It wasn’t how we planned 2020 the past January. We are grateful that we even have travel memories this year – and we do have a lot! The pandemic changed all of our travel plans, but we took advantage of whatever local travel opportunities we had. And we hiked more than ever this summer.
So that number, the number of visited countries is smaller than ever this year: 6. None of them are new, we’ve already visited them before (though several regions were new to us inside these countries): Austria, Croatia, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia – and Hungary, our home. No surprise that all of them (except Italy) are Hungary’s neighbors, and we visited them by our own car. Italy is actually only there because of a short trip into the Italian Alps during our road trip in Slovenia.
The best month: September in Croatia
Instead of a cancelled trip to Sardinia, we decided to head to the closest, safest Mediterranean destination at the end of August: Croatia. Even though I spent quite some family holidays there as a kid, and we’ve been to Croatia with Csaba not only once as a couple, this trip was very different – and the highlight of our year!
First of all, there were the three of us this time. Our little Tomi has just turned one a week before our departure, and he actually learned to walk in Croatia (just like his mother 30 years earlier). But Croatia was also a lot more of those “first moments” to us: our first family beach vacation, Tomi’s first time in the sea, the first hike that he (partly) completed on his own feet.
But this trip was special for other reasons, as well. We spent an entire month in Croatia, slowly exploring its coastline from Istria until Makarska, occasionally visiting islands that were easily accessible (by which we mean accessible by bridge). We got to visit national parks and nature reserves that have been on our list for a while but have never been suitable for a hike in the summer: Risnjak National Park, Northern Velebit and Biokovo Mountains.
We strolled through almost empty old towns, and enjoyed beaches without the crowds. September is not high season, anyway. This year, it especially felt like most tourists left Croatia by September (and they probably did, partly because all the countries introduced new travel and return restrictions from the end of summer).
We know we probably won’t see Croatia like we’ve seen it this year ever again, and it’s both good and bad. Having this intimate experience is unique (even though it was not for a good reason, see pandemic…), but we can’t wait for the borders to open and we all be able to travel again freely and safely! We hope there won’t be another year like this one.
We’ve already written about some of our favorite places from this trip, but there’s a lot to come yet. See here what we have for now:
- 10 Stunning Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of
- 8 Croatian Beaches That Are Worth The Hype
- Cape Kamenjak, Our Favorite Place In Istria
Returning to Slovenia’s Julian Alps
Slovenia is one of our favorite European countries! After not leaving Budapest for months in spring, we jumped on the first opportunity to have a hiking trip in the high mountains in summer. From our neighboring countries it was Slovenia who opened their border first, and we were happy to return, so the Julian Alps of Slovenia it was.
Our first road trip with Tomi. Two weeks, countless trails, lakes and waterfalls. The most special thing about this trip was that we’ve already taken this route a couple of years ago, having visited all the famous must-see attractions, so this time we could dig for the hidden beauties no one knows about (well, locals sure do).
We’ve already published a few new posts and updated some old ones featuring those new favorite places. Read them here:
- Why Lake Bohinj Is Worth More Than One Day?
- A Picturesque Guide To Mostnica Gorge, Slovenia
- Hiking In The Soča Valley, Slovenia (updated)
- Scenic Drive Through Triglav, Slovenia (updated)
- Waterfall Hunt In Triglav National Park (updated)
A proper hiking trip to the Austrian Alps
Being Hungary’s neighbor, of course, we’ve been to Austria several times. But those were mostly long weekend getaways here and there, sightseeing in Salzburg, Vienna, Graz, Hallstatt, and some short hikes. This summer we went for 9 days and spent them in the Alps: hiking in the Dachstein-Schladming region and in Hohe Tauern National Park. We visited such well-known natural attractions like Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Krimml Waterfalls or the Liechtensteinklamm. (And we can confirm that their fame is very well deserved.)
I’d like to say we conquered several 2000+ peaks in the Austrian Alps, but we usually took the ski lifts to save most of the climb. Carrying an 11 months old baby who eats well and gets heavier each day, we were happy to do so. If you’re looking to enjoy high mountain paradise with your baby, Austria is a good place to start.
We’ve only scratched the surface about our experience in the Austrian Alps with some posts so far, but there’s more to come (I know, I usually say that, but I really want to write them all, I promise.) So read the ones we have here:
- Easy Hikes & Stunning Glacial Lakes In Austria’s Hohe Tauern National Park
- Why Is It Great To Hike With Kids In The Austrian Alps?
Challenges and takeaways
This year proved us what we always suspected but were too busy with other things (trips) to verify: Central Europe, our home and our neighboring countries are full of amazing places, and we can spend weeks and months exploring them.
This year we thought we’ll have our first flight with Tomi, but in the end we didn’t. We had our first (and second and third…) road trip and our first beach getaway with him though. The first hikes? We’ve already had them last year, but this year Tomi started to be more active during those hikes.
This year we had to cancel lots of plans, travel and more. But this year we also jumped on any opportunity to get out, enjoy nature and take a road trip whenever we can. We often hear and sometimes say to each other that “could we just skip 2020?”, but if we really think about it, we wouldn’t want to (lucky us, because it’s not a real choice, anyway). Despite the pandemic and all the challenges that came with it, we had lots of wonderful moments as a family throughout the year. At the end of 2020, we want to remember those.
Our plans for 2021
Are you kidding? Okay, but seriously, it’s too early to plan anything big. We hope we could fulfil one of our biggest travel dreams, but it might or might not happen next year. All we tell you about it for now is: it’s a long campervan adventure overseas.
But we’re sure we’ll grab each and every opportunity to get out there hiking and exploring, near or far. Here’s to a more relaxed, happier new year!
How was your 2020 – travel and otherwise?
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