Every year we like to round up our top 10 most popular posts of the year. This year has been a big year for The Aussie Flashpacker! We’ve visited 12 countries, had countless unforgettable travel experiences, moved across the world and gained over 50,000 social media followers along the way! We’ve loved sharing our travel experiences with all our wonderful readers and promise 2017 will be an amazing year full of travels, our wedding & honeymoon!
1. EAGLE BRAE: YOUR LUXURIOUS RETREAT IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
Scotland is famous for its majestic natural beauty, wildlife and breathtaking scenery. On our recent holiday we discovered Eagle Brae, the ultimate in luxurious self-catering holiday accommodation located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, just north of Loch Ness. We felt at home immediately at Eagle Brae in their beautiful, unique and luxurious log cabins which are the perfect place to experience the best that Scotland has to offer and are an ideal base to explore the Scottish Highlands from. We fell in love with Eagle Brae instantly and truly believe the concept and design of these wonderful log cabins is like no other, anywhere in the world. It’s a place we will never forget and are already aching to return.
2. EXPLORING THE MAGICAL SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
Scotland was the last country in the UK I had left to visit and I had quite high expectations given the incredible reviews I’d heard from friends and family who had visited before me. Dan and I spent a week exploring the beautiful Scottish Highlands and their many diverse landscapes. Scotland is a country of natural beauty, endless freshwater lochs, magical glens, charming castles with extensive histories and evergreen forests with soaring snowcapped mountains in every direction. The Scottish Highlands were everything and more I’d hoped they would be, and we cannot wait to visit again in the future and explore Scotland further.
3. MEDSAILORS: THE ONLY WAY TO SAIL IN CROATIA
In May we spent a week sailing around Croatia with MedSailors, a sailing company owned by 3 Kiwis who run group sailing holidays around Croatia, Turkey and Greece for 20-35 year olds! It was our first experience sailing and I’m happy to say it was one of the most incredible weeks travelling we’ve had in all our years of traipsing around the world. As an Aussie I gravitate towards the sunshine, salt, sand and sea and after two years in the UK I was in serious need of some Vitamin Sea. There’s nothing better than waking up and diving off your yacht into the crystal clear, aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean Sea and then spending your days sailing, stopping in gorgeous bays, paddle boarding, relaxing and then docking up on a beautiful, new island each day to explore historic towns, try wonderful new cuisine paired with local wines and relax on-board your own yacht with your new friends, some who will become friends for life. A sailing holiday with MedSailors is truly the perfect way to holiday and we’re already planning our next one!
4. A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF ISTANBUL
After two months of travelling around Europe, we arrived in Turkey, our second to last country of the trip and couldn’t be more excited to be here! We spent almost three weeks exploring this incredible country in depth with Neyzen Travel and Yachting. the leaders in luxurious custom designed Turkey travel. Our travels began in Istanbul, the cultural capital of Turkey where we spent three days exploring this incredible city with its mighty Byzantine walls, mysterious underground cisterns, majestic basilicas, opulent Ottoman palaces, breathtakingly beautiful mosques, buzzing markets and the ever-busy Bosphorus strait. Istanbul is a city brimming with culture, history and magic with traditions still alive that are rooted in over 2,500 years of history! Like no other city in the world, the city of Istanbul bridges two continents which has fused cultures, ethnic groups, religions and history in its own extraordinary way and is truly a unique, majestic city.
5. AN UNFORGETTABLE DINNER AT NAUTIKA, DUBROVNIK’S FINEST RESTAURANT
Nautika Restaurant lies on the very edge of the sea at Pile, alongside the western entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old City and during our time in this incredible city we were lucky enough to experience Dubrovnik’s finest and most romantic restaurant. From Nautika’s unique terraces we had an unforgettable view of the Adriatic, Lovrijenac and Bokar fortresses and the city walls. The restaurant’s chef, Mario Bunda, leads a team whose varied, delicious offerings include lobster from the Dalmatian island of Vis, delicacies from the local waters and many fish species which are pulled straight from the Adriatic ensuring they are always fresh and healthy. Nautika only uses fresh seafood and they source all their ingredients locally which is something they are renowned for. Nautika is a place that combines tradition, quality and creativity. It offers an innovative and refined style of Mediterranean cuisine. Nautika is a truly special, one of a kind restaurant in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth and it was a highlight of our time in Dubrovnik and a dining experience we will never forget.
