We got to the end of 2018. I can’t believe how fast it flew. 2018 was a good year. After 2017, a year with hard times, full of ups and downs, 2018 was smooth, without major events, but full of trips. At this chapter, 2018 was without any doubt the best until now. It was as if the stars went out for a coffee and decided to send me on an Eurotrip. Or maybe there is an unwritten law that says that if you start your year away from home, you will continue it the same way. Maybe it is a sign and I should spend New Year’s Eve away from home again. This year I’ve only crossed Europe’s borders once, but I’ve seen or reseen not less than 11 European countries and there were not many weekends that found me at home.
I’ve spent the last night of 2018 at Alba-Iulia. It was my second New Year’s Eve at a restaurant and my first New Year’s Eve in wedding style, like Călin would say. We did not dislike the experience, on the contrary. As I enjoy dancing, I’ve partied till sunrise. I’ve managed to reach the room without breaking my shoes, not with their soles in my hands, like in another year. As for travels, I think it brought me a lot of luck.
My birthday caught me in Brașov, a city I’m always happy to visit. Further more, I’ve fulfilled an older wish and tried to ski. I can’t say I’m a professional now, but it was a start. Baby steps. I was pretty proud I had succeeded not to fall at all in two days.
I’ve repeated the ski experience at Poiana Brașov. I’ve also fallen for the first and only time until now. It did not hurt at all, but getting up was kind of difficult. The richest experience was the one week trip in Jordan. I’ve visited the capital Amman, lonely castles in the desert and Roman ruins in Jerash, I’ve walked around in Petra, the lost city of the Nabateans, dug into rocks, I’ve seen alive corals in the Red Sea and I’ve floated on the Dead Sea. It was a trip of accomplished wishes. Everything was exactly as I wanted it to be.
The month of April took us for the first time in Ireland. There we’ve explored the pubs with traditional music in Dublin, we’ve been hard-working students and learnt how beer and whiskey are made, we’ve visited a haunted castle and we went for a little hiking in Howth. I would have loved to watch a full show with traditional Irish dances, but sadly we did not find the perfect pub for this until the last evening (Murray’s, just in case) and the dance show was about to start when we had to be on our way to the airport. Not a big issue, one more reason to go back to this colorful, musical and really pretty city.
In Dublin I’ve used airbnb for the first time and I can recommend it to you. The accommodation was central, clean and for half the price of a hotel room. If you want to try it, by using this link you’ll get a 40$ gift from me for your first trip of over 75$ and 15$ for your first stay over 50$. I will also get 20$ for my next booking.
End of May brought us to two countries we had already seen before, Ukraine and Moldova. However, when I say this about Ukraine, it almost feels like cheating. Before, I had only crossed its border for commercial reasons. This time I visited The White Fortress, Odessa and some other village-towns on the way, where I would not return. Odessa is beautiful, modern, green, with old buildings more or less cared for and a charming cultural mix. I would advise you anytime to visit Odessa, but, if possible, by plane, without jeopardizing the “health” of any car.
On our way back we chose the path through Moldova, a country I had visited before and very dear to me, especially because my grandpa was from there. I’ve revisited Chișinău and Old Orhei. If last time we chose Cricova and Mileștii Mici, this time we chose Purcari, Mimi Castle, Asconi and Migdal-P. At Purcary I loved the tour of the winery and the view of the area from the mansion all the way to Transnistria. The rose wine at Mimi Castle was absolutely gorgeous and the ice wine left me speechless. Made out of the grapes left in the vineyards until December or artificially frozen, it gives you the impression of drinking liquid grapes, not wine.
The month of June came with Călin’s birthday and an accomplished wish for him, of course, a trip to Legoland in Denmark. We’ve prolonged the trip a little and visited some other towns besides Billund: Aarhus, Odder, Horsens, Vejle, Copenhagen, and Malmö, from where we flew back home. We had the opportunity to find out more about life in Danmark as an expat, to compare the two crowns, Danish and Swedish and relive childhood at Legoland and Tivoli Gardens. There is a lot to be said about Copenhagen. Hopefully, I will get to do it in 2019. Malmö was the first contact with Sweden and it left us a very good first impression.
July and August
During the summer months, we did not travel much to foreign countries. We’ve mostly traveled closer to home. It’s hard to figure out exactly what trips were done those months. Along the year we got to Sighișoara, Rupea, Racoș, Vama Veche, Constanța, Piatra Neamț, Făgăraș, Ocnele Mari, Slănic Prahova, Horezu and reused the tent, one of my favorite forms of short-term accommodation, after discovering it by mistake about two years ago. Lucky us, the casino in Constanța was open and we could visit it. A sad experience, taking into consideration its bad condition, but interesting nonetheless.
