2017 was an amazing traveling year for Jarden and I! We ticked a lot of places off our bucket list, and we are feel so grateful to have traveled as much as we have this year. 12 countries in 12 months was my seemingly far-fetched goal at the beginning of the year, but amazingly it all worked out!
Our Wins and Losses Around The World – 2017
Okay, okay, I know we live in the USA, but we got to explore Los Angeles and managed to pack a lot of fun sights into a mere 24 hours! We also did a lot of exploring of our own home, Hawaii, and I have an upcoming post on discovering just how much this little island means to me.
- Swimming with giant dolphin pods (on multiple occasions!!!) in Hawaii — upcoming post coming soon!
- Being amazed at the sensory overload of Venice Beach – such a cool spot!
READ MORE: How to Spend 24 Hours in Los Angeles
It all started with a $99 flight to Iceland! After seeing this crazy fare and telling my friends about it, our first trip of the year turned into this giant, amazing group trip! We had lots of crazy adventures in this exotic destination, from getting stuck in the snow while searching for the northern lights, to seeing the famous blue lagoon.
Iceland was absolutely beautiful, and Jökulsárlón and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon are both on my list as some of the most amazing places I’ve ever been too. I have a feeling WOW Air is going to be releasing $99 flights again in the future, so keep an eye out!
- Almost every place in Iceland because seriously, Iceland is amazing! (It’s Jardens favorite spot of 2017!) Again, Jökulsárlón and Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon are my favorite spots.
- Seeing a double rainbow at The Blue Lagoon and swimming in the rain. Checked that off the bucket list!
- Drinking wine in a jacuzzi at your snowy Airbnb cabin talkin life with your best friends 🙂
- Getting our rental van stuck in the snow at 1am. Most people would put this in the ‘losses’ category as I was simultaneously freezing and freaking out, but it was actually a hilarious story! We also got to meet the kindest tourists and locals who helped us out – humans can be awesome 🙂
- Iceland is expensive AF – cook your own food from the grocery store if you’re on a budget. Also the sights are often a far drive between each other, so you’ll need a rental car.
- We traveled to Iceland during the winter, so we only got around 5 hours of daylight, which is tough for taking pictures and trying to see all the spots that are hours away from each other!
- Not seeing the Northern Lights 🙁
From Iceland we took a flight to Ireland, which was officially my favorite place of 2017! For some reason, Ireland was always my #1 bucket list destination even as a teenager, so to finally visit was a literal dream come true. It was also exactly how I imagined it to be, but even better! From the music, to the friendly locals and OUT OF THIS WORLD FOOD, Ireland stole my heart.
READ MORE: The Best Places to Eat in Dublin, Ireland
- The food! Seriously, every single spot we ate at in Ireland was somehow off the charts delicious.
- Drinking Bulmers Hard Cider at an Irish pub and seeing the locals sing and dance!!! Dream. Come. True.
During one of our days in Dublin we drove up to Northern Ireland, which is actually a different country as it is part of the United Kingdom. We visited Belfast and even saw the famous Game of Thrones tunnel – The Dark Hedges!
- Don’t get me wrong, all the sights we saw here were amazing, but there isn’t one particular instance that stands out in my mind.
- Missing the sunlight on Giant’s Causeway. I’ve wanted to see this basalt column spot for years, and we made it, but just a few minutes too late. I could only see the columns through a camera lens or flashlight, which bummed me out quite a bit!
- Switching currencies from Euros to Pounds! That was something we didn’t consider, and for some reason we had such a hard time getting money out of an ATM lol!
READ MORE: 5 Spots in Northern Ireland You Can’t Miss
After Ireland/Northern Ireland, two of our friends went back home, and 1 continued on with us to Paris! Jarden has been previously, but it was my first time to the city of love!
- THE FOOD!!! We ate the possibly the best crepes of our lives, along with an insanely delicious amount of pasta, cheese, and wine. *Drools*
- Our food tour with Secret Food Tours Paris, again, because of the amazing food, but also because the tour included tons of wine at the end, which resulted in us riding a Merry Go Round in Paris while slightly inebriated. Good times 🙂
- We went through an abandoned train tunnel which is a popular spot for photographers. The boys had fun, but while we walked through a pitch black tunnel for half an hour, I was having a major freakout session! Cue all the zombie/I Am Legend nightmares.
- Paris is amazing, but we also had a constant feeling of needing to watch our backs.
READ MORE: How to Spend 3 Days in Paris, France
Our next trip in the summer sent us on our very first trip to Central America, so we were pretty excited to head down south! After hearing so much wonderful things from other travel bloggers, we decided to start on Caye Caulker island, a tiny, 6-mile piece of paradise! We also visited San Ignacio and got to complete 2 cultural tours with Mayawalks Tours which was incredible! Belize was one of my favorite places of 2017 for sure.
- I fell in love with Caye Caulker! We had such a fun time riding bikes around the island, meeting the super friendly locals, and swimming in the clearest water we’ve ever seen! We also got caught in a storm which resulted in the entire island losing power – such fun memories!
