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One Year, 17 Epic (Mis)adventures: 2017 in Review

2017 was a pretty great year of travel and adventure for me! Despite plugging away at school and signing a lease on an apartment, I was still able to visit 9 countries in total (7 of those new). I met some incredible people, had some epic adventures (and some pretty hilarious misadventures) … the truth is folks, travel is not always pretty. For your entertainment, scroll on for my top adventures and misadventures of 2017 or read about 2016.

1. Scuba Diving the Blue Hole in Belize 

I took the plunge (literally) and dove 130ft down the blue hole in Belize! I crossed off a serious bucket list item, saw a 7 ft reef shark and got nitrogen narcosis – good times! For those not familiar, nitrogen narcosis evokes psychological symptoms due to excessive nitrogen in the blood. Once you ascend, the symptoms go away (thankfully!).

2. Diving with Sharks in San Pedro, Belize

I was so lucky during my reef dives in Belize to see so many reef sharks and nurse sharks. I’m not going to lie, the reef sharks made me a bit nervous, but the nurse sharks were so curious and friendly. On one dive in particular, one nurse shark swam along side and underneath me for ages once we got to our max depth of 90 ft…so close that I accidentally kicked his head with my fin. I basically had a heart attack, thinking it might provoke him to attack me…but to my relief, he merely swam away.

3. Snorkelling with the Sea Turtles of Akumal, Mexico

Swimming with the sea turtles in Akumal, Mexico is an amazing experience! Though recent reports of scams along the public beach are becoming more common, a snorkel alongside the gentle giants make the annoyances all entirely worth it. In my experience, a man literally chased me into the water because I wouldn’t rent a life jacket off of him. He followed me the entire time I snorkelled, and body blocked me from passing the roped off area…essentially he was the snorkel police. I wrote an entire post about it, plus how to get to Akumal from Cancun or Tulum and how to see the turtles once you get to the beach.

4. Road tripping through Iceland

I spent a week road tripping along the West coast of Iceland in early 2017…and fell in love! So much so that I wrote an entire post about how you too will fall in love with Iceland. It is the perfect destination to chase waterfalls and natural hot pools, enjoy a quiet stroll on the beach or get your adrenaline pumping! I attempted to “camp” in the back of my rental car one night, as the weather had been quite mild…but there was a freak snow storm through the night. I woke up to the car rocking in crazy snow and winds – it was the coldest night of life!

5. Transylvania and Bran Castle in Romania (AKA Dracula’s Castle)

On my way to a press trip in Romania where I was ‘blown away’ by the capital city Bucharest, I had a layover in Istanbul. It was quite a lengthy layover, which gave me enough time to grab a turkish coffee and relax before strolling over to my gate. Welllll…thanks to my jetlagged brain, I went to the WRONG gate. Apparently there were two flights going to Bucharest at the exact same time…and I went to the wrong one. Yup. By the time I realized and sprinted through the airport, the other flight had left…giving me, ohhh, another 8 hours to kill in the airport until the next flight. Thankfully the trip made up for my travel woes – I was able to slip away to explore Transylvania and the infamous “Dracula’s Castle”! Alas, there were no vampires spotted – just bloggers taking selfies!

6. Feeding Giraffes in Nairobi, Kenya

The Giraffe centre in Nairobi was one of my favourite adventures…how can you go wrong with feeding these adorable creatures?! Though don’t be fooled by the cuteness…these babies can throw down if necessary, supposedly ‘head butting’ tourists who taunt them with food. Needless to say, I was generous with her!

7. The African Heritage House in Nairobi, Kenya

Nicknamed the most photogenic home in Africa, the heritage house in Nairobi overlooks the national park and contains unique and historic artifacts from across the continent. I had the opportunity to stay here for two nights and was the only guest! I felt as if I was in my own private museum!

10. Exploring the Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

On another press trip in the summer of 2017, I was taken on a private tour of the rock hewn churches of Lalibela – a long time bucket list item of mine. The churches are staggering up close; it’s hard to believe they were hand chiselled many centuries ago. There is so much history and culture in the tiny town of Lalibela.

11. Ship Wreck Diving in Tobermory, Canada 

In efforts to explore my own backyard while spending the first summer in Ontario in nearly 7 years, I hit Tobermory for some world renowned wreck diving. It was my first ever cold water dive, which essentially killed my go pro! After these 2 photos, the camera shut off for the rest of the dive.

12. Hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

One of my favourite places in the entire world would have to be…the Canadian Rocky Mountains! I even wrote an entire post on why the mountains stole my heart. Ironically, I have potentially the worst sense of direction in the world which makes hiking an interesting experience. I got lost (on a hike that I had ALREADY done before) and was too stubborn to turn around, thinking I was making my way down the mountain on an alternate path…when really, I was circumventing the mountain towards the back. Eventually I swallowed my pride and turned around…a few hours later.

13. Hiking in the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario 

Another attempt at exploring my ‘own backyard’, I spent a weekend solo camping and hiking the Bruce! Though I am biased when it comes to the Canadian hiking scene because I forever love Alberta’s mountain range, I was pleasantly surprised with this area!

14. Exploring the local pubs and parks in Ireland

I participated in my first TBEX conference in Killarney, Ireland this year which involved seminars on travel writing and lots of pints! While I didn’t “see” as much of Ireland as I had hoped (accidentally sleeping through one of my tours…#jetlag), I got a great sense of the pub scene and developed a taste for Guinness…Plus I did have time to explore the gorgeous Killarney National Park!

15. Road Tripping through the Isle of Skye in Scotland

Our road trip through the Isle of Skye was one of incredibly beautiful sights and terrifying moments…let’s just say I was overcharged 30,000 pounds for my car rental and we ended up in a ditch ….but hey, made a new friend out of it!

2017 in review: the pink backpack blog

2017 in review: the pink backpack blog

16. Hiking ‘the Storr’ in Scotland

This was one of my favourite parts of my trip through Scotland! It rained the entire time but how can you complain with jaw dropping landscapes like this?! Well…unless you’re like us, and trip over your own two feet and belly flop into a giant pit of mud.

2017 in review: the pink backpack blog

2017 in review: the pink backpack blog

17. Whale Watching in Iceland (Yes, I went a second time in 2017!)

I ended up in Iceland a second time in 2017, when I spontaneously switched my 2 hour layover to a 5 day stretch. What can I say, Iceland is one of my favourite countries! This time around, I did the ring road in an impressive 4 days while sleeping out of the back of my rental car and even had time to fit in a whale watching tour! I decided to try the “back seat camping” once again after my first night in a Reykjavik hostel involved a grown man having night terrors at 3:00am, screaming (and then laughing) at the top of his lungs.. it was something from a horror movie.

2017 in review: the pink backpack blog  2017 in review: the pink backpack blog

2017 in review: the pink backpack blog

 

 

What was your favourite adventure from 2017?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

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2017 in review: the pink backpack blog

 

Related:

One Year of Travel: 2016 in Review

 

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