From Bali to Chile – 10 countries I travelled to in 2014

No one is going to win any prizes for originality by writing an end of year wrap-up post at err…the end of the year. But there is something rather appealing about taking a moment to pause and absorb what we’ve managed to see and do in the last twelve months.

During and after travelling, it is easy to become so preoccupied in tweets, publishing schedules and updated Instagram feeds, I sometimes wonder whether I invest enough time just reflecting.

we have wifi so you dont need to talk to each other funny sign

Ironically, even though it involves writing a new blog post, the end of year post gives me a space in which to do just that. When I summarised my travels from 2013, I remembered snorkelling in the Maldives, eating gingerbread at the Viennese Christmas markets and watching baby orangutans in Borneo so I honestly wasn’t expecting this year to even come close in the excitement stakes.

And then somehow, it did.

With a few well-researched trips and a couple of uncharacteristically impulsive ones, I feel grateful to have explored seven new countries this year and re-familiarised myself with three others. I have plenty of posts waiting to be published so you’ll have to forgive me for not yet writing about them but all in good time I promise!

10 countries for 2014

 

Argentina

Visiting South America for the first time was a dream come true and I’d love to return one day, as we only touched the tip of the iceberg (mind the terrible pun but this Patagonian glacier was possibly the most breathtaking sight I’ve ever seen.)Perito Moreno Glacier Patagonia Argentina

Till then, I’ll savour the  sweet dulce de leche on my lips, the colourful buildings of La Boca, Buenos Aires and the awe-inspiring Iguazu falls.

Brazil

Ok, so we didn’t make it to the World Cup but we did still manage to sample live football at Maracana and the electric atmosphere in Rio de Janeiro shortly before the tournament was fully palpable through the humidity. As we munched on crispy churros along the Copacabana with the mountainous views in the distance, it was difficult to resist the urge to samba our way to the top of the Selaron steps in this vibrant and buzzing city.Selaron Steps Rio de Janeiro

Chile

This was a fly-by visit if ever there was one but being so close to Chilean Patagonia from Argentina, we felt compelled to cast our eyes on the splendid scenery of the Torres del Paine National Park.

Torres del Paine Patagonia Chile

Slovenia

I have always stood firm that Italy is my favourite European destination. Certainly, my love for it has not waned but after visiting this diamond of a country, I think there may be a joint-winner. With some of the friendliest people I’ve come across, fairytale views of Lake Bled and a complete hidden gem of a foodie destination, this little country was full of surprises.

bled island distant

France

There’s something so special about visiting a place through the eyes of a local and when I went on a Mum-daughter trip to see our dear friend, I got a glimpse into the charming Limousin region of central France. A sleepy weekend in these idyllic rural villages was just what I needed to recharge the batteries before the next trip.

Limousin beautiful views

Cuba

Having picked up some basic Spanish in Argentina, we travelled back in time to the land of political intrigue, vintage cars, glorious architecture, colourful street entertainment and swathes of sandy beaches with a visit to Cuba – an intense melting pot of culture and beauty.

Capitol Building vintage cars Havana

Belgium

In November, I headed to Brussels for a lovely city break weekend as part of the #ParkInnExpress challenge. I was really pleased with how much of the city we managed to cover with just a one night stay (as well as eating our body weights in chocolate and waffles!).Grand Place Brussles

Indonesia (Bali)

Known as the Island of the Gods, the warmth of the Balinese people and the fusion of culture, spirituality and nature just caputred our hearts on our most recent trip this year and this is a place we already dream of returning to. I felt an intangible connection to Bali.Pura Ulan Danu temple by the lake Bali

Singapore

With the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence coming up in 2015, this is a hot destination on the list of must-see destinations next year. If ever there was a place that I have visited that made England seem backward, SURELY, Singapore is it? In this heaving metropolis of malls, mobile phones and Miu Miu handbags, I found pleasure in the breathtaking skyline views, wholesome chicken rice and festive Christmas lights.Singapore skyline night view from Marina Bay Sands

