The Best of 2017: travel, cuisine and a few things in between!

2017 saw us travel through 16 countries across three different continents. While I’m painfully aware that one more country would have made it poetic (17 in 17 goddammit), we cannot deny the magnitude of our adventures.

So, as the most epic of years draws to a close, let us reflect on the highs and the lows. (Almost poetry, amirite?)

For those who’ve travelled, near or far,
Or those who dream, but don’t dare to start.
We share our stories, our losses and wins,
To ignite your wanderlust, and inspire you to begin.

Okay, enough already. Here’s our best of 2017!

Best Pizza:

Pizzeria de Luigi, Guatape, Colombia.

This was Adam’s first suggestion when we were brainstorming this list – shocking, I know. The chef, Luigi, taught himself to make pizza from YouTube. This place is reason enough to book a flight to Colombia right now but there are plenty of other delicious treats awaiting should you need more persuading.

Best Coffee:

Coconut Iced Coffee, Xofa, Hanoi, Vietnam

The best coffee of the year goes to Vietnam! #coffee
This coconut iced coffee is so good it should be illegal

Adam’s second suggestion. You can take the man out of Italy and all that.
He may have suggested the category, but I am executing editors rights! You can’t trust an Italian to admit it, but Vietnamese coffee is truly outstanding. I developed an unhealthy addiction to Coconut Iced Coffee while in Hanoi – I can’t recommend it highly enough. For what it’s worth, Adam reckons the classic cappuccino at Xofa was also pretty good…

Best Street Food:

Sunday Night Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The best street food of 2017 goes to Chiang Mai
So much variety, so little time!

Weary from four months of travel through South East Asia, we were just about ready to throw in the towel at the thought of another night market. Same same but different, right? Wrong. The Sunday Night Market in Chiang Mai changed the game.. The star of the show is the food. Cheap, flavourful, HYGIENIC (yes, really) – we could have eaten there every night for less than a fiver between us and never looked back.

Best Food Tour:

A Bite of Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Llama Empanadas washed down with artisanal beer in the desert!
Llama Empanadas washed down with home brew

South America is home to many exciting and unique foodie experiences. For us, the biggest surprise was to be found in the driest desert in the world. Over four hours, we sipped, savoured and snacked on the best local produce in San Pedro. Think Llama Empanadas, Pisco Sours and Quinoa Sushi. Sound like your kinda tour? Read more here.

Best Local Experience:

Making hot chocolate from freshly roasted cacao in the Amazon, Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Our best local experience of 2017 was making hot chocolate in the Amazon! #local #Peru
Making hot chocolate from scratch was exciting and delicious!

During our short trip through the Peruvian jungle, we stayed the night with a local family. No electricity. No running water. No wifi (I know – the dream right?). Instead, we entertained ourselves the old fashioned way. With the help of Esther, we toasted fresh cacao beans, ground them to a fine paste and then made them into the sweetest, purest hot chocolate we’d ever tasted.

Best Hostel:

The Chill Inn, Mendoza, Argentina

The Chill Inn in Mendoza was our best hostel of 2017 #hostel #mendoza
Great night, great people, great place (not-so-great picture!)

Our week in Mendoza remains one of the highlights of our entire trip. It’s one of those places where, no matter what time it is, it’s acceptable to have a glass of wine in your hand. And that, we like. The Chill Inn, and our host Juan Carlos, accepted us as family. We cooked together, drank together and shared stories aplenty from all over the world. There was wine, meat, music and – most of all – friendship. Simply, superb.

Best Group Tour:

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Best group tour of 2017 goes to the Bolivian Salt Flats #experiences #bolivia
Absolutely no filter needed

We are lucky enough to have seen some of the world’s most amazing sights in just one short year, so this was a tough call. Seeing the sunrise over the Salt Flats in Bolivia is a truly humbling experience. Mother Nature is sassy AF, and she well and truly turned it on for us that morning. Plus, we made some friends for life – two of whom we’ve already got plans to visit in 2018!

Best Spontaneous Moment: 

Hiking Mount Bromo, Java, Indonesia

Nothing like a smoking volcano to wake you up! #volcano #hiking #indonesia
Nothing quite like an active volcano to keep you on your toes!

Java wasn’t in our original itinerary. In fact, much of Indonesia was organised on the fly. My inner PlanMaster took a back seat, and instinct took over. (Fear not, she’s back with a vengeance now) We jumped on a 7 hour train across Java, to a rather odd part of the world; the gateway to Bromo National Park. As luck would have it, we met a savvy group of fellow travellers and between us all we nailed it. Sunrise, summit and several packets of Oreos all accomplished within a matter of hours. Boom.

