Looking back at my dream trips in 2019… What a year!

Hi lovely readers,

I bet you have missed reading from me.

Hope you have been safe and finding ways to stay positive throughout this ordeal. So I finally have time to reflect and write again and decided to jump back into the blogging universe in order to keep myself busy creatively.

As we are in the 2nd quarter of 2020, I wanted to bring some travel inspiration into your life.

Last adventure in 2019, snowmobile ride at the Artic Circle, Rovaniemi – Finland

2019 has been truly the most amazing year of my life as I got to cruise and fly to about 40 different cities and countries.

Travel list of 2019

In today’s post is about the places I have travelled to in 2019. I must admit that I went a bit overboard with travelling as I took every opportunity to make the most of my time. I have selected the 10 best places according to my visits.

Moreover, I will give you a glimpse of what to expect from me in 2020.

2019: The year of Travel!

The places mentioned below are those that I really liked and that I would recommend you to visit once everything goes back to normal. For each location I will give a brief description, because I would like to elaborate more in a separate post (time permitting).

1. Marrakesh, Essaouira and the Sahara dessert (accompanied)

A typical camel caravan or train, on the way to our tent in the Sahara dessert

Marrakesh is exceptionally beautiful and once you are there you will be blown away by its timelessness just by walking within the Medina and going to the famous market known as Jamaa El-Fna. I went there for a week with a friend at the end of March. Honestly if I were to go there again I would not feel unsafe. You only need to be aware of the cultural etiquette and especially don’t wander at night. Essaouira (fisherman town) I would recommend as a day trip. For me, the highlight of the trip was definitely going through the High Atlas Mountain, visiting Ait Ben Haddou, walking through the Todra Canyon and getting a taste of the Nomadic life. Thanks to the Taureg people I got to ride a camel during sunset and sunrise in the Sahara Dessert, even danced under the starry sky and slept in a tent.

2. Dubai (solo)

Strolling along the Dubai Marina Walk

It was always a dream of mine to fly on the A380 and especially with Emirates and it turned out to be a fantastic trip last year in May. Once I arrived in Dubai I was a bit uneasy as I didn’t take the ‘pink’ taxi (which are only for women), but the taxi driver was polite and even gave me a tour on the way to my friend’s apartment in Marina Bay. I was in awe of the skyscrapers and I couldn’t believe that 30 years ago there was nothing, but dessert. I really liked the sea aquarium at Atlantis, the Palm. Also, the fountain show at the Dubai Mall next to the Burj Khalifa is a must see!

3. Porto (solo)

Porto during the sunset

In the past I have been to Sintra, Lisbon and Algarve (Faro, Albufeira and Lagos), but I didn’t expect to find Porto to be so magical. After visiting at the end of September I could see why J.K. Rowling got so inspired to write the Harry Potter books. Just a trip to the antique library (Livraria Lello) is a fantasy on it’s own, but be prepared to wait in a long queue of tourists. Walking around the Douro is also a good way to appreciate the city. The main train station is also a must-visit as it is unlike any other train station. I got to know a lovely Chinese girl and we explored the city together and took thousands of pictures at every corner. Also, I did a wine tasting at Taylor’s. No trip to Porto is complete without a visit to one of the wine cellars.

4. Ischia & Capri (solo)

Enjoying the view in Capri in my lemon dress

I really wish I had spend more time on the Italian islands of Ischia and Capri, but I guess I have a reason to go back as there is so much to see and I went there for half a day. On Ischia I definitely recommend taking a ferry (1.5 hour from Naples) and going to the Argonese Castle and if you have time to spend have a relaxing time at the beach. Capri is a very touristy island (not so busy in October), so buy your ferry ticket online to avoid the queue. I went there feeling optimistic I could get a ferry ticket, but they were sold out! After seeing a tourist agency I decided to book a tour, which didn’t end up being expensive as it included a ferry round trip and a tour around the island by boat.

5. Pompeii, Positano & Amalfi Coast (solo)

Positano is just like a postcard!

Naples to Pompeii is a half an hour trip by train. However, if you are travelling during peak hours then the train is really crowded and you need to be wary of your belongings as pickpockets will try to strike. In Pompeii I have spent 4-5 hours walking the premises of the archaeological site as there so many hidden places to discover. After Pompeii I headed with the train to Sorrento where my hotel was. The next day I set out to visit Positano by bus, which was a bit tiring. On this day I did not have any luck as there were strong tides to take the ferry from Positano to Amalfi. Therefore needed to wait longer for the bus as many people were queuing. The highlight of the trip was definitely Positano and I promise that going down and up the stairs will be definitely worth it.

6. Krakow, Auschwitz and Birkenau (solo)

A visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which commemorated its 75th anniversary of liberation earlier this year

When visiting Poland you know that you have to try their typical dishes such as the Pierogi (dumplings), bigos (stew) and Vodka. Therefore I really enjoyed going to the restaurants. In Krakow I definitely recommend having a walk around the market square, visiting to the St. Mary’s Basilica (Gothic architecture) and also visiting the Wawel Royal Castle. Furthermore, in this trip I wanted to literally dig 64m deeper into the past and I visited the Wieliczka (largest salt mine museum). The mining techniques of the Middle Ages and chambers were all well-preserved. I was quite in awe of the salt monuments, the shrines and chapels. At the end of my trip I decided to go to Auschwitz and Birkenau to understand and learn about the atrocities of the WWII and visit the most dreadful concentration camp in history! It was really an emotional way to end the journey, but the mistakes of our past should not be forgotten.