Thailand (Koh Lanta & Ko Haa)

We kept aside a few days in South East Asia to visit a close friend on the sleepy island of Koh Lanta (and her mini sprog, who has nailed the part of island baby) but we were lucky enough to spend a day at sea, snorkelling around the Ko Haa islands, those few days on a Thai island gave me such a different insight into Thailand than the one I had gleaned in Bangkok so many years ago.Ko Haa islands near Koh Lanta

So far 2015 is something of a blank canvas with the exception of an upcoming weekend in Lille. Do you recommend any destinations for 2015? What have been your travel highlights of the year?

52 thoughts on “From Bali to Chile – 10 countries I travelled to in 2014

  1. Ohh wow what an incredible year you’ve had!!! South America must have been amazing.. What an experience 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 30, 2014 — 11:56 pm

      South America was a dream come true – I’ve only really scraped the surface so I would love to return one day and see more of the countries I visited as well as some other parts of S America like Bolivia, Peru (actually most parts!) but was definitely delighted with my time there this year! Thanks so much for reading Jess 🙂

  2. You’ve had some fantastic experiences this year, here’s to a great 2015!
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 30, 2014 — 11:58 pm

      Thank you so much Angie 🙂 Really appreciate the lovely comment. Happy New Year to you and hope your 2015 will be filled with lots more great travel memories!

  3. What an AMAZING year!! I am always SO amazed at how you two manage to travel so much while holding down full time jobs! You’re really the ultimate proof that you can work AND travel too!

    I can’t wait to hear more about Bali and Singapore! We’ll be in Singapore in February (so excited because it’ll be Chinese new year and their 50th anniversary so I hope it’ll be extra special!), and we’re talking about going to Bali later in the summer too! I’m so glad to hear that you loved Bali!

    Happy New Year! And cheers to an ever better 2015! xxx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:01 am

      Thanks so much for your kind comment Anna and for always being so supportive! I think it definitely helps that we have a bit more annual leave here in England than many other countries get, which does make it easier to travel. Bali gets so many mixed reviews but personally, I absolutely loved it – the warmth of the local people was so moving and such a varied island. I think the atmosphere next year in Singapore will be fantastic because of the anniversary – I’ll look forward to hearing your take on it – if I can get my blogging ass into gear, I’ll hopefully get some more of the South East Asia posts out soon 🙂 Happy New Year x

  4. Oh my gosh, you have packed so much into 2014 – you must tell me your secret!! I love reading round-up posts from different bloggers, as it gives me some lovely inspiration for the year ahead. Your South America posts have made me determined to visit at some point soon ❤ Can't wait to follow all your adventures in 2015 x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:03 am

      Thanks so much Emily! I loved your round up of the year too and you did it with even less annual leave so maybe it’s you who needs to share their secret!! 😀 I love reading the end of year summaries for the same reason – as it stands, I don’t have too much planned yet for next year so it’s great to see other travel blogger posts to get some sneaky ideas to get planning for the new year! Happy New Year 🙂 x

  5. So much travel, incredibly jealous!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:09 am

      Haha, I always like reading about other bloggers’ travels especially the end of year summaries but I know what you mean about it being a fine line between that feeling of inspiration and jealousy! Really appreciate you reading and commenting though Kat 🙂 Happy New Year!

  6. Sounds like you’ve had some amazing trips this year, and you’re so right when you say it’s important to take some time to reflect! Very jealous of the South American countries on your list – that’s a part of the world I would love to visit!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:10 am

      Thank you so much Catherine. It was the first time I’d made it to that continent myself and it was a dream come true and now I know why so many travellers are eager to go there. I hope you do get a chance to go soon and to read about what you make of it too. Looking forward to keeping up with your travels in 2015 🙂

  7. Wow! That’s a lot of countries you managed to cover in a year! I’ve been thinking recently about Cuba. It looks so beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:13 am

