Looking back at 2017December 8, 2017 / bynatalie / Categories : Uncategorized
What a year! In keeping with tradition, I’m taking a moment to pause and reflect on everything I’ve seen and done this year before the mad rush of the festive season fully sets in. I just re-read my posts from the end of 2015 and 2016 and it actually made me feel so emotional! One of the things I love most about having this blog and using Instagram to share highlights from my days is that I have this catalogue of memories that I can scroll back through any time.
Looking back at 2017
This was one of my biggest and busiest years ever! I had the opportunity to experience some amazing travels and have some truly incredible experiences. This was my fourth year of freelancing and what I didn’t really share here was that in June and July I had like, no work. Winter is notoriously quiet in Cape Town but this year was off the charts and it really got me down. It was cold, I had no work to do, no money to spend and nowhere to go. I started to question every decision I’d ever made and I was just about at breaking point when I was given an amazing oppoturtunity with a new freelance client which got me out of the house and introduced me to a whole new industry.
Instagram vs. Reality
I know I don’t even need to tell you this but obviously Instagram isn’t the full story. While it may look like all I ever do is travel or drink wine, that can’t possibly be the full picture. The reality is that I stared my year with the most boring NYE ever. I was feeling pretty depressed so I sent my boyfriend to a party while I stayed home with my family who went to bed way before midnight. I rang in the new year from a mattress on the floor of my aunt’s house, watching The Crown on my cellphone. When I’m not travelling, my days mostly consist of carrying around a gym bag pretending I’m going to yoga at the end of the day, working from the couch with Netflix playing in the background, or working from an office two days a week. In between you can find me paying off my two credit cards then maxing them both out again in rapid succession.
But back to the highlights part. Here’s a look at all the best things 2017 presented.
Girl’s Trip to Iceland
On the 1st of January I bought a ticket to Iceland. In March I hit the Iceland Ring Road for a 3000km road trip with two of my best friends and it was honestly the most amazing trip of my life. We swam in geothermal pools, hugged fluffy horses and SAW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS! My story about the trip was published in the Getaway Magazine, which was one of my career highlights.
Recommended reading: The Ultimate Girl’s Guide to 10 Days in Iceland , The Girl’s Guide to Packing for Iceland
On the way back from Iceland, I spent a weekend exploring and eating in Amsterdam. What a city! I absolutely loved cycling the streets and cruising the canals and of course, eating the carbs.
Recommended reading: 36 Hours in Amsterdam
The Oyster Box & Rovos Rail
I was lucky enough to be my friend Kiersten’s plus 1 for a stay at the luxurious Oyster Box Hotel in tropical Durban, followed by a trip on the magical Rovos Rail. This is some serious once in a lifetime stuff and all the old world glamour was such a treat!
Recommended reading: Staying at The Oyster Box Hotel, Unique Safari Experience: Rovos Rail
Imagine a city where you don’t use any money and everyone is in on this experiment where you are all really nice to each other and it’s in the desert. That’s kind of what Afrikaburn is like. A totally unique and wonderful experience and I already can’t wait for the next one.
Recommended reading: My Ultimate Afrikaburn Survival Guide, My Afrikaburn Fashion Survival Guide
Melbourne & The Yarra Valley
I surprised my sister in Melbourne with a visit and we spent a couple of days exploring the Yarra Valley at the most beautiful time of the year.
Recommended reading: 24 Hours in the Yarra Valley
Safari with my Mama
In the winter we spent four days living in luxury and spotting so many beautiful animals in the Kruger National Park.
Recommended reading: Staying at Jock Safari Lodge, Staying at The Outpost, Staying at Pel’s Post, 25 Things must-know for visiting the Kruger National Park, What to pack for a Safari
Reunion Island with my friends
I’ve been to Reunion Island several times, but this time I had the opportunity to show my friends around! It was so different having them there and we had so much fun exploring and hiking and kayaking and whale watching – all from our Airbnb, which was right on the beach.
Recommended reading: The Ultimate Guide to Reunion Island, Reunion Island from the sky (video), 10 Things to do in Reunion Island, Reunion Island Hiking Guide
Paris & Disneyland
My mom and I were in Paris for a week and I could not get over how lovely it was. Paris had never been at the top of my bucket list but it was truly magic. Disneyland was absolutely incredible and I had to hold back tears most of the time we were there.
Recommended reading: My Guide to Paris for first time visitors, What to pack for Paris, 20 Pictures of Paris through my eyes.
Cape Town with TBA Escapes
I absolutely LOVE showing people around this beautiful city we live in and I have loved the opportunity to do that with my friend. The Blonde Abroad Escapes tours and educational retreats are for the adventurous female traveler who dreams of colorful destinations far from her comfort zone. There are two more happening in March next year and I can’t wait!
Houseboating through French Wine Country
Experiencing the Loir Valley while cruising through the canals on a houseboat was an absolute dream come true. I’m obsessed with houseboat holidays now and I really want to explore more of Europe this way.
Recommended reading: My Guide to A Houseboating Holiday in France
It really has been a beautiful year and there’s still more to come! Keenan and I are heading on a road trip up the east coast of South Africa and back through the Karoo over Christmas and New Year. We’re going in his parents’ Landrover Defender, which is totally kitted out with a roof tent and a fridge! I can’t wait to explore some more of my own country! Of course I’ll be sharing all the highlights on Instagram.
Thanks so so much to everyone who supported this blog, and me, throughout the year. You really do make the hard work so super worth it. I’m so excited for 2018, which starts with a new challenge as I join a publishing team full-time for 2 months. More on this soon. But for now, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to look back at your own year and think about your favourite moments. I’d LOVE to hear your highlights, so please leave them in the comments below.