Our Vagabonding Anniversary: A One-Year Retrospective

One year ago today, Daniel and I left our home in Seattle for the last time. We planned to travel the globe and see as much of the world as possible in an epic multi-year journey.

And what a year it’s been! From hot air ballooning in Cappadocia and hiking in Croatia to driving the dizzying Going-to-the-Sun Road, we’ve had quite the adventure.

In honor of this momentous occasion, here is a look back at some of my favorite memories from the past year.

Our First Day in Croatia – Split, Croatia

Split’s Historic Old Town as viewed from Marjan Forest Park

October 16, 2019
Split truly is a magical city. Daniel and I loved exploring Diocletian’s Palace as well as Kliss Fortress and Marjan Forest Park. But nothing compares to our first glimpses of this historic town. We arrived at the ferry terminal as the setting sun cast the harbor in a lovely golden hue. Then we walked into Old Town and were immediately transported back in time.

More details are available at the following blog posts: Welcome to Croatia and Exploring Diocletian’s Palace and Marjan Forest Park.

Hiking Mount Mosor – Split, Croatia

View from the summit of Mount Mosor

October 20, 2019
My first hike in Croatia was an epic one. I took a local bus to a small village and struck out by myself up a mountain. I ended up befriending a Croatian woman and hiking part of the trail with her. I was rewarded with incredible views of the Dalmatian coastline and Adriatic Sea from the summit.

More details are available at the following blog post: Mount Mosor: A Popular Hike with Fabulous Views near Split, Croatia.

Falling for Waterfalls – Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The Great Cascade waterfall (Velike Kaskade) in Plitvice Lakes National Park

November 1, 2019
Croatia’s oldest and largest National Park, Plitvice features 16 sparkling lakes that are joined together by a series of spectacular waterfalls. Plitvice is also one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to compete with many other visitors since since we arrived in late October. Daniel and I spent three magical days in Plitvice Lakes National Park and enjoyed every minute of it.

More details are available at the following blog posts: Plitvice Lakes in the Off Season: A Misty Watery Paradise and Plitvice Lakes National Park: The Big Hiking Loop.

Rambling the Velebit Mountains – Paklenica National Park, Croatia

Anića kuk in Paklenica National Park

November 4, 2019
The Velebit is the largest mountain range in Croatia and separates the coast from the interior of the country. I first learned about the Velebit in the book Walks and Treks in Croatia by Rudolf Abraham. His descriptions of this majestic mountain range had me itching to check it out for myself. So, while Daniel and I were staying in the town of Zadar, I took the bus to Paklenica National Park one day to do some hiking.

More details are available at the following blog post: The Limestone Canyons of Paklenica National Park, Croatia.

Climbing the Ladder of Kotor Trail – Kotor, Montenegro

San Giovanni Fortress as viewed from the Ladder of Kotor Trail

November 26, 2019
Located in the stunningly beautiful Bay of Kotor, the fortified city of Kotor is framed with a backdrop of mountains that rise dramatically from the Adriatic Sea. Most visitors climb the 1355 steps to San Giovanni Fortress perched above the town, but I was after the bigger challenge. I decided to hike the Ladder of Kotor instead, a trail which climbs the same hill in parallel and continues past the fortifications up to Krstac Pass.

More details are available at the following blog post: Ladder of Kotor Trail and San Giovanni Fortress in Montenegro.

Partying with Locals at the Winter Festival – Dubrovnik, Croatia

Popular Croatian band The Frajle plays at the Dubrovnik Winter Festival

November 30, 2019
The Dubrovnik Winter Festival (Dubrovački zimski festival) is a joyful affair, featuring market stalls with holiday treats for an entire month. Daniel and I arrived on opening day and got to see Croatian band The Frajle perform on a stage set up in front of Dubrovnik’s 15th century clock tower. The Frajle is an upbeat ladies quartet which is apparently quite popular as the entire audience sang right along. Even I was singing along and I didn’t know any of their songs. It was an experience that I won’t soon forget.

More details are available at the following blog post: Joining the Party at Dubrovnik’s Winter Festival Kickoff.

Exploring an Abandoned Bobsled Track – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This boblsed track was constructed for the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo but fell into disuse during the Bosnian War

December 9, 2019
Nestled in the heart of the Dinaric Alps, Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the country’s largest city. It was also the location of the 1984 Winter Olympics. The Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track was constructed on Mount Trebević specifically for the Olympics. The track fell into disrepair during the Bosnian War in the 1990s and is now an interesting relic of the past.

More details are available at the following blog post: Foggy Smoggy Days in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Traveling by Train during the Off Season – Niš, Serbia

This train car was parked at the railroad station in Niš, Serbia.

December 18, 2019
Travelling via railway has always held a special allure for me. So Daniel and I traveled by train as much as possible during our European travels this year. Our most memorable train rides took place during our travels from Belgrade, Serbia to Sofia, Bulgaria and then on to Bucharest, Romania. No express routes were available in the off season so we took took local trains…which took forever. It was also a lot of fun.

