2017 has been very kind to me. I’ve been incredibly lucky and feel blessed to have had so many unbelievable travel experiences this year. I’ve had the chance to visit 14 countries over the last 12 months as well as some wonderful UK trips. I ticked off experiences from my bucket list, ate at some of the best restaurants I’ve ever tried and made friends across the world.
Here are some of the places I fell in love with over the last 12 months:
I hadn’t visited India since I was 12 years old, despite it being the vibrant country of my ancestors. When my best friend decided to have a destination wedding in Jaipur, we had the opportunity to be there for the happiest day of her life so far and to explore some more of India. We explored beautiful Jaipur and enjoyed some of the most flavour-packed food I’ve ever tried in Delhi (including the best chicken I’ll probably ever try!)
Less than two weeks later I headed off to Hong Kong on my first long-haul business trip. I loved my stay at the East hotel, waking up to unrivalled views of the gorgeous harbour. On the weekends, I delved into the markets, ate dim sum and visited the gorgeous Lantau island. Hong Kong has such an excellent culinary scene, an amazing buzz and I’m eager to go back soon!
Timing can be a blessing, as such I managed to squeeze in a quick one week trip to Northern Laos with one of my best friends, Monica. We explored the Buddhist temples of Luang Prabang, the stunning Tat Kuang Si waterfalls before heading further North to lesser known, Nong Kiew and Muang Ngoi. These remote places are strikingly beautiful and amongst the most peaceful places I’ve ever visited. I’d love to go back with the Doc and also explore the South of Laos too.
This is somewhere I first visited before my blogging days. My flights from Laos worked out such that before going back to Hong Kong, Monica and I stopped in Hanoi, the capital for two short days. We had the best short trip there, spending the day drinking excellent local coffee, exploring the city centre and visiting the spa!
I spent my birthday in Edinburgh celebrating my cousin’s wedding. It was my first trip there since I was a kid and I absolutely loved this charming city with it’s cute little nooks, cobblestoned streets, and beautiful views and I am super keen to go back!
In May, the Doc and I went off for a week in sunny Dubai. He’d been more than ten times but for me it was my first visit to the UAE! We ate at some of the best restaurants and had so much fun working through the best things to do!
September was a pretty huge month for us personally as little did I know but the Doc had spent the last nine months planning something pretty special! I was under the impression that he had a conference to attend in one of my favourite European cities, Barcelona and that was the reason why we were visiting. In reality he had spent months planning a super romantic proposal and he completely blew me away. We stayed at one of my favourite luxury hotels of 2017, Cotton House Barcelona but that’s a tale for a separate blog post I think but it meant that our Barcelona trip was particularly special to us. We spent a week there enjoying the beaches, shopping and insanely good food!
The start of October took us to County Cork to review the gorgeous Ballyvolane House, an outstanding Irish luxury resort with it’s own gin distillery! This was one of the most exquisite country hotels I’ve ever stayed in and I completely found myself unwinding. Read all about why I loved it here, and all the things you can do if you visit too! I’m so grateful for this experience and all the opportunities blogging has brought me!
What a place! We kicked off our four month South American adventure in colourful Colombia. With its lush green jungle, powder soft sandy beaches, luxurious unique hotels to gorgeous coffee plantations, I can firmly say Colombia is one of the best places I’ve ever visited. The people are unbelievably warm, the history fascinating and there’s something for everyone. Of course, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t eat my way around the country – I absolutely did and found the best twenty dishes to eat if there! Our five weeks exploring gave us a taste and now we’re itching to go back!
With just two weeks in Ecuador, we had to be pretty selective about where to go. Did we want to explore the cloud forests? Historic Quito? The markets? Well, I wanted it all! We ended up spending our weeks in the spectacular magical Galapagos islands (cruising on the Alya) and the adrenaline-capital of Ecuador, Banos. I absolutely loved our two weeks here and am certain I’ll be back one day! Here are my top tips if you’re planning a trip to the Galapagos.
December brought us to one of the best foodie destinations in the world. Our month in Peru brought sheer happiness to the Doc and I. We ate like royalty every single day as every meal was wonderful and I managed to tick lots off my bucket list! We sand-boarded in Huacachina, enjoyed wine and Pisco tastings in Ica, and ate mountains of sensational ceviche in Lima! On top of all of this, I completed my first ever “proper” trek – seven days of luxury trekking with Mountain Lodges of Peru on the Salkantay Trail. It was an incredible experience across snow-capped mountains, lush meadows, tropical jungle and stunning scenes, culminating in seeing Peru’s iconic Machu Pichu. Tears were shed and I’ll never forget it!
An unplanned trip led us to having half a day in Southern Paraguay! It was hot, humid and rainy but exciting to go through Ciudad del Este, on the way to Brazil. It’s a country, admittedly, I still know very little about, but I’d love to return properly in the future, not least because it’s one of the lesser travelled countries in South America!
We took a day trip to the Argentinean side of the Iguazu falls on Christmas day for the most memorable Christmas of my life! It was an incredibly humbling experience to make it full circle. You see, Argentina was the first place I ever backpacked to and it was the place where I had so many firsts. Being back there was amazing and it was seriously special to share it with the Doc on our first Christmas as an engaged couple. The falls were of course absolutely breathtaking and we’re both already eager to visit Argentina properly!
Finally, here I am in Brazil where we are spending one more month! It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re about to head out to the beach in Jericoacoara. Everyone’s dressed in white, the sand is as soft as flour and it’s 28 degrees Celsius. It’s pretty special! We’re heading to see sunset and joining the locals to bring 2018 in with some caipirinhas and dancing.
I feel truly blessed. 2017 has been wonderful to me. I’m going into 2018 with a fiancée, having seen 9 new countries, having gained incredible memories of the best travel experiences of my life and with a whole lot of hope for the future. In terms of travel in 2018, I suspect it will be a relatively quiet one! I’m going to focus on travelling more in the UK and perhaps I’ll finally make that Bordeaux trip we’ve talked about for the last four years!
Thank you so much for following along on the blog this year, it’s been all I could ask for and has made every post worth it – I can’t thank you enough! Wishing you all a very happy new year. I hope 2018 brings you new discoveries, tonnes of laughter and so much happiness. Lots and lots of love to you all!