2017…what a year! Here are my highlights

2017…what a year! Here are my highlights

2017, on a personal level, has been my most transformational year yet. On the blog front, I finally went self-hosted, changed the blog design entirely and committed more to blogging frequently, aiming for 4-5 posts a week. For the majority of the year this was tough, juggling a full time job and events in the evenings alongside trying to write up all my experiences. This led to 5am starts everyday (and dark circles under my eyes) which were not great!

This leads me nicely to some of my highlights for the year, which include a career change, being named a Top 200 Travel Blog, one of British Asian Instagrammers to follow, travelling to 11 International destinations, 5 Staycations, capturing one proposal and being featured in various press, both in Kenya and the UK.

So grab a cuppa (or a mojito) and hope you enjoy reading 🙂

The Big Career Change

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On a career front I left my job in Investments, managing a funds platform, in September after 10 years (I know I can’t believe I lasted that long either) to become a Solopreneur, managing social media accounts for clients. In case you are wondering what that is:

 Definition of Solopreneur – a person who sets up and runs a business on their own.

Oxford Dictionary

I have really been enjoying having extra free time to focus on my blog and my clients, as well as collaborating on projects with brands. The best part is getting to go for lunch time meetings and being in charge of my own schedule and day. I haven’t been bored once!

International Travel

It is fair to say I did quite a fair bit of travel this year, which I am so grateful for. Here are my highlights, with associated links to my blog posts for each destination, and I hope these inspire some of your 2018 travel planning!

Athens

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I kicked off the year with a city break in Athens, which was awesome. It was my first experience of Greece and I loved the people, the food and the culture, as well as seeing the amazing historical sights. You can read more about my trip to Athens here.

Paris

I was lucky enough to have visited Paris twice this year, in February with Amit and in May with blogger friend Aftab. I just can’t get enough of the city and it always leaves me so refreshed and content. I love that it is just a short Eurostar journey away and I think in 2018 I would love to experience it in Autumn.

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I actually wrote several posts from these trips which are as follows, should you wish to use them to plan a trip to Paris:

Hotel review: Le Dokhan’s Paris

The Perfect Parisian weekend at The Westin Paris Vendôme

An itinerary for a whistle stop 36 hours in Paris

Paris is always a good idea! What to do in a weekend in the City of Lights

Tuscany

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Oh Tuscany – it was just so dreamy. All the pasta, pizza, gelato and ridiculously good wine! We managed to fit in so much over a weekend break, ranging from visiting a White Wine Vineyard (unusual for Tuscany as it is known for its red), having lunch at a Saffron farm and going Truffle Hunting.

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We stayed at such a gorgeous hotel in Florence, walking distance to the centre, called Ville Sull’Arno, which was just the most stunning place and the breakfast spread was to die for!

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You can read about the hotel here.

Visiting Cappella Sant’Andrea, a White Wine producing Vineyard in Tuscany

Lunch at a Saffron Farm

Truffle Hunting in Tuscany

And the all important research, My favourite best gelato spots in Tuscany.

Kenya

I am so blessed to have 2 homes, Kenya and London, and I make a trip every year to my favourite East African country. This year it was special as my youngest brother was getting married, and it was great fun spending time with loved ones.

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I also managed to get some relaxing time in, having a mini break by the beach in the South Coast of Mombasa, at Swahili Beach Hotel, which you can read about here.

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A trip back home would be incomplete without some sort of animal encounters and so I visited the Giraffe Centre, where I loved feeding and kissing the cheeky Giraffes. You can read about it here.

I also re-visited an ecological sanctuary where I used to go as a child, called Haller Park (back in the day we knew it as Baobab Nature Trail) and was amazed by how educational and interesting it was. I wrote about it here.

Basel

img_9830img_9743Basel is a lovely city in Switzerland, which I had the pleasure of visiting on a press trip in August. From eating delicious food, seeing interesting museums and even swimming in the River Rhine with ALL my belongings (Camera included), it was so much fun. I highly recommend it for a city break!

You can read about it here: A city break in Basel, Switzerland

Thailand

My first ever taste of Thailand was this year on a press trip, where we visited Ayutthaya and Bangkok.

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Ayutthaya

I absolutely loved visiting all the different Buddhist Temples and my favourite was seeing the Buddha head entwined in tree roots.

You can read about my trip to Ayutthaya here.

I also loved the buzz in Bangkok and you can read more about my time in the Thai city here.

Malaysia

I visited Malaysia on a press trip this year too, having had my first experience almost 10 years ago. It was amazing to see how much the skyline in KL had changed. This was a very short trip though and so we were limited in how much time we actually spent in KL as we also visited Melaka.

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If you are planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, you may find this useful:

24 hours in Malaysia

Qatar

One of my favourite trips this year, and it started off my life as a full time blogger with a bang as I literally flew after my last day at work! I had the best time experiencing the culture and gastronomical scene in Doha and I highly recommend it as either a layover destination, or as a trip in its own right.

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It totally blew my mind and I would love to go back and experience more of this amazing city.

Whilst I was there I had dinner in the world’s largest Nobu, at The Four Seasons Doha, which you can read about here.

Reasons why Qatar should be on your radar are all in this bumper post.

Hong Kong

As part of our big holiday this year, we decided to visit Hong Kong, a city that had been on our radar for a while. I had an amazing time, especially indulging in all the rooftop bars, the dim sum and just exploring!

