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

2017 opened up a whole new world of travel 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

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One Year of Travel: 2018 in Review

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Sarah said:
OMG. YOUR YEAR IS MY DREAM YEAR. Amazing!!!!!! I need to subscribe. :D
January 26, 2018 at 3:16 am
Allison said:
I love all these underwater friends you’ve been making; although I would die if I ever saw a shark. Road tripping through Iceland & Scotland are both equally high on my list and I’m glad it did not disappoint for you. All-in-all you had an amazing year and really enjoyed reading this. So many posts within that give me even more insight into your trips.
January 25, 2018 at 12:25 pm
Meaghan said:
I am so envious of your 2017! And truly impressed!! I'm also a PhD student so I am in awe and complete respect what a fantastic job you do balancing your passion for travel and your studies. Inspirational!!
January 25, 2018 at 11:04 am
Leigh said:
What an exciting year, and two trips to Iceland, lucky you! I especially love the architecture of the African House in Nairobi, very cool - reminds me of something we'd see here in the Southwest US.
January 24, 2018 at 8:50 pm
adela said:
Wow! You have seen so many places last year! I've also been to 8 countries, but not so diverse! I love your pictures and adventures, and I will read more from your blog about Iceland :)
January 24, 2018 at 12:41 pm
Sage said:
What an amazing 2017 you had! I'm debating with myself if I'm more jealous of your trip to Iceland, feeding giraffes, or whale watching! I look forward to what 2018 has in store for you!
January 24, 2018 at 12:18 pm
Kris said:
Wow! You had a heck of a year. I can't even decide which adventure I'm most jealous of. Snorkeling with the sea turtles might be the winner though. They're such incredible creatures.
January 24, 2018 at 11:48 am
Annemarie said:
I'd be too scared to dive in the blue hole. Hats off to you!
January 24, 2018 at 11:33 am
jin said:
Awesome list of 2017 top travel memories that you have here! I especially enjoyed reading through your Africa adventures, since I've been trying to get to other parts of Africa other than Morocco and Egypt!
January 24, 2018 at 11:32 am
umiko said:
What a great time of travel you had in 2017! I want to visit some of the places you've visited, like Transylvania and hiking the Canadian Rockies. So far I only got to see the sign of University of Transylvania in Kentucky, the U.S. :-) Hope to make it there one day.
January 24, 2018 at 11:25 am