This year has been quite the year of travel for me. I traveled to 3 new countries, more than 10 new cities and had countless new adventures. Having a full-time job and only being able to travel part-time has its limitations, but I believe in making the most of the time I have and traveling at every opportunity I get. This year consisted of a 5 week backpacking trip through Europe and countless mini adventures exploring the Midwest on the weekends. To recap a year of travel and firsts, I wanted to share some of my favorite travel memories from all the countries I visited this year.
I have to admit that Belgium completely took me by surprise and quickly became one of my favorite countries that I’ve traveled to. I didn’t know much about Belgium besides waffles, chocolate, and beer, so I was completely in awe of the breathtaking architecture, charming cobblestone streets, and lush, green countryside. A couple of my favorite memories from Belgium are climbing the Belfry and falling in love with Bruges and exploring the countryside on two wheels.
I’m not going to lie, I really only wanted to go to London so I could take a studio tour of the Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio (die-hard HP fan here). We only had a couple days in London and just barely began to scratch the surface of all the city has to offer. The highlight of my time in London was definitely the Harry Potter Studio Tour, but I can’t wait to return to England in the future to uncover all the other non-Harry Potter related adventures waiting to be had.
I’m sure a lot of you expected a typical picture of Paris to accompany my France memories and yes, we did go to Paris but it wasn’t the highlight of this beautiful country for me, Lyon was. Everything about Lyon captured my heart, from the surprise Rose Festival to the local delicacies on every corner to the jaw-dropping views of the city from the Fourvière Hill. Lyon is a city I will return to over and over again. A few of my favorite memories from our time in France are the mesmerizing Rose Festival in Lyon (pictured above), exploring the secret passageways throughout Lyon, and climbing the Arc de Triomphe for the best views of Paris.
The Netherlands was one of the countries I was most excited to visit on our Europe trip. I absolutely love all the picturesque canals and the fact that bicycles are the main mode of transportation. I could definitely get used to the laid back lifestyle of the Dutch. A couple of my favorite memories from the Netherlands were the seeing all the vibrant tulips at the Keukenhof Flower Gardens and wandering the streets of Amsterdam getting lost among the endless canals.
Spain is a country I’ll continue to return to over and over again. I studied abroad in Madrid a couple years ago and was finally able to return and explore even more cities throughout Spain. Not only did I get to take Sant back to Madrid and show him around, but we also visited Barcelona, Zaragoza, Córdoba, and Seville. There’s so much of Spain left to explore, but a few of my favorite memories from our time there were admiring Gaudí’s artwork in Barcelona, wandering through Plaza de España and being reminded of home, and eating Ópera Pizza and churros and chocolate in Madrid (two of my favorites).
Outside of my trip to Europe, I spend my weekends exploring all that the Midwest has to offer. I got to see so much natural beauty in this region since I made it my mission to get out and explore for my Best of the Midwest series. A couple of my favorite memories from this year were hiking at Natural Falls State Park in Oklahoma (pictured above), exploring the Buffalo National River by canoe and by hiking, and engaging with the animals at the Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Northwest Arkansas.
Where did you travel this year? What were some of your favorite travel memories of 2015? Share in the comments below! I would love to hear about your adventures this past year.