As this past year comes to a close, Jim and I cannot be happier about what we’ve done, what we’ve seen, and the lessons learned along the way. Who says, “You can’t teach a dog new tricks?” It seems no matter how long we’ve been doing this travel thing, we still need to be reminded about something every once in a while, let alone having a brand new “aha” moment. We definitely wanted to share those with you along with our best travel of the year!
I would say we learned a couple of things this past year. One was following our passions, and taking them traveling with us. We’ve always loved food. I’ll bet you’re not too surprised by that statement, and we’ve always made sure to try local foods and beverages, but just this year we decided to take that love and invest more time in it. We’ve added the quest for learning about the local products and cuisines as one of our goals both for traveling and in turn for blogging.
In doing so, we’ve visited some amazing restaurants, taken a bunch of cooking lessons, and even started chasing down one of my favorite foods found all over the world, the dumpling. Now, when we’re going somewhere, we don’t just research some of the best restaurants to try native dishes, but also to see if we can arrange a few hours to learn about them from a chef, or even just a mom. These cooking lessons have brought us not only the joy of trying something new, but also of getting to know someone new on our travels. We’ve met some incredible people and heard their stories in countries like: Czech Republic, Georgia, France, Hungary, and even here in Germany.
This brings me to my next re-learnt lesson. We tend to travel outside of our immediate area as much as we can, but many times over the past year we have had some incredible experiences right here, almost in our backyard. We went hiking in some of the most beautiful country, near the Bastei Bridge in Saxon, Germany, and we also took an amazing truffle cooking lesson and spent the night in a castle only 20 minutes from our house. It reminds us that you don’t have to invest in a lot of time, fuel, or miles to get to the next best thing.
Finally, we’ve been reminded that some planning is important, in fact vital, but it is also just as important to keep some time open in your schedule to be spontaneous. Every time we visit a new place, and sometimes a place we’ve been many times, we stumble across a site or experience that is either new or just one we didn’t know about previously. Sometimes we find out too late, and have to mark it down for a future visit, but ideally we can take advantage where we are and do it right then.
One of the most beautiful and unexpected thing that happened to us this year was in Armenia. We were visiting a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Geghard Monastery, and unbeknownst to us there is a group of singer that regularly performs there, in the carved out cave rooms, because the acoustics are so amazing. We couldn’t help but stay and listen to the haunting notes of these singers and it really became a treasured memory.
Traveling is not just about learning lessons, though, is it? It’s about discovery, newness, fun! We’ve had tons of that this year, and here are some of our superlatives:
Best hotel: Burg Wernberg. A castle, a 2-star Michelin restaurant, need I say more?
Best selfie: Jim and I reading a map in somewhere Armenia!
Best cultural event: Maypole dancing in the town that I live in here in northern Bavaria. Gorgeous!
Best festival: The Lemon Festival in Menton, France. You have go to go!
Best art museum: ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, with its incredible rooftop, rainbow panorama. Wow!
Best play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! Devon and Erika stayed up and online during the buying process and we were some of the first to see the play at the end of June. So good.
Best exercise: We started biking all over Europe by renting bikes. It gives you some freedom, some exercise, and some speed. I love it!
Best all-around food: Yep, you guessed it. Dumplings!
Most surprising monument: The Georgian/Russian Friendship Monument.
And just some more of my absolute favorite photos!
What was your best travel of the past year? Please share!
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