I feel fortunate to have experienced some incredible things this year. And in the spirit of giving my future self something to look back on, I’ve created a quick and dirty top-ten list of the past year — aka, my Travel Highlights of 2017! They’re listed in no particular order, except that I saved my most-fave for last.
10. Suspended over Reutte, Austria
Just south of the border from Bavaria in the tiny town of Reutte, Austria, is Highline 179. Connecting two castles, it’s a suspension bridge that is simultaneously terrific and terrifying!
I walked Highline 179 this summer and temporarily regretted the decision two-thirds through. But I survived the crossing — twice! — and am alive to tell the tale. Watch a time-lapse video of the adrenaline-pumping walk (above) in less than 45 seconds!
9. Eurostar Travel: Brekkie in London, dinner in Paris
If you time it right, you could do breakfast in London and lunch in Paris. Or lunch in London and dinner in Paris. But due to our 12:24pm departure, we ate our lunch on the train!
There are no sights to see en route, but something about careening under the English Channel at 200 mph adds to the excitement of the trip.
Plus, this was my first time taking the Eurostar, so I was excited! So much so that this trek made it into the top-ten list you’re reading right now!
8. Paris, Je T’aime: Orangerie & Helmut Newcake
I am a firm believer in the maxim that “Paris is always a good idea.” And each time I visit the City of Light, I try to do something new. This year, at long last, I managed to see Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie. It was Très magnifique!
Another of this year’s blog-worthy Parisian treats was of the culinary sort.
Horrible things happen if I accidentally eat gluten. So when I travel, my explorations aren’t just about historic sites or art museums. I’m also in pursuit of the best GF eats in town! In Paris that meant patronizing La Petisserie Sans Gluten — Helmut Newcake. It did not disappoint. The quiche was so delicious, in fact, I had it for lunch two days in a row.
7. Vegas Half-Marathon with my Sis!
What could be better than running a half marathon along the Vegas Strip with my sis and 25,000 other runners — some of whom were dressed in full Elvis regalia? Well, let me tell you using three little words:
These. Amazing. Hats.
Initially I too found them gaudy and god-awful, but that was before I saw the light. (It also might’ve been before consuming several miniature Jose-Cuervo margarita drinks.)
6. The Cinque Terre’s 5th Town: Riommagiore
I’ve visited Italy’s gorgeous Cinque Terre three times to date. But previously I’d only managed to see four of the five towns (Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Manarola, and Corniglia). I kept missing out on the fifth town of Riommagiore!
I'm on the Leonardo Express train to Rome's Fiumicino Airport now, wrapping up six incredible weeks of travel and getting ready to head back home. Looking forward to spending the rest of the summer in Seattle, to eating lots of tacos, and to catching up on my writing and sorting through all my pics! I feel so grateful for the experiences I've had — not just exploring new destinations and revisiting old favorites, but also having been able to spend time with some really wonderful people along the way! Ciao for now, Europe! Until next time! 😘 #postcardsfromstef #connectingacrosscultures
This year I was determined to put an end to that streak. I’m sure glad I did, as it was a real treat!
5. Salvation Mountain and East Jesus in SoCal
If you’ve been reading my recent blog posts, you’re probably sick and tired of me talking about Slab City’s Salvation Mountain and Slab City’s East Jesus. Blah blah blah. But it’s my blog, and I’ll talk about them if I want to! 🙂 🙂 🙂
All I’ll say for now, though, is that they were a highlight. And the pic above was taken at Salvation Mountain.
4. Portuguese Festivals of St. John & St. Anthony
This year I wrote plenty about my Portuguese festival experiences as well! Both about Lisbon’s Festival of Saint Anthony and about getting “hammered” at Porto’s Festival of Saint John.
Suffice it to say that both celebrations involved eating sardines, but just one involved whacking complete strangers on the head with plastic hammers. (Which is a surprisingly fun thing to do.)
3. On an Evening in Roma
I’m also very fortunate to have traveled to Rome more times than I can shake a stick at. And — as when I visit Paris — I also always try to squeeze something new into each trip to the Eternal City. This time that meant cats. Specifically, the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary.
By the way, I’m thinking about a future post dedicated solely to portraying “resting cat face.” What do you think? Would this cat make the cut?
2. Medieval Rothenburg: Nightwatchman’s Tour
This year I managed to make it back to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for the second time ever. And my previous trip was only about two decades earlier. So I was giddy as a small child on sugar in an amusement park.
I also got to do the Night Watchman’s tour, which Rick Steves describes as “flat-out the most entertaining hour of medieval wonder anywhere in Germany.” That’s quite an endorsement! And based on the fact that I was laughing embarrassingly loud throughout the tour while also learning some history, I’d have to agree.
1. Vespa in Florence
I have this thing about Vespas. And Italy. Combine the two? Well that makes for a blissful equation!
I felt just like Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” when I partook in a Vespa tour in Florence earlier this year. Except that I’m no Princess Ann and it was in Firenze, not Roma! Plus, Gregory Peck was nowhere to be seen!
That wraps up my travel highlights of 2017. I hope you’ve created some wonderful memories for yourself this year — travel or otherwise — and that 2018 will have heaps more cherished times in store! I’d love to hear some of your highlights in the comments section. Thanks for joining me!