2016 has certainly been a polarising year, hasn’t it? Anecdotally, I’ve heard some amazing stories of romance and happiness, and some horrible tragic tales that broke my heart.
On top of that, the strangeness and cruelty of the political world, and the passing of some of the planet’s most influential popular artists have made 2016 a much-maligned year.
Personally, 2016 has been a bit of a mixed bag for Mrs Romance and myself. However, it certainly hasn’t proffered the rotten fruit that many have bitten into these past 12 months.
For us the worst part about this year was it took so bloody long to get going. From a travel perspective alone, it seemed like we’d never go anywhere. But with 12 of our top 20 posts being travel related this year, I guess we made up for the slow start in the end.
Trips to Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and the UK – not to mention a multitude of domestic travel around Australia – have filled this year with some amazing stories we’ll never forget.
So as a parting gesture to 2016 – be it a thumbs-up or a middle finger – here’s our final post of the year: our top 20 posts of 2016.
Our top posts of 2016
Every year, in the middle of the Sydney winter when the nights are at their longest and darkest, the Harbour City springs into light.
The Vivid Festival has been running for over 7 years now and is a celebration of light, artistry, ideas and music. It’s interactive, it’s entertaining, it’s inspiring and it’s educational.
At number 20 of our most popular posts for the year, we look at what’s good to see and do in this year’s festival. It’s also a bit of a shout out for my first public speaking gig!
Thanks to most airlines lifting their paranoid ban on electronic devices being used onboard, you can now feel more relaxed about taking advantage of the window seat you’ve scored.
However, if you really want your wing shot to look its best, there are few tricks to master first. Here are our top tips on how to take a great photo from a plane window.
It’s funny – Mrs Romance and I have been to KL many times in the past, but this is the first time we’ve stepped outside the airport terminal. Wow! We’ve missed out on so much!
Here’s our first-timer’s essential guide to Kuala Lumpur when you’ve only got 24 hours to explore. It’s a tremendous city with a fascinating blend of cultures, some amazing food and spectacular sights.
I’m always on the lookout for new gluten-free recipes to try, so when I found this one that uses macadamias – Australia’s truly delicious native nut – I couldn’t wait.
I’ve had to since stop making them however. We were just getting too fat!
This is a really easy recipe and the results are always so delicious, you’ll find you just can’t stop eating them.
Sydney Craft Beer Week is an amazing festival in the heart of October – a month famed for its beer. Whilst exploring this fun beer fest, I came across this tiny brewery that’s making what I will stand up and say is the best beer I’ve had.
Tumut River Brewing Company – from the tiny town in the New South Wales countryside – makes a range of beer. But their Squealing Pig APA is absolutely insanely tasty.
Let’s face it, travelling is an expensive pastime. Everything costs money – accommodation, food, transport, entrance fees, tours, police bribes… just kidding. But travel does cost a lot.
We’ve come up with some top tips on how you can save money when you’re travelling to try and mitigate the expense of your passion: seeing the world.
Sydney Harbour is definitely the city’s biggest and most beautiful asset. Couple views of the water with some delicious food and drink, and you’ve got the perfect day.
We’ve looked into where you can do this around Sydney and have come up with 11 Sydney cafés that are right on the water.
The added bonus to the ones we’ve found is only locals tend to know about them, so they’ve got a great authentic vibe to them too.
Borneo, with its dark jungles, wild mountains and equatorial tropical beaches, sounds like a strange, remote, exotic place. And it definitely is that.
But it’s also full of natural beauty, friendly people, fascinating history and indigenous tribes and animals you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
AirAsia has had mixed reviews over the years, but amongst all its bad reports, we look at what it’s really like onboard.
Check out what our flights to and from Kuala Lumpur and subsequent flights to Thailand were like, and find out how you can really make one of the biggest budget airline’s booking systems really work for you.
Venice truly is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. There’s no over hype and the images you see of Venice in films and in photos is exactly how it looks in real life.
But there’s also more to do in this most romantic city than just St Mark’s Square or the Rialto Bridge. Here are our top 5 favourite things to do in the City of Water.
Here come the top 10!
Your 10th most favourite post of 2016 is how you can get out of Sydney for the weekend. There are so many beautiful places just outside the city limits, escaping the busy streets and skyscrapers of Sydney is quick and easy.
We’ve listed our 9 favourite places to get away from the hustle and bustle, and we’ve included distances and travel time to help.
People are often surprised when the Aussie winter hits by how cold and miserable it is – especially in Sydney and Melbourne.
But even if you haven’t got a pot of cash ready to splash on a winter escape, there’s always a way round it. We worked with Cheap Flights, who have a huge amount of travel data at their disposal, to work out the most affordable destinations from all of Australia’s main airports over the winter.
