2022 has been quite a year. What started out with a single booked trip which was cancelled on my birthday, 2022 ended up being one of our most travelled years yet (non-continuous travels, at least). I’ve been to 11 countries, which I think is my most in a single year, plus we finally ticked off our final part of the UK – Northern Ireland! I got a new job doing something I love, and Ash got a substantial promotion. We’ve helped his parents move from one end of the country to the other. We’ve had visitors most months, and I almost got to a 100 day streak on Wordle. And now, we have skidded into the final few days exhausted and wondering how we’re still functioning.
We’ve certainly made up for the past couple of years of spinning between lockdowns and subsequently making up for lost time in between when we could – instead, this year we’ve focused on the “making up for lost time” part for twelve months straight. It’s been, I’m not going to lie, a LOT.
Next year, we will be slowing down a bit (a bit?) – famous last words.
Here’s everything we’ve been up to this year!
January – a “quiet” month
January started off pretty quiet, taking a break from doing something every single weekend from April – December 2021. At the end of the month, we did pop up to see my parents for a weekend, and while we were there, we went to Aviemore to check out the annual dog sledding race! I wrote a post about it here, and it’ll be coming up again soon.
Read more: What To Expect At The Dog Sled Rally In Aviemore
February – Northern Ireland
February marked our first trip of the year, although not out of the UK. We headed across the water to Northern Ireland, somewhere I’m ashamed to say I’d never been before! We had a brilliant weekend, joined by one of my fellow blogger friends, Barefoot Backpacker. We hired a car for a day to explore the north coast, then headed into Belfast for the rest of the weekend.
We also stayed in the oldest hotel in Scotland, in our beloved Perthshire. We didn’t get great weather, but I loved exploring more of the area.
Read more: Road Tripping Northern Ireland In One Day, History Lessons, Boats & Beers In Belfast and Staying In Scotland’s Oldest Hotel & Exploring More Of Perthshire
March – Malta
Our first proper holiday came in March, and we wanted to go somewhere sunny, so our eyes turned towards the Med. We went on our first real package holiday and didn’t stay in the best area of Malta – but we did really enjoy a lot of our time in this small, unique island country!
We spent five days in Malta, and even without a car we explored a huge chunk of it, plus the neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino.
Read more: A Relaxing Five Days In Malta: Our Itinerary, Doors & Balconies Of Valletta, Malta’s Enchanting Capital and There’s Something Magical About Mdina, Malta
April – Sussex, friends & family
We kept very busy in April, with a quick trip down to Sussex to catch up with friends for the rest of our time off after the Malta trip. I haven’t actually written anything about our trip – after all, it was more about seeing friends – but I did post a few photos on social media, like the adorable Winnie The Pooh café we went to! We then headed down to the bridge to play pooh sticks. Also featured on our weekend out – visiting an upside-down house, and drinking in a board game bar. So all-in-all, a very childish weekend! Loved it. Loved. It. These are the people we’re planning to go to Japan with, by the way, just so you know what to expect from our (eventual) trip.
A couple of weeks later, we were off to the south coast again – but this time, we were driving back up to Scotland with Ash’s dad, a whole load of boxes, and a cat. His parents now live near Inverness, around where my parents also now live! It’s so nice having them much closer, and even better, being able to visit both families at once.
While we were up there, we also took a trip out to Torridon, one of my favourite areas of Scotland – I finally made it up to a view point I’ve been wanting to go to, which is where the first April photo is from! We also took Ash’s parents to Ullapool and even managed to squeeze in the extra 20 minutes to Assynt, another of our favourite places.
May – France/Switzerland
In May, I had flights booked to Basel, but the real purpose of the trip was to visit the poetically beautiful Colmar in France. Of course, we had to stick in a day in Basel too – it would have been rude not to. We absolutely loved Colmar! I spent hours wandering and taking photos, and I could have done it all over again.
Basel was okay, but on a Sunday so much of the city was closed and it took away from our experience of the city a bit. The highlight was walking from Switzerland, through Germany to France. I have to admit my “eleven” countries of the year includes Germany, so you can argue over whether it counts or not. (I have been to Germany before anyway!)
