With the new year just beginning, I have been reflecting on my last year of travel.
2018 was a big year for me, in every sense possible. I learnt more than I ever have, grew as a person, achieved a lot, failed a little, and travelled more extensively than ever before. Like any year, there’s been ups and there’s been downs, but what has been so special about this year is that even the downs had their silver linings. Perhaps its down to a different outlook, but no hard time came without a valuable lesson learnt. Mainly, 2018 taught me that there is a certain beauty in not having a plan for now. Its taken some adjusting after being a very organised person with a set direction my whole life, but the opportunities that keep arising from a lack of a short-term plan just keep getting better.
I began the year in Prague, a city full of cobbled streets and history. Over a long weekend we welcomed in the new year visiting christmas markets and spending new years eve at a live concert and dodging impromptu, unofficial fireworks.
Come March, I was conducting research in Tanzania. Looking into the reality of pro-poor tourism, I explored the city of Arusha and the local rural villages. The people were friendly and the country beautiful. Safari on this trip was an added highlight, but what will forever stay with me is the smiles of the children at the local school.
After finishing my degree in May, it was time for a well – earned holiday. I flew to the south of France to meet a friend who was living there and we spent our days in Montpellier, Sommieres, and Uzes. The south of france will always be a special place for me. There is something about the atmosphere there, enjoying an alfresco coffee by the river and marvelling at the beauty of simple little streets. Not to mention the pastries that accompany said coffee.
Sooner than I knew, in June I was back to France by pure surprise courtesy of my incredible boyfriend, but this time to the North, in Paris. Paris is simply a place like no other. The architecture, the romantic atmosphere, its one of the most difficult places to articulate into words, but anyone who has been knows the feeling I am talking about. This trip was particularly special, exploring streets off the typical tourists path, and spending hours upon hours talking over a glass (or two) of rose down tiny french streets. I’m happy to say we only visited the vastly busy champs elysees once. One particular place worthy of dodging the selfie sticks of tourists however is aboard the bateaux mouche. With the eiffel tower behind us, we danced and talked all night.
In July, Barcelona was the destination of choice. Myself and a friend booked into an unbelievably quaint hotel with a beautiful rooftop pool for 5 days of partying and exploration. Barcelona, like any European city, has that familiar charm, however with a slightly faster pace of life. After dancing literally all night every night in numerous clubs of the city, I cannot speak for mornings there, but the afternoons were slow and the evenings fast.
In August, I was lucky enough to go to the coast of Portugal in Albuferia. The orange and red cliff faces that line the coast are vastly beautiful, and almost make you feel as though you have gone back in time. The little towns are colourful whilst the towns are crazy. Both are an experience to say the least.
September came around, and with it the chance to explore Cornwall. The town of St. Ives is idyllically english, with rolling fields and miles of sandy beaches to walk off a Sunday roast, and fishermen providing the freshest fish and chips you can get your hands on. With the typical british weather being rather unreliable that time of year, we often found ourselves in a pub hiding from the rain. No complaints.
In October, my boyfriend and I spent our anniversary in the cotswolds town of Broadway. Being from the cotswolds, I knew it would be a very english weekend away filled with walks through simple yet beautiful villages, a stop off at the local deli, and long walks back to our country hotel. Its weekends like those that make me very grateful to live where I do.
So that brings me to the end of my year, in Peru, where I have been living and travelling for a couple of months since the beginning of November. I have surfed off the beaches of Zorritos and danced with locals on the beach, all whilst becoming a certified TEFL teacher. I have hiked the Andes mountains, wandered the streets of Cusco, and sand-boarded down the sand dunes of Huacachina, Ica.
2018 took me all over the world, in the most diverse ways possible. It was incredible and eye-opening, yet at the same time made me appreciate home in an entirely new way. I’m not sure what 2019 will bring and as it stands for once I have no plans at all, but what I know for sure is that with a new TEFL qualification, it’ll take me somewhere new, and with it there will be a new adventure. So here’s to a new year and new adventures!