Year 2015: Travel, Visa & Lifestyle Update

Expat Update2015 has been CRAZY, I can’t believe how fast it’s gone!  This is a review of my year, the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done, some of my travel highs and lows!  I plan on turning this into a monthly feature, but for now, this is what the whole of 2015 has been like for me!

Travel Stats

  • Countries Visited = 8: England, Hungary, USA, Iceland, Portugal, Ireland, Maldives, Spain

Not bad for a part time traveller!  Over a quarter of my yearly time off, was spent in the UK, to satisfy the conditions of the Marriage Visa, Jesse had to spend a certain amount of time in the country before being able to get married here.  4 countries were new ones for me!

  • Flights Taken: 17
  • Hotels Stayed in: 9
  • Segway Tours completed: 4!

Closer to Home

Places I visited: Sheffield, Dorset, London, Thetford Forest, Southend, Maldon, Finchingfield, (Raceways/show grounds: Brands Hatch Circuit, Santa Pod Drag Strip, East of England Showground) and I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour for a second time!

As a delivery driver, I’m in Maldon everyday, but they have a Promenade Park that runs along side of the river.  It’s always been one of my favourite places to just sit and have ice cream by the river!  This year I visited an old fashioned Steam Fairground there.

Living so close to London, I tend to take it for granted.  I saw my favourite band there twice, I saw Cats in the WestEnd and went up a couple of times with the American Family doing the whole tourist thing.  I hadn’t visited the Tower of London since I was in Primary School on a trip!  As always, a trip to Camden was on the cards.  It’s an area me and Jesse both love.

Me and my parents spent the weekend visiting my Mum’s Uncle on the South Coast of England.  He had so many awesome travel stories AND he taught me how to use my camera on manual! (Yes it’s small but I never really understood it before!)  Here’s the very first photo I ever took on manual!

IMG_1925
Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain

My Travel Highs

  • I guess the top one has got to be the fact that me and the American other half are still managing to beat the long distance thing and this year we got married! 10 of his friends and family flew over to the UK for it and we spent the week exploring Ireland, London and around my home town.  Our families got on amazingly well, I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better!

Travel Themed Wedding

  • I finally ticked off something that’s been right at the top of my bucket list for so long.  For our Honeymoon we stayed in a Water Bungalow in the Maldives!  I managed to fall down the Bungalow ladder, bump down every step on my bottom and went splash into the sea.  I was laughing so much I thought I was going to drown.  I am what I am, the other half stood watching and wasn’t surprised in the slightest, I’m clumsy, it happens a lot!

PIN ME

  • Spending time with the Parents on a trip to Iceland.  It was a country they had visited before and wanted to go back to.  It was nice seeing them loving travel so much, I’ve brought them up well!  We had a really fun time and lots of laughs.
  • My Sis agreeing to accompany me on my crazy weekends away to Mainland Europe.  Having her there with me, spending an afternoon sitting on a warm beach in Portugal just because I needed to get away from reality for a bit meant more to me that I think she realised!  Plus I REALLY fell in love with Lisbon that weekend!

My Travel Lows

  • After only 6 months, I managed to drop my ‘new’ camera an hour after arriving in Portugal and smashed it to bits.  I was surprisingly calm about it, but could have done without having to pay £300 for a new one and having to use an iPod as my main way of taking photos!
  • This is more of a Long Distance thing.  I really struggled trying to plan and organise a wedding when my Husband-to-be was 4000 miles away.  I guess I took on a lot myself to cut down on the budget and on top of working the amount I do, I found it tough.  (A weekend in Portugal sorted me out nicely though!)
  • Nearly getting scammed at a tram ticket machine in Budapest.  It was a shame, the people were in general, so lovely and friendly and it kinda put a dampener on it despite it only being something small.  I’m still not convinced we were charged right in a taxi either.

