2015 has been my biggest year of traveling to date and as it comes to an end I’m reflecting on the year that was. I traveled around 29 unique countries across 5 continents. Some of those travels with friends, some with family and some completely solo.
I started the New Year with a bang, celebrating it at a festival in New York City, followed by a trip to Miami, New Orleans and Hawaii on my way home to Australia. But I didn’t go straight home to Melbourne, detouring to spend a few weeks in Queensland visiting Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Airlie Beach.
After two months back in Melbourne, me and my family departed for Perth in late March to start one of the most amazing journeys of my life. We went on the Gallipoli Cruise to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the ANZAC’s in World War I. Over 36 days we ventured down to Albany, Western Australia (our soldiers last Australian port) then followed the path our Anzacs took en route to war stopping in Sri Lanka and Egypt before arriving in Turkey. It also stopped in Greece and Italy before we disembarked in Rome. Read all about the cruise here.
We then hired an RV and travelled through more of Italy, Austria, Germany, a brief stop in Lichtenstein, Switzerland, France, England, Scotland and Wales. Then the rest of the family went home and I was ready to travel solo.
Backpacking my way through Northern Ireland, Ireland, Spain and Portugal before heading to Croatia to take part in a week long Sail Croatia. Then I ventured east, backpacking through Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Slovenia before meeting up with an American friend in Croatia to continue the adventures. We traveled through more of Croatia, up into Hungary, the Czech Republic and over to the Netherlands and Belgium. We met up with some more friends there and headed to Tomorrowland, then it was back home to Australia with a few days in the United Arab Emirates first of course.
The next few months were dedicated to work and study, the whole time itching to book another holiday but my bank account disagreeing with me.
As 2015 comes to an end, I’m reflecting on the year that was and thought I would share my fave 15 places of ’15.
#15: Barcelona, Spain
June 2015 marked my second visit to Barcelona and it only reaffirmed my everlasting love for the place. Artistic, colourful and fun with beautiful architecture, parks, food, beaches and a pumping nightlife, it has everything I could ever want in a city. I can definitely put it in my top 3 favourite cities in all of Europe along with Prague and Paris. (Don’t make me put them in order, thats like asking to choose a favourite child.)
#14: Key West, USA
Miami was so much fun with a nightlife to rival Vegas and beautiful Caribbean beaches to go with the warm weather IN JANUARY! But a day trip along the overseas highway to Key West was a lovely getaway. It felt like I had left the States and headed on to Cuba. I loved the cute markets, nice beaches (although most were man-made) and delicious Cuban food. Read my whole review of Miami here.
#13: Budapest, Hungary
Heading to Eastern Europe was a nice little break for the bank account, and I enjoyed none of those places more than Budapest. The stunning architecture and friendly locals made it a highlight. The partying was also incredible with unique ‘ruin bars’ being the highlight and some of the best clubs in the world are found there. I nominated my favourite eight ruin bars here.
#12: Luxor, Egypt
All of the ancient temples in Egypt were incredible, but because of my disappointing experiences in Cairo and at the Great Pyramids of Giza I actually had a much better time in Luxor. The people were so friendly and a boat ride across the Nile was really magical. The city wasn’t as congested as Cairo and Luxor Temple was very grand, well preserved and intricate.
#11: Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Ireland was breathtaking but these incredible cliffs were by far my favourite place there. You don’t realise the grandness of them until you witness it yourself (those tiny, barely visible dots on top of the first ridge are people), and I urge you to pop it on your bucket list.
#10: Seville, Spain
Oh, Spain. Sevilla won a special place in my heart with its beautiful architecture, street dancers, shopping and just amazing atmosphere. With a lot to see, I didn’t get enough time there but I know I will soon be back. One of the main sights in Spain is the Alhambra in nearby Grenada with many people talking it up as a must see, but in my opinion the Alcazar in Seville was just as amazing, if not more so.
#9: Brisbane, Australia
Having been to many other places across Queensland, I was surprised I had never been to its capital. The city was a very relaxing welcome back into the country and I really enjoyed an afternoon in Southbank and heading out in Fortitude Valley.
#8: Ephesus/Kusadasi, Turkey
All of Turkey really surprised me, but this day trip was my favourite of all. Visiting one of the oldest and largest excavation sites in the world with our own private tour guide taught us so much, then spending the afternoon in the cute seaside town of Kusadasi was a great finish. With great shopping, amazing food, friendly locals, pristine beaches and amazing weather there was nothing I could say bad about the place.
#7: Colmar, France
Colmar is somewhere I imagine Snow White to live. I made the family detour to pass this quaint town near the border of Germany and Switzerland and I couldn’t believe my eyes. With not much to do there, it’s a good place to take a day trip to or stopover for a few hours.
#6: Lagos, Portugal
I quickly snuck an overnight stay here into my journey plan after hearing so much about it from fellow travellers and boy do I wish I had heard about it earlier. The place is filled with backpackers – a majority of them Aussie – and surrounded by beautiful rocky coastlines with hidden beaches everywhere. Some you can only get to by kayak and they do amazing kayaking tours as well as boat parties, pub crawls and all the shenanigans that go along with young backpacker crowds.
It was hard to choose one part of Belgium I liked most, so I just chose the whole country. It’s small enough. Ghent was incredibly stunning with unique gothic architecture everywhere. Nearby Brugge was the cutest town, with buildings that looked like lego houses. And then we went to Tomorrowland, and that would be reason enough to get me back there.
#4: Soca River Valley, Slovenia
Just look at that water! I love nature and this place was nature at it’s finest. Just beautiful in every way. I did a day trip here from the capital, Ljubljana which was a unique and pretty place in itself. Lake Bled is also magical, seriously Slovenia is very underrated and I have no idea why.
#3: Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
The clear-as-air water shimmered all shades of blues and greens and with hundreds of small lakes all layered on top of each other, the waterfalls were everywhere and absolutely stunning. One of the most beautiful parks I have ever been to.
#2: Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii is a summer-lovers dream and the main tourist island of the bunch – Oahu – has many reasons to be visited. There are many hikes up old craters, stunning white sand beaches to relax on, rainforests to explore, reefs to snorkel and huge waves to surf. Pair this with the stunning surroundings of high mountain ranges around the whole island and it’s a recipe for jaw dropping Instagram pictures and good times!
#1: Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
The most beautiful building I have ever seen. The details and money that went into every inch of this place is incredible. Chandeliers made of Swarovski crystals that cost tens of billions of dollars, raw materials from every continent across the world and a light display that matches the cycle of the moon. It is a masterpiece to say the least.
LATW in 2016…
Finishing my studies will be a priority in 2016, but this doesn’t mean I will be forgetting about travel. In January I will take a quick holiday to Sydney and down the east coast, in February I will be heading to Tasmania and in September I’m heading back to Hawaii. Nothing else is planned as of yet, but with that ever-present travel bug sticking around with no sign of giving up, some impulse travels will definitely be on the cards.