I’ve been dragging my heels about writing this post. Firstly, because I wondered if reviewing the year was more fun for the writer than the audience (Insta poll saw me stand corrected) and secondly, because 2017 left me feeling a bit meh.
The biggest cause of my meh-ery, I think, is due to our move to Melbourne. I’ve struggled to get on with Sydney’s grungier sister, missing the coastal walks and blogger community I’d come to love in my first Aussie home.
Being based in Brunswick has reminded me so much of London that I miss all the family and familiarity I have over there and while it is wonderful to now have the Aussie half of our family on our doorsteps I can’t pretend it hasn’t made the distance seem further from my UK rellies.
So, it’s been interesting (and mildly depressing) to review the latter half of this year’s blog content and see themes of homesickness and illness pop up more often than they have in previous years. (And here was me thinking I keep this a mostly positive place. Pah!)
Luckily, a combination of work trips and savvy-saving gave me the chance to visit home 3 times this year and I’ve had some incredible adventures in and around Oz in-between the transatlantic hops.
Where did I go?
After a rough tally I counted that 2017 took me to 11 countries, 4 continents and approx. 20 cities, which is not bad considering I live on a massive island down under. I boarded a whopping 53 flights – watching every movie ever made and getting a serious case of déjà vu each time I was served another familiar inflight meal.
Japan was definitely the destination that put me out of my comfort zone the most. (Mainly, the whole bathing naked with strangers thing that went hopelessly wrong for me first time around.) Another first also took place in Japan as I went to a ski resort and attempted snowshoeing – it was more like slowly sinking for me though!
Elsewhere, I got involved with an Insta-perfect floating breakfast in Bali and did more falling than floating in a Caribbean Floatfit class in Antigua.
On reflection, it’s been a year of incredible variety and despite (or maybe because of) my homesickness, I travelled more with friends and family in 2017 than any other year and that is a truly wondrous thing.
Top Trips of 2017
There was lots to be grateful for in 2017 but these are the travel highlights that stand out.
Tokyo, Osaka and Wakayama – Japan
Of the 10 most popular posts I published this year 5 were about Japan and I get it. You guys are as obsessed with the technologically advanced, culturally conservative country as I am. In 2017, I discovered foodie-mecca Osaka, the ramen-filled Wakayama and some of the lesser-known local areas of Tokyo. Would I like to go again in 2018? Hells, yes. I still haven’t made it to Kyoto!
Seoul – South Korea
Bearing the crown of the only new country I visited this year, South Korea was a worthy new discovery. I loved the vibrancy of Seoul’s Gangnam Eating Street, the traditional architecture and accompanying costumes of the Traditional Hanok Village and the fact that there was some form of cake-wielding café on every corner. My kind of place, really!
Yasawa Islands & Denarau – Fiji
10 years after I first visited as a perma-tanned backpacker, I went back to Octopus Resort in Fiji with my sister who took a sabbatical to visit this side of the globe. Unaware that the waters in the Yasawas can get exceedingly choppy in February, it looked like we might be marooned on the island for the foreseeable future as the ferries could get nowhere near it. Eventually we had to hike over the hills to a bay on the calmer side of the island and we were picked up from there after a little wading. It was a little slice of my backpacker days which, while fun, didn’t necessarily leave me wanting more. I felt a lot more at home at the Waitui Beach Club at Sofitel Fiji where we begun our trip. (Soft, me? You bet!)
Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos – Greece
There’s a joke in my family that wherever my mum holidays – Dubai, Rome, Singapore – she always comes back saying it wasn’t as good as Greece and I think her opinions might be rubbing off on me! In May I jumped at the chance to relive my favourite family holidays in Greece with one of my best blogger buds Vicky Flip Flop and we had a ball singing ABBA songs as we ferry-hopped and cruised in a jeep around the islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos. This saganaki-filled trio will surely be even popular in 2018 as Mamma Mia 2 (the blockbuster musical filmed on the islands) is set to be released. Book now before everyone else cottons on!
Perth, Western Australia
I broke up the epically long flight back from Europe with a weekend in Perth with Justin and we set off to meet the quokkas on Rottnest Island. After glimpsing the bays, reefs and pink lakes in this part of Oz I’d dying to see more of WA in future. Maybe I’ll finally get to Esperance and the Kimberley in 2018?
O M Maldives. Winning the crown for most last-minute trip of the year (I received my flight confirmation the day before I flew) is the Maldives. I was one of a lucky group of bloggers who were invited to speak at the inaugural World Travel Writers Conference in this gorgeous, gorgeous part of the world and who cares if the plans were a little rushed when you’re landing somewhere like this? In the end, the conference was a success and I hugely enjoyed getting to know the Maldives beyond its honeymoon reputation.
Vienna – Austria
Rounding out the year was our incredible Christmas visit to the UK and a jaunt with my parents and brother to Vienna for strudel and Christmas Markets. Unfortunately, I was struck by a stomach bug in Vienna but that didn’t stop me wandering the bauble-filled markets, marvelling at the Imperial Palaces and soaking up all the intelligent vibes of the city’s coffee houses. (More on this trip coming shortly.)
If I’m honest with myself I think a lot of my best (and perhaps most useful) writing went on sites other than my own this year. The ‘problem’ (of sorts) of being both a blogger and freelance writer is that you have to sell some of your best ideas to other publications and work with what’s left for your own domain. I’d like to redress this balance in 2018 and, as such, have set some intentions for the year to make Girl Tweets World my main focus once again.
Where to next?
It seems like all of Australia is on holiday right now so Justin and I are going to join them! We’ve booked a trip to Tasmania at the end of this month and I can’t wait to explore the only Aussie state that I haven’t been to yet. There are some more tentative travel plans in the mix too – including a catch up with my parents in Penang – but I’m keeping things loose at the moment while I work on some pitches and projects.
What about you?
I’d love to know how your 2017 has been – travel, work or otherwise – and what you have in the pipeline for 2018. Let me know if you have any trips you need help planning and I’ll work a post into my content schedule. (Something I resolve to stick to in 2018 too!)
Wishing you a wonderful start to the year. Thanks for being here 😀