austria
First day of the season

For three years I worked for a large ski holiday company in Austria, managing ski chalets across the Austrian Alps. The first season I lived in St Anton, a fantastic place, with some great snowboarding and an infamous party scene. My last two seasons I moved to the much quieter, but more central town of St Johann in Tirol and had a fantastic apartment at the foot of the ski slope. All I had to do was walk out of my door and within minutes would be on a ski lift heading up the mountain.

P’s Feet, Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand

Tongariro Crossing, North Island, New Zealand
Hiking the volcanic landscape of Tongariro

I’ve lost count of how many times Paula has completed the Tongariro Crossing. At least five or six I believe. The 19.4 km trek is hailed as the best day hike in New Zealand and it’s not for the faint hearted. The Department of Conservation recommend allowing nine hours for the trek and being prepared for changing weather conditions, with the highest point, the Red Crater, being 10° colder than Taupo, the nearest large town.

I’ve also completed the trail, sadly only twice, once solo and once with my friend Tierney who joined me for a week on my Winter 2017 trip when I bought a backpacker car and wild camped around the North Island. The highlight for me is always the emerald pools and the stunning lava flows of Mangatepopo Valley.

T’s feet, Mount Huashan, China

Huashan Mountain, Xian, China
Enjoying the view from one of China’s Five Sacred Mountains

In 2014 I spent a month travelling in China, starting in Beijing and ending in Shanghai. It was surprisingly easy to travel there as a solo backpacker and I packed quite a lot into my short trip. One of the highlights was definitely climbing Huashan, where I stayed overnight in a basic mountain hut so as to enjoy both the sunset and the sunrise.

There’s actually a cable car that takes the majority of visitors to the top, then people walk the trails to one of the five peaks. I chose to walk up the gazillion concrete steps to the top, a trail interspersed with shrines, toilet blocks and snack shops. I was overtaken several times by locals hiking up with massive crates of water bottles on their heads. Once at the top a highlight for many is the plank walk, a series of planks bolted into the side of cliff, with no barrier between you and imminent death (although a harness keeps you safe).

P and Ts Feet,pedicures and massages in Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara, Nepal
Treating ourselves in Pokhara

As a little treat for Paula’s birthday during our one month backpacking around Nepal, we had pedicures at a lovely garden spa and cafe by the lake. I’m not a massage lover, but Paula took herself off for further pampering while I relaxed with a fruit shake. We both loved Pokhara and probably stayed there too long, eating banana porridge and playing travel scrabble on the balcony of our new favourite bar. We did manage some day hikes, a cycling trip and a boat trip across the lake though!

T’s Feet, Isle of Sark, Channel Islands

Isle of Sark, Channel Islands
My birthday feet in the Channel Islands

I titled this photo Ts Birthday Feet, as it was my 36th birthday treat to visit the Channel Islands for a weekend. I had a great time exploring both Guernsey and Sark and even had an extra night for free, when my flight was grounded due to thick fog. A night in a hotel and all meals was paid for by the airline and I had an extra day to walk part of the Guernsey coastal path. This was the year of my 12 Months, 12 Different Countries challenge, when I packed in trips each month to different European destinations while holding down a full time job.

 

P’s Feet, Wanaka, New Zealand

Wanaka, New Zealand
What happened in the year of Paula’s birth?

Wanaka, a lakeside town in New Zealands South Island has a fabulous Millennium tile trail, featuring 2000 tiles representing each year. Each tile was handpainted and funded by local residents. I haven’t actually been to the South Island for many years now, but I remember Wanaka as a picturesque alpine town with crystal clear lakes and some great mountain hikes. I definitely want to spend a winter in New Zealand again soon (their summer) and this time travel the South Island. Paula has suggested we tackle the Te Araroa, the 3000km trail stretching the length of both islands – one day, sure. Perhaps!

Ps feet (and a glimpse of Tor and Jen), Tairua, Coromandel, New Zealand

Tairua, Coromandel, New Zealand
Me and Jen, off for a dip, while Paula enjoys a moment on peace on the beach

This was part of my 2017 trip around the North Island, after buying a backpacker car in Auckland. Backpacker cars have their back seats removed and a double mattress put in on a small platform, allowing storage space underneath. Before I got organised and bought a car though, Paula arranged a new years trip with her friend Jen, to the Coromandel. The weather was wonderful and we did some great hikes to deserted beaches (and some not so deserted ones), with Jen and myself running gleefully into the waves at every opportunity.

Ts Feet, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala

Lago Atitlan, Guatemala
It’s a volcano!

This was taken on my most recent travels in Winter 2018, when I did an epic journey across five Central American countries. I love this photo as it brings back memories of swimming in this lake every single day for two weeks, while I was volunteering with a local family who build sustainable adobe houses on their lakeside property. Workaway is a great way to travel and volunteer for short periods, experiencing more of local culture and becoming part of the local community.

Paula and I have just started planning our next adventure together which is Mongolia in March 2020. We’re looking forward to a camel fair and an eagle hunting festival, as well as some independent exploring. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of feet photo opportunities!

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