Year in Review 2018

We’ve just got back to Kyiv after Christmas and New Year in the UK with family and friends and then a few days in Barcelona and Budapest. We’re back at work tomorrow, so it seems a good time to reflect on 2018 and everything we did in it.

This is our second Year in Review post, for what we did in 2017, try 2017 A Year in Review.

2018 A Year in Review - all the things we got up to in 2018 including visiting Morocco, the USA and Canada and living and teaching English in Kyiv, Ukraine #Ukraine #Kyiv #Expatlife #TEFL #Teachenglish

January 2018 – Morocco

Jemaa del Fna Marrakesh Morocco
Jemaa del Fna Marrakesh Morocco

We saw in 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco after flying in that evening. We couldn’t find any bars serving alcohol, so we spent the evening wandering around Jemaa Del Fna Square, which was full of locals hanging around and chatting along with street performers and hawkers. We had a tagine in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the square which we paired with fresh orange juice and then went to bed.

It was probably our first dry New Years’ Eve since we were kids.

We spent a week in Morocco before flying back to Kyiv – 5 days in Marrakesh and 2 days by the sea in Essaouira. The weather was warm and sunny which was a perfect contrast to our return to snowy Kyiv.

For more on this trip, read our posts:

Marvellous Marrakesh

Two days in Essaouira, Morocco

If you’re heading to Marrakesh and you want to know where those bars serving alcohol are, or what typical food you will find, our post on What to Eat and Drink in Marrakesh

Sheep Head Jemaa del Fna Marrakesh Morocco
Sheep head stall in Jemaa del Fna Marrakesh. Yes, we tried it. Check out the post!

March – Lviv, Ukraine

Every year the managers at our schools meet up somewhere in Ukraine for our Academic AGM. In 2018, this was in Lviv, in west Ukraine. This seems to rapidly becoming a very popular place to visit for tourists as more and more people come to know about it. It’s a pretty town, similar in appearance to some of the tourist hotspots of Eastern Europe like Prague and Bratislava.

Kate visited with her Ukrainian colleagues, who showed her how Ukrainians like to visit Lviv. We’d recommend visiting Lviv if you are coming to Ukraine, and if you’d like to see how Ukrainians do it, read her post on One Day in Lviv in Winter

Lviv Kyiv expat teacher in Kyiv
Pretty square in Lviv

March – Minsk, Belarus

Ukraine has a public holiday for Women’s Day on 8th March, a holiday we only became aware of after moving abroad. In 2018, it fell on a Thursday, so the government decided to create a ‘bridging’ holiday on the Friday. We had to make up the day on the Saturday before and were rewarded with a long weekend. We weren’t sure where to go so we looked on Skyscanner for a city break no further than two hours flight away where we’d arrive at lunchtime on the Thursday and leave at lunchtime on the Sunday.

Two options were revealed – Minsk and Riga. We asked a Facebook group that we are part of Travel in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR for recommendations, and almost everyone suggested Minsk. It was decided.

We honestly knew almost nothing about Minsk before we went, so everything we saw was eye-opening. It wasn’t at all what we expected. We found cool Soviet iconography, funky street art, excellent little cocktail bars and craft beer pubs and as you might expect, a lot of potatoes.

Our post: Minsk – Motorcycles, Soviet Iconography and Street Art will tell you more.

Minsk KFC Soviet Monument expat teacher in Kyiv Ukraine
East and West meet in Minsk

April – Odessa, Ukraine

As most of you will know, we lived in Odessa for two years working for the same school we work for in Kyiv now, the London School of English. Easter brought Orthadox Easter (it’s usually on a different Sunday to Catholic Easter) and a long weekend. The weather was starting to brighten up and a walk along the beach was calling.

Odessa is a beach resort and port on the Black Sea, created in the 18th century for Catherine the Great. Home to one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe, white sand beaches and lots of interesting architecture, it’s a great place to visit. This time we went to the Shustov Cognac Museum, as some excellent cognacs come from Ukraine.

We also put together a list of our recommended Things to do in Odessa.

