Compared to 2013, 2014 was a pretty easy year. We had significantly less medical dramas, and our financial situation quickly recovered after 5 months of continuous travel with a baby.
Last year we did a bunch of long term travel. 2014 was different. After returning from our epic round the world trip at the end of January, I quickly got a temporary job in an office environment. That soon turned into a permanent gig, and our 2014 became a year of 1 – 2 week holidays instead of long term travel.
It took a little bit of adjusting. Working every day is a big change for me. I’m used to taking temp contracts, working my butt off, saving as much money as possible and then disappearing into travel. But I found a job that I didn’t totally hate. It paid OK. It was easy. They offered me a permanent contract 3 times before I finally decided to sign on.
Having a regular income is nice, but having consistently no time isn’t as great. Living in Australia, there are so many countries in the Asian Pacific that we want to explore. Most of these countries can be a bit expensive, or at least expensive to get to. Also, most of these countries can be easily explored in 1 or 2 weeks. So having a permanent job turned out to not be the end of the world. We are using it as an opportunity to tick a lot of those pricier, smaller countries off our lists.
Best domestic travel destination in 2014
In 2014 we moved from our normal home base of Brisbane Australia to our new home in Melbourne. We have done a bunch of great domestic travel this year, but our favourite domestic trip this year has to be our Gippsland road trip we did with Choice Hotels.
We got to explore an area of Victoria which has quickly become our favourite city getaway. We visited four different spots in Gippsland, and we want to return to every single one of them. Highlights included seeing little penguins on Phillip Island, spotting a wild wombat in Wilson’s Prom National Park, and some great hiking in Tarra Bulga National Park.
You can read about our Gippsland road trip here.
Best international travel destination in 2014
My job contract was ending at the end of June, and what better way to explore than to book some international travel. After a few hours searching for flight deals I came across one which peaked my interest…. Male, Maldives. After Googling some pictures of the Maldives I was immediately convinced, and 20 minutes later we have tickets.
The Maldives are the ultimate beach paradise, but instead of going for the cliche resort experience we decided to stay in a guest house on an inhabited island. We didn’t have the best luck with the weather (it was overcast most of the days), but we met the most friendly and genuine people, and got to spend our days relaxing on the beach, going on boat trips, snorkelling and fishing.
The fishing is what really made this a highlight. Dan loves to fish, but he never ever catches anything. He’s the type of fisherman who can’t even catch seaweed. But that all turned around for him in the Maldives. Fishing excursions were included in our guesthouse rate, and Dan went on the night fish on our last evening in the country. After 4 hours of fishing he returned with over 60 huge snapper. I’m pretty sure we fed the entire village that day!
You can find our complete guide to the Maldives here.
Best travel food experience in 2014
We had an amazing food experience back in January 2014, and despite plenty of trying, were unable to top it. And it was in a place not particularly known for it’s food. Macedonia. Actually our number 2 food experience was in Macedonia as well – go figure.
We were in the lake side town of Ohrid on the Macedonian and Albanian border. We decided that since we were in a fairly affordable country that we would treat our selves to the highest rated restaurant in our Lonely Planet. We decided to go to Restoran Sveta Sofija opposite the cathedral of the same name in central Ohrid. It was winter and low season, so we were the only ones in the restaurant that day for lunch. A lovely waiter in a suit seated us and brought us our menus. There were so many local dishes on the menu, it was different to choose but Dan decided to go with the trout, and I had a local dish of baked white beans, tomatoes and cottage cheese. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but this was seriously the most delicious bean based dish I have ever tasted in my entire life. Dan’s trout was the entire fish. The waiter presented it to us and then proceeded to remove the fins and head for us.
We also had some local deep fried cheese for a starter and an entire bottle of local Macedonian wine. (Can’t say no to deep fried cheese and wine!)
So what did all this set us back for in Ohrids highest ratest restaurant? About 14 dollars.
Best travel WOW moment in 2014
The last stop of our five month trip around the world was Bulgaria. We were road tripping around the country, trying to see as much as possible. We stopped in the small regional city of Ruse where we were going to work with the local museum and historical society to promote some of the archaeological sites in the region.
The most spectacular site to see in this region is the rock hewn monasteries, which would normally be closed at this time of year. But we were lucky enough to be road tripping with the head curator of the Ruse Museum who had keys to all the attractions, and an endless knowledge of local history.
It’s a special moment when you first enter the Ivanovo rock monastery. The natural cave is covered in beautiful paintings, originals from the 13th century. The outside air was chilly and it was hard to imagine what it must have been like for the monks who lived in these caves.
The rock monasteries are one of a kind, and being able to have private access to experience the cave and the paintings in quiet contemplation was one of my biggest WOW moments of 2014.
Read more about the rock monasteries of Ruse here.
Best family travel moment in 2014
One of our best family travel moments this year was quite recently in Victoria, Australia. We have recently done a few famil’s with Choice Hotels, and our first trip was through Gippsland. I was stoked when they assigned the Gippsland trip to us as it was an area I was already itching to explore.
Our first stop was on Philip Island. We only have one night on the island so we made sure to go to the island’s most famous tourist attraction – the little penguin parade.
We sat on some benches on the beach for quite some time, waiting for the sun to go down and the penguins to make their way onto the beach. As huge flocks of penguins started to waddle across the beach we got pretty excited. But the real family fun started when we saw dozens of penguins making their way along right next to the board walk. This was when Jacob was able to really see the penguins well and could realize what was going on. Seeing his little eyes light up as he watched the penguins waddle by, as he shouted encouragement as them (Go! Go! Bird! Bird!) was one of the best experiences a parent can have.
You can read all about our Philip Island penguin experience here.