Another year gone, but a fresh new one to look forward to!
I feel like 2019 was a rollercoaster of a year, especially with everything that happened in UK politics, but besides all that I think it was pretty spectacular too.
It has flown by as per usual, but I definitely crammed it full this year! I actually wasn’t going to write this kind of post again, but seeing as I have been terrible at writing posts in general this year, I thought it might be a good way of getting myself caught up on everything that has happened! As I said last year, this is kind of like a diary for me, so having this post allows me to see my whole year in one go and remind myself when I discovered new places. I’ve not only been completely useless at posting on here this year, but also on sharing anything on my social media. However, honestly maybe I needed that refresh and this year I can start again with a brand new lease of life! I have a ton of content to come this year from all of 2019’s adventures, so let’s take a look back and see what happened…
This year was an amazing year of travel you guys. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to fit everything in, but I budgeted my little heart out and I did it. I made a couple of absolute bucket list trips this year and I couldn’t be happier about it.
My year started and ended in Lima, but I’ve spent a whole 8 months of 2019 based at home and it was the best thing that ever happened! You honestly can’t know how good home feels until you’ve lived away from it for so long. However, I’m obviously never too happy being settled in one place, and the boyfriend and I have done a fair bit of travelling this year.
Let’s flip it back to our first trip of the year in March. We started small with a kind of nearby staycation in our old home of Punta Hermosa, but it was such a beautiful time of year to visit that we couldn’t possibly miss out. In April I flew home, but made a stopover in the gorgeous Canadian city of Toronto. While I’ve visited Toronto before, I’ve not had much of a chance to travel outside the city limits, so it was awesome to explore the maple farms, snowy cottage country and the Blue Mountains.
Spring and summer were spent exploring the English countryside on walks, fruit picking, wine tasting, and on day trips to places like Lavenham and Houghton Mill. However, in May, I headed to South-West France for my close friend’s wedding and spent the weekend drinking wine in the beautiful French countryside! The following weekend was spent with all the family doing our fair share of the activities at the forested retreat of Centre Parcs. Historical sites were up on our travel hit list with trips to Warwick Castle, the Roman Baths (in Bath…!) and I lived my best Harry Potter life at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. In June we spent an amazing time hiking and eating in the Peak District where we based ourselves in the stunning village of Castleton.
Moving into the last third of the year, in September I visited two brand new countries and a bucket list spot. Hungary was first up – we absolutely fell in love with the city of Budapest – followed by a train ride over to neighbouring Slovenia. We explored Ljubljana for a few days and headed out on a day trip to Lake Bled – a place I’ve wanted to visit for at least 2 years and was at the top of my ‘must-see’ list. But the best was yet to come, and in November I finally visited Japan. I spent just over 10 days in the glorious city of Tokyo and its surrounding area, somewhere I’ve been dying to visit since back at the beginning of the decade.
At the end of December I headed back to Lima to see in the new year, and the new decade, and here we are! Spending time exploring the UK is always a highlight, and I love visiting new places in Europe, but I don’t think anything can beat visiting Japan for the first time. What a year it has been!
Where to start? I guess the best place to start is at the beginning; in Lima. I ate a bunch of great classic Peruvian dishes at Aci Gusto (our new favourite lunch menu spot), awesome ceviche at Silvia in Punta Hermosa, Asian fusion at KO, and juices and salchipapas at El Enano. Out of our old faves, Ana Avellana was our most visited spot, alongside Wicks (R.I.P. – it closed this year), Gianfranco and obviously Hanzo and Tanta too.
Travel destinations always come with new culinary discoveries and the strudel in Budapest was an absolute highlight, but not the only one! Maple products, dumplings and desserts in Ontario; salami and cream cake (not together) in Hungary; buckwheat pizza, game charcuterie, dumplings and gelato in Slovenia; and okonomiyaki, sushi and all different kinds of mochi in Japan.
