I will end the last day of this year with the much-anticipated balance of 2017 travels. I visited 8 countries and many very beautiful places, new destinations that I long wanted to check out and tell you about here on the blog. I have collected countless memories, each of them with great significance in my life. I wrote 40 articles on my blog and posted 19 videos on my YouTube channel. I hope that next year I can double these numbers 🙂 These are the places I reached this year:
This year I gave Thailand to the Philippines. Why? For various reasons, more personal, which I will not develop now. I still have to mention that I have nothing against Thailand. On the contrary, it seems to me a splendid country I can not wait to visit. Just like the Philippines, but more touristy.
We run the band backward and we stop in January 2017. A few weeks before leaving, I searched Youtube for videos with this lands. I have discovered beautiful images that have strengthened my desire to get to the country of over 7000 islands as soon as possible. I have learned that many big bloggers have it as a top favorite, especially when we are talking about the countries of south-east Asia, so I was sure I would not be disappointed.
After two days of walking the complex and contrasting streets of Manila, we took our flight to Palawan, a province in the south of the country that we have been hunting for some time. The first stop was in the province’s capital, Puerto Princesa. Here, we visited one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the Underground River. It did not impress me deeply, but it is not a place to miss. Is one of those places that you must see it once in your life! Just a few miles away, we went on a boat tour where we discovered 3 islands, each with a distinct personality, all located in Honda Bay.
Then we headed to the north of the island and stopped first at a gorgeous resort, Peace and Love resort, in the middle of the San Vicente jungle. There have been 2 days of total relaxation and continuous swimming in the infinity pool. I like to think it was a little break that loaded our batteries for the next period of time, full of travels.
The next one on the list was the star of the archipelago, El Nido, which I could easily call the backpackers’ heaven. In the 5 days and 5 nights sleeping in a hotel situated right on the beach of Bacuit Bay, I did so many things to fill my memories. We went with the scooter around the island, we searched for waterfalls, we zip lined between two islands, enjoyed delicious food and went to discover beaches and lagoons accessible only by boat. Was awesome. But there was something just as amazing waiting for us. Coron.
We boarded a big ship with many locals and after 5 hours of balancing on the waves of the Philippine Sea, we arrived in Coron for another 5 days. Neither did this disappoint us. On the contrary, above Lake Kayangan we enjoyed the most spectacular panorama ever. There was also the scooter with which we ventured on some non-friendly roads, the waterfalls hunt and the discovery of some really beautiful remote beaches.
After nearly a month on Philippine soil, we headed for probably the most visited island in Asia, Bali. But not before we had a stop for a few hours in Malaysia where we were allowed to leave the airport and check out a tourist attraction on the list: Petronas Towers and their brashly beautiful architecture.
Like the trip to the Philippines, I thought it would be appropriate to spend as much time in Bali, as well. I don’t know if it was too much or too little, but it’s sure I will never get bored there. There are a million possibilities of spending time on the island and each one is special. I visited some temples and I made a top of the most beautiful ones, we experienced parasailing, played with monkeys in the Monkey Forest, tested many traditional dishes, and as a result, I declared myself a fan of Indonesian cuisine, did some shopping, saw many waterfalls, went on road trips, admired the flowers of the Orchid Garden, went into the backstage of Eat Pray Love and explored the rice crops. I felt at home in Bali and I would not say NO to the opportunity of moving my home on the island, either temporarily or permanently.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE
Oh, the expeditions of this year were so long that I have not even been able to write yet an article about the Emirates. That’s because I have so much detail to tell …. We spent a whole month here also. Surprisingly, right? It’s like we were in three honeymoons, when in fact, that wasn’t the case. Okay, I got the ring in Dubai, but that doesn’t count. The charming city that is hiding from time to time in the sandstorms, gave me a very sweet taste. Obviously, the architecture and grandeur of the buildings impressed me most, but the lifestyle was a great surprise for me.
