Highlights of 2017: The Good, The Bad, The Robbery
Since we practically took the year off from blogging in 2017 (and most of 2016 as well), I figured I would do a recap of the year. Its always nice to look back on what we got up to throughout the year and reminisce on the good times and not-so-good times. After all, we visited 16 countries total this year, 10 of them new, and stayed in 42 different apartments, hotels and guest houses. It all starts to become a blur after a while. So let’s start from the beginning…
If you were following us back in January, you might recall we sold our house exactly one year from the date we purchased it in 2016. We literally went to closing, signed a few papers, handed over the keys and then headed to the airport on a one-way flight back to Chiang Mai. We decided homeownership just wasn’t for us – not at that time, anyways. We were so excited to get back to our daily dose of coffee shops and motorbikes. What made it even better was all of our nomad and blogger friends were back in Chiang Mai and it was great reuniting!
We had an apartment rented for three months while we were back in Chiang Mai. But with every stay in Thailand, there is always a visa run at some point. This time we headed to Singapore, somewhere we hadn’t yet been. It was a great escape for 5 nights and a really cool city to explore. The rest of the month was spent working, hanging out with friends and enjoying our typical Thailand routine of gym, coffee shop, eat and repeat.
March is not our favorite time to be in Chiang Mai (see video), but we were still focusing on work and it was a good time to be holed up in a coffee shop without any distractions. At the end of the month, we made an escape from the smoke back to one of our favorite Thailand beaches, Krabi. The last few days of March were spent relaxing in the sun.
The first week of April we continued our beach holiday in Krabi, including a stay at my new favorite resort – the Crown Lanta on the island Koh Lanta. We returned to Chiang Mai for our last two weeks in Thailand and took part (for the 3rd time) in Songkran, the Thai New Year and world’s largest water fight. And then we were finally off to Europe for our third summer, our first stop being Romania. We spent 3 weeks exploring Bucharest, Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu. I really had a love-hate with Romania, as we found it a beautiful country, rich with history, good food and amazing Wifi. However, the coldness (and I don’t mean the weather) really got to us and we were glad to leave (read here).
After our 3 weeks in Romania were up, we were ecstatic to be meeting my brother and his girlfriend in Munich for their first trip to Europe! We spent 3 nights in Munich and then decided to road trip to Budapest, making stops at Neuschwanstein Castle (finally!), the many lakes around Salzburg, and Vienna. They spent their last few days with us in our apartment in Budapest, where we would be hanging out for the next month. We had so much fun adventuring with them – it was definitely a highlight of our year.
We spent Mid-May to Mid-June in Budapest, doing our usual gym, coffee shop, eat and repeat routine. It was so much fun discovering new cafes and restaurants in Budapest. The weather was amazing and we enjoyed just strolling the city and Margaret Island when we were ready for a break. With most places, we are ready to move on and excited for the next adventure, but one thing I’ve learned is I am NEVER ready to leave Budapest. One thing that helped ease the pain was we were headed home for a (very) quick visit. We spent 12 days at home mostly catching up on some work that had to be done while trying to fit in time with family and friends.
At the end of June we flew to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where we were meant to spend two months. We rented a stunning apartment and couldn’t wait to indulge in guac and tacos galore. Both of our parents planned to visit us during our stay, as well as many of our friends from Florida. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out as planned. That will have to be a story for another time. Ultimately, we ended up on another one-way flight back to Chiang Mai just two weeks after arriving in Mexico.
Back in Chiang Mai for 3 more months, it was back to our daily routine. We did take another beach break to visit more of Thailand’s gorgeous islands, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. It was much-needed to break up the monotony. It wasn’t quite the same this time around as it was low season (rainy season) and most of our friends were off gallivanting around other countries and continents.
We finally took a break from the laptops and visited two countries we’ve been trying to get to for years – Vietnam and Philippines. We had a great time until the end when weather conditions had us changing our itinerary – skipping El Nido 🙁 – and heading back to Chiang Mai a little early. Then things got even worse when the last night in Manila resulted in me getting food poisoning for the first time ever – and having to get on the plane with it. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
By the time November rolled around, I was ready to go. We had officially burnt ourselves out on Chiang Mai and it was time to move on. We headed back to Europe for a 3-week road trip around the Balkans, including Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia. This is definitely up there in my top 3 of most epic trips EVER. We had such good luck with weather and loved every bit of this trip!
I think the number one thing on my bucket list was to visit the Christmas Markets in Europe. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to be in Europe for the holidays and I think it was even more amazing than I could have ever imagined. We spent the first few days in Zagreb, which was the best by far. I even went ice-skating for the first time in my life. We then took a bus to Budapest, where we met up with our good friends, celebrated my birthday and, of course, visited their markets as well. From there, we headed to Prague and their markets definitely didn’t disappoint either! They were, however, MUCH more crowded. Our European adventures ended in Barcelona, a new city/country for us. While we really liked Barcelona, it ended with my purse being stolen in broad daylight in the middle of the city, Charlie chasing the guy down, getting my purse back and then learning nothing would happen to the guy because he was just a tourist as well (another story for another time). Not the best way to end the trip, but we were grateful we got my purse back and really couldn’t complain as everything up until that moment had been just perfect.