What. A. Year.
As if moving to a new country wasn’t exciting enough, I was fortunate to take adventures that took me around the UK, Europe and to Asia for the first time.
Much like 2016, I feel like I’ve learned and grown so much this year- it’s crazy to think I was able to visit places in Europe I thought may take me years to get to while I lived in the States.
The same rule I’m living by for this upcoming year? Have passport, will travel.
The Top 10 Places I Visited in 2017
In the lead up to Christmas, Vienna is transformed. Wandering the city, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to another era. Christmas lights illuminate every street in the city center. Idyllic Christmas couldn’t be closer to the truth- dazzling lights, dozens of Christmas markets and cozy cafes make Vienna a gorgeous place to visit for holiday cheer. My trip to Munich, Nuremberg and Vienna was my first time visiting European Christmas markets, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Hong Kong: Dense, populated, colorful, energetic. It’s city meets jungle. Everyone told me I’d like Hong Kong, but I wasn’t prepared to love it so much. Hong Kong is made up of over 230 islands, along with a part attached to mainland China called Kowloon. Four days in Hong Kong wasn’t nearly enough time for everything I wanted to do and see, but just another reason to head back for another holiday.
It’s impossible to not fall in love with Japan. Tokyo. Hustle and bustle, quirky shops, an abundance of cute toys and things, and seafood and ramen at every turn. The city is massive- a sprawling metropolis. For as large as it is though, there’s an orderliness to it that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. Streets are clean, sidewalks kept immaculate and everyone is polite. Four days wasn’t nearly enough time in Tokyo, and I’m already excited to return one day and see more of the city, as well as Japan.
There’s no place in the world like Venice, it’s an incredible city. With the most picturesque streets and houses you can imagine, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views every moment you’re in Venice. It’s a city built in another time, when access to water meant access to money.
There’s a quote floating around about Marfa that I couldn’t agree more with: A place tough to get to. Tougher to explain. But once you get there, you get it. Marfa is the stuff small town life dreams are made of. Wide-open spaces. No stoplights, seriously, not even one- there’s a blinking ‘caution’ light in the center of town. Skylines that seem to stretch for miles. Remoteness. Things feel less important when you’re in Marfa.
Seemingly overnight, Barcelona became one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s hard to believe I’ve visited 20-some countries before finally making my way to Spain. Barcelona, a city with incredible architecture, golden beaches and an infectious energy. Even though it’s part of Spain’s mainland, Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region, an autonomous region that’s proud of their distinctive culture and history. Incredible architecture (oh, Gaudi), golden beaches, delicious tapas, vibrant nightlife, fresh fruit juices, and winding alleys. It’s the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, and a place I fully plan on returning to next year for more exploring.
I hadn’t planned on Edinburgh being my first trip after arriving in the UK. But, a flight deal for $28 persuaded me to consider otherwise. Edinburgh is a gorgeous city, full of history and charm. With cobbled streets, medieval stone buildings, pubs tucked below street level on every other corner, and some seriously good cocktail bars, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time.
For me, Bath is the most beautiful city in England. Granted, I’ve only lived in the UK for a year, and still have a lot of exploring to do, but no where else I’ve visited has blown me away the way Bath did. From the moment the train pulled into the station, I was breathless- the color of the stone buildings contrasted against the green countryside and blue skies, love at first sight.
As with every Scandi adventure I’ve taken, Sweden exceeded my expectations. Stockholm is a beautiful capital city, built on the water, and known as one of Europe’s best preserved old towns. Over the course of ~five days, I walked down cobblestone streets, took fika at every opportunity, savored Swedish specialities (meatballs! lingonberry! cinnamon rolls!), admired modern art, shopped for Scandi treasures to bring back to England, and found comparison to other Nordic countries I’ve visited- mainly Denmark and Iceland. To say I loved Stockholm would be an understatement.
Porto, a small city with big personality. I always assumed my first time in Portugal would be to visit Lisbon, but after reading a bit about Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, I was drawn to its charmingly traditional vibe. Colorful, mismatched houses and winding streets. Sunsets over the Douro River. Beautiful blue tiles. Bright striped beach houses. Winding canals. And, plenty of port wine. It was the perfect belated 30th birthday weekend getaway.
And, a bonus favourite I re-visited: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Oh, Amsterdam. A city that captured my heart the first time I visited, and has lured me back many times since then. A city on canals, Amsterdam is easy explored by foot, boat or bike. With delicious eateries, charming boutiques, and incredible museums, there’s no shortage of things to do in the capital of the Netherlands. Living in London, I’m excited to visit this city as often as possible (at least once a year) during my time in the UK.
Where did you travel to this year? If you’re planning any trips for next year, where are you most excited to visit?