A new year offers new opportunities, but also a chance to evaluate the year that passed. Sandalsand can be found in several channels. This article summarises my travel activity throughout the year and activity on all media channels.
Travelling the world, and sharing the impressions
In 2017, I left Norway and explored new horizons in India, Italy, Poland and Belgium for about three weeks in total. I spent about a week each in the first two countries, while the two latter were long weekends. This has become more or less of a tradition the last few years. One journey overseas to a distant country, and the rest of my travels abroad in Europe – be it a big city weekend or a bit more. Sun and beaches are not my kind of thing.
On this website, Sandalsand Global, which is written in English, I publish reports from my travels worldwide. The number of new articles increased by 59 in the course of the year. It is a pretty good growth from 28 additions the previous year. Overall, the site has 807 articles from more than 60 countries.
By year-end 2017, I had finished stories from my travels in 2016, this year’s first trip to Poland (Gdansk), and the last one to Italy. However, I was not fully up to date with all my reports, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I’m left with a backlog of nearly ten articles from India and Belgium, as well as translating a selection from Norway. A large number of new photographs were added – there are now more than 7,900 photos from over 60 countries across much of the world.
The three most popular articles in 2017 were Reykjavik attractions, Røst lies at the extreme edge of Lofoten, Norway, and The seabird colonies at Røst. Unfortunately, I have to add that the number of pageviews for the second consecutive year ended just below 30,000.
Of course, it was a big moment to finally visit Taj Mahal, one of the world’s really great wonders.
Travelling around Norway, and sharing the impressions
The definite highlight of 2017 was without doubt a long journey in northern Norway by car and boat. There were also several visits to the region of Trøndelag, to Oslo, around Western Norway, and especially in my nearest surroundings in the county of Rogaland. (I only published one article in English from this trip.)
Most trips and articles from Norway are published in Norwegion on the website called Sandalsand på norsk. 72 new articles were published, bringing the total to 535. It was quite clear that the massive production in 2016, with 132 new releases, could not continue. I may add that I have pictures and ideas enough for an additional 20 articles, but I never made it that far in 2017.
Are all these articles read? Yes, they all are, more than 130,000 times actually. This represents a double increase from the previous year. The three most popular articles during the year were the Eiganes gravlund i Stavanger gir deg ro, Til fots langs Akerselva, and Reidar Berge Museet i Stavanger. (None of them have been translated into English, try Google translate.)
The number of photos on the website grew from 6,800 the previous year to 8,400 now, once again a significant growth. Throughout the year, efforts have been made to further develop the structure of municipal and county directories. I am delighted to say that I have reached more than 130 municipalities (1/3 of all) and almost all counties. This is also a major increase.
Lofoten, here from Eggum in Vestvågøy, was one of the major highlights of my travels in Norway in 2017.
2017 on the other media channels
The YouTube Sandalfilm channel tipped by year-end 2017 more than 570,000 views, overall. I regretted in last year’s New Year’s letter that my video production had been almost erased. In 2015 there was only one new release, in 2016 there were none. In 2017, however, I launched 11 new videos. Of course I have material and ideas for many more, but it takes time to compress impressions from a trip to 2-3 minutes of video. In addition, my personal ambitions in regard to quality of production have become more demanding. All videos are posted on Sandalsand Global as well.
There are quite a few videos, 196 in the number, and they were shown more than 128,000 times in 2017. The three most popular videos in 2017 were Russia – Trans-Siberian Railway, England – Highgate Cemetery in London, and Poland – Wieliczka Salt Mine. The first is also the most popular ever.
I might add that there are 58 videos from Norway on the same channel as well as articles on the website. Whether the playbacks take place here or there, it’s satisfying that video clips from Norway have been seen over 150,000 times, up from 120,000 at the previous year’s end. The viewers come from all parts of the globe. The three most popular films from Norway are Borgund Stave Church, Trondheim and Haugesund.
The number of followers of Sandaltweet on Twitter increased from 4,700 to 6,100, quite significant. In particular, many Americans built a connection, and I’m tempted to call it a small Trump effect. However, I only tweeted 84 times myself and actually had few other interactions.