We also had one of our infamous Eurovision parties, with a friend coming down to visit from Orkney for the occasion. It’s always loads of fun, but this year was particularly celebratory with the UK coming a very close second!
Read more: A Photo Tour Of Colmar, France’s Fairytale Town and Visiting Three Countries In A Day: A Trip To Basel, Switzerland
June – Portugal & visitors
June was a ridiculously busy month for us. It started with an unexpected trip to Portugal – after our cruise to Norway was cancelled, I decided to keep the time off and we ended up booking Portugal instead. It was my first time back in Portugal since I spent a few weeks there in 2017, so I was excited to see a new part of it (Porto) and actually even more excited to re-visit one of my favourite cities in the entire world (Lisbon).
Lisbon absolutely lived up to my own hype, and I was thrilled that Ash loved it too. I was honestly a bit worried that I was banging on about it a bit too much. Porto was also lovely, and we met up with a colleague from my work, as well as one of my favourite travel blogger friends, Caroline from Pack The Suitcases!
Soon after landing back in the UK, my uncle came to visit for a few days and we climbed Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh. It was great being able to do something like this with him – he’s 81!
The following week, a friend from Australia, Kerry, came to visit and stayed with us for the rest of the month. I worked from home and every day, I would close my laptop when I finished work and we would jump in the car and go off somewhere new. It was brilliant fun, but it was exhausting. As well as showing her around Edinburgh, we went to Pitlochry, Stirling, the Kelpies, two gigs, and at the weekend we even went up through Aberdeenshire to show her some of Scotland’s best castles! At the end of her visit, two other friends came up and we drove to Fort William for a weekend, showing them around a rainy Glencoe before we got on a famous train.
Read more: The Best Of One Day In Porto – Viewpoints, Bookshops & Port, Loving Lisbon: A Perfect 3 Day Itinerary and A Photo Guide To Sintra, The Best Day Trip From Lisbon
July – Fort William & the Harry Potter train
This brings us on to July, as we rode the Harry Potter train on the 2nd of July! We had a brilliant time geeking out over being on the Hogwarts Express, and the following day we continued the theme by going to watch it cross the bridge – meaning I finally got photos of it!
It was our last mad adventure for a while, which is good because we needed time to recover. At this point, we basically hadn’t stopped since we went to France & Switzerland, and really there were only a couple of weeks between that and helping Ash’s parents move, so essentially we hadn’t had any recovery time since Malta. In March.
We still kept fairly busy though, as my parents came to visit and I took Mum out on a boat tour of the Firth Of Forth – something I’ll be writing about at some point as part of a larger post about where we live. Oh, and Kerry came to visit again, just for a weekend this time!
Read more: Everything You Need To Know About The Harry Potter Train In Scotland
August – Fringe, work & Kenya
August is unavoidably busy in Edinburgh, because it’s Fringe!
We actually didn’t go to as many shows as we usually do but I think we still went to at least five. I was ridiculously busy with a project at work, and when I wasn’t totally knackered from that, we were planning and saving for our honeymoon at the end of the month. I was also madly trying to catch up with the blog before we left on a trip that would be time-consuming enough to write about, and in the middle of all that, we visited our parents and took another boat trip out on the Forth, this time to an abbey on an island.
On our way back from visiting family, we stopped by to say hello to my childhood pony, Noodle! I’m amazed I got to see her again, but I knew it would be the last time. In October, the decision was made not to let her suffer another winter, as she didn’t fare well last year at all. She was the bestest girl, and at 33, the same age as me, she had a hell of a life.
On the 27th, we finally flew to Africa for the trip of a lifetime. As you probably know by now because I keep banging on about it and posting even more about it, we had the most phenomenal holiday. Easily the best trip we’ve ever taken. Which is good because it’s also the most expensive…!
We spent a few days in Kenya, starting off in Nairobi followed by a three day safari in the Maasai Mara. From Kenya, we took the bus down into Tanzania, which brings us neatly into September, because we crossed the border on September 1st.
Read more: An Introduction To Kenya – A Safari In The Maasai Mara
September – Tanzania, Budapest, Belgium
We began September in Tanzania, which somehow got even better as the days went on. After four days on safari, we flew to Zanzibar to see out the rest of the week in beachside luxury. This was honestly the best honeymoon we could have asked for. Everything was perfect. We saw every animal we had dreamed of seeing. And we finished it off with the ideal “honeymoon” feeling – reading a book by a pool and walking along white beaches with a turquoise sea.
