Travelversary – One Year on

11th of April marked one year of full-time travel for us.
We left New Zealand with 4 bags weighing us down, carry far too much crap, we slowly left behind belongings along the way, realising that no, we didn’t need it all. Strangely though, our bags didn’t grow any lighter.

What have we been up to in that year? This isn’t a brag fest. This is me testing my memory! It’s also a gap filler for what’s happened behind and in between those Instagram/Facebook posts. Seeing as I don’t blog post about everywhere we go, here is pretty much what we’ve been up to this past year.

Our first three months…

Was whirlwind and fast paced!  The longest we spent in one place was 5 days. Holy shit we were tired! We’d have never guessed travelling can be so tiring.

We started in the backpacker capital, Thailand. Our first flight was delayed by 3 hours causing us to miss our connection flight… So began our run of bad luck.

Strike number two…

Jacob crashed our rental scooter (with me on the back), he still bears the road rash and the really needed stitches but got no stitches scars. Kuala Lumpur saw me being nurse, pack horse and “solo” traveller, eating in a cafe alone is a new experience for me. I could give a map of where all the good pharmacies are though!

At a Thai Elephant sanctuary in Kanchanaburi

Getting on the plane to Changsha, China proved hilarious!

All the other plane goers kept staring at us, all the air stewardess’ kept checking and double checking our boarding pass. It’s like no one could believe we were getting on the right plane. You see, we were the only non-Chinese on the plane to (what turned out to be) a very non-tourist area. Apparently, Changsha is a very random place to fly to!

Cableway in Zhangjiajie. The closest international airport was Changsha.

Time for a break from planes! Time for some trains!
As much money as it cost, I will never regret that part of our trip!

China – A Survival Guide

An Unexpected Dream Destination – Mongolia

Our Trans Siberian Experience

Travel in Russia – Resources

We spent 2 weeks in China, 6 days (soo not long enough) in Mongolia and then the full 30 days of our Visa in Russia.
11 train trips, countless hours on trains, many sleepless train nights in tiny beds and a new city every few days.

We arrived into London…

An 8 hour overnight wait at Riga airport saw us following other sleepy travellers into a closed cafe to have a tiny sofa, where we not only did not sleep but ate the shittest (unhealthy) food ever. We finally got to the UK….

….On the day Brexit was announced, very thankful for my UK passport right now! Our UK destination was to be with awesome family in Bristol. But first, a two day snooze in south London. Yep, all we saw was Hyde Park before our bus to Bristol. I’ve been to London before though, so wasn’t too fazed by this. Sleep was more important at the time.

 

The travels of JEDi begin…

Gifted the use of the old Renault Scenic, we took out her seats and built a camper. She was a thing of beauty. Her name became JEDi, her model number was JED, so I bought a stick on i. I thought I was hilarious okay!

Waking up to the view of Kinsale at Charles fort.

Ireland

August saw us and Jedi in Ireland for a month of housesitting, driving, hiking, drone flying (RIP), sightseeing, cliff seeing and mountain climbing. It gave us time to figure out Jedi’s kinks and learn how to freedom camp.

Our Mini Mini camper – Perfect for making a cheap and easy meal. And coffee! We actually had a mid day nap in this spot… it was a 3am ferry, we were tired!

A Road Trip of Ireland – And The Places You Must See

After returning to Bristol it was time to decide where to go for our birthdays, that are a week apart in September. It was ultimately a Wizz air sale we saw that decided it. £2 (then £12 fees) each to Split, Croatia. Why yes thank you, I’ll book that! But first, back to London to actually see some of the sights. A house sit with Flo and Kitty in East London.

Croatia, Slovenia, Brussels and Cologne

Island hopping on the warm Adriatic sea saw us ring in our 25th and 28th birthdays. I suffered the first of many colds (stupid Northern Hemisphere bugs!) and we met many a homeless cat… and fed many a homeless cat too. Islands and waterfalls is how I’d describe Croatia.

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Slovenia proved to be amazing scenery at every turn.

Renting a car here was the best decision we made! Actually quite cheap too. Mountains are where I belong.

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Time to get back to JEDi…. For France!

Poor Jedi, left all alone for a month. Time to take her back out on the road… on yet another ferry, this time over to France!

Chateau Chambord

Three Must See Grand Chateaux of France

Our time in France also saw us experience the biggest shit storm we have ever encountered. Unfortunately, it is one of those unforgettable travel experiences that we wish we could forget.

That time all our shit was stolen & other lessons from 2016

As much as it could have set us back, we were lucky enough that I have an amazing Uncle, and his Christmas present to us was a new laptop. They also helped us restock our stolen bathroom gear and a few other things. We decided to keep our commitment to a house sit in Scotland then return to Bristol for a family Christmas (my first Xmas with my UK family) and to use that time to figure out our next move.

Winter in Europe

After Christmas and new year in Bristol with family, it was time to set off.

A £10 flight was the decision maker here. Bristol to Venice for £10 each. Why the hell not! This was another fast-paced trip through some of the coldest temperatures we have ever encountered. Seriously! -12 degrees Celcius seems ok in theory, (you know, just wrap up warm). But no, it’s just too bloody cold!

