When this year started, I had no idea the adventure I would undertake around the world. But life is short, and when an opportunity presents itself you have to grab it.
So I grabbed it, and saw so much of the world this year, it only makes me so grateful for the decision I made.
I saw in the New Year for 2016 in Candidasa in Bali, and saw out the end of the year in Bogota, Colombia. There were many, many flights and countries in between.
I didn’t really think I could comfortably travel the world with only a 10kg carry-on suitcase and a handbag, but it looks like I’ve proven myself wrong.
I learned that Balinese people do not do yoga. Many locals told me this was something the foreigners brought in, and they just ran with it. Funny.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
I learned that Great Ocean Road is a VERY long drive, and unless you want to be exhausted and drive 3 hours each way, then you have to pass on the 12 apostles for a day trip.
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
I learned that Australia has the most amazing cable car that travels over the tropical rainforest below for about 1.5 hours.
San Diego, USA
I learned that friends are the family we choose for ourselves. I love these guys.
New York, USA
I learned that you can lie on comfy grass and gaze at the Brooklyn Bridge.
Los Angeles, USA
I learned that Jerry Seinfeld and I have coffee at the same place in Venice – Intelligentsia.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I learned that a lot of renovation has happened since I was last in KL and the neighbour I normally stay (KL Sentral) has become a lot more fancy.
I learned that you will see the real Bangkok if you explore on foot.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
I learned that Chiang Mai is a fantastic place and number one hotspot for digital nomads on a budget.
I learned that Phuket is not just full of drunk Aussies, but Phuket Town has an amazing colonial feel and some stunning street art.
I learned that you can have an amazing tour of central London for just a couple of dollars. Just get an oyster card, tap onto a red bus, sit up the front and ride!
I learned that sometimes the best view of the city, is out the window of the room of your hostel.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
I learned that watching the sunset at 10.30pm at the top of Scotland is one of the most magical experiences I’ve had.
I learned that Anthony Bourdain was right, and this is not a place I would like to return to.
I learned that Spain is as wonderful as I remember, and OMG, there is a castle next to the beach in Alicante.
I learned that sometimes as you travel you can bump into amazing people, that remind you of yourself 20 years ago – Alessio and Alessia from Milan.
I learned that I truly love Gaudi’s work. He had a bizarre mind that created some amazing art that looks like it’s from a Dr Seuss book.
I learned that a little restaurant here makes the best Chicken Pho I’ve ever tasted. It was so good, I went there and had it twice.
I learned that you can go EVERYWHERE on a bicycle!
I learned that Oslo is the most expensive city I have EVER been to. AUD$7 for a short ride one way on public transport. However, I also learned that getting the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo was the best decision ever! That morning view from the water was so memorable.
I learned that experiencing theatre and culture is very affordable. I wish it was like this everywhere in the world. Tickets to La Traviatta from AUD$10.
I learned that when you are walking, and you think you are lost, you can then stumble on such great street art that you spend 20 minutes there taking photos.
I learned that there is a massive vegetarian community here, and the best quinoa veggie burger I’ve ever had in my life. Thanks Mango Vegan Street Food.
I learned that the city was bombed to rubble in WW2, and rebuilt as accurately as possible. It’s a breathtaking town.
Prague, Czech Republic
I learned that Vyreshard Castle is my new favourite place to hang out in Prague.
I learned the city of love, is now the city of terror. So sad. Terror has won.
I learned that Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and has a stunning replica – Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and a replica – Christ the Redeemer from Rio de Janiero.
I learned that Quarteira doesn’t have much culture, but it’s a great place to do very little, except swim.
I learned that Porto is my new favourite city in the world.
I learned that if you wander enough, you can find the most lush and beautiful garden in the middle of the city, that you can practically have to yourself.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
I learned that there are still amazing communities in the world, where people look out and care about each other. I also learned you can run into yourself in such a place – very enlightening.
I learned that there is a whole suburb in Miami dedicated to street art – so inspiring.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
I learned that the beach looks nice, is suffering terrible erosion (probably from global warming), and smells disgusting. Also there isn’t much “Mexico” in Playa del Carmen.
I learned that it truly is the PEOPLE who make a place, and I am forever changed after meeting the wonderful Susie and Alfonso.
So that’s it, 34 places in 2016, and 18 countries.
I have had such an amazing year, and I know that the world is going through massive upheaval:
- geographically (with climate change)
- economically (with the world adjusting to being a truly global market) and
- politically (with One Nation getting a big voice in Australia, BREXIT and Mr Trump becoming the next US President)
Somehow, when I zoom out, the world seems beautiful, loving, kind, helpful and more interconnected that ever. And I sense we are moving to a time of more people “waking up”.
Waking up to the poor decisions of corporations and governments. Waking up to the effects of our excessive consumer culture. Waking up to our personal power. Waking up to our health and the food and drinks that impact our daily lives. Waking up to the con of many charities, and how they spend their money, like cancer charities. Waking up to our technology addiction and how it may continue to impact how we struggle to truly connect and relate to each other as humans.
I look forward to 2017. A year one. A year where I hope the “waking up” continues. And maybe I’ll see you on the way…
Also published on Medium.