Unfortunately it was back to reality, but not for long – my Australian friend was doing a trip around Europe and I’d always said I would join her for some of it – after some discussions of Krakow and Budapest, she scrapped Krakow and we just met up in Budapest. Through chance of expensive flights and days off, I wound up coming home via Belgium instead, which meant my plans had gone from two cities to one city to four!
Budapest, like Lisbon, was another city I was really looking forward to re-visiting as I’d loved it so much the first time. I’m pleased to report that, again like Lisbon, Budapest is still one of my favourite cities. We visited all the main sights and ended up unable to choose which baths to go to – so we went to Gellert and Szechenyi! At some point, I’m going to write a post comparing the two, if that would be something anyone would be interested in?
Belgium had gone from being a quick layover in Brussels to being a whirlwind tour of the country – I landed early morning, took a bus straight to Ghent for most of the day, and then spent the night in Antwerp, before spending a couple of hours in Brussels on the way back to the airport. I ended up wishing I’d had more time in Brussels, as to my complete surprise, I loved it! The town square blew me away. Ironically, half the reason I visited Antwerp is because the town square there looked nice. And it was. But it was no Brussels. (Though Antwerp train station is a different story!)
It sounds like a completely insane trip, but I actually really enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to writing about Belgium properly.
In between the two trips, it was our one year wedding anniversary (how quick has that gone?!) and we also celebrated Ash’s parents renewing their vows. To say September was yet another busy month would be a massive understatement!
Read more: Living Out Our Wildest Dreams On Safari In Tanzania and Relaxing On The Shores Of Zanzibar, Tanzania’s Paradise (Budapest & Belgium posts coming up next!)
October – London
Even more excitingly, I’d been offered a job interview while I was away, so I had to arrange it for the day after I got back. I’m so glad they could reschedule – because I was offered the job!! The day I was offered the job, I was off to London for the weekend to say goodbye to my Aussie pal.
We had a fantastic weekend, although naturally it was another exhausting one. We inadvertently saw virtually every landmark in the city, despite mostly visiting non-landmarks. I made an exception for St Paul’s, especially when Kerry said she’d never really seen it up close. It was the perfect opportunity to find this amazing view of it!
We also met some of her friends in Borough Market, wandered down Shad Thames (somewhere I’d never even heard of!), visited Leadenhall and Spitalfields markets, found an abandoned church, explored some of the pretty Kensington mews and enjoyed drinks in an underground Blitz-themed bar. We also went to see a show with Matt from Busted in (and met him afterwards) and wandered all the way through the theatre district to Trafalgar Square where we got caught up in a dance party.
After the show and the long walk, I got on a coach in London at 11pm, and at 7.30am, I got off the coach in Edinburgh and walked to work. I am mostly just amazed that at 33, I can still put my body through this.
I swear once Kerry left the UK, my life calmed down considerably. However, October was still a busy month with me tying up loose ends at work, training new people on the million and one things I did, and catching up with everyone before I left.
I started my new job at the end of October, and I walked in, sat down, my computer was logged in and I had access to all the systems. I mention this because at my old job, it took people weeks or even months to get that far. I cannot overstate how much this job has changed me mentally. I had been falling apart, and I actually had to be signed off at one point which would shock absolutely anyone who knows me. To compound that, I went back after a week because the idea of taking any more time off stressed me out even more. There was nobody else to do my job because they’d all left – my team halved over the pandemic and we got zero thanks for picking up the extra workload. In the end, there were chaotic reshuffles every week, and everything that the (lack of) management failed on fell to the very few of us who were good at our jobs. I don’t really talk about my job on here, but I was at breaking point.
I almost cried when the job offer came through. My colleagues were both devastated and delighted when I told them the news. It was like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders, because I’d decided I was going to hand in my notice whether I got this job or not.
Do not let a job control your life or how you feel, especially one that doesn’t treat you right. There was only pressure, even though they knew the workload was impossible. They didn’t value us in the slightest. The only benefit was having a stable job during the pandemic, and with the extra workload, I did so much overtime that the extra money alone paid for our wedding!
