It’s been a rough year, one of the worst so far. And I’m not talking about politics and current affairs in the world, which sadden me a lot as well. Personally this year has been a challenge. I’ve had lots of health issues that made my everyday life pretty annoying (and travelling much more challenging than ever). There has been a lot of sickness around me as well, disturbingly many of my family members and friends had to suffer a lot. Work hasn’t been easy either and way too many people disappointed me. 2016 left me with many grey hair, too many for my age… But despite all the stress and failures I did my best to stay optimistic and worked really hard to be happy. I had to cancel many trips but I also managed to travel a lot which I’m more than grateful for! I have been to only one new country – Lebanon – but I returned to many places that I enjoyed in the past and each of these revisits have been special for me. This year was demanding, a big lesson of humility and I couldn’t be any happier for 2016 to be over. I’m not going to bore you with the personal stuff so here is a little look back at my past 12 months in travels!
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I started the year with a day trip with my friend to Toruń – a beautiful medieval Polish city, famous for gingerbreads. And it was stunning! Even if it was crazy cold and we had to stop every half an hour for the tea (even at the vodka drinking place) we had a great time! I really hope to return to Toruń at some better circumstances and see it properly! Only few days later together with more friends we went for a day trip to Ostrava, Czech Republic. It was all gloomy and snowy but we had a blast exploring Lower Vitkovice (a former iron factory, now a great industrial site), followed by amazing Czech food and beer – a great day in a great place with great people! A week later I went to Cieszyn for my friend’s birthday party, on the way back together with my friend Jo we stopped for couple of hours in Bielsko-Biała, another Polish city that I visited ages ago and has been on my radar recently. And now I want to revisit it even more! At the end of the month I took my mother to catch some sun for couple of days in Italy. After an evening in Rome we flew to Bari where we explored over the long weekend a little bit of Puglia and the town of Matera, only to return to Rome for couple of hours before boarding our flight back to Warsaw.
Places visited: Toruń (PL), Ostrava (CZ), Cieszyn, Bielsko-Biała (PL), Rome, Bari, Monopoli, Lecce, Matera (IT). Days spent on travelling: 8.
At the beginning of the month I went for a weekend to Zakopane for the family event – I haven’t been there for ages! The weather was really good, you could see mountains perfectly clear and I understood one more time why half of Poland is crazy about this place. Later that month I had an unplanned trip to Sweden for 3 days – a week before departure Ryanair had crazy sales and I got a return ticket from Warsaw to Gothenburg for 2€! These were one of the cheapest flights I’ve ever bought (my record is 0.50€ for Warsaw-Oslo couple of years ago). Of all the countries in Northern Europe I know Sweden the least so I was really excited to get to know Gothenburg. And I really loved it, even when it was snowing! It is a perfect place for a weekend getaway and I can recommend it to everyone, even in February! This was also a month when I was supposed to go to the Balkans, but I didn’t.
Places visited: Kraków, Zakopane (PL), Gothenburg (SE). Days spent on travelling: 6.
My trip to the Balkans didn’t work out and it was the same story with my trip to Finland. The only place I traveled to in March was Kaunas, Lithuania. It was my second visit to the city but last time I was there very briefly, just for the New Year’s party and my friend’s brother’s place. Again the weather wasn’t on my side, it was snowing like crazy (and I spent the whole first day inside) but Kaunas turned out to be a wonderful city with lots of see and do. I dare to say this is one of the most underrated city breaks in Europe! There is a beautiful old town, extensive modernist architecture, cozy cafes and great street art! I definitely want to return to Lithuania this upcoming year!
Places visited: Kaunas (LT). Days spent on travelling: 2.
The month has started with a day trip with friends to Kraków. It was the first warm and sunny day this spring and spending time outside was a pure pleasure! Couple of days later I went with another friend for few intense days to Croatia. We’ve visited Zadar, Sibenik, Krka National Park and Trogir and once Agata went back home I had some more time for Split and Primosten. Croatia before the season is the best idea! The weather is already pleasant and many places are just empty! Shortly after return from Croatia it was time for another Travel Bloggers Summit in Cieszyn that I’m co-organizer. This time there were almost 100 bloggers attending and as always it was a huge success!
