Wow, 2017 is officially over. Travel wise, it turned out to be a pretty good year! I went to Japan for the first time, got into the Christmas spirit in France and explored more of the UK. I also finally took the step to create this blog (after finally finding an available name I liked, there are a lot of taken blog names!). It’s been a 5 month long learning curve but I’ve enjoyed it (and discovered how much background work there is to blogging!). I love a good list and what better way to show you my 2017 year summary?
Countries and Cities Visited in 2017
Last December my sister and I decided on a whim that we wanted to travel together in 2017. After a lot of googling and diary comparisons we initially settled on Munich, Germany. Not long after we made a spur of the moment decision and booked flights to Tokyo instead. They’re not that different, right? Seriously though, who can resist the call of ramen from across the world? Not me, that’s for sure. Since I obviously wanted to save up for Tokyo I didn’t travel much the first half of the year (the joys of saving). I’m not very good at just staying at home though, so compensated with a few day trips in England. I also went to a wedding in Scotland by Lake Menteith, which was incredibly serene with gorgeous scenery. Luckily I also scored a really cheap Easter flight to Sweden so went home for a few days.
After a lot of research (watching every available Tokyo video on Youtube and reading an insane amount of blog posts) it was finally time for the big adventure in June. I haven’t been this excited about a trip for years and we LOVED Tokyo. As a matter of fact, I really want to return and do a bigger tour of Japan. For once, the hype of a place lived up to its reputation.
My partner was on a solo trip for 3 months over the summer and I spent the beginning of July in England. Towards the end of the month I travelled to Sweden for a wedding and spent about 1 week enjoying the rare sunshine. We took a family trip down to Malmö, which is the third biggest city in Sweden. Back in the UK I took a couple more day trips and then finally reunited with my partner at the end of August. By this point, we were both skint and spent most of autumn at home.
I was really itching to travel again by November and after scouring the internet like a bloodhound, I found a cheap flight to Basel. My solo adventure brought me to the French Alsace region and Switzerland. I spent 4 days exploring Eguisheim, Basel and the Christmas market in Colmar. Alsace was gorgeous and really convinced me that I should spend more time in smaller cities. Normally I visit capitals so it was a welcome change.
I finished the year in Sweden where it was cold but very little snow. My sister and I squeezed in a day trip to Copenhagen where we explored Nyhavn and spent all our Christmas money on Stroget (shopping street).
Countries visited: United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, France and Switzerland.
Places visited: York, Harrogate, Lake Menteith, Tokyo, Malmö, Southport, Colmar, Eguisheim, Basel, Leeds, Copenhagen.
Top 5 Best Travel Memories
1. Going to Tokyo Disneyland with my Sister
This one is a given on the Top 5 list! My sister and I make really good travel buddies and our day at Tokyo Disneyland was hilarious, despite rain. We spent most of the time squealing over the fact we were at Disneyland whilst wearing Disney headbands and stuffing our faces with soy sauce popcorn. The last time either of us went to Disneyland was over a decade ago and we were so excited for this visit. Disneyland definitely didn’t disappoint; the food was fab, the themes were amazing and the staff were so friendly.
2. Seeing Swedish Summer For The FIrst Time in Years
I normally travel home about 2-3 times a year; Christmas and a couple more times throughout the year depending on work. It’s been a while since I went in July though and I had forgotten how gorgeous Swedish summer can be. I generally travel to cities but at home I live in the countryside and love being surrounded by green forests. As a bonus I got to see one of my oldest friends get married, so overall a very happy visit!
3. Attending my First K-pop Concert
A few years ago I was really into Korean pop music. Whilst I’m not obsessed with it anymore, I still like the sound and know a fair few songs. My sister and I were walking around the Korean neighbourhood in Tokyo when a (very handsome ahem) boy band handed us a flyer for their concert the same evening. The band name was Elvin Crew and they had debuted less than a month prior to our visit. Because they were still new, they sang a lot of cover songs which I already knew. The audience consisted of 8 people and it was the most intimate concert I’ve ever been to. All in all, an amazing experience!
4. EXPERIENCING loads of Christmas Markets
Before this year I had only been to Manchester Christmas Market, but I managed to see another 4 markets this year. It started with my visit to France, where I got to see the gorgeous market in equally gorgeous Colmar. After that I explored the tiny Christmas market in Eguisheim, France and finally, the market in Basel, Switzerland. Back in the UK, I also managed a visit to the market in Leeds. My friends and I tried fairground rides and made sure the crepes were up to standard (they were).
5. Exploring my Own Backyard
I love travelling (I wouldn’t have this blog if I didn’t!). However, my favourite part is discovering new things and this year, that is exactly what I’ve done around Manchester. I’ve tried new restaurants, been on pub crawls, explored a travel show and been amazed at a circus. On a Northern Quarter food tour I learnt more about the city I’ve grown to love. I went to Lyme Park and bought a cheesy postcard of Colin Firth (insert heart shaped eyes). I also explored Stockport for a day, saw a musical at The Lowry, had more Sunday dinners than I care to count and all in all had a great time in my own backyard. Don’t forget to have mini-adventures too guys!
My First 5 Months of Blogging
5 months!! I expected there to be a lot of work involved with blogging, but WOW there is so much more to it than just writing. These last 5 months has taught me a lot, from SEO to Pinterest algorithms to blogger collaborations. I run the blog alongside my full time job and have enjoyed having something that is completely different to my day job. The most exciting thing is when new readers find me on Google and read a full blog post, maybe even click through to more. It makes me feel like I’m providing them with useful content, which is the purpose of this blog. I don’t have a ton of traffic or loads of social media followers, but I’ve enjoyed the journey so far and know there is a lot more I can do.
Some of the blog highlights these past 5 months:
- The Latvian board of tourism shared my Winter Weekend in Riga blog post on Facebook after just a month of blogging. It remains my most read post to date.
- Passing 1000 unique website visitors.
- Passing 100 blog comments and reading all the lovely things that people write.
- My first collaboration with Wandering Redhead on a post about Christmas markets.
- My first interview was with Migrating Miss about expat life in Manchester.
- Getting traffic through Google searches, evidence that I most be doing something right on the SEO front.
Travel Plans for 2018
So far I don’t have a trip planned abroad until July this year (gasp). I expect January to April to be really, really busy at work so I might not take much time off. That said, I have a few plans for the beginning of the year; indoor skydiving, Chester zoo and an escape room. Hopefully I’ll get to try the longest zip wire in Europe (also the fastest in the world!). It’s located in Wales and I got a birthday voucher in 2016, but so far it’s been cancelled twice due to bad weather. It looks terrifying (seriously, check out this Youtube video) but I really want to try it. I expect to scream more than the person in the video though. I’m also heading down to Birmingham for Crufts and grabbed a cheap hotel room in Nottingham for April. I’ll finally get to see Sherwood Forest, which has been on my bucket list for years!
For my first international trip of the year I’m heading to Warsaw, Poland (new country!) to be bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding. I’m really excited about the wedding and exploring a new city. At some point I’m also travelling to Sweden to renew my passport and whilst I wait around I want to explore my home country. I’ve only had a brief stay in Stockholm, it’s been ages since I went to Gothenburg and there are plenty of places I haven’t seen (Sweden is freaking huge!).
Apart from that, the year remains fairly unplanned. There are plenty of places I’d like to go though. A trip from Austria through Bratislava to Budapest is high on the list or maybe a trip to Tallinn and Helsinki. I doubt I’ll go on a long haul trip, as I need plenty of days off work to renew my passport, but who knows? I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me!