I always like the end of the year as I can sit down behind the computer, with a cup of tea in my hand, browse through my old blog posts, think about all the adventures I had and all the amazing places I was lucky to visit and finally reflect at past 12 months. And even if I had to cancel two of my dream trips (to Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan and to Iran) as well as three smaller ones (to Germany, Ukraine and Moldova) I’m more than happy how this past year turned out to be! Here’s a little recap of my travels in 2014!
OK, so maybe I didn’t welcome the New Year in the glamorous way at the fancy ball or crazy party. But at least I was in an exceptional place – I was watching fireworks over Nazareth, Israel from the balcony of the most beautiful hostel I’ve ever stayed in – Fauzi Azar Inn. It was halfway through my Middle East trip that turned out the best trip ever, full of some epic adventures and incredible people that are still my great friends. During that time I was lucky to visit some of the world’s wonders like Petra, Wadi Rum or Jerusalem, see how the life in West Bank looks like or make sure that Amman really isn’t as ugly as internet says!
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 11, in Poland – 2
Completely uneventful month. I’ve had some serious family issues to deal with and yet one more time I appreciated the power of friendship, good people around really kept me sane. I only managed to go away one Sunday for a day trip to Cracow to see friends and meet a cute baby girl, a daughter of one of my best and oldest friends
Unlike February this month turned out to be pretty awesome and it was probably the funniest time of the year! It already started on 1st of March, when I went for a weekend to Polish/Czech border and for two days I was constantly country hopping. I met there with my great Czech friend Ondra (we met in Israel 2 months earlier) who I wanted to introduce to awesome guys behind 3 Bros’ Hostel in Cieszyn. Then Ondra wanted me to meet Vasek and Jaro (he met them in Israel as well) who probably were the craziest people I’ve met this year and always have the best adventures when they travel! Together with Vasek’s parents we also went to Javorovy Vrch, a mountain close to Trinec, Czech Republic, from where the view is really spectacular and we could see 3 countries (Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia)!
A week after Berlin Becki came to visit me in Poland so I could show her my favourite places in Warsaw and introduce her to the world of Polish food, beer and vodka. Unfortunately March isn’t the best month to visit Warsaw as the city is still grey and gloomy but we still had fun (well, of course we had, even if Becki didn’t fall in love with the place). The day after she left I went for a work trip to Switzerland and Italy. It was pretty great to travel with my boss for these three days – he’s more like a friend and he used to do pretty much of backpacking as well so we didn’t have to argue what to do in the free time. And since we flew to Zurich in the morning and had no meetings in the first day we’ve decided to go to Liechtenstein for few hours. The country was as boring as ever so we quickly decided to go to Konstanz, Germany for an hour or two because well, why not. It was the best decision ever as we could admire the biggest (and probably the only) monument of the prostitute – it is 9 meters high and it turns around – this might be the most spectacular monument I’ve ever seen! The day turned out pretty memorable as we managed to visit four countries in one day – Poland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany. If we had two more hours we’d have probably ended up in Austria as well… On the last day of the trip we had couple of hours left in Milan before going to the airport and flying back home. It was my 4th visit there and even if I’ve never been a big fan of the city I finally have seen it’s a pretty cool place. Now I’m thinking of returning there to give Milan a proper chance.
Days spent on travelling: abroad:13, Poland: 0.5 (all the country hopping between Poland and Czech Republic)
That’s when I was supposed to visit one of my dream destinations – Central Asia. Unfortunately the luck wasn’t on my side and the common sense won. I was supposed to fly from Kiev to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan with Aeroflot. When I booked these tickets there were no signs of a possible conflict between Ukraine and Russia but of course the situation has changed rapidly somewhen along the way. I had a vision of me being somewhere in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan when Aeroflot decides to suspend all the connections between Moscow and Kiev. I don’t know what I’d have done then (since I don’t have a Russian visa etc). With a broken heart I’ve decided to cancel my flights and get a refund…
On the very next day I’ve seen an excellent offer to Yerevan, Armenia – one of my favourite places that I was really hoping to revisit! I didn’t think too much and booked it right away and so at the end of April I found myself in the Caucasus again! I’m lucky since my friend and a fellow blogger Zof lives in Yerevan now and she genuinely hosted me there. It was so much fun hanging out with her, meeting her friends, spending most of the time in the great cafes or at the Cascades staring at Mount Ararat, eating way too much awesome food and just feel like part of the place. I had big plans for my time in Armenia but I enjoyed Yerevan so much I didn’t really want to leave the city so eventually I only did four daytrips: to Gyumri, Aragatsotn region, Lori region and southern Armenia. I’m already planning a trip back, in 2015 for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Fingers crossed I will find cheap tickets again!
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 6, Poland – 0
After returning from Armenia I went for a weekend away with friends to the cottage in the middle of nowhere and shortly after that I left with another group of friends to the country that is so close yet so far away – Belarus! Normally it’s pretty difficult to obtain a visa but due to the Hockey World Championships everyone who had a ticket for the game could enter the country visa-free. Belarus turned out to be pretty amazing with hospitable people, super clean cities and best wheat beer ever. It was also so much fun to hang out and share a flat with Minsk with Megan – a fellow blogger who I’ve been reading for years!