Places visited: Kraków (PL), Zadar, Sibenik, Krka National Park, Trogir, Split, Primosten (CRO), Berlin (GER), Cieszyn (PL). Days spent on travelling: 9.
It was the craziest travel month for me, I was at work only for 6 days! I started May with a week in Lebanon, my only new country in 2016. I was literally freaking out before this trip and at some point I was close to cancelling but I’m glad I didn’t. Lebanon was a wonderful country with the food to die for. And most of all I felt really safe! Unfortunately due to my poor health at that time I was only in Beirut with a day trip to Byblos but I’m more than grateful that I could see those places anyway! The day after I returned from Lebanon I went for 6 days to Slovenia. It’s one of the countries that has it all: Adriatic Sea, stunning Alps, breathtaking caves, the cutest towns – yet it is so small you can drive through it in 3 hours! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best but I still loved every single place I’ve visited there! A week after I returned from Slovenia I was in the Balkans again, this time in Kosovo and Macedonia. Second visit to both Skopje and Pristina made me fall for these cities – they might not be the prettiest but they definitely has this something I enjoyed! Other places I’ve visited in Kosovo were pretty great to!
Places visited: Beirut, Byblon (LB), Ptuj, Celje, Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, Koper, Hrastovlje, Pivka, Vipava, Bovec, Bohinj, Bled, Radovljica, Brdo (SLO), Poznań (PL), Skopje, Matka Kanyon (MKD), Prizren, Gjakove, Peje, Kosovska Mitrovica, Pristina (KOS), Berlin (GER). Days spent on travelling: 22.
After crazy May, July was rather calm and peaceful. I only went for the annual work trip to the lakeside and even if I was busy working we also had some time to relax in the beautiful nature. At the end of the month I spent a lovely weekend with my friend Jo in Slovakia. Bardejov turned out to be a wonderfully laid-back place, I haven’t relaxed that much in ages!
Places visited: Marózek, Kraków (PL), Bardejov, Bardejovske Kupele (SVK). Days spent on travelling: 6.
Due to the World Youth Day that took place in Kraków I had an extra job and didn’t have all that much time for travelling but I still managed to go to some places. At the beginning of the month I was in the Silesia region of Poland that has been on my list for ages. It has changed, a lot, and despite the not so good press it is a wonderful area to visit! I was in Katowice (the capital of the region), Bytom and Tarnowskie Góry and each of these was really amazing! Silesia is very high on my bucket list for 2017 too, I really would love to see more of this part of Poland! Couple of days later I went from work for a day to Gdynia on the seaside but had some 6 hours to enjoy the city (which I’m recently rediscovering) and another weekend was spent relaxing at my friend’s cottage in the middle of the forest. At the end of the month I went for two days to Batumi, Georgia. Call me crazy but Georgia is always a good idea! I mean, have you tried their food?
Places visited: Katowice, Bytom, Tarnowskie Góry, Gdynia, Fronołów (PL), Batumi, Adjara (GEO). Days spent on travelling: 7.
In the first week of the month I went from work to Gdynia but since I had couple of hours in between trains I went to Jastarnia on Hel Peninsula – my favorite place on the Polish seaside. I spent some 3 hours on the way there and back to be in the place for a around one hour but it was worth it! Few days later I went for the weekend in Łódź with my friend Evi. The city has been on top of my bucket list for years, it’s less than 2 hours away from Warsaw yet it took me that long to visit it. But it was worth to wait as Łódź is amazing, one of the most underrated cities in Poland with amazing architecture, lots of cool alternative spots and the best street art scene! A week later I had to go for a day to Kraków from work and 2 hours after my return I was back at the train station as it was time for my annual trip to Ukraine. A friend of mine joined me and since she hasn’t been to Ukraine before we did the basics in the one week there: Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Carphatian Mountains, Kiev and Odessa. It was such a good trip, Ukraine is always so much fun and these days it is a real bargain! At the end of the month I was in Wrocław where I met with friends and saw Rammstein and Limp Bizkit live! Epic evening!
Places visited: Gdynia, Jastarnia, Łódź, Kraków, Przemyśl, Wrocław (PL), Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Yaremche, Kiev, Odessa (UKR). Days spent on travelling: 14.
