My Top Ten Travel Moments of 2019
2019 has been a magical year. And while I can´t wait to see what 2020 will bring, I can´t help but look back to the last 365 days and be grateful for everything they´ve taught, showed and made me feel. The wonderful trips to foreign places, the many home cooked meals, the enchanting novels that took me to far away lands and all the wonderful moments with loved ones. Looking back, these were some of my favourite moments of my 2019 travels.
1. Visiting Europe´s Only Tea Plantation on the Island of São Miguel, Açores
Our trip to the Açores in March had so many highlights it was almost impossible to pick one. During our four days there we visited the most amazing places and had magical experiences. And while I´m not quite sure why this one stands out, it does. The tea tasting and the visit of Europe´s only tea plantation, Gorreana was a fantastic experience for a tea lover like myself. We only spent a couple of hours there and it was raining most of the time but I find myself with big smiles in all of the pictures. Read more about our favourite things in São Miguel in this article.
2. Holding Hands with Monkeys on the Gibraltar Rock
During our road-trip through Southern Spain in April, I made it our mission to visit the Gibraltar rock only so i could see wild monkeys. The trip proved to offer much more than that, and we had a delicious lunch with a breathtaking view on top of the rock, but the highlight remain the monkeys we met. Fluffy, bored and yet oddly familiar, they roamed around and let us take some snaps with them, mimicking our body posture and posing like Hollywood stars. See more pictures in this article.
3. Picking Oranges in Sevilla, Spain
Growing up in post-communist Romania, oranges and bananas were some of the only exotic fruits we had access to in the 90s. The mere thought that I would one day live in a country where you can pick them off the streets, wouldn´t occur to me until I actually found myself in Portugal. During our trip to Sevilla in April, a city I fell in love with at first sight, we found so many orange trees on the streets that I could barely fit all the oranges I wanted to pick in my lap. Pictures were taken even if no orange was eaten that day. They were way too bitter. More about that magical day, here.
4. Celebrating my Birthday in Madrid
The final destination of our Spain roadtrip was Madrid - the city where my best friend, Flavia would meet us to celebrate my 30th birthday. A city I desperately love with people (and dog) I adore. Fabulous dog-friendly restaurants, delicious tapas, loads of sangria, green parks and lots of sunshine - that is how I started my thirties.
5. Driving on Romania´s Tallest Road, the Transalpina
Ask whatever Romanian you want about the worst thing about our country and he´ll mention the roads. Ask André and he´ll say the roads are the best thing about Romania. He doesn´t mean the city roads, but the Transfagarasan and the Transalpina - two snake-shaped roads crossing the Carpathians in all their glory. This year we did an unexpected road-trip to the Transaplina, crossing wonderfully forgotten little villages and picking elderflower. Definitely the highlight of our trip to Romania.
6. Camping on Top of a 5 Million Year Old Beach in Melides, Portugal
Beginning of September we didn´t quite know what to expect when we decided to go camping for 10 days in a tiny tent with Yoshi. Not even in our wildest dreams could we have hoped for a better trip. We started off in Gale, Melides and camped on top of the most beautiful beach, surrounded by 5 million year old rock formations. Waking up to the sunrise on the beach and making eggs with that view, is perhaps my favourite 2019 moment.
7. Discovering Alentejo´s Best Beaches
A lot of research was done in the quest of Alentejo´s best beaches because when it comes to going to the beach, living in Lisbon basically means the water is always too cold and it´s almost always windy. Alentejo gave us warm water, sunshine and dog friendly beaches that we are definitely going to again next year. Find them in this article.
8. A Romantic Afternoon in Porto
Someone once told me Porto was the most romantic city in the world and I never quite got over that. I go there regularly for work, but going there with André is what really gets me. Walking hand in hand through its beautiful parks and enjoying Porto´s fantastic restaurants is in itself a honeymoon to me. Read more about our trip here.
9. Taking a 100 Year Old Historical Train through the Douro Valley
A trip I´ve been dreaming of ever since I found out about Douro´s historical train, 2019 was the year we finally did it. On a rainy September day that we took the train to Peso da Régua and then the little wooden 100 year old train to Tua. There was music, there was Port wine and the landscapes were breathtaking. I wrote about it in this article.
10. Visiting the Library that Inspired JK Rowling in Coimbra, Portugal
On the first weekend of the university year, we set ourselves to go to Coimbra with friends. It was my first time there and the expectations were high since it was the university city that basically inspired JK Rowling´s Hogwarts. It did not disappoint in the least and the Joanina Library (that also inspired the library in Beauty and the Beast) particularly took my breath away. Sadly one cannot take pictures of it so you´ll have to go and see it for yourself. As for what else I loved about Coimbra, you can read more about it here.
2019 was a year where we didn´t venture out much outside of Portugal, Spain and Romania and I am so happy we didn´t. Big trips to foreign continents are of course amazing, but sometimes the most beautiful places lurk just around the corner.
2020 - bring it on.