Confession time: I re-read my 2015 Travel Resolutions post maybe twice this year. And when I did? “Slow down, crazy!” were pretty much the only thoughts that popped into my head.
At the start of the year, I made a very ambitious list of “travel resolutions” for 2015. Re-reading the list now, I have to giggle at how much I was planning to squeeze into twelve months. I feel like my year was full of exciting experiences as well as the highs and lows of everyday life. I don’t think there was too much room for much more!
Also, I severely underestimated the cost of moving to Melbourne and the slow pace of settling in.
I’m not disappointed to say that I did not meet all of my 2015 goals. They’re guidelines and made me think about what I wanted to experience this year. It’s also a good reminder what you can realistically expect to achieve in a year, and that if you do want to achieve more, it takes a LOT of work!
Anyway, let’s see how I did!
Stop to enjoy more sunsets
We jostle in crowds or pay for overpriced hotel rooms to get a glimpse of NYE fireworks, yet we’re treated to an even more spectacular light show every day of the year – for free! I wanted to take the time to enjoy more sunsets this year because a life full of beauty doesn’t need to break the bank.
My favourite sunsets this year were in Brisbane when I was doing some photography with Dad in Hamilton on New Year’s Day, during a sunset cruise up the Hudson River with the North River Lobster Co and from the Top of the Rock.
I have to admit, I see far fewer sunsets in Melbourne than I did in Brisbane. Maybe it’s the cloudy skies or the winter chill, which led to less dawdling outdoors. I’ve just found a good sunset spot on the Princes Bridge, so I plan to see a few more before the year is out!
2. Explore my new city
Travelling isn’t limited to international border hopping. I love exploring new neighbourhoods, which are in no short supply now that I’ve moved to Melbourne!
I love Melbourne’s sophisticated CBD avenues and poky laneways, South Melbourne’s sweet tree-lined streets and cafes and St Kilda, Brighton, Black Rock and Parkdale on Melbourne’s bayside. Chapel St may be looking a little worse for wear, but I still get a kick of wandering down the never ending shopping street through South Yarra and Prahran. The Fitzroy Gardens are a great place for a picnic and the Carlton Gardens light up in gold and orange in Autumn. The Footscray Markets are as close to Vietnam as you’ll get in Melbourne, with killer pho to boot. Across the bay, the Williamstown waterfront is a relaxing spot for fish & chips with a view of the city skyline. Next year I want to go a little further afield!
3. Visit one new continent
This year I visited North America for the first time when we spent two months in the New York followed by a week in the southern cities of Charleston and New Orleans. I don’t think you need to have visited every continent in the world to be well-travelled, but I was still excited to finally set foot in North America!
4. Visit two regions of Victoria
Victoria is a delightfully compact state, with such a diversity of regions that it’s like a tiny patchwork quilt. This makes day trips and weekends away easy to plan since so much is within a couple of hours of driving!
We visited Ballarat, in the Goldfields region, to see the Winter Wonderlights at Sovereign Hill. “Christmas in July” is a fun semi-holiday in Australia, which is an excuse to revel in Christmas spirit in more traditional chilly weather. Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum built as a replica of a Goldrush town, lit up after dark with Christmas festivities and plenty of fake snow. So much fun!
We also hopped in the car for a day on the Mornington Peninsula, which is about an hour from the city. The peninsula has some lovely beaches, small towns and is a wine-growing region specializing in Pinot Noir (um, so it pretty much has everything!). We stopped in Mornington and Sorrento, eating pizza, checking out cute cafes and admiring the beach. It was July, so it was too cold for a swim, so hopefully we can get back there this summer!
5. Visit two new states in Australia
Considering I was spending two months overseas, was doing frequent inter-state trips back to Queensland and had just moved to a new state, visiting two more new states in a country as big as Australia was probably a little ambitious, no? Anyway, shoot for the moon, etc, etc.
We did get to one new state, and it was so gorgeous that I’m content with that! We hopped over the Bass Strait to Tasmania, the tiny island state. We spent the weekend in Hobart to celebrate three years of dating, rather than buying each other presents. A weekend away is a bit more expensive than how much we would have spent on a present, but we’d rather spend on a fun experience together than fill our tiny apartment with more stuff. We already give gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and that’s enough present-stress for one year as it is!
I really loved Hobart and could hardly believe how beautiful Tasmania is. The air is super fresh and crisp, the food is ridiculously good and the Derwent River looks like it belongs in Norway, not southern Australia. We visited MONA, stumbled upon Moorilla Winery’s cellar door and generally ate a lot of food and drank lots of wine. My kinda weekend!
