2015 has been an interesting year for Mrs Romance and me. It’s been a year of quiet achievement. We were recently asked to list our highlights for the year and at first I drew a bit of a blank.
Then I started thinking about it and before I knew it we’d got quite a good list together.
We hadn’t thought we’d travelled that much – but then realised we’d been to all 8 states and territories in Australia – some more than once. And all within the space of about 8 months.
We hadn’t thought we’d been all that productive either but then Mrs Romance has just finished her 2nd round of Little Blog Big workshops, she discovered her hardcopy book made the New York Times Best Sellers List, I had my first live TV interview with Sky News and we won a writing competition with Virgin Australia Airlines.
It’s actually been a fantastic year!
As the year starts its final act, we thought we’d leave you with our top 20 posts written in 2015 to mull over.
Amazingly all 20 here are in the top 50 most popular posts of all time, which is incredible when you think that there are pieces here still getting bumper traffic since 2013.
Anyway, we hope you have a lovely Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and we’ll be back in 2016 with some big plans for you.
Don’t worry though; it won’t be complete radio silence. There’s no way we’re going to be off social media over Christmas, so make sure you keep in touch via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Top 20 countdown of our most popular posts from 2015
20. Classic Cuban cocktails – the Cuba Libre and the Cubata
Straight from the horse’s mouth, we learnt how to make classic Cuban cocktails from our friend Valeri as we explored Cuba last year.
The famous Cuba Libre and its lesser known but more authentically Cuban brother the Cubata are mainstays in bars throughout the country.
19. 10 tips for driving in California
If you’re thinking of going on a driving holiday in California soon, this is a great post for you.
There are some very odd rules in Cali that don’t exist in many other places – and if you’ve never driven in the States before, this will be a real eye-opener.
In fact, if you have driven in the States before, you might want to check to see if you were doing the right thing!
18. 7 reasons to visit the Fraser Coast
We absolutely love Fraser Island and have been there a few times. It’s the largest sand island in the world and has the most amazingly diverse ecosystem.
The area is also probably the best place in the world for seeing humpbacks with their calves, wild purebred dingos, and some of the most spectacular lakes you’ll ever see.
Check out all 7 of our reasons your should visit the Fraser Coast right now!
17. High tea at the hydro majestic hotel
Recently refurbished and reopened after years of stagnating into disrepair, the beautifully elegant and historic Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains is amazing.
It looks out over the valley and offers one of the best high teas you’ll find in Sydney. Well worth checking out.
16. 48 hours in Orange
Over the last couple of years we’ve really taken a liking to regional Australia.
The town of Orange – about 4 hours’ drive northwest of Sydney – is packed full of great wineries, restaurants and country hospitality.
Our whirlwind guide to 48 hours in Orange will give you a crash course in what’s available. We love it here.
15. Where to stay in Tulum – Casa de las Olas
Late last year, we found ourselves in one of the most idyllic places on earth. Tulum in southeastern Mexico is absolutely divine.
To make it even better, we stayed in an amazing eco-hotel called Casa de las Olas – House of the Waves. It’s right on the beach, only has suites, the food is incredible and there’s even a resident dachshund!
This place is absolute travel heaven.
14. Our top 10 burger list of all time
This is still a work in progress but you’ve got to publish it at some point, haven’t you?
At the moment, these are still my top 10 favourite burgers of all time, but things change, right? For certain, the top spot hasn’t changed.
Please don’t judge me as you realise as you read that I’ve eaten all of these burgers… and more besides!
13. What’s the food in Cuba really like?
It’s so funny when we see things like Cuban sandwiches and Cuban slow-cooked smoked pulled pork… Cubans just don’t have the resources or facilities to make dishes like this.
A lot of the things we see that are billed as Cuban are either renamed Mexican dishes or things that have come from Cubans who managed to move to the States.