Even though my mum was vegetarian and even vegan for a long time as I was growing up, I still love eating meat. So when Mrs Romance and I headed to a new raw vegan restaurant for dinner, I wasn’t too sure if I was going to enjoy it.
I was surprised to find that the food from The Plant Gallery in Bondi was absolutely delicious and so filling. The food was so well crafted, and so clever, a lot of the time we didn’t even notice it was raw or vegan.
Sadly, this restaurant has since closed its doors for the last time a month or two ago. Maybe even Bondi wasn’t ready for something like this.
Mrs Romance and I aren’t much into the cruise scene. But when we got the opportunity to sail around the Kimberley in the wild northwest of Australia onboard a National Geographic exploration ship, we didn’t think twice.
With a team of Nat Geo naturalists, biologists, geologists and scientists on the ship – plus a Nat Geo photographer, videographer and documentary maker – this was more educational than relaxing.
Every day we headed out on inflatable Zodiac tenders to different sites of natural curiosity – it was absolutely amazing. Check out the video we made for the trip in the post. Sums things up pretty well.
Byron Bay is mainland Australia’s most easterly point. With that title comes some other intriguing features that make this beautiful part of New South Wales a magnet for visitors from all walks of life.
We were only here for a few days, but in that time we covered a lot. From mind body and spirit retreats to kayak trips to get up close and interactive with humpback whales, there’s so much to do here.
Plus the food in Byron is something else. Another post we wrote shortly after this one is about the best things to eat in Byron too. In fact if you look further down this list of top posts, you’ll find it!
But if you want to know why so many people – about 1.7 million a year – visit the Cape Byron region, here are our top 7 reasons.
We love visiting the little country towns in regional Australia. Every single one has its own identity and its own curiosities.
The little town of Scone, New South Wales doesn’t seem like it’s got much going on when you first pull up. Then you start noticing all the horse stuff everywhere.
And for good reason. It turns out Scone is in fact the horse capital of Australia. More than that, it’s actually the 2nd biggest horse stud town in the world! Of course there’s more to Scone than horses, though they do play a big part.
With the help of our friend Lauren, who’s a Scone local, we’ve put together a run-down of the best places to stay and to eat in this pretty little country town. Funnily enough though, I never saw an actual scone for sale anywhere…
The Sydney bar scene is so strong at the moment. It’s amazing how many cool little spots there are dotted about the city.
The trouble is they can sometimes be a bit too cool. If you’re looking for somewhere with a bit of edge but that’s appropriate for a date or romantic tipple, it gets a bit trickier.
We’ve put together a list of 7 Sydney bars that are cool but also romantic. Places you won’t have to drink your cocktail from a traffic cone or eat your dinner off a garden spade. Much better.
And into the top 3!
As we mentioned earlier in post number 6 (7 top things to do in Byron Bay), the Cape Byron region is fantastically popular with a whole range of visitors.
This area used to be full of people seeking an alternative lifestyle – hippies if you like. As they’ve either grown up, moved away or been diluted with non-hippy folk, the food scene here has developed into a fascinating, attainable blend of sustainability and fine dining.
It’s a beautiful balance that works so well – especially here where natural beauty abounds in such prosperity.
Mrs Romance and I knew we were writing to a bunch of boozehounds, but when we discovered that our number 2 most popular post for 2016 was a cocktail recipe piece, all we could do was shrug.
It makes perfect sense though: we write about things we love for people who share our passions. So of course alcohol was going to feature in the top few posts. Last year there were about 5 alcohol related articles in the top 20!
The cocktails in this list aren’t just for Australia Day – they’re for any time of year. But as we made them all with Australian spirits and mixers, we thought it’d be a good time to tell you about them.
These cocktails are not only delicious, they help support the little Aussie distilleries scattered far and wide across this huge island continent (or is it a landmass?). In fact, in this post we wrote a while back you can see how isolated some of these distilleries are.
And our number 1 post from 2016 is…
The good news is we really really enjoyed writing this post. And seeing how everyone really got into it as well made us so happy.
Working out what your perfect breakfast equation is starts with your coffee and toast ‘numbers’. How do you like your caffeine and how dark do you have your toast?
Of course, if you don’t drink coffee and you’re gluten intolerant, you might struggle with this one, but what started off as just having a bit of fun ended up being our most popular post of 2016!
I think the video we made also helped – I watched it back when I got the stats back on the top 20 posts and some more good news: I was quite impressed with our handiwork!
We hope you’ve had fun looking through this year’s highlights – they’ve certainly been fun to make. Let’s all hope that 2017 isn’t just better than ’16 – let’s hope it’s a whole shitload better. I’m sure it will be.
Here’s to a beautiful Christmas, a sensational New Year and the best 365 days of your life.
See you again in 2017
Jim & Christina xxx
What were your high (or low) lights of 2016? Which was your favourite post out of this year’s top 20? Tell us in the comments!