HAPPY NEW YEAR, dear readers!! We made it to 2014 and it’s going to be an awesome year! I’m coming off of a New Year’s Eve high where Jave and I spent the night dancing samba with caipirinhas and Champagne in hand as we shook our booties to the hip-swaying rhythms of a live samba band.
I’m so excited about all that’s in store for me and Jave this year – business opportunities, opportunities for personal growth, travel opportunities. Not to sound trite, but I’m so grateful for THIS year, THIS day, THIS moment! And I’m so happy to share some of our upcoming travel plans with you for the first part of this year.
First up, we’ll be spending just about the entire month of March in Europe. This will be Jave’s first time on the continent. The first time I went to Europe was about 13 years ago (wow – that’s bananas!) with my dad and brother where we took part in a package tour that took us to six countries in 10 days – not the ideal way to see and experience Europe. And while nearly a month still isn’t a lot of time to see and experience all that we have in store, at least this time we’ll be seeing and experiencing Europe on our own terms as opposed to being limited by a prepackaged itinerary. And if all goes as planned, my parents will be joining us for a portion of the trip, if not for our entire itinerary. So, here’s the plan…
I’ve always wanted to visit Copenhagen, but not necessarily as a part of this trip. But when we saw dirt cheap airfare from L.A. to Copenhagen on sale, we couldn’t resist. We figured that it was best to get to any European city that we could for an affordable fare, and then book cheap flights and train rides to our other European destinations.
Since booking our roundtrip flight to/from Copenhagen, I’ve been doing my homework, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about this city. On our itinerary: Nyhavn canal, Amalienborg royal palace, smørrebrød, Christiania – Copenhagen’s “free town” – and so much more! Oh, and in an effort to cut down on expensive Scandinavian costs, we’ll have our first ever stay in a hostel. Should be interesting…
After Copenhagen, we’re headed to Berlin where I’ll be attending ITB, a huge travel trade show. Attending ITB will be a first for me, and I’m hoping to learn a lot in a short amount of time. And while this won’t be my first time in Germany, it will be my first time in Berlin.
I’m looking forward to discovering this gritty, hipster city while seeing some of its historical points of interest including Museumsinsel (Museum Island) and some of Potsdam’s palaces and parks, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Budapest leg of our journey is going to be a whirlwind given our limited amount of time in the city. When first planning this trip, I was trying to decide between Budapest and Prague. Every single blog post and TripAdvisor review that I’ve read about Budapest is so positive whereas reviews of Prague have been mixed. So we decided to place our bets on Budapest.
Pictures of this city are hauntingly beautiful and I can’t wait to see and experience Budapest for myself. We’ll be staying centrally at a hotel on Vaci Utca – a touristy pedestrian street that’s known for good shopping. The city’s historical sites, a visit to the opera house, traditional Hungarian food, and lots of coffee breaks (even though I’m not a big coffee drinker) are all on the ‘to do’ list. And do it, we shall!
The France leg of our trip has been a long time coming and will definitely be one to mark off of my bucket list. From Budapest we’ll head to Paris where we’ll be staying for five nights in an apartment in Le Marais. I’m super, duper ecstatic to get a taste of life as a Parisian. It’ll be nice to explore Paris by foot and public transportation and to see all of the places that I either missed or didn’t get to fully savor when I was there the first time around. In Paris, the plan is to eat really well, slow down a bit, and volunteer. I’m hoping that our non-French speaking selves will be able to keep up with the Parisians!
When we leave Paris, we’re heading to the French countryside where we’ll be staying in a former hunting lodge on Île de la Barthelasse in Avignon. The place we’re staying at looks absolutely fabulous and it’s very well reviewed, so I hope that it lives up to the hype. Our plan is to slow things down even more for the few nights we’re in Avignon before heading to our next destination.
We will only be in Marseille for one day, but our plan is to explore some of the city’s gritty neighborhoods, explore its beautiful calanques by boat, and perhaps find a good place to try Corsican cuisine. From reviews I’ve read, a lot of people seem to have negative opinions of Marseille, but I’ve learned to never judge a book by its cover! Based on my own research so far, Marseille looks like it might be my kind of city.
We will be roadtripping from Marseille through the French Riviera with stays in St. Tropez and Nice and stops along the way in St. Maxime, Port Grimaud, Cannes, and a hop across the border for a quick visit to Monaco.
Much like the Budapest leg of our trip, I’m pretty certain that our time in Rome is going to be quite hurried. It will be my first time ever in Italy, and for the short time that we’re there, I intend to satisfy all of my gastronomical, hedonistic desires by eating as much pasta and gelato as I can. I’ve literally mapped out all of the well-reviewed restaurants and gelato parlors within a 20-minute walking range of our hotel which is located near the Spanish Steps. I mean business! Of course, Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Vatican, and all of the notable sites are also on our agenda. After Rome, we’ll head back to Copenhagen for a few nights before our departure back home to L.A.
Del Norte Coast
Visiting California’s Del Norte Coast (all the way north not too far from the Oregon border) has also been a lifelong dream of mine. The chance to see the redwoods in one of the Redwood National and State Parks is what’s drawing us to the area! But a boat ride along the Klamath River and an environmentally-related volunteer experience are also top priorities while there.
Random Dates Throughout the Year
More of California…
While Los Angeles is my biggest “frenemy” and I often gripe about living here, one thing that I don’t gripe about is living in California. I’m a Cali girl and I know that this sounds a bit braggadocious, but California is THE most beautiful state that I’ve ever visited in terms of the diversity of our landscape. Mountains, deserts, forests, lakes, oceans, and concrete jungles included – we Californians really have it all! So apart from our trip to Del Norte, Jave and I will be exploring more of our beautiful state this year. There will be winery trips, a trip back to my old stomping grounds in the Bay Area, hopefully a trip back to Monterey and Carmel – two of my favorite destinations in California – and there will even be a camping trip in the wild! And, of course, there will be more love/hate experiences to share in L.A.!
While there will be more travel in the latter half of the year, those plans have yet to be solidified. So I hope that you’ll stay tuned to see how our plans unfold…
Where are you going in 2014? Also, please feel free to share your suggestions and/or recommendations about our upcoming travel plans.