      Thanks Sophie! I try and squeeze out the most from my annual leave as far as possible 😀 Cuba is wonderful – a great mix of culture, history and beach life. Havana has its fair share of chaos but if you can see past that, I think you’ll find it quite intriguing. Hope you get a chance to go there soon and I’m looking forward to reading about your travels and adventures in 2015! Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  8. so I think a trip to Australia must be in your 2015 plans! What a great year you’ve had!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:15 am

      Thank you Andrew – you are certainly right about that! It’s one pretty major area of the world I’ve never been to and honestly, it’s so far away I’m not sure when I’ll get there!! I’d probably need to save up a whole year’s worth of annual leave to get my money’s worth out of a trip down under so for now, I’ll live it out vicariously through your Aussie posts 😀

  9. What an amazing year you’ve had! I’ve been to a quite few of these places and loved them too! Especially Cuba was the highlight of 2014 for me!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:17 am

      Thanks youu Becky! Yes, I’ve been keeping up with your travels through your blog this year so I knew you had visited lots of these places too – Cuba really is a fascinating and lively place isn’t it?! I’m excited to see what’s in store for you guys next year. Happy New Year and thanks again for reading 🙂

  10. I always love reading end of year roundups and yours has been a great year! South America sounds fantastic, it’s one part of the world I would love to get to one day. Slovenia’s on my list for next year for sure though and can’t wait!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:19 am

      Me too – I think the travel bloggers’ end of year round ups are actually a great source of inspiration for the next year. It’s funny you mentioned Slovenia because I had actually known almost nothing about it as a place until I started blogging and read so many great posts so I really have the blogging world to thank for inspiring me to visit Slovenia 🙂 I’m sure you will love it – it’s so charming and pretty! Happy New Year Lucy!

  11. Wow, Chile has been always on my bucket list. I wish I could visit it this year. WOW!!! You’ve seen so many different places <3.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:21 am

      Thank you! I tried to travel as much as I could this year! We were only in Chile for a full one day trip crossing over the border from Argentinian Patagonia so I myself would love to return to Chile and see some of the other parts of the country including Atacama desert etc! Hope you had a lovely Christmas Agness 🙂

  12. I didn’t realise you’d been to so many places this year! And some incredible places at that! Hope 2015 is just as exciting for you 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:23 am

      Thanks so much Ayla. It sounds silly but I’m not sure I had fully realised either until I sat down to write this post – I think we get so busy blogging and ,tweeting and travelling that we lose track of it all, which is sort of what I was talking about in this post – I surprised myself a little when I wrote it. The year has certainly flown by but it’s been fun sharing my stories with you 🙂 Here’s to a wonderful 2015! x

  13. malaysianmeanders December 29, 2014 — 4:29 am

    You have had a wonderful 2014 and visited such a variety of places. I’d love to go to South America some day, and I especially like your photo of Cuba with all those colorful old cars.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:27 am

      Thank you! It’s been really interesting reading these comments to see which of these places seem to draw most curiosity and without a doubt, it seems to be South America, which I can totally relate to because I myself was so eager to see it till earlier this year. I’d love to return and see some other regions of South America one day. Cuba was a fascinating place – just so different from anywhere else that I had ever been and I loved the sight of the colourful vintage cars everywhere. Have a wonderful 2015 and I look forward to keeping up with your adventures 🙂

  14. Great list! I hope to get to a couple of these myself – especially Argentina!! Currently in Bali, Indonesia 🙂 Thank you for sharing, and here’s to many more journeys in the new year 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:28 am

      Thank you Tim! Argentina was the first place that sprang to mind when I knew we were heading to Argentina – it’s always appealed to me and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint 🙂 I didn’t realise you were in Bali right now – how are you finding it? I loved it out there! Looking forward to reading your Bali posts and wishing you a happy new year!

