Here we are at the end of another year.
Part of me feels like January was about two seconds ago and the other part of me has completely forgotten what happened at the beginning of 2018.
I think I’d be useless at Big Fat Quiz of the Year, because I can never remember half the stuff that happened! I’m pretty sure my memory must be solely reserved for directions, dessert recipes, 90’s song lyrics, places I need to eat at, and the names of the original Pokemon. Ah well.
I’ve decided to write another year in review, because I actually really loved reading back over my one from last year. It reminded me of the first time I had visited places that I now go to regularly, what things I had achieved this time last year, and generally just gave me a glimpse of my whole year in one place. I also really liked having a place to put things that I hadn’t really shared here on the blog. Things that I really enjoyed but didn’t have enough to write a whole post about. This is actually what inspired me to do my ‘New Discoveries‘ post when I came back from England.
For me, this post is like the summary of a diary, where you cherry pick the best bits and highlights from the year and pop them all down. I really encourage you try it yourself as it reminds you what a good year you’ve actually had, regardless of the negative parts or worst days. It cuts those out and just shows you your highlight reel.
So, here it is. A year in my life, 2018.
Before looking back over this year’s photos and my diary, I was sure I hadn’t done as much travel this year as I had last year, but as it turns out I’ve basically equalled myself! The highlight of it all though, was having the opportunity to spend a whole 3 months at home in one go. It took a lot of saving but I finally managed to do it and I loved every second of it. Knowing I would get to do this made the first few months of the year so much easier for me in Peru. However, having this time back in England meant that my travels abroad after June were non-existent, except for my trip back to Peru. But that didn’t stop me from exploring my own country.
I managed to visit 15 different destinations this year (not including Lima, Cambridge or London), including 1 new country, 5 new cities and 2 new towns. I was pretty thrilled with this, even if the majority of them happened within my ‘home’ countries! So, let’s start from the very beginning….
In February we already had a trip booked out to Florida for my boyfriend’s work. This turned out to be a short, but very sweet, trip to the coastal city of St Pete Beach followed by a stop in Orlando for shopping and Harry Potter. Then it was back home to Lima for work.
In May came our big trip back to the UK. I was thrilled to be back for such a good length of time and be able to attend so many important events of both friends and family. I made the most of exploring my home city of Cambridge, plus I took trips to London and Brighton, and road tripped to the South West (Cornwall – north and south – and Cheddar) and the Suffolk coast. In June I headed to Switzerland for the first time ever to visit my friend and took in the sights of both Basel and Lucerne (I also made a very foggy trip up Mt Pilatus where visibility was almost zero!). Then we took a trip back to The Netherlands, but this time we not only visited Amsterdam, we made a trip to Eindhoven too. It was brief and work related, but still fun nonetheless, and we managed to go behind the scenes at the Olympic pool and sports centre there which was absolutely fascinating.
Back in Peru, we visited the misty and completely stunning Lomas de Lachay for a day of walking and family time. And then to close out the year, we made a trip to Arequipa for wedding fun and to unintentionally eat our bodyweight (maybe not) in fried cheese (it’s a revelation you guys). During 2018 we also made a few trips out to ARO in Chosica (an oasis just outside of Lima) for some rest, relaxation, Sapo, and food.
Overall travel life was good to me this year and I loved playing tourist in my own city. I have never visited so many museums in my entire years of living there (and they’re all free!). I highly recommend doing the same wherever you live! I’m super grateful for all my travel opportunities (thank you cheap Europe flights and friends in foreign parts) and I just hope 2019 brings more like this….
I feel like this needs to come with ‘and drink’ at the end this time, because I feel like this year started and ended with new found beer.
In February we tried out two great brewery bars in the St Pete Beach area called Sea Dog and Mastry’s and then in November we discovered Morrigan here in Lima making British style beers. In fact just last week I had an insanely festive, but delicious, Belgian style Christmas beer at Nuevo Mundo bar flavoured with panettone. In between all of that we drank butterbeer (not actually beer, but aptly named) at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in February, attended the Cambridge Beer Festival (always a fantastic experience) in May, found a new (to us) brewery in Amsterdam in June, gave my boyfriend a beer tour of Cambridge in July, and then, as always, spent various Saturdays in Wicks Brewpub in Lima throughout the year. Good beer is a good thing.
There were some fabulous new food finds this year, so much so in Cambridge that I had to write a whole post dedicated to them (you can find it here). Excellent street food, Indian cuisine, cafes, and even a fish and chip shop got a mention. I do think though, that Trinity and Linton Kitchen had to be my Cambridge finds of the year. Jack’s Gelato and Shelford Deli‘s doughnuts remained top favourites of mine and you better believe I visited multiple times.
Dole Whip became an obsession when I visited Disney’s Polynesian Resort and honestly I’m still thinking about it all these months later. Amsterdam was also full of food, yet again, and you can read my recommendations here and here. Pancakes Amsterdam and the gorgeous chocolate shop ‘t Goede Soet stayed at the forefront of my mind, but we did find our way back to Metropolitan for waffles and chocolate, Reypenaer for cheese and Vleminkx for satay fries.
