Welp, this year-in-review post looks a bit different from the ones I’ve done the last couple years when I was a nomad.
That’s because 2017 was all about getting grounded and making a new home for myself in Sydney, rather than country hopping. And guys, I have to say that I loved it! Does that make me a bad travel blogger? (I did manage to visit 5 countries and explore loads around Sydney this year, so hopefully not).
2017 was a pretty big year for me in terms of life moves, relationships, and personal development. I’m more content than I’ve ever been before, which I think is reason enough to call it a success.
Here’s a look back at the past 12 months. I don’t know about you, I’m definitely looking forward to 2018!
Jamie and I in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
New Years Trip To Mexico
I kicked off 2017 with a spontaneous trip to Mexico with my sister Jamie. We roamed the cute streets of Isla Mujeres and luxuriated at the 5-star Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen together. Then I headed to Tulum on my own to explore some cenotes and ruins.
- A Spontaneous Trip To Mexico
- Biking Tulum: 3 Rad Excursions Without A Rental Car
- Who Knew Tulum Had Street Art?
- Infinite Bliss at the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen
Exploring cenotes around Tulum.
Moved to Bondi Beach
By late January, I was back in Sydney and ready to officially make it my home after 2 years of being nomadic in Australia. I signed a lease on a newly-renovated 2-bedroom apartment in North Bondi, just a 4 minute walk from Bondi Beach. I can’t believe how happy I am being settled somewhere again!
I never really cared about having my old Brooklyn apartment look nice or investing in quality furniture and decor for it because I always knew my life there would be short-lived. But now that I’m in Australia permanently, I find that I care deeply about my home environment and want to make it my sanctuary. We’ve got a mod/minimalist look going on with our place and I’m digging it. The only thing missing is a balcony!
As far as flatmates go, I initially moved in with a Welsh girl and we got along just fine… until she abruptly decided to leave the country and basically gave zero f*cks about me when it came time to move out and screwed me over a bit. It was a pretty messy break-up – I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone scream at me before!
BUT, the calm after the storm brought a magnificent rainbow in the form of my new Polish flatmate. I always refer to him as a unicorn: he’s so easygoing and tidy and considerate and basically the best flatmate I could ever hope to have. I got so lucky!
Going Back To School
Heh heh heh… file this one under Things I Never Thought I’d Do.
I had to go to school in order to maintain my student visa, which I only applied for because I needed some way to stay in Australia after my tourist visa expired and before my skilled independent visa was granted. I signed up for a certificate in marketing and communications, which is meant to be a year-long course, and then dropped out after 6 months once my new visa came through.
I actually expected it to be much worse than it was, but man – it was like mind-numbingly easy. Most of the material I’d either taught myself or learned at past jobs, so it was nothing short of a snooze fest.
A New Bestie
Earlier this year, I decided to join some meetup groups in an attempt to make likeminded friends. My first and only meetup was at an indoor climbing gym, where I met Climbing Guy (gosh I’m so good at nicknames, right?).
I admonished him to take off his heavy sweater before climbing, he later gave me grief for wimping out once my hands started blistering – basically we were besties at first sight. I can’t even imagine what this year would have been like without him in it!
Diagnosed With Rosacea
In February I had what I feared was a permanent sunburn on my face, despite being pretty diligent about covering it with sunscreen whenever I’m in the sun. So after a couple months, I went to the doctor to see what was up, and straight away she declared it rosacea. It was probably triggered by the sun, but at least it’s not skin damage – just a genetic facial rash that can be managed by meds and trigger avoidance (e.g. sun, hot showers, sauna, coffee, alcohol, stress, spicy food… hah, good luck with that!).
I spent most of the year battling the rash: turns out the facial cream prescribed to me didn’t do anything other than make my face super dry and flaky, and the all-natural organic anti-rosacea moisturiser I ordered online made my face break out even more. It was only after seeing a dermatologist that I got prescribed a better facial cream – and now my face is finally back to looking almost normal! I don’t want to be on meds forever, though, so I’m gonna need to figure out how to naturally control the rash – preferably without cutting my two big loves, sun and coffee, out of my life!
