Jo at St Hilarion Castle, North Cyprus, 2016

2016: My Year in Review

Phew! Sometimes it felt as though 2016 would never end. With a stream of celebrity deaths and some seismic shocks in both political and geographic landscapes, there’s a danger of remembering last year for all the wrong reasons.

Personally I struggled a little last year too, mostly in the latter half of the year as I fought to understand my government’s determination to rob me of my rights as a European citizen thanks to a busload of lies and misinformation. This had a knock-on effect on my finances, where the drop in value of the GBP meant my rent and everyday living expenses increased dramatically. And it coincided with me trying to reshape my business, which meant a drop in income as I tried to build up my reputation in a different area. Messy!

In her annual workbook, Unravel Your Year, Susannah Conway asks the question ‘what you would call your year if it were a book or album?’ The difficult second album syndrome immediately popped into my head!

However while I found some areas of my life a challenge, I had another fantastic year of travel. 2016 was my fourth year in business and my second year as a digital nomad. I slept in twenty beds in fifteen cities, visited nine different countries (including the UK), three of which were new for me. I took ten flights, four train journeys (I’ve only counted long train journeys, not short trips to and from airports), and two ferry trips.

My highlights included finding a place to call home in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for five and a half months, returning to the Worldwide Festival in Sète for another memorable week of dancing in the sunshine to my favourite bands and DJs, getting my travel blogging head on in Stockholm, discovering the wine and wildlife of Slovenia, now one of my favourite countries, and connecting with my inner Lara Croft exploring the archaeological sites of Cyprus.

Here’s my review of 2016.

Read more2016: My Year in Review

Lake Bled & Bled Island

A Flying Visit to Lake Bled

A common theme arose every time I mentioned I was heading to Slovenia last summer:

‘Oh, you must visit Lake Bled.’

I’ll admit, the more people trotted out this line, the more wary I was of visiting. Because I’m not a fan of overcrowded tourist spots, regardless of how beautiful they are. Plus, there’s nothing worse than building a place up in your mind, then arriving and feeling a little… meh.

But at the same time I was curious. Because dammit, I’d seen those pictures. And I’m a sucker for a good view.

Although Slovenia is a fairly small country, I’d put off visiting while I was in Maribor. Money was tight after having three weeks off during the summer to dance on a beach in the South of France and get my travel blogging head on in Stockholm. So I couldn’t really afford an overnight stay in Bled when I’d paid for two months accommodation elsewhere.

But when friends decided to visit me in Slovenia at the end of my stay, I was determined to mastermind a trip to Bled. We met in Ljubljana but managed to slip away to see Slovenia’s most famous landmark, where we had less than 24 hours to explore.

Read moreA Flying Visit to Lake Bled

The world's oldest vine in Maribor, Slovenia

My Maribor Wine Adventures (Part 1)

If you follow my Instagram account, you may have noticed the two months I spent in Maribor this summer were fairly, um, boozy!

I didn’t plan it that way.

I can’t really explain what drew me to Maribor – I knew I wanted to visit Slovenia so I was browsing Airbnb for accommodation. I’d left my booking late (as usual!) so I couldn’t find anything affordable at the coast, which was my original intention. Then I stumbled upon a flat in Maribor and it sung to me. I looked up Maribor on several travel sites – it was described as a place of quiet charm, surrounded by vineyards, with Pohorje, its majestic ski mountain, a hiker’s paradise in summer.

Turns out my intuition did me some favours – Maribor wine is renowned in Slovenia and my Airbnb accommodation was run by Marko, one of the Find Eat Local team, a Slovenian startup that promotes and lists local food and wine places. So we teamed up for a few tastings…

Read moreMy Maribor Wine Adventures (Part 1)