Trevi Fountain in Rome

9 Reasons why you should go to Europe in Winter

Back on our roadtrip of France, whilst driving in the pouring rain with two windows smashed out, crying after losing all our stuff, just on the motorway outskirts of Paris stuck in traffic, we decided to re-evaluate our travel plans. We wrote a list of what we really wanted to see, and wouldn’t want to leave Europe without seeing. The cities on our wintery snow trip were all included on that list. Next, on the list was Seville, Barcelona and Morocco.

Time to defrost!

After a long wait at passport control at Faro airport, we finally stepped into…. SUNSHINE!
After a carry on bag swap over in Bristol, from winter packing to summer packing! We spent 5 days saying Obrigado, and after a 4-hour bus (omg, no toilets on bus! Station toilets are gross!) we began saying Gracias in Seville. I had been following the building of the Metropol in Seville, and it had an influence on my final year Interior Design project. So I just had to see it in person!

The walkway along the top of the Metropol

Time for a new continent

Jacob wanted something a little different from the recent cities we visited, so to Morocco, we went! As much as I struggled in the Medina of Marrakesh, our time by the sea in Essaouira then back in Marrakesh but outside of the Medina, was the kind of Morocco I liked and could return back to.

Cranes nesting at El Badii Palace, Marrakesh

There will be a blog post soon about this trip.

UK travel

And so, this brings us up to recently. JEDi died (alternator too expensive to replace, £600 to expensive) and renamed DEADi. We replaced her with a teeny tiny Hyundai Getz that has her own history with her own problems. Yay for new starter motors!

No, she is not a new extra mini mini camper. We have trouble fitting all our things in there, let alone a bed! We will now be using a tent instead. But she is cheaper for insurance (legally required here, stupid UK) but still the equivalent of about $1700 NZD for the year. More than twice the price of the car!!

We arranged a 6 week housesit in a random little place called Coalville. The main reason we came here was for me to find a job (yep, time to work again) and to look after 6, yes 6 chinchillas! A super floof dog called Inca, guinea pigs and an elderly cat that non-stop talks to you, even in her sleep.

This could all be summarised to:

Favourite Countries:

Tough one… top three would be Ireland, Slovenia and Russia.
They all have something in common, they all provide beautiful landscapes!

Ireland

The view near the summit of Mount Errigal, County Donegal, Ireland. One of my many favourite pictures from Ireland.

Slovenia

This will go down in my travel history as the best sunrise. Lake Bled, Slovenia.

 

 

 

 

 

Russia

Stolby National Park, Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Notice they all have a theme, nature.

Favourite cities:

Prague.

This was the coldest place we have been, yep it was the -12 degrees celsius one. But, by gosh was it BEAUTIFUL!

Looking at Prague Castle through the winter haze.

Saint Petersburg.

So much to see, so much to do! If only our Russian Visa was longer, I would’ve loved to have been able to spend more time here.

Inside the Hermitage

Least favourite cities:

Paris. Now, now… people probably won’t agree with me here. But we weren’t staying in the super tourist area nor in the height of tourist season. I think we were in the “real” Paris. The streets were littered with rubbish, dog poo and so many other things. Homeless refugees scattered on every street, some with dogs and one with a rabbit. People yelling in the streets, people trying to scam you or sell you shit, military armed to the teeth at every attraction (unfortunately needed) and just so so crowded. This supposed city of love did nothing for me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautiful places in Paris and I enjoyed our time there overall.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, AKA, Jacob making me laugh my arse off!

Favourite language that we learnt a little of:

Russian. Jacob enjoyed his villainous accent. Apart from China, it was a country where it was a good idea to learn some basic phrases!

A good place to start sampling the local.

What’ve the last 12 months taught me…

Not to leave stuff in your car!

But seriously….

It doesn’t feel as though I have learnt anything specific. As the progress and transition has been gradual, I cannot notice a distinct difference. I’d hope there was a notable change though…
My memory is better.
I care less about my appearance, makeup be damned!
You really don’t need so much stuff! So what if you wear the same outfits, don’t have a hairdryer (although I need one now for working life), your only make up item is mascara, you don’t have the latest and greatest phone/camera/laptop. Stuff is just stuff. It can disappear in an instant (our case in point).

Cha cha cha changes

I thought I would feel changed, like a dramatic moment where I suddenly zing (yes, an actual zing) into a new, improved version of myself through the trials and tribulations of travel. Maybe on one of those amazing experiences with a profound meaning and a great book worthy story.
I have had no Wild moment. Nothing profound.
But I do know, I will never regret the way I have spent the last year of my life.
Yes, it is terrifying quitting a job, having no income, spending your savings, not knowing where you are going to be next month, let alone next week. But once you move past that worrying, you actually get used to it and are happier not knowing the future.

Up the Eiffel Tower

It’s an insatiable feeling. That wanderlust. New destination ideas are all around you (thank you Instagram!) The list never gets shorter. Top of our list, for now, is SCOTLAND!….. and then Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands… yeah, the list goes on.

 

But for now, I have a job! We shall be spending some time living in Derbyshire, UK for a few months. Then? Who knows!

 

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