In the years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve noticed that many bloggers tend to do a kind of ‘monthly roundup’ of what they’ve been up to, what products they’re loving, what Netflix shows they’re bingeing on, and so on and so forth.
To be honest, I’ve never considered doing a series like that, mainly because I figured that people just wouldn’t want to read it. It all just seemed a bit narcissistic somehow.
However after posting an article after my 27th birthday where I reflected on the last 4 years of travel, I received such a positive response on social media that I figured that perhaps you guys are interested in the more personal stuff, and so maybe I’ll give it a bash and see how it goes!
Essentially what I’m saying is that this is an experiment, and that this MAY be the first monthly roundup of many, or it may be the first and last. Who knows?
NOVEMBER 2019 ROUNDUP
My first 10 days in November were spent in Palermo. I was nearing the end of a 6 week stint in the Sicilian capital and it was really beginning to feel like home. Every day I’d walk to one of my favourite cafes where I’d spend the afternoon drinking post-11am cappuccinos (yes, I know it’s ‘cappuccini’ in Italian, don’t come for me) and working on my blog.
I’d walk past a dozen bars, restaurants and market stalls where the staff would all beam and ask me how my day was, just as familiar with my routine as the baristas in my preferred cafes were.
At dusk, I’d head back to my apartment where I’d shower and get made up ready for the night ahead. If I had it my way, I would first meet my friends for aperitivi before we began our night. Every establishment does aperitivi differently, but my favourite places in Palermo are the ones were you pay a set price and there you will be presented with a cocktail of your choice and a huge platter of Sicilian goodies to munch on.
After lingering over our aperitivo we would either attend the weekly pub quiz that the Palermo expat group organises (my team won twice in November meaning free drinks for all!), or head straight to La Vucciria, the filthy party street where the drinks are cheap, the music is loud and everyone is out to have a good time.
The following day I’d wake up, rinse and repeat, until the morning of the 10th when it was time to return to good old Great Britain.
November saw me back in the UK for the first time in over 4 months, and as is always the case towards the end of a trip, I’d started to hanker after simple but familiar things like fluffy duvets, hair straighteners and clothes other than the ones I’d been carrying around with me for 4 months!
When I got back home I spent 2 weeks doing all of my favourite things – drinking £2 pints in my local, gossiping with my girl friends and binge watching true crime docs with my mum on the couch. I also got to be reunited with one of my best friends on planet earth, Frankie, a girl who I lived and worked with in Cambodia 3 years ago, and who I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of now we’re both back in the UK for the winter.
A surprising thing about my return to Manchester was that I actually embraced the cold, enjoying the fact that now I could wear boots and socks and oversized hoodies and wrap my hands around mugs of hot mulled wine at the Christmas Markets. Don’t get me wrong, I was loving the 20 degree Sicilian November, but there’s something about the run up to Christmas that just requires it to be freezing!
Readers of this blog won’t know it, but I’m actually a quarter Maltese, and so it’s crazy to me that 2019 was the first time I actually visited Malta! Just 2 weeks after landing back in the UK I took the 4 hour flight to Malta to team up with some friends that I knew from Sicily, as well as some of their friends who I hadn’t yet met. During our 3 days together we explored St Julien’s, Sliema, Valletta and Mdina (3 of which my Nanna has lived/worked in!) and at night we got incredibly drunk and went to strip clubs, flirted with policemen, crashed a VIP group (oh heeeeeey Dom Perignon is that you?) and took full advantage of the free drink tokens that were being given out.
On my fourth and final night in Malta, I was able to meet up with two more people that I knew from Cambodia (is this a month for reunions or what?). I last saw Vilma and Dara 2 years ago in Berlin, and by some crazy coincidence they’ve just relocated to Malta so it was lovely to sink a few cold beers and catch up about everything that’s been going on since we last saw each other.
November was a huge month for Travelling Jezebel.
Despite most other bloggers being hit by a recent Google algorithm change, my traffic soured and November was my highest traffic month yet with a 145% increase compared to October!
I also applied and got accepted onto the Ezoic advertising platform, and so as soon as I finish the process of implementing ads on my site, I can start making actual cash money from this blog.