  15. What a beautiful mix of holidays in 2014. A pretty epic travel adventure. xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:29 am

      Thank you Zoe! I guess it was quite mixed – Pumpkin and I have quite varied tastes so it works well for us to throw in a mix of different trips! I’ve loved reading about your travels in 2014 and wishing you lots of great new memories in the new year 🙂 x

  16. Wow, you packed so much in to this year. I hope next year brings more exciting travels for you. Looking forward to reading about it 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:30 am

      You too Jodie! I was reading your wrap up post and was amazed at how much you’ve covered this year! Hope you had a lovely Christmas and I’m eagerly awaiting more NYC posts if you have some in store 🙂

  17. 2014 was an amazing year for you! Can’t wait to follow your adventures in 2015! I love that you have mixed up research and impulse trips. I am such an over-planner but sometimes it is fun to just see where life takes you!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:32 am

      Thank you so much Carolann – really appreciate you stopping by and commenting. I can completely relate to the over-planner thing. Truth be told, I am the same at heart as well so when I say “impulsive”, I mean it was booked with only a few weeks notice (such as Cuba) but then once it was booked, I got into serious planner mode again! But, at least that’s one step further towards being a little more free-spirited with my travel planning right?! Happy New Year and keep those posts coming in 2015 🙂

      1. hahaha! That sounds like very spontaneous to me! 🙂
        Happy New Year — maybe we can both be a little more free-spirited with our planning this year!

  18. What an incredible year, Shikha! You’ve travelled to so many long-haul destinations – I’m very jealous. Wishing you a travel-filled 2015, my lovely friend xxx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2014 — 12:35 am

      Thank you so much Kasha! Really appreciate all your support and it’s been wonderful getting to know you! I’m always amazed reading these travel blogger wrap up posts about just how much we manage to squeeze in around work etc and I just read your end of year review earlier today wondering how on earth you did it all! Happy New Year 🙂 x

  19. This is awesome! Plus I too have always wanted to visit Argentina. Soon, I guess…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 3, 2015 — 8:48 am

      Thank you Paramvir! I hope you get a chance to visit Argentina soon! It’s such a varied and diverse country with so much to see and do. Wishing you many happy travels in 2015 🙂

  20. Wow, wow, wow! Those are some incredible locations for one year! I must go back and read your South America posts! Here’s to another travel filled year!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 3, 2015 — 8:50 am

      Thanks so much Sara – it was a fun year 🙂 South America was definitely a highlight especially as I’d never been before. Hope you have a wonderful year of travel in 2015 – looking forward to seeing your updates!

  21. Am impressed by how much you managed to visit! Would love to see Slovenia

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 3, 2015 — 8:53 am

      Thank you Suze! Just tried to squeeze the most out of my annual leave! Slovenia is so pretty and although it’s gradually becoming more popular, it still retains that hidden gem status at the moment so probably worth visiting in the next couple of years before that changes. Have a wonderful 2015. Will keep my eyes peeled for your updates 🙂

  22. Wow, what an epic year of travels alongside a full time job! Well done, lovely! My year was equally as full of adventures, so it just shows it can be done. Happy New Year. Can’t wait to see what 2015 brings! 🙂 x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 3, 2015 — 8:55 am

      You’re absolutely right Char! The world can still be our oyster even with our day to day lives and commitments! You certainly have had an epic year and I’ve enjoyed following along 🙂 Happy New Year! X

  23. What an amazing year of travels you guys had! You certainly covered a lot and to some countries on my bucket list especially in South America. Beautiful photos! I’ve loved virtually following along and I’m looking forward to seeing where 2015 takes you. Happy New Year!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 3, 2015 — 8:57 am

      Thank you so much Mary – really appreciate you joining along over the year 🙂 South America was a dream come true and there’s so much more I still want to see there! It’s been inspiring reading about your travel journey too. Wishing you many great memories in 2015!

  24. That’s one big year of travel! I hope 2015 brings you as much adventure and lots of memories in the making 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 9, 2015 — 10:27 am

      Thank you Suzanne – really appreciate that 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading about all your adventures this year! Happy travels in 2015 to you too!

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