This time last year I was celebrating my birthday at City Circus Hostel Athens, partying the night away after my first travel blogging conference with some awesome new friends, inspired for the next year of this blog!
My time in Athens is the perfect example of how one trip can drastically alter your plans for the coming year. The people I met in Athens, new friends and bloggers, were inspiration for a year that contained so many new experiences! Ones I never would have had if I hadn’t been in Greece that week…
20 Things I Did For The First Time the Year I Turned 25
1. Went to a music festival
I can’t believe I almost reached 25 without attending a proper music festival! This year I got the chance to attend V Festival with Hostelworld, and the best part was that a very old friend of mine was also able to come with me!
Travelling so much I never get enough time with friends from the UK, so my first festival experience was a great one!
2. Ate oysters
Even though I grew up on an island on the South Coast, and have a constant craving for mussels(!), I’m pretty sure I’ve never tried oysters before!
Now I am addicted! Relaxing in the French sun with white wine and fresh seafood made this a very good day!
3. Jumped off a cliff
It took me about ten minutes to jump the 8 metre cliff you can see below, in Paradise Valley in Morocco! I’m not sure I could do it again… but as I’m living really close to the Valley right now I owe it to myself to try!
It was such a buzz! I also managed to jump 5 metres from sea cliffs in France a week or two after this, but I definitely won’t be challenging the Red Bull cliff divers any time soon!
4. Used Coushsurfing.com
And look at the view from Xavi’s flat…!
5. Tried roller-blading
I messed around on skates a little when I was a kid, on the street outside my road, but this experience was waaaay more fun! I’m terrified of pain, and yet it never seems to knock my confidence when trying something new.
I didn’t quite figure out how to brake… which didn’t stop me from speeding along this beautiful French promenade at sunset!
Photo credit: Mehdi Allam (edits by me)
6. Climbed a Via Ferrata
For those who aren’t afraid of heights (or even for those who are!) and want to try climbing without much experience, Via Ferratas are the perfect solution!
And the views were just astounding…
Photo credit: Mehdi Allam
7. Went wild camping
This was probably my best new experience of the whole year. Waking up to swim in the fresh river and falling asleep under the stars.
The first night I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep and made my friend play shadow puppets on the wall of the tent. The only thing missing was marshmallows on the bonfire!
Left photo credit: Mehdi Allam
Another thrilling new first experience… rock climbing forced me to use all my muscles and logic in such short and intense periods of time, I was exhilarated after every climb!
And it was so much fun that I bought my kit after my second climb. Next stop… the Peak District!
9. Outdoor Cinema
One of my favourite things about discovering the Noord district in Amsterdam with ClinkNOORD was the incredible amount of random local collectives in the area that catered to the neighbourhood and the artistic community.
Imagine my surprise when we stumbled on an open air cinema and invited to join!
10. Steering a Canal Boat
Last year I met the fabulous duo, Mark and Ruth, and begged to experience their hostel canal boat experience ever since! Well this summer I finally got the chance to get aboard the Wandering Duck and I can tell you… steering a canal boat is not as easy as it looks!
11. Attended an Instagram Meetup
I’ve always envied those days when all my favourite Instagrammers would be filling up my feed with photos of the same spots and sharing news of their Instagram walks around a city.
But this year I was able to join in and get to know Amsterdam through the eyes of some of the best Instagrammers in town!
12. Took a Walking Tour in London
I grew up just one hour from the big city, and I have a lot of family in the UK’s capital so of course I never considered taking a walking tour!
But when my friend Guadalupe moved to England we decided to get to know the city together with Sandemans New London Tours and I learnt so much more about a city I thought I already knew pretty well.
13. Attended King’s Day in Amsterdam
This is probably the biggest celebration in The Netherlands and I was lucky enough to be living there during it!
Despite there being a very cold chill in the air the morning that I rushed down to the river from YHA Cambridge, I had a fantastic time learning about the history of Cambridge from my funny and hilarious punting guide from Scudamores!
15. River Kayaking
Can you believe that as well as never camping before this year, I had also never sat my bottom in a kayak!
We spent the whole day kayaking the Tarn river in France under a beautifully hot sun in the midst of summer, enjoying a slow lunch on the banks and running way from HUGE wild cows!
Photo credit: Mehdi Allam
16. Visited Valencia, Madrid & Barcelona
Spain definitely featured in my early childhood travels, but I’d never travelled around the country or really learnt much about it’s culture or history!
17. Visited Cologne
Okay, so I only got 24 hours in Cologne due to falling sick the day after I arrived and catching a last minute flight back home. But whilst I was there I definitely stayed in the coolest part of town (thanks to the awesome Die Wohngemeinschaft hostel) and can’t wait to return one day and see more!
18. Visited the Scottish Highlands & Islands
One of the highlights of my UK travels this year! After a few trips to Edinburgh I finally branched out and got to experience the highlands with HAGGiS Tours and the Western islands from my base and the wonderful home that is Oban Backpackers Hostel.
19. Lived in Amsterdam
Not only did I get the chance to live in Amsterdam but I also got an amazing opportunity to work for the World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation in the centre of the city!
It had been a while since I’d rented a place of my own (plus one awesome Spanish flatmate) and I loved the opportunity to really get to know such a beautiful and historic city!
20. Stayed in Hostels with Pools!
Yes – there are hostels with swimming pools!! Unfortunately my time in Barcelona wasn’t quite warm enough to take a dip in Sant Jordi Rock Palace‘s rooftop pool, but I definitely made the most of the pool in Equity Point Marrakech, under the hot Moroccan sun!
Pheeeeew what a list! I want to give a HUGE shout to everyone I shared these incredible first times with, and everyone else I met along the way! If I learnt one thing during the year I turned 25, it’s that you are never to old to try new things for the first time!
Lots of love,
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