It’s that time of year again, guys! New Years is a few hours away and with that a fresh year full of hope and optimism lies ahead. I thought I would take this as an opportunity to look back on 2016, because as sucky as it may have been in terms of world news, sometimes you have to look at the bright moments and tiny victories. So with that, here are a few of my favourite moments of 2016, and even though this is a travel blog, no, not all of them are travel related.
Walking the Inca Trail with Sam’s parents
We kicked off 2016 with quite the adventure: hiking part of the Inca Trail with Sam’s parents who were on their annual must-escape-the-dreadful-Canadian-winter getaway. Sam and I had both already been to Machu Picchu before we knew each other, but neither of us had walked the trail, so we were excited to tag along and huff and puff the whole way there. I’m not going to tell you it was easy – even with a nice comfy hotel bed waiting at the end of it! – but we got to see some incredible sites and ruins that are only accessible by hiking the trail – hello Wiñay Wayna! – and that made it all worth it.
Road tripping Easter Island
Oh, Easter Island! Where do I even begin. This was one of those destinations that completely blew my mind. This little speck of paradise is so remote and isolated that it almost seems like a mirage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I spent a whole week there and each new day brought a highlight, be it attending a traditional Rapa Nui church service, seeing the moai, hiking a volcano, driving the island loop, or just watching the sunset. If you ever find yourself in Santiago, just bite the bullet and book the flight; you can do Easter Island on a budget and here’s my 1-week itinerary to get you started.
Travelling in Argentina with my parents
Another highlight of the year was having my parents come and travel in Argentina with me! We focused our itinerary entirely around Buenos Aires, and most importantly, food. I’m talking breakfasts of facturas and cafe con leche in turn of the century coffee houses, lunch plates that looked more like platters in the city’s traditional bodegones, indulging in afternoon tea complete with cakes and scones, slices upon slices of pizza in some of the most famed pizzerias, and plenty of snacking on alfajores in between. If you’re wondering where my love for food comes from, you’ve got your answer!
Exploring the Amazon Jungle
Visiting the Amazon Jungle had long been a dream of mine, particularly the Peruvian side, because that’s where my Grandma grew up. That’s why during one of my many jaunts to Peru this year, I finally went to Iquitos. I wasn’t able to track down the exact place where she was born, because that German ‘settlement’ – if you can call a collection of houses that – is no longer there, but I did get to visit Iquitos, which is the biggest city in the Amazon (and only accessible by air or boat!), as well as Nauta, which is the small port town. My top three moments from that trip would be exploring Iquitos‘ colonial charm, staying in a jungle treehouse, and taking a cruise down the Amazon complete with piranha fishing!
Travelling in Kyrgyzstan
One place that I was not expecting to travel to this past year was Kyrgyzstan. Central Asia wasn’t even on the itinerary, but then I got invited to attend the World Nomad Games and I couldn’t say no to that! The event itself was far bigger and grander than I was expecting, and it was so cool getting to see nomadic culture being celebrated through food, dance, music, and sports. Another experience I won’t forget was going horse trekking and doing yurt stays on the road to Song Kol Lake. It was pure and raw travel, the kind that beats you and wears you down to the bone but rewards you with warmth, hospitality, and smiles that require no words.
Connecting with the travel gang
You guys, I kind of miss having real face to face friends – one of the many downsides of being on the road year round. That’s why I’m always over the moon when some of my friends are passing through town or I get to attend travel events where I can connect with other bloggers and travellers. This year I was lucky enough to get to attend the Social Travel Summit, which I think is one of the best travel gatherings out there, and it was really nice to catch up with friends who are in my same line of work as me.
Revisiting South Korea
It had been 3+ years since I finished teaching English in South Korea, so it was really exciting to go back as a traveller and do all the things I didn’t get around to the first time around. In total, Sam and I spent over 2 months just hanging out in Seoul, and we still want to go back in the spring to actually travel around the country because we didn’t even get around to that. As you probably already know, I made it my mission to visit as many quirky cafes in Seoul as possible, because apparently that’s my new hobby!
Cracking 50,000+ subs on YouTube
This may not seem like a huge number considering the mega YouTube stars out there, but those are 50,000+ people watching our videos. Say what?! This year we also broke 500,000+ views a month on our YouTube travel channel, which absolutely blows my mind. This is the girl who used to be terrified of speaking in front of a video camera. On a side note, I still remember the time I had to film a video with my group in the 6th Grade; I had just moved back to Canada, my English was basic at best, and I barely mumbled 4 audible words before someone in my group gracefully offered to replace me to my great relief!
Finding a new hobby in video editing
This year I got proactive about video editing and learning new skills. In the past, Sam had done all of the editing, but that’s a whole lot of work for one person when we put out 3-4 videos a week. I finally dove head first into the world of Final Cut Pro X (scary!) and I discovered that not only do I enjoy video editing, but I’m actually kind of good at it. I really enjoy the creative process and have been watching tutorials and doing some of the online courses through YouTube’s Creator Academy. I also loved attending the Video Travel Summit this year and getting to meet, interact, and learn from so many different video creators with different skills and styles. I’m just really excited about video in the year ahead! I might make it a goal to attend Buffer Festival in 2017.
Being featured on 5 Peruvian newspapers
Umm, so our Peruvian food videos went kind of crazy and then over the span of 1 week we got a total of 5 newspaper features across Peru’s biggest newspapers. My aunt kept emailing me with links to all these articles which I found really amusing because we hadn’t done any interviews or been contacted for quotes or information; we were just found on YouTube, but it was still cool to have our work showcased.
Finding out I’m getting a puppy brother!
Lastly, we got a German Shepherd! Well, not ‘we’ as in Sam and I, but my parents did, so that means I have a new puppy brother. I am beyond excited and I’m not even in Canada – can you tell I’m a dog lover?! I grew up with two big German Shepherds in Argentina, and I can’t wait to have one again in the family. German Shepherds are some of the fiercest guardians but so sweet and loving with family members, so this may call for a visit to Canada sooner rather than later – I wouldn’t want my pup brother treating me like a stranger!
Wishing you all a happy 2017 and see you in the New Year!
What was your favourite moment of 2016?