And now I work for a great company, with fantastic people doing a job I love. I work in the admin side of a travel agent, dealing with airlines and flights. I have a defined job where I’m happy to pitch in to help everyone else, but I don’t have an impossible workload thrown at me on a daily basis. I have much longer days with the commute and I still feel so much better for it. It’s amazing, really, how much difference it has made having a job I enjoy, in an industry I want to be in.
November – Krakow
Anyway, enough about work. After a few weeks of settling into the new job, it was time for another trip! This time, I’d invited my best friend along, and he wanted to go somewhere with Christmas markets. We’ve talked for years about going to Berlin, but to be honest I don’t think their Christmas markets are supposed to be that great compared with somewhere like Bavaria, so I suggested Poland instead – a new country for all three of us, a city that everyone seems to love, and they have a big Christmas market in the town square. Perfect!
Despite all my travel antics, this was only my friend’s third ever trip abroad – his second was in August! So I was really excited to have him along on one of our adventures.
We flew to Krakow at the crack (Krak?) of dawn on the Saturday morning and came home on the Monday, giving us virtually a full day in the city, plus a day trip to Auschwitz on the Sunday. So basically, we’d have a day of exploring a new city and getting into the Christmas spirit, followed by one of the most depressing days of our lives. Which we could cure afterwards with mulled wine and more Christmas markets, of course.
Anyway, it was a brilliant trip. As you can tell, I am way behind on the blog right now with adventures from September still to write about, but I will obviously get around to writing about Krakow eventually. We had a lot of fun (well… not so much fun at Auschwitz, I can tell you that), and my friend David said at the end that he’d loved the weekend and could we please do it again some time. Spoiler: we have another trip booked with him in March! I’m so happy that I’ve given him the travel bug! *maniacal laugh*
December – Lithuania
With one more day left to book off at work before the end of the year, I started perusing cheap flights to anywhere to see where I could go for a weekend returning on the Monday. Kaunas in Lithuania popped up at £39.98 return for the following week. I booked it before I’d even looked up what on earth there was to do in Kaunas.
This has to be one of the most spontaneous trips I’ve ever booked! Somewhere I’d never even heard of, less than two weeks in advance. Was I mad?
Turns out, I loved it! Because I have already written about that, owing to the Christmassy nature of the trip. Didn’t really make sense to write about that come February. (And yes, I know we visited Christmas markets in Krakow, but we did so much else on the trip that it won’t be the sole focus of the post, at least.)
So Lithuania was the real surprise of the year!
The weekend before the trip, Ash’s parents came to visit, which was lovely although we failed to visit the Edinburgh Christmas market because it was horrendously busy. I’d maybe recommend not trying to visit it at a weekend. Anyway, there was lots else to see and do over Christmas!
It did mean that despite really getting into the Christmas spirit – a weekend in Krakow, a weekend in Edinburgh and a weekend in Kaunas, plus a Christmas night out with old colleagues AND with new ones – all these busy weekends left us with no time to actually decorate our house until the weekend before Christmas! We were spectacularly late. Some of our decorations are still scattered around not even hung up.
Anyway, it’s fine, because Christmas ended up being wonderful. We haven’t spent Christmas with Ash’s folks since before we went travelling (so… 2014) as they lived at the other end of the country with Ash’s brother getting priority over the spare room. Now that they’ve moved to Scotland, it meant we could spend Christmas with my parents AND Ash’s parents in a big double family extravaganza. One of my sisters even managed to join us for possibly the first time ever. Of course, this could have ended in two very different ways, but I’m glad to report that it all went very well. Though to fit right into 2022, it was, once again, exhausting.
Read more: Christmas In Kaunas: Feeling Festive In Lithuania
I’ve written about quite a lot of what we’ve done over the year, so I thought I’d narrow it down to a few trips or moments.
1. Our honeymoon, obviously. Because nobody saw that coming. Simply one of the best trips ever!
2. Portugal – I loved returning to this fantastic country, and showing it to Ash for the first time. Porto was great but Lisbon, as always, was even better. We finally checked out Sintra and I honestly think I loved every moment of the whole trip.
3. Colmar, France. It is SUCH a beautiful, charming place. It’s impossible not to love it!
4. Budapest. One of my favourite cities in the world, and I’m so glad I got to re-visit and do some more things. And do you know what… I want to go back AGAIN! Ash still hasn’t been, and I think it would be an excellent group trip with some friends.
5. Finally riding the Harry Potter train. Such a fun trip with some of our favourite people!
6. Bonus: Travelling with my best friend for the first time!
And, like every other year, I’m sharing my favourite music, TV shows and books! (Weirdly… not films this year, because I don’t have any stand-outs??)
We’ve only been to three gigs this year, but they were all excellent – Biffy Clyro, Green Day / Fall Out Boy / Weezer, and Funeral For A Friend.
I’ve seen Biffy a number of times now, but haven’t seen them since 2010. This was probably the best show I’ve seen by them, but I also realised it’s the first time I’ve seen them in Scotland since 2005, so it was fantastic finally seeing them with a home crowd again!
The Hella Mega Tour, like so many others, was postponed twice and finally went ahead this year. And holy crap. I always worry when I see Green Day in case this is the time they’ve finally gone downhill and Billie Joe can’t hold a note any more. Happy to confirm that they’re still the best live band on the planet. (Fall Out Boy were really good too – but honestly felt like a support act in comparison, rather than a co-headliner!)
Holding Absence – Afterlife
Holding Absence were one of the supports for Funeral For A Friend. Honestly? One of the best support bands we’ve ever seen! Afterlife is an absolute banger and my favourite song of the year. We’re going to see them again in January – and yes, his voice is that powerful!
Ed Sheeran & Bring Me The Horizon – Bad Habits
Never, ever in my life thought I’d put an Ed Sheeran song on here, and I don’t even like BMTH either. In one of the most bizarre collaborations of all time, they’ve made a cracking version of this song! They’ve done a studio version too, but this is where I first heard it – at the Brit Awards for a surprise performance.
I could write a whole blog post about how great Heartstopper is, to be honest. Every time I watch it (and that’s been… a lot), it plants a huge smile on my face for four hours. It’s so, so wholesome and joyful and uplifting and wonderful. Pure serotonin. The representation is fantastic for bisexual and trans people, to the point that it’s been brought up in *parliamentary debates* as an example of representation saving lives. Words cannot even express how much this show means to me, and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. It’s the show everyone wishes existed when they were growing up. Yet it’s so much more than “an LGBTQ+ show” – it’s a perfect portrayal of mental health, healthy communication in relationships and friendships, acceptance, standing up for yourself and standing up for what’s right. It’s a beautiful, beautiful show.
Runner up: Stranger Things – somehow, season 4 might have been the best season yet! Although the episodes reached silly lengths (sorry, two and a half hours is a FILM), the writing, production and acting was astounding. Sadie Sink is going to go far. And seriously – THAT scene with Running Up That Hill? One of the best episodes of TV ever made. Hands down.
Latecomer runner up: Wednesday. We’ve just finished it this week, and what a show! Full of intrigue from start to finish, it’s so much better than I thought it would be.
To be honest I haven’t read nearly as much as I wanted to this year – when have I had the time?!
However, American Dirt is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. A story of a Mexican family being torn apart, with no choice but to make the perilous journey to the USA. A story of determination, devastation, and unimaginable courage. I was there with Lydia on every page of the book. I recommend everyone reads this.
Between work, travel, a social life, family stuff and everything else we’ve done this year, I haven’t had as much time to write on the blog as I would have liked – hence being about four months behind at the moment! Traffic has gone up slowly, and despite being Elon Musk’d, Twitter is still my favourite platform to interact with other bloggers.
In fact, one of my favourite things this year has been meeting up with loads of bloggers and Twitterers! I did a short hill walk with Rosie from La Grenouille Anglaise at the start of the year (we MUST meet up more!), I explored Northern Ireland with Ian from Barefoot Backpacker, I drank port with Caroline from Pack The Suitcases in Porto, I had few drinks with Avios Adventurer, and I had more drinks (I’m starting to see a theme here) with travel writer Robin McKelvie. It’s been great to meet so many excellent people who all have common interests!
I’ve shared a lot of this year’s posts with the relevant activities above, and to be honest I barely post on Instagram any more, so I don’t even have a social media highlights reel to share. So it’s short and sweet in this section this time, except for all the name-dropping of cool people. 😉
One of my favourite weird Google “successes”? This post about why everyone either loves or hates Paris comes up on the first page when you search “I hate Paris”.
What’s coming up in 2023?
At the moment, we have a whooooooole bunch of potential plans. My feet have been getting rather itchy with all the uncertainty, mostly as I hesitate to book anything in case we suddenly decide JAPAN, but I have just booked some flights to Italy in March, which throws the original Japan plan slightly askew.
We’ll be flying to Venice with our friend, and we’ll spend a couple of days there as he and Ash have never been, but from there we’ll finally be going to another place in my top 3 travel list: SLOVENIA!
I literally booked these just before Christmas in the easyJet sale (amazingly they cost even less than the Lithuania flights!!), so I haven’t done one iota of planning yet, but we’ll most likely get the bus to Ljubljana, spend a couple of nights there, visit Lake Bled, and then return to Italy for another couple of days. My friend is just as insane as me, much to Ash’s dismay, so we’re considering San Marino. Again, over Christmas I have done zero research. It might be a ridiculous idea. That also might not stop us, though.
Other potential plans include: re-booking the cruise to Norway (#2 on my top 3 list, and it leaves ten minutes from our house…), going to Slam Dunk festival in Leeds, going to Eurovision in Liverpool (we are going regardless, it’s just whether we can get actual tickets, which is extremely unlikely), and then some more weekend trips with our friend later in the year.
I also have a very exciting blog trip in May! I don’t want to say too much yet as I’m suffering from total imposter syndrome, but it’s an island in Europe and a company I’m really looking forward to working with.
As for Japan (#1 in the top 3 list)? Don’t even ask. The country’s finally open to tourists, but flights are running at three times their pre-pandemic price at the moment. I’ve found a potential plan to fly via South Korea, which would involve long layovers in Seoul. We are just holding off for now, and waiting for our friends to confirm when they’re able to go.
So that’s it! 2022 has come to a close, and it’s been absolutely manic. It’s been the year of Putin completely losing his god damn mind, the UK government imploding, the cost of living reaching unattainable levels, and the Queen dying. But it’s also been the year that Greta Thunberg owned Andrew Tate so hard that he got himself arrested. Twitter peaked late this year, but it’s been a beautiful run to the finish line.
I’m sure 2023 will bring more madness and adventures, and I look forward to sharing them with you!
7 thoughts on “2022: A Busy Year In Review”
Holy cow – you need a vacation after all those vacations!
Totally agree about American Dirt – couldn’t put it down.
Don’t worry about a long layover in Seoul. The city’s Incheon airport is so great I wrote a blog post about it: https://thetravelarchitect.wordpress.com/2021/09/04/anyong-haseyo-incheon-airport/
Happy New Year, Clazz!
Wow, you had such an incredibly busy year! Looking forward to continuing to read about your travels (particularly your trips to Krakow, as I also visited in November and it will be interesting to see how you found it, and Slovenia, as I’ve never been but am itching to visit). Happy New Year and all the best for 2023!
What a year!!! Here’s to a wonderful 2023!
What an incredible year of amazing travels! I have loved following along with your adventures and can’t wait to see where you take us in the new year! 🙂
Oh my gosh, what a year! I’m exhausted just reading about this. Sounds like 2023 is shaping up to be pretty great as well. Not gonna lie, I’m sure jealous of your Slovenia plans… it’s at the top of my list too! Happy new year!
You certainly had a year of travel– 11 countries is an impressive feat! Truly the definition of “revenge travel” (i.e. making up for lost time following the worst of the pandemic)! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following you throughout your trips, and your honeymoon in Tanzania certainly took the cake! Super surprised, but super happy you met up with Rosie for a hike in Scotland– I follow her blog, too! Also glad you had the courage to walk away from your old job and take another one that makes you a lot happier and healthier– that’s something I’ll be working on achieving this year, whether or not I leave my current job or not…Wishing you another year of wild adventures, no matter where you go!
You did so much, what a wonderful year 2022 was for you. Happy New Year 🙂