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A look back on the highs and lows of the crazy year that was 2017. Lessons learned and goals ahead!
We have a tradition in our family, which I rather obnoxiously insist on, where at the end of every holiday, we check in for each other’s highlights and lowlights. What was the best and worst/hardest/funniest part of the trip. It’s not rocket science, but it really does give you a good look back over the experience and normally results in the best stories.
So for this personal reflection on 2017, I thought I’d get you guys involved in the game – sharing my highs and lows of 2017 in travel, brunch, blogging, expat living and career, rounded out with a look at some goals for 2018.
(If you’d rather know the Best of Vienna for 2017 check that article link!)
We blinked and 2017 was gone, I swear. In some ways this year has been tougher than most, but the lows have been offset by incredible, unforgettable highs.
To balance out the highs and lows below, I’m also mentioning things I’m grateful for in each category, because above all, one thing remains true – this lucky life I lead is something to be grateful for every damn day.
Let’s get into the good stuff!
Without really meaning to, I managed to flit to 9 different countries in a 12 month period, sometimes seeing 2 or 3 within a month! That’s insane for any person, but considering we were going to ‘lay low’ for travel this year, I still managed to squeeze a lot in.
Between work trips, road trips, weekenders and a big dream trip through Kyrgyzstan, travel was off the charts amazing this year.
Highs: Our European road trip from Austria to France via the Cinque Terra and Provence was the kind of trip dreams are made of. Driving along coastal highways, singing along to dorky music with Stefan, eating pizza with cheese like liquid gold in Italy and all the seafood in Provence was unforgettable.
But the absolute highlight of the year has to be our adventure trip to Kyrgyzstan. It was a revelation, a challenge and an incredible off-the-beaten-path experience that I adored despite the challenges.
Lows: Funnily enough, Kyrgyzstan was also a comedy of travel errors – we both got sick, slept in freezing tents at altitude so were cold and exhausted, had a weird group for the most part of the trip and the tour we booked really didn’t meet our expectations in terms of cultural experiences.
In the end the last 24 hours of the trip were the worst – the truck kept breaking down on the final drive into town, our final meal with the group was in the one British Pub in Bishkek, (when all we wanted was local food) our post tour accommodation was lost (or never booked) so we had to book a hotel last minute, we were filthy and just wanted to leave the group to explore ourselves, oh and then Aeroflot lost our luggage on the flight home.
Lots of little niggles built up into a bitter aftertaste, despite us both falling in love with the country we’d just explored.
Kyrgyzstan pushed us in ways we hadn’t anticipated – but we’re most definitely going back because the country was spectacular and the people amongst the friendliest we’d ever encountered.
I’m grateful: For work trips that let me see my family.
When I popped across to the TourRadar Brisbane office in April for two weeks, I was able to sneak in a cheeky weekend in Byron Bay with my parents and little brother, which meant the world to them, and gave us the perfect excuse to lap up the hippie glory of Byron and their incredible brunch spots and beaches.
Expat Living in Vienna
Highs: This is basic-white-girl AF but guys we got a really nice couch on Wilhaben this year and I swear it transformed our whole apartment. Just finding it on Wilhaben, (the Craigslist or Gumtree of the German-speaking world) had me feeling like we cracked the code of being Viennese.
It was being sold by a fancy-pants couple from the 19th district who redecorate their house every year, and just wanted to rid themselves of this beauty of a couch. Pretty sure it was super expensive and they imported it from France. Making it probably the nicest piece of furniture we’ll own in our lives, and definitely worth at least triple what we paid.
Having it in our living room reminds me that Vienna is an historic treasure chest where anyone can find gold if you know where to look!
Lows: I’ve been really lazy in attending social meetups with the Girls Gone International group so feel like I’ve put myself in a bit of a social bubble. I definitely want to be more active in the New Year to continue to meet fun and friendly people!
I’m grateful: For the Vienna Collective and my creative expat friends in Vienna; Becki (who completed an amazing #yearinAustria campaign), Sabina (who’s doing an epic trip in Africa next year and has a killer YouTube channel), Michelle (who’s always the most generous soul in any group of people and takes incredible photos) Michelle (who’s always teaching me to take care of myself first) Holly (who launched Ushine Vienna this year! Kicking ass!) and Lydia (who’s nailing it with her wicked smaht travel & mental health blog) amongst many others…
They say you’re only as good as the people who surround you, and if that’s the case I’m one very lucky woman to be surrounded by such talented folk.
Highs: Flat white coffee finally making its way to Vienna. A ‘brunch spot crawl’ through Toronto on my recent trip and finding Melbourne-style alleyway coffee shops in Brisbane.