12. How to use the city as your office
We love being able to work mobile. And as more and more people are able to make many places their office, we thought we’d detail what we look for when we’re hunting for a new workspace.
We used the newly renovated MLC food court in Sydney’s CBD as a case study to illustrate what a place needs to be a viable environment for us to work in.
11. How did you meet? The story of Mr and Mrs Romance
We’re really excited that this story has made it into this list. We love talking to people about how they met their partner. It’s always so interesting.
How Did You Meet is a seedling series where we intend to speak to lots of people about their stories on the blog. We thought we’d lead by example, so here’s our story of how we met and fell in love.
Here come the top 10!
10. How to choose a beer
Beer. I love it. It’s great. But I didn’t always love it. Beer is an acquired taste. If you’re not sure what to expect or what beer you should order, it’s very likely you’ll get a bad one and be put off for life.
That makes me sad.
So here’s my guide to help you choose the right beer for you. For more advanced beer drinkers, I hope you find my insights into the types of beer and my recommendations inspiring!
9. Is Cuba safe? 7 street scams to look out for
Whilst in Cuba last year, we did come across a few street scams, it’s true. But we’d also heard a lot about how dangerous Cuba was before we arrived.
We thought this was the perfect opportunity to explore whether Cuba really is as dangerous as people say and what to expect when you’re there.
8. Pork’d – never regret a rasher decision
An inspired short-term collaborative project between celebrity chef Luke Nguyen and my good friend Mick Bain, owner of what I consider to be the best pub in Sydney.
Pork’d sources local meat from sustainable, ethical pig farmers to make some of the most delicious food you’ll find.
As an update to this post, we’ve recently learnt that Pork’d will no longer be operating from its premises in Surry Hills anymore. As it was a short-term lease, Mick has decided to take to the streets and is in the process of making this piggy’s house out of food truck.
That’s right, folks. Pork’d has gone mobile!
7. Dos and don’ts of the cellar door
After an amazing day spent with the Scarboroughs – a family who’ve been making excellent wine in the Hunter Valley for two generations, we thought we’d ask them for some guidance on what people should and shouldn’t be doing when they’re at the cellar door.
Here’s some insider intell on how to behave when you’re on a wine tasting spree. It’s really interesting.
6. By sea and by road – the ultimate Tasmanian driving holiday
This year we were lucky enough to work with Spirit of Tasmania checking out their new renovations to the 2 ships that run between Port Melbourne, Victoria and Devonport, Tasmania.
The ships are a million times better and our onward exploration of Tasmania had us aching to get back there for more. It’s such a beautiful island.
Here’s our ultimate guide to a Tasmanian driving holiday – something everyone should experience once!
5. 7 wineries you must visit in Orange
As I mentioned earlier, Orange is one of our absolute favourite regional Australian towns. It’s so lovely here.
It might well have something to do with all the wineries they’ve got here. These guys produce some of the very best cold-climate high-altitude wine in the country.
Here’s our top 7 list of wineries you should visit when you’re in Orange. Not only do they all have amazing wine for you to taste, the people here are all so friendly.
4. Essential guide to Tulum
Tulum on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico is one of those places that has to be visited to be believed. Packed full of Mayan ruins and history, hemmed in against the land’s end by Mexican jungle, this outpost of leave-me-alone tourism is about to go mad.
It recently made it onto a big Trip Advisor round-up list of places to visit, so if you want to see this place before things go south, get there soon. And take our essential guide to Tulum with you. We put it together with the help of Tulum local Marion from Home in Tulum.
And into the top 3!
3. 15 Hunter Valley wineries only locals know about
The Hunter Valley is a spectacular place to explore wine. But there are so many wineries scattered about the rolling hills, valleys and mountains of this ancient region, it’s hard to know where to start.
With the help of the Scarborough family, who own and run Scarborough Wine Co in Pokolbin, we’ve put together a local’s love list of wineries not many people would have heard of. Or if they have, they might not know much about.
