Isn’t it fun to look back at the previous year? Where did it take you… What you’ve accomplished…What goals you‘ve reached or how can you get closer in the following year…
2018 was a crazy year. We traveled almost all the way around the world, finished our dream trip and settled in a beautiful place where we’re happy.
We overcame many physical challenges – ran a popular 32 km hiking trail in New Zealand, conquered another volcano and one of the hardest treks we’ve ever done in Indonesia, finished our first ever triathlon, and also the biggest challenge of all – settling down after a 2-year trip.
If you want to read our month by month recaps of the trip around the world, you can find them here.
Stay in touch with us on Instagram where we post pictures of our latest adventures and stories from the road.
This is our 2018 in review, all highs and lows included.
Where we went, what we did and what happened in a year.
Table of Contents
January –visitors in New Zealand and running challenge
After 6 months of working in Christchurch on the South Island, we left and stayed in Whakatane on North Island for a month. My cousin living in Whakatane left for a family vacation and so Michal and I were house-sitting and pet sitting. Our days were filled with walks on the beach with Labrador Rocky, surfing and enjoying summer (when most of the people around the world had winter).
Michal built a bed in our minivan before my mom and her friend came for a visit. After a few days chilling in Whakatane, we packed a tent, our mountain bikes and went for a road trip.
Just a few of our favourite places were:
- Hot springs in Taupo
- Hiking and beaches in Abel Tasman National Park
- Biking from Hokitika to Lake Kaniere
- Stand up paddle boarding on Lake Wanaka
- Running the Routeburn Track – it remains the longest run to this day, we finished the 32 km long run in under 8 hours, totally exhausted and incredibly happy we’ve made it!
- Mountain biking in Te Anau
- Cruising the Milford Sound
- Staying in Glenorchy surrounded by mountain peaks
It was an intense and action packed 4 weeks road trip.
February – a road trip around New Zealand
When my mom and her friend left, we continued our trip around the South Island. We went:
- Mountain biking in Wanaka
- Hiking above gorgeously blue Lake Hawea
- Running in Hooker Valley to the highest peak of New Zealand
- Swam in every lake along the way
- Hiking in Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Hiking overnight near Angelus Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park
- Mountain biking along the Queen Charlotte’s Track
And just when they announced a hurricane coming, we went on the ferry to the North Island. Luckily nothing happened, no huge waves, just a lot of rain. We went to New Plymouth for a few days to relax on the beach and then hiked to Mount Taranaki, a beautiful perfectly cone-shaped volcano.
If you like mountain biking, then I’d highly recommend visiting Taupo and Rotorua. There are so many trails with a great flow that we didn’t want to leave.
At the end of February, we returned to Whakatane where we left most of our stuff at my cousin’s.
March – our first triathlon and a goodbye
Our visas were nearing to an end and we still had a car to sell before we could leave New Zealand. We stayed at a cozy hostel, Michal went to work to top up our travel fund and I worked on our blog.
Between work and biking weekends, we managed to sign up for a triathlon. It was my longtime dream.
Swim 400m, bike 12km, run 2,5km finished in 53:43 min andMichal in 48:14 min. We swam in the ocean, the only ones without a wet suit, biked on borrowed road bikes and ran to the finish line with a big smile. Even though the triathlon seems short, combining so many activities one after another was harder than I thought.
Next up Ironman, haha, just kidding.
April – enjoying paradise on Earth in Indonesia
We didn’t have much luck selling our minivan in Whakatane. It’s a small town and we were leaving at the end of the season. On our last day in Whakatane, we managed to sell our car. Oh, the freedom we finally felt. It’s funny how the car that gave us freedom during our road trip suddenly became a burden when we wanted to leave.
Packed with 2 backpacks each, we left to Auckland, ready to continue our trip around the world.
We had a short stopover in Sydney and we decided that rather than waiting at the airport for our next flight, we could go to see the main attraction – the opera. It was blazing hot, Australians used to it somehow were running along the coast in the park.
Transport and food made it the most expensive day trip we had in a long time. And I must admit, we both were disappointed by the ugly beige building that is so popular and displayed on every postcard.
Our next stop was Indonesia. When we landed in Bali and walked around the first day, we knew this isn’t the right place for us. So we booked flight tickets to the neighbouring island Lombok.
Our base was Kuta, a quiet small town on the south. We rented a motorbike and visited several beaches in the area, snorkelled and talked to many lovely locals.
After a week, we headed north to trek Lombok’s active volcano Rinjani. It was just a short 3-day trek but one of the hardest. The heat wasn’t even the biggest issue. The trail is trodden by trekkers only (and by rain during the rainy season). Climbing to the rim of the volcano required to actually rent hiking sticks which we’ve never needed or used before.
