Life Travel

A Look Back at 2018

Sam and Audrey - Portrait in Lisbon

It’s that point once more! Sure, 2018 has flown by and so it’s time to take a seat down, look again and reminisce concerning the yr that was. This previous yr I visited the least variety of nations since I launched into this full-time journey/blogger/vlogger journey again in 2013, however that’s a very good factor as a result of I used to be needing a little bit of a break.

I began 2018 feeling fairly burned out. A lot in order that I didn’t need to board a single aircraft, journey to any new locations, or have any new experiences – nothing associated to journey. I used to be exhausted and feeling a whole lot of nervousness stemming from too many journeys the earlier yr; studying final yr’s recap it seems to be like I ran round 21 nations – that’s loopy! So, in 2018 we slowed down and made it to 9 nations, together with loads of time at residence in Canada.

My 2018 might have began somewhat rocky, however I’m joyful to say that I did ultimately handle to seek out some stability. Wanting again at this yr, I’m glad that the journeys I did take included household, like touring Europe with Sam’s mother and father, celebrating my Grandma’s 90th birthday in Peru, and street tripping to the Rockies with my mother and father.

It was a yr of progress, realizing prioritize, and gaining perspective, so let’s have a look again, we could?


Our 2018 travels kicked off with our (virtually) annual winter escape with Sam’s mother and father. Through the years we’ve been very lucky to do Southeast Asia, South America and India collectively, and this winter we set off on a mini Eurotrip.

First up was Portugal. We landed in Lisbon and since Sam and I had beforehand visited the town, we had a number of favorite spots to share together with his mother and father. We did loads of the basic actions like driving tram 28 throughout the town, visiting the Moorish Castelo Sao Jorge, strolling alongside the Tagus in Belem, and consuming a lot of pasteis de nata –  our favorite have been from Manteigaria.

After a couple of days in Lisbon, we hopped on a bus and travelled a number of hours north to Porto. The town charmed us from the beginning. We did a wine and chocolate tasting at Croft, loved the town views from the higher and decrease ranges of the Luis I Bridge, ate the well-known francesinha at Bufete Fase, and set foot inside Livraria Lello – probably the most lovely bookshops on the planet.

We then bid Portugal farewell for its neighbour to the east.

Sam and Audrey - Valencia, Spain


Our first cease in Spain was Madrid. A number of the highlights included visiting Chocolateria San Gines for churros and scorching chocolate a number of occasions over the course of our keep, wandering down the halls of the Prado Museum, and simply strolling the streets of Centro seeking tapas.

After Madrid, we continued on to Valencia by practice, and what a pleasing shock that was! We discovered an condo proper throughout from the Mercado Central and visited just about each day in the hunt for a fast lunch or provides to prepare dinner a meal again at our place. We additionally did loads of restaurant and cafe-hopping throughout city consuming our fill of paella, fideuá, and horchata with fartons. That was my type of journey – one targeted on meals!

Our final cease in Spain was Granada. We have been drawn right here by the Alhambra, but in addition loved watching a flamenco present, purchasing at the Moroccan Market, and climbing as much as the varied miradores for metropolis views. Our solely mistake was underestimating winters in Granada – the town sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and it was bone-chilling chilly!

Snow in Venice


Then we have been off to Italy the place we visited three new locations.

We kicked issues off in Rome, the Everlasting Metropolis, the place we have been surrounded by dwelling historical past wherever we turned. We did all of the issues a first-time customer to Rome would; we visited the Colosseum and the ruins of Palatine Hill, we climbed the Spanish Steps, and even braved the crowds contained in the Vatican Museum…however I didn’t like Rome. I discovered the streets so congested with visitors and the points of interest so full of guests to the purpose the place being there wasn’t pleasant. And that was in the midst of winter throughout what’s supposedly the low season – I’m beginning to assume there isn’t any low season…

However I seemed for positives and one factor I did take pleasure in in Rome was the meals. In truth, my favorite second on this metropolis was making an attempt each single slice of pizza at Antico Forno Roscioli. The employees fortunately obliged and stored calling us over each time a brand new pizza got here out of the oven!