Love my Bondi besties, Anna and Viktoria!
Living in the Bondi Bubble
Confession: I spent WAY too much time stuck in the Bondi bubble, and way less time than usual traveling this year.
But you guys, if you lived in Bondi Beach you’d totally understand. I have Bondi and a slew of other gorgeous beaches, more shops and cafes than I’ll ever need to visit, and all my health and fitness needs effortlessly taken care of in my backyard. It is pretty damn glorious. Plus, I pay a lot of money to live here and really want to take advantage of it… which means less money for plane tickets.
Also, I just love spontaneously meeting up with friends on the beach or at coffee shops to work. Life seems so easy here, as opposed to in NYC where it always felt like such an effort to do anything or get anywhere.
SUP, My New Hobby
My new favorite activity this year was stand-up paddle boarding, something I’d been interested in for a few years and had tried a handful of times before investing in an inflatable board earlier this year. It’s pretty easy (albeit cumbersome) to throw the deflated board and accessories into a backpack and take it on public transport with me to beaches around Sydney.
More often than not, I’ll be paddling at Watsons Bay since it’s the closest SUP-friendly spot to me. You might think Sydney Harbour waters would be pretty flat, but I can assuredly say that NO, this is almost never true. Sydney Harbour tends to be pretty choppy most of the time, between the wake from boats and the inevitable winds that pop up daily. I think this has actually helped me become a better paddle boarder faster, though!
Two Deaths In The Family
My grandma and uncle passed away earlier this year within a month of each other, and it really sucked. You hear plenty about the guilt an expat feels when they live too far away to return for a funeral, but what about the guilt around when they last saw the deceased? Thankfully I’d visited my grandma a couple months prior when I went back to the US for Christmas, but I hadn’t seen my uncle since before I left for Australia. Ugh.
Pilates & Yoga
I’ve been going to the same pilates and yoga studio for something like 8 months now and I love it so much! I never EVER expected to become a yoga person, but hey – I’m rolling with it, as I do with most everything that unexpectedly brings me joy.
Mostly I’m obsessed with the pilates reformer and my amazing instructor who just left to teach at this new gym that opened up in Bondi, so I may actually leave my current studio next year and follow her to the new one. TBD!
Whitehaven Beach, glorious as ever.
Whitsundays Press Trip
The Whitsundays tourism board invited me on a trip with some fellow bloggers and journalists in early June and we had such perfect weather for exploring! It was wonderful to return to one of the first destinations I visited when I arrived in Australia 3 years ago and get to experience even more of it this time around. There were lots of boat trips, beaches, and an infinity pool that I’m still not quite over.
Sunshine Coast Road Trip
In late June, I popped back up to Queensland to meet my friend Teresa in Brisbane for a little Sunshine Coast road trip. We beach hopped up the coast, explored the glorious Noosa National Park, and did some hiking in the Glass House Mountains. I loved frolicking around this lesser-known part of Australia!
My family before the wedding <3
Back In The US For My Cousin’s Wedding
In July, I flew back to the States for my cousin slash childhood best friend’s wedding in Connecticut. I’m so glad I was able to be there for her big day and spend some time with the family, but boy was it a mission getting there from Australia! Flight delays, missed connections, and lost baggage had me arriving just a day before the wedding, which was a wee bit more stressful than was ideal.
The Euro Trip: France & Italy
I hadn’t spent any time in Europe since I moved to Australia in late 2014, so I thought I’d hop across the pond after my cousin’s wedding and rectify one of my biggest travel oversights by finally visiting Paris!
I spent a full week in Paris just wandering around on foot and on bike and, while I enjoyed my time there, I couldn’t quite figure out why so many people lose their shit over this city. Maybe Paris and I just don’t have that chemistry?
