My 5 Best Trips of 2016

The year 2016 was a bit of a hurdle but along the way sprung some amazing moments, too. There are usually two ways to end the year. One is to whine and curse at how crazy the world has been and the other, keeping the tragedies of the year in mind as well as all the successes and triumphs, learn from them, and use them as motivation to make 2017 a brighter year ahead. Since I am all about positivity here, let’s stick to the latter as I try to recount some of my amazing travels this year.

5. Frozen in Copenhagen

denmark

I am still not accustomed to starting the year frozen cold so January in Copenhagen might have seemed to be a terrible idea. But a colorful city buried in snow is actually quite a treat. Like literal pastry treat. Just look at the vibrant harbour of Nyhavn, basically the most famous strip in the city, when covered in puffy snow, it makes you really crave for something sweet. Maybe I was just really hungry. The Tivoli Gardens were closed but it also meant I had more time to go around the city. My favorite spots were the (1) top of the Christiansborg Palace, home of the Danish Parliament (panoramic view for free, with elevator, restaurant… perfect for a lazy bum like me who just wants to chill and enjoy amazing views), (2) the Carlsberg Museum’s impressive beer collection (apologies for being a biased beer lover), and (3) the Frederiksborg Palace, which is technically outside the city center but still included in the Copenhagen Pass so why not include it in. It is a castle on a frozen lake in winter, has extravagantly ornate chapels… just, breathtakingly divine!).

Click here for the full blog post.

4. Catching the Breeze in Normandy

normandy

Who doesn’t like free trips? Especially when it entails access to delectable salted butter caramel candies, ciders, crepes, with the backdrop of the northern French countryside and the cold breeze of the English Channel against limestone cliffs and rocky beaches… Normandy is definitely picturesque. Le Havre and the weather were a bit of a let-down but a free trip to nearby Honfleur crossing the majestic Pont de Normandie makes up for it. Not to mention, the naturally sculpted Etretat cliffs are less than an hour of bus away, there’s so much to love about this region.

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3. La Vida Valenciana

valence

Spain is an easily likable holiday destination – amazing weather almost all year round, friendly, animated people speaking one of the most romantic languages in the world. It is basically like the cleaner, amicable version of Italy, thus it is easy to have a good time. I always make it a point to travel to Spain as much as I can and during Holy Week this year, our Spanish friend invited us to spend the holidays with her family in the home of the famous paella – Valencia! Who can say no to that? Of course, we were treated to warm Spanish hospitality, taught how to cook real paella (sorry, sans chorizo *cough*) and went around the charming city filled with Renaissance architecture coated with the characteristic sandy hues of Spain and spent some time swooning over the mammoth structures of the City of Arts and Sciences. Historic yet modern, traditional yet full of fun, you will definitely feel at home in Spain wherever you are from.

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2. Splendid Swedish Summer

sweden

My aunt living in Sweden invited me for a two week vacation in her amazing new home. She took me to see the sights and sounds of bustling capital Stockholm and the tamer second city Gothenburg. The big cities are characterized by islets and big ports, colorful villages and canals ideal for cruises. Parks and greenery are a thing occupying most of the public spaces. People are extremely nice, hospitable and have amazing taste in fashion and music. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm is a highlight with the almost intact 17th Century ship preserved for about 300 years in the sea bed, excavated and displayed in all its mighty glory. I have never seen such monster in my entire life!

Click here to see posts about Sweden.

1. The Swiss Hills are Alive

swiss

You land on Swiss soil, get broke from the ridiculously expensive cost of living but the well-protected natural wonders are TO.DIE.FOR and worth every franc! The panoramic train rides can more than make up from all the expenses. The wide glass windows instantly become landscape paintings of the verdant and mountainous Swiss countryside. We hopped from Zurich, to Luzern, short stop at Interlaken, then to Bern… every segment of the train trip is just astounding – the clean turquoise lakes, rolling hills dotted with woolly cattle, cascading waterfalls by mountains and cliffs… it’s like a train trip to heaven if it’s indeed a place on earth. And what lovely way to enjoy it than to have your best friends around, it’s definitely one of the most fun journeys I have ever experienced!

Click here for posts about Switzerland.

Runner-Up: Crazy Berlin

berlin

It’s so hard to pick a top 5 when you have so many amazing trips to choose from which are all equally difficult to let go. Berlin is too indispensable to miss my list so I will try to sneak it in. I visited a friend and he showed me the quirky city of Berlin. It has its scenic landmarks but what makes Berlin cool is its fun loving crowd who all know how to have a good time partying around a city of post-modern almost post-apocalyptic ambiance of abandoned spaces, street art, and remnants of its bloody history. It’s just so… weird but in a good way. Also, I was so surprised that it was actually quite cheap for a capital city of the biggest economy in Europe. I’m not complaining because I love all things free or cheap but it was a big eye-opener. If I were any more fun, I would definitely live in this city, no doubt!

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So there’s my 2016 best list and I am so excited to top it this 2017! I was so grateful to have traveled into so many amazing cities in Europe, to have met so many amazing people and I hope to go to more interesting places I have never been before. How about a new continent? Not a bad idea! And I hope to also see you there, wherever that is. All the best for 2017!

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