I knew that in the Emirates, locals are in a minority, but that did not remove the amazement of my face when I realized how open minded the concept is, especially in Dubai. Most people are from Asia and sometimes you will feel like you are somewhere in India or the Philippines, but even so, the feeling is unique. I was shocked by the contrast between the richness of the new city and the modesty of the construction and the people of the old Dubai. We had some delicious meals, most of them traditional Arabic. I visited the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, I witnessed the wonderful show of the dancing fountains, I visited the biggest mall in the world, I went to the beach, but also in some fun parks and admired the only 7-star hotel in the world directly from the beach.
But the month of the Emirates has been divided in two, so I had a few days for Abu Dhabi, the capital of the country. And here we got to admire the opulence at its highest level, when we got lost inside the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, but also when we visited the Emirates Palace, now turned into the hotel.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
One of the most beautiful experiences this year in terms of travel was a long-awaited ride through Plitvice National Park. The most beautiful waterfalls seen at that time were McWay Falls in Bug Sur, California, and Niagara. Now, I’m not as sure that they are still the most beautiful, especially after witnessing the wonderful turquoise water show in Croatia. I visited the park during the summer when the vegetation was an emerald green and the waters very clear. I would like, however, to get there in the winter, but also in autumn.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Another monument of nature checked this year was the superb lake with a mini island in the middle, Bled from Slovenia. In the case of this trip, I was not impressed only by the beauty of the lake, but by the whole country. As small as it is, as beautiful as it gets. Although we walked a lot around the lake and we had enough time to admire its brilliance, I still owe myself a view from the top. So, I would like to go back there and climb the hill near the lake for a perfect view and complete experience. About Lake Bled, soon, on the blog.
I haven’t been in Austria before, so I wanted to visit all that Mozart’s country has to offer. I did my research themes, Ayman also came up with a very good suggestion and made an itinerary to satisfy our desires. The first destination was in a splendid resort, surrounded by mountains and famous for winter sports practiced in the area, Zell am See. Here we felt the adrenaline when we climbed on the famous toboggan if I could call it that, and we dropped down the mountain at a dizzying speed, surrounded by some sparkling scenery. In Zell am See, we stayed near a lake almost as beautiful as Bled, so at breakfast, we did not just serve a very tasty meal, but also a nice panorama.
After Zell am See, we visited probably the most beautiful mountain village in the world and the most photogenic in my opinion. In Hallstatt, Austria, we made a short but significant stop. Inspired by the hundreds of pictures I admire on Instagram accounts of other bloggers, I really wanted to get here in 2017. Said and done.
Of course, I could not leave Austria without a visit to the capital. Vienna surprised us with stunning architecture, where the details make the difference. We visited the impressive Schönbrunn Palace, we walked through the alleys of Stadtpark and we went for a short window shopping session on the famous Kaerntner Strasse. Vienna, I liked you …
… but not more than Budapest. If I were to choose between the capitals of Hungary and Austria, I would definitely go for the first option. Budapest is an open-air museum! The magnificent views from the Citadella, its gorgeous Danube bridges connecting Buda and Pesta, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Parliament Building, the Matthias Cathedral, the shoes on the shores on the Danube that remind us with emotion and sadness of the unfortunate events in the history of the country, but also many and many other buildings and streets of the city convinced me to return to the wonderful capital of Hungary.
This year I didn’t ignore my home country’s landscapes. Although there were not many trips inside Romania, I managed to revisit some places very dear to me. First of all, we first went to Transalpina, the road at the highest altitude in Romania, 2145 m. We went up again to Transfagaran, which never ceases to amaze me with its overwhelming landscapes. We walked the streets of Sibiu, but also of Bucharest and … that’s it pretty much. I wish in 2018 to visit Cluj and Sighisoara, but also to return for a longer visit to Brasov.
Although the year 2017 had a very debut start for me, the end has brought me the saddest part of my life so far. I lost a loving soul, my best friend, my purest and most sincere, my 11-year-old puppy, Buţu. The words have no way of explaining what his absence means in my life, but I believe he is now among the angels like him. I love you and I will love you forever, Buţu! ♥ #4everInMyHeart
At the end, I want to wish you a Happy New Year full of health and happiness, but also many trips to the destinations you want, no matter how remote and hardly accessible they may seem! I hope to gather as many wanderlust souls as possible here on the blog and I hope you will continue to be by my side and support my work and passion as always.