What a wild ass year. Truly.
I began January 1st, 2019 in the streets of Paris. Seriously, how fucking cool is that? If how you spend your new years eve is what determines the rest of your year, I was about to have a pretty awesome year.
How it started….
Being in Paris for NYE was all a part of my ‘Eight Countries for under $2000‘ trip. I got it done! I managed to visit eight countries in Europe over Christmas/New Years for under $2000, without having to stay in a room where 12 other strangers could breathe over me at night.
After Paris I made my way over to Copehagen, Denmark and to Malmo, Sweden. These were really short trips, as I really was only there to see the neighbourhood Zlatan Ibrahimovic was from. Big fan.
Prague was incredible, it would be stop #6 during this adventure and the Christmas Market there alone was worth the visit. If you go, try to also make time to attend the ballet there, you’ll feel super fancy pants for not a lot of money.
When I returned to living my regular-degular life in Toronto, I went back to playing basketball. Was super excited to be back into it as well. Then one faithful day in March, I messed up my ankle so bad I was on crutches for a couple of days.
The reason this ESPECIALLY sucked was that at the end of March/beginning of April I was leaving for Las Vegas for a weekend. Imagine going to Vegas and you can’t even wear some cute high heels? So lame.
Luckily, by the day I left for Vegas, all was good. I could walk and didn’t have to limp around anymore.
The Vegas trip was short and pretty good. I swam a little and got to go on a helicopter ride. One of the most memorable parts of the trip was getting to stay in the penthouse of the Bellagio. If you’re going to live it up one time, do it here. The room was insane!
Following Vegas I decided to make a YouTube video, that had nothing to do with Vegas. It was to help out those who wanted to travel solo. I named it ‘Five Solo Travel Tips‘ – because that’s about as inventive as I can get.
On April 25th, a big day in my life happened. I became an aunt. Now, although I do not have any brothers or sisters – I’m an aunt, got it? My cousin gave birth to my little bundle of joy named Antonio. See picture below, he’s awesome and a traveler as well.
Girls, Girls, Girls
If there is one ongoing theme that remained in 2019, it was that I am one of the luckiest people in the world to be surrounded by the women I know.
A perfect example of that was getting 10 of us to go to Blue Mountain for the Victoria Day Long Weekend. It was literally planned within three hours, a place was booked and all mans were ready and willing to go.
We all really needed that weekend and I couldn’t be any MORE eager to relive that weekend again, but maybe in a different country? (stay tuned for 2020) Please see image below if you need any further explanation as to how said weekend went.
On June 12th I shut the blog down temporarily. It was so that I could move all my content from Squarespace over to WordPress. What a pain in the fucking ass. The young lady who works on my site (shout out to Sharine) helped a lot with this move. It was literally just to have access to the ads.txt section of the blog, which I did not have in Squarespace. Why did I need the ads.txt part? Well that is where the new parameters for Google AdSense were being set, and unless you could put your code in that area – no $$$ making for you.
The blog was overall shut down for about two weeks, and then I was back up and running again on WordPress. I like WordPress, and I was back to making money with Google AdSense.
Unfortunately, I ended up getting banned. Worst fucking day on the blog ever. Some invalid clicks shit happened, I appealed it THREE times. I have been denied all three times. This was really crummy because I was doing pretty well on Google AdSense for revenue, and suddenly it was all gone.
As I read thoroughly through thousands of posts, it feels like, about AdSense shutting people down – I am definitely not alone. It happens to a lot of people and it sucks, but it’s forever so you basically have to get over it. I switched over to a new ad platform and it’s OK. It isn’t AdSense but I can’t really do anything about it.
Furthermore, this lead to me finally charging for personalized itineraries. For 2.5 years on the blog I didn’t charge a cent for personalized itineraries people requested. When AdSense went down for me, I had to turn to that revenue stream to keep the blog going.
It has been going wonderfully, I should mention. Again, it isn’t AdSense but at least it’s something and I can continue to run this blog how I want.
THE RAPTORS ARE NBA CHAMPS
The first blog post I wrote when I reopened the site was about the Toronto Raptors being the NBA Champions. In the 25th year of them existing and the 25th year of me being in Canada, my Toronto Raptors would become the NBA Champions.
Unless you live in Toronto, you really cannot understand the depth of how much this meant to the city. To the fans I know who had been riding with this team since they were in elementary school. Huge deal.
I was one of the people who ran into the streets on the night we won and I also left work half-way through the day to attend the parade. One of the brightest parts of 2019 – THE TORONTO RAPTORS ARE NBA CHAMPIONS.
Concerts on Concerts
To be completely honest, I am not a big concerts person. Even when I go to parties, I’m not happy when there’s a performance because it slows down all the shenanigans I’m trying to get into. Just isn’t for me.
However, in 2019 I went to three concerts in Toronto and loved them all. Why? Because it was super duper nostalgic. I got to see people I loved during my high school (and preteen) years perform.
My best friend Jummy bought me tickets to see the Backstreet Boys as a birthday gift. I was/am a huge Backstreet Boys fan when I was young and I never had the money to go see them in concert. This was finally my opportunity to sing my heart out to ‘QUIIIITT PLAYING GAMES WITH MY HEAAAART!!!’
The concert was awesome. I had a great time reliving my love of Kevin.
In the following weeks after seeing BSB I got to see Ashanti + Ja Rule in concert at Beer Fest. Yes, Ja Rule did show up. Crazy scammer man.
Then the week after Ashanti I also went to see her ex-boyfriend in concert. Nelly + TLC (or, I guess, TC?) performed in Toronto as well. This was a fun concert because in my head, I couldn’t believe how many Nelly songs I actually knew the lyrics to. I should mention, he did NOT perform Tip Drill and that made me a little sad.
