Until today, I was not planning on a 2016 highlights article. But as I was thawing the frozen chunks of meat I plan to cook for Media Noche, a couple of thoughts sprang on me. Sure, this year may not be the best year of my life, but the relationships I have formed and the friends I gained were undeniably treasured. Above all, I’ve gathered enough of myself this year to finally push through launching my blog (hooray!), something I have been procrastinating about for the past years.
Most bloggers I know have already published an annual review and indeed a yearly look back is a beautiful reminder of how the past 365 days have been. All those happy memories, great time spent with the people you love; maybe you broke your heart or you spent a quarter of last year fighting your way out of struggles. All these conjure to this very moment, and most importantly how we are left wiser and stronger by everything life had to offer.
At a glance, my past year was not bad at all, however, it was just lackluster in comparison to the year beforehand. In so many ways, 2015 is still the best year of my life because it allowed me to save up and travel more, achieve professional advancements and on top of that I was reunited with my partner who I am proud to say, has also become a nurse here in the UK. And yet, even with that said, I realized that the friends I found and the travel experiences I went through this year were just as meaningful. And with my blog finally rolled out into reality, how can I not love 2016? I’ve picked out the top moments of my travels this year and I hope they make you smile as much as it warmed my heart reminiscing all the good times I was so blessed to have.
[ 5 ] Foodtripping in Cardiff
We went for a city break to Cardiff last March and were pleasantly surprised by its thriving food scene! It was exciting to try all the local flavors and not to mention the desserts that were prepared extraordinarily. Foodtripping in the capital city of Wales made it on my top 5 because aside from all the delicious food everywhere, I realized that a great way to know a place is through one’s taste buds. My personal favorite is a cheese shop called Madame Fromage which serves this addicting Dragon Rarebit – a savory twist to Cardiff’s infamous local dish. Equally impressive and edging on the magical was Science Cream where your sweet cravings are created right before your eyes through the use of liquid nitrogen. Yeah, you read that right.
[ 4 ] Witnessing the Iconic Tour Eiffel
I am going to be honest here, I am not very fond of Paris. For something so well-talked about, the city was well below my expectations. Rock bottom low. The only upside was when I got to gawk at the Eiffel Tower in real life – it really is bigger than it looks in pictures by the way. This tower is an icon of the world, and I am simply glad to see what they hype is all about (not very much honestly). On a completely different note, it is also in Paris where I had another travel mishap that taught me a lesson the hard way. My entire bag got swindled away from me on our first day, together with all its contents: flat keys, Pandora bracelet, money and bank cards. I replaced all the lost items sure, but I was traveling that time on an expired travel insurance policy so I could not even make a claim for my loss. Lesson learned: update your travel insurance and make sure you are protected when traveling.
And beware of thieves when in Paris.
[ 3 ] Ultimate Thermal Bath Experience in Budapest
I welcomed 2016 with a travel escapade which led me to the unforgettable city of Budapest in Hungary. I was captivated by a lot of things in Hungary (Palinka!) but the Szechenyi Thermal Bath reigns closest to my heart. It was a social experience I will never forget and it widened my perspective immensely while enjoying the entire time. I never knew that I had it in me to wear a proper swimsuit at freezing point weather and jump to a hot, steaming pool. Irreplaceable time of my life.
[ 2 ] Brunch while overlooking the beautiful city of Prague
Sightseeing in Prague during Autumn was great but for some reason, this particular travel story of mine was made special by the small, random moments we spent in the city. Of course, we saw all the major tourist attractions but what made my heart swell with joy was the tiny moments of peace and admiration that sporadically graced our trip. Here, I was able to indulge in imbibing the city atmosphere as much as I want to because of how relaxed our itinerary turned out. I can vividly remember this warm autumn day like it was yesterday, where we chanced upon this restaurant that overlooked Prague like no other. I happily chomped on my Beef Goulash and proceeded with dessert coffee, breathing in the view like my life depended on it.
Also read: TOP 5 PRAGUE EATS
[ 1 ] Cavorting in Sanremo
My top travel highlight for 2016? It can only be my Sanremo adventure! Last August, I decided to go back to the French Riviera (it has become an annual thing) and catch up with a good friend. The Riviera did not disappoint as usual, but when we crossed over to Italy to visit Sanremo – I was blown away! I live for days under the sun, sprawling beside the beach and a for such great views. This place was like an answered prayer to my life. Absolutely stunning views, the sun blaring on our sticky skins and all cocktails somehow taste better when drank by the beach. Catching up with my friend Ricky was a bonus and although he had finished his Masters with flying colors (as expected) and is now back in the Philippines, we still keep in touch. Because real friendship defy distances as vast as the oceans.
Maybe 2016 was more of a working year for me – at least that is how it felt. But I cannot deny that there were blessings that came along with it and at the end of the day, it made me a better person. I wish anyone reading this a prosperous 2017. And as for me, I am looking forward to next year with a smile – and maybe a new passport holder and a shiny luggage bag. HAPPY NEW YEAR!