Odessa opera house teach English in Ukraine Jobs in Ukraine for English speakers London School of English Kyiv, CELTA Ukraine, TESOL Ukraine TEFL English teacher Kiev English language school Kiev Jobs in Odessa
Odessa Opera House

May – West Ukraine

At the start of May we have a week’s holiday and we decided to explore more of the country. We planned an overland route by train and bus to Vinnitsia, Kamanets-Podilsky, Chernivtsi, Kolomyr and Ivanna Frankovsk, getting the overnight train back to Kyiv at the end.

We haven’t written about this trip yet, but we will get to it soon. In the meantime, the highlights were:

  • The retro museum in Vinnitsia, full of old Soviet cars, motorbikes and gadgets that seemed familiar to us, but were actually Russian makes.
  • Not making it to the spectacular fountain show in Vinnitsia, because it was too cold. It’s a reason to go back though!
  • The amazing castle at Kamanets-Podilsky. It’s like something out of a fairy tale.
  • Not getting to the castle at Kotyn because we couldn’t understand how to take the bus. We spent an interesting couple of hours chilling in the bus station eating ice cream in the sun instead.
  • Chernivtsi’s stunning University.
  • The Easter Egg Museum in Kolomyr. We went there just to see that. It’s a museum of pysankas, Ukrainian ornately painted easter eggs, inside a giant pysanka. We even met a woman who repairs old and historic pysankas.
Retro Museum Vinnitsia
Lenin looks down over the Soviet gadgets at the Vinnitsia Retro Museum
Kamanets-Podilsky castle, West Ukraine
Kamanets-Podilsky Castle, West Ukraine
Chernivtsi university
Beautiful Chernivtsi university
Pysanka Museum Kolomyr Ukraine
Pysanka (Easter Egg) Museum, Kolomyr, West Ukraine

July/August – USA and Canada

The summer brought one of our Bucket List Trips (our last ones were shark diving and safari in South Africa back in 2013 and then seeing Komodo dragons in the wild on Rinca and Komodo in Indonesia in 2017). We’ve been planning a trip to the USA for years and for various, generally work-related reasons, we hadn’t managed it.

After finishing our academic year in Kyiv, we flew to New York to explore parts of the USA. It was epic and everything we had dreamed. We went to New York, flew to Toronto, Canada for the weekend for our friend Dan’s 40th birthday, then flew on to Chicago to stay with Tony, a friend we worked with in Haiphong, Vietnam. In Chicago we picked up a car and drove to Indiapolis to see our friends Kate and Greg. Kate and Kate lived together during their PhDs in Liverpool, and Kate and Greg taught English in Madrid so we headed there to teach back in 2008.

Enjoying an architecture Boat Cruise in Chicago

From Indiapolis, we drove through Kentucky to Nashville to experience the music scene there and some awesome music, and then on through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park to join the Blue Ridge Parkway. We followed this road over the mountains through absolutely breathtaking scenery, stopping at some small mountain towns on the way.

Live music was on in all the bars in Nashville
Blue Ridge Parkway
Stunning Views along the Blue Ridge Parkway

En route we met up with our friends Emma and Tim, who we knew when we taught in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and their daughter Ruby. We rented a ‘cabin’ next to a river, which was huge and had en suite bathrooms, an outside TV and the biggest washing machine we’ve ever seen. It was great to catch up with them after five years and we spent a lovely day at Claytor Lake State Park swimming in the river.

We continued up the Blue Ridge Parkway to where it meets the Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park, where we got off and drove to Washington. Emma, Tim and Ruby now live there so we stayed with them for a couple more days. We got into Washington DS and visited the main monuments, the National History Museum and the Air and Space Museum.

Washington Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum – yes, it’s the one from Night at the Museum

Washington was where our trip ended. We really loved it, we got to hang out with some great friends, meet some interesting new people, ate great food and drank new craft beers, saw stunning scenery and explored amazing cities. Before we even got on our return flight, Kris was planning our trip to the west coast!

