2020: A year in review

Happy holidays! As the year finally wraps up, it’s time to look back at all that has happened during the mess that was 2020. I would have liked to write a similar post as I did in 2019, reflecting on my top travel moments of the year, but you all know how our globetrotting dreams were crushed over the past 365 days.

Travelling in the nick of time.

Starting off on a brighter note, I’d like to highlight our initial fantastic start to 2020. In February, following a quiet New Year at home, Mr. Chuckles and I were able to go ahead with our highly anticipated trip back to Southeast Asia — this time to Cambodia and Vietnam. We spent just over two weeks exploring around Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, and Hanoi. We checked off our longstanding bucket list item of seeing the wondrous Angkor Wat; cruised on the majestic Bai Tu Long Bay; cycled among the karsts of Ninh Binh; and went on lots and lots of food tours.

While we were away, the world was beginning to implode. We returned home in late February, and in mid-March, the World Health Organization finally declared the coronavirus pandemic. We couldn’t have been luckier with our timing, as we had been able to enjoy an uninterrupted trip and got home safely without any hiccups. If it had been only a couple weeks later, we may have ended up stranded abroad like many other unfortunate travellers.

Doctoring during a pandemic.

In March, I returned to work, donning my scrubs and layers of PPE to take care of medical inpatients in my role as a hospitalist physician. The first month or so during the pandemic was a relatively quiet period in the hospital, although filled with anxiety as we anticipated the wave that was to come.

Indeed, our number of Covid cases rose steadily and over the past nine months, I have personally cared for dozens of Covid patients — some of whom have made quick recoveries, and many of whom have suffered critical illness and passed away. I also continue to take care of a significant number of patients who have survived the infection, but are left with severe complications and functional impairments, akin to a medical purgatory. Yet somehow, there are still people out there who feel that Covid is no big deal, or even a hoax altogether. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Cancelled plans and summer in the city.

In May, we were meant to travel to Iceland, Scotland, and England but this plan was obviously derailed. We never ended up making any bookings, which at least relieved us of the stress from coordinating a trip cancellation.

Instead of walking down the black sand beaches of Iceland or exploring the Scottish highlands, we spent our spring and summer at home in Toronto. We occupied several weekend afternoons on the Islands; took walks along the waterfront; cooked many Goodfood meals; and explored some local attractions we had never visited, like Allan Gardens and Casa Loma.

Re-discovering local travel.

In September, we were able to at least partially satiate our travel craving, with a weekend trip to Niagara Falls.

We booked ourselves the nicest hotel room we could find, and took the three hour bus ride from Toronto to the falls. We got to see the waterfalls up close via Journey Behind the Falls and also spent some time checking out a few other nearby attractions within Niagara Parks, including the white-water rapids and butterfly conservatory. Mr. Chuckles and I had not been to the area for over a decade, so it was a nice time revisiting with fresh eyes.

Refreshing my travel blog.

It goes without saying that it’s been tough going for most travel bloggers this year. Lacking in new content, I’ve taken to filling up my own blog with old travel memories.

New blog series started this year include On This Day, where I recap travel experiences on their trip anniversaries; Best of Toronto, where I highlight all there is to see and do in my home city; and Photo Friday, self-explanatory. I’ve also revamped the website layout and think it’s looking pretty sharp! In addition, connecting I’ve Bean Travelling with social media (especially Twitter) has increased my readership and engagement exponentially. At least this one thing is going well and keeping me busy while I’m homebound.

Saying goodbye to 2020.

Earlier in the year, we had hoped that things would be somewhat settled by the end of November and maybe a short trip not too far away could be possible, but alas, this was not to be. Lockdown measures in our region were reinstated in the fall, and will probably remain in place over the winter holidays. As such, we’ve continued to stay home through the last part of the year. Throughout December, we will be preparing for a quiet Christmas at home. We’ve decorated the tree, checked out winter village in the Distillery District, and Mr. Chuckles has a chicken dinner in the works for the big day — recipe to come!

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s to a better 2021! โ™ฅ๏ธ