From Rome, we hopped on a practice and travelled as much as Florence, the town of artwork and tradition. We obtained an condo with a balcony that missed the Duomo, and used this as our base to discover the town. We spent hours admiring the works housed in Galleria dell’Accademia, the Uffizi Gallery, and the open-air gallery of Loggia dei Lanzi – to not point out the Duomo, which is a murals in and of itself!

I loved what Florence needed to supply, however I additionally encountered most of the similar frustrations I had in Rome…and that might proceed in Venice.

Venice was lovely, particularly since our go to coincided with an epic snowstorm that blanketed all the metropolis. We rode the canals, ate in osterias, and allowed ourselves to get misplaced within the maze of dead-end streets, however I felt like I used to be continually competing for area.

You see, the three cities we visited in Italy are strikingly lovely, however they’re additionally a few of the most-visited locations in all of Europe. This journey by way of Italy was a reminder that many cities are affected by over-tourism, and that as a traveller it’s value veering in the direction of smaller cities and fewer visited cities.

Sam in the Old Port of Dubrovnik


After Italy, we took an in a single day ferry from Ancona to Cut up. Sam and I had accomplished an in a single day crossing with Jadrolinija the earlier yr, although on the Dubrovnik-Bari route, and since we loved it, we thought it’d be enjoyable to take the ferry once more.

Our first cease was Cut up, the place we lucked out with an enormous house mere footsteps from Peristil Sq.. That meant we had Jupiter’s Temple, Saint Domnius Cathedral, and the Basement Halls of Diocletian’s Palace proper at our doorstep. The Previous City was a pleasure to discover on foot, and we additionally discovered some nice foodie spots like Konoba Fetivi for seafood and Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar for a black truffle mayo burger.

Having spent a number of days in Cut up, we hopped on a bus and travelled right down to Dubrovnik. This time round, our house was a little bit of a stroll from the Previous City, which meant we had unimaginable views of the walled metropolis, however we additionally needed to climb lots of of steps up the mountain twice a day. Maybe an excellent factor after all of the meals we had been indulging in! We actually loved our time within the metropolis, particularly strolling alongside the town partitions, visiting Fort Lovrijenac, and exploring the Previous Port.

Audrey in front of the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, Greece


Greece was the ultimate nation of our whirlwind European household tour. We spent a couple of days in Athens the place we toured the ruins of the Acropolis, browsed the Monastiraki Flea Market, and marvelled at the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, earlier than persevering with on to Santorini.

Relatively than flying, we determined to take the ferry from Piraeus, which unbeknownst to us made stops at a number of different islands alongside the best way. We stopped in Paros, Naxos and Ios, and each time we docked I stored considering, island hopping round Greece in the future can be lovely!

I loved Santorini, however I’ll say that we visited within the low season and solely went to Oia for a fast go to. As an alternative, we opted to do issues like take a ship journey to Nea Kameni Nationwide Geological Park, hike Mount Profitis Ilias, go to the ruins of Akrotiri, and use the general public bus system to discover quieter elements of the island. Our time in Santorini was outdoorsy and lively.

From there, we flew again to Canada to relaxation for a bit and regroup.

Audrey in Lima, Peru


It’s turn into an virtually annual custom to journey to Peru, however this go to was additional particular as a result of we have been there to have fun my Grandma’s 90th birthday! What a momentous event. She has Three youngsters, 6 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren and everybody that was capable of journey there got here to have fun together with her. It was an enormous reunion with household from Canada, Brazil, Germany and Peru.

In contrast to earlier journeys to Peru, we didn’t do any journey across the nation and opted to remain in Lima the entire time. Not a single grievance there! It was good to spend time near household, plus, Lima is the foodie capital of Latin America, so Sam and I made it our mission to restaurant hop throughout the town. We even visited a number of eating places by Peruvian superstar chef and nationwide icon Gastón Acurio.

Oh, and in any case that feasting throughout city, I additionally had my four knowledge tooth eliminated. I seemed like a bruised chipmunk for an excellent week, however after placing that surgical procedure off for over a decade, I’m glad that was lastly taken care of.

