Not got time to read the blog? Skip to the video right here: 1 Year Travel Blog Special (Video)
Woah boy! Where did the time go? It would be quite ironic to say its flown by given the amount of travelling I crammed into the last twelve months… but I’m not going with the corny pun-based jokes; this is a classy establishment these days.
I thought I’d recap a little on the past year; where I’ve been, what the blogs been up to and answer a few little questions about my travels this year.
So Where Have I Been?
I think I’m a little late to the party and my actual anniversary was sometime in April- but better late than never – that’s this blog’s current motto, that’s for sure! (The Budapest blog post is only 3 weeks overdue and a review of Angor Wat is only… hmm… 11… months…).
The first city that this young, fresh faced, inexperienced blogger visited was Prague way back in April-ish 2016. I was absolutely blown away with this ancient city and it was certainly one of the (many) highlights of the year. The twisty, enclosed, medieval streets were a real treat and I really regret not taking more photos or video of the narrow passageways – truth be told there was not all too much for the lens to capture down these alleys, but the feelings, sounds and smells are what made these quaint lanes so complete. With affordable food, plentiful transport and just enough activities to fill up a couple of days I would highly recommend Prague for a weekend treat. I returned to London ready to absolutely gush about our experience so it was perfect that my newly started blog was sitting here awaiting on my return.
Next on the list was Vietnam, Cambodia and an over nighter in Bangkok. This was our ‘epic’ trip for the year. We travelled down the east coast of Vietnam visiting Hanoi, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). There was the most amazing contrast between the northern (ex communist) cities and the capitalist crazy south. Our initial impressions of Hanoi were that it was overwhelming. It had all the busy-ness we had previously experienced in Asia yet somehow cramped into the smallest of spaces. We found our city centre stay was unclean, unhygienic and unappealing. It was certainly a shock to the system. However our time away at Halong Bay was most relaxing and we did make the most of our time in Hanoi. Moving away from the capital, Hoi An was absolutely beautiful, Nha Trang was a largely Russian-mob-run beach resort and HCMC was much more westernised and Bangkok-comparable which was right up our alley.
Our only stop in Cambodia was in Siem Reap for a couple of days to visit the temples of Angkor Wat. From what we saw, Cambodia is a beautiful country that is still fighting to restrengthen from its rough, war-torn past. The people were lovely, the city was full of charm and the hospitality was second to none. Our experience at Angkor Wat was unforgettable. We’d definitely like to return to Cambodia and see more of what the country has to offer.
Our one night in Bangkok felt fairly routine for us; we’d previously spent 5 nights in Bangkok and knew exactly the places we wanted to stop at, as we awaited our early morning flights back to London via Amsterdam. We taxied from the our hotel near the Airport to Khao San Road – how tragically predictable – the backpacker magnet. We came here for the good vibes, great street food and of course cheap beer.
Fast-forward to September and me and Mrs Carl celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Venice, Italy before moving on to Rome. Venice was by far the biggest highlight of my year. It was just everything that you could wish it could be – great sights, tasty food and such a romantic ambience. All the criticism I had heard before about it being smelly, expensive or stuck up were all soo far from the mark it was untrue. I am whole-heartily recommending this one and I am definitely (already) wanting to return. Come and check out a little video of it here – the place is soo uniquely picturesque. Rome was also a brilliant adventure and somewhere that has been on my travel list for decades. After the initial dissapointment of poorly chosen accomodation our stay was much more improved when we moved to the Campo di Fiori area rather than being nestled besides the Vatican. Oh right, Vatican City – technically another country and technically another one off the list. It was impressive but I can’t say I got that ‘holy’ feeling nor that feeling that ‘the church is all a money making con’ – I suppose I was just whelmed… neither overly or underly… is that a thing?
Just in time for Christmas we then popped to Frankfurt for the Christmas Market. It was a fun trip filled with festive hot ciders and gluhwine. It wasn’t a city filled with charm or beauty – its a large financial district that is largely filled with immigrants. The suits all leave the city at the weekend leaving the place quite soulless. I’d recommend the Christmas market, for sure, at a good price. But that is all.
The New Year saw us head off to Iceland for a bit of escapism, northern light hunting and naturism (oh wait… is that the naked thing or the ‘love the planet’ type thing? I definitely mean the latter… it was too cold for the former). An absolutely fantastic trip where we hired a car and drove around the Golden Circle which is the far superior way to travel in my opinion. Again, we would love to return but next time perhaps we will look at driving round around the country to explore some new and less visited sights. This trip produced some remarkable photographs as well as my most watched youtube video- My Top 10 Tips for Driving in Iceland with 863 views to date!
February saw Mrs Carl hit 30 so early March we popped over to Paris to celebrate. My most read blog, Planning Paris was soon followed by two more blogs praising our time in the city. Again, as with Venice, the preconceived ideas and rumours were so far from true. There was so much to do and see in Paris we could never have fit it into our 3 day itinerary… which means this year we visited several places we need to bloody revisit… it feels like we’re going around in circles a bit here…
Finally, in April we snuck over to Budapest for a long weekend. Unfortunately this was our least enjoyable trip. The city was beautiful (and made for a great video) and we made the most of our time there but we felt the city lacked charm and atmosphere; it also felt about 30 years behind places like Prague. Perhaps we’d been spoilt by all of our previous trips this year but that one certainly didn’t live up to the rest of them. More to come on that one in a future blog post…
So that’s 12 months (13 really..), 9 Countries and 13 cities.
