Travel-versary Pool

Our Two Year Travel-versary Round Up

It’s our two year travel-versary already! We can’t believe its been two years since we set off to travel the world. Back then we had no real idea or plan on where we wanted to go or how long we were going for. In fact, we didn’t even have any money! – {read our irresponsible first year of travel to find out how we funded it} However, this year we were determined to be a little more prepared but still spontaneous enough to go with the flow. We finally travelled around Europe together which we had dreamed about for way too long!

So here’s a round-up of all the places we went to during our second year of travel, what brought us to these places, how we funded it and what we got up to…

1. Gold Coast, Australia

A year ago today we were on the Gold Coast, based in Surfers Paradise for a few months, recovering from a huge travel burn out. Sandy was loving her job as a Tour Guide but after a while we both starting to get itchy feet again! Will’s visa was due to expire and since the permanent visa is so bloody expensive, we started brainstorming where to go next.

Travel-versary The Brit and the Blonde

(Surfers Paradise, Australia)

We figured now was the perfect opportunity to experience living in Europe together like we always wanted, especially since Sandy was in the process of obtaining European citizenship. It was very exciting because this time we actually had money! To prepare for our European adventures we created this blog, made a bucket list, bought a GoPro to film our travels and in September 2015 we were off again.

Travel-versary Burleigh Beach

(Burleigh Beach, Australia)

2. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Since Europe is on the other side of the world there is always at least one stop over when travelling from Australia so we wanted to make the most of it and spend a few days in a city on the way. We ended up booking a flight to Kuala Lumpur and a separate flight from there to the UK. It actually ended up cheaper having a 5 day stop over in KL than going directly from Australia to Europe so we basically got a holiday in Kuala Lumpur for free (and loved it!)

Just unreal 👌🏻 #petronastowers

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3. England, United Kingdom

Our original plan was to base ourselves in England, since Will’s family live there, and both find part-time work. That way we would have plenty of time to take regular trips around Europe while using our budget-savvy skills to only spend what we earned, therefore still having savings left after Europe.

Top 40 Travel Quotes Love at Big Ben

(Love at London’s Big Ben, England)

While Sandy was waiting for her European passport to arrive (to have the rights to work in the UK) we spent 6 weeks exploring all around England, covering Yorkshire, Manchester, Midlands, East Coast, Devon, Cotswolds, a day trip to Wales and a few trips to London where we celebrated our birthdays.

Top 40 Travel Quotes Sutton On Sea Beach

(Sutton on Sea Beach, England)

Travel-versary Cotswolds Bourton On The Water

(The Cotswolds, England)

4. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Since Sandy was still waiting on her European passport, she arrived in the UK with her Australian one, so on arrival she needed to show a return ticket OR proof of continuing travel. Luckily we knew this in advance so already pre-booked a trip to the nearest city outside the UK, Amsterdam! We had just enough time in England to organise Sandy’s passport then we were off to explore the city famous for it’s 10km of canals, Red Light District and marijuana-dispensing coffee shops.

I Amsterdam Sign

(Hello Amsterdam!)

We stayed in an AirBnB apartment and loved how cheap we got to spend 3 nights in the centre of this bustling city {use this link to receive a free $49 AirBnB credit from us} We had a lot of expectations for Amsterdam but to be honest, it was too bitterly cold to fully appreciate our time there – we spent most of it indoors so that our fingers wouldn’t drop off! Apart from the cold we loved this city and will be back again to explore properly (but in summer next time!)

Travel-versary Amsterdam Canals

(Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

5. England (Again)

After our short trip to Amsterdam we both landed back in the UK with European passports and full rights to start working to fund our travels. The 6 weeks that we previously had exploring England were great, but since it was now the end of October the weather was about to start getting worse for many months. We weren’t too keen on that and realised we weren’t going to be very happy living and working in England long-term so we started researching other options.

Returning Home After Travelling Sheffield

(Sheffield, England)

We came across the company Workaway who provide volunteering and cultural exchange opportunities for travellers, which basically means that you can temporarily work/volunteer around the world in exchange for food and accommodation. Since we didn’t have a lot of money this sounded like the perfect way to travel around Europe! We signed up and found a host in Central France who was happy to have us right away. This worked out great because we weren’t too far away from England where we planned to spend Christmas, and it was always one of Sandy’s dreams to live in France one day!

 6. Paris, France

Our first stop in France was Paris, a city Sandy had fallen in love with during her first time travelling in 2012. Our Parisian friend Alizée invited us to stay with her and her family in Paris for a week. We felt very welcomed into their home and loved experiencing the ‘real’ French culture, which we were very grateful for. We also had a great time doing and seeing all of the main attractions in Paris and luckily escaped a day before the Terrorist Attacks.