6. Visit two new countries
Another lofty goal. It’s kind of strange that I made a # of countries goal since I hate counting countries. I just don’t think it’s a very representative metric for measuring what is the most important to me when I travel – breadth and depth of experiences.
Anyway, I did make it to one new country: The USA. Within the USA, I spent two months in New York and a week in the South, in Charleston and New Orleans. These two areas FELT like two different countries, which brings me back to my point about country counting not being very representative of your experiences. I’m calling this one “close enough.”
7. Visit five new beaches
Looking back, I think this is a weird goal. I guess I wanted to spend more time at the beach! I’m glad I made it, though, because it’s one I actually achieved. This would actually make way more sense for next year, funnily enough, because I’ve started a new photography project capturing Australian Beach Culture. Maybe the seed had been planted in my brain at the end of 2014, and it’s been slowly germinating all year!
South Melbourne Beach is a mere 10-minute tram ride (Route #1) from the city and is pretty quiet compared to the busier St Kilda beach further down the road.Dendy Beach in Brighton is arguably the most colourful beach in Australia, lined with a rainbow row of heritage-listed bathing boxes. On the bayside, I was stunned by how much Parkdale’s beach looked like it belonged on the Italian Riviera and behind Black Rock’s quiet beach we found lots of cafes to graze at.
David would love to move to Sydney one day, but so far I hadn’t been sold on the city – until we visited Coogee Beach. It was our last stop in our 24-hour trip to Sydney and it helped me find a new appreciation for the lifestyle opportunities in Sydney. If I could live by the beach and rarely had to venture into the city (thumbs down), I’d consider moving to Sydney for a spell!
8. National Parks
Not even close! I was hoping to get to Great Otway NP or the Dandenongs but didn’t make it to either. It’s kinda crazy (and sad) to think it’s been a year since I’ve been in one of Australia’s beautiful national parks, so missing this goal will influence my priorities in 2016.
9. Wine Regions
I was so sure that I’d get to the Yarra Valley, about an hour outside of Melbourne, in 2015, but nope! I have South Australia in my sights as my new state to visit in 2016, which is home to the country’s best wine region – the Barossa Valley! Better luck next year!
10. Become conversational in Spanish
WELL. I have practiced a little Spanish this year, but I ended up focusing on French instead. I’ve been taking classes, using free tools like DuoLingo and Lingvist, and am currently reading my first book in French.
I wanted to brush up on my Spanish because I was planning to do an extensive trip around Spain with my best friend in 2016. During the year, we both decided to reschedule this to 2017. We both have busy lives, between new jobs, new cities and other plans for 2016. I’m not worried that we’re “putting it off”, but am actually relieved that we’re making reasonable decisions we can stick to. Next year I’ve got my sight sets on Japan or Fiji. Spanish can wait for a little.
As for French, it’s going well. I was at a party where a majority of the guests were French, and while I could understand most of their conversations, I am still pretty shy when it comes to speaking back! The fear of sounding dumb is something you just need to get over when you’re learning a new language, so I’m working on that for 2016.
12. Finish my MatadorU Course
It’s been months since I’ve even thought of my writing and photography courses! I’ve been pretty flat out with my full-time job, freelancing work (hooray!) and makin’ maps. They had a promotion earlier this year which allowed me to get an extension on my course, phew! I’ve been reading a lot of the content and tackling some of the coursework, but haven’t sat down to polish off assignments and get them submitted. Something to work on next year.
What I’ve learned:
Moving is emotionally exhausting.
Contemplating a day trip to somewhere new in Victoria was not even on my radar till about April. I had a lot of travel planned for someone who had moved cities for the first time. I love experiencing new things, but living in a new city can be a subtle sensory overload, which saps some of my usual enthusiasm for exploring new places.
You have to embrace Victorian weather.
By the time we were ready to plan a weekend away, winter was in full swing in Melbourne. I didn’t want to go to the Great Ocean Road in shitty weather, so I decided to wait until January 2016. Fair enough, since the ocean looks so different in clear, bright light. However, I wish I’d done more weekend trips, even in dodgy weather, because when Melbourne is hot it’s usually also bushfire season and 40 degrees Celcius (100+ Fahrenheit). Next year I won’t put off weekend trips for a sunny day, because if you do that you end up waiting a long timke.
I need to check in with my goals more regularly.
I looked at this list maybe twice in 2015. Quite a few of them were pretty top of mind, like visiting new countries and states, but I totally forgot about some of the others. Good intentions are one thing, but having the plan to stick to them is another thing altogether! Luckily in 2016, I’ll be using the Spark Planner, designed by Goal Kicking Genius Kate Matsudeira! One of it’s many smart features is a weekly goal’s page, which includes a prompt to check in with your yearly and monthly goals. Just what I need!