So these round ups are apparently a thing. I have seen them left, right, and centre in the blogosphere and thought just maybe I should follow suit. And I guess it should be a thing to acknowledge successes and challenges, as well as profound gratitude in a business that involves many hands in the pie. So, here we are with our one-year round up of ups, downs, successes, challenges, and most importantly blessings.

Enjoying one of their sweeter wines
This may involve a glass or two…

Fill My Passport has seen and done quite a bit over the last 12 months. I took a dream of writing for a living and made it a reality. Many of the people in my social and support circle were bewildered at this path and wondered how a blog could possibly translate into a lucrative venture. I too was puzzled and plunged head first into the development of this dream. Mind you, it still confuses me and brings forth unsolved mysteries that only the lord can answer in due time, but as I put 100% faith in him and his plan for me, I shall plug away and see what the future holds.

The Travels 

So, let me just point out that I had done a heap of travel before documenting here. However, the whole of 2016 and first 7 months of 2017 did bring a ton of new adventures and dreams come true in more ways than one. It must be the ongoing dream of a wanderlust-suffering globetrotter that finds ultimate satisfaction when a box on the ever-growing bucket list can be ticked. And this certainly happened for me once or twice! (actually multiply that by 10!).

Ireland

So, my lovely family headed to the UK to spend Christmas with Josh and me. What a blessing to have family with us over one of the most important times of the year. We enjoyed a couple of days with them in our home village of Great Shelford before jet setting off to the Emerald Isle. And boy was this an adventure. We apparently chose the wettest winter in Irish history and endured flooded roads, strong winds, and my folks were graced at our age-old converted drafty abbey with a leaky accommodation with timed heating, a kitchen facility complete with a warped dinner table and busted Bodum, and a closet-sized shower. Hubby and I on the other hand were blessed to have a true honeymoon suite of a room in this converted Irish Abbey. Thanks to my lovely Mother-in-law we were given a gorgeous room to rest after glorious (and wet lol) days of sightseeing.

 

Cliffs of Moher
My Sister and I Freezing on the Cliffs of Moher

Lake Bled, Slovenia

My hubby surprised me with an incredible weekend away in Lake Bled Slovenia! Truly a dream come true, I excitedly took in as much as possible. I have yet to tell you all about our adventures here, but stay tuned for coverage this year on the blog 🙂 Here is a sneak peek!

Gorgeous Lake Bled
Gorgeous Lake Bled

 

Gorgeous Lake Bled
Gorgeous Lake Bled

London Anniversary

Our first anniversary arrived without warning on March 7, 2016! It blew our minds that a year had already passed from when we said “I Do.” So what better way to celebrate than with a weekend away in London! We enjoyed many things including afternoon tea on a double-decker bus, a flying trapeze lesson, and breakfast at the gorgeous and prestigious Ritz London. There is so much to see in this incredible city, that we compiled our favourite 150 things into a single resource for you guys right here.

Glorious London
Glorious London

 

Afternoon Tea Bus
The incredible Afternoon Tea bus in London, England

 

Flying Trapeze
Me, flying through the air on a trapeze!

Scotland

We headed off to Scotland for Easter! What an incredible time in Edinburgh and Inverness surrounded by highlands, kilts, and haggis. Stay tuned for coverage on this incredible country land that has agreed to remain part of the UK.

Greyfriars Bobby - Edinburgh
Greyfriars Bobby – Edinburgh

Prince Edward County

With my husband and I transplanting into Canadian life after spending an incredible 2 years in the UK, we planned a summer road trip to Prince Edward County Ontario – a gorgeous foodie kingdom of wineries, bistros, farms, and landscapes. To read more about this delicious destination, check out our foodie road trip here.

Such a beautifully fragrant spot!
Such a beautifully fragrant spot!

 

Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County

 

Chocolate and berry reduction
Chocolate and berry reduction

Midland Ontario

With my family living up in this beautiful city just north of Toronto , I felt compelled to let the world know about it. With so much to offer, more than simply cottage rentals on Georgian Bay (the Gateway to the 30,000 islands!) it was about time it received the notoriety and attention it deserved. And, the locals agreed! It was a small win for me here at Fill My Passport with the locals embracing the coverage so much and sending this post into a mini-viral state! Check it out for yourself here. In fact, Midland has arrived on many a traveller’s radar to the point that the Giant Rubber Ducky comissioned for Canada 150 made a stop here for a weekend! Stay tuned for a second installment on what Midland has to offer is on its way!

