Many people get excited about the end of the year because of the holidays, the time off, the food, and seeing family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, all of that is awesome (duh), but another tradition I get excited about around this time is seeing the next year’s “where to travel” lists, the pinnacle, of course, being the NY Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2018.” Yes, I was one of the 9,000 people to apply for the job of visiting and writing about each of the 52 places over the upcoming year. I didn’t get it.
How do you measure, measure a year? 2017 was the year I spent time in 13 different countries and 11 different states. I traveled to Europe three times. I set foot on my fifth continent. I revisited London, Indianapolis, Ireland, and Portugal. I reunited with friends from college in Prague and Dublin and old coworkers in London, Chicago, and Dubrovnik. I traveled for 10 days in Cape Town with someone I met in Mandalay and for 12 days in Croatia with someone I met in Dublin. A twelfth of my year was spent dog-sitting, both in Chicago and Jersey City. I added Shenandoah National Park to my list of U.S. National Parks.
If you’re as obsessed with traveling as I am, you’ve probably heard a lot about Northern Ireland lately, which likely has something to do with the hit HBO show Game of Thrones. 80% of the scenes in GOT are filmed in Northern Ireland – though many of them are filmed in Paint Hall Studio in Belfast, and are therefore not open to visitors. I wouldn’t normally advise traveling somewhere just because it’s on television, but the scenery in Game of Thrones is truly stunning. Since returning home from my latest trip and catching up on what I missed on GOT, I’ve found myself paying even more attention to the scenery and wondering if I’ve been to more of these backdrops myself. Even if you haven’t seen the show (which, like, WHY), you’ll get a lot out of these dramatic sights and even more along the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. Read on.
After Bloghouse in Indianapolis in late June, my motivation for this blog skyrocketed, but as my latest adventure kept creeping up on me, I had too much else to do. In addition to “life”, a week before I left for St. Louis and three weeks in Europe, I still had no idea where I was going for my final week. I changed my plans multiple times, initially planning on visiting Scotland, then Wales, then Norway, and then ended up somewhere else entirely. (Yes, I’m fully aware that an extra week in Europe is the best problem in the world to have.)
As I wrote in my January recap, I waited a while for my 2017 to begin. After returning from India right before Thanksgiving and spending all of December and January either in New Jersey or New York, I was ready to take off – and take off I did. In February, I landed on a new (to me) continent, added five more countries to my list, and, for the first time, visited a European city and country I’d been before.
When I first traveled to London, to visit a friend from work on a short-term assignment abroad, it was my first time traveling outside of North America in years. At that point, I didn’t know how to initiate trips, who to travel with, or that I was allowed to spend my hard-earned money for something other than rent. The U.K. was my second time in Europe, those many years ago. And earlier this month, London was the first European city that I revisited.