Last year was my best travel year yet. Not only was I lucky enough to take the most trips ever in a year, but I had some of my most precious travel moments to date. I hosted my first yoga and hiking trip, I got to join my cousin and Mum on their first ever Europe adventure and spend NYE on Sydney harbour. The real joy was not about the experience, but who I got to share it with.
I had a goal of reaching 50 countries this year I fell short by 3. I realised it’s not about the number that is satisfying but it was the people I got to share my travel adventures with. So to wrap up 2016, here are my top 18 travel moments for 2016.
After the clock struck midnight on New Year’s eve, our group of friends all dressed in white meandered down to the beach below our bungalows at the Nirvana Beach hotel. The tradition in Brazil (for good luck) is to jump over 7 waves in the ocean. Watching the fireworks above, jumping over the 7 waves and then watching the sunrise on the 1st of January has to be a pretty special way to ring in the new year. A moment I will treasure forever.
There’s not many countries in the world where you can ride a horse barefoot along the sand. But in a little town called Barra Grande, you can do such a thing. Myself and eight friends each mounted a horse and trotted off into the sunset. I know it sounds cliche but it was so magical. We were all different abilities but managed to stick together and coach each other along. To finish the experience, our guide led us along the beach under the starry moon light.
Have you ever been tobogganing? It has to be one of the funnest activities to do on the snow (other than skiing). During my press trip to Austria, we had the chance to toboggan from dinner down into the town. With a full belly, and a kid like spirit I jumped into the toboggan head first and slid down the hill attempting to guide my way along the path. Of course I caught too much speed and I swished straight off the path and into a meter deep snow. I couldn’t stop laughing so hard that my belly ached the next day. Highly recommend it if you have the chance.
Venturing to the snow every year since I was 18, I was bound to be caught in a blizzard at some point. After a gorgeous lunch at the Panoramic restaurant on our ski trip in Tignes, the snow started to come down hard and visibility was close to none. We layered up, with no skin exposed to the harsh weather except for our noses. Sticking close together, our group made it down the mountain laughing so hard at how ridiculous we looked.
At first I thought hiking Snowdon in Wales was going to be a piece of cake. Little did I know, it’s a pretty gruelling trek especially if you weren’t informed that the cafe and restrooms weren’t going to be open at the top. 6 hours of sunshine, snow, sleet and wind with no food or toilet breaks sounds like hell. This adventure was definitely one memorable experience, especially when Portia and I were on our hands and knees climbing up the final peak. Definitely look into the trip if you are into hiking, but I’d recommend going in the summer.
Arriving at the Miradol del Rio viewpoint in Lanzaroe has to make the list with leaps and bounds. The viewpoint is nestled into the volcanic landscape which gives you impressive panoramic views of the island below. Approximately 475 meters high, it’s one vast outlook you must experience when visiting Lanzarote. Definitely a pinch yourself kinda moment. To see the other hightlights from the trip, you can watch the travel vlog on youtube.
Perfectly perched on the bank of a flowing river, theGarden Village glamping tents and tree houses look like they are part of the naturally forming environment. At night you can hear the trickle of the water running past your bed, there is an edible garden, a living swimming pool and an outdoor sauna. If you get the chance, make the trip to Lake Bled and stay at this unique property.
Probably not something a normal 32 year old does on holidays. But when your on holiday with 7 of your best crazy girlfriends in Croatia, and the moment arises, well you just go for it. We had cycled into the Mjet national park and the sun was about to set. The lake was empty and we seized the moment. Stripping down, we all jumped into the rapids that took us downstream. As we got out of the lake and sat on the edge to dry, little did we know that there was a boat chugging upstream. What more we could do but wave. The guy driving the boat was so embarrassed he couldn’t but not look at us waving and smiling at him as he drove past. Highlight right there!
