How is it even possible that 2017 is gone already? This year has been a real whirlwind, but I guess it is a good thing. Time flies when you are having fun, right? End of December is always a good time to look back, reminisce and appreciate all the happy moments – big or small – that have happened and made me smile. Our lives are too hectic and fast-paced at times, and it is easy for these moments to slip from our memory without us properly appreciating them. 2017 was a wonderful year for me and Justin, and there are so many happy moments to be thankful for. It was the best travel year of our lives. I’m so grateful that we were able to visit some of the most amazing destinations, immerse ourselves in new cultures and meet very interesting people. It was also a year of professional development and growth.
Finding My Passion
It has been a long journey, but I finally found the thing that sets my soul on fire – I love travel writing and I love photography. This blog started as a hobby and probably nobody believed I’d stick to it, or that anything would come out of it. Three years later it has grown more than I could have imagined, and most importantly, it lead me to the opportunities that where my focal point to begin with – my work is published on amazing media outlets like Savvy Tokyo, Huffington Post, and Stars and Stripes. Not only that, but it helped me get the job I longed for – Public Affairs Specialist – and thus set my career goals in stone. I’ll be honest, there are moments when I have no clue what I am doing, but the most important thing is that I know what I need to do to improve. It hasn’t been all easy. I put tons of time and energy (in addition to my full-time job) to “indulge” this passion of mine. I’ve done some mistakes along the way and come across a fair amount of bumps, but I take it all as lessons and challenges that will help me grow in the direction I wish to grow.
Making New Friends
Not sure if it is just me, but the older I get the harder it is to bond with new people. That’s why I feel blessed to have made some amazing friends this year – Celia, Naomi and Hitomi – three incredibly smart, talented and creative ladies who inspire me more than they can imagine. They turned into my partner’s in crime in all things travel and food related and I cannot wait to spend another amazing year in their company.
My Article Going Viral
Earlier this year I put together a blog post about 5 Reasons Why I Invest in Travel, Not Things which went viral. It currently has almost 1,000 likes and 337 comments on my blog alone. It was published by Huffington Post, shared by two dozen other sites and re-shared and re-blogged multiple times. I didn’t expect to get such a huge response, but it proves how much our values have changed in the modern world. I’m beyond happy that my sentiments expressed in the article spoke to so many people. If you haven’t read it yet, have a look and let me know what you think.
Starting a Travel Business
In 2017 I finally resolved to share my in-depth knowledge of travel planning and started offering travel consultancy services for those taking a trip to Japan. I’ve already helped over two dozen travelers with streamlining their itineraries, advising on things to see and do here, and offering exclusive tours of Tokyo/Kamakura (limited days) which also includes photography services. If you are heading to Japan and might need a bit of assistance in putting together your dream vacation, I’d be happy to assist. You can find out more about the packages I offer here. As always, I’ll be forever grateful if you spend the word around and recommend me should any of your friends be heading to Japan and need some help.
Savoring Spring Blooms
I was blessed to witness one more stunning cherry blossom season in Japan. It truly is a very special time of the year. Did you know that there are actually different types of cherry trees in Japan, some of which start blooming as early as January? Not only that, sakura blooms were followed by azaleas, wisterias, and tulips. So many beautiful moments. I cannot wait for the spring to come again. Sadly, it will be our last one in Japan.
Like I said, 2017 was a phenomenal travel year for us as we managed to cover a lot of ground and visit some of the biggest countries in the world. One of them was China. We spent a few days in Shanghai where I fell in love with its dazzling skyline, and then continued on to Beijing to walk along the Great Wall among other things.
Visiting Mt. Koya & Nachi Falls
I’ve also continued to explore Japan a bit, and managed to scratch off the biggest destination on my bucket list – Wakayama Prefecture, which is home to Japan’s sacred mountain and the tallest (and quite stunning) waterfall in the country.
Honeymooning in Bali
I know, I know, we’ve been married for almost five years now and already had our official honeymoon in Hawaii. But why can’t couples have multiple honeymoons? It sure felt like one during our blissful getaway to Bali last September. We indulged in wonderful food, spent hours by the pool (read: pool bar), pampered ourselves with spa treatments and walked barefoot along the beach under the moonlight. If that’s not romantic enough for a honeymoon, then I don’t know what is. Bali was a dream and we cannot wait to go back.
Traveling to Okinawa
I finally made it to Japan’s Southernmost islands which comes to a total contrast to the mainland – not only with its landscape, but its culture as well. While it was purely a business trip and I still managed to explore a tiny bit and enjoy the tropical vibes of the island.
Enjoying Foliage in Nikko & Karuizawa
I will never tire of saying how absolutely stunning Japan is during autumn season. I knew we would be gone most of November, which is prime time for fall colors here, so I made sure to get out there in October and soak up the beauty of the season. My friends and I headed to Nikko and Karuizawa, and while it was raining both weekends (I have a cloud perpetually hanging over my head which travels with me everywhere) we had the most splendid time.
Having Unforgettable Family Trip To New Zealand & Australia
Where do I even begin? This trip was most certainly the highlight of our year and probably our lives, because let’s be honest, how often do you get to explore the Down Under?! I was blown away by the beauty of New Zealand, and loved exploring different parts of Australia.Since it was a family trip, it was also a great opportunity to reconnect and spend quality time with our loved ones. While I already shared a few posts about our trip, I will dedicate January to telling you all the stories of our epic trip to this amazing part of the world. If you ever get a chance, don’t think twice – book a trip and go!
This pretty much concludes my 2017. Thank you all for being part of my adventures through this year and subscribing, commenting, liking and reading the stories about my life. I appreciate every single one of you and hope you’re all having the most wonderful holiday season. May our 2018 be even better. One of the people I know once shared that she has this little “ritual”: “Thank Universe and the god of your own understanding for a happy moment you’ve just had, and then humbly ask, “more, please.”” So yes, more of this in 2018, please. Happy New Year!