I didn’t eat as much in London this time, but what I did have was marvellous. I ate gnocchi from Padella (I rave about it quite a lot), plant based cuisine in Farmacy, fabulous giant pizza in Homeslice and of course my favourite cupcakes from Crumbs & Doilies. Trips to the coast proved fruitful with scrumptious sausage and chips at Aldeburgh (the perfect seaside fare), Pump St Bakery brownies at Orford (a little further inland) and then cream teas, Cornish pasties, cider and fudge down in Cornwall.
Obviously Peru never disappoints on the food front. I discovered the best ceviche at Barra Chalaca, ate unrivalled chips (numerous times) at Don Tito, and the fabulous Mo Bistro reopened where everything was delicious. We also started our weekly Sunday trips to the Bioferia at Mercado Surquillo, where I discovered they had started selling kale (the only place I’ve seen it) and the incredible Amazona chocolate (you can buy it by the half kilo – oh the dream). Oh and possibly the sweetest carrots I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. I love it there. Of course Hanzo and Ana Avellana remain at the top of our go-to list and I don’t think that’s ever going to change!
1. Last year I said I wanted to continue improving my photography and so this year I tried to master the manual settings on my camera. I researched all about ISO and aperture and then tried the different settings out over and over. I think it’s definitely helped with parts of my photography that I was struggling with before.
2. I’ve been baking and cooking much more than I was before. I think having lived in Lima for a while now has allowed me to get to grips with what is easily possible for me to make here and what is not (pavlovas and humidity do not mix). Also, gaining access to better quality, but cheaper, ingredients has allowed me space to experiment a little more and the budget to bake more often. It’s definitely made me happier, knowing that if I want to make something from home, it’s now a little easier to do so.
3. Reading was something that I just wasn’t making time for. It’s hard, and expensive, to get English books here in Lima, so I have a Kindle to download them instead, but even so I just wasn’t doing it. However, this year I seem to have read so much more and I’m so happy about it. While I think my addiction to Kindle Daily Deals is probably not the best idea for my bank balance, it is only £1 a book after all and I’ve found some crackers on the list, like Celeste Ng’s ‘Everything I Never Told You’ (I’m almost finished) and Agatha Christie’s Poirot stories (I read these way too quickly).
4. I always think that visiting a new place, city or country is an achievement for me, so having done that is a job well done.
5. I’ve been stepping up my game when it comes to being eco-friendly, which is something I’ve been trying bit by bit to do for years now, and I’m also trying to encourage others to do it too. Lima, as a city, is not quite as on the ball when it comes to the environment as some other cities of the world are, but I do see improvement all the time.
Everyone’s back at it with their ‘top nine’ of the year again, but I don’t seem to ever agree with mine. Here are my top Instagram picks for the year, based solely on my own opinion!
1. Weddings. Being able to attend both the wedding of my uncle and the one of my close friend was honestly something that I’m so grateful for. I have missed so many celebrations over the last five years and so to actually be here for those was amazing.
2. The Proms. Getting to see the actual live Proms, namely Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, in the Royal Albert Hall was incredible.
3. Lake Lucerne. Coming out of the train station on a sunny afternoon and being greeted with the sight of Lake Lucerne surrounded by mountains was honestly insane. The water was glistening blue with swans sailing across it. Super dreamy.
4. First Steps. So, not only did I manage to be home for my baby cousin’s first birthday, but I was also there to see his first steps! I couldn’t believe my luck and I was so happy to have been there to see that.
5. Solo Day Trips. Pure heaven is answering to no one for a full day and indulging yourself instead.
6. Harry Potter. I had managed to get tickets for The Cursed Child stage show back in 2017 and so I knew I would be going home at least for this! It was incredible. I laughed, I cried and I sat at the edge of my seat. If you get the chance, definitely go and see it. I also went to the Wizarding World at Universal Studios and completely immersed myself in Diagon Alley and rode the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
7. Protests. Attending the anti-Trump/anti-Brexit parade was something I’ll never forget. An insane amount of people marching for what’s right.
8. Amsterdam. It just had to be a highlight, as my boyfriend and I both love this city and could definitely envisage ourselves living there. Next time I definitely want to visit at a different time of year. Winter maybe?
9. 3 Months of Home. I have to say though, just sitting with my cat and my family watching something like Pointless was me living my best life. Yes, travel is amazing, but sometimes being home is just as good.
There we have it, another year over and a new one on the way! I hope that 2019 brings you all the happiness, health and opportunities you deserve. I, for one, am hoping for more time with family and friends, more sushi, and the chance to explore a few new destinations. I also hope that everything we have been protesting and petitioning for succeeds, whether that be a second referendum on Brexit, a ban on plastic packaging, or equal rights.
What about you? What are you hoping for in 2019?