It’s official. I’m moving to sunny Malaga, Spain in the beginning of 2018! It will be just for a few months but I’m feeling pretty positive about it. It is the first time I will be living abroad all alone and I am as excited as I would expect to be.
I was just sitting back home when I was trying to figure out what did I do over the past year… was it all worth it? Did I achieve my goals or need to work more? Am I going anywhere with my life? You know, just the ordinary things every Millenials is thinking about.
And I realized I did hell of a lot things for the first time in 2017.
In order to celebrate this, I made a list of what I did over the past 12 months that shaped who I am now.
Enjoy… or don’t. But make sure to think about what you can do to improve your life in the next 365 days that are ahead of us.
JANUARY: Rome for the first time
I started the year with a trip to a new destination we hear about all the time – Rome. I was wondering if I should trust all the photos and stories online of how great the Italian capital is, so I just went there to check by myself.
Who am I kidding? Rome was just one of the 12 destinations with ridiculously cheap flights from Sofia. So I went for it.
I brought a friend along and we had the best time in Rome doing all the clichés which I’m not sorry about – eating pizza, drinking espresso, taking selfie in the Colosseum and even seeing the Pope in the Vatican. If you have a chance to visit Rome in 2018, go for it (Check out 3-Day Rome Itinerary).
This was also the time I became a guest blogger at Loyal Travel – a leading Bulgarian tour operator.
Oh, in January I also adopted my cute little princess – Poppy the Black Cat.
FEBRUARY: First Ballet and going over the sky in the Rhodopes
As far as my Google Calendar reminds me, in February I’ve stayed pretty still. I visited the Bulgarian Opera and Ballet House for the first time and attended the spectacular Giselle performance. I almost have no words to describe it – it’s simple, pure, and calming (Check out Things to do in Sofia: Going to the Sofia Opera and Ballet).
I also went for a short weekend in the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria visiting the winter resorts Pamporovo and Chepelare with a few friends and got to enjoy a stunning view over the clouds.
MARCH: First talk in a conference + Berlin for the first time
In March, I was invited to be a speaker at the biggest tourism conference in Bulgaria – Travel Academy. I gave a talk about working with travel bloggers and shared some insights about the travel blogging community in Bulgaria and abroad.
My talk followed the founding of the Bulgarian Association of travel bloggers along with 5 other bloggers. ASTOM is the first initiative that gathered together travel bloggers and influencers in the country forming a supportive and growing community. So I was happy to spread the word about working with bloggers to more industry professionals in Bulgaria.
A also visited Berlin and attended ITB travel forum – both for the first time.
APRIL: First rafting experience in Tara, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Another first thing I did in 2017 was one of the best adventures so far – rafting in Tara river in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the second biggest river canyon in the world and it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g.
The trip was organized for a few bloggers and even if it was supposed to be just for fun, it thought me quite a few life lessons as well (Check out Rafting on Tara – adventure in 4-countries).
MAY: Seeing Richard Branson + visiting Bucharest for the first time
For years I’ve admired the free-spirited entrepreneur Richard Branson and his life path. In May, for the first time ever, I had the chance to attend his lecture in Sofia, Bulgaria, which although wasn’t so thorough as I thought it would be, made me thinking about a thing or two in my life.
May was the month that also introduced me to the charming Bucharest for the first time. I took part of Experience Bucharest – a project promoting the Romanian capital as it is – diverse, fun and open-minded (Check out: Cats, parks and rooftop bars! 12 experiences to change the way you look at Bucharest).
This month was also the first time I attended and also made a media partner of of Sofia Restaurant Week – a week long festival celebrating the diverse culinary scene in the Bulgarian capital (Check out Sofia Restaurant Week – the tastiest festival in Bulgaria this May).
JUNE: Became Travel Massive chapter leader + first event in Sofia
After months of hesitating if I should go for it, I finally made the decision to become a Travel Massive chapter leader in Sofia and be part of shaping the tourism industry professionals community in the city.
In June 27th, we organized the first event in Sofia which was a great success. The best part for me was the fact that we gathered together many young, motivated, diligent, and creative people that are working for a better future of the tourism industry in Bulgaria (Check out Travel Massive Sofia Kicked-Off Their First Event in June).
In terms of travelling, I did a short but memorable trip to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast visiting Sozopol and the area with friends – basically drinking cocktails and enjoying the great weather…
JULY: Living, breathing and enjoying Slovenia with BIG BERRY
I am part of BIG BERRY hospitality brand for more than 2 years being in charge of their bloggers outreach program. But this summer was the first one I spend few months actually working on site, in Slovenia’s countryside, and not remotely.
The summer in Slovenia really influenced me a lot. I met amazing people, worked my ass-off all day long, overcoming many work challenges along the way. It all thought me so much about work, people, life, and priorities.
I did so many new things that I can’t describe them all. But I did describe the 10 best culinary experiences to have in Bela Krajina!