In September we restarted the trips in Europe with Warsaw. It was only a weekend city-break, in a total lack of days off, only for an air change. I expected to find a scenery similar to the one in Bucharest at the destination, but Warsaw had its own plans for me. It was probably the biggest surprise of 2018. It might not have been the most beautiful city, but it sure was the most different from my imagination and expectations, not at all too many.
In October I returned to Germany, this time in Hanover. I found a beautiful, quiet city, the green lung of Europe, perfect for a city break. From there we traveled to Celle, Hildesheim, Marienburg Castle, and Wolfsburg. Autostadt was another fulfilled wish for Călin, but I can’t say it was that bad for me either. October surprised me with a business trip to London, a city I had visited some years before. I did not have much time for wandering, but the hotel brought the sights directly into my room.
November ran while we were thinking about the many trips ahead of us. On the 30th of November 2018, we flew to Germany for the second time this year and checked out the Christmas markets in Nüremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Würzburg, Fürth, Erlangen and Bamberg. I was a kid again on this trip in the world of gingerbread houses and little plum men.
Next weekend we left again to the south of Belgium and Luxembourg. The final destination was Luxembourg from the start, but as we rented a cat, we took advantage to see some more cities of the two countries: Namur, Dinant, Crupet, Durbuy, Liege, Vianden, Bourscheid, Etternach, and Diekirch. A real road trip. I can say without hesitating that in Luxembourg we found the best Christmas market of this year, with the friendliest atmosphere, adults including, and delicious bad-looking food. We also visited the castle of Vianden, a fairytale castle, looking untouched from immemorial times, not recently renowned after reaching an awful state. The castle made me realize that yes, it can be done, one can rehabilitate a castle without thermopanes, synthetic grass, plastic swords or Ikea tables.
The last trip abroad of 2018 was to Athens, exactly on the night when in Bucharest was the first real snow of the year. I was impressed that this did not cause a very long delay. I had heard so many bad things about Athens, that I almost felt sorry for my choice. However, Athens was exactly what I needed. 17 degrees Celsius and blue sky after more than a month in which gray sky and rain had followed me everywhere. I took two pedestrian tours, one of them more than great and I fell in love with the Hellenic capital.
Before Christmas, we ran once more to Sibiu to see the Christmas market. I have told you before about Sibiu, a town I love and I would never refuse to see.
TravelWithASpin in 2018
Shame on me, there is not much to say about it. I only restarted writing in October 2018, after abandoning it for more than one year and a half. I’ve noticed at that moment there were a lot of days with 0 views, while now I get daily views, not many, but there are. I thank the ones that get to this blog, by error or not, and don’t immediately run away. I hope you found some useful pieces of information and that I’ve convinced you to travel more. The most read article overall is the one about the wineries in Moldova, a sign that you like wine and that you would like to check them, which makes me happy. The most read article in English was the one about the Golden Circle of Iceland, the most photogenic country I can ever think of.
I’ve also tested Instagram and Pinterest. I like both of them, compared to Twitter and Facebook that I’ve tried before them. At Facebook, I still did not succeed to separate the page of the blog from my personal page and I gave up on it for the moment. In 2019 I would like to write more and with a constant frequency and get more feedback from you. Judging by the length of this article, I think there is a lot to tell :).
Plans for 2019
I don’t think the new year will start away from home, but it should be a good year. In January-February I will fulfill an older wish that I’m still afraid to talk of, but mojito and white beaches with turquoise waters are involved. In the second part of February, I might go on a business trip to Belgrade. I’ve already visited it twice and don’t think there will be much time left for wandering, but I hope to get to go on an underground tour that I did not get to make on my previous visits.
On my birthday I would like to go skiing again, even if I did not plan anything yet. I don’t have the courage to do it before the “Big Trip”, but I would like to exercise a little afterwards. For the end of March, I bought plane tickets to Bologna la rossa, a city I look forward to seeing again. We also want to get to San Marino on this trip.
As you can see, 2018 was a much better year than I could have hoped, hard to equal. A real challenge for 2019 and the years to come. A year when we have often heard the question: “How do you get so many days off?”. But when counting them, Călin’s boss realized that we have mostly traveled on weekends and legal holidays. At the end of the year, we still have some days left for the next one.
I wish 2019 will be half as good as 2018 (but I will forgive it if it will be only a quarter as good, its brother is a real challenge), that I get to continue my trip around the world and maybe a little more dance, chapter for which I did not make much time this year. I wish you all the same thing.