2017 Travel Round Up

Burg Eltz, Germany, was one of my top destinations in 2017

2017 has been a pretty crazy year in terms of travel and blogging. This year, my blog started to pick up, my Instagram hit 100k followers (woohoo!) and I went on my first press trip. Although not quite as catchy as my 2016 (21 countries in my 21st year), 2017 was definitely more epic and probably also more stressful!

Here goes a round up of a crazy year…

January

January began in London, where I celebrated the new year with my close friend Zohra, watching the fireworks from Primrose Hill and also having to YouTube how you open a champagne bottle… #millennialproblems. I also left my internship at the end of the month due to a few problems and also lost my great-aunt.

Travel wise, I was based in Berlin and only did one real trip, which was at the end of the month to Prague with Flixbus. I also travelled back to the UK briefly for a funeral, but I don’t count that much as a ‘trip’!

Places stayed: 4 (2 x Airbnb in Berlin, 1 x hostel in Prague – Czech Inn, 1 x home with my parents)

Flights: 3 (London LGW – Berlin SXF with Norwegian, Prague – London LGW with SmartWings, London LGW to Berlin SXF with Norwegian)

Other notable travel: 1 x bus from Berlin to Prague with Flixbus

Total days of travel: 5

 

February

The first half of February was fairly lacking in travel since I started a new job and also found and moved into a new apartment in Berlin. The end of the month was much more eventful though since I had booked an error fare flight from Copenhagen to San Francisco! For no real apparent reason, I never wrote any articles about San Francisco (I still have one sitting in my drafts, oops). It was an amazing trip, which included a spontaneous road trip with Jim Barcelona, an old friend from Instagram, to Yosemite.

Places stayed: (2 x hostels in San Francisco – HI SF City Center & HI SF Downtown)

Flights: 5 (Copenhagen to Reykjavik KEF with WowAir, Reykjavik KEF – San Francisco SFO, SFO – KEF, KEF – CPH, CPH to Berlin TXL with AirBerlin)

Other notable travel: 1 x bus from Berlin to Copenhagen with Flixbus

Total days of travel: 7

 

March

My calendar, flight tracker and memory don’t recall anything for March. I figure I was probably trying to make it up at work since I had gone on a week trip to the US after being there for two weeks… Well, it was a quiet month apparently! I did have a university friend come to visit (apparently I don’t have entirely travel-less months), and due to strikes at the Berlin airports, I ended up travelling to Dresden, since her flight was diverted there!

We did have a lovely time in Dresden (which was my first time in the city), and then went back to Berlin and I showed her around my city. Her flight home was then cancelled (excellent…) and, in the end, she had to fly from Hamburg to London instead of from Berlin to Bristol… A slightly more eventful weekend than originally planned!

Places stayed: 0

Flights: 0

Other notable travel:  2 x bus journeys, Berlin to Dresden return with Flixbus

Total days of travel: 2

 

April

As if to make up for the lack of travel in March, I did two international weekend trips in April. In mid-April, I flew to Helsinki and spent a (chilly) weekend there, and stayed in a prison. A refurbished prison, mind you, that is now an excellent hotel. Helsinki is another trip that I still haven’t written about and need to! I took a ferry to the island of Suomenlinna and absolutely loved it – a must visit when in Helsinki!

My parents also came to visit me in Berlin during April, and we did a few train trips including to Frankfurt an der Oder and Słubice in Poland and also to Potsdam.

At the end of April (over the bank holiday), Zohra and I met up in Paris and spent four days exploring the city. This was my first time back in Paris after a bad incident and the trip resulted in me falling in love with Paris and planning a return trip.

Places stayed: 3 (1 x hotel in Helsinki – Hotel Katajanokka, 2 x hotels in Paris – Hotel Adele & Jules and Hotel Rochester Champs Elysées)

Flights: 4 (Berlin TXL – Helsinki with AirBerlin, Helsinki – Berlin TXL, Berlin SXF – Paris ORY with easyJet, ORY – SXF)

Other notable travel: 1 x return ferry to the island of Suomenlinna, Helsinki

Total days of travel: 8

 

May

Oh May, my favourite month! Well, aside from the fact it usually has exams (therefore not my favourite), it is my birthday month (automatic favourite, duh). Luckily this year I was on a placement year which meant no exams! I only did one trip in May – a birthday trip! As my birthday present, my parents paid for a lovely hotel in Thessaloniki, Greece, after I found decently priced flights with Ryanair that meant I didn’t even miss any time off work. Score!

