30 before 30…
As I sit here on the evening of my last day of my twenties, I realised that I have been trying too hard. This post started at the end of August (!) 2 months ago, and since then I have been trying to make my life conform to the title of my post.
Since I am on the cusp of embarking on my 30s, I felt that I needed to write a farewell piece to my “youth”. But no matter what I did; “30 trips in the year before my 30s”, “30 countries before 30” or just “30 before 30” I couldn’t make it work…
I only managed 29 trips since August last year and I only managed 18 countries.
I say “only”.
This isn’t a failure, especially considering I didn’t go into the year thinking about my “30 by 30” blog post. Heck, I didn’t even have a blog then! I did consider trying to count up the total amount of countries I’ve had the fortune to grace in my lifetime, but as you will see from my below, that would be quite tough. I’m very lucky in the fact that I have opportunities to travel so much within all the different avenues of my life. So to commemorate the last 30 years I will celebrate by reminiscing and sharing my experiences, a collection of personal, work and cheerleading trips from the last year before I turn 30.
I hope you enjoy the journey and are inspired to take part (plan!) in your own “30 before 30” challenge.
P.S. I’m making an appearance in a lot of these photos as proof that I really was there!
1. Ireland – August 2014
Kicking it all off in Ireland, we went to watch (my first live American Football game), the UCF (University of Central Florida) Vs Penn State game at Croke Park in Dublin. Most of the crowd had travelled from America to support their teams and the atmosphere was electric.
2. Sint Maarten – September 2014
Ok, technically this counts as two countries: Sint Maarten (Dutch) and Saint Martin (French), the beautiful Caribbean island. We explored the island and snorkelled in the crystal clear waters
3. Anguilla – September 2014
We spent a day frolicking on the powdery white sands of Anguilla after a quick ride over on a catamaran from Philipsburg in Sint Maarten. The package included snorkelling and a very tasty lunch. The epitome of relaxation.
4. France – October 2014
This time last year I was celebrating my Birthday with some very close friends on an evening dinner cruise along the Seine in Paris. On a side note, the boats have very strong lights down their sides which illuminate the riverbank landmarks. They also blind any poor pedestrian taking an evening stroll and spotlight young couples seeking a romantic spot on the Île de la Cité.
5. Germany – November 2014
I visited the Munich Hofbräuhaus or “Beer Palace” with some friends for some traditional beer (which was once used to put out a fire at the Munich Opera House!) I don’t usually drink beer but try the Radler, it’s a light beer mixed with lemon soda.
6. Ireland – December 2014
Christmas is the time for catching up with friends and family so we popped over to Galway in Ireland to spend some time with some friends there.
7. Malta – December 2014
This was our first trip to Malta; the off-peak season is still warm and it is very cheap to visit. A group of eight of us rented a villa in Marsascala and had BBQs under the stars, explored the deserted rocks and beaches, wandered the old town of Valletta and cooked our own version of Christmas dinner. A great way to celebrate Christmas.
8. Belgium – December 2014
A quick hop, skip and ferry over to Linsmeau to visit family before New Year. This was our THIRD “Christmas” with loved ones; this is why it’s my absolute favourite time of the year!
9. America – January 2015
My first trip of 2015 took me and some fellow Varsity Europe staff across the pond to Orlando to be a part of the UCA College Nationals, it was amazing to see, meet and work with such amazing athletes. We also had some of the seats in the house. WIN.
10. Germany – February 2015
I’d never considered visiting Wiesbaden, but found myself wandering through the historical centre with friends. We found this cosy little restaurant on Grabenstraße, called Webers Wikinger. A “Traditional” Viking Restaurant – not what I expected to find here, but so glad we did!
11. Italy – February/March 2015
My next trip took me to fair Verona, and what hopeless romantic (or Shakespeare fan) could walk amongst these legendary streets without visiting the Casa di Giulietta? The courtyard beneath the most famous balcony in the world was filled with beautiful handwritten letters which certainly made for an interesting read.
12. Ireland – March 2015
We got to stay in the gorgeous Breaffy House Spa Hotel in Castlebar for a long weekend whilst judging, in our breaks we took the chance to explore the beautiful grounds!
13. America – April 2015
The biggest cheerleading event of my year takes place every April in Orlando, the Cheerleading World Championships. As my schedule is usually so hectic, it’s always nice for us to be able to take some time out.
14. America – May 2015
Apparently I like flying the Atlantic. However this time I got to visit some close friends in San Diego, we scooted around like tourists on segways and had an absolute blast!
15. Mexico – May 2015
From SD we flew to the paradise of Puerto Vallarta, although this was at the time when the cruise ships decided it was safer not to port here. We still had a fantastic time, the hotel was amazing, I tried jet skiing for the first time (I can’t turn left and my turning circle took up most of the bay, but hey I had fun!) we attempted to visit the Hidden Beach in the Marietas Islands (some of us made it and some of us didn’t, but that’s another story) and got to fly board too!
16. Germany – May 2015
Always a crazy weekend when we are at a competition held in Movie Park in Bottrop.
17. Denmark – June 2015
Copenhagen is a beautiful city, we walked through the Palace (yes right up to the front door), peeked inside the Parliament building and caught up with friends whilst dining al fresco on the Nyhavn, the 17th century waterfront canal.
