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Reflecting on my Favourite Travel Memories

by Courtney
Reflecting on my Favourite Travel Memories

Hello there, remember me? I’m the one that used to regularly publish content on this blog. Life certainly got in the way of my passion project, and there have been a multitude of changes in my life and the world since my last post was published back in September 2019.

Long story short, I have now found myself with an abundance of time due to a certain virus that has shut down the entire world. Not one to dwell in my misery (for too long, at least), I’ve decided that I want to try and make the most of my newfound time to return to where my love lies – in this blog.

So, to begin, I’d like to take a nice walk down memory lane and revisit some of my favourite travel memories from the past few years. Here, I’ll share an image or two and a short story to go with it.

Enjoy (from the comfort of your own home, please)!

 

JAPAN, FEBRUARY 2016

There is something special about travelling to one of your favourite places with one of your favourite people. In February 2016, I travelled back to Japan with my best mate Carlee, eager to show her the place I’d fallen in love with a year earlier.

We spent time in the bustling city of Tokyo, and then headed up to the mountain town of Hakuba for a week of skiing (or, if you’re Carlee, a week of sliding headfirst down the slopes). The first image is the day we went to the famous Takeshita Street, well known for it’s hilarious name. We strolled up and down the bright and bubbly street, eating colourful fairy floss and soaking in the weird, wonderful world we’d found ourselves in.

The second image is from our first day in Hakuba, where I’d spent the months leading up to our trip telling Carlee about how good the snow is. The year earlier, I’d been lucky enough to experience some seriously incredible snow, but it wasn’t quite how I’d described it when we returned. In fact, it was one of the worst seasons they’d ever had – oops! So, instead of skiing on the first day, we wandered around the town, looking for sushi to devour and beer to drink.


 

SAMOA, MARCH 2017

My trip to Samoa began with two things – a too good to be true deal from Expedia, and a call to my friend Danni, who I hadn’t seen in two years. Living in different states, it was hard to find the time to visit each other but when I asked her to come to Samoa with me, she couldn’t say yes quick enough.

We got a REALLY good deal, so naturally we were a bit nervous as we began our journey to Samoa. Was it too good to be true? Would the natural infinity pool look as beautiful in real life as it did in the photos online? Were we being scammed? I’m sure the bottle of red wine we shared before our overnight flight did little to calm our nerves, but it sure helped us get some sleep on the plane.

Luckily, we arrived to find that our suspicions were unfounded, and the cute little lodge we were spending the week at was absolutely perfect. And as you can see from the image below, the natural infinity pool did not disappoint!


 

BORA BORA, AUGUST 2017

Oh, Bora Bora. You are absolute heaven. I’ll never tire of looking back on my travel memories of French Polynesia, for countless different reasons, but Bora Bora really was something special.

Again, this was another REALLY good deal, another ‘is this too good to be true’ moment. Again, we were lucky to discover it really was as good as we had hoped for. In fact, in this case, it was even better since we got an unexpected upgrade to our overwater bungalow.

The first image was taken just moments after the lovely check-in staff had shown us to our bungalow, and I could finally let out the excitement I’d been holding in as she walked us up to the room and let us in. The second she walked out the door, I jumped on the bed squealing with joy, unable to believe how lucky we were. Then, we walked outside the front door to snap this photo. Pure, pure happiness right there, people!

The second photo was taken from the private deck attached to our overwater bungalow, where we could jump off straight into the crystal clear water, just steps from our giant king-sized bed. You could almost literally roll out of bed and into the water. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to stay somewhere this incredible again, but damn I hope I get to be this lucky a second time!


 

BALI, NOVEMBER 2017

This was my second trip to Bali. It was a special occasion – Mum’s 50th birthday trip, so Scott and I travelled there with my immediate family and some family friends. It was so much fun showing Mum and the family around this little island paradise, from day trips to the jungle of Ubud to sunny beach days in Uluwatu, we covered a lot of ground in a little over a week.

