The end of the year is near and traditionally that means that I present an overview of my year in travel. Together we look back on this year and see where I traveled and what I have seen. Personally, I always love to write these kind of posts, because it refreshes my memory. Without noticing it I actually do quite a lot in a year, but throughout the year I forget most of it. When writing this post I came to the conclusion that it was a great travel year with destinations far away (Colombia & the US) and destinations in Europe (Porto, Tirana and more). Let’s start the review.
January: work trips Pristina & Skopje
The start of 2018 was a busy period at work. For one of my projects I flew in the first few months of this year three times to the Balkan. The first work trip was planned for Kosovo and Macedonia. For me two new destinations. I visited the capitals of these countries: Skopje and Pristina. The winter is not exactly the best season to visit the east side of Europe, because the days are quite dark, cold and short. Despite the cold weather I enjoyed my time in Kosovo and Macedonia very much. I was there for work, so I did not have much to time to explore. But during a few early morning and late evening hours I did go out to see the city. I published my first article about Skopje. Pristina will follow soon.
Photos top: Skopje, photos bottom: Pristina.
February part 1: work trip Tirana and a quick visit to Belgrade
January was busy, February was hectic. In the first week of the second month of this year I flew to Albania for my work. The trip did not go smooth at all. Due to a winter storm the plane could not land at Tirana airport and we had to detour to Belgrade. The next flight was planned for the next day, so I had to stay in Belgrade for the night. It was not a punishment at all, because the airline arranged a good hotel, vouchers for food and transportation to and from the airport. Moreover, I suddenly had time to explore a brand-new destination that was not on my radar. A post about my short visit to Belgrade will follow soon. The next day I flew to the Albanian capital and arrived there safe and sound. My visit to Tirana was very short, so I quickly hopped back on my flight to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, my suitcase did not make the layover in London. In hindsight, this was already an omen for the luggage problems that were still to come…
Photos top and bottom right side: Belgrade, photo bottom on the left side: Tirana.
February part 2: Miami & Colombia
Just shortly back from my work trip to Albania and I started my three-week holiday in Colombia. A trip my boyfriend and I were very much looking forward to, because we like to escape the winter as much as we can. The trip to Bogotá was a long one: a layover in Iceland and a three-day stopover in Miami. The extended stay in Miami was planned by us. We thought: if we have to pass through Miami, we might as well break the journey in two and explore this city. Unfortunately, only one backpack made it to Miami. Mine was left behind in Iceland. Reason for this: unknown. It took 2,5 weeks (!) before my backpack was returned to me. The fact that the airline only flew twice a week to Miami and I was not staying in Miami, but continuing my trip to Colombia did not help. I really enjoyed my time in Miami and Colombia, but the lack of clothing and the long calls to airports luggage departments and airlines gave me a lot of stress. I learned my lesson: if you travel with another person, divide your stuff over two backpacks and put some essentials in your hand luggage.
Photos top and photo bottom middle: Colombia, photos bottom left and right: Miami.
March: work trips Tirana & Pristina
Just returned from the beaches in Colombia and there was already a new work trip planned to the Balkan. For everyone who starts wondering what I do for a living: I work for a foundation that carries out human rights and rule of law related projects in Eastern Europe. During this third trip I combined Albania and Kosovo. It was still winter on the Balkan, so the temperature was quite chilly. But the sun started to show its warmth more often. I really like traveling in the Balkan, the cultural diversity fascinates me. Soon I will post more about Tirana and Pristina.
Photos top: Tirana, photos bottom: Pristina.
May: a long weekend in Porto
After March I really felt the need to slow down. The start of 2018 had been (too) hectic. Personally, it felt like the balance between work life and private life was gone, so it was time to get my priorities straight again. I decided to spend more time in the Netherlands and to slow down the number of work trips. Moreover, I knew that I had a great trip planned for May and I wanted to have enough energy for this. An extended weekend trip to Porto, a birthday gift from my boyfriend. We both like Portugal very much and our goal was to soak up the sun, see all the picture-perfect Portuguese tiles, drink Port wine and eat good food. Porto was a perfect match. Unfortunately we were dressed a bit too optimistically for our trip (it was chilly and we had no coat!), but overall we really enjoyed our time in Porto. Such a photogenic destination! One tip though: travel off-season. We visited Porto during the Ascension break and there was a queue of people for every sight.
Read more: 7x things to do during a city trip to Porto.
Summer: day trips in my own country
The summer was filled with trips in my own country, the Netherlands. This is the only season in which we have a shot at good sunny weather in the Netherlands, so why would I step on a plane to fly to a sunny destination somewhere else. I opted to stay in the Netherlands and it was the perfect choice. It was such a warm summer in the Netherlands! Perfect to plan day trips to some gorgeous Dutch cities. Together with my boyfriend I went to Breda, Eindhoven (cool hipster area Strijp!) and my own city Haarlem, with my parents-in-law I went to Delft and with my friends I explored Hoorn.
Photo top left (Breda), photo top right (Eindhoven), photo bottom left (Hoorn), photo bottom middle (Haarlem), photo bottom right (Breda).
September: beach holiday Morocco
Another reason why I never plan a trip in the summer: I always plan something for the fall. The season that everyone needs to go back to work again and it starts to rain more and more. For me, a good time to go to a warmer place. I decided to head to Morocco for a relaxing beach holiday. A couple of days in beach town Essaouira and a couple of days in the historical city of Marrakech. In retrospect, I think it would be better to start in Marrakesh and end in Essaouira, because that way you can relax at the end of your holiday. Regardless, I still had an amazing time in Morocco. It showed me that there are enough places in Morocco where you can relax and destress. Essaouira and the number of surfing villages surrounding it are perfect examples of this.
After September I had no more trips planned. There is a good reason for this and I will tell you more about this in 2019. Also, spending time in my own country is also quite alright. For example, I explored the street art in the Amsterdam southeast city district called ‘Bijlmer’. Did you know that you can see pretty good street art there? I had no clue!
To round up this post I have a few last personal notes:
- Moments of pride: I finished two Chinese language courses (simplified Chinese) this year at the University of Leiden. I love languages and especially the more difficult languages fascinate me. Moreover, China is a very interesting country. I visited the country for the first time in 2015 and I plan to go back ever since.
- Lifestyle change: after fourteen year eating vegetarian, I decided this summer to go vegan. I did not make this decision overnight: I was already reading up more and more on the livestock industry and I did not feel comfortable anymore with the way I was eating. I decided to go vegan on a trial basis and after one month I went full vegan. Personally, I still feel that this was one of the best decisions this year.
- Development skills: this year I also took a short photography course. It was an insightful day that learned me so much more about my own camera!
- Development of this blog: maybe you already forgot about this, but over the summer this blog got a new look. This year I am blogging for four years now and I decided it was time for a new look. I am still very happy with it!
How was your year?