The end, the beginning, and a list

I am a little bit late to the inevitable end of year post-fest. The reason is largely because despite my best efforts, I’m really not much good at the whole list thing. I tend to get all caught up in the excitement of writing a post freehand, and then I panic and throw a list in in an attempt to make it seem like I can be orderly.

But then I read Mr. Hodson’s year end post over at Go See Write in which he helpfully provided some things to be doing and not doing for the year ahead (writing list posts oddly not making the list).

In his post, he helpfully listed some RSS feeds that might be worth subscribing to, and there were a few that I wasn’t as yet hooked on (I love my RSS feeds!), which I eagerly signed up to. One of these was the tech feed for the Atlantic, which by happenstance, had an interview with Umberto Eco as to why we love lists.

And it turns out that Mr Eco thinks we love lists because, and I quote, “we don’t want to die”.

This sounded wonderful. Through cunning interpretation of the quote I was able to conclude that I need to write a list post (maybe even two!), to help me ignore my mortality and stave off impending death. Ok, so the rest of the post makes more sense regarding lists and death, but still. Any excuse, however tentative.

So it is that we come to my review of 2012. The other reason to write this post is that last year I did a “things I’d quite like to achieve in 2012” post, and I’m keen to see how I did against my dreams.

That inspiration came from reading this excellent post over at The Planet D who make the valid argument that there’s no point giving myself targets if I don’t go back and check how I did. Once I’ve done that, I’m going to put some ideas out for what 2013 might look like.

Don’t worry though. I’m going to do a 2012 in review photo post as well, in case all this writing stuff is a bit much. Now then. On with the post. Which will only be slightly listy, I promise. Just enough to avoid death.

How did I do against 2012’s targets?

I had five goals for 2012. They were to visit Iceland, visit Paris, visit Barcelona, go somewhere in our campervan and go somewhere warmer for Winter. Let’s see how I did…

Visit Iceland – Fail!

Sigh. Five goals, and I fall at the first hurdle. Despite easy flights to Iceland from France, we never quite actually made it. Although we did get thoroughly snowed in in France in February, and I was able to celebrate my birthday in the snow.

Still, no northern lights or giant waterfalls of epicness on this travellers itinerary means that so far we’re at 0/5, and Iceland is still on the to-do list for 2013.

Visit Paris – Fail!

Hmm. This isn’t going so well. And of all the goals on my list, I actually thought that this would be the most achievable, what with having spent the a great deal of 2012 in France.

We did at least go through Paris airport on our way out to Thailand, although I’m fairly sure sitting in an airport lounge doesn’t count as visiting a country. Sigh. Paris, you’ll be mine in 2013.

Visit Barcelona – Success!

Good news! We made it to Barcelona in April of 2012, where we worked with both the Barcelona tourism board and Roomorama on one of the first big adventures that the blog has taken us on.

We spent a week rocking around the city, taking in the views, the incredible architecture of Gaudi, and exploring all the nooks and crannies of places like the Gothic Quarter.

We also found time to head out to Girona and Figures on a day trip, which set us up nicely for our return later in the year when we attended the TBEX travel bloggers conference in October.

That time round we stayed in luxury villas, hit up the cycle ways of Costa Brava, stuffed ourselves silly on fine foods, and even managed a bit of hot air ballooning.

Quite the adventure, and I’m delighted to say that Barcelona and the Costa Brava region are firmly up there as one of our favourite bits of the world.

Go Somewhere in Our Campervan – Success!

After we said goodbye to Bernie in New Zealand, it was inevitable that we’d want another campervan in our lives. Only this time, one we could both actually stand up in. Enter Fleurie, our new German panel van.

It took a while, and a bunch of help from my Dad, but we finally managed to get her into shape for a bit of European touring.

We tested her out with a little summer run down to the south of France and the town of Fitou (also home to a deeply weird castle), before heading out across France into Germany on a two week European adventure. Here we had the joy of meeting up with some wonderful friends and exploring the hitherto unfamiliar towns of Munich and Freiburg in Germany.