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I stayed at The Langham, which was in the best location for us, and we walked almost everywhere, or used the metro service. My favourite part though was the Aqua Luna cruise, which I recommend to anyone visiting Hong Kong!

Posts from my trip are:

Top Things to do in Hong Kong

Hotel review: The Langham Hong Kong

Bali, Indonesia

My penultimate trip of the year, and combined with the trip to Hong Kong, was Bali. I just wanted an island where I could switch off, relax and rejuvenate. I stayed at The Laguna Bali, which was the dreamiest hotel ever and I really didn’t want to leave.

Unfortunately an erupting volcano had other plans for me and so I left a little earlier than I wanted to, not being able to tick a few things off my list. An excuse to go back I say!

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I did however manage to tick off visiting a Rice Terrace from my bucket list, which I was so pleased about!

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You can read about my stay at Laguna Bali – A Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, here.

For my top things to do in Bali, read my article here.

Lausanne, Switzerland

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My final trip of the year was to Lausanne, Switzerland’s fourth biggest city, located on Lake Geneva. It was a wonderful winter escape, especially as the Christmas markets were just fabulous!

You can read more about the trip here and definitely one to add for 2018 Christmas Markets!

Top Things to do on a Winter break in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Staycations

London

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A staycation in your own city is something I recommend to everyone! There was something magical about waking up in the heart of the city and seeing London landmarks from my window! I was lucky to have stayed the night at The London Marriott County Hall, and I could see Big Ben and The London Eye from my bed!

A staycation with Silver Linings at the London Marriott County Hall

Devon

img_9891img_1177img_0988img_9807This year I managed to visit Devon 3 times! I wrote my Top10 Things to do in Devon and stayed at 3 different hotels, which are all listed below.

Moorland Garden Hotel

Bovey Castle

Kentisbury Grange

Devonshire is home to the Cream Tea, and there is nowhere better to enjoy delicious scones with clotted cream and jam.

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Harrogate

I had a really relaxing weekend spa break in Harrogate, at the award winning Rudding Park hotel, which is just amazing. The Spa facilities are simply state of the art and it is the perfect place to escape to rejuvenate and recharge. If you are looking for a spa retreat I can’t recommend this enough!

A luxury weekend spa retreat at Rudding Park, Harrogate

Other Highlights

Meeting Rick Stein

This needs no explanation really – a long time food hero and finally got to meet him at an event at Chewton Glen! He is just so lovely!

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Meeting Daniel Boulud

I was lucky to have tried Daniel Boulud’s food at Bar Boulud at The Mandarin Oriental and to meet him there too! A fantastic guy!

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Capturing a proposal at The Shard

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Its no surprise that I love The Shard – I have probably spent more time there this year than any other London landmark and lovingly refer to it as “boo.” When my good friend Christina asked me if I would photograph her childhood friend’s proposal I couldn’t say no and it was just magical!

He popped the question at Aqua Shard and the moment was just priceless! It was definitely one of the beautiful highlights from this year!

Michelin Star Restaurants

One of my new years resolutions from the start of the year was to try and dine at more Michelin Star restaurants. This year I have had the pleasure of dining at:

Lung King Heen – Hong Kong

Caprice – Hong Kong

Marcus at The Berkeley

Hakkasan – London

Spondi – Athens

Jamavar – London

Benares – London

Lima – London

Celeste – London

Press Highlights

I have been featured in several press this year, both in Kenya and the UK, and some highlights are this piece by Pooja Kotedia in The Nairobian.

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I was also featured by Brit Asia TV in this Q&A Piece: BritAsia TV Meets Binny and they featured me as one of the British Asian Instagrammers to follow.

I also wrote some pieces for BritAsia TV such as:

5 Travel Destinations to put on your radar for 2018

The Top Christmas Light Displays in London

Ways in which Technology has changed in the past decade

I was also featured as a Top 200 Travel Blog by Feed Feed, which made me really happy.

Travel Plans for 2018

I managed to win a luxury trip to Bodrum, Turkey, at an auction, whilst in Bali attending a charity dinner for UNICEF, and so Bodrum will be a destination I will visit at some point in 2018.

I also will be visiting Thailand again in October for a family wedding. Kenya will also feature at some point of the year, but I haven’t decided when yet.

In terms of other destinations I am still in the planning stages and so will keep my website updated as and when I book something.

My next trip, however, is a spa weekend near Yorkshire, which I am really looking forward to, after the madness of the festive season.


 

If you aren’t already, please do follow me on my Social Media Channels which are:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/binnys_kitchen/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/binnyjs

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/binnysfoodandtraveldiaries/

2017 has been an incredible year for me and I am really looking forward to see what 2018 brings! Thank you for reading and for all your support.

Binny xox

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7 Comments

  1. December 30, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Oh Binny what a fab year!! Your trip to Qatar was my favourite too!

  2. December 30, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    Binny!! It’s been such an amazing year. It makes me so happy that so many of your 2017 highlights have been with me. Just looking over all our memories of the year, it has truly been a fantastic year of friendship.

    Love you!

  3. December 31, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    What an amazing year! You have done and seen so much! Look foward to reading all about 2018! x

    • binnyjs
      January 3, 2018 / 12:56 pm

      Hi no problem at all – it was from Asos but a while ago. If you search under pom pom hopefully they still have it 🙂

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