2017 in review

2017 has been a great year for traveling and I’m incredible grateful for all the new places that I’ve visited and the wonderful memories that I’ve made, but also very excited about 2018 and I’m looking forward to new adventures this year.


  • Berlin and Prague
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

I welcomed 2017 in Berlin. I was in Berlin for the very first and I found it a genuinely recent history lesson because of The Memorial of Murdered Jews, East Side Gallery (~1km section of the former Berlin Wall now memorial of freedom, full of graffitis), Checkpoint Charlie (former crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin) or even the possibility of buying painted small concrete pieces from the demolished Berlin Wall.

Pieces of the Berlin Wall as souvenirs, Berlin
East Side Gallery, Berlin

Then took a train to Prague. The city truly oversurprised me and I instantly fell in love with the city. It has very beautiful and well preserved architecture (especially churches and bridges), it’s full of history and stories and  very welcoming. It started snowing while I was in the Old City Square and with the iconic Church of Our Lady before Týn in the background, made me remember Prague as a fairytale city.

Chuch of Our Lady before Týn, Prague
Trdelník on the streets of Prague
Bridges over Vltava, Prague


  • US trip: West Coast tech hubs – San Francisco and Seattle
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
I work for a tech company based in San Francisco so this was basically a work trip, but I enjoyed being back in California and the city by the bay.
Seattle skyline
Also took a weekend trip to the other tech hub on the West Coast: Seattle. I really liked its skyline – it’s one of the best I’ve seen in the US so far. It was kind of unfortunate to rain literally the entire time, so had only gloomy and cold weather, thus not very good looking pictures.


  • Hamburg and Hanover
Hamburg panorama
Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg

I had the chance to see Hamburg during another work trip while visiting my company’s other European office. It’s a nice, clean city. I hoped to get inside the newly opened Elbphilharmonie, but tough luck, everything was sold out (including tickets to concerts and guided tours).

Bonus: day trip to Hanover

  • Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfall

Iceland was one of the peaks this year. What was supposed to be a weekend chasing the Northern Lights ended up in no Northern Lights, breathtaking nature, little sleep and tons of amazing memories. The most intense 48 hours I’ve spent traveling so far, but it was worth every minute.

Glacier Lagoon
Beach at the Atlantic Ocean near Vik

Hoping to see the Northern Lights this February in Finnish Lapland. Fingers crossed! 🙂

  • Slovenia
Bohinj Lake

This was another weekend trip (Saturday, Sunday). The first day I’ve explored the capital Ljubljana and the second day was for the Julian Alps. I’ve been to Bohinj Lake in Triglav National Park and to Bled for both the lake and town.

I really enjoyed my time in Ljubljana. The weather was sunny and warm. I walked down the cobblestone streets of the old city, went up to the Ljubljana Castle for a good panorama over the city, discovered delicious local food (shoutout for Gibanica) and made sure to take a picture with the green dragon(s) – which is the symbol of the city by the way –  from The Dragon Bridge.

Lake Bled

The Alps are very beautiful in Slovenia. Bohinj Lake is the largest lake in the country, less crowded then the famous little brother, Lake Bled. The latter offers stunning views especially from the Bled Castle. The weather wasn’t great in the morning, but luckily the clouds uplifted towards the afternoon and finally the sun and some clear sky made their way. Didn’t have a chance to travel to the island in the middle of the lake with a Pletna boat, but it’s a good reason to come here again.


  • Easter in Scotland
Edinburgh from Calton Hill
I’ve been leaving in the UK for two years at that time, but I’ve never been to Scotland so the two day bank holiday for Easter plus the weekend made space for a 4 day trip to beautiful Scotland.
Scottish Highlands

I roughly spent two days in Edinburgh, one day in Scottish Highlands (that included a boat trip on the iconic Loch Ness; we didn’t spot Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster) and one day in Glasgow.

George Square, Glasgow

Edinburgh and Glasgow are relatively close to each other, but they have complete different cultures: while Edinburgh is royal, with an old history, gorgeous architecture and thus traditional, Glasgow is a lively, modern city – it has some good samples of modern architecture too – with people being rather informal and bold. To draw a parallel between the two, Edinburgh hosts Holyrood Palace (the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland) since the XVII-th century, while Glasgow went through the Industry Revolution, has a circle line metro system or an auditorium by Clyde River designer by Sir Norman Foster.

Clyde Arc, Glasgow
  • Paris

2017 marked ten years since my first visit to Paris so it was a good enough excuse to pay another visit to the City of Lights.

