All The Places I Travelled To In 2017
This year was a year of exploring Great Britain, flying across the ocean to Canada and America, visiting familiar and new places in my native country (the Netherlands) and the long awaited girls beach trip. I thought it would be fun to look back at 2017 and remind myself of the places I visited. And it might also double as inspiration if you’re thinking about booking a trip close to home or a bit further away.
The Republic of Ireland: Dublin and Adare
I started off 2017 with my boyfriend and a group of Irish friends on a stone pier in the West of Ireland, followed by a quick visit to Dublin. Since my boyfriend is Irish, it's no surprise that we end up there quite frequently. We also made a quick stop by Dublin airport by accident towards the end of the year, after missing our flights to the South East of Ireland to attend a wedding. Not to worry, after a long bus ride we finally made it to the wedding in the tiny but gorgeous Adare. It only seemed to have a handful of streets, but it didn't take very long to spot the first tourists. If you every find yourself in the area, it's definitely worth stopping by for the beautiful old buildings and churches. I snuck out of the hotel before the wedding to check out the local park and shops. So worth it!
In February my friend Lex and I hopped on a train to Exeter, as part of a collaboration with Great Western Railway. I was surprised how much we were able to see and explore in only half a day, including consuming plenty of tea, scone, pizza and cider, and you can see more of our adventures in the video I made.
Northern Ireland and Belfast
For our 2-year anniversary, Ger and I headed to Northern Ireland in March. Our first stop was Belfast, where I especially enjoyed the Botanic Gardens (no surprise there), the university campus (see above) and the Crumlin Road Gaol, a prison with lots of historical relevance and an underground tunnel that is partly closed off but used to lead to the creepy building across the road. Check out the guided tour for sure.
After that we took the train to the coast in the North. Not easy to get around without a car, especially when the single-driver taxi companies decide they'd rather stay at home on a Sunday when you call them, haha! The stunning scenery above is from the Giant's Causeway, caused by a volcanic eruption (or an epic mythical fight between giants, you pick). Two tips: the bus there only goes twice a day, so make sure you have a way of getting there + if you walk around the visitors centre on the right side, you discover that you don't actually have to buy a ticket and can actually walk to the Giants Causeway for free (the ticket gives you access to an extra museum).
There were two more places I would have loved to have made it to: the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Ballycastle and the road that served as King's Road in Game of Thrones, but we'll save those for next time. P.s. There are lots of other great Game of Thrones filming locations in the North of Ireland to check out.
In need of a day trip to the coast? Whitstable is the place to go! Marion and I escaped the city for a weekend to visit lots of boutiques and wander round near the sea. It's a small town and we ended up walking up and down the main street around 15 times over the weekend, but there was plenty to keep us entertained. See a full post about our trip here.
The very first VidCon Europe took place in Amsterdam, and this was a fantastic opportunity to spend time in my home country with my friends! In between panels and events we snuck into the city to enjoy brunch, shopping and the gorgeous weather. I think this is probably the nicest way I've ever explored Amsterdam and this short trip felt like absolute heaven. Highlights: Bagels & Beans as usual (I tweeted about them so much that they actually send me a voucher!), Coffee and Coconuts and the Rijksmuseum. Lex and I stayed for an extra day in a stunning and modern but cosy AirBnB, at canal level.
We finally made it happen this year: a girls trip with my friends Emily, Marion, Rosianna and Lex. We booked this super early, since some of us (looking at you Rosianna) plan their life 2 years in advance, so by the time we got on the plane it felt a little bit like a free trip. It was one of my first times staying at a fancy hotel with massive rooms, its own little beach and a pool where you could order cocktails. Though sitting by the pool and trying to read as many books as possible wasn't bad, my favourite parts were exploring Corfu by car. My friend Emily is an amazingly confident driver, trained in the snowy mountains of Canada, so we got to explore the, ehm, more rustic side of Corfu too (think semi-off roading, hairpin turns and road-wide pot holes). Playing the Jurassic Park soundtrack seemed like the only right thing to do. We even hiked to a hidden beach! I also adore Greek food, from fresh feta or yoghurt and honey, to buying strawberries from the back of someones van, and it was a pleasure being back after about 10 years.
When my friends Fran and Ed moved from London to Hastings, to be an artsy couple in a seaside town, I knew I'd been visiting the town a lot more in the future. My boyfriend and I have taken the train down a few times of the last years and it's surprisingly quick (and direct from London). Pros: fresh sea air, Fran knows all the best vegan cafes, picturesque cobbled streets and old houses. Cons: SO MANY HILLS. Full blog post with Hastings recommendations to come.
To celebrate Rosianna's birthday (I can't actually remember if this was at any point around her birthday, but her train ticket was my present) we hopped on the train to Winchester. I asked people on Twitter for English towns to explore, and Winchester came out on top. We had the perfect weather and pretty much went on a history tour of the town by ourselves, guided by some brochures we picked up at the local library. We walked in Keats' footsteps, visited the Hospital of St Cross, which was hosting a wedding and of course reminded us of Hogwarts, and also popped by the Winchester Cathedral and The Great Hall.
More travel inspired by friends moving! This time around Ger and I visited our friends Emily and Charlie, who moved to Toronto quite a few months ago. I jumped at the chance to make my first visit to Canada and when we arrived the weather was insanely warm for the time of year. My boyfriend unfortunately got food poisoning, but we still managed to go out and do plenty of exploring. I also got to attend Buffer Festival, a film festival for the YouTube world, and screen one of my videos in front of a huge audience in a cinema for the first time!
Cycling around Toronto Island in the sun and finally getting to visit an apple orchard and corn maze outside of the city (yay Halloween) were some of my favourite moments. I totally get why people would love this city and it feels like a combination of lots of other cities I've visited, in the best way. Hopefully I'll get to return in the next few years.
Zutphen and surrounding area, the netherlands
Every year my mom's side of the family gets together for a 5 day trip to the East of the Netherlands, and we dropped by for two days. I'm so eager to see more of my native country after moving to London 5 years ago, and it's alway nice to spend time with family, walking through forests and making some new cow friends.
On that same trip I also wanted to visit a Dutch city I've been wanting to check out for pretty much my whole life. It's a student city and people always say it's a cool one to visit. It was smaller than I expected, but with lot of nice restaurants, shops and views, it was the perfect location for a weekend break. I will forgive it for getting us totally drenched in a rain storm on our first night there... (Bonus points for having a boat that's also a pancake restaurant.)
I spent Christmas with Marion and her family, mostly in Florida but with some days in Tennessee for the actual holidays. It's so interesting to visit a place based on the fact that you're visiting someone there, rather than having picked it as the destination for a specific trip. We went straight from the airport to the Arcade Restaurant, which has some strong Wes Anderson vibes going on, for a massive breakfast and fresh beignets (!). I even convinced Marion to go for a walk with me on Christmas day, which turns out to be a bit strange when there is no pavement and no-one else to be seen...
Florida and south beach, Miami
Visiting Florida was an amazing and slightly unexpected way to end the year. I only booked the flights a few weeks in advance and I don't think I've ever spent Christmas in a warm climate before. We spent a lot of well-deserved down time with Marion's mother in Naples, going to the cinema, visiting the pier and beach and hopping on a sunset cruise. She also kindly took us on a day trip to Miami. I had passed through it before, but wasn't quite sure what to expect and South Beach was an amazing surprise. Pastel Art Deco hotels and vegetarian lunch spots galore.
Those are all the spots I visited in 2017! I have nothing planned for 2018 yet, but that's how I started out last year, so let’s see where I end up...
Safe travels and here's to a fantastic 2018!