Traveling the Balkans in the summer of 2013 ruined my life forever.
Two summers ago, I set out to make the most of my final months in Europe, not knowing yet where I would be heading next but aware that this would be my last opportunity for a while to take Europe by storm.
Swimming in Hvar, Croatia
I had been able to travel extensively throughout the continent during my years of studying and then teaching in Spain, but there were still far too many parts of Europe that I had yet to discover. In the months leading up to the end of my time as an English teacher, my vague idea to see Eastern Europe secured a travel buddy (then two more), became a more developed plan, and then eventually turned into a thorough itinerary for exploring much of the Balkan Peninsula over a period of five weeks.
I can’t believe the year has flown by so fast, but it’s time once again for my end-of-year travel recap post (see 2011 and 2012). And I must say that, having visited sixteen countries this year alone (plus loads of cities within each), 2013 may have been the best year for travel yet.
Once again, I began the year in California, home from Spain for two weeks to celebrate Christmas with friends and family. I then returned to my beloved Madrid, where I would live for another six months. At the end of January, I took a fabulous trip to the Spanish island of Menorca for just €15 round-trip, which proved absolutely beautiful, particularly because the island was almost empty in the off-season, allowing us to crawl coastal cliffs and explore abandoned buildings with no one around.
We ended the third day in Menorca with one of the best sunsets I’ve ever witnessed, preceded by a full double rainbow. Perfection.
Life continued in Madrid with lots of adventures and outings with friends I now miss. I also got to return to Sevilla for a work trip, rediscovering all of the things that made me fall in love with the city when I lived there the previous year.
Since returning from my epic Balkans trip a few weeks ago, I still haven’t so much as mentioned it on my blog. If you’ve liked my Facebook page (which you really should, hint hint) or if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my photos along the way, but, knowing me, I probably won’t get around to doing proper updates about each of the places I visited for another few months.
Oia, Santorini, Greece
Instead, let me do a brief recap. Bottom line: I LOVED it. In the span of 35 days, I went to Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia (okay, we just paused at a rest stop there), Montenegro, Serbia, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, visiting multiple cities within each. Before taking off, I had
In two days, I take off on the trip of a lifetime, 35 straight days of traveling Eastern Europe, visiting 8 or 9 countries I’ve never seen. Then, I return to Madrid for a few days, travel down to Sevilla for work, and then fly to Pisa to spend a week with my family in Lake Como before finally coming back to the States.
My basic travel itinerary for this summer!
It’s going to be exhausting and occasionally frustrating, and I’m
After lackluster Vienna, I was ready to return to a fantastic city, and Budapest, Hungary was just the place. We arrived late at night and began our adventures the following morning, starting with a free walking tour of the city. The quality of these varies from city to city, and this one was rather average, but it did give us a good introduction to the city’s sights. My falling in love with the city began after the tour, when we wandered around the Fisherman’s Bastion, a stretch of white towers overlooking the Danube River that resembled Lord of the Rings‘ Minas Tirith.
In Fisherman’s Bastion
I’ve been extremely fortunate in my 23 (almost 24, gasp!) years of life to travel all over the world. With 2012 at an end, it’s time again to reflect on this past year and all the fabulous opportunities I’ve had.
I kicked off the year at home in California, where I spent a wonderful two weeks reconnecting with friends and family, eating mountains of American food, and visiting all my favorite Los Angeles spots. But soon, I headed back to my beloved Spain to finish my year of teaching in Villarrasa and rediscover beautiful Sevilla.
The aftermath of my favorite New Year’s Eve tradition: driving down the Rose Parade route and getting silly stringed, marshmallowed, and shaving creamed by those camping out for the parade.
I ventured to nearby Cádiz to celebrate Carnaval, basically an absurd, giant
It’s been a while, but I wanted to provide a quick update on my past few weeks and what’s coming up for me.
Two weeks ago, I had my last day of teaching at CEIP Azorín, bidding farewell to the teachers and students I grew to love immensely. I also said goodbye to most of my fabulous friends in Sevilla, and then I took off for an epic trip around Central Europe: Wroclaw (Poland), Berlin (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic), Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), and Bratislava (Slovakia)!
Beautiful Prague by night
The trip was even more wonderful than I imagined it would be, and, of course, I’ll be