2017 feels like the year that was on the brink of change. The last few years are ones where I’ve wanted change but didn’t know how to go about it. But, this year I finally started action on some projects that will (fingers crossed) come to life in 2018. Having the possibility of this change has given me a tremendous amount of hope for the coming year. For me, 2017 was a notably better year than 2016 was, and I like to think this is a trajectory that will continue. On the world stage, it was still a tough 12 months, so I’m doing what I can on a personal level to improve my immediate surroundings, happiness, and lifestyle. Some of these things relate to travel, and some of them don’t, so I’ll be sharing the travelly changes here.
But, before I get into the plans for 2018, I want to recap some of the fun things that happened during 2017, and check in on the goals I had set for this year!
WHERE I WENT THIS YEAR
(in chronological order)
How this trip happened less than 12 months ago is beyond me. I feel it’s been several long and arduous years since my friend and I were soaking up the sun in PR to celebrate her impending nuptials. Here I learned I’m not a resort person, sunshine is everything, and vodka before noon is always a bad decision.
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
I was incredibly lucky to be invited to the beach with one of my best friends and her family. It was great to spend some quality time with some of my favorite people. It also gave me some nostalgia for when my family used to go on beach holidays when we were younger.
Dublin was short visit, but the highlights were the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, Wicklow Mountains, The Rural Mountain Pub Tour, and the village of Howth.
Beautiful, clean, and expensive. Copenhagen was also a short trip, and for me the highlight was the Tivoli Gardens at dusk. Even with the magic of Tivoli, Copenhagen isn’t one of my favorite cities. This is largely due to the sky high prices, which made it difficult to enjoy dining and going out.
Albania: Tirana, Shkoder, Volbona Valley
Albania had been on my must see list for a while, so finally getting there was the highlight of my travels in 2017. My intrigue to the area was the mountains and nature, and it didn’t disappoint. Tirana and Shkoder each held their charm, but my all-time favorite was Valbona Valley and the seclusion and beauty hiking in the mountains there.
Kosovo: Peja, Rugova Mountains, Pristina, Prizren
Macedonia: Skopje, Lake Ohrid
Favorite Travel Memory – Mountain Hikes in Albania
I felt a real connection to the Valbona Valley area in Albania, and not just because the region is where I dined on adn hot cheeses, although that certainly didn’t hurt. Walking through the hills and wildflowers of the valley is my favorite travel memory from this year.
Most Impressive Sight – Neuschwanstein Castle
As beautiful as the natural sights were this year, Neuschwanstein Castle was still a clear winner for this. The castle itself was epic, even if the experience there is stifling and intense. I’m really glad I’ve seen it as it’s such an iconic German landmark.
Favorite City – Dublin, Ireland
This was a much tougher category to determine in 2016, because I visited so many places like Sarajevo and Budapest that made determining my favorite really difficult. I wanted to spend more time in, and return to all of them. 2017 was easier. I loved the Balkans just as much, if not more than ever, but there wasn’t a specific city where I feel the same draw too. So, with that I’m back to an old favorite, Dublin.
Most Unique – Skopje, The Vegas of the Balkans
Admittedly that’s not what anyone else calls it. The fountains with colored lights, overlarge monuments, and general vibe gave Skopje and impressive and garish hue.
Checking in on GOALS from 2017…
My goal was to bring more adventure into my everyday life. I realize now that this goal is incredibly vague, and quite frankly a bit weak. I think I really could have set myself some more intense goals, but, here we are. I actually think I’ve done a decent job of planning more things. Some highlights from 2017 are: Day trips to New York City and Annapolis. Seeing Ed Sheeran in Concert, the Maryland Renaissance Festival, Zorbing with my friend on her birthday, visiting family in Long Island, and being in 2 extremely important weddings: my sister’s and my close friend’s. The wedding celebrations were definitely a highlight of the year.
Goals for 2018
Where to begin… I have a course I’ll be finishing up in the beginning of the year, which I think will open a lot of possibilities up to me. My immediate goal is to finish that, so I can move on. I have a lot of the standard resolutions that everyone makes. To be healthier, tidier, kinder, and the list goes on. I want to continue to make an effort to do things every day to make the day memorable. I want to focus on writing more diary-styled entries that I can look back on in the future, as well as make corresponding videos. So, I need to get a start on all of those plans pretty quickly, as my first trip of the year will be in March. I’m excited to start this new year, and to delve into new projects!