As we wrap up 2018, we mirror on one other yr of dwelling nomadically. We start to consider this yr’s journey highlights and journey fails. We acknowledge the locations which have lingered in our minds and hearts — locations that all the time appear to be calling us residence. As this yr closes and a recent one begins, we have now a lot to consider.
The place does life go from right here? The place are our hearts calling us? Can we nonetheless crave surrounding ourselves with every little thing pure Americana? Is it time for one thing difficult, thrilling, and new? As nomads, the world now feels smaller and extra accessible. There’s a lot to consider and plan as we begin to write our yr in assessment.
Writing a year-end evaluation is all the time a tedious course of. Taking the time to mirror again on a whole yr of experiences is time-consuming and within the second typically looks like a meaningless endeavor. Nevertheless, yearly we drive ourselves to finish one as a result of it helps us to:
- Consider what we’ve completed for the yr.
- Doc the place we explored for the yr.
- Assess what we loved versus what we disliked.
- Most significantly, it guides our decision-making so we will make one of the best life decisions for the next yr.
Right here’s the place 2018 took us this previous yr.
We kicked off 2018 in Illinois the place we have been visiting our buddies and households for the vacations. It was our first time residence in over three years. Throughout this time we didn’t journey an excessive amount of. Throughout this three-month interval, we hung out with our family members, explored Chicagoland, and eased our nervousness by lastly gathering all of our scattered belongings into one location. Originally of March, we flew to Cut up, Croatia the place we dropped off some belongings and settled into our condominium. 9 days later we flew to Glasgow, Scotland to proceed our seven month journey round Europe.
Gathering up all of our remaining belongings to convey them to at least one home.
Our first time in Scotland we hiked 100 miles throughout the Western Highlands on the West Highland Approach. This time round, we have been invited to the Gartmore Property to take pleasure in a extra glamorized climbing expertise. As a part of their Exercise Holidays, the Gartmore Property presents a guided Strolling Vacation and it took us on some the perfect mountaineering trails in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Nationwide Park.
A few of the greatest climbing we’ve ever loved in Scotland with the Gartmore Property.
We have been shocked and felt extraordinarily blessed to be on this a part of Scotland once more. We have been comfortable to satisfy up with previous crusing buddies who hosted us on our Greek Island crusing journey final yr. The truth is, Liz and Martin generously handled us to lunch at a lodge restaurant on Loch Lomond which we had stayed at on our WHW trek! It was uncanny to be with acquainted buddies in acquainted territory. Who would have thought we’d retrace our earlier steps alongside “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond?”
Climbing this peak (Stuc Odhar) was the most effective days we’ve ever had in Scotand.
After a fast week in Scotland, we jetted off to the Baltic area to start probably the most aggressive journey tour 2018. In 40 days we toured by means of six new nations beginning off with Latvia. Though Riga was filled with appeal and movie-set worthy, we had a lot going towards us right here which put a damper on our keep together with: frigid climate, breaking our 360 digital camera on the cobblestone road, a poorly managed and soiled Airbnb, and a few not so heat locals.
Chilly days in Latvia.
Our temper and luck undoubtedly picked up in Lithuania. In comparison with Latvia, Lithuania appeared to supply extra worth for a price range savvy traveler. Right here we loved scrumptious Japanese European meals, reasonably priced public transport across the nation, and a few very nice (and clear!) Airbnb flats. I used to be completely satisfied to land in Lithuania throughout this time to have the ability to have fun a Catholic Holy Easter.
Exploring Vilnius – the capital of Lithuania.
Belarus got here as a shock to us. Earlier than we visited, we primarily knew that it was one of many least expensive and least visited nations in Europe. After touring to over 60 nations, we crave locations that present a distinctive aptitude of their very own or supply simply sufficient tradition shock to convey us out of our consolation zone. Belarus provided us one among our greatest journey experiences of the yr. We have been greeted by Communist symbols all through the nation. We have been stunned to seek out out that Chinese language is the secondary language. Minsk was additionally so impressively clear that there wasn’t even a single piece of litter on the sidewalks.
Communist symbols are seen throughout Minsk.
Whereas ready for our Russian journey to start, we had a two night time layover in Helsinki. The town was a little lackluster and actually costly for us. Helsinki had a vibe that wasn’t essentially in sync with who we’re as vacationers. Subsequently, a two-night stint was greater than sufficient. It was right here that we boarded our visa-free cruise to Russia.
Helsinki was in all probability our least favourite vacation spot in 2018.
One factor is for certain. Our time in Russia was means too brief! Harry has all the time had a robust want to journey to Russia. Understanding that we’d be touring across the area, he researched lengthy and arduous to get us that passport stamp by touring to Russia visa free. (Visas for prolonged journey in Russia are costly!) Though it did really feel just like different busy Japanese European cities, Saint Petersburg had nice power. Standing within the presence of the long-lasting Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was a fascinating “Can you believe we’re in Russia?” second.
Estonia was probably the most spectacular nations that we’ve explored in Europe. It was clear, refined, with a capital metropolis that appears prefer it got here straight out of the pages of a fairytale. Right here we partnered with the Go to Estonia Tourism Board to convey consciousness to how a lot this nation has to supply. Most people arrive to Estonia by cruise ship and go to Tallinn for the day. Nevertheless, dive deeper and also you’ll discover a land filled with nature and awe-inspiring websites. From Estonia we flew again to Cut up the place we spent the summer time having fun with certainly one of our favourite locations on the globe.