Best Extravagance:

The Salinda, Phu Quoc, Vietnam

The best extravagance of 2017 was the Salinda Hotel in Phu Quoc. #posh #extravagance
Bottomless bubbles for breakfast can only mean one thing – someone else is paying!

This one is a bit of a cheat as it technically wasn’t our extravagance – we just tagged along for the ride. Thanks to the #bankofmumanddad we spent three blissful nights at the Salinda Resort in Phu Quoc. Bottomless bubbles for breakfast, an infinity pool right on the beach, and a bed bigger than our entire house. Such. A. Treat. Thanks Mum and Dad!

Before you are lulled into thinking that our year has been all sparkles and unicorns, let’s keep it real people. We have been incredibly fortunate, but there has – of course – been a few hiccups along the way. So, to balance it out, here’s some of our worst from 2017…

Worst Journey:

Koh Phayam to Ranong, Thailand

Calm seas and stormy skies in Koh Phayam #thailand #island
The weather gods were warning us, but we didn’t listen

Just the word ‘speedboat’ is enough to fill us with dread after this experience. What should have been a simple 45 minute journey turned in to two hours of terror – and vomiting. In equal measure. The kids (KIDS!) driving the boat had failed to fill the engine with enough gasoline to get us to dry land so we found ourselves stranded in the middle of a choppy ocean with no sign of safety. There were two very small children onboard, and a guy who sounded like the exorcist as he bought up his breakfast all over the boat. There are no words to describe the fear, or the foul stench of mass-chundering.

Worst Local Food Experience:

Balut, Hanoi, Vietnam

This local food experience wasn’t for us #localfood #tradition
Would you give it a go?

Technically, this is Filipino in origin, but it is also commonly eaten in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. We understand, more every day, that food culture around the world is diverse and seeped in tradition. That’s why I was game to give the Balut a go. The Balut is a duck egg, with a baby duck inside. The fertilised egg is incubated for up to three weeks, to develop the embryo – enough so that the features of the duck are recognisable. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Would you?

Worst Pizza:

Rosario, Argentina

Not sure they should call this pizza #dodgy #pizza
A pizza? Really? We think not…

Are you sensing a theme? This experience has haunted Adam all year. The parties responsible for sharing this monstrosity will remain unnamed but all I can say is I wish I’d taken a picture of Adam’s face when he saw it. While we loved Argentina for many reasons, it’s Pizza-producing skills is not one of them.

The best of 2017 #travel #wanderlust
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We would love to hear about your best food and travel adventures from 2017. Drop us a comment below to let us know!

13 thoughts on “The Best of 2017: travel, cuisine and a few things in between!

  1. What a brilliant year of experiences – I do love it when travellers talk about the good and the bad and doesn’t romanticize everything but gives us a good picture of the reality of traveling.

  2. Wow, sounds like you definitely had an interesting year but I’m glad to see the ‘best’ far outweighed the ‘worst’! I’ve been dreaming about visiting Bolivia’s Salt Flats and your pic just convinced me that it MUST happen within the next two years!

  3. While I understand that a poetic 17 in 17 would have been amazing, 16 countries in a year is a hell of an achievement and I am so happy for you, as well as inspired by you! It’s a lot of travelling, 16 countries in 12 months. I like the creative way you’ve listed your best and worst experiences. Making hot chocolate from freshly roasted cacao in Peru sounds like the perfect thing to do!

  4. You had great experiences in 2017 and it is seen in your stories. The Thailand speedboat trip really sounds awful. And no, I would never be able to eat a ‘Balut’. Hope you have a great travelling year ahead!

  5. Wow that Thailand speedboat experience sounds AWFUL!! I guess everything turned out fine but oh boy! And I would love to make hot chocolate like you did!

  6. That was a busy year for you! I have visited only 5 countries in 2017 haha – I see we have a few in common. I am jealous of your chocolate experience in the Peruvian jungle, I would so love to try that! But I’m afraid I can’t say the same about duck egg!

  7. Oy, some of that food made me cringe — but that coconut coffee looks amazing!! I would love to give that a try. Looks like you had some really wonderful experiences this year, and I hope those continue for ya into the next year!

  8. Wow you really got around this year! I did try that duck egg in Cambodia, but only a teeny tiny piece of the outer edge and not the actual baby part…if that makes any sense!

    Llama empanadas sound interesting!

  9. Wow – you really had a great tragedy year with so many more highs and lows. Iceland was our big trip this year, but we also fit in smaller trips to LA, New Orleans, DC and Pittsburh. All the best in 2018. Aim to hit 18 countries.

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