The second day we climbed to the top of the volcano for sunrise. Walking on a narrow trail and slippery volcanic rocks after just a few hour sleep was quite exhausting. But once the sun came up and we had a great view of the crater lake and Lombok Island, the pain eased a little bit.
We still had to go all the way down to the crater lake, and then back up again to the other side of the volcano. The view was breathtaking and monkeys trying to steal food very funny. The trail back down to the village was in horrific conditions, my knees and basically all my joints and muscles were very tired and we both felt extreme fatigue.
To relax our bodies and minds, we went to Gili Air island. There are no cars, only bicycles,and horses. It’s very quiet with nice beaches and beach bars, exactly what we needed.
When we visited central Lombok and its endless waterfalls, we managed to crash on our motorbike. Apart from our bloody knees, nothing happened. Lovely locals directed us to the nearest doctor and we were both walking around with bandages on the right knees.
That didn’t stop us from cliff diving and swimming in the waterfalls though. When I jumped from a 12 meters waterfall, my scab went off and my lightly healed wound was wide open and bleeding again. The pharmacy was on our way to the hotel and another bandage fixed it.
That’s probably the reason why I still have a very visible scar on my knee, 8 months later. Nevertheless, it was a great adventure day and I would do it again.
Lombok is a great place for adventurous travelers. We went beach hopping, surfing, trekking, chasing waterfalls and had the best time. I would gladly return here in the future (which is not something I can say about Bali).
If you would like to visit Lombok, click here to read all the articles we wrote.
The last few days of our 1-month visas were spent in Bali. We wanted to see what the hype about this place is all about.
North of Bali is quiet with many waterfalls. South of Bali where most of the tourists are on the other hand, is very crowded for our liking. Aussies come here to go wild, beaches for surfing are incredibly full and therefore not suitable for beginners and the traffic in the streets very tiring. Apart from a few off the beaten path places, we found that people come here because it’s a cheap island and streets lined with hipster cafes.
“Bali, unlike you, your neighbour Lombok still preserved its charm, so we won’t be coming back.”
May – Indian Himalayas, visiting part of the world people are scared to visit
Our trip to India had only one purpose – my yoga teacher training. I’ve been practicing yoga for 5 years and wanted to learn more. But our plans quickly changed.
I knew May is very hot and not the best time for a visit. But the yoga teachers assured me it will be just fine.
When we landed in Dilli, it was 45 degrees Celsius! We spent a few days in the city, getting to know the Indian culture and visiting Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal took about 20 years to build and even though it’s a truly beautiful building, somehow we weren’t very impressed. When we visited Machu Picchu, another wonder of the World, we had tears of happiness in our eyes and our jaw dropped when we saw it.
I can talk about Machu Picchu all day but cannot tell you much about Taj Mahal.
Maybe only one funny thing – all the Indians wanted to take a picture with me. I know Indians are known for this but they weren’t asking other tourists walking around, just me. They were actually forming lines so they can all have a picture with me. And it wasn’t just in Taj Mahal, it happened everywhere we went in India. There is only so many selfies I can take without my smile being frozen, guys…
We always wanted to visit the mountainous northern part of India – Kashmir. But when you hear that a tourist was killed by stone pelting, you start to think if it’s a good idea. We didn’t want the news to form our judgement so we asked other travelers.
Two days later, we were on a plane to Kashmir. We landed in Srinagar and saw more soldiers than regular citizens on the streets. On a boat where we were staying, the owner started lying to us and tried to scare us to not go anywhere by ourselves and only through his arranged guide and transport, we knew we have to get out of there.
We got in touch with an American lady who was in Srinagar and knew it well. After we hiked together and met her friends, we literally escaped from that freaking boat. She left Srinagar but her friend felt so bad after what happened to us on the boat that instead of taking us to a hotel, he took us home.
Hospitality at its best. He and his family hosted us for a week. We’ve met his extended family, talked a lot and ate homemade Kashmiri food. He even took us around to show us the beauty of Kashmir.
We haven’t met any white/non-Indian tourists anywhere. I must have taken a thousand selfies with Indians already. They were all very sweet, asking for a photo politely. But sometimes I didn’t get to enjoy the view or the moment only because people surrounded us and stared at us. My smile didn’t feel natural anymore and it was tiring. I don’t know how Hollywood celebrities take all the attention.
The main reason why foreign tourists are afraid to visit Kashmir is because of the conflict between India, Pakistan,and China. Kashmir used to be a separate state but now it’s divided between those three. Kashmiri freedom fighters, called terrorists in the rest of India, started violent protests against Indian Military.
