I feel like I say this every year, but I can’t believe another year has come and gone! 2018 had been my biggest year for traveling yet. While I typically only embark on one international adventure a year, I was fortunate enough to both have the opportunity of taking time off and affordability of airfare this year to embark on three international adventures abroad. While it was difficult to narrow down my experiences, here is my list of top 10 adventures of 2018:
10. Visiting Alcatraz Prison (San Francisco)
En route to New Zealand, I planned a two day layover in San Francisco, for some US sight seeing. It’s challenging to squeeze in everything you want to see and experience from a city in two days, but I knew that I could not miss visiting Alcatraz
9. Visiting 3 countries in 1 day
When I saw this tour of “visiting 3 countries in 1 day” on Viator, I knew I had to book this day tour, as a bucket list item of visiting multiple countries in one day. While a long day on the bus, it was a charming tour, exploring the small village of Baga in Spain, Ax Les Thermes in France, and Andorra La Vella in Andorra. Visiting Andorra was my favorite part of this trip, even if the country is mainly known for skiing and shopping. But its views of the Pyrenees Mountains are pretty hard to beat.
8. Waiheke Island, New Zealand
I accidentally found myself on this island my first day in New Zealand. In my jet lag and lack of sleep state of mind, I booked a ferry to one of the local islands, and found myself exploring this charming island for the entire day. With their “hop-on, hop-off” tourist bus, the entire island was easily accessible for visiting the different beaches, wineries, and restaurants for some delicious local seafood.
7. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
I was fortunate enough to book a third trip this year, visiting Spain for an entire week. While I did not fall in love with Barcelona or Spain like most people do (I’m much more drawn to exotic countries over European ones), there was no doubt the spectacular beauty of Barcelona’s architecture. The incredible details and themes that Gaudi had placed into this masterpiece is one of the many reasons wandering the Sagrada Familia church was one of my favorite sights to visit in Spain.
6. Sky Walk on the Auckland Tower, NZ
The older I get, the more of an adrenaline junkie I become! However, I have always had a fear of standing over the edge at high heights. Doing this sky walk was much more terrifying to me than jumping out of a plane. But the views of Auckland city were incredible and experience was well worth me facing my fear!
5. Learning to surf in Gold Coast, Australia
It has been my dream for as long as I can remember to learn how to surf. Even though I can take surfing lessons close to my home, living on the seacoast of NH, I always wanted my first surfing experience to be off the shores of Australia. Since I was visiting in May during their shoulder season, I was the only on there to take the class! My instructor, Scott was wonderful (and very patient) and was determined to have me standing during my first time surfing. It takes a lot of stamina, but is quite a fun sport once you establish the basics.
4. Being a hobbit for a morning at Hobbiton, NZ
I have a confession to make: I did not see any of the Hobbit movies in their entirety prior to visiting the movie set (I have only watched “The Fellowship of the Ring”, including on my flight to New Zealand). However, visiting the set was incredible and determined to see the entire Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
3. Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
My absolute favorite thing about Mexico (besides the food, of course) was learning all about the Mayan culture. The fact that humans created this incredible structure hundreds of years ago is phenomenal.
2. Climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge during VIVID Sydney
Climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge was on top of my bucket list for Australia. Booking a night climb during their VIVID Sydney festival was a happy accident (the only tours available for that day were at night). The combination of the climb during this festival made it even more exhilarating and was worth every penny.
1. Visiting The Great Barrier Reef on Lady Elliot Island, Australia
When I heard how much of The Great Barrier Reef has been depleted over the last few years, I knew I had to make every effort to see this natural beauty before it disappears. Through Lady Elliot Island’s eco-tourism, I was able to book a day trip, by taking a seaplane from Gold Coast to the island, enjoying a buffet lunch and embarking on a snorkeling tour. Next time I visit, I will book an overnight stay at their eco lodge, which does not include internet, so guests can disconnect online and reconnect with nature, as well as educates and promotes environmental sustainability.
Where were your top places you explored in 2018?