Summer is on the way and last year now feels like a distant memory, but I still wanted to reflect on all the travelling I did in 2018.
I dedicated all my leave days, some unpaid leave and even overworked as I went all in on exploring my dream destinations. In total I travelled for nine weeks to five countries on three continents.
First trip (February – April, 6 weeks)
I walked under supertrees, in botanical gardens and through rain forests. I summited a green volcanoe and tall mountain peaks, then jumped out of a plane and off a platform. One moment I jet boated on shallow creeks, the next day I kayaked in a silent fiord. I fell in love with a town so small it had no traffic light, and later crossed the busiest intersection in the world. I tried to find 42 Wallaby Way but ended up at the easternmost point on the contintent. I was living my dream and never wanted to wake up.
My first trip started with a four night stopover in Singapore. I arrived with a long list of places to see, but ended up spending most of my time at Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay. It was so fun to photograph in this hot and humid city, especially at night when the cityscape lit up and the light shows began.
New Zealand was such a dream. I had two amazing weeks of solo travel with fantastic summer weather and then joined a Stray bus tour for my last week.
New Zealand stole my heart with its incredibly beautiful landscapes. My self portrait photos showed how I felt – I was so happy I was glowing!
Although I only visited for a week I absolutely loved Australia. How could you not fall in love with a country where cities are named Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast? As much as I adored the weather and the beaches, the best thing about Australia is the people – and that says a lot coming from an introvert!
Japan (cherry blossoms)
My adventure to Singapore, New Zealand and Australia was supposed to end with me arriving in Tokyo at the peak cherry blossom season. Nature is sometimes unpredictable though, unusual warm weather made the blossoms open a week earlier than average. The early start also meant an early finish, the petals were falling like snowflakes in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. At first I was sad to have missed the best viewing time. Then I appreciated it for what it was and thought it just added to the symbolism – life is fragile but beautiful!
Soon I realised the early blooming season had given me an unexpected chance to see Chureito Pagoda with cherry blossoms. I was so lucky with the weather and this triplet of Japanese icons was possibly the most beautiful view I’d seen all my life.
Second trip (August, 1 week)
My overpacked suitcase missed a wheel and was ripped in its bottom at the end of the trip, and I was pretty exhausted myself (hardly surprising given the fast-paced itinerary). I woke up disoriented on my first night back in my apartment. That was surreal, and I was still super tired three months later. It didn’t help that I came back to a really negative atmosphere at work. However, I knew the perfect cure – a SLOW week in Santorini.
I escaped to Santorini and watched some magical sunsets. Revisiting this dreamy island made me fall in love with life again and I realised what to do with things I can’t affect – just let it go. So I changed my attitude, focused on the right things and became much happier at home in my everyday life.
In Santorini I purposedly held back on photography and adventures to get some much needed rest, I even took some time to read at the swimming pool. Still I couldn’t resist two new experiences – climbing Skaros rock and taking a split level underwater photo at Amoudi bay.
Third trip (November, 2 weeks)
When I started the year I nurtured a dream of making it on instagram (which I’ve written more about in this and my next eight posts) and pushed myself as hard as I could, but later threw in the towel when I failed despite my best efforts. There was a silver lining though as instagram and my travel blog challenged me to improve my photography and take more self portraits. More than anything I felt liberated when I gave up on my instagram dream – the (self-imposed) pressure to get the perfect photo was finally off.
Japan (autumn foliage)
When I sat on the plane to Japan I felt real harmony for the first time of the year. I was there to attend Lisa Michele Burns’ (The Wandering Lens) autumn photography tour in Tokyo and Kyoto. I planned the trip so I had some days to explore on my own before and after the photo tour. It very much felt like a bonus with all the travelling I had done so far.
Standing on the Mori Tower sky deck with the wind in my hair, catching traffic light trails in Shinjuku, losing my coins to the arcades in Akihabara, having picnic in Yoyogi Park, photographing sunrise at the Sensoji Temple – I loved every moment of it and was so happy to be back in Tokyo.
I learned new camera settings and creative techniques, but above all it was a super fun and inspirational photo tour. We visited so many iconic spots and it was so heartwarming to see Kyoto in sunshine (on my first visit in 2017 I just had rain and gray skies). My highlight was the day in Arashiyama. Walking along the river was so unreal I had to pinch myself.
Adventures in 2019
In contrast to last year, I’ve had a low key start to 2019 and once again love my job and spending time at the office (perhaps a bit too much). At home I rediscovered the joy of video games when I joined Link on an epic adventure in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As for travelling I fell in love with mountains and lakes in New Zealand so much that I’ve decided to spend two weeks hiking in Switzerland this summer. It looks a bit pricey but you know what they say – high cost, high reward. I would rather be rich in experiences than money anyway.