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This year I went to 12 new countries and returned to three. I also learnt a lot and worked crazy hard.
Here’s the round-up.
January – February: Africa overlanding
I started this year on a trip I’ll never forget. I’d been saving for my Africa overlanding journey for most of 2016 and I don’t regret one single moment.
It was certainly a life experience. It’s not often you spend 40 nights in a tent with actual lions and hippos prowling around. We made it through East and Southern Africa on a giant purple G Adventures tour bus with two guides and no Wi-Fi – a concept that seemed scarier than the lions.
Tanzania and Namibia were the highlights for me. Tanzania has to be the best safari experience in the WORLD and I was totally in awe at our planet. Namibia was pure magic – vast salt pans, towering sand dunes and the world’s oldest desert.
March – May: South Africa & Lesotho
By the time I’d been on an organised tour almost two months, I was excited for the chance to backpack around South Africa, making and being accountable for my own decisions, schedule and route.
While I enjoyed the tour and the social side of things, I reflected this year that they aren’t really for me. It was worth it around Africa where public transport is limited but I’m a very independent traveller and feel smothered on other people’s schedules. I like to travel slowly and get to know a place properly and tours don’t accommodate for that. They’re also just very expensive compared to going solo.
Anyway, post-tour I went to:
- Cape Town – I fell in love with this city and wrote a million blogs about South Africa after spending five weeks there in total.
- The Garden Route – I backpacked the Garden Route from Cape Town all the way to Durban which included treks, beaches, snorkelling with seals and heading off into the mountains.
- Lesotho – I made a friend, Bethany, and we set ourselves a mission to see Lesotho (the country landlocked within South Africa) without a tour – a very different and surreal experience which was so unlike the touristy, backpacker route I’m used to.
Overall, South Africa is a place that will always stay with me – I’ve never been somewhere so divided. Some places are opulent and glitzy whereas other communities live poverty. And yes, the colour of your skin still defines your fate as the apartheid is shockingly recent.
Saying that, the amount of progress that has been made in just two decades is impressive. I got to understand the situation relatively well with two months in the country – way more than I could have on a whistle-stop tour. My time certainly challenged me, and that’s what I value about travel.
May – back to my home base, Oxford
For the second half of the year I’ve been at home working because these pockets aren’t going to fill themselves! Luckily, Oxford is a city I love.
I also fell in love with my own continent this year. We have SO many diverse destinations on our doorstep and I can’t believe how much I’ve always taken for granted the ease of getting around.
It’s no wonder Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and Australians move to Europe just to travel. Literally any weekend can be a holiday as I’ve proved with my mini breaks during the second half of 2017:
June – Croatia
Having not seen my family all year, the four of us went to Croatia where we spent a couple of days in beach town, Slano, and a couple more in Dubrovnik. From there we took trips to Lokrum island and the Elaphiti Islands.
June – Bosnia
We also crossed the border on a day trip to Bosnia. This country really captivated me – it feels a million miles from Croatia whilst being right next to it. It’s not fully recovered from the Balkan Wars and seems poorer than Croatia, plus it has a Middle Eastern feel and an abundance of mosques compared to Croatia’s strong Catholic roots.
Can you spot me in the shot below?
July – Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury Festival is usually the highlight of my year though I feel this year it had major competition! Still, I love this hippie and forward-thinking festival – it’s about way more than just the music and it was the best excuse to hang out with my closest friends who I don’t get to see while I’m away.
August – Germany
Having not been to Germany in three years I randomly ended up going twice in three weekends. The cities I visited were:
- Munich – I went here for a beer
festival / reunionwith some of my Africa tour group. I liked the city but didn’t find it quite as magical as some places in Bavaria, though it was great to catch up with my friends and wear a dirndl. If you’re planning a trip, here’s my Munich guide.
- Nuremberg – I also went to stay with my sister who works in Nuremberg. This is absolute fairytale Bavaria. I adore it – read about what to do in Nuremberg here.
- Wurzburg – Joni and I took a day trip here. It’s almost as cute as Nuremberg and has a similar style – check out the traditional, colourful buildings in my Wurzburg itinerary.
September – Vienna
I managed to squeeze in a trip to Austria before the summer was over. I thought Vienna would be lovely with lots of palaces which it was, but the alternative street art side also captivated me and inspired a few blogs, too.
November – Copenhagen
Accepting I needed to stay around longer to earn money I signed a new six-month contract at work – but not before I booked a week off and spent 3 days in Copenhagen. It’s a cool city though it is expensive.
November – Poland
My week off also included a trip to Poland which until recently I’d never thought of as a holiday destination. After visiting I’d love to go and tour the whole country! I visited Gdansk which is a small, very beautiful city. Maybe my 12 reasons to visit Gdansk blog can inspire you to go too.
December – Ireland
During my final trip of the year I explored Ireland. I mainly planned the trip to spend 2 days in Dublin and tagged Galway on as an afterthought – but in the end, Galway was 100% my highlight.
I liked Dublin but it just didn’t captivate me in the same way as Galway’s cute, colourful town centre and the nearby Cliffs of Moher.
Saying that, NYE in Dublin was a ton of fun, even if it was the most expensive night of my entire life by about five times.
This year I’ve been trying to improve my blog and the things that go with it. I think it’s working but it feels sloooow.
- Social media – this time last year my @wheregoesrose Instagram didn’t exist and now I’m approaching 5000 followers. Yay to that. My other accounts are lagging – so if you don’t follow on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, please do!
- Photos – I got my first decent camera this year and taught myself to use it when I was watching animals in the Serengeti and had no choice but to get to grips with it.
- Website – a year ago I couldn’t have told you what my theme was or what a plugin or widget was. It’s taken painful learning and I still end up frustrated and stuck.
- Videos – I really meant to get the hang of vlogging this year but I still can’t say it’s something I’ve got my head around. It’s my 2018 resolution!
Exploring my home country
Since being home I’ve taken my own advice from the blog I wrote last year about ways to embrace staying still. I explored a lot of my home country in 2017 – including these places:
The Lake District
What’s next for 2018?
Finding a way to make digital nomad / blogging life sustainable – from abroad. It’s ambitious I’ll admit. Let’s see how that goes in next year’s review!
Gold star if you made it to the end. Did you travel anywhere or learn any new skills this year? Does my year sound super fun or plain exhausting? Let me know in the comments.
Read my 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 round-ups!
See you next time for more adventures,