What do you do when it’s 40 degrees outside and your in the middle of Bosnia? Swim in the freezing 12 degrees water of course! I was the only one brave enough to take the plunge into the devishly cold water. My whole body went numb after 5 seconds, so it was a pretty quick swim to say the least. This picture was before I stripped down to my bikini and jumped in. My face was a little less happy, I’m sure you can imagine.
If you get the chance to dine at the exclusive Aman hotel on Sveti Stefan island in Montenegro, do it! The hotel is not open to non-staying guests but I was lucky enough to negotiate a table on the last night of our trip. We caught a boat from Budva and adoned on our prettiest holiday outfits and heels. Despite arriving at the wrong entrance which saw us climb up a retaining wall and across the beach in our long dresses, dinning at the Aman has to be one of the most memorable experiences of 2016. We were escorted by security along the bridge that joins the hotel to the mainland and up to the rooftop restaurant. Watching the sunset as we sipped champagne was a pretty spectacular moment that is locked into the memory bank.
When your favourite cousin rings you out of the blue and tells you he is coming to Europe for the first time, it’s hard to contain the excitement. We then adventured to Greece for his first sailing adventure around the Mediterranean. The best part of the trip was watching his reactions when we arrived at some of the stunning and unique locations around the Greek Islands. Setting sail that first morning and watching his smile never leave his face the whole trip was a memory that I’ll keep forever. You can watch the highlights reel from the trip on Youtube.
The sunsets in Santorini has to be the best in the world. And I’ve seen my fair share of sunsets visiting 47 different countries. On the first night stay at the Rocabella Santorini, I was treated to the most jaw dropping view over the volcano and sea below. It is definitely a contender for the most idyllic and luxurious moment out of all my travel experiences.
Hiking 17km over 2 days carrying all your supplies is one mean feat. On the yoga and hiking adventure I hosted this year, reaching that final peak was one satisfying moment. The group had sweated, swore and sung encouragement all the way up the final incline to our lodge. After a full day of hiking on sore and tired legs, the relief when we saw the glimpse of the lodge was the happiest sights we could see. We laughed (and I think some cried) as we finally came to rest for the night.
When your mum comes to Europe for the first time ever, of course you have to take her to the Eiffel Tower. We dined in the restaurant and then continued to take the elevator all the way to the top. We both aren’t the best with heights so walking around the perimeter made our legs shaky. We held tight to the handrail as we attempted to take a some what decent selfie. We nervously laughed the whole entire time, giggling at each other as I made jokes about us falling through the cracks!
As a special thank you from my client, I was treated to unforgettable dinner for my mum and I at Chevre d’or in Eze. Built on the steep slopes of the French Riviera and surrounded by fragrant gardens, the French chateaux offers breath-taking vistas of the Mediterranean. We were waited on hand and foot at the restarunt and our view from our table was a breathtaking panorama of the sea. I’ve never felt so spoilt in my entire life and my mum was speechless. The meal was beyond devine and there are no words to describe how thankful I am for the experience!!
I’m lucky enough to have been to Positano twice before, but experiencing this place as an adult with your mum and boyfriend is pretty special. The view from our hotel was outrageously fantastic. We sat around the pool on the first night (and every night we were there) drinking aperol spritz cocktails and taking in one of the most incredible views in Europe.
The Europe trip of the year was to Majorca with the Flybery women. We laughed, worked out, ate and drank to our hearts content. One of the many highlights of the trip was watching the rose and pink sunset sink over the mountains at Port de Pollenca. We got kinda, erm, silly. Can you gues what animal we are?
Last but definitely not least, I surprised my boyfriend with a seaplane ride over Sydney for his Christmas present. It was his first trip to Australia and I wanted to show him what a beautiful city Sydney is to live in. We flew from Rose Bay up to the Hawkesbury River flying over some of Sydney’s most picturesque beaches. We landed on the river for a 3 course lunch and then flew back over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. To sum up the experience he said “WOW, just wow.”
So there are my favourite travel moments from 2016. I can’t wait for what 2017 has in store – however it’s got to be pretty bloody awesome if it’s going to surpass last year. What was your favourite travel moment from last year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.