2017: Our year of travel
The past twelve months saw us head to new continents, embark on a once-in-a-lifetime Galápagos experience, and move into a gorgeous flat in our favourite city in the world - London.
Here's what happened in 2017.
Countries | 9
FLights | 19
Photographs | 60,000+
crab found in bed | 1
We took the first bus over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 1 January 2017 and our next couple of months were spent enjoying the Australian summer. By springtime, I was exploring Vietnam with my mother, and then my best friend from school.
Matt and I were reunited in Myanmar, where we spent a month feeling giddy from the amount of grinning we did. A highlight was the town of Hsipaw and the trek we did with our wonderful guide, Mr BIke. Our time culminated in Yangon over the Thingyan Water Festival - a joyous riot of hoses and water buckets, people spilling onto the streets and pumping music. We were sad to leave, but eager to set foot in Latin America, where neither of us had visited before.
Before that, though, we had a three-dinner day on our way from Myanmar to San Francisco - thanks to the time difference and an eight-hour layover in Taipei. Of course, we took the opportunity to leave the airport and visit the original branch of dumpling house Din Tai Fung (coming to London in 2018/19, woo!)
Going from forty degree dusty Asian heat to near freezing in a tent in Yosemite National Park was a shock to the system. We were, nevertheless, glad to be hiking some of the most beautiful trails in California and to spot bears - two in three days! We returned to San Francisco for Matt to attend a conference, and that meant a couple of days of upmarket city life - a luxurious hotel bed (in a hotel with a daily free bar between 4.00 and 6.00pm...er yes please), delicious restaurants and a couple of nights out in the dingy and fabulous Saloon Bar.
Within a couple of days we were heading south to Los Angeles, tent and sleeping bag in tow. Unfortunately, recent landslides meant that part of our route was closed off, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the sea breeze and Californian sunshine. Oh, and let's not forget the Monterey Bay whale watching tour which saw me vomiting off the side of the boat for four hours because Matt gave me a natural remedy instead of a motion sickness tablet. That was great.
From LA, it was to Ecuador, where we rode horses, climbed mountains and hiked the incredible Quilotoa Loop. We explored a place that exceeded all of our wildest expectations and cemented itself firmly as our favourite place on earth - the Galápagos. Our days were spent snorkelling with prehistoric-looking marine iguanas, swimming with sea lions, watching iguanas leap for a mouthful of cacti and flightless cormorant dive for fish. It was paradise.
We spent the next four weeks in Colombia, traversing the country from bottom to top in a more leisurely fashion. It is fair to say that we lost some of our mojo and needed some R&R on the Caribbean coast to get us going again. If it weren't for Matt's 'lost passport' scenario and the deep-fried, sugary food, Colombia may have nabbed the top spot and been named our favourite country.
Sprawling South America gave way to Central, and our time in Guatemala was short and sweet - a fun-filled fortnight of kayaking the Rio Dulce, lazing on Lake Atitlán and exploring Mayan temples. We picked up some artwork and textiles to take home with us as it was finally reasonable for us to start filling what little remaining space we had in our backpacks with souvenirs!
Our final country - Mexico. A place of fantastic food, great moustaches, strong alcohol, joyful music and, oh, did I mention the food? Despite suffering a rather vicious bout of food poisoning from shellfish in an upmarket restaurant (I was fuming) we adored our time in Mexico and cannot wait to return.
Since landing back in England in August, we've started new jobs in the city and moved into a lovely bright flat a stone's throw from Greenwich Park in South East London. We've enjoyed awesome wifi, monthly pay checks, weekly theatre trips, a wardrobe that extends beyond hiking gear and denim shorts, a (mostly) reliable transport system and a place to call our own.
So, what's next?
2018: a year of Travel?
One of the main things we learnt from travelling in 2017 was that we want to explore more of the United Kingdom. We took a short weekend break to the Cotswolds for Matt's birthday in October 2017, and we plan to visit York for a friend's wedding in March and hopefully the Lake District over summer.
Aside from UK travel, we are going to make the most of Europe being right on our doorstep. A trip to Modena, Italy, is on the cards for February and, given our love of wine (which has grown since touring some of Australia's beautiful wine regions) we are thinking about taking a road trip around Provence in the South of France. If our summer budgets can stretch, a long weekend to Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival would do us nicely.
And then it's Matt's 27th (!) birthday in October. Perhaps we'll take a trip to Bruges and Ghent, or Tallinn, or back to Germany - maybe Berlin this time? Only time will tell.