Firstly, happy new year to you all. It’s my first ever happy new year as a travel writer and man it makes my heart sing! Cheers to that!
I started this in July 2018 after some gentle persuasion from family and friends and let me just say, it’s been an absolute treat. Not only is this giving me an opportunity to write about my favourite thing to do, travel, I am actually writing. And taking photos. And learning. Being creative on some level has always been at the core of who I am and what I want to do with my life.
It’s been ace! And there is so much more to come.
I woke this morning on New Year’s Day with mixed emotion. One of my closest life allies and closest of friends was already up in the sky embarking on a new life adventure by moving from Melbourne to Seattle. I felt like I missed her already yet I was so bloody excited for her new path in life.
It got me to thinking about the past year, 2018. Personally, it was hideous on a lot of levels. No need to dwell on the past year, those who follow the blog know. But while it was literally the worst year of my life, I still managed to find it a humbling and life changing year in its own right. One in which I’ve learnt some extremely valuable life lessons and found a finer appreciation for life and living the best one imaginable. Lessons in which with gratitude and love I chose to embody going forward. I’ve dropped people pleasing and saying yes when I have wanted to say no for doing what I want on my terms, basically living my life more authentically and true to self.
And this means change. Professionally, personally and creatively. Some subtle, some huge and really significant and whilst it is scary I am so fucking excited! 2019 I absolutely and unapologetically choose me without any guilt.
And more travel of course.
And so the heart sings some more!
But back to last year. 2018 saw me focus on travel that was more localised. I ventured to Uluru, Northern Territory for the first time and it was monumental on all levels. So much so I really want to go back sooner rather than later. I think it was 2 weeks after my mum passed away that I fulfilled a promise to her and booked my flights and accommodation. At the time (and still now) my heart was completely shattered, I either felt a complete mess or just numb, so jumping on a plane seemed just about the best thing I could do to remove myself from all responsibilities of the last few years. Finding peace and connection in the middle of Australia is my account of one of the most insightful journeys I have had to date.
In July I headed off to New Zealand for the first time ever with a good friend of mine Hannah. While we didn’t stray too far from Queenstown, it was a beautiful holiday, one spent with a great friend, eating glorious foods, and adventuring around the area. Milford Sound was a huge highlight of this trip, the views are truly next level amazing and we got to see it all 3 ways, via bus, boat and unexpectedly via helicopter. You can read more about our Milford Sound adventure here. We had heard that food and wine in the area was sensational but nothing prepared us for exactly how amazing it was. Huge notable mention to fabulous Ferg burger, Ferg bakery, Rata, Bunker and the Gibbston Valley Winery and Cheese Shop. If food is your thing, get mouth wateringly jealous by reading this.
Ship faced at 20 knots; a booze filled family adventure on the high sees details a little family get together on honour of my late mum for her birthday at the end of September. This trip saw me join my brother, his wife and numerous members of Mum’s family for a cruise off the coast of Queensland. This P&O cruise on the Pacific Dawn was to celebrate what would have been mums 64th birthday and didn’t we do her proud. Well I hope so anyway. It was a bit of a booze cruise in the end, a few of us got sea sick (not I for I own a stomach of steel) but we all had a really great time being together. Especially that last day bar crawl. Ouch! Never knew there were so many bars on board cruise ships!
So… 2018 recap done and dusted, you may ask what is in store for The Bright Eyed Explorer in 2019?
It was only this morning I started planning my first ever trip to the US in October/November. I am off to Europe again in April and have done stuff all organising for that trip but the US trip, feel like I’m all organised!
So at Easter this year I’ll be off to Europe again. Landing in Rome on Good Friday I am hightailing it out of Catholic Rome at the most religious time of year and heading to Munich. Swapping religion for beer halls and pork knuckle sounds just about right to me. I’ll be in Munich for 4 days before heading to Salzburg to sample a little taste of what Austria has to offer.
Where I have stalled in organising this trip is… I only have 3 weeks and was thinking of heading from Salzburg to Slovenia and doing a bit of lake bled, and a touch of Ljubljana. But the more I think about Italy, and pasta, and Prosecco, and pizza, and wine, and gelato and um just Italy, the more I am compelled to skip the Slovenia side trip and just launching head first (stomach first) into northern and central Italy. Honestly, tough life choices I know. But what a good dilemma to have.