7. Brugge (accompanied)

The pictoresque ‘Markt’ or marketplace popular for dining

My parents wanted to visit me in Europe after their trip in Asia (traveling runs in the family!). For my parents and two other couples who were joining them, I planned an Autumn trip in the Netherlands (Den Hague and Rotterdam), Belgium (Brussels and Brugge) and Germany (Aachen and Kevelaer). The highlight of the trip for us was definitely visiting the enchanting Brugge, the Cathedral, churches and sailing in a boat in order to appreciate the ‘Venice of the North.’

8. Singapore (solo & accompanied)

The famous Marina Bay Sands and the emblemic Merlion

Singapore had been on my list a long time ago, ever since I had a transit with my parents in 2004 to Indonesia. Once you arrive at the airport you will be amazed at all of the possibilities and activities that you can do. It’s very clean and you will not get bored if you ever have a layover there. For example there’s a lounge area, cinema, orchid and sunflower garden, shopping options and plenty of restaurants to choose from. The Jewel Changi airport, which was officially opened in October 2019 has already been visited by millions. The highlight is the Rain Vortex (indoor waterfall and garden) and lots of shops.

9. Kuala Lumpur (accompanied)

The colorful stairs and the Lord Murugan Statue

One cannot go to Kuala Lumpur (also known as KL) and not visit the 451-m tall Petronas Twin Towers. It was very humid and warm when I visited it in mid November. Nevertheless it’s easy to use ‘Grab’ once you have a Malaysian Sim card and use the local ride-hailing transport service, which is a cheap and faster option for travellers. I was really also excited to visit the Batu Caves, which is a limestone cave with a Indian shrine. KL is also a very green city with many parks to visit if you want to escape from the skyscrapers.

10. Hong Kong (solo & accompanied)

Tian Tan Buddha aka Big Buddha (34m tall) on Lantau Island in Hong Kong

The wanderlust within me has taken me to a lot of the new places I have mentioned so far. Each location had different culture, food and especially the places were unique in their own way. It is very hard for me to pick a favourite, but I would without a doubt want to visit Hong Kong again, of course once the situation cools down with the protesters and also with the pandemic. Hong Kong has been in the spotlight for months due to controversial China extradition bill and the violence on the streets. Therefore I was not 100% sure I was going to go… but I took the risk. This country (known officially as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China) is amazing and there is so much to see, different places to eat and you can easily get lost between all the sky scrappers.

Hong Kong Island’s skyline by night

How do I get to travel so much?

As I’m currently working at an airline company it easy to plan my work schedule and my travel days as I want. I work in an office and my schedule changes on a monthly-basis. I mostly plan my off-days for travel. So it does come as a consequence of my own personal life as I am not always at home (except for now). I did notice it was strenuous on my friends and especially developing any romantic relationships. On a side note, all of my travels are paid for by me as at some airline companies we luckily get a discount for travelling standby. Other than that once you are in Europe there are many low cost airlines such as Ryanair or Easyjet. I am really worried on how we will bounce back as the aviation industry (as well as many others) are suffering of the current crisis. Never believed that we would witness something like this. But we will rise up stronger in time!

Always be ready for departure!

What’s next?

In 2020 I am planning to tone down my travels. This pandemic has already sidetracked many travel plans that I had. Once everything goes back to normal I am planning to continue with my travelling. The below list is my personal travel destinations and also those which I have already been to this year:

  1. Finland, Turku – been
  2. Denmark, Copenhagen – been (2nd time)
  3. Portugal, Madeira – been
  4. Salzburg, Austria – been
  5. Qatar, Doha – been
  6. Slovenia – been
  7. Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands (home) – want to go
  8. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver & San Francisco – want to go
  9. Canada (Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) – want to go
  10. Thailand (Bangkok and Phuket) – want to go
  11. Croatia – want to go
  12. Switzerland (Zurich, Interlaken and Grindelwald) – want to go

People ask me all the time: how do you it?

Well being a free-spirit it’s easy to decide on my own when and where I want to go. I take in consideration a lot of aspects or questions such as the below:

  • Budget, how much would I need and will I be able to pay my bills in order to survive the coming months?
  • Weather conditions, how does the forecast look like the coming weeks. Will I be able to enjoy my stay?
  • Political situation, is there any political unrest or anything alarming that may affect my safety?
  • Culture experience, does the destination offer sufficient cultural experience and will I be able to get a taste of the local cuisines?
  • Flight connections, will I be able to fly directly or is there a way I can combine the trip with other destinations in order to lower my flight costs?

As you can see I take my travel plans very seriously and before booking anything I make a web research and evaluate all possible options.

Looking for collaborations

So as you may of read my travels are 100% financed by me. But I want to improve and I’m willing to collaborate with any travel bloggers or travel companies out there looking for a content writer and travel blogger like me as I really want to provide you with a well-written blog with tips for your future travel.

For me, travelling is liberating as you can be yourself.

You also get to enhance all of your senses and know how to act in every location as you will learn to adapt.

Last trip I took back in March 2020 to Slovenia, Lake Bled

Moreover, travelling is an expensive hobby, but my way of thinking is always to enjoy the moment and get the best of any opportunity.

You only live once!

Which place would you like me to write more about? Comment below!

To conclude, I have written a lot on my travels of last year and I am looking forward to what the ‘year of the Rat’ will bring. There are currently so many turmoil going on in the world and somehow we all got affected by it. This doesn’t mean you need to dwell on what the media has to say, but find a constructive and healthy way around every situation. Of course being a concerned human being is normal and now we need to take care of ourselves, but do not forget to be empathetic towards others!

So that’s it for now. Hopefully I inspired you to plan more future trips once this nightmare is over.

If you need any tips or advice, feel free to let me know.

Stay safe and healthy!