During our week in Kashmir, there was one protest where stones were thrown and we were advised not to visit that part of the city. Another day there was a curfew and we couldn’t leave as planned. There were roadblocks, checkpoints and bulletproof trucks everywhere. The situation is complicated but as you can see, this is what discourages travelers to visit Kashmir.
Although it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, I wish Kashmir was free again and travelers could see the hidden beauty of Indian Himalayas.
We also visited McLeod Ganj, home to Dalai Lama, Manali in the mountains and Rishikesh where I planned to start yoga teacher training. It was so unbelievably hot and smelly that I knew there is no way I can study a month under those circumstances.
Michal also started to have stomach problems which were getting worse every day. So we decided to move on…
June – the biggest surprise ever in our hometown
People don’t believe me but long term travel might get exhausting. You’re constantly in a new environment, looking for accommodation, looking for food, trying new food, researching activities and even crossing the road takes all the energy out of you (in India especially).
On a whim, we decided to fly home to Slovakia. Even though we already bought tickets at the end of June, India exhausted us so much that we were ready to rest.
So we bought new flight tickets and secretly flew home.
When we landed in our capital and went to surprise my sister after she finished work, she almost lost it. We threw the biggest surprise ever. Nobody knew we were coming. People, us included, had tears in eyes when they saw us and we couldn’t be happier to be home and spend some quality time in Trencin, our hometown.
You can watch our video we made about how we caught everyone by surprise. It is my favourite video ever.
July – catching up with friends & family in Slovakia
We haven’t been in our hometown for 3 years. That’s a ridiculously long time.
The last time we’ve visited, it was only for 2 weeks. That is hardly enough time to catch up. This time though, we made sure to extend our visit and stayed for 3 months.
The biggest music festival in Slovakia took place in July and we had a ton of fun dancing, meeting old friends and enjoyed every second.
A lot of family visits and trips happened, for example to a village Čičmany known for its painted log houses and being the first folk architecture reserve in the world. The walk around the village was followed by a hike to a nearby hill and then a delicious lunch – dumplings with sheep cheese – traditional food in Slovakia. Many people can’t stand the horrible smell of the cheese but believe me, it’s delicious!
Michal still had a diet prescribed by the doctor to treat his stomach inflammation. And I didn’t hold back. I ate anything and everything that I love and haven’t had in years. It was like a Christmas to me.
Of course, I ran a lot in our nearby forest. I ate so much food at the beginning that I felt heavy too often. Running in my most favourite forest in the world, the familiar smell, familiar trails and a rare sight of a deer brought back many beautiful memories. Even if my whole family would move out of Trencin, I would always come back, just to run these trails.
August – European mountain road trip
By the time August rolled in, we were in Slovakia for 2 months and felt like going exploring again. So we did what we were used to – pack a backpack and hit the road.
My dad borrowed us his minivan and we went to Slovenia, Italy,and Austria. I guess we can’t really stay away from the mountains for too long. Everyone was traveling for a beach vacation but we were craving some action and adventure.
First stop was Slovenia and Julian Alps. I went to Slovenia many times with my family for a white- water rafting trip but this was the first time that I went independently. Triglav National Park became our playground for a few days, we hiked a lot and drove all around the park.
TIP – If you ever come to Slovenia, base yourself in Kranjska Gora. It’s a picturesque little town with lots of mountain biking and hiking trails around.
The Italian Dolomites were an absolute dream. We visited probably the most famous place in the Dolomites – dramatic Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
It often looks like we’re making things a little more difficult, a little more fun and a little more unusual. While we could drive up the mountain or take a shuttle bus to go for a hike, we decided to rent bikes instead and do our version of a duathlon – bike/hike/bike. So we biked up the road from Misurina, then hiked around Tre Cime di Lavaredo and then downhill to town. Totally exhausting but also a highlight of our trip!
The area also hides another gem called Lago di Sorapis. While we’ve seen our share of insanely blue lakes, this is in top 3! I highly recommend visiting Misurina in the Italian Dolomites for an adventure trip.
We found so many mountain passes with breathtaking views that we didn’t want to leave. Having a minivan where you can sleep gave us the freedom that we love on road trips. We didn’t have a plan or booked accommodation.
Sometimes we slept in a parking lot on the mountain pass so we can witness the sunrise. Other nights were spent in a campground. We went wherever we wanted to go and where the day would take us.
The Austrian Alps were rainy most of the time. We sneaked in a great trail run in the mountains around Kaprun but we weren’t lucky with the weather.
When we came back to Trencin, we spent many days on our bikes. Summer was incredibly hot and when we weren’t hanging out in the pool, we were biking around our favourite places from childhood.
September – coming back where it all started
When I was in high school and Michal studied at University, we both went to work in Edinburgh in Scotland for one summer. We always wanted to come back to the place which we first traveled to together and this was the right time.