Sam and Audrey in Antigua


After returning from Peru, we had some extra time at house in Canada, after which we hopped on a flight to Antigua, one half of the two-island nation often known as Antigua and Barbuda. We have been there to attend a mini-conference run by Traverse and to additionally discover the island.

It was a enjoyable week with pals and highlights included taking a cooking class the place each dish had rum, attending the well-known Sunday Social gathering at Shirley Heights, and hanging out on catamarans throughout Antigua Crusing Week.

Sam and Audrey in Japan


After some extra time in Canada, we obtained able to lastly go to Japan! This was considered one of our dream bucket record locations that we needed to go to this yr.

I all the time thought Sam and I might go to Japan once we first completed educating English in Korea – I imply, it was only a skip and a hop away – however we have been ultra-budget travellers again then and we have been frightened about the price of journey in Japan.

In hindsight, I’m glad we waited till we have been a bit older and financially secure to go to (even when it took us 5 years!) as a result of on this journey we have been capable of journey sluggish and bask in all of the experiences we needed to.

We spent a complete of two months travelling in Japan and visited cities like Osaka, Nara, Tokyo, Nikko, Takayama, and Kyoto. To not point out all of the day journeys from Tokyo to locations like Mount Takao, Kamakura, Yokohama and Odaiba.

We did study an enormous lesson on this journey: don’t journey to Japan in the summertime! The primary few weeks of our journey have been positive, however by the point July rolled round, we have been struggling within the warmth and humidity. Not ultimate for sightseeing.

Sam and Audrey - Canadian Rockies Road Trip


Whereas the primary half of 2018 was spent travelling internationally, the second half was spent at residence in Canada. I stated no to all worldwide journey for the remainder of the yr, although I did go on a couple of mini-trips in my very own nation.

My favorite journey was happening a household street journey to the Canadian Rockies! My mother and father had been eager to see the Rockies ever since they moved to Canada, so we lastly determined to only drive on the market. The journey itself got here collectively fairly shortly and just some weeks after toying with the thought, we have been packing the automotive and setting off westward with the canine in tow.

It was an extended 4 and a half days of driving from Ontario to British Columbia, however getting there was magical! I wrote slightly recap with a few of the highlights from the Canadian Rockies right here.

Shortly after our journey to the Rockies, Sam and I have been invited to return and expertise the Japanese Townships and we jumped at the chance. We had beforehand travelled to Montreal and Quebec Metropolis, however this was our first time seeing a special aspect of the province. We cut up our time between Sutton and Mont-Mégantic Nationwide Park happening a lot of scenic hikes, staying in distinctive lodging (we’re speaking cosy forest chalets and spacey futuristic cabins!) and consuming our weight in poutine and maple pies.

After our journey to Quebec, Sam and I spent a while visiting his mother and father in Fredericton. We arrived throughout peak foliage season and it was a stupendous time to be within the metropolis and go for leisurely walks alongside the riverfront and on the strolling bridge. Our time right here was very relaxed; we spent numerous high quality household time, loved scrumptious meals ready by Sam’s mother, watched numerous crime dramas whereas trying to snuggle Hobie the Maine Coon, and just about simply relaxed for a number of weeks.

And that brings us to Christmas and New Years. We’re sticking round Canada this yr and my household has rented a cottage within the Kawartha Lakes, so it ought to be a enjoyable week of household meals, board video games across the hearth, and tobogganing till our toes go numb.

I’m additionally very completely happy to say that I really feel good. Slowing down has achieved wonders for me. After a rocky begin to 2018, I really feel wholesome, I really feel extra balanced, and I really feel like me.

What’s arising in 2019?

We solely have one plan at the second: Argentina.

We’re going to be spending fairly a little bit of time there this coming yr, beginning off with a Three-month journey travelling everywhere in the nation. We’ve spent a variety of time in Buenos Aires up to now so we need to prioritize provinces that neither Sam nor I’ve been to earlier than and actually get to know the nation.

For now, I need to say an enormous thanks to everybody who has stopped by this weblog over the previous yr and I want you all a Completely satisfied New Yr!