- IT WAS SO UNBELIEVABLY HOT. We were drenched in sweat our first day on Caye Caulker even just sitting in the shade. It was pretty miserable, but thankfully the first day was the worst of it.
- I chose a $15 a night room in San Ignacio – it had decent reviews and I thought it would be tolerable. It turned out to be a stuffy, ridiculously hot room with no fan and no privacy, and we ended up leaving in the middle in the night in search of another hotel with a/c.
After a full day taking buses and taxis, we arrived in Tulum, Mexico! We LOVED Tulum – much better than Playa and Cancun, which we found too touristy. Tulum is what I imagine Bali to be like, and I’d definitely want to go back sometime soon for the delicious food and beachy vibes. We also had a lot of crappy stuff happen to us in Mexico – it seemed like we were cursed or something! See below…
- Tulum is absolute magic, and the food was pretty terrific. We also got to try glamping out, which was something I wanted to check off of my bucket list.
- Um, were we cursed?! I left my wallet at a cenote our first day – thankfully we got it back from the kind locals! Jarden left his tripod and we had to backtrack when heading to Playa, he lost his drone mid-flight and we had to search in the treetops for 2 hours, we almost ran out of gas on our way to Chichen Itza, OH YEAH, AND A CORRUPT COP SCAMMED US OUT OF $280. Mexico came with many curveballs lol!
After Mexico we hopped a flight to Cuba, and boy was it a culture shock! It was crazy to be ‘transported back in time’, but it definitely brought on some challenges!
- Cuba is authentic, and we really appreciated getting to see it before it blows up even more from tourism! We loved the cars and all the animals too!
- Since there is no internet service in Cuba and limited wifi (also not free), we really got to disconnect and enjoy each others company! This did bring its own issues though, see below…
- The recent tourism surge has made the locals hungry for opportunity, so you basically can’t walk down the street without getting hit up to give money or buy something.
- Not being able to look up Yelp reviews or use maps was tough, and it was hard finding places to eat and sightsee at. I didn’t realize how much I relied on Yelp/Tripadvisor until it was taken away from me!
Our last big trip of the year was centered around discovering more European countries in the winter – flights were cheap! Amsterdam captivated us so quickly – the canals, the architecture, the general understanding that bikes are king of the road and everyone needs to back the f*ck off…we loved it all! Besides the fact that we had to travel a whole day to get there, I’d be back over and over again!
- The Coffeeshops 🙂
- Experiencing a nightclub in Amsterdam! Jarden and I aren’t huge club/bar goers, but I felt like I needed to experience at least a small taste of European nightlife. We were not disappointed!
- Poffertjies (mini Dutch pancakes) are absolute perfection.
- At The Anne Frank house, there was a screaming toddler disrupting an entire 30 minute presentation we paid for! Our entire group didn’t get to hear a lot of what was said, which was a waste of time and money.
- The food was kind of a hit or miss in Amsterdam. (Did I just pick a couple crappy places? Usually my Yelp-skills are spot on lol.)
After Amsterdam, we caught a Flixbus over to Brussels. While we only spent a day exploring the city, I did enjoy eating authentic Belgian Waffles and seeing the beautiful Grand Brussels Palace! We then spent day two on a day trip to Ghent, which is straight out of a storybook, and on our third day we visited Villers Abbey and the small town of Dinant. All the sights in Belgium was breathtaking, I was pleasantly surprised!
- The architecture in Belgium is mesmerizing! From Villers Abbey, to the charming town of Ghent, Belgium really surprised us!
- Belgian waffles. Of course.
Prague was the fairy tale city that I knew I just had to check off my bucket list. We had a great time kind of winding down in this city – eating tons of good food, going on a free walking tour, and even visiting a torture museum! I would love to return in the warmer months and explore the city more in depth – it has a vibe that I can’t put my finger on, but I really liked the atmosphere!
- For dinner one night we found a tiny, nearby Italian restaurant, and it turned out to be famous? LOL while eating we saw countless pictures of celebrities with the owner. The food was in fact delicious!
- Prague Castle is INCREDIBLE! So much great architecture.
- Prague was freezing, and our hotel bed was extremely comfy – we slept in a lot lol! I wanted to stay out and club at the infamous town, even travel to nearby Kutna Hora, but we just ended up sleeping in and turning in early most days. (It didn’t help that the sun was setting at 4pm, which really threw us off.) It wasn’t the worst though – we had a lot of quality time! 🙂
We finally spent a few days in Germany, primarily going on a couple of tours and visiting the Christmas Markets in Berlin. These were spectacular, so festive and definitely a bucket list item! We also got to do some day trips, such as visit the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Devil’s Bridge (Rakotzbrucke).
- The Christmas Markets were perfect – everything I thought it would be and so much more! I’m now convinced that no one does Christmas quite like the Germans…
- We got a speeding ticket while racing though a town trying to make a tour 🙁
- I mixed up the times for our Secret Food Tour and we almost missed it! Thank you to our awesome tour guide Justin for waiting a few minutes for us!
- Again, it was freezing! I would have gone to more markets if I could have tolerated the weather.
2017, you were amazing! <3
& Thank you to all our readers, we can’t wait to give you the best tips and recommendations for all the spots we visit in 2018!