We’ve only written two posts on this trip so far: New York: Thank You for the Music where Kris describes our thoughts and feelings of New York, and the rock and punk tour we did for his birthday, and Big Time Nashville Skyline Star, about exploring the music scene in Nashville. More are coming this year. Watch this space. If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list so we’ll message you when we publish new posts.

Expat Life in Kyiv 2018

The full year of 2018 was spent living in Kyiv, bringing it up to 18 months. It really doesn’t seem that long. In 2018, we continued to explore the city, its sights, food and bars. We had several sets of visitors, Kris’ sister Sharon was the first in January. Others were more sensible and came to visit when the weather got better in April and May.

Kate’s parents came over, as well as her friend from school, Sally, and her husband Drew, and then our friends from Leeds, Phil and Lisa, who tend to come and visit us wherever we live. People visiting gave us an excuse to visit places we’ve been wanting to see, and return to places we’ve visited before. Again, lots of these places are on the list of blogs to write, but our post on Visiting Mezhyhirya Residence, the incredibly opulent home of the ex-President of Ukraine, Yanocovich, was published just before Christmas.

Mezhyhirya Residence Yanokovich's House Kyiv Kiev Ukraine
Mezhyhriya Residence, near Kyiv

We have been exploring the street art scene in Kyiv and found a great tour that combines it with some of the great craft beer that’s appearing: Craft Beer and Street Art Tour in Kyiv. The Champions League Final was held in Kyiv in May, which gave the city a great atmosphere and hopefully gave some football fans a positive opinion of the city to take home. We didn’t watch the match as we don’t like football but we enjoyed wandering around watching all the supporters.

Freedom Great Tit Kyiv street art craft beer in Kyiv Ukraine
Admiring Kyiv Street art
Champions League Final Kyiv
Champions League Final Kyiv

Summer in Kyiv is wonderful and there are lots of outdoor event spaces to hang out in. We went to Comic Con this year at Art Zavod Platforma, an old factory complex turned art space on the edge of the city, as well as a Mexican street food festival.

Mexican Street Food Festival at Art Zavod Platforma

We started to write monthly posts on our expat life in Kyiv, which then became every two months, and then dried up completely. You know, daily life gets in the way! We are hoping to set up a newsletter this year with these updates in it, which people who sign up for our newsletter will get. Alternatively, maybe we will do quarterly review posts. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Expat Life in Kyiv – January 2018

Expat Life in Kyiv – February and March 2018

We do post regularly about our daily life in Kyiv on our Facebook Page: What Kate and Kris Did and on our Instagram page, so if you are interested, you can follow those.

Teaching English

We continue to add to our blog section on teaching English giving advice to people thinking of teaching English abroad. Using our own experiences, and interviews and guest blogs by others, we’re getting quite a nice selection.

In 2018 we posted on

There are many more blogs to come on teaching English this year, so stay posted for those. If you teach English abroad and you would like to collaborate, guest post or take part in one of our interview series, get in touch via our Facebook page.

Blog Update 2018

2018 was our blog’s second full year. We’ve definitely grown and learned a lot during the year about the technicalities of blogging, SEO etc.

In the last year, our blog was visited 56,000 times and we have around 140 visits every day. Our most popular post was Finding the Best Cooking Class in Chiang Mai with nearly 10% of total hits, followed by How to Visit Khao Sok National Park, Thailand with over 6%.

We currently have:

If you’ve joined us this year, welcome. Many of you have been in touch to ask more specific questions about travel to Ukraine or other places, and about teaching English abroad and we’ve been happy to help.

We’re in the process of updating several of our posts to improve the SEO, now we understand more about it, and doing more behind the scenes work on increasing our site speed and changing our graphics.

Last year we tried to post every week, but those of you who follow us closely may have noticed that we have begun to post less. This is to give us more time to do the other work we need to do to upkeep this blog. You can expect a post every 2-3 weeks now, and we’ll share our updated posts on our Facebook page.