I spent the weekend mostly relaxing at my hotel (Anatolia Hotel Thessaloniki) and not doing any Instagram or blog work – it was great. I scouted out a few good coffee spots, visited the White Tower and went on a harbour boat ride. All in all, a great birthday weekend.

Places stayed: 1 (1 x hotel in Thessaloniki – Anatolia Hotel)

Flights: 2 (Berlin SXF – Thessaloniki SKG with Ryanair, Thessaloniki SKG – Berlin SXF)

Other notable travel: 1 x harbour boat trip

Total days of travel: 3

 

June

After booking an error fare to the Dominican Republic, which was subsequently cancelled by the airline, ~I was grumpy enough about it to book the next error fare I saw for that week (since I had already asked for time off from work). So, I ended up going to Dubai!

I booked an error fare from Katowice (Poland) to Dubai for 681 Polish złoty, or £145. Cue a long bus journey to Katowice from Berlin with PolskiBus – and it turns out the staff at the help desk in Katowice Bus Station aren’t actually particularly helpful. After asking about getting to the airport, I was told ‘no English’ and sent away. Luckily, a kind soul from one of the domestic bus companies pointed me in the correct direction. I walked all the way to the bus stop, saw the buses were every two hours, then turned around and walked to the train station instead, where you could get a taxi transfer (which cost more but seemed slightly more helpful) straight to the airport. One Starbucks coffee later and I was in a taxi on the way to the airport.

The flight was with WizzAir, who aren’t known for being remotely fancy. However, it did its job and we were mostly on time. Dubai has been one of my top trips this year, although it was very different to what I expected. I actually visited during Ramadan, meaning that places were much less busy, but also I didn’t really get to try any restaurants outside of my hotels. I spent three days in Dubai, two in Abu Dhabi, and then one more in Dubai before flying back to Katowice (which is a very pleasant Polish city).

Places stayed: 3 (2 x hotels in Dubai – Mövenpick Jumeirah Beach and Four Seasons Dubai DIFC, 1 x hotel in Abu Dhabi – Jannah Burj Al Sarab, 1 x hostel in Katowice – Hostel Katowice Centrum)

Flights: 2 (Katowice KTW – Dubai DWC with WizzAir, DWC – KTW)

Other notable travel: 1 x helicopter ride over Dubai with HeliDubai, 4 x bus trips (Berlin to Katowice return with PolskiBus & Dubai to Abu Dhabi return)

Total days of travel: 9

 

July

July was also a somewhat quiet month, aside from an awesome road trip with my flatmate to Burg Eltz. I had wanted to visit the castle for quite a while and, since she had her parents’ car for the week but had to return it at the weekend, we decided to make it into a road trip. On Friday night, we drove down to her parents’ house near Mannheim. 6am Saturday it was up and out and on the road to Burg Eltz to try and arrive before it opened (because Instagram shots, duh). The trip was amazing and I need to go back to Burg Eltz again!

Places stayed: 1 (1 x flatmate’s parents’ house)

Flights: 0

Other notable travel: 1 x road trip from Berlin to Mannheim, Mannheim to Burg Eltz return and then 1 x bus trip from Mannheim to Berlin

Total days of travel: 3

 

August

August was one of my top months for European travel in terms of how much I loved it. I was no longer working, so my level of free time was excellent for travel (plus I’d just been paid). Also, apparently it was my ‘road trip’ month.

At the start of the month, two friends from university came to visit me in Berlin and we planned out a road trip. We drove (well, they drove and I navigated) from Berlin to Rakotzbrücke (The ‘Devil’s Bridge’), a beautiful bridge that forms a perfect circle with its reflection, and onwards to Görlitz, where we spent the night. Görlitz is a beautiful town on the German-Polish border that has been used for many films due to its incredibly well-preserved old town, earning it the nickname of ‘Görliwood’. We also popped across the bridge into Poland briefly. We then stayed in Pirna due to its location near the amazing Basteibrücke (Bastei Bridge) in the Saxon Switzerland National Park (Sächsische Schweiz). We also visited Dresden, stayed in Leipzig (which is beautiful) and visited Halle an der Saale (a must visit – it’s a gorgeous town) before ending up back in Berlin.