Suddenly the score line is 2 wins and 2 fails. Warm winter destination... it’s all up to you now!

Go somewhere warm for winter – Success!

Writing my 2012 dreams post in the depths of a European winter clearly had me thinking that Europe was best appreciated as a summer event. And, if you’ve been following along at all over the last couple of months, you’ll know that we really hit this one out of the park, with an epic three month adventure around Thailand rounding off the end of 2012 and starting 2013 with a bang.

Sunset river kwai Thailand Kanchanaburi raft house

The adventure is still on-going, but so far we’ve had an incredible time thanks to the folks at the Thailand Tourism Authority, who have sorted us out with trips to Hill Tribes, incredible temples, and even ancient cities. And yes, it’s been warm!

So – a shaky start there, but a finishing score of 3/5 isn’t too bad!

What are my dreams for 2013?

That’s 2012 wrapped up. It’s been an amazing year, with all kinds of adventures, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favourite photos of it all with you. Now though... let’s look forward!

Dream 1 - Go even further with the blog

2012 was a really big year for this blog. We were mentioned on a number of other sites as a blog to watch for 2013, and we even made the National Geographic Traveller’s radar. And as you can probably tell – we’ve had some exciting adventures along the way!

We also went from having a couple of thousand of you visit us every month to nearly 30,000, and that makes us feel particularly special. So a huge thanks for all your support, it means a lot!

I’ve also been really delighted to get Vera on board more fully through 2012, and she’s been enjoying finding her writing style, with posts ranging from toilet anxiety through to wine tasting.

For 2013, Vera is getting even more involved, and we’re excited to be launching a German language version of the site over at Findingtheuniverse.de. Expect more of the same, only in German!

This year we’ve already got some exciting partnerships coming up, and we’re hoping that attending the world’s largest trade fair, ITB, in Berlin in March is going to open up more opportunities for us to share travels and adventure with you. Stay tuned!

Dream 2 - See more of Europe

One of the amazing things about being based in Europe is how convenient everything is in terms of closeness, something we fully intend to take advantage of in 2013.

We’re starting off with our trip to Berlin, the capital of Germany in March, which we’re planning to extend out a bit to take in some parts of Europe neither of us have visited. We’re still working on the exact schedule, but that is looking to be a jam-packed few weeks – we might even get some time in Paris in…

Dream 3 - Explore our surroundings with Fleurie

Having gone to the effort of converting our van, it’s time to take her out on the road. We’re thinking shorter trips to explore more of our immediate French surroundings as a starting point. Bordeaux for example, is said to have some decent wine, and we’re also not far from amazing coastlines or mountain scenery. Not too dissimilar from New Zealand then!

France is a big country, and we’ve barely explored her at all. Time to hit the road, and find some adventures!

Dream 4 - Go somewhere warm again for winter!

The success of 2012’s warm winter dream has me excited for repeating the adventure.

Absolutely nothing is planned at this point (it’s months away! I’m in Thailand!), but my heart is thinking of Africa, and wondering if it’s time to visit that epic continent again. Who knows what the year could bring though... so again, I’ll just stick to the criteria of warm and see where the winds blow us.

Dream 5 - Visit Iceland!

Iceland is largely white, but I refuse to let it turn into my whale. We may not have found time in 2012 (and to be honest, 2013 is looking busy already!), but I’m ever hopeful that the land of northern lights and incredible waterfalls is going to make it onto our wish list.

If you happen to be from the Iceland tourism board and reading this, do get in touch. I’m sure we can make some magic happen!

And over to you

As always, it’s your support that makes this whole adventure of ours possible, so from both Vera and I, again, a massive thanks.

If you’ve got any thoughts on any of the above, ideas for where you’d like to see us go, what sort of things you’d like to see more (or less!) of, either pop a comment in the boxes below, or drop us an e-mail, laurence at findingtheuniverse.com. Keep rocking!

Thanks to +Michael Hodson for the post inspiration. Circle him on G+ by hovering over his name!

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