England has no shortage of fantastic food spots, but my favourite new discoveries have included: locally made pork pies in Castleton; Chinese dumplings from Zhonghua, sourdough pizza from Stolen, and cake from The Locker & Tom’s Cakes in Cambridge; Eric’s fish & chips in Norfolk; Victoria Park Market, gelato from Gelupo, raclette from Raclette Bros and cheap Pizza Union pizzas in London; and lastly breakfast at Boston Tea Party, buns from the Thoughtful Bakery and pintxo from Pintxo de Bath (in Bath). Plus, all the cheese that the UK has to offer. That’s no joke. Plus, of course I ate a lot of gelato from my Cambridge fave Jack’s Gelato and doughnuts from my London fave Bread Ahead.
It’s not only food that rules my year however, drinkies play a big part too and wherever we go, we always try something locally made. From the huge May beer festival in Cambridge to the amazing Budapest Wine Festival, we have tried some fantastic brews and bottles. Ruin bars in Budapest made for a fantastic atmosphere and Bath had a huge variety of tap rooms, a popular gin bar and a great pintxo bar with many different kinds of sherry. London gave us all the cocktails with a Phileas Fogg themed bar and a wizarding make-your-own-cocktail experience, plus we had a fantastic sampling of northern beers in the Peak District (and just generally many great beers in many English pubs). Sake, shochu, plum wine and Suntory chuhai were my alcoholic choices in Japan (craft beers were expensive y’all) but I tried so many Ontario made beers while in Toronto.
Phew! I’m surprised I’m not the size of a house by now, but without all the hiking and running this year I probably would be!
1. I completed the ‘Couch to 5K’ challenge! I really wanted an exercise goal this year because I’m really rubbish at doing anything unless I have some kind of achievement at the end of it. My job involves sitting behind a computer so it’s super important that I stay active, and biking for 20 minutes into the city centre doesn’t really cut it. Over the summer I took up the 5k challenge, and during the process there were definitely times I thought I might die (exaggerate much?), however I persevered and after completing the 9 week training stages I’ve kept it up and now run two official timed 5k runs! I’m so proud of myself you guys!
2. I walked and hiked a lot this year and I noticed the difference every time I headed up yet another hill. Building up my walking strength and stamina through the year, I found that each hike I did felt easier to manage. Plus, I think the running has totally helped too. Here’s to more in 2020! But none in the torrential rain please (I had water inside my walking boots in the Peak District – not fun).
3. For all the months I was outside of Peru (April to November) this year, I set myself the goal of visiting at least one new place every month. Whether that be an hours drive away or the other side of the world. And I did just that! Challenge demolished!
4. This may not be an ‘achievement’ as such, but I made a heavy dent in trying to read all of Agatha Christie’s books and short stories. She wrote so many and honestly I just love reading her mysteries. They’re not the most academically challenging, but I’ve noticed that I’m always learning something new about English culture at the time she was writing and also picking up bits of language that aren’t used anymore. I can easily read one in less than 24 hours and at one point I was reading a lot of her books per week (my mum has a great collection of old copies). They’re just the perfect break from all your devices and you’ll find you haven’t even glanced at your phone or computer in hours once you start! I love an unputdownable book.
5. I started my own business! I moved my English teaching online so I could spend more time in the UK and so far it has worked out really well. I’m so excited to expand it more this year.
6. I baked a pavlova! I’ve been wanting to do my own meringues for a while now and so I thought a pav would be an interesting start and it was really delicious if I do say so myself. At Christmas, I also made a stollen for the first time, so it has definitely been a year of completing baking challenges!
I completely abandoned Instagram this year and for no good reason. I have a lot of photos to put up on the ‘gram, but by the time I actually get round to posting anything it always feels like the moment has passed and so I inevitably don’t. Partly I feel like life is too short to be writing captions and picking the perfect photo and I have better things to do with my time, but then I actually enjoy editing my photos so I don’t really know what my deal is. Probably it’s because I take almost all of my photos on my camera and not my phone and then I never remember to transfer them over quickly enough. Long story short, I’m terrible and will be better this year, even though a lot of my content will most likely be seasonally wrong! Here’s my top twelve…
So there we have it! I hope 2020 begins a decade of things that fill us with joy…. and cakes. I will continue to travel for food and new experiences this year, with lots of exciting plans already in the pipeline. For now, I’m going to chill in Lima for the summer and look forward to the rest of the year in Europe.
How about you guys? Anything you’re looking forward to this year (or even decade)?