My next trip in August was also a road trip, but this time in Switzerland. I flew to Zürich where I met my friend Yasmine (the one whose flight was diverted to Dresden in March). I had secured a collaboration with Hertz for a Switzerland road trip and, since I don’t drive, Yas was to be doing that part of it. We drove from Zürich to Basel, Basel to Interlaken and then stayed in nearby Beatenberg, took the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald for the day, travelled by cable car to Pfingstegg (where we were promptly rained on), returned to Interlaken by train and took the funicular up to Harder Kulm. From Interlaken, we returned to Zürich, and I explored the city there. If you want to read more about our road trip then check out my article all about it!

All in all, August was a pretty busy month!

Places stayed: 6 (1 x hotel in Görlitz – Picobello Pension, 1 x hotel in Pirna – Hotel Sächsischer Hof Hotel Garni, 1 x hotel in Leipzig – ibis budget Leipzig Messe, 1 x hotel in Basel – The Passage Urban Retreat, 1 x hotel in Beatenberg – Dorint Blüemlisalp Beatenberg, 1 x hotel in Zürich – Mövenpick Hotel Zürich Regensdorf)

Flights: 2 (Berlin TXL – Zurich ZRH with AirBerlin, ZRH – TXL)

Other notable travel: 1 x train trip to Grindelwald from Interlaken, 1 x cable car to Pfingstegg from Grindelwald, 1 x funicular to Harder Kulm from Interlaken, 1 x road trip Berlin – Rakotzbrücke – Görlitz – Bastei – Dresden – Leipzig – Halle an der Saale – Berlin, 1 x road trip Zürich – Basel – Interlaken – Beatenberg – Interlaken – Zürich

Total days of travel: 9

 

September

WELL, if you thought August was a hectic travel month, September just takes the biscuit really. I sometimes wonder why I haven’t got any blog articles about my Germany road trip or more about Switzerland, and then I look at my schedule in September and realise my level of ‘free time’ was slightly minimal.

September started with my first (and so far only) airline collaboration, with the incredible airBaltic. I spent the first weekend of September in Riga, one of my favourite cities. After an incredible weekend exploring Riga, my friend Alissa came to visit me in Berlin – her first time in the city. The day she flew back to the UK, I was on a train and on my way to Hamburg for my first ever press trip! I spent the weekend in Hamburg with Hamburg Tourismus, exploring the city and experiencing the amazing Hamburg Cruise Days.

Sunday the 11th September – back to Berlin by train, panic pack all my belongings from my flat into a suitcase and a box and then prepare to move out of Berlin for good. Not to the UK (yet), though, as first it was time for a family holiday in Georgia with my parents. We spent an amazing week in Georgia, starting in Tbilisi before travelling to Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) and then via Tbilisi to Sighnaghi and then from there to a hotel and spa near Telavi, before returning to Tbilisi. Lots of food and lots of wine was involved on this trip!

From Tbilisi, I flew via Doha (my flight was 1h30 delayed and my layover was 1h40 in Doha… so I didn’t see much of the airport as I sprinted through it) to Jakarta for the amazing Trip of Wonders! This was one of the most epic trips of the year, with very little sleep involved. We travelled from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, from there to Tana Toraja and then eventually to Bali, to Ubud and Nusa Dua. After so many adventures and lots of new friends made, it was time to depart Bali and head back to the UK in time for the new university year to start in October…

Places stayed: 11 (1 x hostel in Riga – Seagulls Garret Hostel, 1 x hotel in Hamburg – HENRI Hotel Hamburg, 1 x Airbnb in Tbilisi, 1 x Airbnb in Kazbegi, 1 x Airbnb in Sighnaghi, 1 x hotel in Telavi – Schuchmann Wine Hotel & Spa, 1 x hotel in Jakarta – Aston Priority Simatupang, 1 x hotel in Yogyakarta – Phoenix Hotel, 1 x hotel in Borobudur – Hotel Plataran Borobudur, 1 x hotel in Makassar – ibis Budget Makassar, 1 x hotel in Rantepao – Toraja Heritage Hotel, 1 x hotel in Ubud – Hotel Komaneka Rasa Sayang Ubud, 1 x hotel in Nusa Dua – Sofitel Nusa Dua)