I am currently taking submissions/help/advice for my 2 weeks in Italy, but I do know that I will be doing Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome. It’s the in between bits that I am unsure of. Do I do Cinque Terre? Pisa? Milan? Parma? Verona? I definitely want to do a bit of lounging around in Tuscany. With wine of course. If you have any insight for me, I am so interested in hearing your advice.
In October I’ll be heading to the US for the first time EVER! Didn’t think I’d be as excited as I am, it’s weird this disconnection I have had with the US until now. Maybe it’s the fascination I have with Europe? And Asia? Maybe like, New Zealand, I’ve stupidly felt it would be all too similar? But hey there’s nothing like one of your closest mates moving there to fuel some interest.
This morning I planned this trip all out. Land in LA, spend a few days with another close mate from Melbourne who happens to be on holidays at the same time. Then meet the friend living in the US in San Fran for a few days of exploring then heading back to her place in Seattle for a week and half. Being a teenager of the 90s and a huge lover of ‘Grunge’, Seattle has always been on my US list of must sees, but since knowing my friend was moving there, I’ve learnt more about the awesome food, coffee, booze, art and culture of Seattle so needless to say I am hell excited about going there.
While my friend is working, I plan on an overnighter in Portland Oregon, and on one of the weekends we will head into Canada to Vancouver. Ticking another country off my list. After Seattle, I’m solo tripping to Alaska! YAY! The more I learn about Alaska the more fucking excited I am. Glaciers, fjords, micro-breweries, off the beaten path stuff. It’s so me to a tea. BUT the biggest draw card and reason why I’m heading to Alaska, is the chance to see the northern lights again!!!
OMG I AM GOING TO SEE THE AURORA BOREALIS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Speaking of the Northern Lights, I promise that I will have blog posts of my trip to Norway in 2017 up on the blog VERY soon… watch this space).
I’ve also realised that I really have not seen a lot of my home state Victoria. I mean I did grow up in the country and am very familiar with Ballarat and Portland, as well as Geelong, Port Fairy, Warnambool, Hamilton, Buningyong, Echuca and Wangaratta. But it is hard to believe that at 41 I have not yet seen the Great Ocean Road. What an absolute crime, I am actually quite embarrassed to admit that one. I’d also love to do a trip to Lake Tyrell to take gorgeous pics of the salt lake as well as other areas such as Lake Eildon, the Grampians, Bright and the Victorian Alps.
Time for some weekend road trips with my trusty DSLR me thinks.
And speaking of more local trips. Midway through writing this post I got side tracked (happens a lot) but received confirmation from a dear friend who is able to dog sit for me in a few weeks so it is off the Gold Coast I go for Australia Day weekend. Flights booked and all! Yay, I finally get to see my bro Richie and his wife Jas in their new home after too many months apart. Also ticking off the list for this trip is seeing his new band ‘Awake in Time’. I am VERY excited for this!
Before I forget, watch this space as I’ll be announcing a small collaboration with two other travel bloggers Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt and Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse. A piece I wrote on overcoming my fear of travelling solo will be featured with some other solo travellers. Such an honour to be a part of this one as both bloggers have been such a huge influence for me with their combined 14 plus years of experience. These are the bloggers that inspire me to be better and to work harder at what I am doing so it is an honour to be included.
Also, I recently came runner up in a competition to meet my master run by the guys at Red Zed. I had to write 250 words on my business master and what I would gain from meeting them. I submitted the entry on a tram on the way home from work so really have no idea what I wrote but apparently it was enough to get runner up placing and $1000 AUD. All goes into the travel account so I am so grateful for that opportunity. If I had of won, I would have been meeting Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse but the runner up placing was awesome considering I didn’t think my entry would even be considered.
So now I have blabbed on and on about my travels, where are you off to this year?
Do you have some plans set in place or a trip you are thinking about? If you do, I would LOVE to hear all about it.
Happy new year & safe travels for 2019.