2014: The Travel Year In Review (Finally!)
With February already here, I’m quite the procrastinator, but it’s been a hectic past few weeks, traveling home to California for Christmas, stopping in Fiji on the way back to Sydney, and frantically (and ultimately successfully!) apartment hunting since I’ve been back. But since 2011, I’ve done a yearly recap of my travels that year (see 2011, 2012, and 2013), and, while 2014 wasn’t quite the whirlwind travel year some of my past years have been, it still warrants a nostalgic recap…even if it’s over a month late.
I rang in 2014, boringly enough, on a plane back to Sydney after spending a week home in California. No champagne, confetti, or fireworks for me! I was somewhat unenthusiastic to return, unsure of how much I really wanted to stay in Australia, but, as soon as I got back, Sydney reminded me of its charms, and I spent the first day picnicking along the water, cruising the harbor, and visiting the Opera House with friends.
That weekend, I headed to Newcastle (a few hours north of Sydney) for the second time, enjoying the city’s natural beauty, and it quickly become a regular weekend destination for me, as I met my favorite Aussie guy that weekend. The following weekend, I took a day trip with friends to Royal National Park, about an hour south of Sydney for some stunning hiking views. I also made another return to Newcastle at the end of the month to celebrate Australia Day in true Aussie fashion.
Newcastle became a regular fixture for weekend trips, and I continued exploring Sydney in my fifth month as a resident.
I took my first trip out of the state to visit the Gold Coast, which was beautiful, although I hardly knew it, as I unfortunately spent the entire weekend ill beyond belief. After recovering, I spent a night in a beach house right on the water in Port Stephens (north of Newcastle), and a few days later, I was graced by my mom and sister’s presence as I showed them around Sydney for a few days.
I started the month with a tour of New South Wales’ beautiful wine region, Hunter Valley. With back-to-back long weekends for Easter and ANZAC Day (similar to Memorial Day), I got my first chance to truly explore Australia in a road trip up the coast, with stops in Port Macquarie, Uki, Nimbin, Mount Tamborine, Brisbane, Kingscliff, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, and Forster-Tuncurry. It was basically the perfect road trip, and I look forward to writing about it in more detail.
As the weather cooled in Australia, I spent May enjoying Sydney with occasional trips to Newcastle. I kept busy with things like a Cinco de Mayo party hosted by the American expats group, a Eurovision costume party, turning 25 with many of my closest friends in Australia, checking out Sydney’s Cockatoo Island, seeing light displays around the city in Sydney’s Vivid, and an Australia versus South Africa pre-World Cup friendly soccer match.
I visited the nation’s capital, Canberra, where I ticked a third Australian state off my list and learned about Australian history and politics. I then traveled home to California for the wedding of two of my dearest friends, whom I’ve known since I was 12/13. I got to catch up with family and old friends while cheering on Spain (disappointing) and the U.S. (impressive) in the World Cup.
Back in Australia, I stuck to Sydney and Newcastle. Hey, I may not have been actively traveling, but who can complain about living abroad? Plus, I got the chance to really feel like I was revisiting Spain with a fantastic flamenco show at Alegrías.
Australian winter was pleasantly mild (though I still complained), and we went up the coast about an hour to the Central Coast for a weekend of (fully sweatered) beach relaxation.
I celebrated my one year Australiversary in late September. Who’d have thought my plan to stay here for three to six months would turn into a year and counting?
With a three-day weekend at the start of the month, I spent a weekend with a group of eight in a friend’s family’s century-old rustic cabin/retreat a bit north of Taree, truly one of the coolest accommodations I’ve stayed in in all my travels. I also spent a weekend with the Aussie boy’s family in Forster-Tuncurry, a beautiful beach area, and unfortunately the second trip of the year in which I fell ill.
I got to know Sydney better during November and embraced the finally warmer weather with a few town festivals and friend outings.
I spent the last third of the month returning to my dear California, including a drive up to San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the world, time home around Pasadena, visits to Orange County, and a family ski trip to Mammoth Mountain.
After an action-packed 2013 that consisted of traveling to sixteen countries, 2014 was quite the change, although it’s no surprise considering how far from the rest of the world Australia is. Nonetheless, I enjoyed getting to know Australia better and traveling to the extent I could while working full time. This blog also grew into more than I ever expected it to be in 2014, opening the doors to new opportunities and introducing me to some fantastic new people. Stay tuned for more in-depth accounts of my 2014 travels, as well as lots more in the upcoming year!