My Travel Year in Review: Europe & Asia 2012

Miami Beach
Miami Beach

This is part two of a two-part series. To read part one, about my travels in South America, click here.

Miami, Florida

I departed Colombia for Miami the last week of August. It was my first time visiting the so-called capital of Latin America.

I spent my first few nights with Danny and Jillian from I Should Log Off near Ft. Lauderdale, and then took the bus to Miami Beach, where I couchsurfed in an apartment a block off Lincoln Road.

Miami is a city I’m keeping in the back of my mind should I want to settle back in the USA. It’s got the Latin culture I enjoy, and would make an excellent transportation hub for future trips around Central America and the Caribbean.

The only problem is I don’t want to own another car, and as I learned one night, taxi rides can get expensive very fast.

Reykjavik

Iceland

I’d been hearing so many wonderful things about Iceland, I made it a point to visit Reykjavik for 10 days en route to Spain.

I quickly found it’s not as cheap as it use to be a few years ago. Their economy has recovered, so prices are quite high for everything from food to activities. But, as usual, I didn’t let that stop me from exploring the country.

Highlights included a visit to the infamous Blue Lagoon, a trip around the Golden Circle, hiking a glacier, and seeing the northern lights for the first time.

Girona, Spain

Costa Brava, Spain

I flew from Reykjavik to Barcelona for the 2012 Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference.

It was my first TBEX since the 2010 one in New York City, and it blew that one away in terms of the program, organization, setting, and food.

In addition to walking the old streets of Girona, I also made a day trip to the Salvador Dali museum.

After the conference, I joined several other bloggers on a 3-day tour of Costa Brava, during which I celebrated my 36th birthday. I still have much to write about the region, though I’ve already shared my experience riding an electric bicycle for the first time!

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

Germany

From Barcelona I flew to Munich for Oktoberfest. My host was the brother of my first roommate in Medellin. After drinking a few liters of Oktoberfest beer, I began to put my Eurail Global Pass to use with a high-speed train ride to Berlin.

My time in Berlin was split in half by a two-week trip to Indonesia (below), but I still managed to see a lot, as well as meet up with Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market.

From Berlin, I’d head by train to Dresden, which I liked a lot on account of its historic city center. There’s still a lot left for me to see in Germany, and I’d like to go back when I have more time.

Indonesia

I had the best flying experience of my life when Qatar Airways offered me an upgrade to Business Class from Berlin to Jakarta (via their hub in Doha). The food was so good, I ate dinner twice that night.

Once in Jakarta, a whirlwind blog trip began with a trip to see wild orangutans in Borneo, Borobudur Temple (a UNESCO site), the cultural capital of Yogyakarta, sunrise over Mount Bromo, the dragons of Komodo Island, and Bali.

Asia marked my fourth continent in 2012. The only other time I’ve made it to four continents in a single year was in 2008 during my trip around the world (Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe).

Acqua alta in action
Acqua alta in action

Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy

Upon returning to Europe, I stepped on the gas. I bypassed Prague which I’d visited in 1998, in favor of Brno.

I spent several nights in Vienna, trying to relive Before Sunrise (to no avail), before hopping a train to Bratislava, which was featured in another of my favorite travel movies, Eurotrip.

While I didn’t connect with Bratislava, which is better left for Spring or Summer, I did have a great time in Budapest. This is a city I could see myself living in for a few months, and it’d make an excellent base for exploring more of Eastern Europe.

From Budapest, it was off to Ljubljana for a few nights, and then I also managed to squeeze in a return to Venice, my first love.

There, I got to experience a little bit of what it’s like during the “Acqua alta” or “high water” season, when the lagoon’s waters overflow the banks of canals, thereby flooding low-lying areas.

Big Ben and Parliament
Big Ben and Parliament

England

From Venice I flew RyanAir for the first time. The flight to London itself was fine, but I felt the check-in and security gate process lacked organization. Despite waiting in several long lines, I made my flight.

My reason for visiting London for the third time, and the first since 1998, was to attend the annual World Travel Market (WTM) trade show. It was an interesting, if tiring, experience. I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to go back, but I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Tons of bloggers flocked to London, so it gave me a chance to catch up with friends, and meet new people. I even saw one of my favorite bloggers, Andrew Evans, for the first time since we met in 2009.