More details are available at the following blog post: The Historic Orient Express Route: Belgrade to Sofia to Bucharest.

Touring Historic Castles – Transylvania, Romania

Peleș Castle located near Sinaia, Romania

December 28, 2019
Romania is home to many spectacular castles, including Bran Castle in Transylvania – which has long been associated with Vlad the Impaler (of Bram Stoker’s Dracula fame). Peleș Castle, used as a filming location for A Christmas Prince, is located about an hour’s drive away in the Carpathian Mountains. Since we didn’t have a car, we booked a tour with a guy named George who drove us all around the Romanian countryside in his personal car. We weren’t sure what to expect, but it ended up being one of the best days on our entire trip.

More details are available at the following blog post: A Tour of Romania’s Castles: Day Trip to Transylvania.

Ringing in the New Year with Style – Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul skyline at sunset

December 31, 2019
Since my birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, we decided to ring in the New Year with style. So we traveled to Istanbul and signed up for a pub crawl. We ended up having a fabulous time and meeting folks from all over the world. Just before midnight, our host Oytun presented me with flaming birthday cake on the dance floor. I was very surprised and utterly delighted. Soon midnight arrived and we danced in the New Year to the raucous sounds of fireworks.

More details are available at the following blog post: New Year’s Eve in Istanbul: Street Food and Birthday Pub Crawl Shenanigans.

Hot Air Ballooning at Sunrise – Cappadocia, Turkey

Sunrise over Göreme, Turkey from a Hot Air Balloon

January 11, 2020
A Cappadocia balloon ride. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but figured I’d never get the chance. During our visit to Cappadocia, however, Daniel and I found ourselves soaring over a rugged landscape dotted with craggy boulders just as the sun poked over the horizon. It was, hands down, one of the most exciting experiences of my entire life. Thinking about it now still gives me chills.

More details are available at the following blog post: Cappadocia Balloon Ride: Sunrise over Göreme.

Hiking to Drachenburg Castle on Dragon Rock – Königswinter, Germany

The fairy tale spires of Drachenburg Castle (Schloss Drachenburg)

January 28, 2020
Located between the cities of Königswinter and Bad Honnef in Germany, Drachenfels (Dragon Rock) has long served as a source of inspiration for poets and artists. While visiting Cologne, I went on a hike with my friend Tim to Dragon Rock. We got to see spectacular views of the Rhine River Valley from the summit, as well as the fairy tale castle Schloss Drachenburg.

More details are available at the following blog post: Cologne Day Trip: Hiking to Drachenburg Castle on Dragon Rock.

Tandem Bicycle Riding and other Shenanigans – Odense, Denmark

Riding a Tandem Bicycle with Tetris

February 6, 2020
For those of you who followed along on my Pacific Crest Trail Blog, you’ll recall that I spent a lot of time on trail with another hiker named Tetris (her real name is Louise). She currently lives in Odense, Denmark where she is an instructor at the Nordfyns Folk High School. When I mentioned that we’d be traveling to Denmark, Tetris invited Daniel and me to stay in her apartment for few days. Shenanigans ensued.

More details are available at the following blog post: Odense Blog: A Visit to the Home of Hans Christian Andersen.

Celebrating Carnivale in the Floating City – Venice, Italy

Sunset from the Rialto Bridge in Venice

February 12, 2020
Daniel and I arrived in Venice just in time for his birthday – and for the kickoff of the Carnivale. Venetian Carnivale is a formal, stately affair. Costumes are often very elaborate and typically feature period clothing. Lucky for us, we got a chance to see the beginning of the festival as well (as some amazing costumes) before the event was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More details are available at the following blog post: Venice Blog: Canals, Carnival and Coronavirus.

Falling in Love with the Birthplace of the Renaissance – Florence, Italy

The Florence Cathedral as viewed from Piazzale Michelangelo

February 23, 2020
There is something special about Florence that I found simply enchanting. I loved the grand buildings and beautiful artwork and over-the-top churches. Sunrise and sunset is an especially magical time in Florence, particularly when viewed from one of the graceful bridges spanning the Arno river. And don’t get me started about the food! I absolutely fell in love with Tuscan food and couldn’t get enough of it.

More details are available at the following blog post: Florence 4 Day Itinerary: Birthplace of the Renaissance.

Watching a Papier-Mâché Parade – Viareggio, Italy

One of the Incredible Parade Floats in Viareggio, Italy

February 25, 2020
The Viareggio carnival celebration is a truly memorable affair. Each year, the town’s residents construct elaborate papier-mâché puppets to adorn floats for the parade. Daniel and I got to see the parade and were totally blown away. Each puppet was taller than most buildings and took several people to manually operate.