Check out our Hunter Valley winery list straight from those who know.
2. The best way to see Cuba – Cuban Adventures
I think by now you’ve got the idea that we love Cuba. Love it! We’ve always wanted to go, so that love has always been there.
But actually being there and having such an amazing cultural and exploratory experience there has really cemented it for us.
The small group tour we went on (and we’re not usually big fans of tour groups) was brilliant. Really small, really personal – we’ve actually stayed friends with some of the group and have met up since our trip – it made our time in this fascinating country even more memorable.
Check out what we did, where we went and how we did it. It really was the trip of our lifetime.
And our number one post from 2015 is…
1. American road trip: San Diego to Las Vegas… the long way
From the moment we left San Diego to the second we hit the Strip, our road trip through 3 states over 5 days and through countless towns, deserts and other weird places, was amazing.
Obviously there are quicker ways of getting from San Diego to Las Vegas. You can drive there in 5 hours if you want. You can fly that trip in just over an hour.
But who wants to do that?
Not us. We went the long way round. And oh my god was it worth it.
Here’s our full itinerary, places we stayed, things we did deliciousness we ate. I must be honest – I’m not surprised this post was popular this year. I loved writing it, Mrs Romance loved putting together and editing the images for it and of course we both loved living it!
We hope you have enjoyed our top 20 as much as we enjoyed giving it to you. We’re really excited about 2016 and all the things we’ll be doing together.
Have a wonderful Christmas, an exhilarating New Year’s and we’ll see each other again in the coming leap year.
Jim and Christina xx
What were your highlights of 2015. We’d love to hear them. Tell us in the comments.
Sonia from Sonia Styling
You guys really have had the most remarkable year! I’m so very lucky to call you both friends. Here’s to a relaxing festive season and amazing 2016. x
Glad to see you’re taking a break over the holidays too! Enjoy and here’s to a fantastic 2016 xx
Amanda @ Adventures All Around
What a list! You guys really have rocked it this year and I’ve loved following along on the blog and through social media of course.
I absolutely loved 2015 too. It was a year I’d been looking forward to for a long time as it was a special birthday one and so I wanted to do a trip I’d always dreamed of. In the end I not only got to make my biggest travel dream of going to Antarctica a reality, but then I had the chance to travel to Peru and make my Machu Picchu dream came true too.
2016 has some pretty big shoes to fill but I have a feeling she’ll rise to the challenge. Happiest of travels to you guys in the coming year too.
I have LOVED following your adventures in 2015. Antartica and Machu Picchu are two big travel dreams of ours too. I’m excited to follow your European adventures in 2016. Hope we get to catch up somewhere around the world xx
I discovered your blog this year and thought I’d read everything, but I apparently missed a couple of posts from this list! I hope 2016 will be just as, if not more, fabulous for you guys! X
Ha ha! Glad to have surprised you with some Christmas goodies, Adeline. Thank you so much for reading our blog. We love that you’re enjoying it and all your lovely comments too. Looking forward to seeing what 2016 has to offer!
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
You win my heart with posts about Cuba – one of my most favourite places in the world. We were warned heavily by our travel agent not to speak with locals and the first thing we did was walk outside our hotel and get in a horse and carriage. We made friends with the driver and we spent the week with him taking us around Cuba – he even invited us to his house for dinner. My travel agent was apoplectic when I told her what we’d done. 🙂
Your posts are fun and informative and really well written. I love your blog.
Happy New Year to you both!
So glad you had as good (if not better) time in Cuba, Maureen. The carriage driver sounds like an absolute diamond. People there are so incredibly friendly, aren’t they? I do hope the increased tourism that’s bound to come from the States lifting the embargo doesn’t spoil that element.
Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Really means the world to us!
Happy new year to you too.
Must’ve been a charming year for both of you. I love your posts! =)
It was a cracker of a year, Andrew! Thank you for your kind words – here and in your earlier comments. Really means so much to us!