AUGUST: Visiting Ljubljana for the first time
I’ve been hearing about Ljubljana for so long. I was even close to the city so many times while I was visiting BIG BERRY in the south of Slovenia.
In August 2017, after 2 years of working for a Slovenian brand, I finally visited Ljubljana. The city is as green as it can be. It was also pretty relaxing and cozy. If you have the chance to see it, go for it.
SEPTEMBER: First time in Strandzha mountains, Bulgaria
My September was the month after an intense summer of non-stop working. That’s why I did almost nothing except one press trip with the Ministry of Tourism in Bulgaria – to the mystic Strandzha mountain.
We visited the area of Sredets – a little known municipality in the Strandzha mountain very close to Bourgas and the Black sea. As a result, I wrote this article: Tales from Strandzha: 5 places to visit in the region of Sredets, Bulgaria.
OCTOBER: First travel bloggers weekend in Bulgaria + first time in Ireland
October was my month! Not only because my birthday is in October. I did so many things that I’m proud of back then. To name a few of them:
- along with Coworking Bansko we organized the first travel bloggers weekend in Bulgaria –#BloggersOnTop;
- I visited TBEX in Killarney which was my first ever visit of gorgeous Ireland;
- I had the first 26th birthday in my life (that counts too, right);
- I also went on my first concert of Dubioza Kolektiv.
A new destination I explored in October – definitely Bansko, where I tried my first risotto with gold :O (Check out 23 things to see, do and eat in Bansko, Bulgaria).
NOVEMBER: Second Travel Massive Sofia event + first time “seeing” the Belogradchik rocks
On November 15th, we held the second Travel Massive event in Sofia. The topic was pretty interesting and engaging – along with some inspiring speakers, we discussed if Sofia is tourist-friendly enough. You can read all the final conclusions and points made during the talk here:Is Sofia tourist friendly?
My thing I did for the first time in November was visiting the natural phenomenon Belogradchik Rocks in north-western Bulgaria. Although the weather was not on our side, the place was pretty spectacular.
DECEMBER: First Eurotrip + first national TV and radio interviews
December began with an unexpected trip to four lovely European cities: Brussels, Bruges, Lille and Ghent – all for the first time. It was an amazing four days of exploring these amazing places, running after buses, visiting Christmas markets, going on 50+ meters high Ferris wheels, eating waffles, and much more…
Then we organized the last travel bloggers meet up in Sofia for the year. The meeting lead to my first appearance on national TV and radio in Bulgaria.
All in all, 2017 was a spectacular year of growth, professional and personal development. I can only imagine what 2018 will bring.
September: Sofia Restaurant Week 2, Sredets press trip with the ministry
Plans for 2018
Moving to Malaga is the most significant change for the next year. I will be doing a semester abroad at University of Malaga as part of my PhD study in the field of Tourism. I already figured out most of the details about my move. I even started learning Spanish. Yep, almost there!
The only thing I need to figure out is what to visit in Spain, so hit me up with your ideas!
I also have a few press trips planned for 2018 but you’ll see them on Facebook when the time comes. For now, I can only say that my fear of deep waters will meet a surf board somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll see how that goes…
I am also thinking of visiting Poland and the Czech Republic for blogging conferences. Nothing fixed yet but any advice is welcome. If I get selected for Kerala Blog Exchange, I might as well go to India too (you can help me by voting for me here). How fun would that be? (:
And just like that 2017 is gone. It’s time to suck it up, get together and start planning how to become a better version of ourselves in 2018. No more procrastinating.
Well, of course we can at least enjoy a little bit of doing nothing during the holidays, right? We deserve it.
If you think about what you accomplished in 2017, what are you most proud of?
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Adrienn Takacs | December 26, 2017
Wow, you had a really awesome year 🙂
I truly recommend Salamanca and Leon in Spain, they were both amazing when I visited them!
Enjoy your year abroad and don’t hesitate to make plans to finally visit Transylvania 😉
Maria Stoyanova | Author | December 27, 2017
Thank you, Adri! I will definitely put these two places in Spain to my never ending list hah. And hopefully Transylvania, too 😛
Marly | December 28, 2017
Hopefully i will get to Transylvania !!!
Maria Stoyanova | Author | December 29, 2017
I have a friend from Transylvania who always shares amazing photos from there. I hope to go there too.
Pooja Thakur | January 4, 2018
WoW! you really had a wonderful year. you are living my dreams 🙂 thanks for this post!
Ashwin Sinha | January 4, 2018
Amazing year you had. Keep motivating us with your posts ..
Veronica Cavanaugh | January 18, 2018
You have a lot going on! thanks for continuing to post!
Clayton Smith | March 5, 2018
I think moving overseas is one of the most exhilarating and challenging things I’ve ever done. I’ve experienced life in other cultures, which have given me renewed perspectives on life in Australia. I’ve made new friends from scratch for the first time in years. I’ve travelled to places I never thought I’d experience.
Maria Stoyanova | Author | March 5, 2018
Very big move! Moving abroad is always scary at first but I believe it teaches you a lot…