2014 turned out a lot different than our initial plan, but it was an exciting year visiting places we never imagined we’d see. In the end our stats looked like this:
26 countries visited – 13 of those new
9 international cross-border train trips
3 road trips (Australia, Bulgaria & Wales)
33,000+ photos taken
Over 70,000 kms covered!
So what exactly did we do from 1st January to 31st December 2014?
JANUARY – MARCH 2014
We started our year trying to sell off loads of our belongings in Perth, Australia. We also took the time to catch up on work, school and attend my brother’s wedding. As well as entertain friends we had made around the world who could finally come visit us in our hometown.
Highlight: Road trip Margaret River – WA’s wine region
APRIL - JUNE 2014
Just a short break in Kuala Lumpur on the way to Malta. We are big fans of KL and it was nice to spend a few days in Asia before heading for a big year in Europe.
Highlight: Mouth-watering food tour
Layover in Istanbul. They have a great business lounge here perfect for those long connections.
A small island south of Italy. It’s heritage and culture are major draw-cards, as well as it’s ancient treasures. We spent 5 nights in this beautiful Mediterranean paradise and highly recommend it.
Highlight: Mia (5yrs) abseiled 5 stories down a sheer cliff
A few nights in Athens was hardly worth mentioning until we left for the Cycladic islands – Kythnos, Sifnos, Milos, Ios and Paros where I left a little piece of my heart.
Highlight: Every meal was a highlight (as of 2014 Greek became my favourite cuisine, with Mexican a close runner up)
JULY – SEPTEMBER 2014
When deciding what was next after Greece, Bulgaria was the quickest and cheapest flight out of there so we thought why not? We didn’t go to Bulgaria for the culture, but more for a vacation. We ended up in Sunny Beach for 5 weeks writing, swimming and sleeping before road tripping the rest of the country.
Highlight: Hiking to the top of a snow-capped mountain in Panichishte
Only one week in Poznan was not enough. A family-friendly European city that’s clean and loads of fun. So glad we had a quick stop here.
Highlight: Making lollypops at BonBon Cafe (voted by Mia)
Budapest was everything we imagined it to be – historic, architecturally stunning and packed with delicious food.
Highlight: Cruising on the Danube River at sunset
We had picked up a house sitting assignment in London and it was perfect. A great opportunity to rest and take the kids to some of the attractions we hadn’t visited yet.
Highlight: Harry Potter Studio Tour and Peppa Pig World at Paulton’s Park
During our house sit in London I met up with my sister who was on a round-the-world trip. We hopped on a plane together to visit the eternal city of Rome. My third time and I’m still just as in love with it.
Highlight: Visiting the Colosseum
From London we took a train under the Channel and over to Amsterdam. My mother is Dutch so the highlight of this trip was the authentic food that I grew up with. Oh, how I had missed it.
Highlight: Yummy Dutch food and Plaswijckpark
After our trip in the Netherlands we had another house sitting opportunity in Belgium for 1 month. We did not do much, but looked after the animals and worked. It ended up being a huge gig with over 17 animals and took more time than we thought.
Highlight: Daytrip to Ghent
During our stay in Belgium Josh took a quick photography trip to Finland. Other than the stunning photography moments, Josh could also not stop talking about the food.
Highlight: Paddling a kayak on a freshwater lake and then drinking straight from the lake (the water was so clean!)
While we were house sitting in Belgium we took a daytrip to visit friends in France. What an exciting thing to do!
Highlight: Leaving France – lol!
After a month of relaxation under our belts we decided to catch fewer planes and opted for a rail journey through Europe. Our first stop was only a few hours away and absolutely gorgeous. One of the most under-rated countries in Europe.
Highlight: Glamping in Kautenbach
After Luxembourg we caught a train to Stuttgart in Germany, which was a complete surprise. Fast cars, wonderful parks and delicious food made this 3-day stop loads of fun.
Highlight: Mercedes and Porsche car museums
We visited Lenzerheide and Davos in eastern Switzerland. Since it was summer season they were much quieter, but also so incredibly gorgeous. A mixture of warm weather and snow on the mountains. Switzerland really is magical.
Highlight: Riding lenzibikes (giant off-road scooters) down the mountain in Lenzerheide
Vienna may have been a let down for us, but Salzburg was a winner. A picturesque city steeped in history and the setting of one of our favourite movies – The Sound of Music.
Highlight: The Sound Of Music Tour and cable car up Untesburg mountain
OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2014
After such a quick trip through Europe it was time for another rest and to catch up on some work. We chose an apartment in Split to settle. The kids went to a local school for the month and we also took the opportunity to take short trips to the island of Brac and the city of Dubrovnik.
Highlight: Game Of Thrones Tour in Dubrovnik and swimming in the crystal clear Sea at Zlatni Rat (rated as the best beach in Croatia)
While I made my way to set up home in Split, Josh took another quick solo photography press trip to Milan, Italy. He fell in love with the place and was determined to bring me next time. It also happened to be fashion week, and much to my disappointment, his male modelling career didn’t take off. Oh well, back to blogging.
Highlight: Climbing the roof of the Duomo in Milan and visiting the workshop of a master violin maker
Little did we know a visit from Split to Dubrovnik would have us passing through Bosnia.
Highlight: Lunch (that’s about all we had time for)
Serbia & Macedonia
We took an overnight train for the experience and left Croatia for Greece with 2 stops in Serbia and Macedonia.
Highlight: Getting off the train
Back in Greece for a travel blogging conference. I took a quick side trip to Crete and Josh to Thessaloniki while we set up base in Athens for 10 days.
Highlight: Admiring the ancient ruins of Thessaloniki (oh, and the food too!)
We always end up coming back to London, it’s like a magnet! This time we came back for the World Travel Market before hiring a car for 6 weeks and undertaking an epic road trip around Wales.
Highlight: Everything about Wales, but specifically sunset at Aberystwyth
While we were in Wales I was accepted for a 1-week press trip to Sri Lanka. So I left my family and went touring around Sri Lanka. It was a trip I will never forget and can’t wait to bring my family to see.
Highlight: Hanging out of a fast-moving train
After our road trip around Wales we took a quick flight to Helsinki and then onward to Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus. Lapland was magical. We went snowmobiling searching for Northern Lights, husky sledding, reindeer rides and we met the REAL Santa.
Highlight: Husky sledding through an enchanted frozen forest
A quick layover in Berlin on the way to Romania.
It was pretty close to Christmas by the time we arrived in Romania. We were meeting our friends for Christmas together in snowy Brasov. It was everything we imagined it to be. The last few nights in Bucharest, however, left us more than ready to say goodbye to chilly Europe.
Highlight: Walking through Bran Castle in Transylvania and visiting the Bear Sanctuary
Qatar was just a layover on our flight from Romania to Bali, Indonesia. Great airport though.
Finally back in Bali, Indonesia just in time for the New Year. We set up a base in Ubud close to our friends and spent two months catching up on work, relaxation and healing our bodies from an indulgent and fast-paced year in Europe.
Highlight: Catching Dengue Fever
January - December 2014
Australia > Malaysia > Malta > Greece > Bulgaria > Poland > Hungary > United Kingdom > Italy > Netherlands > Belgium > Finland > Luxembourg > Germany > Switzerland > Austria > Croatia > Italy > Greece > United Kingdom > Sri Lanka > Finland > Romania > Indonesia
And there you have it. 2014 wrapped up in a neat little summary. In hindsight it looks like a whirlwind of a year - we crammed so much in. 1 month after arriving in Bali we are still catching our breath. Let’s hope 2015 is a little easier going for us. Then again, that’s what I said at the end of 2013 so who knows what will happen!?
Reader Comments..."I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" - Josh Bender
Busy lady!!! What are your plans for 2015?
What a great year of travel! I look forward to hearing your plans for 2015 :)
wow. That is about how many I have visited in a lifetime, but it is not over yet.
Europe is a great place to rack up a lot of countries in a short time. Russia, Canada, China, and the USA require a few more miles to travel from boarder to boarder. Give them a try while you still have the energy. Maybe a year each.
Whoa Erin - you guys sure get around ;-) Glad you made the best use of your time in Europe. You must explore Malaysia (beyond KL) when you get a chance - the food in other parts of the country is mind-numbingly scrumptious :-)
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