2017 was a year filled with some of my highest of highs and lowest of lows. Looking back though, I have only just realised just how much travel I did last year, and how many incredible experiences I had! While it is already the end of January, I couldn’t help but put together this post to reflect on all 10 countries I travelled to. I travelled through 3 continents with some of my favourite people in the world, learnt about other incredible cultures and their history, witnessed some insane sunrises and sunsets, and sampled some pretty incredible food, too! I even took my first solo trip and ended up travelling the most I ever have in one year (9.5 weeks to be exact!)
I began 2017 in Australia with no plans to move overseas, and ended it moving across to the other side of the world to London! I guess you could say a lot has changed for me, and while it hasn’t been the easiest year, I am pretty damn excited to see what’s install for me in 2018…
My first trip of the year ended up being by far one of the most amazing and memorable ones to date. Let’s just say, Myanmar has my heart. I booked a 2 week group trip with my friend and fellow travel blogger, Elle from This Is Yugen, through Geckos Adventures. At first, I was a bit hesitant in going on an organised tour, but in the end I absolutely loved it, and think I learnt so much more about the history and culture of this beautiful country that way.
We had a lovely local guide who took us through Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw and Inle Lake where we witnessed local life, some of the best sunrises and sunsets EVER, ate delicious food, chatted to monks and admired many pagodas. It’s genuinely hard for me to pin point just one highlight as it was one of those trips where every single day blew me away and filled my heart (and camera) with wonderful memories. All I’m saying is, you have to get to Myanmar very soon before everyone discovers just how captivating this country really is.
I said goodbye to my friend, flew over to the South of Thailand where I met my Mum and headed to the insanely luxurious 5 star resort that is the JW Marriott Khao Lak. I actually won a photo competition through Luxury Escapes, and my prize was a 7 night, fully inclusive stay here right on the pristine beaches of Khao Lak!
We spent our mornings stuffing our faces at the biggest buffet breakfast I’ve ever seen, while also eating 3 course meals at the resort’s many restaurants by night. Aside from all the food, I relaxed in the spa with my first massage, swam at their private beach and the 3km pool that wraps around the resort, cycled to nearby waterfalls, and wandered along the beach as the sun set everyday. Another highlight was the day trip we took to the Similian Islands where were snorkelled with clown fish and found the bluest water I’ve ever laid eyes on (see the photo above!) It’s safe to say this was the most luxurious and relaxing holiday I’ve ever been on, and am still dreaming of the day I go back.
Since the flights were so cheap, and I couldn’t help but want to keep travelling instead of going home just yet, Mum and I spent 3 nights in Hong Kong. Sadly, it rained quite a lot while we were here, and if I had my time again, I would stay a little longer as we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to!
I was fortunate enough to spend our last 2 nights at The Pottinger, which was voted Asia’s Best City Boutique Hotel and was perfectly located to explore the central area. The highlight of my Hong Kong experience, however, had to be the delicious food tour I took with Hong Kong Food Crawlers where we explored the back streets, food markets and chowed down on some seriously tasty noodles and cider.
Okay, so I’m not sure if I can really count Australia as one of the 10 countries, but I couldn’t skip my first solo trip to Adelaide in South Australia in August! This was a pretty big deal for me and was something I really wanted to do for a long time. I rented a car to get around with ease, and stayed at the adorable Largs Pier Hotel in Largs Bay, which was the perfect location as I was just down the road from my Grandma!
I ended up exploring Hallett Cove Conservation Park, a mind blowing geological and archaeological site on the coastline. Aside from some family time, I managed to do quite a long road trip down south to the sandstone fisherman’s caves of Port Willunga Beach and then through the rolling hills of Second Valley. I was pretty proud of myself for doing all of that alone, and now I definitely have learnt I want to solo travel a little more in the future!
FINALLY, after what felt like a lifetime without an international trip, I was off on my next and biggest adventure yet through Europe in November and December. With my favourite travel buddy by my side (my mum), we began our one month of travels together in Athens. From exploring ancient archaeological sites and eating our way through the backstreets on a food tour, we absolutely loved Athens.
The next stop was Meteora, which was hands down one of the most mind blowing and enchanting places I have been fortunate enough to experience. The towering, mountainous rock formations are incredible enough, but what makes Meteora even more special are the monasteries perched on top of them!
While we only got a taste of what Greece has to offer, I am super keen to get back there this year or the next to island hop when it’s a bit warmer (and eat all the Greek food!)
Since there is just so much to see in Italy, we ended up spending 3 weeks travelling from the North down to the South by train and bus! We began our travels in Lake Como, then went on to Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, Sorrento, Positano and ended in Rome.
