Simon and I regularly debate what our favourite things have been during this trip. Some things are the same and others we differ on. Just for fun, here are my favourites from throughout the year. I will give my top five, but they are in no particular order.
As at the end of 2017 I have visited 36 countries. Out of those, 27 I have been to this year. Here are my favourites that I have travelled to in 2017.
- Turkey – I think this will always be one of my favourites. I loved it after our visit last year, and I still feel the same way after we spent 2-3 weeks there in October. All that visit has done is make me want to go back again for more.
- Austria – We visited in the summer months and Austria was green and lush and just perfect for hiking. Of course it is best known as a winter location. This just means I am going to have to plan to get back there sometime when there is snow so we can enjoy the winter sports too.
- Croatia – Our visit in September really only took in some of the coastal towns. There is so much more to this country with Zagreb an up and coming destination. Again, it’s on my list to get back to in the future
- Jordan – Oh, Jordan! This place is simply fabulous. It packs so much into a tiny country. It has been blessed with some amazing landscapes, and with some fascinating culture. If I had to pick one place to tell you to visit now, this would be it.
- Singapore – I’ve always liked Singapore. To me it means great food. As soon as we get there we hit the hawker stalls and the fruit markets. Oh, there’s one or two cool things to do there too.
Thinking about my favourite cities or towns, it’s interesting that they don’t necessarily match up with the favourite countries. This was really hard to come up with a top five, because I liked so many places for different reasons.
- Dubai – a piece of my heart will always be with Dubai. I’m not even sure why I like this city so much, because there is so much about it that when listed is not likeable. I just feel comfortable here, and it’s exotic enough to be interesting. We almost moved here once, and I could still see myself living here if the opportunity arose.
- Innsbruck – I was like a kid in a candy store in Innsbruck, it’s just so cute! The pretty buildings right below the towering mountains. We were not here anywhere near long enough, but luckily I plan to go back to Austria, so a return visit is on the cards.
- Sarajevo – This city is such a mix of culltures. I loved the feel of the bazaar area that was built in the Ottoman times and has kept that same character. Even though war wounds are common and there are still so many lingering issues, the people were friendly and positive. The whole place has a kind of up-beat vibe.
- Burano – the colours! What more do I need to say. This island in the Venetian lagoon was not only beautiful but it allowed us to escape the madness of Venice while still enjoying the area.
- Istanbul – I just love this place! I have spent two weeks there in total and there is still more to see. It has a little bit of everything, with a great atmosphere and friendly people. I look forward to getting back there to eat more balik ekmek and of course, baklava.
Favourite Things we Did
I can only choose five? Who made up that silly rule? Okay, I did, but wow, so many amazing things have been left out of this list.
- Swim in the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands – I have wanted to do this for years, and when I had the opportunity to make it happen this year, I jumped at it. So cool to be swimming 57 floors up and looking out over the city.
- Norway in a Nutshell tour – this whole day tour took us on trains, buses and boats to get from Oslo to Bergen. It’s meant to be one of the prettiest train trips anywhere. I barely noticed the scenery though, I was too busy being amazed for the first time in my life at seeing enough snow to turn the landscape white.
- Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – this is probably the most beautiful building I have ever been in. We did a day trip to Abu Dhabi just to see it, and it was worth every minute of the 4 hours travel time.
- Swim in the Dead Sea – one of the most bizarre feelings I’ve ever had is floating in the Dead Sea. We all know what it’s like to hold yourself up when swimming, it takes effort. Not here. Just sit back and relax.
- Visit Petra – another one of those things I have wanted to do forever, but really I had no idea of what was really in store for me. It was so much better than I had imagined.
Favourite Mistakes we can Now Talk About
So some are still raw, but a trouble shared is a trouble halved right?
- Getting in the wrong furgon in Albania and ending up in the wrong town – it meant we wasted a whole day, but really no harm done as our host where we were supposed to stay didn’t charge us for that night!
- My luggage not appearing on the baggage carousel in Amman – it did turn up the next day at least, and I did have spare underwear packed in my carry on, so nothing more than a few anxious moments.
- Going all the way to Agra but missing out on visiting the Taj Mahal – okay, so I am still kind of bummed about this one. Seriously, I don’t think one more thing could have gone wrong that day!
- Dealing with train strikes when that was how we planned to travel – Twice now, in Italy and Sri Lanka we have had to come up with last minute contingency plans thanks to train strikes. Both times we got where we were going, but our wallets were definitely much lighter.
- Not getting a Shenzhen visa on arrival – we found out at the last minute that we would not be able to get a VOA at the border for our quick visit to Shenzhen from Hong Kong due to having Turkish stamps in our passports. We had luckily booked cancellable accomodation and no further travel because I had read enough stories and knew we could be denied on a whim – any whim! Made for an interesting few hours while we worked out where we were going next.