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When I first started 2017, I thought to myself: I’m definitely going to do monthly updates on the blog. Round-ups of life musings, what I did the previous month, and all that fun stuff.
Then, I went on a whirlwind of non-stop travel to Italy, Egypt and Jordan and promptly threw that idea out the window.
Then I thought, ooh let’s do quarterly updates! They’re less of a time commitment and I can pretend that I didn’t spend an entire month furiously typing on my couch instead of traveling.
Well. It’s now August 1st, but for the sake of my guilt, let’s pretend that it’s July 1st and that this is *actually* a mid-year check-in. Cool? Cool.
So what have I been up to since my New Years update and what’s coming next?
Table of Contents
I conveniently timed my temporary escape from North America to right before the inauguration, especially because I was still feeling the raw sting of post-election emotions. I jetted off to an awesome summer destination instead…except I did it in the middle of winter.
My sister and I tackled Naples and the Amalfi coast, and boy was it gorgeous. I have to admit, it’s pretty incredible to travel during dead season (seriously, all the shops in Capri were closed) but if you do want to explore a place with some liveliness and minimal tourists, maybe aim for shoulder season instead. I was told that March / April is the best time to visit.
Anyway, Naples has definitely earned its reputation as a grungy city, but that’s exactly why I liked it. Where else can you get an excellent combination of street art and carb heaven? Pizza, come to mama! Of course, the Amalfi Coast is just as beautiful as you’ve seen in photos…with prices to match. I’m going to go ahead and be controversial and say that I personally find Italy to be a tad overrated and that there are beautiful coastlines everywhere. And I will promptly follow that up with this pretty photo of Positano because you probably don’t care about my opinion with views that look like this.
Next, I headed back “home” to Egypt, for the first time in eight years. My family is part Egyptian and I welcomed the opportunity to be able to visit in winter for once, and play tourist as much as possible. I spent two weeks exploring with my family, tackling chunks of Cairo, Alexandria, and Hurghada – and even going camping for the first time EVER. Note: Yes it was fun but I very much appreciate having a toilet around. I’m definitely bringing a SheWee next time.
Like January, February was filled with travels. I was determined to be a tourist in Egypt (and do more Middle East travel because I was tired everyone saying it’s unsafe). So, I did an AMAZING two-week tour with Intrepid Travel. Words cannot describe how much I loved my time in Egypt and Jordan. The tour guides were amazing, my fellow travelers were super cool, the landscapes were utterly mind-blowing, and the food was mouthwatering. Win, win, win. I’ve only written about Egypt so far (I know, I know, I’m terrible) but you can check out the trip itinerary itself here.
By the end of the month, I was definitely more than a little exhausted from 6 weeks of nonstop travel. I arrived to Madrid, my spring home base, at the end of February, and heroically celebrated my travels by becoming very best friends with my laptop and my couch.
Madrid, Toledo and Andalusia:
Naturally, my hermit tendencies didn’t last too long, especially in one of my favorite cities. March took me on a day trip to Toledo, an ancient city about an hour outside of Madrid that is known for its beautiful architecture. And of course, let’s not forget my weeklong Spanish intensive with Pueblo Español, where I spent 8 days in the tiny pueblo of Ubeda in Southern Spain, speaking NO English. You can read all about that adventure here. I finished off March with a few days visiting a friend in Nerja, a beautiful beachside city on the Costa del Sol. We did some road tripping around the coast, stopping at more beautiful sites than I could count.
Madrid, Mallorca, Andalusia, and Barcelona
In April, one of my good friends from home came to visit me in Madrid and we took an epic trip to Mallorca. I’d been dying to visit Mallorca for a while and let me tell you, it is definitely worth the hype. Beautiful beaches, awe-inspiring mountains and terrifying winding roads is how I would best describe the largest of the Balearic islands. Of course, the fun didn’t stop there. A few days after my friend left, I took a train (my FAVORITE mode of transportation) back to Southern Spain, this time to meet up with a blogger friend! Chantell from Adoration 4 Adventure and I had never traveled together before, but we were both based in Spain at the time and figured why not? Together, we explore Cadiz, Tarifa, Gibraltar and Malaga before I continued solo to Barcelona in time for St Jordi’s Day. And yes, by the time I made it home to Madrid, it was nearly the end of the month.
Estonia, Romania, and Latvia
In my head, May was going to be a “chill” month. Clearly, as shown by my travel plans up until now, I don’t actually know how to have a chill anything. When Chantell asked if I wanted to visit Estonia and Latvia with her, I said yes. When Experience Bucharest invited me on their five-day blogger extravaganza, I said yes. And this prompted two weeks of (sponsored!) trips from Estonia to Romania to Latvia. Each country was more beautiful than the last, but Bucharest was truly the most surprising destination of them all. It somehow manages to be both grungy and beautiful at the same time, where both history and modernity sit by side by side harmoniously.
I took a side detour to Copenhagen enroute to Madrid, and by the time I got back, I had exactly 1 week left in the city. What a whirlwind indeed. By the time I made it home to California in June, I was experiencing a little bit of travel burnout and was more than ready to relax at home.
June was Ramadan, and fasting almost forces you to chill. It’s difficult to be productive when you fast from sun up to sun down. I also celebrated my 27th birthday in June, making me officially “late 20’s” *freaks out.* Plus, my extended family was in town for a good chunk of the month, so I spent a lot of time with them as well.
Fun fact: I have TWO jobs – I work on this website but I also work remotely for a marketing agency based in Los Angeles. I half-heartedly attempted both a trip to Mexico and a trip to San Francisco in July, but neither of them panned out. In retrospect, that’s probably a good thing since work was particularly busy this month and I spent most of my days furiously typing on my laptop. Digital nomading isn’t that glamorous, I promise.
Where to next?
Greece and Lebanon!
Somehow it is now August. #HOWSWAY?! My sister and I are traveling together this month, leaving for Greece and Lebanon in about a week or so. We will be gone until the end of August. This is definitely a short trip by my average standard, but I’m sure it’s going to be busy!
Greece: I’ll be spending time in and out of Athens, but the highlight of this trip is definitely going to be our week-long sailing adventure with A Dot in the Blue! I’ve only ever done overnight sailing trips, but I’m excited to make some new friends and spend the better part of a week working on my tan and “swimming” (aka chilling in a floatie).
Lebanon: I know I haven’t held up my promise to explore the Middle East as much as I would have liked, but hey – we still have 5 months left in the year! Known as the Paris of the Middle East, Lebanon has been on my list for ages. I know it’s in a bit of a precarious location in the Middle East, but it’s pretty stable and I live by the philosophy, if not now, when?
Well, I classify all my life plans as tentative until I have an actual flight booked SO my tentative plans for the last four months of the year include Mexico, Ireland (blogger friends – any of you going to TBEX?), Sudan, and Egypt. Ideally, I’d like to squeeze in a side trip to Oman too but you know, that might be a little ambitious. We shall see. Live in the moment, right?
I can’t wait to explore two new destinations this month!
Until next time (because let’s be real, who knows when the next update will be?),