I celebrated my London return with trips to the theater, catching both Phantom of the Opera and Rock of Ages.

Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle

Wales

Since I was in London, I took the opportunity to visit nearby Wales for the first time.

I indulged my fascination with medieval castles by visiting two. I’ll be sharing these experiences sooner rather than later.

In the UK, I’ve only got Scotland left to see.

Look, I'm in Luxembourg
Look, I’m in Luxembourg

Luxembourg

I left Cardiff for Luxembourg City, via London, the Eurostar train (which goes through the Chunnel), and a French TGV train.

I can’t say there was much going on in Luxembourg, though an upcoming soccer match with Scotland ensured the city was full of kilt-wearing Scots. There was also some kind of public demonstration going on that made it a little noisier than normal.

Annual wine festival in Avignon
Annual wine festival in Avignon

France

From Luxembourg, I caught the TGV to Avignon, via Paris. I arrived the night before the annual wine festival. The following evening, for just 3 Euros, you could get a wine glass and taste as many wines as you wanted in a two and a half hour period.

In addition to the wine culture, I loved how well the old medieval walls around the city were preserved. I immediately began to think about returning to Avignon to spend three months in the Spring or Summer.

In addition to Chile’s Atacama Desert, and Indonesian Borneo, Avignon makes the list for my top three new destinations of 2012.

Along the south of France, I also visited Arles, Nice (for the second time), and Cannes before heading toward Andorra via Toulouse.

Monaco
Monaco

Monaco

While camped out in Nice, I took a day trip to Monaco to drive a Ferrari (thanks again to GetYourGuide for the experience).

The wealth on display in this little country is beyond belief, from the exotic sports cars to the super yachts.

The glass building houses the largest spa in Andorra
The glass building houses the largest spa in Andorra

Andorra

I was only in Toulouse, France a night, before catching a shuttle bus to Andorra, my 50th country, and the last new one of 2012. I’d liken this diminutive country, which sits on the border between France and Spain, to a giant ski resort.

In addition to winter sports, duty free shopping, as well as spa and wellness services, attract lots of European vacationers.

From Andorra, I returned to Barcelona via bus, and began the decompression process. I flew back to Tampa for Christmas, via New York City (where I finally got to meet the inspiring C’est Christine).

Before 2012 came to a close, I was back to living in Medellin, and celebrating New Year’s Eve, paisa style.

And there you have it, my very long and exciting year in travel. In total, I visited 23 countries across 4 continents.

In 2013, I’m going to travel far less, and focus on catching up with my writing, improving the Travel Blog Success community, releasing my Medellin Travel Guide, and more.

This is part two of a two-part series. To read part one, about my travels in South America, click here.

Comments

  1. says

    I went to Italy for the first time in 2012. It was one of the best places I’ve ever visited. I fell in love with Venice. Too bad the place is beying destroyed a little bit with every day. Thanks for sharing your travel year, Dave, gave me some ideas for 2013.

    • says

      Italy is amazing, isn’t it? Glad my review gave you some ideas. To be more succinct, my top 3 favorite NEW destinations of 2012 were: Atacama Desert in Chile, Avignon in south of France, and the Costa Brava region of Spain.

  2. says

    It has been amazing traveling around Europe. The places are very beautiful especially the historical architecture and I truly love the food and the comfort of having friendly people around. Thanks for the heads up on other places. Would love to visit them some time.

  3. Hanim says

    Hi Dave, I came across this travel blog for the first time before and to be honest, I was inspired to save and plan a Travel around the world Trip. I’m just 21 and from Singapore. I always have the dream to travel and see the world in my own eyes. Thanks to this blog, I’m actually saving my money for the trip. Thank you guys for the inspiration! I hope I get to achieve my dream of travelling around the world. (:

    • says

      That’s awesome to hear Hanim, thanks for sharing! It took me 5 years of working in the USA to save for my dream trip. Hopefully it’ll take you less :)

      Stick with it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *