2015 has been a MASSIVE year for us. Apart from taking the leap of quitting our jobs and deciding to pursue blogging full time, we also have done heaps of traveling. We’ve trekked through jungles, gone diving with sharks, met so many amazing people, and gotten lost in random European cities.
We’re not saying it’s all been rainbows and butterflies-because it hasn’t been. We’ve also slept on random airport floors, gotten ill, and have had our fair share of random travel injuries, but you know what? Despite all that, it was all worth it. So, in no particular order (having to narrow it down to 10 was hard enough), here is our list of our top 10 travel moments of 2015.
- Catching the sunrise at Mt. Bromo, Indonesia
- Island Hopping in Palawan, Philippines
- Getting Lost in Venice, Italy
- Swimming with Giant Manta Rays in Komodo, Indonesia
- Hiking in Bolzano, Italy
- Wandering around the Christmas Market in Budapest, Hungary
- Jungle Trekking in Sumatra, Indonesia
- Gorging out on wine and cheese in Europe
- Crashing a Birthday Party in Palawan, Philippines
- Skydiving over the Swiss Alps
Catching the sunrise at Mt. Bromo, Indonesia
As most of you know, we spent almost 3 months traveling the beautiful country of Indonesia. During that time, one of our fondest experiences is waking up at 3am in the unexpectedly beautiful town of Cemoro Lawang to catch the sunrise over Mt. Bromo. The spot we went to was perfect. No massive crowds or vendors. (READ: Experience Mount Bromo without a tour)
Just us and two other couples as we gawked at the surreal sunrise in front of us. Imagine hiking in complete darkness under the starlit sky as we made our way to this viewpoint where we watched the clouds slowly clear up in the valley as the sun slowly illuminated Mt. Bromo. I know right? To make things extra special, Tom and I were celebrating our 1st year anniversary on that day. While other couples buy each other fancy gifts and dinners for their anniversary, we were there hiking a mountain and seeing one of the most beautiful and surreal views of our life. Definitely a highlight of 2015! (CHECK OUT A: Photowalk of Mount Bromo)
Island Hopping in Palawan, Philippines
It’s no secret that the Philippines is one of our favourite countries. I mean, seriously, how can it not be? Between the friendly people and gorgeous beaches, it’s hard not to enjoy it. Given this, one of our favourite moments is backpacking around Palawan, which is for me, paradise on earth. While we were there, we went island hopping, lived with a local fisherman and his family, and went scuba diving in WWII shipwrecks. Every day, we were blown away by either the beauty around us or the kindness of the people we met along the way. So whether it was exploring shipwrecks or eating delicious seafood in secluded beaches, Palawan is definitely high up our list. (READ: 15 Photos that prove Palawan is Paradise on Earth)
Getting Lost in Venice, Italy
When we got to Venice Italy, Tom and I were EXHAUSTED. We had been bombing around Europe, working with multiple sponsors and partners, all while trying to squeeze in some exploring. Our solution? We decided to ditch our computers and work for two (okay, three) bottles of wine, and we began walking around Venice getting day drunk. We wandered, got lost, sat by the steps of St. Marks Square and talked about anything and everything. We talked about our future plans, all while laughing and giggling endlessly. We walked around with no particular aim or direction and had the loveliest time navigating our way through the maze like streets of Venice. It was much needed and a good reminder to us that we need to once in a while take time off from everything (even traveling itself) to just reconnect with each other. (READ: Falling in Love while Traveling)
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Swimming with Giant Manta Rays in Komodo, Indonesia
Tom and I ADORE the ocean. Just being around it instantly makes me happy and with that, one of the best things that we have done this year was our decision to head to Komodo National Park, even if it was a bit of a mission to get to. (Read: Komodo Boat Trip Review)
It was our first day diving and everyone was back on the boat ready to head back until someone spotted splashing by an island a couple of meters away from us. We all jumped on the small dingy boat and lo and behold, there were about 15 GIANT manta rays swimming around. We all jumped in with our snorkels and watched these magnificent creatures glide around us. It was like a dream come true for me! In fact, I remember so vividly being so excited that I was having difficulty breathing through my snorkel! It was an incredible experience that is pretty hard to top! After that, we headed back to Bali where we ended up staying in one place for a while surfing (a close runner up to entering the top 10).
Hiking in Bolzano, Italy
Due to some accommodation mix up, we decided last minute to head to Bolazano, a small Italian town right by the border of Austria. Despite our lack of planning, we luckily found a couch surfing host to put us up for the night (thank you Elisa!!) After a wonderful night of getting to know our host and her lovely Italian family (who did not speak a word of English), we set out the next day to do a hike around the Dolomite Mountains. We took a cable car up, and literally just wandered around. We saw the famed earth pyramids which are geological wonders, walked through unmanned forests and fields, and walked through all the small towns and villages up in the mountain. It was a glorious day. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and we were outdoors. To us, it was the perfect combo for a good day. Oh and did I mention the views that we saw that day were SPECTACULAR? (READ: How to Travel the World and Get Free Accommodation)
Wandering around the Christmas Market in Budapest, Hungary
Despite me being really ill while in Budapest, one specific moment that we won’t forget is wandering around their beautiful Christmas Market. On that particular day, we had a whole lot of sightseeing planned out, unfortunately, my flu got the better of me. I decided to head back to our hostel while Tom carried on with the walking tour. As soon as the guide brought them to the markets, Tom, being the adorable man that he is, left the tour early just so he can explore it with me later on tonight. By the time he got back to the hostel, I had squeezed in a couple of hours of sleep and felt much better. We went to the Turkish Bath House and spent the rest of our evening walking around the Christmas Markets.
It was honestly magical! Everything was lit up, the smell of food everywhere, and the hustle and bustle of people having a good time. We got some traditional sausages, goulash, and some potato pancakes topped with chicken (no judging, please!). We cozied up on a table with our glasses of mulled wine and ate the night away. The icing on the cake? They were projecting scenes from The Nutcracker on the walls of this massive church. It was a memorable evening which set the bar high for the rest of the Christmas markets that we went to. Although the rest of the night didn’t go as planned due to my run in with the Hungarian Police, we still had the most amazing time. (READ: Top 10 Things to do in Budapest)
Jungle Trekking in Sumatra, Indonesia
Although I found this trek physically exhausting, it was one of the best experiences that we got to do in Indonesia. 5 lush days spent deep in the jungle trekking to see the amazing Orangutans and other wild life. During those five days, we camped out in the wilderness, took a bath in waterfalls, and trekked for hours. We fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle. To crickets and the sound of water trickling by the river. We huddled by the bonfire and got to know our guides who by the end of the trip became our jungle brothers. We’ve never felt so connected to nature! To be honest, I think what we loved about it the most was the fact that we were unplugged. Apart from our cameras, we left everything behind. We disconnected from the social media world and didn’t post anything on facebook or instagram (until we got back of course!). As travel bloggers, this feeling of being unplugged is quite liberating and is necessary once in a while.
Gorging out on wine and cheese in Europe
Now as all of you know, being budget backpackers, we are always saving and scrimping, any way we can. This means no fancy restaurants, dessert, or anything beyond the $5 rule we try to abide by. Often, we would cook in hostels, have a kebab, or if we’ve reached the peak of our daily budget-we have good old cup noodles. Welcome to the so called “glamorous” backpacking lifestyle that people think we have! (READ: How to Survive Europe on a Budget)
To our delight, we travelled the South of France with Tom’s dad where we got a taste of life outside of backpacking. We ditched our backpacks (just kidding!!!-but we did clean up well), and wined and dined throughout that week. My favourite meal? Baked Camembert with Prosciutto, cranberry fig jam with foie gras, and a couple of good bottles of wine. I kid you not I still have dreams about that meal. Apart from the amazing French food that we had, we didn’t let our meagre budget stop us from eating well. We raided grocery stores for €2 bottles of wine and cheese and happily picnicked our way around Europe.
Crashing a Birthday Party in Palawan, Philippines
When we were in Palawan, we spent about a week going off the regular tourist route as we opted to stay with locals. We headed to Black Island, a gorgeous secluded island off of Coron (we took the boat from Ocam-Ocam Beach). As soon as we got there, we saw a lot of locals. It turned out, it was the birthday of one of the island caretakers so they invited all their friends and family from all the other local islands. We wandered off inside the cave where there was a natural spring where we could swim then slowly made our way to the stunning beach. (READ: How to Travel like a Local in Coron, Palawan)
Shortly after that, we were invited to join the merry making and soon found ourselves doing shots of gin with the locals, eating some lechon (roasted pork) and rice and of course, singing some Karaoke. Tom absolutely found this whole experience fascinating! We ended up staying with them the whole afternoon where we played with the local kids by the beach, got happily day drunk with our new found friends while getting to know the whole family. We met someone’s dad, mom, cousin, auntie, their neighbour’s auntie, and their neighbour’s grandfather’s cousin…I mean, you get the picture. That for us showed the epitome of the Filipino culture and we loved it!
Skydiving over the Swiss Alps
If I would ever be given the chance to jump off a plane again…I would choose to do it over Switzerland, hands down! Tom and I actually thought of having a game of rock paper scissors to decide who would get to skydive but decided that since he has been so amazing to me throughout our Europe trip, he could do it. Plus, the skydive school happily obliged for me to join him up on the plane for a scenic tour of the Alps so it wasn’t like I was missing out entirely. This for Tom was one unforgettable experience and is something that would always stand out of his 2015. The view from the top was unbelievable and the whole experience was amazing. (READ: Skydiving over Switzerland Review)
Although I could go on and on as 2015 was full of epic adventures, there is nothing more to do but look forward to the New Year ahead. We have lots of exciting travels planned as we continue growing this blog. Next up for us is….South America!
As we’ve been traveling non-stop for the last 7 months, we have plans of staying put again in a small surfing village where we plan to work, surf, do yoga, and learn Spanish. Sounds good to you? Sounds even better to us! After a couple of months staying put, we will be back on the road ready to take on another continent. So to those that have followed our crazy adventures in 2015, THANK YOU. You guys are awesome and deserve double high fives! We look forward to many more thrilling adventures, to growing our adventure review team, and more importantly, to following our dreams! Wishing you all a fantastic New Year ahead!