Travel Highlights of 2017

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.

Eurostar departure area

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.

Tacky Vegas 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!

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! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Stef at Salvation Mountain

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.

Hammers of Porto

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.

Cat of Rome

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.

Rothenburg Night Watchman Tour

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!

I dream of owning a Vespa one day.But for now, I’ll settle for this poster!

18 thoughts on “Travel Highlights of 2017”

    1. Haha, yeah, at some point I did start freaking out while I was up there! But I figuratively slapped some sense into myself and went on with it! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Dave!

  1. Our family loved Riomaggiore! Such warm and friendly people. I also liked that once you climbed the main street a bit, the tourist crowds were gone. So glad you got to discover it. The piazza is where my then 4, now almost 7 year old daughter learned to ride a bike without training wheels. So it’s got a special place in her dad’s heart!

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you for sharing that story! It is so touching! What a cool memory — learning to ride a bike in Riomaggiore! What a great memory both for you and your daughter! <3

      1. She also learned to swim without water wings in a pool at our Tuscan agriturismo,so those experiences, along with taste testing Gelato at every stop, brings a big smile to her face even today whenever we mention Italy.

        1. Oh man! That’s so great! Italy is a very special place! 💚 I hope you’ll get to make more wonderful memories there together when she’s older!

  2. WOW! What a fantastic action-packed travel year you had. I had been to almost all the places but never did any of the things you did, except for riding a Vespa in Florence. That experience is still my most cherished experience. Your post has given me new travel goals for 2018. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Wow what a lovely 2017 you had while traveling. Vespa in Florence is the most beautiful one and my favorite too. Cinque terre is also another beautiful destination which I would also love to explore. Hope you have a more wonderful travel in 2018.

  4. What an awesome year! My sister walked across the highline in Austria this year as well and it looks super shaky but the views are stunning! I can’t believe you’ve been to Cinque Terre 3 times already – I haven’t even been once! It’s definitely on my list though.

  5. I live vicariously through you with these posts. Thank you for taking us along for your journey and I look forward to what 2018 has in store. It looks like you’ve been to many of my bucket list items so I’ll cherish those while I am not able to visit these places myself.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Abigail! I’m so glad to have you join me on my journey! I hope 2018 is off to a good start for you! 🙂 Happy New Year!

  6. 2017…. What a year! I really should do one of these types of posts. I’m so jealous that you got to ride a Vespa in Italy. After drinking an espresso and visiting Sardinia, that’s on my list. Keep up with the inspiring work and I’ve bookmarked your blog for further reading.

  7. Looks like 2017 was one fabulous year for you filled with travel to wonderful places. We too did only a couple of Cinque Terra villages and missed the other, you are lucky you could make up for that we too hope to return sometime soon in future and explore the missed ones. Rothenburg is one place we would want to visit when in Germany next and will be looking forward to the Nightwatchman’s Tour.
    Rashmi and Chalukya recently posted…The 11 Best Switzerland Cities and Towns to add to your Bucket ListMy Profile

  8. Seems like you had a great 2017! I love your vespa photo! I definitely romanticize the idea of riding around on a vespa in Italy, it’s the dream! I also love the idea of breakfast in London and dinner in Paris. It sounds so glamorous!

  9. You certainly have had some unique experiences in Europe! I still have to explore much of that continent. I am also eager to visit Slab City to see what all the fuss is about.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne! Hope you get the chance to explore more of Europe! And Slab City certainly is a unique place! Happy New Year!

  10. Sounds like you had quite the year! Congrats on running the Vegas half marathon – and isn’t the Cinque Terre just incredible! Can definitely understand why a vespa in Florence would be your favorite highlight – I would love to explore Italy on a scooter!

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