Our Top 10 Highlights of 2017

2017 has been an amazing year for us! We moved into our first place together in Australia, got married, honeymooned in the Maldives and Sri Lanka and survived our first full year in Australia. Among all of that we had plenty of weekends away and adventures both at home and away! We ticked off some bucket list items and in usual form added plenty more to the bucket list! The blog has grown even more than we could have expected and we’ve loved every minute of it. As always, we like to sum up our favourite hotels, our most popular posts and our top experiences and highlights of the year as it comes to a close. Here are our top 10 experiences of 2017, a year that we will never forget! We’d love to know the highlights of your 2017 as well so make sure you leave us a comment letting us know! x

Overwater Bungalows in Maldives

We spent a week over the New Year on beautiful North Stradbroke Island, located off Brisbane in Queensland. North Stradbroke Island, or Straddie as it is better known is the world’s second largest sand island and is one of Australia’s best kept secrets! We spent a wonderful week exploring Straddie’s white sandy beaches that boast crystal clear waters, beautiful inland lakes and hidden waterways, scenic walks and enjoying the large numbers of native wildlife who call this island home. Straddie was the perfect place to relax in paradise and bring in the New Year!

Main Beach Stradbroke Island Sunrise at North Gorge Walk Stradbroke Island

In April this year I headed down to Sydney with my mum and three of my best friends to go wedding dress shopping! It was exactly six months until the big day and I was more nervous about the dress shopping than the actual wedding! Shopping for a wedding dress is one of those experiences all girls dream about and I am happy to say that it was just as magical as I’d hoped! I found my dream dress at Luv Bridal in Parramatta and we had the perfect girls weekend at the luxurious Meriton Apartments!

Girl with I said Yes to the Dress Sign Luv Bridal Girls at Meriton Church Street Parramatta

At the end of May we had a weekend in Newcastle with all my friends from University. We went out to the Hunter Valley for Lovedale Long Lunch which is a “winery crawl” through three wineries in the Hunter Valley where you experience good food, great wine and entertainment. We had an amazing, very wine-fuelled day in the Hunter Valley and can’t wait for next year’s Lovedale Long lunch! Oh and how cute are our floral dresses!

Girls at Lovedale Long Lunch Hunter Valley Vineyards Lake Lovedale Group at Lovedale Long Lunch

Vivid Sydney is an annual winter festival of light, music and ideas showcasing amazing light sculptures, creative industry forums and a cutting-edge contemporary music program. The most iconic part of Vivid is the illumination of the Sydney Opera House sails! Vivid Sydney is grown to become the largest of its kind in the world and is an event that has been on my radar for a long time. We made the trip down the Sydney on the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend in June and loved exploring the city whilst being dazzled by the light installations! I am so glad we finally got the opportunity to experience the festival and had a great stay at Rydges Sydney Central.

Opera House at Vivid festival Sydney Vivid from Harbour Bridge

For Dan’s birthday in August we made the trip back down to Sydney to watch the Wallabies play the All Blacks in the first game of the Bledisloe Cup. Dan and I both love the rugby and even though we didn’t win, we still loved the atmosphere at the game and can’t wait for the next time we can watch the Wallabies play!

Simone and Dan at Bledisloe Cup New Zealand Haka

Dan and I are both lucky enough to have friends and family who planned the most perfect Hens and Bucks weekends for us. My beautiful bridesmaids planned the most perfect weekend to celebrate my upcoming nuptials in the Hunter Valley! We stayed in a beautiful house in the winery region and in typical hen weekend fashion drank way too many cocktails, played bachelorette party games and had the most perfect girls weekend! The girls also planned a winery tour where we visited 3 wineries, a cheese shop, chocolate factory and schnapps distillery! It was the perfect hens weekend with all the best women in my life! Dan also had the perfect weekend of camping, surfing and plenty of beers with the boys up the coast.

Girls on Hens weekend Bridal party with bride balloons

We got married in October in Port Macquarie, Australia surrounded by our closest friends and family. All our regular readers will know that Dan is from the UK and so whilst we would have loved to have all our family and friends from there come to the wedding, we understood that most would be unable to make the long journey. We were so excited that 14 of our friends and family made the big trip over to our side of the world! My beautiful high school best friend Mesi and her boyfriend Alex came over from Austria, and my lovely work colleagues Lydia, Anne, Julie and her family came over from the UK. Dan’s brother Jay and a few of his friends from England made the big trip over which he was stoked about. We had the week before the wedding to spend with these guys and loved showing them our little piece of paradise in Port Macquarie and of course celebrate our wedding with them!

Girls standing on beach Boys ready for surfing Port Macquarie Group ready to go whale watching Port Macquarie

Our wedding on October 28th was the best day of our lives. We had the most perfect weather and it was everything we’d wished for and more and we loved every moment of it. We’ve actually said multiple times since the wedding that whilst we loved it, we wouldn’t do it again as there is no way it could be as perfect the second time around! Our closest friends and family had travelled from all over to share this day with us and we just felt so blessed to have them all there with us. We were so incredibly happy with our beautiful photographs from the day which we will cherish forever!

Read all about our wedding: Part 1 Getting Ready, Part 2 The Ceremony and Part 3 The Photos and Reception.

Couple on beachBridesmaids at Lighthouse

We changed our honeymoon destination and plans literally a few months prior to our wedding due to issues with our accommodation. We ended up booking the Maldives which has been the number 1 destination on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and decided because it was so close to add a week in Sri Lanka on as well! The Maldives is the epitome of paradise and the ultimate honeymoon destination. We booked the gorgeous LUX* South Ari Atoll in one of their Romantic Pool Water Villas which was our own overwater villa with private infinity pool, a cosy love-nest and direct access into the beautiful lagoon! Our honeymoon at LUX* was the honeymoon I’d always dreamed of and I actually cried when our seaplane left at the end of our weeklong stay! I can guarantee we will be back one day! We’ve shared a lot of our favourite Maldives pics on Instagram and have lots of blog posts on their way!

Girl sitting on Infinity Pool in MaldivesMale in Water Hammock in Maldives

The first leg of our honeymoon was Sri Lanka and we had an amazing week exploring Colombo, Ella, Udawalawe, Midigama and Galle. The highlight of our Sri Lankan honeymoon was our safari in the incredible Udawalawe National Park. We booked a glamping & safari package with Master Campers Udawalawe which included glamping, amazing three course meals and alcohol along with an afternoon/evening safari and sunrise safari. Udawalawe National Park was incredible and we were so lucky to see so much wildlife especially elephants and it has really inspired us to start to save and plan for an Africa trip (another bucket list item)!

Couple on safari in Udawalawe National ParkElephants in Udawalawe National Park

2018 will be a quieter year for us without having to plan a wedding! We are aiming to buy our first home, hoping Dan’s permanent residency comes through and to just relax and enjoy the paradise we live in! Dan also turns 30 in August and so we are still deciding where we will celebrate but currently tossing up between a trip to either Hawaii, Bali or New Zealand! We are also heading over to Europe next Christmas where we are planning a week in England, a week in Scotland (including new years in Edinburgh for Hogmanay), a week in Iceland and a week in Austria/Hungary! We’ll also have weekends away in Australia and have a few weekends planned with friends and a couple of weddings which we’re really excited for!

How was your 2017? What were your highlights?