Not only that, but some sweet Black Friday deals meant that I was able to invest in a few blog-related things that I’ve been thinking about for a while.
I subscribed to the Keysearch keyword researching tool for 12 months, meaning that my SEO game is going to (hopefully!) kill it even more than it already has been doing. I also purchased my ticket to the TBEX 2020 travel conference in March in Catania, Sicily. Lastly, and perhaps most noticeably, I bought a snazzy new theme, which you’ve probably noticed! As I write this post it’s midnight and I spent 9 hours today tinkering around with all of the techy background stuff to give my blog the much needed makeover it deserved. However, as long as the day was, I think it’s been worth it and I’m super pleased with my blog’s new look. There are still a lot of things I need to tweak and it’s definitely a work in progress, but it’s on the right track!
TV, Podcasts and Books…
Something that I really enjoyed this month was a Netflix docuseries called The Devil Next Door. The Devil Next Door tells the story of John Demjanjuk, an American Ukrainian who was accused of being Ivan the Terrible, the infamous Nazi death camp guard. The series follows the court case in Israel, with camp survivors telling their stories and identifying John as Ivan the Terrible, an accusation he strongly denies.
I also watched Tell Me Who I Am, which is a feature length documentary about two twin brothers, Alex and Marcus. After Alex lost his memory as a teenager, he depended on his twin brother to fill in the blanks about his childhood. However, it soon became clear that there was more to the story than Marcus was willing to share, and this film demonstrates that truth really is stranger than fiction.
When I travel, I also listen to a lot of podcasts as they make those long bus/train journeys pass by a lot faster. I also usually have a podcast playing in the background when I’m showering or getting ready to go out somewhere. This month my two favourites were Jeffrey Epstein: Devil in the Darkness and Mile Higher.
Devil in the Darkness is, as the name may suggest, an entire podcast devoted to the monster that was Jeffrey Epstein. Each episode delves into a different part of his life, from how he made his money to the girls he abused, his friendships with high profile world leaders and royalty, and of course his suspicious death. With exclusive interviews from staff that worked in his properties, ex-chauffeurs and acquaintances, it really paints a detailed picture of the man that was Jeffrey Epstein and I learnt far more from this podcast than from any documentary out there.
Mile Higher is a podcast led by YouTuber Kendall Rae and her husband Josh Thomas. The episodes, which are often 2 hours long, delve into everything from true crime cases to conspiracy theories, and despite the format being in a very casual and conversational style, it is clear that the pair really research the topics and I’ve learnt a lot from listening to this podcast.
As far as reading goes, I’ve read 1.5 books this month. The first, The Silent Wife is about a middle-class psychologist whose husband leaves her for a younger woman. At the very beginning, we, the readers, find out that this scorned woman becomes a murderer, but we don’t know who she kills or what happens to lead her to such an extreme. The chapters alternate from the wife’s perspective to that of the husband, and I think that the devil really is in the detail with this one as the writer truly has a gift at getting inside the minds of the two protagonists and turning what could be an incredibly cliche tale into a dark psychological thriller.
The second book, and one that I’m only partway through, is Red Rain by R.L Stine. Some of you may remember the author as the man who penned the Goosebumps novels from your childhood – I know I certainly did, and this was the sole reason why I purchased this book. Red Rain is about Lea, a travel blogger (!) who goes to a lonely island to get some content ideas. However, as soon as she arrives there is a devastating earthquake which results in a whole lot of death and destruction. Out of the rubble come two angelic young boys who say that they have lost their family in the quake, and will Lea please take them home with her. However, when she brings the boys home to her family, it soon becomes clear that these are no ordinary boys…and that’s as far as I’ve got! So far, this book isn’t gripping me all that much, hence why it’s taking me a while to get through, but I am definitely intrigued as to what will unfold as I make my way through, and so watch this space for updates!
As far as December goes, I have absolutely NO travel plans, and I’m more than okay with that. This December I intend to continue working hard on my blog, spend a lot of time with my friends and family and enjoy my first full month in England since March 2019!