2018 is coming to an end, and we continue our tradition: here comes the post about the highlights of our travels this year.
We happened to travel in 9 countries (Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania) in 2018. The funny thing is that this number was the same for both 2017 and 2016. Looks like that’s the number of countries that roughly fits in 20 days of vacation plus the long weekends. Out of these 9, three countries were new: Australia, Denmark and (oddly enough, because it’s our neighbour) Romania.
Fulfilling a dream: visiting Australia
The magical, mind-blowing, “can’t believe we got there”-destination of the year was Australia. It’s so special and so full of wonderful, unspoilt and almost completely empty beaches that we fell in love with it from the very first moment. And then some kangaroos and koalas later, we decided we have to look into opportunities to move there for long-term. (Work in progress. Also, just to put things in perspective, I need to mention that we usually want to move to any country where we spend a couple of amazing weeks. Especially if that country is so different and so far away.)
Altogether, we spent 3 weeks roadtripping along Australia’s Eastern coastline, hopping to some beautiful tropical islands occasionally (and also breaking down with our campervan occasionally). It has been our dream to visit Australia for a long time. And not very surprisingly, now it’s our dream to visit Western Australia and the Outback – both of which we missed on this trip. 😀
Hugging a koala in Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane
It’s hard to pick favorite moments from our time in Australia. But if we have to, here’s one that definitely has its place on the list: hugging a koala! I don’t think any explanation is needed.
Spending a day at Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Queensland
Guys, we’ve found the most beautiful beach on the planet! I know, I know. Big words. But Whitehaven Beach deserves some big words. It’s a 7 kilometres long stretch of fine, pure-white sand. The color of the water is the most perfect turquoise. (And there might be some deadly jellyfish in those warm tropical waters, mostly in the wet season.) Nevertheless, it’s a romantic place.
We enjoyed every moment spent on the beach (and in the water, too!), and also our hike up to Hill Inlet, and the panorama of Whitsunday Island from there. This view was the one that made us want to visit Whitsunday Island in the first place. And let me tell you that no matter how amazing pictures we’ve seen about it (and we have seen some, thanks, Instagram), no pictures can capture the countless, ever-changing shades of blue and green of the lagoon and the ocean.
Read more: Where Dreams Come True: Whitsunday Island
Diving at the Great Barrier Reef
Diving for the first time in our lives was a unique experience itself. Doing it at the Great Barrier Reef was another dream coming true.
We visited it with a day cruise that allowed us about 5 hours at the Reef – most of which we spent snorkeling. And then we had a diving introduction. We saw countless vibrant colored tropical fish. We were amazed by how mighty the Reef is. The tranquility and beauty of the underwater world was captivating. It was not our last time underwater for sure.
Our first visit to Copenhagen
But before I recite each moment we enjoyed in Australia and make you fall asleep, let’s jump to other places we loved. Places that are closer: in Europe.
We’ve visited Copenhagen for the first time. It was March, and it was snowing. And we loved everything about Copenhagen, from the colorful houses of Nyhavn to the hundreds of bikes in front of the Parliament. We visited four magnificent castles, marvelled at both the classic and the modern pieces of architecture and the vibrant graffitis of Christiania Freetown. And we liked all the smiles.
Exploring the waterfalls of Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park, Romania
Then we’ve found a barely known and very lovely corner of Romania on our first visit to the country. Nera Gorge-Beușnița National Park spoiled us with waterfalls, and also with some breathtaking karst lakes and other karst formations. It was our ideal hiking weekend: nature, stunning nature, lots of hiking and sunshine, and very few people around us.
A mummy bear with two cubs in the Făgăraș Mountains, Romania
Getting soaked all the time in Transylvania is not among our favorite experiences. On that rainy, foggy day in the Făgăraș Mountains however, something happened that made us forget about the weather (at least until the next thunderstorm): we caught a glimpse of a mummy bear with her two cubs right by the road.
Being close to bears – especially bear cubs – can be dangerous, but in this case we were sitting in our car, so we were safe. All we cared about was how cute those cubs are. (Very cute.) If I could make a wish what kind of bears to encounter and under which circumstances, I’d have wished for exactly just what happened. (Well, enjoy these rare moments, girl, you won’t have many of them, I guarantee that, says Life.)
Sunny autumn walks in and near Salzburg
We haven’t been to this part of Austria before, but not very surprisingly, we loved it very much. I mean, it’s Austria, the country of high mountains, Hallstatt and Vienna… And we had the best autumn weather we could have asked for to enjoy all of its beauties. So we did.
Salzburg’s Old Town is pretty, its city panorama is even prettier. This area offers everything from castles to waterfalls, glens and high mountains. We did our best to get a taste of all, and we came home with dear memories and with an excessive amount of photos that we didn’t manage to browse though until this very day. Oh, but I enjoyed photographing autumn colors in the Alps.
Returning to places we love
Besides getting to know new places, we also like returning to old loves. Our first visit to Slovenia was such a wonderful surprise that we couldn’t wait to visit again. We did this summer, and hiking in the Logar Valley in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps strengthened our love for this tiny, beautiful country even further.
The Tatras and Fatras of Slovakia are our favorite hiking getaways from Budapest. We spent quite a lot of weekends exploring pretty waterfalls and lesser known tracks in these national parks. Rewarding! We’ve already shared lots of beauties we’ve found (and there are still more to write about):
- Best Day Hikes In The High Tatras
- Amazing Lesser-Known Hikes In Slovakia’s High Tatras
- Best Day Hikes In Slovakia’s Little Fatra
Another place we can’t ever get bored of is Vienna. We are in love with this vibrant, magnificent city. This year we also explored a cute small town just a stone’s throw from it: Baden bei Wien. We happened to visit it at the time of a rose festival – yes, that meant romantic walks in amazing rose gardens. 🙂
Our plans for 2019
We’ve purchased air tickets to two European cities for 2019 so far. Both are super famous, super touristy, and both will be totally new to us (not counting the zillion Insta shots we’ve seen about them). We are visiting one in February and one in March, in hopes that we avoid the crowds this way. Any guesses who they are?
For the rest of 2019, we don’t have such solid plans yet. We are planning to fulfil another old dream: visiting Ireland. We’d love to visit a fabulous European island, too – one of the Canary Islands, Madeira, Mallorca, Corsica, Crete…? Do you have any good suggestion?
We’ve been eyeing with a Balkan road trip for too long now, but we’re again not sure whether it will fit next year. We definitely want to see more of Romania, even if it only means a long weekend.
How was your 2018? What are you looking forward to the most next year?