I never got around to writing a blog post about our visit to Viareggio. You can read Daniel’s post here: Day 147 – Viareggio, Italy – Carnival in Viareggio.

Southern Spain in the Spring – Seville, Spain

Orange trees laden with fruit outside of the Seville Cathedral

March 3, 2020
When the Coronavirus outbreak took hold in Italy, Daniel and I decided to cut our Italian trip short. We flew to southern Spain and spent a couple of magical weeks there before the pandemic forced us to return home. I’ll always associate our visit to Seville with the scent of oranges. Trees laden with plump oranges lined every street. The food and wine is amazing in Seville and super cheap. We had a fabulous time and I can’t wait to go back… hopefully next time under better circumstances.

I actually never got around to writing a blog post about our visit to Seville. You can read Daniel’s post here: Day 155 – Seville, Spain – The orange blossom dream I wished would never end.

Adopting Appa, Our New Home on Wheels – Portland, Oregon

Appa, our 21-foot Volkswagen Winnebago Rialta motorhome, pictured in Grand Teton National Park

May 16, 2020
After the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined our international travels, Daniel and I had to come up with a new plan. We ultimately decided to switch gears and travel the United States in an RV. That’s where Appa entered the picture. Appa is a 21-foot 2000 Volkswagen Winnebago Rialta 22HD motorhome and she is our new home on wheels. Traveling in a Rialta has presented some unique challenges but we are still happy with our decision to include Appa into our lives.

More details are available at the following blog posts: The Misadventures of Purchasing a Motorhome on Craigslist and Turning the Rialta into a Home and Our RV Finally Has a Name.

Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road – Glacier National Park, Montana

View of Glacier National Park from Going-to-the-Sun Road

July 13, 2020
A dizzying feat of engineering, Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses Glacier National Park and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan’s Pass. The road spans 50 miles and climbs into the mountains to an elevation of over 6000 feet. I was eager to check out this road as soon as I learned about it. Sadly, the majority of the road was closed when we first arrived at Glacier National Park. But, as luck would have it, the road opened all the way to Rising Sun on the day we were due to leave.

More details are available at the following blog post: Great America Road Trip Day 8: Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Discovering the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone as viewed from Artist Point on the South Rim

July 18, 2020
I was so excited when we finally made it to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is an enormous park and it takes days to see it all properly. I pretty much loved everything about Yellowstone (except the crowds), but if I had to choose one thing I’d go with the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

More details are available at the following blog posts: Welcome to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Wandering the Jenny Lake Trail – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

View of Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point

July 24, 2020
One of the more popular trails in Grand Teton National Park, the Jenny Lake Trail encircles Jenny Lake in a scenic 7.5-mile loop. This was one of my more memorable hikes of the year as it was the longest hike I attempted after recovering from COVID-19. And it was absolutely spectacular.

More details are available at the following blog post: Great America Road Trip Day 19: Jenny Lake Hike.

Hiking around Bear’s Lodge – Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Bear’s Lodge (also called Devil’s Tower) as viewed from the Red Beds Trail

August 1, 2020
Bear’s Lodge, also known as Devil’s Tower, is a sacred place to many Native American tribes. During our short visit to this National Monument, I hiked around the monolith twice – once with Daniel and once by myself. Each time, I felt a sense of awe and reverence for this massive geological wonder.

More details are available at the following blog posts: Bear’s Lodge (Devil’s Tower) and Joyner Ridge and Red Beds Trails.

Backpacking in the Badlands – Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Sunset in Badlands National Park

August 6, 2020
I planned to do a lot of backpacking this summer, but alas, never got the chance. COVID-19 took a lot out of me and I didn’t have the energy for anything too strenuous. Daniel and I did manage one overnight backpacking trip in Badlands National Park, however. It was a lot of fun, except for when we were convinced that a herd of bison was about to trample our tent.

More details are available at the following blog post: Backpacking in the Badlands

Falling for Fall Foliage – Upper Peninsula, Michigan

A back country road in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

September 27, 2020
The fall foliage is amazing right now in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Daniel and I decided to check out the autumn colors and visited Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore during the last week of September. It was a little cold and wet but we didn’t mind.

More details about our visit to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are forthcoming in my next blog post.

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18 thoughts

  1. What an incredible year! I’ve been to a few of these places but Montenegro is on my bucket list! Glad you have been able to continue your adventures in the US!

  2. Oh wow you guys experienced so many incredible things while being on the road! Doing a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia is super high on my bucket list too 🙂

    1. Thanks Lina! The hot air balloon ride was probably my favorite thing we did all last year. I HIGHLY recommend 🙂

  3. What an adventurous year! I’m pleased you still managed to travel despite the crazy world we live in. I visited Split and Kotor last year, both stunning and Sevilla is just a few hours from where I live.

  4. This is total goals! I want to do this within the next few years. I’ve definitely added Plitvice Lakes National Park to my bucket list after reading this!

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