After we said goodbye to Trencin and Slovakia, we visited Michal’s friend in London. Michal used to work in London and now he finally introduced me to the city. We also made a trip to Edinburgh where our love for discovering new places started to grow many years ago.
I don’t know why I was surprised by the cold and rain in Scotland. It was like the old times. We went for a walk on the beach where we used to live in Portobello, to the same bar we used to dance at and walked the historic streets of downtown Edinburgh.
It was a trip down the memory lane and a great finish to our trip around the world.
Coming back to Canada felt like coming home. There was no cultural shock (which funnily enough we had in our hometown) because we’ve lived in Canada for 4 years.
For my birthday, at the end of September, we went to see friends in Banff and went hiking. After 9 months of having summer, we finally had a different season. There was so much snow on Mt. Piran that we didn’t even reach the top.
While the first half of the year was about visiting new places, the second half was about visiting very familiar places.
October – hardships of settling in
We found an apartment, rented a car and brought our stuff from storage. The overwhelmed feeling I had from so much stuff was tiring. I had to find a place in closets for all these things we had in storage for 2 years.
Even though we didn’t have a lot, it was a hell of a lot more than just our backpacks. Suddenly I had so many clothes it was hard to choose what to wear. When we were backpacking, it was way too easy – each of us only had a few outfits. Now we had clothes, kitchen stuff, sports equipment and we had to furnish our apartment.
We managed to do all that in just one weekend. Finding a car was the next challenge. Our mountain bikes were our main mode of transport but in a big North American city like Calgary with snow already on the streets, we really needed a car.
Michal found a new job and since I was working on the blog at home, I started a 6-week running program to get back and improve my running form.
November – our Canadian dream came true
Michal found a very affordable minivan and we were both happy he didn’t have to commute to work 2 hours every day. We went to the Rockies as soon as we could. To our surprise, a few lakes were already frozen and still not covered by snow.
During our 5th winter in Canada, our dream of ice skating on a crystal clear lake surrounded by mountains came true.We went cross country skiing with friends and skated 3 times during one weekend. It was unbelievable.
I was working hard on the blog and also on my running. I found that running 5 times a week is not as easy as it sounds. My biggest accomplishment so far was a new personal record for 10km which I smashed again 2 days after the first one. I was on fire. And my legs were sore all the time.
We were slowly settling in and able to have some kind of a routine, something we didn’t have for a very long time. It is a nice feeling to come home after a very active weekend in the mountains, rest in your comfortable chair, have a fridge full of your favourite food and just relax.
When it finally snowed in Calgary, I replaced one of my daily runs with a cross country skiing in the park. I don’t remember having so much fun before in Calgary during winter. It was cold and the park was almost empty but we saw deer and coyotes.
December – crushing my running goal
December was exhausting. We went ice skating and cross country skiing in the mountains and I was feeling more and more tired from my runs. I had a hard time breathing and felt like this once before. It was after our mountaineering trip in Peru where a doctor diagnosed bronchitis. This time the doctor diagnosed exactly the same.
I was crushed. My running schedule was almost over and now I had to take a break.
I think the rest actually helped me a lot. Not just heal my bronchitis but also to relax my always sore legs and back. I resumed running after a week and came up with my own running race to see how I’ve improved.
It was cold and snowy in the park and Michal felt sick that day. But he was determined to see me succeed and was my pacer on the bike.
After 6 weeks of training, 1 week of lying on the couch with fever and bronchitis, and 3 black toenails later, I smashed a new record – 10k in 57:01min.
Tears filled my eyes and I started bawling when Michal handed me a medal he made for me. I really could not ask for a better fiancé.
I’m glad I accomplished something big at the end of the year before all the pressure of new years resolutions comes in. It was the day before Christmas; our Christmas tree was lit up, eggnog with rum waiting in the fridge and cookies almost finished.
The time between Christmas and New Year was spent mostly at home, enjoying time together, and lots of movies and Christmas fairy tales.
Another year has passed and we lived up to our motto of living a life with no regrets!
What’s in store for 2019? We’re working hard on our dreams, focusing on the growth of our blog and creating useful products and services for you guys!
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My personal goals for 2019:
- Create at least 3 useful products for our readers (I’m already working on the 1st) and many blog posts to help you plan your adventures
- Become the fittest I’ve ever been – I want to be stronger and improve to run some longer hiking trails in the Canadian Rockies this summer
- Read at least 12 books – I’ve already finished a book called Natural born heroes which I highly recommend. Next up is a book Extreme ownership written by a former navy seal.
I hope you enjoyed reading our 2018 in review post and maybe it sparked an idea to accomplish and work towards a new goal this year.
Be happy and travel safe!