This image was captured on one of the first days. Scott and I climbed on the roof of our hotel to watch the sunset. The colours in the image really don’t do justice to how beautiful it looked in real life. We were treated to sunsets of this calibre almost every single night of our trip. If there’s one thing that Bali does well, it is sunsets. Oh, and Bintangs of course!


 

GREAT BARRIER REEF, MARCH 2018

This was one of those trips that really, really changes you. I know that every trip, at some level, will bring about personal development and change, but this was different. I remember this trip as changing my trajectory from living a somewhat ethical and sustainable lifestyle to truly committing to making major lifestyle changes for the benefit of the natural world.

Scott and I spent two blissful days on Moore Reef on the Sunlover pontoon, being lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend the night on the Great Barrier Reef. With the entire pontoon to ourselves, we could really explore the underwater world without the distraction or disruption of others. Here, we spent hours exploring the reef, following our friend Linda the green sea turtle on her daily adventures. We’d met her a year earlier at the exact same spot, and there we were again swimming with the exact same turtle.

The image below is my favourite travel photo ever. Actually, it is my favourite photo ever. Just me, Linda and the Great Barrier Reef.


 

WINEGLASS BAY, MAY 2018

We visited Tasmania for the first time in May 2018, and this was the number one place I wanted to see. Ever since I got my hands on a copy of VI by photographer Melissa Findley, which featured a beautiful image of Wineglass Bay on the cover, I had been dreaming of conquering Mount Amos and seeing the incredible view with my own eyes.

It was freezing that day, and as we ascended higher and higher, I lost layers and layers of clothing. After about ten minutes of sitting at the summit, I had to start putting layers back on. The warm sunshine wasn’t enough to protect against the chilly late autumn air, as you can see in the below images!

I can’t wait to go back to Tasmania; it’s definitely high on the list of places to visit when this is all over.


 

RAROTONGA, JUNE 2018

While this wasn’t my first trip to my favourite place in the entire world, it was the first time I’d been there with anyone other than Scott. It was my third visit to Rarotonga, and joining Scott and I to our little island home was Carlee and Scott’s parents, Karen and John. Like I said earlier, there’s nothing better than showing your favourite place to your favourite people, and this was no exception!

The first image was taken on our first night in Rarotonga. Scott and I had taken Carlee to our favourite beach bar on the island for sunset cocktails and the sky did not disappoint. We watched the sun fall below the horizon as we sipped on pina coladas, until eventually it was gone and all that was left was a pink and purple sky glittering with stars.

The second image was taken while free diving at Papua Passage, one of our favourite snorkelling spots on the island. Previously, my confidence in the ocean was lacking and I’d always been nervous to swim out here on other trips to Rarotonga, but not this time. You couldn’t stop me diving under the surface towards the sandy ocean floor, diving as far as I could on a single breath (which, to be honest, wasn’t too deep). We spent hours out here, looking for sea turtles and sharks and whatever else lay in the depths of the passage.


 

TONGA, OCTOBER 2018

In October 2018, Scott and I arrived in the tiny island nation of Tonga, and here we’d experience something most people would only dream about – swimming with humpback whales. I still have dreams about this trip, dreams that don’t even compare to the reality.

It is still hard to describe how it felt to be in the water with a humpback whale. How your body is rushing with energy, buzzing to the point of no return, yet somehow feels completely calm at the same time. The adrenaline of sharing the ocean with a creature so giant, yet their presence was so humbling and soft. How fast they really are in their natural world and how slow you feel in comparison. The moment a baby swims away from the mother, towards you, curious. The way they focus on you, notice you, waving back at you just moments after you wave at them. How they sometimes appear drunk in their movements, darting up and down and in and out, yet also so smooth and graceful in the way they glide through the water.