Flights: 14 (Berlin TXL – Riga RIX with AirBaltic, RIX – TXL, Berlin SXF – Istanbul SAW with Pegasus, Istanbul SAW – Tbilisi TBS, Tbilisi TBS – Baku GYD – Doha DOH with Qatar Airways, Doha DOH – Jakarta CGK, Jakarta HLP – Yogyakarta JOG with Batik Air, Yogyakarta JOG – Makassar UPG with Garuda Indonesia, Makassar UPG – Palopo LLO with Wings Air, LLO – UPG, Makassar UPG – Bali DPS with Lion Air, Bali DPS – Singapore SIN with KLM, Singapore SIN – Amsterdam AMS, Amsterdam AMS – Southampton SOU)

Other notable travel: 1 x return train Berlin to Hamburg, 1 x tour from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, 1 x marshrutka from Kazbegi to Tbilisi, 1 x taxi from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi, 1 x taxi from Sighnaghi to Tbilisi

Total days of travel: 25

 

October

October was a somewhat ‘relaxed’ month, as I made peace with the fact I was now a full-time student again and couldn’t just jet off places all the time (sadly). I did a few train trips up to London but most of the month was spent sorting out a new place to live in Bath!

Places stayed: 0

Flights: 0

Other notable travel: 0

Total days of travel: 0

 

November

November was a slightly busier month than October since I had previously booked an error fare from Southampton to Hawaii (Big Island) for only £350 – not bad! Hawaii (another trip I haven’t blogged about but really need to) was amazing, although started off on the wrong foot since I hadn’t realised there was a big coffee festival on and that most accommodation was booked out. Also, it turned out that getting around Hawaii without a car was much more tricky than I had foreseen. On my way back from Hawaii I had a 10-hour layover in Paris, which I mostly spent going from one cafe to another… I also had a short weekend trip to Birmingham for an annual event I go to with my parents (and have, so far, not missed one) and attended WTM in London during which time I stayed at the beautiful Dorsett Shepherds Bush.

After returning from Hawaii, my next trip was to Paris by Eurostar with the amazing Julie of Wandering Sunsets and had the pleasure of staying at the gorgeous Hotel Balmoral. She flew from Boston with her husband to visit family for the holidays, and we coincided our trips to finally meet in person, as we had ‘insta known’ each other for over a year. The trip was absolutely incredible, and I also met the lovely Emily of The Glittering Unknown as well.

Places stayed: 4 (2 x Airbnb in Hawaii, 1 x hotel in Birmingham – Hotel Campanile, 1 x hotel in London – Dorsett Shepherds Bush, 1 x hotel in Paris – Hotel Balmoral)

Flights: 7 (Southampton SOU – Paris CDG with Flybe, Paris CDG – Seattle SEA with Delta, Seattle SEA – Kailua-Kona KOA, Kailua-Kona KOA – Los Angeles LAX, Los Angeles LAX – Minneapolis MSP, Minneapolis MSP – Paris CDG, Paris CDG – Southampton SOU with Flybe)

Other notable travel: 1 x return Eurostar trip London – Paris

Total days of travel: 17

 

December

Instead of being a sensible student and not planning much travel during the month of deadlines, I ended up with a fair few trips in December. The month started with a day trip. A day trip, that is, to Stockholm. I have wanted to visit Stockholm for a while (a Swedish city I hadn’t previously been to) since I have family there and had also had the Christmas markets well recommended. Setting off late Tuesday night, I took a coach to Stansted for my 06:30 flight to Stockholm. I had about three hours to waste spare at Stansted, which ended up resulting in a pretty neat (if I do say so myself) video about the Bath Christmas Market. I then flew to Stockholm, met my cousin in the city centre, went around the Christmas Market at Gamla Stan, drank some coffee, got lunch, bought cinnamon buns and then went back to the airport for my 18:30 flight back to Stansted. My flight was delayed, then the Stansted Express was delayed, and then my coach back to Bath was delayed, so I ended up getting home at 2am instead of the planned 11pm. Let’s just say it was a long day!

