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!
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.
Coconut Iced Coffee, Xofa, Hanoi, Vietnam
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
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
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
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.
The Chill Inn, Mendoza, Argentina
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
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
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.
The Salinda, Phu Quoc, Vietnam
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…
Koh Phayam to Ranong, Thailand
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
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?
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.
We would love to hear about your best food and travel adventures from 2017. Drop us a comment below to let us know!