I know that 2016 hasn’t been kind to many, but for me, it was an awesome year, if not the best year of my life so far! We were on the road full time without a base for the entire year and managed to visit a mind-boggling 19 countries! We dabbled with housesitting, Celine started teaching English. I finished my degree, amped up my language learning and managed to stick to an exercise routine with regular running and yoga, and it was the best year of my freelance business so far, too!
We managed to visit some places I had longed to go for a long time, while also spending a lot of time exploring countries we know very well, especially the UK, Ireland, Japan and Germany. It sounds busy, but I don’t feel exhausted in the slightest!
As a recap, here are some of my favourite new places of 2016!
Favourite new country: Ukraine
I had been meaning to visit for a long time, but really, had not expected such a colourful, varied country, with amazing people, food, history and art. Ukraine should really be on the must-visit list for anybody who loves culture and has enjoyed other places in Eastern Europe – but if you haven’t been to Eastern Europe at all, Ukraine is a good place to start, too!
I definitely want to return and see more of what is technically Europe’s biggest country (not counting Russia)!
Favourite new city: Tbilisi, Georgia
Anybody who’s been to Georgia loves it, full stop, and Tbilisi is just one reason for that. Located on the very eastern fringes of Europe, this city has wide boulevards reminiscent of Paris (scrap that, nicer, cleaner and more vibrant than those in Paris!), a multicultural and turbulent history that will send your head spinning. A magical botanical garden that seems a world apart – and literally is, as it’s in a gorge right next to the centre, a crumbling old town and all the modern, hipstery things you could want. Plus, ancient baths which have served as anything from meeting point to brothel over the years, and which can be yours to soak in with a private room for $20. And I haven’t even mentioned the food! Tbilisi would be the clear winner of all the places I have visited this year, if there wasn’t…
|Georgian food - so simple, so good, so salty!|
Biggest, most mind-blowing surprise: Armenia
We hadn’t even meant to go to Armenia, but it turned out that is was much cheaper to fly back to western Europe from Yerevan than from Tbilisi. So, we set out on a crazy Cross-Caucasus ride from Georgia to Yerevan, a modern and easy city that also is full of fantastic food
But really, it was the Armenian landscape and mountains that captivated me the most. This little country can easily rival the US or Latin America in terms of natural sights, and throws is a lot of history alongside. And the Middle East is not far at all. Armenia is a little bit like Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the European Mediterranean and the Middle East, all in one, yet it’s very own thing. People have been incredibly nice, too. There is not a single bad thing I can say about our time there, which means something, coming from a critical bitch like me!
In 2017, we are planning to be a bit more settled, although we have some exciting plans for February and March, and are hoping to make it to the Middle East and/or Africa at some point in the year!