Wow, 2017 was a blur! As I take a moment to look back at the exploring we did in the past year, some of these trips feel so long ago that I was SURE they were back in 2016! We traveled to 12 different countries (not counting the USA, lol) in the past year, 5 of which were countries we had previously never visited. We also spent more time going back to the countries close to us (Belgium, France, Austria) to explore new cities with friends and family.
Last year we visited Brussels, Belgium but this year was spent in smaller, more quaint towns like Brugge and Ghent. These old cities are full of life, character, and beauty (along with delicious food). I would definitely recommend them over Brussels to anyone. Instead, we would stop by Brussels for a quick snack and check out the city highlights (Atomium, Grand Place, Mannekin Pis) on our way home from Brugge and Ghent, which was perfect.
Instead of Paris, we made a couple trips to the border town of Metz, once to explore and another to enjoy the Christmas market. We also made the long trek to Dunkirk to gain some perspective and reverence prior to the movie being released. It was not lost on me how lucky that opportunity was. We made a trip to Disneyland Paris since I am a Florida-girl and thus a Disney fan through & through. Later in the year we ended up going to Disney World in Orlando so I think my husband maxed out his Disney-quota for a bit.
When we visited Luxembourg City last year, we weren’t too impressed but figured it deserved a second chance. With a little research, we found a litany of gorgeous castles and castle ruins to visit and saw a much better side of this small country. There is even one more castle on the list!
I had been to Salzburg, Austria back in 2011 but it was fun going back again this year, seeing everything again, and then watching the Sound of Music right afterwards so we could see all of the scenes we had been to!
Our cruise to Greece and Montenegro gave us a small taste of what those countries have to offer and left us wanting more. Montenegro is a place that had never been on my radar but blew us away with its beauty and friendly people. Most people love Corfu, and while we didn’t really see its beauty properly, we are excited to hit up other cities in Greece hopefully in 2018.
Portugal, Scotland, & Spain were 3 of the 5 new countries visited this year (Greece and Montenegro rounding out the 5) and they are ranked as my top 1st, 2nd, & 3rd countries visited, in that order. Our first trip of 2017 was to Lisbon, Portugal and it could not have been more stunning. Our hotel had a rooftop patio and bar and I absolutely fell in love with the tile-lined city and laid back vibe of everyone there. I knew I wanted to go back so I was so excited when we planned a trip to Porto with our friends in November. As someone who doesn’t even like Port….there is nowhere in the world that is better to drink Port than in Porto….and we drank our share. Like Lisbon, the city felt alive but laid back, filled with color and delicious food. Portugal is where you go to relax.
Scotland was a place that I had always wanted to go but had not really prioritized because I never did much research on it but by the time we left I was already trying to figure out how we could find time to get back. Edinburgh is where many of the Harry Potter books were written and it is not hard to see why. The Royal Mile street down the center of the city made me feel as though we were walking through a real Diagon Alley. Flanked by a palace on one end and a castle on the other, the street is a magical place to walk down or stop for a drink. We also made a 3 hour road-trip to Inverness to see Loch Ness (& its associated monster), castles, and the Battlefield of Culloden. Scotland was so beautiful, even when it was raining a bit on us or snowing on us.
Seville, Spain was the final trip of the year for us and where we rang in the New Year. We wanted a warm location to get us out of the cold German snow & rain and the 70 degree sunshine in Seville did not disappoint. We had 3 full days in this city that you probably only need to spend 2 days in but we didn’t mind the extra time to siesta. Spain definitely takes 1st place when it comes to food. I could have eaten forever here, the seafood is delicious and fresh and the tapas style restaurants allowed us to try 6-7 items per meal.
And finally, we spent a lot of time exploring Germany thanks to the many festivals that occur year round from Christmas Markets, Medieval Festivals, Pumpkin Festivals, Wine Festivals, Flower Festivals, to Beer Festivals and more.
Here is a recap of the cities we visited (with hyperlinks to their associated posts!)
Lisbon & Porto, Portugal (one. two.)
Salzburg, Austria (one.)
Metz, Dunkirk & Disney, France (one. two.)
Keukenhof, Netherlands (one.)
Brugge & Ghent, Belgium (one.)
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg (one.)
Edinburgh & Inverness, Scotland (one. two.)
Tel Aviv & Haifa, Israel
All over Germany ( one. two. three. four. five. six. & most of my fashion posts!)
As always, thanks for following along with me as I love, laugh, and explore every day