Followers of Sandalgram on Instagram stayed stable at something over 500. I shared 62 new pictures, and I am a quite frequent user of the app, browsing other people’s pictures. My involvement on Instagram is much stronger than on Twitter – I like Instagram better as a social medium.
Summary and the way forward
If we combine all articles published on the two Sandalsand websites and videos on YouTube, I landed in 2017 on 137 publications. It’s down from 160 the year before. Still, 2.5 articles a week are still a lot considering it is the work by one individual on a hobby basis.
I notice that Google rank my articles high on some key search parameters, in particular the Norwegian language site. This suggests that the search giant assesses the content as qualitatively very good. This is reflected in the fact that 75-80% of the visits to the web pages are results of generic searches, in short googling. References from Facebook and other social media appear to a much lesser extent, and here is my call: Spread the good message.
Let me finally offer the same recommendation as last year: Register for free subscriptions to the Sandalsand Global newsletter, and the Sandalsand på norsk newsletter. My New Year wish for the coming year is that Sandalsand is discovered by even more, and that those who find it will discover more articles than they first expected.
I wish my readers a happy and exciting New Year in 2018!
Top left and clockwise: David statue in Florence, Norwegian stockfish, vaulted hallway in Malbork (Poland), Bruges by night, and the colours of India in the middle.
I have on Sandalsand Global the last few years presented my bucket list of places I want to travel. Here is the update for 2018 (and beyond):
- Morocco. All those amazing towns on the coast and in the mountains. (1-2 weeks)
- West Africa from Senegal to Nigeria. It would have been nice with a road trip through half a dozen countries, but quite difficult. (3-4 weeks plus).
- East Africa south of Sahara, with safari as part of the trip (2-3 weeks).
- Namibia. I really want to see the sand dunes and the abandoned towns. Neighbouring Botswana and Zambia (and Victoria Falls) are also tempting destinations to avoid touristy safari places in South Africa and East Africa. (2-3 weeks)
- Caribbean island hopping, in particular the southern part and the Antilles. Perhaps even on a cruise, one of my taboos. Visiting multiple islands is not easy to accomplish apart from with airplanes, and prices are not favourable (2-4 weeks).
- USA from New York to San Francisco. Flights between several places and perhaps a train journey across the plains just to sense the distances (2-4 weeks).
- India is a long-time favourite (2-4 weeks) and I have just began to savour it. Sri Lanka in the south is a rapidly rising star, recommended by many.
- Iran is opening up to foreign visitors, but is still very much off the beaten track for a number of causes. Iran is one of the oldest civilisations on Earth, holding on to their history with pride. (1-2 weeks)
- Israel: Been here before, long time ago, but I spent too little time. Round trip in the country for a week, perhaps also a beach holiday with the family by the Mediterranean or Red Sea. (1-2 weeks)
- North Korea is a closed country and presently one of the most exciting countries to visit. It cannot last forever under this ruling dynasty and one should visit it before it collapses. However, now is not a good time to travel there. (1 week)
- Vietnam. I have visited most of SE Asia, but not Vietnam yet. There is a lot to discover both in terms of nature and culturally significant places. (1-2 weeks)
- Georgia (country): Their food and wine is good, the Black Sea coast is fine for sun bathing and the interior has some nice cities and villages in the Caucasus. (1-2 weeks)
- Greece, to Athens and the Pelopponese on a road trip to eight World Heritage Sites. (1 week)
- Saint Petersburg: Extreme treasures and immense museums, as well as a fascinating history in every respect. Other European cities are also beckoning for weekend trips, particularly Berlin, Belgrade, Helsinki and Ljubljana.
- North Norway: I have a lot more to see in this exciting part of Norway.
- Old Norse settlements in the West: Shetland, Orkneys and Greenland. (1-2 weeks)
- Pacific island hopping on a RTW-ticket to make the journey cheaper (3-4 weeks).
The list above was written by the turn of the new year. Six weeks later, by mid-Febuary 2018 I had made the following bookings:
March: Kiev (Ukraine) and Minsk (Belarus)
April: Budapest (Hungary)
May: Helsinki (Finland)
July and August: Road trip from Windhoek (Namibia) via Botswana to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Livingstone (Zambia). Stopover nights in Johannesburg (South Africa) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
September: Kirkenes (Norway) on the Russian border