2022 Travel Wrap-up
In May I presented at E-Learning Africa and visited the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.
I stopped off for dinner with some friends on my way to Rwanda and afterwards I stayed for a few weeks to visit friends and my former work colleagues. I also spent July in Bermondsey at an Air BNB staying with a family from Algeria. It was lovely to have time to catch up with people and also I appreciated not moving around so much and spending a whole month in one place, after a hectic start to my travels – visiting 5 countries in the space of one month.
Shortly after arriving in Europe I visited a friend in Milan and we spent a lovely weeked in the city parks listening to free concerts as part of the Piano City Festival. We also celebrated her birthday.
I caught up with my good friends from Paris (who now live in Divonne) and my godson and his sister. We did yoga on the nearby mountain watching the sunset; ate delicious BBQ dinners; drank yummy French wine; watched the hummingbird-hawk moths in the garden, tried to keep cool in the kids paddle pool and made a few side trips to Switzerland.
In Switzerland we visited a remote chalet in the mountains for bolet (mushroom) and ginger fondues, white wine and kirsch, and were lucky to be there to hear alphorns and the accordion being played. We also visited the Montreux Jazz Festival on the bank of Lake Geneva. It was extremely hot that day and we didn’t catch much jazz, but we did have a refreshing swim in the lake on the way home.
I spent August in Edinburgh, staying with a local, in her AirBnB overlooking Arthur’s seat. Before I even arrived she invited me to join some of her friends for the opening of the Edinburgh Festival. It was a joint performance at Murrayfield stadium by a circus group from my home city of Adelaide (Gravity & Other Myths – GOM for short) and local Scottish singers.
I went to see as many Edinburgh festival and fringe shows as I could and made it to 31 in total over the whole month. Highlights included the High sensory Dreamachine experience, Chineke! Chamber Ensemble (whom I’d seen perform at Adelaide Festival in March) & featuring vocals and didgeridoo by William Barton, and a night of jazz music at The Argyle and Cellar Bar.
I also got to see some of my University of Edinburgh colleagues at long last in the flesh. During COVID lockdowns I had worked (nights) remotely from home in Adelaide. I managed to catch up with many of them at a work BBQ held on campus.
Oh and there was a bin strike on.
I was lucky to be accepted to present at my first in-person conference since Covid – ALT-C. It was great to meet up with many people whom I’d not seen since I’d left UCL in 2018.
I took the opportunity while in Manchester to visit my old favourite Jazz bar – Matt and Phred’s. I met some people from South Africa and spent a fun night listening to Jazz and Karaoke.
The day before I left the queen died and the news was turned on in all the pubs and restaurants as I walked around the city. I had dinner and a red wine at my favourite local Indian restaurant Akbar’s.
Badalona, Barcelona & Sitjes, Spain
I flew in to Barcelona to help prepare for the MoodleMoot Global Conference. My team were responsible for arranging all the sponsorships, registrations, website and conference program and liaising with the external team contracted to organise the event logistics. Being my first year doing anything like this – I learnt a lot and luckily had the help of a very talented event coordinator in my team.
As I’ve always found Barcelona overwhelming in the past, I decided to stay just outside in the beachside area of Badalona. The beach here was a few minutes walk from my AirBnB, where I again stayed with a local family, and I spent almost all my free time down on the waterfront or swimming in the clear, warm water. It wasn’t until a few days in to my few weeks there that I noticed some people weren’t wearing any bathers and it was then I noticed the sign painted on a rock “Naturalista” – my nearest beach was a nudist beach.
On a few mornings I went for a run at sunrise (the sun rises surprisingly late in Barcelona – around 7am) and I wish I’d made this a daily routine, as the sunrise over the water was amazing and well worth getting out of bed for. The weather wasn’t too uncomfortable and I slept fairly well with my travel fan and the large overhead fan in my room on full blast. I did get eaten alive by tiger mosquitoes, so had to stock up on extra repellent.
A group of us from the Spain Office and a colleague visiting from Perth went on a day trip to Montseratt – which was beautiful once I got over my fear of the heights – the stairs were narrow and we were clinging to trees on our way down from the ruins built right on the edges of the mountains.
Our pre-conference “Muster” event was in Sitjes, which was an easy train ride direct from Badalona and I was lucky to get a beautiful view over the ocean from my room. I didn’t get to experience much of the team building and planning events though, as my team were flat out preparing for the conference the following week. But we did attend the night time events to get to know our colleagues who had travelled to Spain from around the world. I managed to finally meet all (except one) of my global team in person, which was really nice too. We live in six countries and ten different cities across seven timezones, so it was great to finally be all together in one place for a few weeks.
The week of the event came and we managed to pull off “the best and biggest” MoodleMoot ever, with 835 people attending from 60 countries. The party at La Paloma was epic – with a great band playing all the classics! It did take a good few months to recover from the stress of arranging the event, but with experience from the last event and a whole year to plan, I’m determined to be more organised and relaxed for the 2023 global MoodleMoot.
The week after the event, I stayed on in an interesting (aka “dark and dingy”) hostel across the road from the office to debrief with the local staff and start the event wrap-up tasks to help make next year’s event even better. I visited Girona on a day trip with my boss, which was fun and we enjoyed a yummy meal and wine al fresco style in the old town.
In October I returned home (via London to visit some friends for a few days to say goodbye) and celebrated my birthday overlooking the beach in Adelaide with some close friends. I spent November in Queensland, visiting family and friends up in central Queensland, before heading down to spend some time with some friends in Brisbane. I also managed to catch up with some ex-soccer team mates and former colleagues from when I used to live in Brisbane. The city has grown a lot, and is full of trendy coffee shops full of early risers. And it’s still full of friendly people. In December I spent a week in Perth for our work Christmas party too.
My belongings that I’d packed up in 2018 finally arrived, so I have been reunited with my favourite clothes and shoes and it feels good to have all my things in one place again after so long. And also it’s nice to now spend a few months in one place.
I’m very grateful that my dream career has become a reality – in fact it’s better than I imagined it would be – although more stressful at times too! I spent 6 months of 2022 in Adelaide, surrounded by a lot of family and friends, and 6 months travelling to visit other friends and family in various places across Europe and also in Queensland, Australia. It was a cathartic experience to reunite with many friends and family whom I’d not been able to visit in a few years.
Each year I set myself an intention to try and make positive changes in my life. One year it was “be kind to yourself”. That was the year I started arriving early to the airport, so I stopped stressing about missing my flights. Last year it was “keep it simple”, which really helped work wise and also guided a lot of decision making both in work and personal contexts. This year my intention is “be the change you want to see”.
I’m looking forward to where 2023 will take me! So far I’m planning Melbourne, Belgium and Spain and maybe Montenegro and Italy.