Although most of 2016 saw me working and saving hard for the big finale in November (the start of one year in Australia) I still managed to cover three continents in one year. I consider this to be a complete blessing, and even more so because one of the trips was with my Grandma.
So far in 2016 I’ve spent a total of 64 days abroad, a welcome relief in what has been a crazy year!
To celebrate the new year, here are 10 memorable travel moments, for both good and bad reasons – because travel isn’t always smiles and rainbows.
1. Going abroad with my Grandma, one last time.
WanderNan has done so much travelling in her time that it would make even the most professional travel bloggers jealous, and as her health has deteriorated she decided to flip off the house repair work and spend the money on one final trip abroad, to Amsterdam and Maastricht in the Netherlands. It was physically and mentally hard for both of us, but I feel blessed that we were able to do something that we both love, together, just the two of us.
2. Finding my new favourite bookshop (and city!)
It only took me one hour to fall in love with the city of Maastricht. The people, the food, the architecture – everything was perfect. And then I found a bookshop in a church.
Not only was it visually overwhelming, but it also had a great section of English books that I lusted over for a good two hours. Reusing church buildings is somewhat of a ‘thing’ in Maastricht, but you can read all about my time there here.
3. I slept in the attic of a converted prison.
I accidentally booked myself into the best hotel in the world. Thinking that I was booking one specific hotel, I ended up booking a completely different hotel when visiting Amsterdam. Sounds like a disaster, but boy did I end up having an amazing time! If you’ve never heard of the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy, take a look at my post about it here, to see what the world’s first one to five star hotel looks like!
4. Dipped my feet into Mexico.
As a Masters graduation present to myself, I booked my first ever visit to Mexico. Even though over half of my days there was tackling the worst food poisoning ever, Mexican culture and the people were among the nicest that I’ve ever experienced.
Even though it was nearly a year ago that I went, I’ve been dreaming of booking back up to go back.
5. Spent my first Christmas abroad.
Nobody tells you how hard it is to spend your first Christmas abroad, so I had never prepared myself for it. Being away from my family was hard, but being able to shelter yourself from the Christmas commercialism was a welcome break. Instead I spent Christmas on the beach, but you can read about how it was a life changing experience here.
6. Stayed in a hostel for the first time.
Over hyped, painful, sweaty, and leaving you wondering why everyone raves about it. Losing my hostel virginity really wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.
It’s actually semi traumatising to write about it, and I spent the entire sleepless night breathing through my t-shirt and trying not to touch the foot of some strange man. Read about it here, if you want to re-live my nightmare.
7. Started to live in the world’s most liveable city!
In November Alex and I got off the plane in Melbourne, for our first time in Australia. With a one year work visa, and no life plans, we set about trying to build somewhat of a life for ourselves in what has been voted the world’s most liveable city for 6 years running.
Melbourne is definitely an experience, and I’m working on so many posts to bring this experience to life for you, so if you’re interested then follow along to keep a look out!
8. Experienced the hard reality of travelling with accessibility problems.
Amsterdam, you’re beautiful, but for wheelchair users you are a nightmare. Ignorantly I had never considered how hard it would be to travel and have to use a wheelchair, and this resulted in lots of tears on mine and WanderNan’s trip abroad.
9. Chinese lanterns on the beach at night in Mexico.
I have no photographic evidence of this, but for me that’s okay. I don’t want to feel obliged to have a camera around my neck at all times, and not all of my time abroad has to be spent thinking about what I can and can’t write about on my blog.
One night in Mexico, we walked down the beach. It was just us two, so we decided to just sit quietly against each other. Far down the beach there must have been a wedding or something, because suddenly hundreds of Chinese lanterns filled the sky. Still it remained quiet and peaceful, and it was truly a Tangled moment.
10. Saw a wild penguin.
It was just a surreal moment.
Please tell me some of your most memorable experienced from your travels in 2016, or if you didn’t make it abroad, what do you have planned for 2017?
Thank you for joining me on this crazy journey this year, the following for Wanderness has more than doubled and I am extremely grateful to every single one of you.
Best wishes for 2017!