Well, here we are, with a few hours left of 2017. I thought I would present my best of 2017 (and worst) in 10 travel lessons and highlights. It’s always interesting looking back on the year. Especially when much of your life is documented in travel pictures. Looking back on where I have been and thinking about where I would like to be in 2018. Yes, there may have been more to my best of 2017 before, like getting a promotion at work then deciding to move to another country in the new year. That is not listed in the highlights below as its still in the works and all will be revealed soon. But, its been one of the most tiring and exciting years yet. I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable, but yet realise that I still need to build up my confidence and need to believe in myself more. Because, amazing things happen when you believe in yourself, matched with the capability to make things happen, you are on your way to achieving great things. I guess this time of year is usually a great time to reflect on how the year has been and what I want to change and do in the coming year. Most of all I am super excited for 2018. For those that haven’t noticed, I have also moved my blog to WordPress so I am still ironing out the kinks as and when I see them, so if you find a broken link I have yet to fix please do tell me :D… Without further-a-do. The best of 2017 in travel highlights…
1. Getting detained by Russians at border security in St Petersburg, when I arrived at the port having sailed overnight from Finland.
In a way, having noticed that I was one of 3 black folks on the ship but definitely the only one with an African passport. They looked through my passport and questioned my travel stamps. Before I knew it I everyone off the Ship had gone through passport control and I was the only one left. I was ushered to an office for further questions….For a second I thought I was getting sent back but also confident all will turn out well as I had all the right papers. More on that soon…Well, I managed to get through that and visit St Petersburg. We were having a great time in St Petersburg, that was until…
2. Getting pick-pocketed on a Russian Bus.
Yep, I saw them coming as we got on the bus and these two guys deliberately tried to get between my husband and me. When we got on the bus my senses with heightened. I knew something was up with those two guys so I moved and held my handbag close and high. Then one of them started to talk to my husband and with just nonsense conversation, trying to distract him. Then they got off the bus. I knew as they got off that something had been taken. The little bastards got off with my husband’s wallet, which had dollars and a few bank cards. Thank goodness I had most of our money in my purse so luckily they didn’t get away with as much as they could have. As one of the guys only searched one trouser pocket, they missed out on a brand new iPhone he had in another pocket. Amatures! After much cursing, we called his bank and cancelled the cards they took and moved on to consoling ourselves with cream-filled lattes and cake at Starbucks. It was still day-time. Any other time it might have been endless cocktails or Russian Vodkas, neat!…We moved on and enjoyed exploring through Russian’s white nights in St Petersburg.
3. Booking a solo trip to Portugal.
…Only to find your friend had booked the same trip at the same time so your solo trip turns into a tour of the 3 Musketeers as another friend turns up on the trip. I was in need of some winter sun Europe. We enjoyed Lisbon’s winter sunsets, exploring the hilly streets and cool hangouts in Lisbon. We then got to visit Sintra over a weekend but more on Portugal to come.
4. Getting abused in the Holy Sepulcher
Of all places on this planet. I was taking pictures of a dome in the church and this guy comes up to me shouting at me to move while I was taking pictures. All this because he wanted to give some VIP treatment to a couple he was giving a tour to in church. Mind you they hadn’t even paid him yet. He is one of those people standing around hoping a tourist falls for the bait and asks for a tour around the building. I was so stunned at what he had done and didn’t say anything at the time. After a minute I thought no, that was not right so I followed the guy and told him he should be ashamed of himself for behaving that way in the church. The Holy Sepulcher of all places. He apologised profusely and asked for forgiveness. I was in church, so of course, I had to and did.
5. Postponing my honeymoon for two trips with the family.
It’s ok though, I had a whirlwind trip to Russia, Estonia and Finland, right before the wedding. So skipping the honeymoon for a few months for a trip to Dubai and to Israel for winter sun suited me just fine. I have yet to post those trips as they were last month so more on those to come soon.
6. Many travel firsts.
I got to visit the country my husband was born in and a country that has been on many lips this year. American presidential elections *cough cough* . I am talking about Russia, of course. Its been on my bucket list since forever and I got to visit with my husband, fiance at the time. I also got to visit, for the first time, Portugal, Finland, Estonia, Florence(been to Italy many times but not Florence), Abu Dhabi(been to UAE before), Russia’s St Petersburg, and most exciting of all was visiting Holy Seculchur and Al Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
7. Living in two cities.
The last year and a half, I have held two apartments one in London and one in Oxford while working on Formula one project. I finished in November and sampled my Airbnb apartments before and after I got the apartment in Oxford. I have road tripped around Oxfordshire back roads to the point of know most like the back on my hand.
8. Realising that I can and should have more solo trips.
After a while of travelling with others, you forget that you can travel on your own. You have done it before. The funny thing is that I travel a lot for work around the UK and when I haven’t had a solo international trip in a while it’s weird how easy you start to believe the hip and start to fear solo travel and all the million things that could go wrong. Those weird thoughts about ‘what ifs’ start to play on your mind. I am happy that I have managed to get over that and just book my trips. So more of that in 2018 please!
9. Had a luxury birthday baecation staycation at The Shangri La Hotel at The Shard.
That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Having travelled quite a bit this year. For my birthday my husband booked us an overnight stay at Shangri La filled with a day of pampering, perfect London views from the Shard over the River Thames and fine dining at Aqua Shard. I thought sleeping to that view over the river was a treat, even better was waking up to it. More on that to come soon.
10. Last but not least was a journey of a lifetime!
Getting married to my best friend. We had a somewhat “destination wedding”, without leaving the country that is. I had my wedding near the coast in East Sussex. We had our friends and family arrived on Friday evening and over for the weekend, a bbq and drinks on a Saturday, then got married on Sunday and on Monday we shared brunch before our guests left. Then on Monday, we had close family join us for dinner and drinks before we left on Tuesday to explore the beautiful Beach Head nearby. We had our wedding at Pekes Manor, a beautiful Tudor Estate. I will try and share more of that in the new year. The wedding was planned myself with help of family and friends, who I cannot thank enough as they seriously came through for me in putting the flowers together, arranging the garden where the ceremony was going to be and sharing the event with us.
So, as we draw a close on 2017, I would like to thank my small army of friends and family for their support and friendship. I would like to thank you, my readers, for sticking around and hope you are as excited about 2018 as I am. Special thanks to my Insta-husband-in-training who has to deal with my baby-sized(minus the rolling on the floor) blog tantrums, because of him I continue to have so many great memories, many of which involve travels you get to read about.
I wish you all a happy new year and more success in 2018 than you had in 2017. Please comment below and tell me how your year was and what your plans are for 2018. #speaksuccessintoexistance