It’s been a fantastic year in brunch with plenty of fab new places opening in Vienna too – Cafe Telegraph and Turnhalle 5 to name just some of my new faves.
Lows: There’s a whole swathe of brunch spots in Vienna I have on my list to visit and haven’t yet managed to get there: Kylo, Slaonplafond, Mill…my goals for 2018 are set!
I’m grateful: For my ever-patient mister, who indulges my brunch addiction on weekend mornings when I know he’d rather stay cosy at home for breakfast. And of course, my sassy brunch dates who join me on my brunching missions.
Highs: I’ve had a lot of fun playing with Instagram stories, Facebook live and video this year, in large part because Stefan also got us a drone, which has opened up a whole new world of video and photography opportunities. In 2018 I’m really buzzed to do more, and better, video for you guys.
Sexy sexy drone pictures
This year all of my most popular articles where to do with being Austrian and living in Vienna, so it really feels like I’ve hit the sweet spot on topics to write about and things that are useful for you guys. Ultimately I could write about anything here, but knowing that those kind of articles are the ones you want makes things a lot clearer for what I can create more of in future.
We hit over 5,000+ community members across social media and blog subscribers this year, so my absolute highlight has been finding and growing our tribe – that’s thanks to you!
Lows: Not doing enough! I’ve been relatively good at posting once a week all year, but would like to push that in the New Year and really start experimenting with video. I always feel I can be doing more for this blog and for you guys so that’s my only lowlight with blogging – not doing all that I want to do.
I’m grateful: For the generosity of the travel blogging community.
Whether it’s at events like the Traverse bloggers festival in April, where I got to meet and make friends with bloggers I’ve long admired, or just meeting and learning from other travel bloggers who come through Vienna, I’m always grateful and pleasantly surprised at how supportive the blogging community is.
Particular shoutouts this year to Sabina at GirlvsGlobe, Monica from the Travel Hack (founder of the fantastic Blogger Course which is on Sale right now for just €99!) and Helene at Helene in Between who have all – whether they knew it or not – inspired and taught me really useful things this year. Thanks lovelies!
I don’t really talk about work much here on the blog, and to be honest I’ve never been that girl with a bold career plan for the next 5 years, and yet somehow I’ve forged a pretty decent career out of my gypsy tour-guiding past and worked my ass off, to now be the Head of Sales at TourRadar, and the only woman on the management team. Not too shabby, eh?
Highs: We can now officially say that I work for one of the Top 3 startups in Austria! And we’re only getting bigger and better. I’ve loved growing and mentoring my team and learning as much as possible from seeing our company go from a small 7-person startup in 2013, to what is now nearly 100 people globally making travel dreams come true.
Lows: With great success comes great sacrifice, and I struggled this year to find the balance between work, blogging, travel, life and my health – both mental and physical. It’s something I know a lot of people battle with, so 2018 is the year for self-care and knowing when to slow down. (Swear I say that every year but it’s true!)
I’m grateful: For the lessons I’ve learned in the company and the best damn work colleagues in the world.
Looking back on an amazing year spent in this beautiful city, I can’t help but be grateful that we live in one of the worlds most liveable, picturesque places. It’s not just the brunch, the restaurants, the wine bars and the bike paths (although they are all incredible) it’s also the inspiring, big hearted beautiful people who’ve made this town feel like home. Thousands of kilometers away from family and hometown friends, that’s what really matters in the end💕😊. I blogged the Best of Vienna list today – check the link in my bio to see which bars and hotspots made my year! As for the people, you know who you are 😘 (Hint: it’s you guys!! ❤️)
Big Goals for 2018
2018 is going to be a big one – we’re getting married in Bali in April! I’m also feeling confident in my place in Vienna and looking to grow my wings with this blog, now that I have enough knowledge and experience to really help expats and travellers coming to the city.
#1 – Survive the planning and preparation for the wedding and enjoy the day, as stress free as possible!
#2 – Get myself fit and healthy – skipping the winter laziness – in time for Bikinis and wedding dresses in April. Step one: joining Supercycle classes with a few friends and getting back into my Yoga mornings. Bring on the burn and healthy eating!
#3 – Grow this blog to be as useful as possible for expats and travellers coming to Vienna and Austria. More videos, more articles and maybe even some fun local walks around the city together.
So that’s a wrap for 2017! Would love to hear your highs and lows for 2017, and all your big goals for 2018…hit us up in the comments and whatever you plan, I know this New Year will bring you the success and happiness you deserve.