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My Travel Highlights of 2016

2017 is already here and my New Year’s resolutions have been made – along with an even larger bucket list than ever before. Seems like the more I travel, the hungrier I get for more. And the more I learn, the more I realize how little I once knew about the great world out there and all the people living in it. While 2016 was the year I traveled only within the borders of my continent, Europe, 2017 will take me to at least two others – and who knows where else destiny decides to take me this year?

2016 was a year filled with great highs as well as some lows. Unstable economy, feeling lonely as an expatriate in a foreign country, death in the family, losing touch with friends, pitching article after article to magazines with little result, getting criticized for putting so much time and effort into my blog when I “should be spending my time doing something more useful” – these events have caused a lot of stress, sadness and feeling of hopelessness for me. Traveling – and the love and support from my partner – gave me the strength I needed to be able to look back on 2016 as a great year instead of feeling like a complete failure.

Because…

I welcomed 2016 by watching the beautiful fireworks display in Warsaw, Poland with my family and my partner. We visited the Christmas market in the Old Town and danced the night away at the New Year’s gala in our hotel.

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I visited London, England for the first time in many years, and had a great time catching up with a friend who moved to London for work. We went salsa dancing, salsa eating (nachos) and visited all the touristic sites together.

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A romantic weekend trip to Copenhagen, Denmark was the Christmas present from me to my significant other. We stuffed our faces with Danish pastries, laughed our asses off while the fish tickled our toes at a duo fish spa, visited the castles and the little mermaid and enjoyed the snow – although I would have been happier if my partner hadn’t kept throwing snowballs at me.

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I visited Belgium for the first time…and second…and third. My partner and I embarked on plenty of amazing road trips this year and visiting certain destinations in Belgium was part of those trips. Romantic Bruges, charming Antwerp and multicultural Brussels. I’ve fallen in love with Belgium – and Belgian beer!

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And then there was the trip to Luxembourg in May. The surprise birthday present from my partner. We visited Luxembourg city, two castles elsewhere in the country and saw Hans Zimmer live in the amazing concert venue Rockhal. Probably the best birthday I’ve ever had.

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Late June and early July was spent traveling by train with my mother. From Oslo, Norway to Karlstad, Sweden – then back to Norway to visit Sandefjord and Kristiansand, before returning to Stavanger to spend a couple of days relaxing at home before returning to France. Photo below was taken while visiting Tungenes Fyr (lighthouse).

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The weekend of Bastille Day (14th of July) was spent visiting Saint Malo, Mont Saint-Michel, Dinan and Rennes in France. My partner and I watched the fireworks in Saint Malo, drank cider and ate delicious crêpes (the local Bretagne/Brittany specialty). Calories and carbs taste better in France than anywhere else.

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One of my biggest highlights of the year was to volunteer in Moldova. I got to know so many lovely people – volunteers and locals – and my host family was the nicest I could  ever have asked for. I also got to taste some amazing wine from the Purcari Winery while I was there. I’ve been spreading the word about how great Moldovan wine is, ever since.

 

Another great highlight was the writing retreat in Barcelona, Spain with Pink Pangea where I got to know like-minded travel writers – all women – explored the city of Barcelona and did a lot of soul searching as well. We laughed, shed some tears, plenty of hugs and shared our most personal stories – travel related and non-travel related. It was therapeutic and inspired me to not just become a better writer but a better person as well.

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In September my partner and I embarked on yet another road trip to a different part of France. This time to the southwest. We explored some spectacular caverns, enjoyed the local wines and visited idyllic and picturesque little towns. I have never taken as beautiful photos as I did in the southwest of France. No wonder so many people dream about this country, and so many writers find inspiration here.

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We didn’t spend longer than twenty-four hours at home before we were back on the road again. Well, towards the airport this time to catch a flight to Athens, Greece. The week in Athens was filled with food, historical ruins, food, more history and even more food. Greek cuisine is simply just too good!

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Winter Beer Day, Christmas markets and celebrating my parents wedding anniversary and my stepfather’s birthday was how we spent our long weekend in Hamburg, Germany…And taking pictures from the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. What a windy affair that was.

