July’s a month for celebrations – with a family wedding and a lot of birthdays the prosecco supply’s in danger of running low. And among the milestones is a big blogging one as On the Luce reaches its fourth birthday. Back in 2011 I was setting up my WordPress.com blog and amazed when people actually read it. Four years later On the Luce has grown up a bit, but I still love exploring the world, photographing everything in sight and sharing my travel tips and stories. And year four has been the biggest year on the blog so far. Travel-wise I made a long-awaited trip to Canada, fell in love with the pretty French city of Annecy, walked the Berlin Wall and spent sunny autumn days on the Amalfi Coast – as well as travels closer to home.
Blog-wise the last year has seen over 80 posts and 500 photos, a new obsession with Instagram and Pinterest, and a big redesign (involving the never-to-be-repeated resizing of all 1700 photos on the site). I also got to meet some of my favourite bloggers at Traverse in Kingston and let someone else take the travel-planning reins on press trips to Wales and Canada. And most importantly people kept on reading. It’s a bit of a cliché but a blog really is all about its readers, and mine are fantastic! You’ve doubled in numbers again this year, which is just incredible, and I just want to say a massive thank you to each and every one for reading, commenting and following along. Hopefully there’ll be lots more travel adventures to come.
So, just like in previous year, I’m going to use this as an excuse to look back at my most popular and favourite posts from the last 12 months, as well as giving you a preview of what’s coming up in year five On the Luce.
Most popular posts
Europe by train – Five great one-week rail trip routes: Not just my most popular post this year, my round-up of European train trip ideas quickly became my most popular post ever. It looks like I’m not the only rail travel fanatic out there. In two months it’s already had more views than any other post in the whole history of the blog – crazy! Gives me the perfect excuse to go out and do a few more rail trips as research then.
Alternative things to do in Paris: I can’t stay away from Paris, so am always looking for new and unusual things to see and do. This guide to some of my favourite lesser-known sights was really popular with second- and third-time visitors – when you’ve already seen the Mona Lisa, climbed the Eiffel Tower and seen the skulls at the Catacombs. Coming up soon is a London edition with more hidden city highlights.
Visiting Vienna on a budget: Everyone wants to make the most of their travel budget, so after my Las Vegas guide appeared in last year’s top three, this time it’s Vienna’s turn. This fairytale-pretty city is packed with history, culture and architecture, but it comes at a price. So I shared tips on how to get the full Vienna experience – museums, opera, dancing horses and plenty of sachertorte – without blowing the budget.
My favourite posts
Travel and anxiety – Fighting the fear: Travel is a wonderful thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not scary too. I came clean about some of my many travel anxieties, from flying to spiders, and how I try to manage them. And I’m not the only one, with so many comments from readers fighting their own battles with fear – who knew there were so many plane-phobic bloggers out there? – who don’t let it stop them.
Following the stories of the Berlin Wall: Although I’m fascinated by history, it can feel so distant. But in Berlin it’s right there in front of you, with stretches of the Wall still standing around the city. It’s shocking to think that within my lifetime the city was torn apart and families and neighbours separated for 28 years, and the personal details and stories at the memorials really brought the history to life.
My six ages of travel: After realising I’ve been travelling for over 30 years now (eek!) I got a bit nostalgic and looked back on my different ages of travel through the years – from childhood trips to France, through budget Ryanair weekends in Europe and round-the-world adventures, right up to blogging trips. It reminded me that changes in travel style mean you can have a totally different trip to the same destination.
What’s coming up in year five?
Coming up on the blog in the next few months are stories about Canada and Copenhagen, and I’ll be launching my new monthly newsletter later this month (there’s still time to sign up!). Other plans include putting my publishing day-job experience to use with my first foray into ebooks. After the popularity of my European rail routes post, the first will be more of the same, with lots more train trip ideas and planning tips. I’m also working on a new website project, combining my love of UK holiday cottages and train travel to create a directory of great places you can stay at without needing to have a car.
When it comes to travel, one of my plans for the year was to embrace spontaneity, planning a bit less so I could take advantage of being freelance and take up last-minute opportunities. So my travel plans for the next few months are a bit of a mystery, even to me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few trips in the pipeline. The definites are Copenhagen later this month and the Greek islands of Ios and Santorini in the autumn. The maybes are Scotland and Slovenia. And the possibles are endless!
Thanks again to everyone for reading and here’s to a great fifth year!