6. 10 REASONS YOU SHOULD EXPLORE PORTUGAL WITH A SOUL CAMPERS CAMPERVAN
Portugal was the first stop on our travels through Europe and is a country which we very quickly fell head over heels in love for. It is a country where you can relax on some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, eat the freshest of seafood straight off the boat in small, traditional fishing villages, stroll through charming historic towns, surf waves that people travel from all over the world to surf and fall further in love with the country the more you explore. We travelled for a week along the coastline with Soul Campers in one of their new campervans and it was one of the most incredible experiences of our travel lives to date! We share 10 reasons why you should explore this incredible country with one of their amazing campervans.
7. HOW OUR AUSTRALIAN PARTNER VISA WAS GRANTED IN SIX MONTHS
Dan & I met and fell in love whilst travelling around South America in late 2013. A few months later I said goodbye to Australia with a one way ticket to London, a UK working visa and almost 50 kg of luggage (thank you Emirates for your generous baggage limits). It was like a fairytale and I had also always wanted to move to the UK but being from opposite sides of the world meant we had to discuss fairly early on where we wanted to end up if our relationship was to work! We discussed it a lot earlier than most couples I’m sure but decided that ultimately Australia was where we wanted to settle. We were lucky enough to apply for Dan’s partner visa from the UK and have it approved in just over six months and so we wanted to share our visa story in the hope it assists others who are going through the same experience.
8. AN INCREDIBLE DAY HIKING THE FIVE VILLAGES OF THE CINQUE TERRE
If you follow us on Instagram then you’ll know that during our recent visit to Italy’s Cinque Terre we absolutely fell in love with this gorgeous destination. One of the highlights for us and many other people to the region is hiking the Sentiero Azzurro, the path along the coast that connects all five villages of the Cinque Terre. Unfortunately a few years ago terrible landslides closed the world-famous Via dell’Amore which is the path that connects the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola. However, it is still possible to hike between the five villages it now just involves a much more strenuous hike! These ancient trails are rough but manageable and the charm of the area is that it is natural and unspoiled so don’t expect nice even steps or safety rails along the path. We undertook the hike between Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare, taking the time to stop at each of the villages on our way and it was without a doubt a highlight of our time in Italy!
9. AN UNFORGETTABLE STAY ON SANTORINI AT ROMANTIC NOSTOS APARTMENTS
Santorini has always been at the top of my bucket list. Ever since I first saw a picture of those picture perfect white towns dotted on the cliffs, the beautiful blue domes, the awe-inspiring caldera and the romantic cave hotels with infinity pools. It is not often that you visit a place you’ve always wanted to and it is even better than you could have possibly imagined and I’m happy to say that Santorini exceeded all my (very high) expectations, I truly fell in love with this picture perfect, romantic, beautiful island. Our stay on Santorini was made perfect by our incredible stay at Nostos Apartments in Oia and it was one of the most beautiful, magical places we’ve stayed in all our travels and truly made our time on Santorini unforgettable.
10. PAROS: OUR GREEK ISLAND PARADISE
The third island on our Greek Island hopping itinerary was Paros, a gorgeous island boasting sandy beaches, charming villages and beautiful landscapes. We were staying at the gorgeous Astir of Paros and spent our days exploring the island in our cute little AutoParos Suzuki! Paros is located in the heart of the Aegean Sea and has something for everyone! We loved the traditional villages of Naoussa, Parikia and Lefkes which are wonderful examples of Cycladic architecture with whitewashed Greek houses, paved streets and blue-domed churches that ooze charm and beauty. Paros has unrivalled natural beauty with its golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and breathtaking landscapes. Paros is also famous for its white marble where most famously, the Venus de Milo and Napoleon’s tomb were carved from marble sourced from the island! Paros is one of the quieter of the Cyclades Islands and is the ultimate Greek Island paradise, we loved every moment of our time here and it was one of our favourite of the magical Greek islands!