The first image is our first up close and personal encounter with a mother and calf. I’ll never forget how playful and curious that calf was as it twirled through the water. I keep repeating myself when I talk about this trip, but it really was a life changing experience.

The second is a portrait Scott snapped of me on our way to the bar for happy hour after a day of swimming with the whales. I have always been somewhat critical of the way I look, which many women can probably relate to. This photo, however, is my favourite photo of myself. It captures perfectly how content I felt in that moment, how happy and relaxed and inspired I was. I love it.


 

MONUMENT VALLEY, APRIL 2019

This was one of the best trips I’ve ever done. Just me, Scott & our Cruise America camper as we adventured through the southwest USA for two glorious weeks. I’d spent a long time dreaming about visiting Monument Valley in particular.

From days back in undergrad where I would study countless spaghetti westerns as part of my degree, always featuring Monument Valley, I thought about what it what be like to actually go. And we did. I loved the open, vast space we found ourselves in, something that I crave now more than ever.

We found these horses in a field next to the road. Like models on set, they stood tall while Scott snapped their portraits against the beauty of the Utah desert. I’ll always love these images, memories of a trip I’d repeat over and over again…


 

NEW CALEDONIA, OCTOBER 2019

The last overseas trip I went on was a family holiday to celebrate Scott’s mum Karen’s 60th birthday. Together with his immediate and some extended family, we enjoyed a delightful week in a beautiful resort in an absolutely stunning part of the world.

This trip stands out to me not only because it was a great trip (they all are), but because it happened as I was going through a big life change. Slowing down, resetting and recharging before returning home to start a new job was what made this trip so special.

The below images were taken on my favourite day of the trip, where we chartered a yacht to take us out to the reef, where we spent hours snorkelling and enjoying the sunshine. Towards the end of the day, we spotted a black tip reef shark swimming around our boat. Without skipping a beat, Scott and I raced into the water to swim with it, much to the shock of the Ruzzene relatives. He made us feel very welcome, even if he was a little bit scared of us! Remember, just like ‘scary’ land creatures like spiders & snakes, most sharks are either scared of you or curious about you. They’re not really considering you for dinner, so don’t flatter yourself by thinking all they want to do is eat you!

The second image is of Scott’s sister Kobi and I on the back of the yacht, just living our absolute best lives in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I would bloody love to go back to this exact moment in time.


 

COOLENDEL, NOVEMBER 2019

I know what you’re thinking. Why is Coolendel, a tiny locality just over an hour from where I live, included in a list of memories from places all over the world? Simply put, this trip reminds me a lot of what we’re all going through now.

When we visited Coolendel for our glamping adventure, things were so different. It was before the tragic bushfires and well before COVID-19 took over our lives. We drove south after work one afternoon, ready for a weekend of slowing down. And that we did.

There was no electricity or reception at our campsite in Coolendel, leaving us alone with our thoughts, books and exploring to keep us occupied. I cannot begin to describe how good it felt to truly disconnect from the world, to leave technology and social media behind and just enjoy nature.

We spent the weekend hiking up and down the banks of the Shoalhaven river, stopping to listen for animals scurrying through the tall grass, or water dragons diving unexpectedly into the water right next to us, making us jump with a sudden splash. We made friends with curious creatures, like the many wombats who ventured into our campsite from dusk until the early morning, or the peacocks, who paraded around showing off their spectacular feathers to anyone who’d watch.

We drank instant coffee from camp cups while we cooked oats on the camp stove. We drank wine under a starry sky, with no other sounds to distract us but the scuffling of the wombats through the bush, or leaves on the trees above swaying ever so slightly in the light breeze.

It was one of the last times I remember life feeling normal.


When I look back on these memories from the past few years, I can’t help but feel so, so very lucky.

The experiences I’ve had and the adventures I’ve been on have been incredible, and I understand how privileged I am to have the access and means to travel the way I do.

What travel memories are you looking back on during isolation? What places do you want to venture to once this is all over?

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