We’re starting to add affiliate links to some posts, which mean that we get a bit of money if a reader clicks on it and buys from that link. For example, we’re big fans of and book most of our accommodation through that site. If you haven’t used them before and want to try them, you can get ยฃ15 off your first booking with them using our link, and we get ยฃ15 in return. We’ll only ever promote things that we really recommend though, and it won’t cost you more.

Looking forward to 2019

So, apart from updating posts and improving our website, what else have we got coming up in 2019?

As I said, we just got back from visiting Barcelona and Budapest. Barcelona was great, but gave us a bout of food poisoning, meaning that all we saw of Budapest was the inside of the hotel room and the view from the windows. Ah well. That’s a reason to go back.

Tapas and sangria in Barcelona.

We’re hoping to explore more of Ukraine and visit the cities of Kharkiv and Dnipro, as well as Chernigiv and Zhytomyr, where Kris often goes for work but we’ve never explored. No doubt we’ll be back in Odessa too. Its craft beer scene has really taken off so look out for that.

In our May holiday we are deciding between Georgia and Egypt. Any thoughts?

This summer brings Kris’ 40th birthday. A big birthday deserves a big trip so we’re planning another of our Bucket List – Uganda to see gorillas and chimps in the wild.

That’s a lot to get started, so time to plan. Have a great 2019 everyone!

Why not pin this to your Pinterest board for later?

2018 A Year in Review

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24 Responses

  1. Nat Took says:

    Looks like you had an awesome year! I honestly didn’t know that there was so much to explore in Ukraine! And that street art is beautiful. You’ve definitely inspired me to put Ukraine on my list. I love the idea of Women’s Day too – everywhere should have a Women’s Day!

  2. Ah! Looks like your past year was action-packed. Its so good to see all the places you got to visit last year. And I only wish you get more such opportunities in 2019!

  3. Nicky says:

    Looks like you’ve had a great year! I’ve just got back from Prague, and I’m now looking into a trip to Lviv – if it is indeed similar in appearance to Prague, then I know that I’m going to love it! And yes, more reason for you to go back to Budapest! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Sarah says:

    That looks like an amazing 2018! Wishing you even better of 2019 ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope I get half as lucky as you guys with traveling this year ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Bea says:

    Congratulations on a great year! I have to say that Ukraine is beginning to appear on my radar as a place to visit. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lauren says:

    Wow what an incredible year you had! I am yet to visit the Ukraine and a lot of places you mentioned. Did you have an absolute favourite at all?

  7. What a wonderful list! I’d to explore Ukraine…the countryside looks lovely and Odessa is such a lively city. Hope you have a great 2019!

  8. Yukti Agrawal says:

    I loved Kate and Kris’s travel as they visited the same places which I did too in 2018. I too loved Kiev, Lviv and Odessa and they are one of my favorites too. Also, Morocco is on my wishlist too.

  9. I think it is a very nice idea to do these recaps. I mean, my numbers are not that nice so I will still not post them (…), but hopefully I will get there eventually. In any case, it seems like you had a pretty moved year! My favourite type of years.

  10. Shirley says:

    Wow, you have done so much in one year. Congrats on all the travel and other successes you’ve experienced! I’m going to check out your teaching English posts a bit further. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Anjali W says:

    I have been aiming to traveling more this year and your post is really very inspiring. I am planning a trip to Morocco soon. Also you have great stats for you blog, keep up the good work!

  12. Looks like you’ve had a great year of travel! We would relaly love to visit Ukraine one day, especially Odessa! #FeetDoTravel

  13. Chris says:

    Great post. It brought back memories of my visit to Belarus. I enjoyed Minsk, and travelled all the way to Brest, to see the Brest Fortress Hero complex.

  14. Sharon says:

    What a wonderful year of travel! I would most like to visit Ukraine. And I can recommend going back to Budapest — I loved everything about the city. I had tummy problems in Berlin. That’s so annoying. Here’s to a happy 2019 of travel for you!

  15. It looks like you had a wonderful year. Those amazing travel photos are making me jealous!๐Ÿ˜Š

  16. Alex Howell says:

    Wow, it was a wonderful year, full of adventures and new places, thank you for your contribution.

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