Eiffel Tower by night, Paris


  • Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia
Breakfast in Baku
Baku is a mix of old and new, of poverty and wealth, it’s definitely full of contrasts: from the Maiden Tower which is located in the UNESCO Old City Center to the Flame Towers the complex of three buildings that look like the flames of a fire.
Old City Center and the Flame Towers, Baku
 A wow of Baku was Heydar Aliyev Center designed by the Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid which is absolutely stunning. It hosts concerts and other events. 
Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of Georgia? That is Joseph Stalin’s home country, isn’t it? Let’s forget about it. Georgia is more than that: it has amazing nature (Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea are only a few examples), really good wines, a very cool capital and delicious food.

Gergeti Trinity Church on Mount Kazbegi, Georgia
Tbilisi, Georgia

Armenia is a very special country and I’ve written here 6 reasons why it’s so. Despite labeling Yerevan as the uglies capital in Europe (I haven’t been to all European capitals, but most of them), I’ve discovered lots of beautiful, red stone, simple churches – Armenia is the first Christian country in the world by the way – with unique khachkars at their entrance. I’ve stared at the Biblical Mount Ararat (national symbol of Armenia, it’s even on their passport stamps) located in Turkey, had come cognac at the Ararat Brandy Factory in Yerevan, travelled with the Wings of Tatev, the longest non-stop cable car in the world listed in Guinness World Records Book, ate lavash or walked on the banks of Lake Sevan.

Yerevan panorama with Mount Ararat partially hidden in the clouds
Noravank Monastery


  • Paris for Rolland Garros
Court Philippe Chatrier, Roland Garros

I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the Roland Garros Tennis Championship (French Open) ladies final and even luckier to see Simona Halep playing for her maiden slam. The story didn’t end the way I wanted (she lost), but I’m sure next time it will be different.

  • London royal events: Trooping the Colours, Royal Ascot and Queen’s Club Tennis Championship
RAF fly-past above Buckingham Palace

Trooping the Color or Queen’s Birthday Parade is an annual event that happens in June to celebrate the Queen’s birthday which is actually in April, but it’s celebrated two months later because it’s likely to have good weather in London. You have a chance to see her troops (the iconic, lovely soldiers with red uniforms and fluffy black hats and you see lots of them), the Royal Family at the balcony or the RAF fly-past.

The Royal Family at the balcony of Buckingham Palace
The Queen’s Guard
Literally the next week was the Royal Ascot, a horse racing event happening at a racecourse in Ascot, Berkshire which is attended by members of the royal family including the Queen herself.
Last Race at Royal Ascot
A special attire is required to attend the event (usually day dress and fascinator/hat for ladies and morning coat for gentlemen, but the dress code my depend on the enclosure you have a ticket for).
I went on Saturday and I got a glimpse of the Queen while she was in her car leaving the venue which was unbelievable: to see the Queen two times in one week.
The Queen leaving Ascot in her Rolce Royce
Honorable mention: Queen’s Club Tennis Championship which at least is held in a location with a royal name. It’s a major gentlemen only grass tennis tournament pre-Wimbledon happening in West London. The match was great, but what was jaw dropping was that I dropped my phone from where I was seated (my seat was on one of the very last rows; there were some scaffolding style grandstands which had open space at foot level), the organisers were able to find it, the screen was not broken and it was still working!! It was damaged in the left up corner, but still… I eventually replaced it within a few months because the battery was weaker and weaker. If you’re curious it was a OnePlus Two.
 Queen’s Club Championship Gentlemen’s Final


  • US West Coast trio: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas
My first ever baseball match on AT&T Park, San Francisco

There was San Francisco again in July when I went to a Baseball Game for the first time. I didn’t know the rules, I still don’t know them, so I simply watched the game until it stared to feel very slow and boring and decided to “tour” the stadium and see what are Americans eating and drinking during these kind of matches (and you can imagine what the answer is).

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

I liked LA’s beaches at the Pacific and the South American/Latin vibes from there and the Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gerry but I think that was all. The public transportation is terrible for the second largest city in the US. You really need a car to move around the city, I had to Uber everywhere and spent a lot of money on transportation. The downtown was full of weird homeless people.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
Hollywood sign, Los Angeles

The panorama from the Griffith Observatory was average. Disclaimer: I’m not a movie person, so the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills or Universal Studios weren’t necessary the main attractions of the city.