By contrast, returning to Italy felt like being enveloped in the warmest of hugs. Even though I can’t speak much Italian anymore and it had been 10 years since my last visit, I felt right at home. Cinque Terre was far and away the highlight of my whole Euro trip: colorful buildings and a stunning coastline will win me over EVERY TIME. It was also so great to reunite with my Dutch and Danish friends while in their part of the world again.
- 10 Of My Favorite Paris Things
- Annecy: A French Fairytale Town (Turned Soggy)
- Venice Is Made For Frolicking
- How I Spent Less Than $500 On A Month In Europe
- Trip Planning: EuroTrip 2017
- Is It Worth Visiting Cinque Terre In Summer?
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo: Best Day Hike in the Dolomites
- In Verona, I Took Off My Bloggles
Weekend Camping Trips With My New Adventure Crew
This year I found my people: the ones who are always down for an adventure or weekend getaway and don’t mind spending several days (or even weeks) straight sleeping in a tent. We’ve managed to cram in loads of hikes and camping trips around Sydney already in the past 6 months of knowing each other, with plenty more to come next year I’m sure.
How did we meet, you ask? One girl posted on the local We Are Explorers Facebook group, saying she lived in the Eastern Suburbs and had this cool new van and would anyone nearby be down for some adventures? A few of us raised our virtual hands and agreed to meet at a pub one evening to suss each other out. It’s been one big adventure party ever since!
I Turned Vain: Laser Hair Removal & Dyeing My Hair
I’m not sure how exactly this happened, and maybe it’s partially the influence of living in Bondi, but… never in my life did I ever think I’d be someone who dyes her hair or gets her other hair removed. But you know what? I am now, and I don’t feel bad about it.
First, laser hair removal is shockingly cheap in Sydney: many clinics do Brazilian + underarms for AU$35-39 (US$27-30) a session. It’s cheaper than waxing (which I’ve never done) and more permanent, so I feel like it’s kind of a no-brainer to do it here. My life is already better because NO MORE ARMPIT CHAFING, and no more paranoia about flashing beach-goers with stubble while I’m in a swimsuit. So yeah – I highly recommend laser hair removal, even though I nearly passed out the first time I got it (it gets less painful with time, as less hair grows back).
And second, an unsavory number of gray hairs popped up on my head after the stressful year I had dealing with visa nonsense. I had never dyed my hair before and was mildly terrified to do anything that might drastically alter my appearance – so I had Anna do it for me the first time and now I’m totally comfortable doing it myself. I’m using semi-permanent dye in a shade very close to my natural color, which is great because it basically just dyes the gray hairs and enhances the rest, without it looking like I dyed my hair. Brilliant!
Flying business class to Sydney. Look, you can see my gray hairs before I started dyeing them!
Becoming a Permanent Resident of Australia
September 4th will forever be an important day on my calendar – the day I became a permanent resident of Australia! I spent a year of my life entrenched in the visa process, and at least 8 additional months stressing over whether I’d be able to remain in this country, so yeah – it’s a pretty big deal to me.
Over the course of 2 years and 9 months I went through the work and holiday visa, tourist visa, and student visa before finally receiving my independent skilled visa grant in September. It’s been quite a journey!
- From Backpacker to Permanent Resident: Celebrating My 3 Year Aussieversary
- I’m Finally An Australian Permanent Resident!
- Australia, I’m Yours
Komodo National Park, Indonesia.
Komodo Press Trip
In October, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism invited me on a photographer and journalist trip to go diving in Komodo, aka a massive bucket list destination of mine. I had THE BEST TIME on my first-ever liveaboard, diving with turtles and checking out some ridiculously scenic spots around the islands.
- The Ultimate Guide To Exploring Komodo National Park
- Hiking Padar Island: The Most Stunning View In Komodo
Diving in Komodo National Park, Indonesia.
Paying Off One Of My Student Loans
I feel SO SO RELIEVED to have paid off the bigger of my two student loans! That’s $558 less per month to go flying out of my bank account each month. Eternal thanks to my mama for donating a bit of inheritance money to make this loan go bye-bye!
Check Out These Past Year Reviews: