As 2018 is now upon us, we thought we would take a quick look back at some of the wonderful places we visited in 2017. The year saw us visit 27 countries (13 for the first time), take a trip back to New Zealand for our son Daniel’s wedding, buying a car for road trips, visiting 4 continents and travelling to our 50th country. We also continued our love of housesitting.
TravelKiwis Year in Review 2017
Part 1 January to August 2017
While we did spend the majority of our time in the UK and Europe, our trip back to New Zealand gave us an opportunity to explore many new places as tourists in our home town. We even wrote a travel guide about Wellington.
We took our first ever Caribbean cruise, and a second cruise to Mexico, did a road trip around Florida, attended the biggest Pirate party in the world, gambled a little in Las Vegas .
A highlight of our return trip to London was 7 days each in Sri Lanka and Kerela, Southern India. Such beautiful places to visit, for scenery, culture and food.
Below we have put together a selection of some travel ideas you may like to add to your travel destination plans. Click here to read more of our Blogs – TravelKiwis
1. San Juan, Puerto Rico
We started the year off in the south of France, but soon were in the much warmer climate of Florida. We embarked on the first of two back to back cruises, the first to the Eastern Caribbean, the second to Mexico. This is Castillo de San Felipe del Morro at the entrance to the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
2. Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean Cruise
This plant growing from coral caught our eye. We were on the incredible Half Moon Cay beach in the Bahamas, with our ship in the background. We spent a fantastic day swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing. Just a perfect location.
3. Costa Maya, Mexico
At the Mayan complex of Chacchobben, Mexico. We had a great tour with Native Choice where we learned a lot about the incredible Mayan civilization. The site is in the second largest rain forest in the Americas, lots of wildlife.
4. Florida Keys, USA
After our two cruises we hired a car to do a road trip to Kay West then through the Everglades to Tampa. This is a sunset at Key Largo we saw after taking a kayak for a spin over the calm water. We spent an hour on the pier listening to a nearby live band, enjoying a drink while watching the brilliant sunset, we even spotted some manatees in the water. What a beautiful evening.
5. Gasparilla Tampa, USA
The pirate ship ‘Jose Gaspar’ heading the invasion of Tampa. Gasparilla is the 3rd biggest parade in the USA, and a major reason we decided to stop here on the way back to New Zealand. The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates has over 130 units – more than 90 floats, 14 marching bands and over 50 distinct Krewes. We stayed in Tampa for a few nights with our good friend Alicia who we had travelled with for 15 days on our China tour during 2016.
6. Wellington, New Zealand
We were back in Wellington, New Zealand by early February. Certainly the big highlight of the year for us was our middle son Daniel’s wedding on February 25th. The eve of the wedding day provided magnificent views over the beautiful Wellington Harbour.
The wedding of Daniel and Jessica was a wonderful occasion. The weather was superb, the location perfect, the reception was full of fun and love, the food was terrific, and the young couple set off on their journey very happy. We are so proud of them both and look forward to seeing how their travel through life develops.
7. Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
March saw us making our way back to Europe via Sri Lanka and India. Meeting this big elephant was one of the highlights of our afternoon safari in the Yala National Park in Southern Sri Lanka. He just appeared out of the bush with two females happily feeding on the grass. Bulls with tusks are rare so we were lucky to see him, they are also known to attack vehicles.
8. Kerela, Southern India
Getting to know some Kerala locals on a school trip. Top Station is the highest point (1700m) on the Munnar-Kodaikanal Road. Top Station is popular as it offers a panoramic view of the majestic Western Ghats. From here you can view the worlds highest tea plantation Kolukkumalai Tea Estate at 2400 metres. Don’t you just love the colours the girls are wearing.
9. The Regent’s Canal, London, UK
We were house-sitting in London for the month of April and we took the opportunity to explore some places we hadn’t been on previous visits. Opened in 1816, The Regent’s Canal crosses London for 14km, from Paddington to the River Thames in the east of London. We walked the canal path from Camden Town to Little Venice about 4km.
Click here to read Step Away from The Tourist Buzz to Walk The Regent’s Canal
10. Salzburg, Austria
During May we spent two weeks near Munich looking after the two sons of our friends. We took the opportunity to visit Salzburg, Austria as it was one of our favourite places we visited on our two month exploration of Europe in 1985. Salzburg literally has photo ops at every turn. Castles, bridges, snow capped mountains, green fields, statues to famous people, cobblestone streets, chocolate and beer. On top of all that, there is the music – 🎶 Mozart, and The Sound of Music 🎶
11. Friedrichshafen, Germany
After leaving Munich we travelled for 5 nights stopping at Friedrichshafen on the shores of Lake Constance. This shot is taken from Molturm, a viewing platform on the lake providing views over the town on one side and on the other views of mountains and Switzerland.
12. Fontenoy le Chateau, France
The second half of May was spent in one of our favourite small French villages, Fontenoy-le-Chateau. We had a house sit here last year and couldn’t resist the offer to stay again looking after Miki and Misty for 2 weeks. Fontenoy is a medieval village of only 500 people, a canal, a bakery, a small market, a pharmacy and a bar. This picture is special as we noticed a New Zealand flag on the back as the boat went by. We yelled out “Hey Kiwis”, and discovered the couple was from Palmerston North, the same town we grew up in!
13. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Luxembourg has some dramatic views due to the two levels of the city, The fortified medieval old town is perched on sheer cliffs cut by the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers.
Click here to read more about Discover Luxembourg City – A Walk of a Thousand Views
14. Bruges, Belgium
In June we headed to the UK, on the way stopped in at Luxembourg, and the two beautiful Belgian towns of Bruges and Ghent. This canal is one of many in Bruges, this one was away from the main tourist area where we found a local bar with cheap beer. That’s always a big thing for us, to eat and drink away from the tourist area to get better priced and more authentic food.
Click here to read Discover Bruges and its Medieval Charms
15. Cambridge, UK
For the month of July we had a house-sit in the village of Great Shelford, a few kilometres from Cambridge. It looks like a race, but this a group of punting boats taking tourists on a cruise on the River Cam in Cambridge. The 3-arched bridge is the stone Clare Bridge built 1640. A visit to Cambridge isn’t complete without a punt on the river.
Click to read Come Explore Beautiful Cambridge England
16. Birmingham, UK
During August we had a house-sit in the village of Water Orton, very close to the city of Birmingham. Have you ever seen a roundabout in a canal? This is Old Turn Junction on the Birmingham Canal Main Line. We were ‘wowed’ by the activity in this area, cafes, bars, bridges and lots of people, a real buzzy atmosphere.
January to August 2017
The first 8 months of 2017 was tremendous, but a whole lot more was to come in the last four months. We will soon be posting pics from our road trips in our new car, and from our house-sits in Italy and Switzerland.