  • Not so much completely my lows, but I don’t think England likes Jesse having to go home to the States.  On his trip in May, his flight from London-Chicago was delayed by 4 hours so he missed his domestic connection back to Iowa.  AND THEN in September, Ryanair LIED to us and said our plane was unfit to fly, made us go back into the terminal for another load of passengers to then jump on our plane and fly off into the distance…this then meant Jesse was going to miss his Aer Lingus connection in Dublin back to Chicago.  It meant I got him for an extra day but it was a pain having to use the refund from Ryanair to book a new flight and amazingly as soon as we knew he’d miss the flight, we contacted Aer Lingus and managed to get his flight switched to the following day for a small fee rather than buy a whole new flight.  His poor sister had to make TWO 6 hour round trips to collect him from Chicago!
  • Again, more of an annoyance, a homeless person in Barcelona shoved me through the metro barriers so he could get through the Metro barriers behind me on my ticket.  I’m only small, I don’t want to be pushed around!

My Favourite New Places I Visited

  • Cascais – Portugal
  • Vik – Iceland
  • South Male Atoll – Maldives

My Favourite Activities

  • Snorkelling with Sea Turtles and Sharks in the Maldives!

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 20.12.57

  • Extreme Off-roading – Iceland
  • GoApe Ziplining – Thetford Forest, UK
  • Reverse Bungee (After going on it years ago, I’ve been dying to do it again but no one would go on it with me and I was unable to do it alone!  I dragged the other half on it too and he loved it so much we went on it again the following day!)

Visa Update

Days since first Visa Correspondence = 96

…and we’ve had nothing since, the processing centre that is dealing with our application is experiencing delays of an extra month on top of normal processing times, so the wait continues…

Songs for the Playlist

As a full-time driver, I spend HOURS everyday listening to music.  These are my favourite ‘driving/road trip’ songs of 2015!

  • Walk The Moon – Shut Up and Dance
  • Rachel Platten – Fight Song (introduced to by my American Sis-in-laws!)
  • 5 Seconds of Summer – Hey Everybody

Favourite Books I’ve Read in 2015

  • The Day of the Wave by Becky Wicks

Based around the Tsunami disaster in Thailand.  I really enjoyed it because the 2 main characters were an English Girl and an American Guy who had met while on holiday in Thailand.  I felt like I could relate to that part and the way they spoke to each other kinda reminded me of how me and Jesse were when we first met!

How Our Story Begun

  • The Atlas of Us by Tracy Buchanan

For some reason I read a second book that involved the Tsunami too!  It was full of twists and turns and when I finally got into the way it was written, I didn’t want to put it down!

  • How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff

Written by one of the travel bloggers I follow (neverendingfootsteps), about all the ups and downs of her life on the road.  I read it in a few days!

I tend to read a lot in a year already, I read most days on my lunch break at work and whenever I’m away.  I was tempted to try the 52 book challenge in 2016 but I’m quite a slow reader!  So I’ve decided to aim for 24 books…at least 2 a month, anymore than that will be a result!  I will write more about what I’m reading in my monthly updates.

Lets see what 2016 brings!

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4 thoughts on “Year 2015: Travel, Visa & Lifestyle Update

  1. You’ve done so much this year! 🙂

    My camera is still broken from dropping it in Vietnam, I got it fixed for a few days but then it broke again. 😦 However I’ve been using Ash’s camera instead and it’s so much better! Swings and roundabouts lol.

    I need to read Lauren’s book!! It’s not available in Australia and Ash’s kindle broke (we’re having all the luck with technology haha!). Interested in reading those other two books too. Also: Shut Up And Dance is definitely a song which will always remind me of this year!! And that Rachel Platten song will always remind me of our first awful job here! Hahaha.

    Bring on 2016, can’t wait to see what adventures you get up to! 🙂

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    1. I nearly bought the same camera from a shop in Portugal but it was so much more expensive so I had to make do! I really wanna step up my GoPro photography too, I love some of the photos that that produces and it’s indestructible! Ta! Will certainly be a strange year if my visa final comes through! Wonder where you’ll end up too!

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