GOODBYE 2016 and HELLO 2017! Last year wasn’t really my favorite year. As far as travel is concerned, there were trips that we needed to cancel due to visa processing mishaps and we encountered some setbacks along the way. Nevertheless, I’m still grateful for all the blessings that I received. Bad things that happened last year served as lessons. No complaints, just good vibes and happy thoughts this new year.
Today, I spent the first day of the year reminiscing all the travel experiences Derick and I had. So without further ado, here’s a recap of my top travel moments of 2016.
1. Discovering the historical side of Riyadh – KSA
January 2016 was our first trip of the year. Derick and I went back to Riyadh to explore some places that we missed during our first visit. There are many things to do and see in Riyadh. And one of those things is to learn its history.
The Al Masmak Fortress in Riyadh
Many didn’t know that Saudi Arabia is rich with historical treasures and we learned that during our visit to the Al Masmak Fortress. The fortress served as shelter for the Saud clan before Kingdom was united. It’s good to know where it all began and how the entire Saudi Arabia became a Kingdom.
Related Post: Winter Break In Riyadh
2. Yearly Philippines Vacation
Every year Derick and I make sure that we spend our annual summer vacation in the Philippines. It’s where my family and friends are and that’s the reason why I’m always excited to go home. Our vacation in Cebu this year was short, but still I was very thankful and happy to have spent time with my folks. I miss them all the time whenever I’m away, so if I get the chance to bond with them I’ll definitely cherish it
One of the best things I get to enjoy when I’m home is to satisfy my Filipino food cravings. Don’t ask me how much weight I gained after our vacation hahaha. Who cares, this is the only time of the year I can indulge myself with my favorite Sisig and Lechon Kawali. Oh well this sums up my Philippine vacation – family and food!
3. Celebrating 9th wedding anniversary in Yanbu – KSA
I already blogged about our 9th wedding anniversary celebration which I posted months ago. For some who haven’t read it yet here’s the link: Anniversary Staycation at Holiday Inn Yanbu.
Although we were not be able to celebrate our wedding anniversary in the place where we originally planned it to be, I was still grateful that Derick and I were together on our special day. I consider this “staycation” as one of the best highlights of 2016.
4. Revisiting Paris and sidetrip to Strasbourg – France
As the famous line of Audrey Hepburn goes ‘Paris is always a good idea’– which I couldn’t agree more. You can never have enough of Paris. I thought seeing the City of Lights once was enough, but hey I was wrong! The urge to visit it again was irresistible, so yes we went back to Paris.One of the most unforgettable moments we had in Paris in 2016 was when Derick and I spent our monthsary date at Restaurant Paul. If you have watched the movie ‘Me Before You’ I’m pretty sure you will recognize Restaurant Paul at Place Dauphine where Lou Clark read Will Traynor’s letter at the last part of the movie. I know the movie didn’t have a happy ending which kind of sad for me. I admit the movie had a big impact on me but on a happy note I’m glad that we were able to experience a romantic dinner in this beautiful and charming little square in Paris.
Paris isn’t the only beautiful city in France. Just two hours away from Paris, you’ll be at the charming town of Strasbourg in the Alsace region. Strasbourg is known for its Christmas Market but the reason why we came here was because of its well preserved traditional house and historical architecture. I do love Strasbourg so much, hoping one day I’ll be able to visit it again.
5. Chasing Castles in Bavaria and Rhine Valley – Germany
I have a deep fascination with castles and I’m blaming Disney for that. I guess everybody knows that the Disney Castles we see in movies were mostly inspired by the famous Neuschwanstein Castle located in Hosenschwangau, Bavaria. This castle is one of the most well preserved castles in Germany. Last year, I was very happy to see it and at the same time got the chance to tour the inside of the castle. I learned about the lives of the royalties who once lived there. It was truly amazing!
Derick and I visited 9 cities (including little towns) in Germany last year. Although it was our second time in Munich and Rhine Valley still we got the chance to explore the other side of the Rhine that we haven’t seen before. Exploring Koblenz, Frankfurt and Heidelberg was the best part of our Deutschland adventure.
Related Post: Heidelberg, Germany
6. Visiting Austria (Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna) for the first time.
These three cities in Austria are very lovely. The view of the Alps in Innsbruck, the beautiful landscape of Salzburg and the grand palaces in Vienna are something not to be missed when in Austria. Seeing these cities up close and personal is one of the best highlights of our Eastern Europe trip.
7. Cruising the Danube River in Budapest Hungary
Budapest was a huge surprise for me. Everything I saw was beyond my expectation. I was very impressed on how beautiful the city is. The highlight of our tour was the Sunset Cruise along the Danube River. Having a glass of wine or two is the best way to relax while enjoying the sunset views and the city lights.
8. Exploring Bratislava with the Old Timer – Slovakia
Our visit in Bratislava was something I called ‘short but sweet’ since we only had few hours to explore it. Sightseeing the city with the Old Timer was fun and at the same time very informative. Walking through the Old Town Square gave me a glimpse of the history, culture and tradition of the city.
9. Admiring the historical City of Prague – Czech Republic
Prague is one of the places I’ve been dying to visit. My dream of seeing it in person came true during Eastern Europe tour last August. Again our time in Prague wasn’t enough even if we were given an extra day to get lost in the city.
I don’t know how to say it but Prague holds the title of the most unforgettable city that we’ve been to in Eastern Europe. The (funniest and most embarrassing) experience that will forever stay with us. For now that’s our little secret. Hahaha
10. Immersing ourselves with the history, culture and food of Greece.
Oh Greece, what can I say… you gave us a very unpleasant welcome but instead of hating you, still we have learned to love you. In spite of everything, your beauty mesmerized us. We met some awesome and friendly people along the way. The happy experiences were not only unforgettable but also taught us lessons.
11. Spending Fall-Break in KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology)
This exclusive little city within the Kingdom is not for everybody. Consider yourself privileged if you know someone who can sponsor your visit. Once you’re inside you will be able to enjoy all the facilities they have which you will never find anywhere else in the Kingdom. Inside the University campus, women can roam around without wearing the traditional dress.
Spending time here made me feel like I was in another country but still standing on the same Saudi Arabian soil. Our visit in KAUST was our last travel hurrah of 2016. What a way to end our travel escapades.
Overall, Derick and I traveled 29 cities, 9 countries and 2 continents within 2016. I am wishing for good health and more travels for us this 2017.
Travel is only a small portion of our journey in life, whether you’re traveling to places or staying still just do all the best that you can to create your own adventure.