It’s that time of year again, with the year coming to a close and everyone looking back at what they got up to throughout the year. For me, 2017 was a fairly busy one and thankfully quite eventful too.
Looking back, my travels in 2017 were neatly broken up into three distinct parts, the first of which started with me returning from Australia and exploring Western Europe. This included attempting to escape the European cold From there it was off to Central and Eastern Europe for a low-key time in the next third, followed up by a trip through Australia and East Asia in the final third of the year.
Along the way I was able to enjoy heaps of new places, experiences and meet plenty of great people along the way. In particular, I finally had the chance to meet some other bloggers: Angie from Feet Do Travel, Lori from California Globetrotter and Cartier of Kaihora. It was so great to put faces to names and swap some thoughts on blogging and a shared love of travel.
Favourite Destinations of 2017
Interestingly this year, I visited very few wholly new destinations, just five in fact: Malta, Serbia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Myanmar. This may seem like a light year but it did mean that I did get to revisit lots of countries, making my way to 20 countries in 2017. In such a large mix there were plenty of great places but there were some that truly stood out.
There’s something about Belgium that makes it feel like home to me. Everything about it from the people, to the food to the cities suits me to a tee. During my time there, I had the chance to explore popular spots like Brussels and Bruges, as well as lesser seen places like Leuven and Tournai. Each managed to feel totally different from the other, convincing me that this western European nation is still woefully underrated.
Since coming to Europe several years ago, there are few countries that I’ve spent as much time in as Portugal. A rising star in travel, Portugal seems to charm all that visit and my return there this year was no exception. Opting to spend time exploring inland this time, I learned that Portugal’s charms don’t only belong to its adored coastline. From medieval Guimaraes, to the stairways of Lamego and castle of Obidos, Portugal’s interior showcases another side of the country of which I’m still keen to explore more.
While I had explored much of the Balkans in previous years, Serbia had managed to elude me. Being one of my favourite corners of Europe, I was keen to see how it compared with its neighbours. What I found was that Serbia may well be the easiest Balkan country to travel about, while remaining surprisingly cheap. It’s also fairly light on tourists even in the middle of summer, with destinations like Novi Sad and Subotica free to explore without any real crowds. There’s also plenty of nature to enjoy in places like Fruska Gore and outside the town of Vrsac.
One of the countries I was most keen to revisit on my travels was Malaysia. Having only visited Kuala Lumpur the first time, I was curious to see more of the country and see whether the city was a true representation for Malaysia as a whole. Turns out, Malaysia has so much more to offer, from cool colonial towns like Malacca and Penang to remarkable landscapes of Ipoh and the Cameron Highlands.
I don’t know where my curiosity for Taiwan came from. It’s possibly from reading about the adventures of others bloggers there like Barry’s from Tools of Travel. Unsure what to expect, I found a destination with a fascinating culture, delicious food and some stunning temples. Of all the new places I visited this year, Taiwan instantly struck a chord and has me desperate to return.
Favourite Experiences of 2017
Definitely the most fun and crazy experience of my year was witnessing the Carnival celebrations in the city of Aalst in Belgium. Watching the eccentric parade go past was a feast for the senses and dressing up for the after party was a blast. It’s truly hard to explain the event but I really do think that photos do as good a job as any.
Douro Wine Tour
One of the biggest draws in Northern Portugal is definitely the Douro Valley and its famed wine region. My tour through the valley included some spectacular sights, a great insight into the region’s history and culture, not to mention lots of incredible wine. If you’re visiting Portugal, the Douro Valley has to be near the top of your list.
Admittedly, I’m not much of a beach person, as I have a habit of getting bored simply lying on the sand. However, my time on Gili Air in Indonesia was more about falling into the rhythm of island life and enjoying a few drinks in paradise along the way. A huge thanks to Angie and Simon of Feet Do Travel for showing me around their new home and sharing their favourite sunset spots.
Temples of Bagan
Safe to say that a visit to Bagan creeps on to everyone’s bucket list once they see photos of the area’s countless temples. Thankfully, Bagan truly lived up to my expectations. Taking an electric scooter out into the countryside in search of stupas and sunset spots was simply unforgettable.
As much as I enjoy journeying through Europe and other destinations, there’s no place like home. Returning to see family and attend a friend’s wedding, I was instantly reminded why I love Australia so. Melbourne is still as weird and unpredictable as ever and the Queensland hinterland really won me over as a place to relax.
Favourite Posts of 2017
Gozo is such a fantastic destination and a perfect place for gentle hikes through serene, rustic countryside. For those looking to explore this beautiful island, these hikes are a fantastic chance to sightsee and take in the island’s awesome sights.
Bulgaria was such a surprise for me last year that even after writing all my posts, I still wanted to share more photos from there. This post really reflects just how diverse and beautiful Bulgaria can be and why I’m keen to return.
Tasmania really does get overlooked by visitors to Australia and I was just as guilty of avoiding it up until late last year. During my visit, I only got to see a small corner of the island and yet there was so much to see and do there.
In the heart of winter, I had the chance to visit a truly picturesque Italian village that I’d long wanted to see. Civita di Bagnoregio is isolated atop a cliff in northern Lazio and is known as the “Dying City” due to its dwindling population. Safe to say, Bagnoregio left an impression.
One of Poland’s quirkiest attractions is the hundreds of “dwarfs” found throughout the delightful city of Wroclaw. While learning the history behind the dwarfs is interesting, it pales in comparison to the fun in trying to find them all.
Favourite Photos of 2017
A big part of this blog are all the photos that I take during my journeys. I love sharing them as I do think they are able to convey things that words can’t. Throughout the year I’ve taken far too many photos to fully share with you, so I’ve opted to share just five.
I hope you’ve enjoyed following my travels this year and found my articles posted here useful. If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to leave them here.