My next trip was a press trip with Visit Batumi to (surprise surprise) Batumi in Georgia. Another trip that will soon (ish) be blogged about, Batumi was amazing. However, I’m pretty sure I gained about 5kg on that trip from Georgian food… We also visited Goderdzi, an amazing ski resort not far from Batumi.

I then flew from Batumi to Istanbul, Istanbul to Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi to Jakarta for my second press trip of December – again with the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, this time in collaboration with Indonesian Weekend, a weekend festival held in London that celebrates Indonesian food and culture. After two days in Jakarta, we flew to Bali for five amazing days there. Unluckily for me, my luggage *somehow* got left in Istanbul so for FIVE DAYS of the seven-day trip I didn’t have my suitcase. Which was extremely helpful… Lack of clothing aside, it was an amazing trip! I flew back to the UK on the 23rd and went home to my parents’ house for Christmas. Yay!

I am currently writing this post from my final destination of 2017 after completing my last flight of the year – Amsterdam! This morning at 07:50 I flew from Southampton to Amsterdam and am currently sat in the airport lounge awaiting the arrival of Christie for our New Years adventure!

Places stayed: 5 (1 x chalet in Goderdzi, 1 x hotel in Batumi – Radisson Blu Batumi, 1 x hotel in Jakarta – Mercure Jakarta Sabang, 1 x hotel in Bali – Mercure Bali Legian, 1 x hotel in Amsterdam – B&B Jordaan)

Flights: 11 (London STN – Stockholm NYO with Ryanair, NYO – STN, London LHR – Istanbul IST with Turkish Airlines, Istanbul IST – Batumi BUS, Batumi BUS – Istanbul IST, Istanbul IST – Abu Dhabi AUH with Etihad, Abu Dhabi AUH – Jakarta CGK, Jakarta CGK – Bali DPS with Garuda Indonesia, Bali DPS – Doha DOH with Qatar Airways, Doha DOH – London LHR, Southampton SOU – Amsterdam AMS with Flybe)

Other notable travel: 1 x return (very bumpy) bus journey from Batumi to Goderdzi

Total days of travel: 14

 

2017 Travel Round Up with App in the Air

I use App in the Air to track my flights and here is my 2017 travel round-up courtesy of them!

In summary, 2017 consisted of…

53 flights

43 places stayed in (7 Airbnbs, 5 hostels, 1 chalet, 1 friend’s houses, 1 parents’ home and 28 hotels) over 99 nights

12 countries visited (Germany, Switzerland, Georgia, Indonesia, USA, France, UK, UAE, Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden, Poland)

3 new countries visited (Georgia, Indonesia and the UAE)

102 days spent travelling (28% of the year)

191 hours flying covering 126,360 km with 18 airlines (Norwegian, SmartWings, WowAir, Airberlin, easyJet, Ryanair, WizzAir, AirBaltic, Pegasus, Batik Air, Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air, Lion Air, KLM, Flybe, Delta, Turkish Airlines, Etihad)

11 long-distance bus journeys

1 return Eurostar trip

1 helicopter tour

1 marshrutka trip

1 cable car trip

1 funicular ride

1 ferry trip and 1 harbour boat trip

All in all, a pretty eventful year! I hope you enjoyed my round-up of my slightly crazy year of travel (while being full-time employed for seven months and a full-time student for three months of it) and let’s see where 2018 takes us!

Where are you heading to in 2018?

Don’t forget to pin this if you enjoyed reading!

2017 was an amazing year of travel, with 53 flights totalling 191 hours in the air across 12 countries over 3 continents... read my year in review here!

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Suze
    January 1, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    I’m impressed at how much you packed in! I remember seeing your German castle pics on Instagram, it looked amazing. Have a wonderful 2018

    • Reply
      Penelope
      January 11, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      Oh thank you Suze!

  • Reply
    Joanne Smith
    February 20, 2018 at 4:43 am

    Great review of the year and you have visited so many places. these are awesome and so stunning photos you just shared on your trips. Can’t wait to see where you are off to in 2018. Anyway, I will travel to London next month!

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