2012 has been a pretty impressive year in travel for me – 15 countries, 4 continents…. not too bad, hey? Looking back on the eve of the last day of the year, it actually blows my mind how much I’ve done this year. I’ve certainly ticked a few experiences off the bucket list and temporarily contented the ever present itch of the travel bug. Feeling reminiscent, here’s a few of the highlights!

Dubrovnik

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Croatia is an increasingly popular holiday destination, so the week I spent here to celebrate the end of my University era was definitely well calculated – hopefully just before it becomes too touristy for words! Beautiful, ancient city, crystal clear waters, breathtakingly beautiful islands, a gig in an ancient fort and a fantastic week with 7 of my best friends made for an unforgettable time. Oh, and very cheap – always a plus.

Great Ocean Road

Camper. Van.

My return to Australia whilst on the SPAR world trip was not highly anticipated. I was not excited. But hiring a broken down camper van with an Irish guy, a Dutchie with three different characters to his person and a crazy Slovenian and experiencing the Great Ocean Road in Australia completley changed my mind about the whole country.

Trans-siberian Rail

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The presence of this 2 week long train journey will probably shock a lot of people who know me… I haven’d offered particularly raving reviews of one of the longest train journey’s in the world! But despite the cabin fever and dirty conditions, this is probably one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. Sure, the 6 straight days from Moscow to Ulaanbataar kind of all blur into one long, long period of indistinguishable time, but I will never forget it. I’d recommend it to everyone… but probably lower your expectations before you embark… 
Copenhagen

Copenhagen

Copenhagen, like many places, was turned into a highlight for me not just because of the beauty of the city and the vibrant atmosphere 24/7, but because of the person I spent my time with there. We had a fantastic week drinking far too much, laughing far too hard, and exploring all Copen had to offer. Even though the inevitable side effect of an addiction to travel means that I haven’t seen this person since, I’ll always have a little soft spot for Copenhagen.

Livingstone

Zambian Sunset

Zambia was very, very hot, very, very friendly, and inclusive of a very, very near death experience for me. I’m exaggerating… but only slightly. White rafting Swimming down the Zambezi will stay with me forever. As will an encounter with a lion, a micro-flight over Victoria falls, and cruising an elephant/hippo/crocodile infested river at sunset. Beaaautiful.

Rome

Colosseum

Rome isn’t one of the most exotic places I’ve ever encountered, but it’s definitely one of the most interesting. It lives up to all the hype and then some. Like Amsterdam, I instantly fell head over heels for Italy’s capital. I can’t wait to return again and again and again. If you haven’t been, then GO. Immediately.

Budapest

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Budapest is a highly underrated European country. As my first stop on the SPAR world trip, I really wasn’t too excited about getting there. I had barely even heard of it, so had no expectations. Thankfully – as seems to be the case with most of the countries I’ve visited with low or zero expectations – Budapest was incredible. Crazy pool parties, even crazier people, beautiful weather, great exhibitions, and lots and lots of cycling equalled the perfect start to my trip around the world. Big statement.

Mongolia 

My Slovenian Sister avec Mongolian countryside

A welcome retreat from the first 6 day leg of the trans-siberian rail, Mongolia definitely deserves to be on the list of travel highlights of this year. Ulaanbataar was unexpectedly built up and a little bit Westernised, with some fantastic out of the way restaurants and a very dodgy black market (dodgier than the average), and the countryside was something else. I visited a nomadic family, stayed in a ger camp and got chased by wild dogs.

Because of such extensive travelling this year, 2012 might have to include actually earning some money. This doesn’t have to be as boring as it sounds though. Another 4 months working as a chef in the French Alps awaits, and then hopefully a summer frolicking with the Dutchies. Bring on the New Year.

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