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  • Writer's pictureAoife Lane

Happy new year! We are a month in, obviously, and finally getting around to writing here. We've decided a fitting way to start 2023 is with a review of last year, so here is Part One of our visual recap of 2022.

A quick note before proceeding that we appreciate so much the lovely comments folks have left on our posts -- our blog hosting Wix is screwing up us being able to see who has left them and us being able to reply so we are so sorry and so grateful for your kind words.

Throughout the year -- starting from packing up in Cork through to that positive pre-flight PCR test then being well enough to travel to London and head home to Australia -- Aoife (hello, it's me, hi!) has been shooting everyday footage on the iPhone 12. This started as a daily project in 2021 that was abandoned due to our third lockdown (there's only so much of the 5km walk footage you can enthusiastically capture from different angles) and was picked back up for the past year.

Organising and editing this footage was actually a delight; revisiting our time with loved ones and travels to new places, re-experiencing things we've missed so much like festivals and hugging people and swimming in the Pacific Ocean, and just remembering why we decided to embrace the type of adventure we've never had before and take a year to explore beyond the things we've always known.

The main takeaway from editing this is that the world, most people, and being alive is all incredibly beautiful. Equally, there are always hard times and yet, to quote Simon, we're grateful to take the good with the bad while also trying to find something to laugh about if not during then afterwards -- including seasickness, the second round of the spicy cough that came for us again in Barcelona, and the demoralising reality of giardia. The bottom line from all of this is that no matter what, things can go wrong and we are learning, steeply, that it happens and then to figure it out from there. Carpe YOLO as the kids don't actually really say.

We still have a lot to write here about what the last 12 months were like, a thorough debrief on the toenail debacle of the Balkans (drafted and being edited, promise), some actual utility posts about travelling the way we did, other stories about how we found the sabbatical, our trek in the Accursed Mountains, and our shift in planning for what we're doing in 2023.

We hope you enjoy Part One of 2022 and wishing you all the very best for the year ahead!

Much love always,

A&S xx

  • Writer's pictureAoife Lane

A moment of reverence for the divine experience of Bosnian coffee, plus a check-in.

Caravanserai Bosnian Coffee - Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

An Overdue State Of The Nation

To start, it's not a surprise to me at all that it's almost exactly a year since I last wrote for the blog. I think by the end of 2021 I'd basically used up all my words and all writing, even for this blog we set up together, was just the last thing I wanted to do. That state of wordlessness certainly hasn't applied to conversation and having finally spent many precious hours face-to-face with loved ones in the last 10 months on the road, I realised that I'd probably used up my digital words for a time. Even the sight of my computer was very off-putting and I actively neglected the blog even with Simon's encouragement, exceptional administrative and photographic work day-to-day, and absolute patience in the face of my blog avoidance.

Now though, and in a spoiler-free turn of events, I'm happily on the opposite side of that previously closed door. My outlook on writing here and, writing in general, has started to shift and in the last two months I've felt a bit like writing again. It's nice (!) and I guess it reflects a dawning light after thinking for the last 12 months that I'd never want to write again.

The Travel Craic: Backpack City

Espresso and pastel de nata - Porto, Portugal

To dust off the old keyboard, let me tell you briefly about the past little while. In the last four months, we've spent our time doing a mix of things:

  • Travelling to countries nearly entirely new to us;

  • Exploring these places slowly and doing our best to get to know them;

  • Working on different projects on the road (a little complicated to share here but things we're both thoroughly enjoying);

  • Meeting up with old and new loved ones in different places (planned, surprise, and spontaneous); and,

  • Planning our next moves for the remainder of this year and the first half of the new year.

We have many moments noted down to share and as the leaves turn in the Northern Hemisphere, it feels good to be getting stuck in to writing them down here.

Two Lane Lowdown (Like the On The J.Lo without the private yacht)

Not coffee but close: Churros con chocolate breakfast - Barcelona, Spain

In closing, throughout this year on the road Simon and I have talked a heap about the blog. We don't have social media anymore and in the bigger picture of keeping up with people, telling stories and sharing about things here is our online postcard for staying connected. It also feels like it's our own thing where we're not at the mercy of algorithms or giving away our data. It feels as close as you can get to the one-to-one or one-to-a-few form that we both prefer. Having this site of our own is a way we can recap more about what we've been doing and how things are going in a real way that is anecdotal. I also forget things a lot and a written record is something we value, too.

Cake and special espresso semifreddo - Varenna, Italy

Following lots of chatz, we've decided a few things about how we want to post moving forward. We're going to be working on the following style of posts to publish here:

  1. Travel Recaps - Overviews of each place, more of what we've experienced, and how we planned and experienced the place

  2. Postcards - Visual posts that capture more of each place

  3. Resource Posts - To share more about all different random things that might be helpful (or not) and also just because I love a power ranking on all topics

  4. Coffee Breaks - To disclose all the random things and recommendations, pitstop travel stories, and general chatter focused on all chaotic manner of topics

Please consider this post our first Coffee Break to share with you the craic of right now and to also say to you, how are you? What's the craic?

Raising a virtual coffee or tea to you or anything else you wish to cheers with us over. We're here for it and look forward to hearing from you, too.

All our love,

A&S xx

Ps, I am working on our next post, another Coffee Break that explains more fully the event that largely shaped the last four months. We've already colloquially spoken about it as 'the Toepocalypse', nevertheless for poetic sensibilities, the post coming for you is called, 'A Tale of Two Toenails'. Get ready!

  • Simon Lane

Corfu, Greece. OK, technically it's not Albania, but its where our Balkan chapter started. We took a ferry from Corfu to Sarande, Albania.

Next stop: Himare, Albania (pronounced him-ar-ah). Home to the Greek myth of the Chimera, with which it shares its name. Quite the hidden gem.

Vlore, further north from Himare. Home of incredible lamb chops, sunsets, and the toepocalypse. Gjirokaster was chronologically inbetween, but it gets its own post.

"I don't think you're ready for this feta"

"We're on a mission from God!" Blues Brothers spotted in Tirana

Surveillance equipment at The House Of Leaves, Tirana. A museum showcasing the surveillance state that existed under Enver Hoxcha and communist rule.

And last, but not least, a rogue tortoise roaming a restaurant in Shkoder.

Tortoises are wild and plentiful in Albania. We have saved several from busy roads, but that doesn't stop them from going wherever they damn well please. Did you know the collective noun is a creep of tortoises? Tells you everything you need to know.

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