Las Vegas sign
On my way back I visited Las Vegas. I found it very different from what I imagined. It’s a unique place with huge hotels and casinos, luxury shops, alcohol and more… My highlights would be  attending a Cirque du Soleil show, watching the Fountains of Bellagio at night, walking down the strip alone at 10pm, and the panorama from the 109th floor of the Stratosphere Tower.
Paris Las Vegas and High Roller wheel, Las Vegas
Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas
Las Vegas panorama by night from the 109th floor of the Stratosphere Tower


  • Norway
Italian cruise ship in Stavanger
Lysefjord, Norway
If I had any more doubts about how much I love Scandinavia and Northern Europe, than this trip made things clear. I did the hike to Pulpit Rock from Stavanger and took a cruise on Lysefjord that surprisingly offered the chance to cuddle wild goats that visited our boat from the land (it looks like in this country not only people are incredibly friendly, but also the animals) and drink fresh water from a waterfall that was falling into the fjord. The natural landscapes were breathtaking.
Preikestolen and Lysefjord, Norway
In Oslo I hoped to see The Scream by the famous Norwegian Edvard Munch, but Monday was not my lucky day. He painted four versions of it in total, out of which two could be found in Oslo. One at the National Gallery which is closed on Mondays and the other at the Munch Museum which didn’t have it on display at that time. But the bright side is that this is a good reason to come back to Oslo. Also maybe for a ballet at the Oslo Opera House which is a piece of beautiful modern architecture.
Viking Ship Museum, Oslo


  • Tenerife

This was supposed to be the beach holiday of this year, but compared to my previous year visit to Mallorca (in the Spanish Balearic Islands) it was kind of disappointing. The weather was windy (and it looks like this is common over there), the beaches were average or below (crowded, relatively small and some had some nasty stones under water so you had to walk carefully to make sure you don’t get injured), some of the had grey sand, but not very impressive, no particular blue coloured water, little public transport (the buses were fine, but the frequency was bad and taxis were extremely expensive), expensive food.

Las Teresitas Beach, Tenerife

I still cannot understand why so many people decide to spend a lot of money on all-inclusive packages to come here. The only reason I would come back would be for Teide Volcano (also tallest mountain in Spain) and the observatory.



  • Florida: Orlando and Miami
Orlando, FL

I finally made it to the sunshine state for the Grace Hopper Conference (of women in computing/technology) which was in Orlando. Didn’t seen the main tourist attractions which didn’t sounds very interesting to me Universal Studios (not a movie person at all), Walt Disney World (I’ve been to the one in Paris which was ok, but wasn’t keen to see another one), SeaWorld Theme Park or Kennedy Space Center (I’ve been to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and I think that was enough), but the conference was very interesting, I’ve learnt new stuff things and had a lot of fun (especially at the closing party).

Miami Beach

On my way back home I explored Miami and Everglades National Park. I found Miami Beach completely different from what I’ve imagines: desert, dirty, with abandoned lifeguard towers. I found nothing from the posh looking pictures from brochures and postcards.

Miami skyline

I’ve seen huge, colourful iguanas on Miami streets which was scary (at the beginning, before realizing that they were more scared of me than I was of them) surprising and wow at the same time and experiences Everglades National Park from an open air boat seat.

Everglades National Park

The weather in Florida might be slightly uncomfortable: very hot and humid and one could struggle a little bit to breath. It was kind of funny to see the main doors from my hotel extremely wet because of the temperature difference – inside it was freezing cold.


  • India and Nepal
This trip was one of the main experiences of 2017 and that’s because both India and Nepal (but mostly India) were very different from all the 40 countries I’ve been to so far.
One important thing that struck me about India is that the internet/brochures are producing a completely wrong picture of India. You think it’s this

Taj Mahal, Agra
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

and this

Delicious Indian food

when India is also this

Varanasi, India


Varanasi, India

and this.

Agra, India
I will put some time aside to write more about India in a dedicated post including my experience with Indian (night) trains.


Monkey Temple, Kathmandu
Pashupatinat Temple, Kathmandu


  • Romania
Craiova, Romania
Flew home for the second time this year, but what I wanted to mention here is that I’ve spent our National Day in my hometown. I’ve watched the military parade along with my father and that was very nice.
  • Monaco and Nice

Ending the 2017 trips by flying to Monaco, my 41st country.

Nice panorama

Despite the horrible weather that I got (a lot of rain and cold winds) Nice was actually very nice. I imagine it has to be lovely in summer when there is a lot of sunshine. The architecture, the cafes and the small boutiques reminded me of Paris, but while the buildings in the capital are tall, simple and clean, the ones in the old city center in Nice were painted in warm, colourful shades.

Nice details


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