18. Ibiza – June 2015
A quick four day getaway with friends from across the pond. We’d never been to Ibiza before, but it certainly exceeded all expectations. You can read more about it here: Ibiza Intro, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.
19. United Arab Emirates – June 2015
On way way to Australia I stopped off for 24 hours in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It was a bit of a whirl wind but was definitely an experience! I managed to visit the completely carbon neutral city of Masdar, go into the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, was driven to Dubai for a private sea plane tour over the city with Seawings, then ended my day relaxing at Saadiyat Beach Club (they do a mean risotto!)
20. Australia – June 2015
Day 1 in Cairns and I start with a bungy jump with AJ Hackett (as you do). Then took the Skyrail up to the village of Kuranda in the rainforest where I got to hold a koala (bucket list tick), saw crocodiles and turtles whilst on boat ride down the Barron River and returned on the scenic railway. Day 2 I took a tour with Barefoot Tours saw the Cathedral Fig Tree, swam in a volcanic crater and visited the famous Millaa Millaa waterfall. Then Day 3 took me out to the Norman Reef on the Great Barrier Reef with Reef Experience, where I swam with turtles and giant fish!
The adventures continued as I flew up to the Gold Coast to meet some friends. We took a helicopter ride over the city, met some kangaroos, snakes and emus, took a segway safari through the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and generally enjoyed hanging out and catching up with everyone.
21. Rhodes – July 2015
Some of our good friends got married in Kallithea in Rhodes, so we took the opportunity to explore the island whilst we were there. We stayed in Lindos for a couple of days and visited Anthony Quinn Bay and St Peter’s Bay before heading north for the perfect (but scorchingly hot) wedding. It was a beautiful day.
22. Ireland – August 2015
Whilst visiting our friends again in Ireland we stopped off at these magical ruins of the Franciscan Friary in Claregalway.
23. France – August 2015
A road trip was by far the best way for us to visit all the places we wanted to in the Champagne Region of France. After picking up our car from Lille airport, we continued onto Reims, where we spent the day visiting the famous champagne houses of Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger, Vranken Pommery and Villa Demoiselle.
The next day it was onto Epernay via Rilly-la-Montagne (to learn the art of Sabrage) for a private tour of De Castellane then on to sample the delights of the champagne houses on the Avenue de Champagne. In the evening we took a picnic basket (and a lovely chilled bottle of De Castellane champagne) up to a vineyard in Dizy (how apt) to watch the sunset.
24. Luxembourg – August 2015
I love a few things, giant pandas are one, champagne (is definitely on the list now), the beach (of course) and CASTLES! So what better place than Luxembourg, the kingdom of castles, to go on a castle road trip?! We saw over a dozen in a day, and even slept in one! More on our adventure can be read here: #MoatsAndMoet
26. Belgium – August 2015
Our castle tour continued into Belgium for the day, finding five more castles before heading back to Dunkirk to catch our ferry.
27. Canada – September 2015
In Montreal we wandered through the Old Town, had lunch on the river front, shopped on St Catherine Street and went on a river boat dinner cruise down the St Lawrence River. We rented a car and drove up to the Village Du Mont Tremblant, for some exquisite scenery, amazing Poutine and also some maple ice cream (not all at once!). On our final day we headed to the Parc Regional Des Sept Chutes to climb and explore the mountains and waterfalls. We even had a swim in Lac Guy.
28. Ireland – October 2015
During our last trip to Ireland we visited the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary (“It’s a long way to Tipperary” on loop in my head) and were dangled backwards over the top of a castle to kiss the Blarney Stone (for the gift of eloquence, apparently).
29. Czech Republic – October 2015
My final trip in my 30 before 30 list was Prague. The city is so picturesque, even though the weather wasn’t great. Christmas starts early here (for the tourist industry at least) and we rambled our way through the Palace with a mug of hot mulled wine. Perfect.
Although this wasn’t in the last year, here are a couple more places that I wanted to share with you.
After digging out the photos for all these trips, it has made me realise what an epic year I’ve had. Thank you to everyone who has made this all possible and I hope to see you somewhere in the world soon!
Last modified: 2nd January 2016
You have been to some very interesting places
What an amazing year you’ve had! Malta and the UAE look fantastic — they are high on my list. I’m hoping to hit 30 countries before 30, as a lifetime total, 🙂 Here’s to another year of excellent adventures for you!
Wow! that’s amazing! Wonderful pics. Some of them are on my bucket list.
Really WOW! 🙂 Very nice places and pictures. I think you have enjoyed so many experiences during this year that only few people on the planet could compare to you 🙂 Very nice pictures indeed I enjoyed your tours as well 🙂
Wow – this is the BEST way to celebrate the last of the 20s! I love the pics – specially the hair flick one, hehe. Its really cool that you visited sooooooo many kickass destinations in just a year. Awesome post1 I’m sharing this on twitter.
Wow! amazing photos and fantastic adventures! your 30 before 30 is just stunning, not to fail like you said.. keep it up.. make it other kind of journey towards 35 or 40 as well.
Amazing places!! Just fabulous photos!!
Admiring the time and energy you put into your blog and the in depth information you offer. It is excellent to come across a blog every once in a whilst that isn’t the same old rehashed material. Wonderful read! I’ve bookmarked your website and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.