I’d like to ring in this New Year 2018 with a post that is a recap of my 2017 year in travel. From moving countries to my first snowfall, the adventures of this tiny lady has evolved significantly over this last year. Here’s a look back at how far we travelled and what our favourite memories were:
Moving back to Bombay: (December 2016)
After spending 2 years of working and living abroad in the Middle East, it was finally time to say goodbye. I headed back home to the city I grew up in, only in preparation for an even bigger goodbye. I then kickstarted my application process for a UK Fiancée visa, so that I could move to England and be with the love of my life, whilst still trying to spend time with close friends and family one last time.
Last solo trip, Rann of Kutch: (January 2017)
After having caught up with nearly 7kgs of paperwork and finishing my submission, all I could do was wait. Apparently a UK Fiancée visa can take up to 3months to arrive 🙁 So I decided to kill time and do what I do best and travel! It would be my last solo trip before I got married 🙂 The destination was a difficult decision to make: Since my passport was still with the UK consulate and my bank accounts were under scrutiny, I planned an almost FREE trip. I used my air miles for the domestic flights and my Airbnb credit for my homestay and headed to Kutch for The Kite Festival (Uttarayan). It is regarded as one of the biggest festivals celebrated and marks the day when winter begins to turn into summer, according to the Indian calendar. I love how travel brings people together and I ended up meeting this couple from Somerset who were on their 10th trip to India! Kim, a collector and enthusiast of all things vintage & artsy, and Sean, a gardener and a hardcore cider making purist. Together we headed to the Great Rann, the salt flatlands.
Valentine’s Day trip to Goa (February 2017)
While I waited some more I slowly started to panic and get anxious about how long this visa was taking to show up. To my solace, Damian decided to fly to India and we waited together for the verdict on the biggest decision of our lives. We decided to distract ourselves with a small break to Palolem in South Goa. One of my favourite places in India! We lived in a li’l cottage looking out to sea, gorged on delicious seafood and even went on an eagle feeding safari. A week later I found out that my visa had been sanctioned, and I packed my life into 2 suitcases to make the big move to England on the 22nd of Feb.
Liverpool (March 2017)
With Easter approaching, we clubbed our holidays together and designed a 10-day road trip through England and heading onwards and upwards to Scotland. Car all packed and map in hand our first stop was Liverpool to see Pauline, my travel buddy from South America in 2014. There is SO much more to Liverpool than the fact it is the birthplace of The Beatles, even though it is such a central part of the tourist experience. It is a unique and very lovable city, with tonnes of history, a lot of soul, a big heart, and just the right amount of edge.
Lake District, Mull of Galloway, Glasgow, Lochness, Inverness, Edinburgh and Manchester (April 2017)
Lake District is poetry in the hills. We visited Windermere and Grasmere and plan to go back again soon for the rest. It is by far the UK’s most popular national park. Every year, some 15 million people pitch up to explore the countryside and it’s not hard to see why. Ever since the romantic poets arrived in the 19th century, its postcard panorama of glittering lakes has been stirring the imaginations of visitors like it once did with the likes of William Wordsworth.
Mull of Galloway was a walk along the coast as we tucked away in our family-owned caravan by the seas of Stranraer. What a beautiful first impression of Scotland, first of many: living in a caravan, fried mars bars and haggis.
Glasgow is disarmingly blending earthiness and sophistication, Scotland’s biggest city and most intriguing metropolitan. With beautiful graffiti artists, vintage tea rooms and an exquisite botanical garden. It can truly leave you spellbound!
Lochness, deep, dark and narrow, it stretches from Fort Augustus to Inverness. Its cold waters have been extensively explored by boat in search of Nessie, the elusive monster. We found a quiet B&B to live at in Foyers and enjoyed trails and treks through the Scottish highlands whilst we were there.
Edinburgh has a heartbeat of its own. A city that begs to be discovered, filled with quirky, come-hither nooks and crannies that tempt you to explore just that little bit further. I found the writers museum whilst I was wandering through town.
Scotland has topped every place I’ve visited until date including most of South America. Whether you are into historical buildings and cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, city travel, a good road trip, island hopping, or simply want to taste as many whiskies as you possibly can, you will find what you are looking for in Scotland. Cool cities to explore, breathtaking road trips, thrilling adventures, relaxing hikes, island hopping, wild swimming, golfing, castle touring, a vibrant foodie scene and gorgeous beaches – there really is something to do for anyone in Scotland!
Manchester, the last stop on our way back from Scotland. To see Anushka, the sole reason I was able to get 7kgs of my paperwork for my fiancée visa together. I had never met this girl, who was largely responsible for the reason I was in the country, since we were introduced online by a common friend and stayed in touch via text and email. I had to see her to thank her in person and drop off an invitation to our wedding. The city has a rich blend of history and culture that is on show in its museums, galleries, art centres and libraries, but what makes it fun are the people that make Manchester.