Super Moon over Midland Ontario
Super Moon over Midland Ontario

 

Full Rainbow over Georgian Bay
Full Rainbow over Georgian Bay

Toronto

So, it may be my hometown, but it is a whole new world (enter in Aladdin music…) for my husband. So, we explored the biggest city in Canada with day trips, restaurants, and essentials as the CN Tower, The Aquarium, etc. Check out the bucket list that he hopes to tick off as he enjoys living in the Six.

Algonquin Park

Canada is well-known for its fall-foliage transition! With my husband not witnessing such a natural phenomenon before we went up to the beautiful Algonquin Park in Ontario – the oldest in the province. A lush area of 2400 lakes and wildlife from chipmunks to bears, we had a wonderful time unplugging from technology and watching nature do its thing. To read more about this beautiful spot in Ontario, check out our post here.

Algonquin Park
Algonquin Park

 

One of the over 200 lakes within the park
One of the many lakes within the park

USA Road Trip to Florida

My parents were heading south like many a snowbird and we decided to head down with them! What an incredible opportunity to see some of the United States! We crossed through New York and drove through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia! While staying in Atlanta, we were blessed to spend some quality time at the Centre for Puppetry Arts where many of Jim Henson’s original puppets from his shows the Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock! Plus in 2016 there was an exclusive exhibit on Labyrinth for it’s 30th anniversary. Stay tuned for more details on this incredible experience! Again, here is a sneak peek!

In Puppet Heaven!
In Puppet Heaven!

Disney World

All I can say is I was in heaven. It really is the happiest place on earth. Disney world charmed us with its magic, its characters, its atmosphere, its food, and all its quirks. We loved our time so much. We have started a Disney Planning section on the blog that was inspired by our time here and by our passion for everything that began with a mouse.

Muppetly Excited!
Muppetly Excited!

 

Disney 101: Your One day Magic Kingdom Itinerary!
Disney 101: Your One day Magic Kingdom Itinerary!

Pompano Beach & Miami

After our magical time at Disney we headed to Pompano Beach and Miami to spend some quality time with family before heading off Down Under! Why this place was particularly special for Fill My Passport is that it was the home for our first collaboration with a company! To this day we cannot thank Cafe Maxx enough for having faith in us and working with us on our first sponsored post. To check out our review of this wonderful restaurant, click here.

The lovely Neighbourhood Cafe Maxx
Pompano’s lovely Neighbourhood Cafe Maxx

 

At Cafe Maxx with Chef Oliver Saucy and Co-Owner Darrel Broek
At Cafe Maxx with Chef Oliver Saucy and Co-Owner Darrel Broek

 

Delcious Cranberry Grand Marnier Twin Duck Breasts
Delicious Cranberry Grand Marnier Twin Duck Breasts

Australia

So we headed Down Under for Christmas! My husband is Aussie and wanted to show me a true Christmas that feels like a Canadian summer. No snow, no icicles, no salty footprints at the chimney. Here we enjoyed many a warm summer day on the Gold Coast, shopped for beautiful clothes, enjoyed the Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin’s legacy), joined the best yoga studio ever, and was graced with two incredible experiences with Dracula’s Cabaret and Songbirds Rainforest Retreat. These experiences gave us further exposure to the foray of sponsored relationships and helped us leverage Fill My Passport even higher for prospective partnerships. We feel blessed and gracious for these opportunities that were presented to us.

Admiring the Balcony and view
Admiring the Balcony and view

 

The best Duck I have ever eaten - smoked with blackberry
The best Duck I have ever eaten – smoked with blackberry

 

Interviewing the Vlad (Rudi) the lead in the Dracula's Cabaret
Interviewing the Vlad (Rudi) the lead in the Dracula’s Cabaret

 

Enjoying our time at Dracula's
Enjoying our time at Dracula’s
The Bleeding Heart served in a souvenir glass
The Bleeding Heart served in a souvenir glass

 

Queenstown New Zealand

My husband truly gives me the best birthdays. This year he surprised me with a week in Queenstown New Zealand! Here we were confronted with the cooler temperatures of the South Island, without packing a decent pair of pants! Take it from us that the weather in QueensLAND is far different from the weather in QueensTOWN. We survived and enjoyed everything from Ziplining to Jet boating, to scenic horseback riding, to cliff side jacuzzis. The NZ people were as welcoming as ever and made this Canadian blogger incredibly welcome. Oh and they are 100% responsible for my chia pudding addiction. Hands down.

