So many New Year traditions have lost their meaning over the years, but one specific tradition sticks hard on me: planning the year to come and taking some time to reflect how to make next year even better than the last one.
New Year brings along so many possibilities; new kinds of attitudes, more ambitious goals and plenty of promises regarding healthy, stress-free and meaningful life.
You could do all those promises any Sunday, but New Year’s Eve gives them an additional kick. Every year it feels like a whole new beginning, an opportunity to make everything better and becoming a better person than before.
At the same time, New Year gives a reason to look back and recall how we spent the past 12 months. What could we have done better? What things or events from the previous year we wouldn’t change even if we could?
When I look back at my travels, a few special moments, trips and destinations climbed to the top of the list in the ‘I wouldn’t change’ category. To celebrate 2018, I want to share with you the most delightful travel surprises I experienced in 2017, and here they are:
5 – Beloved Rauma
No matter what ‘best of something’ lists I ever create, it’s impossible for me to skip my beautiful hometown Rauma. And I’m not even ashamed to admit this.
As every year, the greatest love of my life managed to surprise me again in a thousand different ways. On the top of my mind, the two best moments in Rauma this year were finding a stunning lean-to with divine views at sea in Reksaari Island and abseiling from the top of Kylmäpihlaja Lighthouse. The second moment must have been the most extreme event for me this year; I guess I was a bit less crazy in 2017 than usual.
When I’m talking about ways how Rauma managed to surprise me in 2017, I have to mention that thanks to Rauma and this travel blog, I was honoured to give an interview for this Rauma-related article in The Guardian last spring.
4 – Mysterious Northern Ireland
This year, the Finnish Irish Week campaign took Daniel and me on a road trip adventure in Northern Ireland. The enigmatic folktales, countless castle ruins, hidden gems waiting to be found, breathtakingly beautiful natural attractions and a night in the most haunted castle hotel of the country made me thirsty to return to the curly coastal roads of Northern Ireland. And when I finally do, I make sure I have much more time than just four days.
3 – Winter trip to Mallorca
My winter trip to Mallorca a month ago was full of unfortunate incidents and NOT so delightful surprises. Yet, the stunning landscapes made me gasp breath and doubt my eyes. And that’s the reason why Mallorca, despite the unfortunates, deserves its place on this list.
One specific thought drags me back to Mallorca. It’s the thought of Torrent de Pareis, the best but also the most challenging hiking trail of the island. My next trip to Mallorca has to be in the summertime as the trail is accessible only from May or June until September or October. One reason for this is presented in the picture below: the route ends to Sa Calobra beach which was, at the time of our winter trip, covered in water.
2 – Hitchhiking adventure through Finland
A silly idea became a reality with two innocent comments on Facebook. In the next moment, I was already preparing myself for the first hitchhiking adventure of my life. After lots of panicking, many hilarious incidents and moments of real desperation, I remember this hitchhiking trip as one of the best journeys I’ve ever taken. The biggest honour goes, of course, to the best hitchhiking partner and teammate possible, Nella from Kaukokaipuu travel blog.
After three long days, 1 700 hitchhiked kilometres and 19 different rides, a countless number of unforgettable encounters and one sleepless night at a gas station, we 30+ years old hitchhiking rookies earned our place among the 13 best hitchhiking teams in Hitchball4000, the biggest hitchhiking contest in the Nordics.
We couldn’t have been more proud of our achievement. After all, our goal before the contest was: “if we manage to hitchhike from Helsinki to Jyväskylä, we’re already winners!”
It was an adventure I’ll remember for years on.
1 – The most delightful travel surprise of the year: The Czech Republic
At the beginning of 2017, I hadn’t set a foot to the Czech Republic. Now, almost a year later, I feel proud to tell I’ve visited this beautiful country not once, but twice. I couldn’t be happier because The Czech Republic truly earns to be called as the most delightful travel surprise of 2017.
The national parks and nature reserves of the Czech Republic hide such places you wouldn’t believe they exist until you’ve seen them with your own eyes. I would have probably ranked the Czech Republic as number one already after our day trip to Bohemian Switzerland National Park at the start of the year, but our September visit at Adršpach and Teplice Rock Towns ticked all the boxes required from the most delightful travel surprise of 2017.
Don’t believe me? See it yourself.
I wish 2018 will be as memorable and full of surprises as 2017.