Another year has passed and I can’t say I’m sad to say goodbye to 2021. It wasn’t a bad year but it wasn’t my favorite one either. Still, there were some highlights (not always travel-related) I wouldn’t like to forget about hence, as always, here is a small recap of 2021.
After a very slow beginning of the year (with lockdowns and an uncertain covid situation) I went for my first trip in mid-May. It was just a weekend trip to southern Poland but I finally managed to visit Auschwitz, for the first time in my life. Well, it definitely is one of the places everyone should go to at least once…
Then I spent my obligatory 2 weeks holidays in Poland, again. First, I’ve stayed for a week in Krakow. Even if I’m a frequent visitor there (mostly to meet my friends) I haven’t done proper Krakow sightseeing in some 25 years.
And the beginning of June was perfect timing since there were still hardly any tourists around and I had most of the museums almost to myself. It was quite an experience to stand a few centimeters away from Da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine”, without anyone else in the room.
I also went to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine for the first time – it is one of the highlights of Poland for a reason. This trip was a good balance of sightseeing and catching up with friends.
The second week was spent in my favorite region of Poland – Lower Silesia. This time I chose Klodzko as my base and explored the surroundings. I used to spend summer holidays there as a kid so many of the places were re-visited while others were new to me.
Besides Klodzko I visited Bardo, Ladek Zdroj, Polanica Zdroj, Walim, Ossowka, Swidnica, Bystrzyca Klodzka and Wroclaw. One of my best friends joined me for part of this trip so it was always good to spend some time together and catch up.
And then suddenly it was possible to travel internationally in Europe without too much hassle again. My first trip abroad after this long break was to Bulgaria – I found crazy cheap tickets on Monday and I departed on Sunday.
It was only a few days trip, I stayed in Burgas but also visited Sozopol, Nessebar, and Stara Zagora. But oh boy, it felt so good to be abroad again, to hear a different language and try different food (and Bulgarian food is among my favorite ones).
In July I was supposed to go for a week to Georgia but at that time the new covid cases grew rapidly there so I canceled this trip, changed my plans last minute and went to the Czech Republic and Slovakia instead.
This was a much overdue trip as I finally managed to see some places that have been on my bucket list for ages: Pilsen, Cesky Krumlov, Tabor, Trebon, Jindrichuv Hradec, Znojmo, Mikulov (these are in the Czech Republic), Trnava, Trencin and Banska Bystrica (in Slovakia), as well as return to cities I always enjoyed: Ceske Budejovice and Brno. After this trip I know I will want to return to these two countries in 2022 as well, I always have such a good time there.
August brought two trips abroad. First I spent a long weekend in Berlin, focusing on some of my favorite parts of the city: Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Neukolln. Berlin has a special place in my heart, I used to live there for a few weeks almost 15 years ago and I always love returning there. It was so good to spend there some time again, especially that in the last few years I was only briefly passing by the city.
And then I went for a week to Hungary. I’ve been there so many times I’ve lost the count but it was always only Budapest. This time, however, I didn’t want to go to the capital (although I still had to change trains there a few times and get from one train station to another).
Instead, I focused on smaller but very interesting towns and cities and I must say I truly enjoyed each and every one of them. I visited Gyor, Sopron, Pecs, Szeged, Eger, and Miskolc and all of them were so much better than I expected. In fact, I enjoyed Hungary so much that I know I want to return there again this year and see more of the country (and again not necessarily Budapest).
On the way back I stopped in Slovakia for a few days, revisiting some of my favorite places there: Kosice, Tatra Mountains (that I barely could see because of the weather), Spis Castle, and Levoca.
September was my busiest travel month (and the last one I traveled). I started it with a weekend trip to Odessa, Ukraine with my mother. I’ve been there a few times before and it really is one of my favorite places to visit in Ukraine. This time I finally went to the Opera to see a play and it was one of my travel highlights in 2021!
In mid-September I was supposed to fly with a friend to Belgrade (Serbia) and then continue to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia – originally we were supposed to go for this trip in March 2020 but obviously this didn’t happen. A week before we were supposed to depart Serbia changed the entrance rules and suddenly they didn’t accept vaccines done outside of Serbia. Fortunately, we managed to exchange the tickets for vouchers and went by car instead.
But before that, I spent a few days in Brno, Czech Republic at the work conference. A friend of mine picked me up there and we continued our journey south (but before we managed to see Lednice–Valtice in the Czech Republic and Keszthely in Hungary).
Besides my favorite places like Sarajevo, Mostar or Lake Bled we visited some places that I’ve been dreaming about for years: Banja Luka, Igman ski jumping hills, waterfalls near Jajce, Tjentiste, Visegrad, Sargan Eight train, Drvengrad (where we saw Emir Kusturica, one of the best European movie directors), Srebrenica, Bihac, Zeljava or Velika Planina. It was such a good trip with the best company and the perfect closure of my 2021 travels.
Obviously, the biggest highlight of 2021 was getting vaccinated. I got my first dose at the end of April and the 3rd one at the beginning of December. I literally couldn’t be happier. Not only do I feel much safer when going to work or being around people but it also allowed me to travel abroad without too much hassle.
I still think it’s my personal success that I haven’t been tested even once in these two years of the pandemic, especially since I’m not a big fan of sticking foreign objects into my nose.
Other than that nothing really exciting happened. I still work at the same place (it’s been over 13 years now) and still enjoy it. I kept meeting my friends and spending quality time with them. I continued enjoying staying at home and taking it easy, something that the pandemic forced in me.
At some point, I had a small crisis when so many of my friends went through some major life changes and I seem to stay still in the same place. But when I thought about it a bit more I figured I’m in a good place and there is no point in changing that only for the sake of a change. I accepted that being in the same, stable place for a while is fine too.
This past year was record-breaking when it came to reading. I played it safe and wanted to read 36 books in 2021. I ended the year with 162 read books. OK, the majority of them were easy rom-com reads that I discovered and had to catch up on but still, this number exceeded my expectations.
I hope to read 100 books in 2022, we will see how that goes (I bet the majority will be romances again but it feels so good to escape the not too optimistic reality to the happy imaginary place).
This past year was pretty fine for blogging. I published 50 articles (mostly in the first half of the year as later on, I was busy reading) but I still have so much to catch up on from my past travels.
This year I will celebrate 10 years of this blog and I still can’t believe this passion project turned out to be such a big and important part of my life. And now I can’t imagine my life without this blog, it’s too precious to me.
In 2022 I plan to publish articles most from Central Europe: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, but I’m sure there will be pieces about the Balkans and Eastern Europe too. I also need to return properly to my social media channels as I neglected them in the past months. And I need to be more regular with my newsletter (you can sign in here if you haven’t yet).
Plans for 2022
The recent situation with the pandemic has taught me that there is no point in making any major plans and so I have only one trip booked for 2022 (the Balkans in March). As for the rest – I will probably make last-minute plans based on the current situation.
I’m hoping to see more of Poland, return to the Czech Republic and Hungary, and hopefully visit Romania again. I’m also thinking about going to Istria, Croatia as I haven’t been there yet. Maybe, if the situation is more stable, I will go to Georgia – it’s been two years since my last visit there but I really miss it. I’m really open to all the options and will see what 2022 brings.
As for the non-travel-related things – I don’t expect anything extraordinary and simply hope this year will not be worse than 2021.
Stay safe everyone! Happy New Year!
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