Travel year 2017 in a few keywords: new discoveries, a couple of big trips and lots of Dutch street art. I added five new destinations to my list (India, Sri Lanka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro), but I also revisited some destinations (Russia and Cologne). In retrospect it strikes me that my travels were concentrated within two periods. From January to March I was India, Sri Lanka and Russia and in July I visited three countries in the Balkans. I also tried this year to see more of my own country by doing a number of daytrips. In other words, it was a fine travel year. Let’s start the review and I will also tell you a bit more about my plans for 2018.
January & February – colorful trip through India & Sri Lanka
I don’t like the rainy and cold winter in the Netherlands and therefore I was in desperate need of some sun. We booked a ticket to India and traveled from the desert province of Rajasthan, Agra, Varanasi and Mumbai in two weeks time. The best thing about a trip in India: the food! I really enjoyed the delicious food every day. We combined India with Sri Lanka, because this seemed like a nice green counterpart. And this was definitely the case. India is fascinating and chaotic, Sri Lanka is peaceful and green. It was the perfect combination. Absolute highlights of this trip were the blue city of Jodhpur, sunrise at the Taj Mahal, intriguing Mumbai and the green mountain village of Ella.
March – at a conference in Russia
Just three weeks home from Sri Lanka and there was already a new big trip on my schedule. For my volunteer work I was allowed to join an international conference in Nizhny Novgorod. This was the second time I had been asked for this. Last year the conference took place in Tallinn and this year it was Russia’s turn. As a former student of Eastern European Studies, I thought this was a fantastic opportunity. Therefore I hopped onto the plane with a big smile on my face. After a few busy conference days, I spent a week in Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan. Both cities have a fascinating history. Nizhny Novgorod was a closed-off Soviet city where for years no foreigner was allowed to enter, Kazan is the eccentric capital of the autonomous republic of Tatarstan. I enjoyed these cities and I would love to return in summer. The harsh Russian winter turned the sidewalks either in one pile of snow or a ice-skating track. I fell on my knees a lot.
July – Hello Balkan: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro
After an intense first few months of 2017, I stayed in the Netherlands for the spring. But when summer came around I really wanted to explore more of Europa. My goal was to discover a region that I had never been to: the Balkans. The plan was to start in Bosnia and Herzegovina, then travel to the coast via Croatia and end the trip in the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. What sounded good on paper turned out to be even better in reality. The trip was the ideal combination of the raw Bosnian history, the picture perfect Dubrovnik and the beautiful fjord landscape of Montenegro. There are already a few articles online about my time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but there will be a lot more in 2018.
Summer day trips – Goes, Rotterdam, Alkmaar and The Hague
The summer of 2017 was not just about the Balkans, I also wanted to see more of my own country. In terms of street art, a number of long-cherished wishes were fulfilled. I took a daytrip to the Goes (city in the province of Zeeland) to look for street art. This is not really the first city you think of when it comes to street art, but you will find surprisingly many beautiful murals here. I also went to Rotterdam for a day to walk the seven kilometer long Street Art Route (RSAR). To conclude my hunt for the street art in the Netherlands, I also visited The Hague where I walked a special route along colorful electricity houses in the Segbroek district. In 2018 I will definitely write a post about this.
However, not all daytrips were about street art, I also visited historic Alkmaar. I wandered around the city on a summer afternoon and discovered the hidden inner gardens, the canals and the historic buildings. A great city to spend an afternoon.
September – a second chance for Cologne
After a delayed train journey in 2016, my boyfriend had received discount cards for new NS International tickets. We made good use of this by taking a day trip to Cologne by train. A city that I had already visited before for the Christmas market, but did not really impress me much. Time for a second chance! This second trip was a success, and this was because we combined the historic Altstadt with the alternative Ehrenfeld district. An ideal combination!
October – family weekend in Mechelen
In October a family weekend was planned with my in-laws. Three years ago we chose Barcelona, this year we decided to stay close. The choice fell on Mechelen, one of the few Belgian cities that I had not yet seen. The weekend was all about good food, finding the best terraces and tasting the fine city beer Maneblusser. To add a sports element to the citytrip, we climbed the steps of the Saint Rumbold’s tower. It was a real work-out, but at the top you will be rewarded with a beautiful 360 degree view of the historic city center.
What is in store for 2018?
The first plans for 2018 have already been made. I want to escape the Dutch winter again and soak up the sun. I always choose Asia, but my boyfriend and I have decided to give South America a chance. In February we will travel through Colombia for three weeks. We are going to combine this with a long weekend in Miami, because this turned out to be a convenient flight route. And I have to admit: Miami is pretty cool in my opinion. It is a completely different trip than I am used to, but I am really looking forward to it. In addition, in May I will be going to Porto for a long weekend and in January there are two work trips scheduled. For my newest employer, I will visit a number of project partners in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. Just like this year the first few months of 2018 are pretty packed again.
Do you already have travel plans for 2018? What did your travel year 2017 look like?