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 11, Poland – 7
I was supposed to start a month with the weekend trip to Odessa, Ukraine but since the political situation wasn’t the best there at that time I could change my flights free of charge for some later time and I did so for November. I was also supposed to spend a long weekend with friends in Kharkiv, Ukraine but these flights were cancelled too. But it wasn’t a bad month! First, together with fellow Polish bloggers Ewa and Agnieszka we went for a trip to Berlin where we could get to know the alternative side of the city. I’ve been so many times to the German capital, even lived there for a while back in 2007, yet a lot of places were new to me!
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 8, Poland -2
This month was full of amazing music and great festivals! Open’er in Gdynia, Sonisphire in Warszawa, Kazimiernikejszyn in Kazimierz Dolny and finally Colours of Ostrava in Ostrava. When I went for the last one I again got to spend some time in Cieszyn which was pleasure as always! Funny that in few cafes in the city they already remember me and I don’t have to buy a ticket for the train from Cieszyn to Zebrzydowice (where I need to change for the Warsaw trains) as I’m such a frequent passenger there ;)
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 6, Poland 4
This whole month was dedicated to Poland. There was a weekend away with friends to the cottage at the lakeside (such a beautiful place with the cleanest water ever!), a work trip to Gdańsk, few days at the other friends’ cottage in the middle of the forest and a travelers’ festival in the village in western Poland (where I had to talk about balancing work and travel). I was also supposed to go for a long weekend to Germany (another bank holiday that happened to be on Friday) but the morning before the departure I got terribly sick and had to cancel everything :/ Just my luck! Hopefully I will manage to visit Dresden and Leipzig next year!
Days spent on travelling: abroad -0, Poland – 11
That’s when the biggest trip of the year happened! In March I found super cheap flights to South America, Bilbao – Sao Paulo + Buenos Aires – Paris for 300€/return and I booked them right away! To be honest I’ve never been much interested in this part of the world but for this price I didn’t hesitate too much. But before I traveled across the Ocean I had one day in Bilbao, a Basque city and not the most popular destination in Spain but I was enchanted! I didn’t expect the place to be that beautiful and I was more than happy I had to include it in my itinerary. As for South America – I really enjoyed it but I didn’t go totally crazy for it! Rio de Janeiro kind of disappointed me (but I really understand why people fall in love with it), Buenos Aires was so much my kind of the city and I could easily spend much more time there and Uruguay surprised me in the positive way. On my way back I could spend few hours in Paris and well, I think I’m slowly getting read to give the city a proper chance as it’s still not not the place I like.
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 17, Poland – 0
I spent the whole month on a weekend trips around Europe! First there was a day trip to Kazimierz Dolny, one of the most picturesque little towns in Poland. Then I went to Prague to catch up with Ondra, eat and drink some Czech goodies and visit few of my favourite spots (plus check some new ones like Karlin). After spending few hours there I headed to Cieszyn and my fave hostel to hang our there a little bit enjoy the last beautiful autumn day in one of the most magical places I know. 4 days later I left for a long weekend in Ljubljana, Zagreb and Graz. I’ve been to all of these before but I wanted to remind myself how great and underrated destinations all three cities are, I was hoping to discover the alternative side of Ljubljana and Zagreb too (and I wasn’t disappointed!). On my way back home I took a little detour around Austria so I could admire breathtaking views of Alps! After returning I again spent 4 days in Warsaw and headed to Vilnius for another weekend. It was damn cold so I spent the majority of my time exploring the cafe scene of the Lithuanian capital but I still had a great time!
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 7, Poland – 2
The first half of this month was really great! I finally went to the Southern Balkans, the area that was in my mind for such a long time! And I loved it, big time! I’ve briefly visited Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia as well as was lucky to attend the celebrations commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall (and to catch up with two of my favourite bloggers there, Dale and Franca known as AngloItalian) and experience the most absurd day in my travel history, the one that lasted 50 hours ;) Unfortunately the day after I returned I got pretty ill and spent another half of the month on the sick leave from work. That’s why I had to cancel my trip Ukraine and Moldova but I’m sure I will get there sooner or later.
Days spent on travelling: abroad – 9, Poland – 0
I didn’t travel anywhere this month as I was still dealing with my cold (seriously, a month is way too long!). I only did couple of trips between Warsaw and Puławy, my hometown. I was supposed to leave for my another dream trip right after Christmas, to Iran but I’ve decided to cancel it (we were supposed to get a Christmas bonus at work but we didn’t and what I saved for the trip turned out to be not enough, well it happens). Yet again my friends turned out to be amazing and supportive and I’m so grateful to have such an amazing people in my life. I know Iran will wait for me and I already have a devil plan in my mind how to get there soon. It just wasn’t meant to be right now. I’m already thinking of backup plans as it’d be a shame to waste these days off – take a look at my Facebook to see where I will end up after all!
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Plans and hopes for 2015
Even if not all my plans actually happened in 2014 I still think it was a really good year and I’m really grateful for all the amazing places I’ve visited, adventures I’ve had and people I’ve met. I don’t have big hopes for 2015, I just wish it will be equally awesome as these past 12 months (maybe minus these cancelled trips). I already have few small trips planned: Bosnia and Serbia in February or Portugal in March and there’s a big list of places I’d like to visit in 2015 (everything depends on cheap flights of course ;)). I already have an epic dream trip in my mind but well, we will see what the next year will bring. I just want to be happy and I wish the same to you!
And how was your 2014? Tell me your highlights!
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