Wow. What a year 2016 has been. Both in a personal way and in what has been (and still is) happening globally in the world today. 2016 was the year that many of us couldn’t have predicted with England voting to leave the EU and Donald Trump becoming President-Elect.
As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, the general consensus is that people can’t wait for 2016 to be over. For me, 2016 has just proved how uncertain life is and that you should never take anything for granted. There is still so much of a divide around the world and I’m just as apprehensive as anyone about what 2017 will bring.
So with only two more days of 2016 still to go, I wanted to look back and reflect on my best and worst moments of the year. In hindsight, some of the worst moments actually turned out to be my best!
My Best Moments of 2016
1. Visiting Easter Island
This Chilean island in the middle of nowhere (literally) has to be my best highlight of the year. If you’ve ever wanted to see these giant stone statues up close whilst listening to mythological tales, put this place on your bucket list. It’s fine for solos too.
2. Seeing Rio
This Brazilian city just missed out on my top spot (sorry Rio). I LOVE this place. I must admit that having heard so many stories about people getting robbed before I went did make me slightly nervous about going there solo BUT nothing happened. I had the most amazing time learning samba, seeing the Christ the Redeemer statue, climbing up Sugarloaf Mountain, sunbathing on Copacabana beach and taking a walking tour through one of the favelas. I don’t usually return to places (except Colombia of course) but Rio… I will definitely be back 🙂
3. Girl about the Globe Winning Two Awards!
I must admit when I started my website a few years ago I wasn’t sure if the term ‘conscious travel’ would resonate with people and if they would really know what it meant? So becoming one of the 2016 Conscious Travel Blogs was not only an honour but also reinforced the fact that yes, people do know what it means 🙂 (Thanks for the award for the Top 50 travel blogs too).
4. Seeing all the Seven Wonders of the World
After visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue this year, I have now officially seen all Seven Wonders of the World (woohoo!) These are all the man-made ones so I still have the natural wonders and the ancient wonders to see but it’s a great start. Just in case you were wondering, here’s a list of the seven man-made Wonders of the World.
- Chichen Itza – Yucatan, MEXICO
- Christ the Redeemer – Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
- Colosseum – Rome, ITALY
- Great Wall of China – CHINA
- Machu Picchu – PERU
- Petra – JORDAN
- Taj Mahal – Agra, INDIA
5. Becoming a Visit.org Ambassador
Each time I travel my tastes seem to change. Travelling as a 40 year old meant that I wasn’t too fussed about doing the same things that I used to do in my twenties, and I needed more of a purpose for my travels. So when I was asked to be an ambassador for Visit.org I jumped at the chance. This social-impact platform highlights non-profits and organisations who are sustainably helping the community.
Being able to travel and visit these projects whilst highlighting the great work that they do, made my South America trip so much more enjoyable and special. For instance I could enjoy a samba lesson and know that my funds were helping young people in favelas.
Visit.org offers tours around the world so you can learn about the culture and help local communities at the same time – perfect for the conscious traveller.
6. Sunbathing With Sea Lions
I must have been in the minority when I visited the Galapagos Islands on land instead of taking a cruise around these Ecuadorian islands. But I still had a great time meeting the giant land tortoises, spotting the marine iguanas, and sunbathing with the seal lions who get pretty close to you as you lie on the beach. And I managed to do it all on a budget. Having been to 107 countries, it can sometimes be a bit challenging trying to constantly find something new, but being on a beach with sea lions was definitely a new experience for me.
7. Sleeping in the Amazon
Spending 5 nights in the Brazilian Amazon, sleeping rough in a hammock and fishing for piranhas for our dinner was a highlight that I won’t forget. Although at the time I couldn’t wait for a hot shower and a comfy bed, it definitely took me out of my comfort zone and back into nature.
8. Exploring the Desert
I absolutely love deserts (desserts too!) so when I found out that Colombia has two of them I simply had to visit one for myself. Tatacoa Desert is just stunning. I seriously felt as though I was in a different world during my long weekend here.
And My Worst Moments of 2016?
- Having to leave Colombia (again!) after my visa expired. Just as I had fallen in love with someone (and then fell out of love with when we met up two months later). Every relationship we have moulds us in some way and although it was short, I’m thankful for the crazy whirlwind it was.
- Finding out that my mum had cancer when I was in Peru. Being far away from home makes you realise what is important when something happens. Needless to say, I came back to the UK for a while. Thankfully she is now okay but it’s made me want to be closer to home.
- Finding out that I was on an ISIS kill list. It sounds crazy I know but hopefully I was just randomly chosen along with the other 39 Brits included.
- Brexit, and the U.S. election (sorry to bring it up).
- And finally, finding a tick somewhere that it shouldn’t be. It seems that I couldn’t leave the Amazon without taking something with me!
My Plans for 2017
Well considering I have just signed up for the Barcelona marathon, I guess I am moving to Spain. With my goal to be fluent in Spanish for 2017, Spain seems the answer. As much as I love and miss Colombia it’s time for another new chapter. As life constantly evolves it’s time for me to as well. (Oh, did I mention more travel too?!)
I hope 2017 brings you everything that you desire. If you haven’t travelled solo yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below for solo travel inspiration and some solo goodies coming out soon (including guide books for solos!)
P.s. I’m running the Barcelona Marathon for War child, an organisation which provides help to children in war zones such as Syria. If you would like to sponsor me I’ve included the link here. Thanks x