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And then there was December and all those Christmas markets. Paris (France), London (England), Reims (Champagne, France), Cologne (Germany) and Oslo (Norway). I didn’t get a white Christmas this year either, but I got so much more. So much more that mattered a lot more to me than snowflakes. Spending time at these markets with the people I care about, laughing, smiling and cheering while tasting local specialties – now that sure got me into the Christmas spirit! Photo below is from Oslo, Norway.

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Now, excuse me while I pack my bags to go to Marrakech, Morocco tomorrow. 2017 started in Trondheim, Norway and after a few days of rest in France I am now ready for new adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 comments on “My Travel Highlights of 2016

  1. wow I love that Christmas tree think I might have to go to warsaw next Christmas. Looks like you had a great year I hope 2017 brings you some cool adventures, safe travelling!!

    • Warsaw – and Kraków – is great for Christmas. The decorations are beautiful! I just got back from Morocco, and in two weeks I’m going to Panama – so I’m definitely off to a good start 🙂

  2. Great places and pretty much diverse. So you have seen a lot already in 2016 and I assume you want to top that even if possible in 2017? Anyway – enjoy all your trips and always happy travelling 🙂

  3. natalietanner

    Wow! You had a very full year! Yeah you! We did some fun traveling this year – Hawaii (the big island) and the first cruise for the kids! Love exploring. Happy travels for 2017 as well!

  4. Wow, that sounds like a fabulous year in Europe for you. Morocco is totally different and will surely give you even greater travel experiences. Happy travelling! 🙂

  5. I envy anyone who lives in Europe – you can easily go from country to country each one different from the next in just a few hours (by car or by plane). Your 2016 travel year was off to a great start with that pretty Christmas tree in Poland and now you’re already off to Morocco to launch your new year. Here’s wishing you many happy travels in 2017!

    • Thank you so much! I had a great time in Morocco 🙂 in two weeks I’m off to Panama. Can’t complain about 2017 so far 🙂 yes, living in Europe is very practical that way. Especially central Europe. Everything feels close to Paris 😀 (which is where I live)

  6. Wow – you certainly packed so much into 2016, well done! I also fell in love with Bruges this year and am desperate to return (without my kids this time so I can enjoy the beer!). Reims is another favourite of mine, we stop their regularly when travelling from Calais down to visit family.
    Hope your 2017 is just as amazing, if not more so!

    • 2017 has had a wonderful start and I hope it will continue that way 🙂 just got back from Morocco, and in two weeks I’m going to Panama. Can’t wait! Have you been to other parts of Belgium, besides Bruges? I recommend Antwerp 🙂

  7. Wow you had a packed 2016! Did you have a favorite place? I love Scandinavia and sounds like you traveled through there quite a bit. So jealous you’re going to Morocco! I’d love to visit there. Where else do you have planned for 2017?

    • I’m from Scandinavia (Norway) so I go back pretty often to visit my parents and visit other Scandinavian countries to feel closer to home and speak my first language 🙂 Morocco was amazing, I highly recommend it! In two weeks I’m going to Panama (cross country road trip with lots of hiking and snorkeling planned), late February I’m going to Madrid and in May I’m going on a road trip through the Netherlands. Might go skiing in the French Alps in March as well 🙂 what about you?

      • Lucky you! I love Scandinavia. And that sounds like a super exciting 2017! Panama is a very underrated country in my opinion. I loved it and would love to go back soon. I’ve got nothing big planned until early March – I’ll be in Iceland & the UK/Ireland for about 10 days and then SEA for a month. The rest of the year I think I’ll be in Europe a couple of times at least but nowhere else planned. We shall see! 🙂

      • Iceland and SEA sounds like amazing plans! Besides Panama and Morocco I’ll probably just travel within Europe as well, with the exception of a trip to South Africa that MIGHT happen (if I’m lucky and have enough savings ).

  8. Wow, you certainly packed a lot into 2016! That Polish Christmas Tree looks amazing! So beautiful, I’ve not been to most of the places you’ve mentioned by my favourites would have to be London (I live there) and the trip through the French villages. I’d love to do a road trip round France soon!

  9. Sounds like a great year of amazing travel experiences! If you were to go back to just one of those places, which one would it be?

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