Summering on the Adriatic Sea all the time seems like a dream. This yr we took benefit of touring deeper into Croatia. We participated within the Zadar Outside Fest. We traveled to each of Croatia’s well-known Blue Lagoons and eventually made it into the Blue Cave. We fell in love with the island of Šolta . However in all probability our largest journey fail? Not discovering Extremely tickets that have been budget-friendly sufficient for us to attend one of many largest live performance occasions of the summer time. It was a big bummer to not examine Extremely Croatia off our bucket listing.
Summer time days in Croatia are life objectives.
Departing Croatia was a arduous depart as a result of it was the primary time that we didn’t have confirmed plans to return. Nevertheless, leaving my coronary heart open to new locations allowed me to fall in love with a new nation. For about three months, we lived and traveled in Poland.
We glance again on our time in Warsaw with such fondness. Tandem bike driving collectively was THE BEST!
We’ve such fond reminiscences dwelling in Warsaw. We received a kick out of tandem biking across the metropolis. We savored summer time days alongside the Vistula River and listening to free live shows within the park. Warsaw has so many free museums and occasions that it’s all the time straightforward to seek out one thing enjoyable to do.
The highest of Giewont Mountain. Tatra Mountains, Poland
Touring by practice from city to city in Poland was reasonably priced and enjoyable. We liked each metropolis we explored resembling Gizycko, Torun, and Bydgoszcz. Visiting Hitler’s Lair and the Białowieża Forest have been nice off the crushed path locations.
Nevertheless, we each agree that Zakopane was the stand-out area for us in Poland. We cherished our time climbing and exploring within the Tatra Mountains. Lately my journey daydreams take me again to Zakopane. Harry and I treasure being among the many individuals, customs, and tradition of our Slavic, Polish roots.
Certainly one of our favourite captures from 2018. Tatra Mountains, Poland.
Scotland (Half II)
We wrapped up seven months in Europe with an eight night time tour round Scotland’s Argyll area in affiliation with Loch Melfort Lodge and the Argyll Tourism Board. Right here we had our first glamping expertise alongside the Kintyre Coast — which we beloved! Taking a Sea Safari was in all probability certainly one of our biggest adventures of the yr. Scotland will all the time be considered one of our favourite locations on the planet. We’re so grateful to have been there 3 times to take pleasure in its magnificence, nature, and allure.
In early October we booked a flight to Chicago. We had some household wants and occasions that referred to as us again to our hometown. Honestly, it was arduous to acknowledge that we have been leaving Europe this time round with out a return ticket. Nevertheless, we realized that whereas overseas we yearned for experiences that would actually solely be seen, felt, and tasted right here in america. Whereas in Poland, we began getting excited concerning the alternative to journey down Route 66 to immerse ourselves in every thing pure Americana.
Exploring Americana in French Lick, Indiana.
From October to the top of 2018, we explored small cities everywhere in the Midwest. We traveled to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. We additionally acquired a head begin on Route 66 by touring the official “Mother Road” from Chicago to so far as Saint Louis.
Route 66 has been actually enjoyable! Filled with quirky journey oddities like right here in Lexington, Illinois.
What Will 2019 Maintain?
Many individuals hold asking us, “What’s your plans for this year?” and “Where are you headed next?” In contrast to earlier years, 2019 might be extra open-ended than we now have deliberate in previous journey years. This is because of a number of totally different causes. Usually hard-core planners, we perceive that we have to be considerably versatile over the subsequent few months.
One cause is that we lately have utilized for some thrilling partnerships in a number of locations. We’re presently ready to see what collaborations might come to fruition. These alternatives might drive the place we journey to this yr. Moreover, we now have some concepts that we’ve been tossing round, though nothing is about in stone but.
After exploring Poland, Audrey would like to stroll the Camino Polaco and return to the Tatra mountains to do some extra mountaineering in Poland and Slovakia.
All through our European travels we’ve encountered many segments of the Approach of Saint James pilgrimage. Is 2019 our yr to hike a route of the Camino?
Since Extremely Europe tickets have turn out to be “ultra” expensive, and this yr’s occasion will happen throughout excessive season in Croatia once we aren’t sometimes there, Ohrid Calling could also be a actually nice various. Most of the similar DJS and artists carry out at a less expensive price in additional budget-friendly Macedonia. Visiting Ohrid once more can be a dream. In fact, summering in Croatia isn’t a dangerous concept.
Our neighborhood in Podstrana, Croatia.
Harry has been tossing across the concept of checking off a bucket listing vacation spot by independently touring the Galápagos. Our aim can be to develop a “no fuss” Galápagos finances journey information. We’d spend a while in Quito, Ecuador earlier than flying out to the islands.
Each of us have actually loved touring Route 66 and we’d wish to proceed the route all through to California. Moreover, we’d wish to expertise Ernest Hemingway’s model of the Florida Keys.
A cease alongside Route 66 in Illinois.
From a enterprise perspective, we’d like to hunker down for a few months to make amends for article writing. We’ve got pages and pages of weblog posts that we’re dying to make amends for. For instance, all Audrey needs to do is write about Zakopane and Harry would like to share extra about visiting The Wolf’s Lair.
Harry and I agree that 2017 was in all probability certainly one of our greatest journey years, so it was exhausting to not examine it to 2018. This yr was much less busy and based on Audrey, “less adventurous.” We undoubtedly traveled a lot slower than normal. Nevertheless, on a constructive observe this slower tempo granted us the chance to companion with many small enterprise house owners and collaborate with many fabulous tourism boards. What is going to 2019 have in retailer for us? Solely time will inform.
We might like to drive your complete Route 66 from Illinois to California.
Nations Visited in 2018
United States, Scotland, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Croatia, Poland, Scotland, United States
Six New Passport Stamps: Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Finland, Russia, Estonia
Continents Visited in 2018
Europe and North America
Present Nation Rely