Horse Trekking in Queenstown NZ with Moonlight Stables
Horse Trekking in Queenstown NZ with Moonlight Stables

 

Soaking in a Glorious Pool while in awe of the views.
Soaking in a Glorious Pool while in awe of the views.

Ottawa Ontario

For our Second anniversary, we headed up to Ottawa the nation’s capital for a lovely (though cold!) getaway! We enjoyed touring the Royal Canadian Mint, Parliament, and ate the best butternut squash ravioli ever made at the Lord Elgin hotel.

The National Gallery famed sculpture
The National Gallery famed sculpture

 

Boston & Salem

This past July long weekend while Canada was celebrating its 150th birthday, we headed to the start of the Confederacy in Boston Massachusetts! It was thrilling and we were supported greatly by several companies. What a warm welcome we had exploring the Freedom Trail, Boston Common, and the Cheers Bar. We took a day trip to Salem and were completely mesmerized. Being a massive Bewitched fan, it was a thrill to see where they filmed the Salem Saga and embracing the history. Thank you to the Liquid Art House, Cuchi Cuchi, Salem Trolley, and Historic Tours of America for incredible hospitality.

Fun at the Boston Tea Party Museum
Fun at the Boston Tea Party Museum

 

With Samantha Stephens
With Samantha Stephens

 

Dave, our knowledgeable and Passionate Server
Dave, our knowledgeable and Passionate Server

 

The Welcoming Entrance
The Welcoming Entrance

Now for a few Stats:

Countries Travelled: 7

Considering we moved continents and began settling in as we began to job hunt, seven is pretty darn good! And within this lucky number, two were new for my country count and bucket list – Slovenia and New Zealand 🙂

Flights: 12

Not as many as I have in the past, but this lucky dozen did get me around three continents of beautiful scenery and experiences. These twelve didn’t go off without a hitch though…let’s just say excess baggage, layovers, and lengthy waits are not my cuppa tea and won’t be EVA.

Restaurants Enjoyed: < 50

There are just so many incredible restaurants we have experienced this year! Everything from a castle to ourselves, the oldest restaurant in London, an art gallery, the oldest hotel in the USA, a converted bank, a rainforest, the ultimate pancake parlour, the most famous burger joint in New Zealand, a bistro with the most incredible cauliflower soup, and many many more.

Cupcakes Consumed: 20

Yep, I have eaten my signature dessert about 20 times and I am proud to say I still have yet to find one I don’t like!

Classes Taken: 4

Thanks to some incredible experts, I was able to map out the launch of Fill My Passport to what it is today. We keep on growing and learning more and more daily and thanks to my technical genius of a husband, it remains beautifully live and functioning beautifully!

Photos Taken: 10,000+

I have the best photographer. My husband who takes such incredible snapshots of everything has created an incredible photo library wherever we go. With over 10,000 just this year, you can imagine how many we have in total!

Northern Ireland Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge
Northern Ireland Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge

Year 2’s Goals

So now it is time to set goals for the upcoming year. Gosh where do I start logically? My to-do list always seems to grown and no matter how many ticks I make when things get completed, I look at the rest and think where on earth the time will come to get them done. But here goes. Hold me to them now….

Finish Your Courses – So I have access to a bunch of courses with tons of incredible information. Now I need to finish them and be this expert in everything. I think finishing these courses will really put me in a great position of knowledge to move forward.

Launch The New Project – Stay tuned for this. I am determined to launch this in the second year of Fill My Passport’s existence!

 

Find a New Yoga Studio – I am bummed as heck that I haven’t been able to find a studio that I like nearly as much as Fireshaper in the Gold Coast Australia. I so need to go back to feel better and stronger. Praying that I find one soon for my life and my sanity!

Yoga on the Beach
Practising yoga on the beach

This year I hope brings as many blessings or more than the last year. I am extremely grateful the friends I have met, the lessons I’ve learned, the challenges faced, and the surprises experienced.

If you are keen on following the same journey, check out my post on starting a travel blog to get a first glance at what to expect. Take a course, plan ahead, and remember that nothing comes easy. If you want it badly enough, you will get it.

The One-Year Anniversary Round-up
The One-Year Anniversary Round-up

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