Day 1 in #Paris!!😍🇫🇷

A post shared by Sandy ✌🏼🐚☀️ (@the.aussie.traveller) on

French Culture Paris

(In Paris with Alizee, France)

Must See Attractions in Paris DisneylandParis

(The “OMG I’m in Disneyland!” face)

7. Bourge & Normandy, France

Our first volunteer trip was in Bourge, a small city in the centre of France. We spent 3 weeks teaching English and renovating a room in a hotel/restaurant where in exchange we got spoilt with hotel accommodation and 2x 3-course meals in the restaurant each day! We learned so much about the french culture and also hired a car to explore the castles in the Loire Valley during our time off.

French Culture Chenonceau Castle

(The Chenonceau Castle at the Loire Valley, France)

Since we still had a couple of weeks before we had to be back in the UK we decided to continue volunteering in France and got invited to do some gardening at a hotel/restaurant in Normandy. We spent the next two weeks there with a bunch of other volunteers who we had a lot of fun nights with.

Volunteering feeding animals

(Feeding farm animals in rural Normandy, France)

8. Christmas in England, UK

After spending a total of 6 weeks in France we headed back to the UK to spend Christmas with Will’s family, which was really nice. But by then we’d had enough of the cold and wanted to escape to a warmer part of Europe as soon as possible. Since we enjoyed our experience with Workaway we started looking for new hosts and within a week were on our way to Portugal to volunteer in the Algarve!

Travel-versary Xmas

(Christmas lunch with Will’s family, England)

9. Porto & Lisbon, Portugal

The cheapest flights we could find to Portugal were to Porto, a place we’d never been to before. We booked them right away and arrived a few days before we had to be in the Algarve.

Travel-versary Porto River

(Porto, Portugal)

We spent a couple of days exploring the city of Porto, then caught a bus to Lisbon for New Years Eve. The hostel we stayed at was hosting the biggest hostel NYE party in the city so we met lots of other travellers and had an awesome night. We definitely recommend Lisbon for NYE.

Travel-versary

(New Year Eve with Canadians and Americans who we met on the bar crawl)

10. Algarve, Portugal

On the 2nd of January we caught a bus to the Algarve. We arrived at the Disabled Children’s Holiday Centre in Moncarapacho where we were going to be spending the next month volunteering with animals at their private petting zoo.

Chillin with the Coatis..fun little creatures😄

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Travel-versary Volunteering in Portugal

(Centre Algarve, Portugal)

We had the opportunity to look after over 300 animals and birds and in our free time took trips to all the main towns and beaches in the Algarve. However, the longer we spent with the animals, the more we started to disagree with the concept of zoos so we started looking for new Workaway hosts. Luckily we got invited to come to Andalucia, Spain!

Algarve Praia Do Vau

(Praia Do Vau, Algarve)

11. Seville & Málaga, Spain

We decided to make 2 stops on the way to our next volunteering job in Velez-Malaga. The first was the romantic city of Seville, only a few hours by bus from where we were in Portugal. We had the perfect Valentine’s date in Seville before we were on our way to the next closest city.

Bucket List

(Paddling in Seville, Spain)

We spent another couple of days exploring the coastal city of Málaga before arriving at our final destination.

Travel-versary málaga

(Malagueta beach in Malaga, Spain)

12. The Hills of Andalucia, Spain

Next we spent 2 weeks volunteering in the hills of Andalucia helping a Dutch couple re-paint their new home inside and out. In exchange we got treated with the most beautiful views from our room, delicious vegetarian meals and stories from our hosts’ sailing trip around the world. While we were there we finally got a reply from a host in the Canary Islands (where we originally wanted to go to over winter!) welcoming us to come and volunteer at her hostel as soon as possible.

Travel-versary velez

(Our Workaway Host’s finca in the hills of Andalucia, Spain)

13. Madrid, Spain

We caught a Blablacar from Málaga to Madrid in order to catch the best direct flight option to Gran Canaria. We spent a couple of days there before flying but for some reason didn’t really like the vibes there that much. It was probably because we were too eager to get to our next destination.

Madrid Oldest Restaurant In The World

(The oldest restaurant in the world!)

14. Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

We were so excited to get to Gran Canaria to finally enjoy summer weather in winter, and to gain experience working in a hostel. Since our savings were running low our plan was to spend 6 weeks volunteering in exchange for accommodation while we looked for seasonal jobs. We thought we were arriving at the perfect time to find work, a couple of months before summer season was due to start, but it wasn’t until we arrived that we found out high season in Gran Canaria was in winter! So we actually came at the worst time to find expat work, especially because we didn’t speak fluent Spanish!