It was a difficult month that started with my dad being seriously sick. Out of sudden he got meningitis and spent half of the month in the hospital. I cancelled my trip to Finland (again!) and Czech Republic and for most of the month I was travelling back and forth between Warsaw and Puławy, my hometown. Fortunately everything ended well but it was crazy stressful. In mid September I went to Slovakia to visit my favorite city there – Kosice – as well as the region around. It is stunning! The whole trip was focused on railway so I was in 7th heaven! At the end of September I went to the Balkans. I was supposed to go with my mum and we had a completely different plan but she has stayed at home with my dad and I eventually visited Greece, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia.
Places visited: Kosice, Slovensky Raj, Margecany, Poprad (SVK), Thessaloniki, Ioannina (Greece), Gjirokastra (ALB). Days spent on travelling: 5.
After I returned from the Balkans it was time for another bloggers meeting in Cieszyn – epic weekend as alaways! This month I was also planning to go for the long weekend to England (Bristol and surroundings) but had to cancel it as I had to go to Wrocław from work. Eventually the trip to Wrocław was a week later…
Places visited: Gjirokastra, Saranda, Ksamil, Butrint, Tirana, Pogradec (ALB), Sveti Naum, Ohrid, Skopje (MKD), Nis (SER), Berlin (GER), Szczecin, Cieszyn, Wrocław (POL), Chotebuz (CZE). Days spent on travelling: 13.
The end of the year was very busy again and it all started in November with my trip to Caucasus. First I was planning to go to Azerbaijan but eventually figured out all the hassle with visa isn’t worth 4 days trip, especially that I’m not that sure I will get a visa. So after couple of days in Georgia I went to Armenia. Yerevan did it again, it sucked me in! I stayed there few days longer than I was supposed to and I would have stayed even longer but had to fly back home. In Georgia I visited one of my dream destinations – Chiatura, town known for its Soviet cable cars. I was even brave enough to ride few of them! On my way back the wind in Kutaisi was incredibly strong so with 8 hours delay we eventually flew from Tbilisi. In all these years of flying it happened for the first time to me! Just 3 days after I returned from Caucasus I went for the long weekend to Czech Republic, visiting lovely towns that probably not many have heard of: Jihlava, Telc and Trebic.
Places visited: Berlin (GER), Kutaisi, Chiatura, Tbilisi (GEO), Yerevan, Dilijan (ARM), Brno, Jihlava, Telc, Trebic (CZE). Days spent on travelling: 15.
Already on 1st of December together with a friend we flew for the long weekend to Montenegro. We mainly hung around Kotor – it was my second time there and I still consider it one of the most beautiful places ever – but we also briefly stopped in other places. Montenegro off season is the best idea! Just before Christmas I took my mother to Georgia for another long weekend. Even if the trip was very short it was full of adventures. First our flight there was delayed for over 24 hours and we spent the day in the airport hotel (I relaxed so well there, I was even too lazy to go home to repack) and then on the way the situation repeated, this time or delay was 15 hours. But at least I could briefly visited a place that just 2 weeks ago jumped on top of my bucket list – Tskaltubo, a former Soviet spa town! I ended the year with a short day trip to Nałęczów – a famous spa town very close from my hometown.
Places visited: Kotor, Perast, Sutomore, Lake Skadar, Podgorice (MNT), Berlin (GER), Tbilisi, Tskaltubo (GEO), Nałęczów (POL). Days spent on travelling: 9.
What’s in for 2017?
I’m tired of 2016 and I’m saying good bye to it with pleasure. At the same time I’m looking forward to the new year as I really hope it will be better, at many levels. Travel-wise I already have lots of trips planned. This past year showed me that plans can be easily dismissed but if everything goes well in next months I should travel to Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, Ukraine, Romania, United Arab Emirates and Oman. I’m also hoping to do lots of weekend trips around Poland. As much as I enjoy getting to know other countries and cultures I also discovering my own country! I also have some major plans for this blog but since I’m still working full time and don’t plan to change that we will see how those go! Keep your fingers crossed!
I wish all of you and myself a year without too much stress yet full of good health, good people, love, happiness and amazing trips! Here is to a better 2017!
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