We planned our wedding (May + June 2017)
I take great pride in telling everyone that it took me only 2months to plan and orchestrate our special day. What most people don’t know is how important the decor was to me: it was all personal, handmade (by me) and had to include a travel theme. The day itself was beautiful and I was glad to have my closest family and friends there to celebrate it with me.
Honeymoon in St Ives, Cornwall (July 2017)
We figured that the one time we decide to go big and splurge was going to have to be this trip and we did! We lived at the beautiful Tregenna Castle in St Ives. A coastal town which against all British weather oddities was the sunniest and liveliest beaches one could lay on and even get a tan 😉 The highlights from this trip were a sea kayaking experience that I introduced Damian to, and attending a play at the Minack Theatre, the most breathtakingly beautiful outdoor theatre that I’ve been to. Uniquely perched on the cliffs high above the Atlantic ocean and built by Rowena Cade, who decided that the cliffs below her garden would be the perfect setting, and over the winter of 1931 and into 1932 she and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, moved endless granite boulders and earth, creating the lower terraces of the theatre, much as they are today.
Cambridge and Rutland Waters (August 2017)
Cambridge is a city filled with ancient colleges and winding rivers. A town full of universities and scholars zipping around amidst exquisite architecture on their bicycles. The picturesque river is perfect for some punting, and the leafy green meadows are perfect for a packed picnic while you read a book.
Rutland Waters might just become our new annual tradition to add to the books. We did this one to bring in Damian’s birthday. There’s no need to be a professional cyclist to enjoy cycling here, simply hire one or bring your own bike and enjoy a tranquil ride through winding country lanes or around the scenic shores of Rutland Water. With 23 miles of no-traffic tracks, numerous cafes and pubs to make pit stops at, and breathtakingly scenic views along the route. It makes for the perfect adventurous day out.
Birthday getaway to Jurassic Coast, Devon and New Forest (September 2017)
I’ve taken to caravan living, so when we spotted an offer from Ladram Bay to live by the Jurassic coast I just had to do it for my birthday. Devon has some breathtakingly beautiful cliffs, bays and beaches to walk and wander around. On our way back home we drove through acres of green and made a quick stop in the New Forest for a romantic brunch.
Liverpool Again (October 2017)
It was to see Pauline again and watch her walk down the aisle to Chris. It was a celebration of their love and companionship and I couldn’t be more happy to be there. Back in 2014, we were both nursing heart breaks while on our travels through South America. Back then if someone had told us that we would be in attendance at each other’s weddings come 2017, we’d never have believed it 😛
Back to school (November 2017)
I decided to get back to studying. So I enrolled in Google’s leadership course on Digital Marketing and weekly classes of Classical Violin. I love enriching my existing skills and at the same time encouraging new ones.
Birmingham (December 2017)
Our final trip for the year was to attend the biggest German Christmas Market outside of Germany. The Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham had drool-worthy food and lots of mulled wine to keep us warm. And I got to experience my first snowfall whilst we were there. It was truly beautiful. Birmingham is a big city with bold architecture that comes alive every winter with the arrival of the market and a clear sign that Christmas festivities are just around the corner. Here are other places to see in Birmingham, if you end up staying longer.
What we’ve learned this year?
- Moving countries includes a lot of paperwork, moving countries to get married is twice as much.
- Home is where your heart is.
- Always get travel insurance.
- Travel with a book, it makes waiting less dreadful.
- Leave honest reviews, especially since so many people rely on them.
- Don’t let the weather get you down. Rain or snow, stick to your outdoor plans!
- And most importantly: Layer up! Better to have to strip down than feel like you’ve been left stripped down by the blizzard.
If you’re curious about how we fund our travel, here it is:
Look for deals: Our trips are planned way in advance and keeping budgets in mind. Airbnb is our best friend and we’re always on the lookout for good deals!
Split the difference: I get the tickets, he gets the accommodations, or I’ll get the meal and he’ll get the fuel.
Gift experiences: It’s all we’ve ever given each other and it works perfectly to satiate our wanderlust and need for a travelling lifestyle.
Work hard: When we’re at work, we work hard. I currently have 3 jobs with clients who occupy all of a work-day time (9 am to 5 pm) but the thing I like most about being a freelance consultant is that I’m fortunate enough to work on the go and organise my other lifestyle choices accordingly.
Click here for more on how I save money to travel the world.
I’ve refrained from covering some of our short weekend and day trips on this post, but you’ll find them covered separately on this blog for example The Alice in Wonderland trail in Guildford