Thats 67 blog posts and 8 Youtube Videos. Thats 2,577 blog views and 3,423 Youtube views.
Thats 128 Happy WordPress subscribers and 6 satisfied Youtube subscribers. I know, I know, it should be more. Sort it out and get yourself subscribed too! 🙂
My most popular post was My Travel-themed Wedding, One Year On and my favourite one to write, read and be (tragically) involved in was Travel Fail: My Honeymoon Hooker in Oz. Two quite contrasting titles, don’t you think?
As some of you will be aware, around about the 6 month mark I changed my blog name from dreamflydiscover to CarlVersusLife and, as fickle as I am, I’m still quite happy with the change. I feel the blog is more ‘me’ and that fits nicely with the video editing. The video editing is also a new thing and I’m still very much a beginner but it is something I very much enjoy and it was an idea inspired by one of those WordPress awards that floats around and the particular question: “Where would you like to see your blog in 12 months time?” to which I responded – ‘Making travel videos’. At the time I had never recorded video at all, never mind splice together a video- so I am very happy at my progress and hope you enjoy the flicks too. As much as I love the written word, I feel much more compelled to create a short movie and I am certainly more likely to watch it back myself than I am to read my own blogs, my wife calls that narcissism but I just call it sharing and re-living some of my happy memories. I guess you can be the judge of that one.
If I had to return to ONE CITY that I visited this year, where would it be?
As is evident, I loved soo much of it. From Reykjavik (which I hate spelling) to Paris or Rome to Saigon – each had their own outstanding charm. I’ve returned from so many trips absolutely glowing with delight however, for me, the ideal return destination would be Venice. It was my first ever taste of Italy and the Italian culture. I could definitely get comfortable in the cafe/bar scene very quickly out there. The food was splendid and the photo opportunities were absolutely endless. It did irk me a little that the local way of life has been dying out to tourism but all said and done I guess the locals have embraced it well, making Venice one of the most visited placed in the world per square inch.
What was your LEAST FAVOURITE city?
I’ve made no bones about it- clearly Budapest. Everything we experienced in Budapest, we experienced better elsewhere this year. It could be a case of being spoilt or it could be a case of being burnt out on travel for the year. Budapest draws so many comparisons to Prague and unfortunately Prague has the upper hand. if visiting both cities – definitely consider visiting Budapest first.
What have you LEARNT?
Hanoi in Vietnam was a huge eye opener in terms of new culture, poverty and opposing ways of life. Northern Vietnam is still heavily influenced by its communist roots and this is reflected in their way of life, their economy and very evident in day-to-day life. The initial experience was jarring; we left firmly stating that we didn’t like it. But on reflection we learned a lot about Vietnam, the people, the food and the culture whilst here. It was an absolute change of pace to my normal life that I feel honoured to have experienced. Also, I’ve learned to leave any pre-conceptions at home. Paris and Venice were nothing like we were told- all the doubters and nay-sayers have probably never set foot in such places. Approach these new places with an open mind and you’ll find the true beauty within– I suppose that’s the lesson of the year.
What was your FUNNIEST experience?
I guess there have been many, hence I have a whole #TravelFail section going on…. I suppose the one that sticks out the most was the infamous Bar Bill Blunder in Venice. We were in a fancy, super overrated and super overpriced bar when I decided to order the bill in Italian. Not familiar with the language I opened my trusty translation app and clicked the phrase to order the bill. It took me and the entire room by surprise to find my phone shouting out at the top of its voice “Il Conto Per Favore!” to the gasps of several stunned patrons. Shit.
What was your number one TOURIST spot to visit?
The Catacombs in Paris spring to mind as I found the whole underground system enchanting. However this prize must go to Skogafoss in Iceland. It’s not the most famous waterfall along the golden circle with Selandjafoss or Gulfoss taking the title, but Skogafoss was soowide and so accessible it was astounding. The water’s flow seemed to crash right before your very feet if you felt brave enough to venture so close.
What’s next for the blog?
Obviously more content! We’re hitting Dubrovnik, Croatia in the coming weeks. I’m hoping for a little getaway before Christmas too but next year is undecided as yet. We’re looking to finally tick India off the list after roughly planning it last year. Bali or Indonesia are also on that list… however its probably time to start looking at our bank accounts and saving up some….nah… fuck that… lets crank up the air miles and keep the blog going! haha
I think that’s it for now. That’s me and my ‘inspired by adventure’ beer finished for another blog. Yes, even by beer is travel themed. FML.
Do you have any other questions about my first year as a travel blogger? How was your first year? Finally, I’d like to thank y’all for taking the time to read along and keep up with the blog for all this time. Its been a fun ride and I’m really loving where the site has ended up from its humble beginnings. There’s plenty more to come. Watch this space! 🙂
Oh, I almost forgot. All this is available in a slightly hashed together video celebrating everywhere I visited this year, plus some blog n video stats. Click the image below or click on this link to go see it! Its got a stack of unseen footage so i’m sure even the regulars will enjoy it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel by hitting the subscribe button or my logo at the end of the video or clicking this link here should work! Thanks peoples – its been a pleasure! 🙂