Venice ended up surprising me the most, while I immediately fell in love with Lake Como, Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast. Hiking from town to town along the coastline of Cinque Terre was a highlight, while Sorrento’s Christmas spirit and views over the ocean and through to Naples was incredible, too. I actually didn’t end up really loving Florence like everyone else, but seeing the ancient sites of Rome like the Colosseum and Vatican made up for it! In all, the food didn’t completely blow us away, but I can safely say I had the best pizza and gelato of my life here.
Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my mum, but was excited to move on to another country and meet two of my friends in Krakow, Poland! For three nights, we were lucky enough to stay in my dream apartment right near the city centre called Relaks Apartamenty. The 0 degree weather and snow didn’t stop us from getting out and exploring the Christmas markets for some Polish food. We sampled the likes of Pierogi (dumplings), sauerkraut stew and Kielbasa (sausage), all of which was delicious! Man, I love Christmas Markets.
The main reason we were staying in Krakow was to visit Auschwitz Concentration Camp just an hour away. The area was just as bleak and cold as I imagined, and was even more eerie covered in a layer of snow. It truly was a saddening, daunting and eye opening experience, and if you ever find yourself in Poland, I highly recommend visiting.
Poland really surprised me – I just loved the food, people and the cheap prices. My only complaint is that I didn’t stay long enough, but I’ll definitely be back to see more of the country, that’s for sure.
We caught a bus to our next stop, Prague, where we spent another three nights! It felt like we had walked straight into a fairytale as we wandered around the town square and admired the medieval buildings and architecture. Lucky for us, we were staying in an awesome hostel just a 2 minute walk away from the main Christmas Market in the Old Town Square where we ate nearly everyday as the sausages, mulled wine and Nutella filled Trdelniks were to die for.
Aside from eating, we spent our days exploring Prague castle, wandering through the cobblestone streets, watching the snow fall and admiring a heard of swans along the riverbank. It really was a beautiful city that lived up to the hype, and now I’d love to see more of the country some day soon, too!
The last stop on my 5 or so weeks of constant travel was Berlin for Christmas for 4 nights where I had actually travelled to already back in 2011! We began our stay at the Generator Mitte Hostel where I took over Hostel World’s Instagram story for 2 days, which was super exciting! We began with a free walking tour to get our bearings and learn about the history of the city (one of my favourite things to do). But, the main reason we were in Berlin was for the famous German Christmas Markets! Yet again, we warmed up with blueberry mulled wine and admired the quaint little market stalls and decorations.
For Christmas Eve & Day, I was lucky enough to spend 2 nights with the Circus Hotel! Sadly, the city seemed like a bit of a ghost town during Christmas, but that didn’t stop us from eating our way around the city and exploring the East Side Gallery, Mauerpark, Alexanderplatz and the Jewish Museum.
In hindsight, we wished we didn’t spend so long in the one city in Germany, but I’ll definitely be back for Oktoberfest and to explore the smaller towns very soon, that’s for sure!
On the 27th of December, I touched down in my new home – London! I never actually thought I’d see the day that I would fulfill my dream of moving overseas, yet here we are. I am pretty damn proud of myself for getting here, and saving from scratch for just 5 months while working 6-7 days a week.
To be totally honest though, for the first 2 weeks of me living here, I was extremely homesick and in a little shock. My life had just completely changed, plus I have never lived out of home before, so it was a pretty big deal for me. I spent my first few weeks exploring the touristy sights of the city, settling into my new neighbourhood in South London and getting to know my new room mates. I can safely say I am extremely happy with my decision to live here, and I am loving it so far! I have even landed myself a dream job working in the travel industry. In all, I am super excited to see what the next 2 years has in stall, and cannot wait to start travelling again in 2018.
Stay tuned, as I have many blog posts coming on London and England in the future!
So, what will I be up to in 2018?
Right now, I am about to start my new full-time job here in London and will be working hard for a few months before my next trip! I am hoping to take day trips to some towns and cities in England, though.
A destination that is quite high on my bucket list, and one I have heard SO many good things about. I’ll be exploring for about 12 days at the end of April with Travel Talk Tours, and yes, I’ll be there for ANZAC Day!
May: The Netherlands
After hearing that the Traverse Travel Conference is being held in Rotterdam this year, and with me living so close now, I couldn’t resist heading over there to network with other travel bloggers and content creators! I’m also meeting a friend there from back home, which is super exciting! Hopefully we will have time to check out Amsterdam as well.
Other than that, I don’t have any other travels planned for the rest of the year! But, I can guarantee I will be making the most of my time living on this side of the world and being so close to so many of my bucket list destinations!