23 Days in Europe
Luckily, for this section I wrote a shitload of blog posts describing everything that I saw, ate, felt etc.
Basically, I spent the entire month of August traveling Europe.
I began in Naples, which wasn’t particularly impressive. I only chose to fly there first because this was the cheapest flight at the time into Europe. However, from Naples I did take a day trip over to the Amalfi Coast. That trip was incredible and everyone should visit the Amalfi Coast at some point in their lives because it is literally everything you see on the fancy pants IG posts of it.
After Naples I took the super quick flight over to Dubrovnik. Although it is a great city, I strongly advise all of you to NOT visit during August like I did and to not be in the city on a Thursday. I spent three days in Dubrovnik and the best part of it was just relaxing in my wonderful AirBnB.
During my time in Dubrovnik I also took a day trip over to Kravice Falls and Mostar in Bosnia. Now THIS activity I would recommend for everyone. If you’re going to visit Bosnia you have to see both the bustling city of Mostar and go cool off in Kravice waterfalls. Again, if you make the horrible decision of being in Europe during August like I did, you will definitely need that cool off at Kravice. The day I arrived in the region, it was 43 degrees Celsius outside. Wowzers.
This was my first time returning to my home, Bosnia, since 2001. I wrote about traveling from Sarajevo to Banja Luka, and the unbelievable amount of cevapi I ate between the destinations. What I didn’t write about was the feeling I had returning home.
I kept thinking I would eventually write that post but it never came. This year was the 25th year since I came to Canada and returning to Bosnia in the same year was a bit much. It’s incredibly difficult to explain the feeling I had entering the city I was born in (Banja Luka) and not seeing Bosnian flags, but Serbian flags in the vicinity. Repulika Srpska, not the place I was born in anymore. Disheartening. I don’t have many occasions in my life where there are literally no words to describe a feeling, but this is one of them. It’s just indescribable.
After Sarajevo I made my way over to Turkey.
The purpose of my trip to Turkey was to head over to Antalya and finally get my teeth done. I had been working insane hours at my two jobs to save up enough to get a smile makeover. I accomplished my task and four months later I can tell you it’s still the best decision I made in 2019. Aside from having a nephew born, this was the best thing to happen to me this year. I’m so happy with my teeth and that entire process you can read about here.
I spent a total of nine days in Antalya and aside from just dental work, what an awesome place! If Istanbul is akin to New York I’d say Antalya is Los Angeles. You get the beaches AND the nightlife/city life. This would be country #41 on my places I’ve been to checklist.
There are many activities and things to get into while in Antalya, but make sure while you’re there you also capitalize on the day trips available to you. On one of the days I didn’t have pain in my mouth I took a day trip over to Pamukkale.
This place was very impressive. Along with the limestone hills that looks like you’re walking on a cloud there’s this pool that Cleopatra use to bathe in to stay beautiful. With my temporary teeth in, I DOVE RIGHT IN.
Following all the running around Antalya and getting my smile right, I finished the trip off in northern Croatia. A country I had been to numerous times since I was born. Some of the happiest moments in my childhood and even as an adult were in Croatia.
I feel the most notable thing to mention about northern Croatia is that you have to visit Opatija! This is a city I need to return to and stay much longer in, an afternoon was just not good enough.
The final week of my trip was spent going back and forth from Pula to Crikvenica and aside from visiting family, I also got to go to another concert…. except this time it was in a coliseum older than all of Canada.
One would assume after spending a damn month away I would try to take it easy for a little bit, right? WRONG. VERY VERY WRONG.
That was me, yelling at myself.
My three best friends and I took off to New York for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. I won’t describe it in great detail because you can read all about that here. I would, however, like to take this opportunity and say I have the bestest three friends in the whole wide world.
Sherry. Jummy. Lorren. Even aside from how super fun the weekend in New York was, you’re the reason my life is good.
Also, don’t drink a lot kids – it’ll have you looking like a jackass in an airport at 6am on a Monday morning. You’re welcome.
Random Pittsburgh Trip
So okay, New York happened right? That was planned and that was awesome. Pittsburgh? I don’t even know what the fuck I was thinking trying to pull this off so soon after New York.
Long story short, there was an opportunity at work for me to go on a trip to Pittsburgh and I took that opportunity. I spent an awesome five days in a city I never anticipated visiting. That’s what life is about sometimes, just getting opportunities and taking full advantage of them. I consider myself very lucky to have been chosen to go on this trip and meet so many awesome people from all over the USA and Canada.
Ending The Year Off Strong
December 2019 has been a wonderful month for me.
Prior to leaving for Pittsburgh I had applied for a new position within my workplace and after returning I found out I had gotten the position! Very awesome news.
On December 16th, 2019 (my birthday) I began my new position – finally getting to do a job that has SOME resemblance of what I went to school for.
Also, as you’re reading this I’m out celebrating New Years Eve in my favourite place in the world today, Santiago de Cuba. For my birthday my wonderful boyfriend bought me a trip here to enjoy Christmas and NYE. When I said I’d finish the year off strong, a new job and a trip here really got it done for me.
Next? Well, when I return I have Trinidad Carnival 2020 to work on. Before I left on this vacation I posted my budget for TNT Carnival and that should give enough of an explanation of how many shifts I’ll likely be doing upon my return from Cuba.
If you’re reading this I hope you had an amazing 2019. I wish you the absolute best in 2020 and thank you for reading and supporting the blog.
Hopefully there will be even more shenanigans and curse words for me to write in 2020.