Puerto De Mogan Volver Beach Hostel

(Will pretending he knows how to play the guitar, Volver Beach Hostel)

South Coast of Gran Canaria Puerto De Mogan

(Puerto De Mogan photographed by Julian, @juligab on Instagram)

So we decided to just enjoy the 6 weeks that we had there and figure it all out after. We absolutely loved living in the hostel, meeting new people every day, swimming, snorkelling, tanning, hiking, etc, so much that we ended up staying for 3 months! We got to know all the expats in the small town of Puerto De Mogán and through them found random jobs here and there gardening, painting and grocery shopping for people, which paid for our food during our whole time in Gran Canaria. We even got an internship at the Dive Centre there and obtained our PADI Scuba Diving licences.

South Coast of Gran Canaria Sunset

(Coastal walk to Playa De Amadores, Gran Canaria)

travel versary scuba

Scuba diving in Puerto de Mogan

11. Poland

Unfortunately during our time in Gran Canaria Sandy’s grandma passed away so she went on a short trip to Poland for the funeral and to cheer her mum up.

Travel Versary Poland

(Bydgoszcz, Poland)

12. Barcelona, Granada & Marbella, Spain

After 3 months in Gran Canaria we were ready to come back to Mainland Spain to enjoy the European Summer.

Travel-versary Parc Guell Barcelona

(Parc Guell, Barcelona)

Sandy left a few days earlier to go on a pre-booked trip to Barcelona with her mum before meeting up with Will for his cousin’s wedding in the tranquil hills of Granada. Majority of Will’s family flew over from the UK to enjoy the beautiful ceremony. After the wedding we didn’t have any plans for a week so stayed longer to explore the city of Granada.

Travel-versary Granada

(Will’s cousin Victoria’s wedding in Granada, Spain)

Granada Saint Nicolas

(The City of Granada from Mirador Saint Nicolas)

From there we made our way down to Marbella for a pre-booked holiday with Will’s Mum and step-dad. We spent most of our time relaxing in our resort and occasionally headed out to nearby beaches in Cabopino and Fuengirola.

Travel-versary marbella

(Our resort in Marbella, Spain)

13. Back to England, UK

For a while we had been talking about coming back to Australia after the European Summer and finally sorting out Will’s Permanent Visa (which is a very long and expensive process!) So since we had 2 weeks of no plans, we decided to fly back to England to get stuck into preparing the application and with Brexit happening it was surely an interesting time to be in the UK.

14. La Herradura

We are now on a pre-booked holiday back in Spain in La Herradura (Costa Del Sol) with Will’s Dad and his fiancée. We’re staying in Will’s aunty’s villa and it’s absolutely AMAZING. We’re so grateful to be here and it’s been the perfect place to reflect on our second year of travelling.

Eee! Woke up to this view and absolutely obsessed with the villa I'm staying at 😍😍😍

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travel versa pool in herradura

(The pool in our private villa in Spain)

In Summary

Countries Visited: 8

Total Time Spent In Each Country: | Australia: 2 months | Malaysia: 5 days | England: 2.5 months | The Netherlands: 4 days | France: 6 weeks | Portugal: 6 weeks | Poland: 1 week | Spain: 5 months

Our Feelings & Plans

So much has happened this year, it’s crazy! Who would have thought we’d be living as expats in Spain? Or learning so many skills through volunteering our way around Europe. As you can see we never planned for all these experiences, we just lived in the present and trusted our intuition. There was always a reason why we travelled to each particular place, depending on our circumstances, opportunities, finances or weather, but everything worked out just fine. The famous Steve Jobs quote sums this up quite nicely:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

We’ve been living nomadically and going with the flow for 2 years now and it’s got to the point where we are now actually longing to have somewhere we call home for a while.

Our plans for the near future are to finally apply for Will’s Permanent Visa for Australia and find a base there for a while in between trips around the country. We’re really excited to fall back into the Aussie lifestyle and blog about it, while we wait for Will’s visa to get approved. But before we go back we still have plans to travel to England, Ireland, Poland, and Slovenia before ending our Euro Trip. Stay tuned on this blog in the coming weeks!

***UPDATE 22/08/16: We’ve applied for Will’s visa finally!! But unfortunately had a major set back in the process and won’t be able to live in Australia while we wait the many months for it to get finalised. So we’re thinking Asia next?!***

Thanks for reading this post, we hope you feel inspired? If so, leave us a comment…

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Read Next: Year 3 Of Our Travels

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