It’s that time again of the year, time to look back on the past year and reminisce about my favourite travel moments. To be fair, at the start of 2020 this list was going to look completely different and would have definitely included road tripping through the Lofoten islands in Norway and exploring Japan during Fall season. But oh well, 2020 was such a kick in the balls year that I am grateful I still got to travel at all this year!
Last year this list looked a lot different and included a ton of international travel that lead me all over the world. This year however, not so much. I focussed on local and safe international travel which led me to some of the most beautiful landscapes Europe has to offer. And it also made me appreciate my own country a lot more. I used to think of Belgium as pretty boring but if you keep on reading you’ll see it has a lot to offer!
My Top 10 Travel Moments from 2020
10. Going on a mini road trip and ending up in a Winter Wonderland by accident
Remember those good old days where you could just drive to anywhere you wanted and not have to worry about restrictions? Yeah… it feels like it was already years ago. But last February I went on a little day trip to Germany to visit one of my all time favourite castles: Burg Eltz. After waking up at the crack of dawn I jumped into my car and drove for 3,5 hours in the dark to arrive at the castle right before sunrise. Afterwards I stopped at the Geierlay suspension bridge and the last stop of the day would be Monschau, a small German town right across the border from Belgium.
But before I arrived I suddenly found myself driving through tons and tons of snow and everywhere I looked trees where covered with layers and layers of white powder. I got so excited cause I hadn’t seen snow like this in Belgium for years! Honestly, I didn’t even know we had snowy places like this :p. I parked my car alongside the road and started taking as many photos as I could.
The drive back home was something else. Our roads in Belgium are not the best, especially not after some snowfall. It was a beautiful adventure but in the end I was happy to arrive back home in one piece!
9. Exploring Belgium during Fall season
More than a year… that’s how long I planned the perfect Fall road trip to the Dolomites. So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived and the grounds were already covered in snow…But when I returned to Belgium I was greeted by the most beautiful Fall colours and even that there weren’t any mountains in the background I still managed to capture some beautiful landscapes!
On the weekends we would grab the car and drive to some of the most beautiful places in Wallonia. Wallonia is the French speaking half of Belgium and while Flanders takes the cake when it comes to cities and architecture, if you love nature you need to visit the Ardennes in Wallonia.
One of my favourite places here was Rocher du Hat, a beautiful lookout point in the Ardennes over the river Semois!
8. Going on my very first press trip to Trentino
When they asked me at the end of 2019 if I wanted to come on a press trip to Trentino at the start of January I immediately said yes! Together with a group of 20 other amazing creators I got to explore this beautiful area in the Dolomites in the Winter. I landed in Venice and after a few hours we were driving next to the snow capped mountains. As soon as I set foot outside I could feel the fresh air and I knew I was back at one of my favourite places in the world.
The entire trip was filled with a ton of fun activities but the most fun part for me was to connect with other creatives. It’s not often people truly understand what I do or try to achieve and now all of a sudden everyone was in the same boat as I was. Together we witnessed some incredible sunrises and landscapes and we even went dogsledding! Okay no, I watched other people dogsledding cause at the time I didn’t know if it was an ethical activity or not. When it comes to animal tourism I always prefer to be extra careful.
But one of the most incredible experiences on this trip is when I got to go paragliding over the Dolomites! Nothing could have prepared me for this feeling… ok, maybe the bottle of wine that I shared with my partner in crime right before our flight did. But there I was soaring high up in the sky overlooking the jagged mountain peaks of the Dolomites! Those 20 minutes in the air literally flew by and before I knew it both my feet were back on solid ground. I started squealing from happiness and the first thing that came out of my mouth was: “I wanna go agaaaaaaain!”
So if you ever find yourself in the Dolomites, or any other mountain range for that matter, and you’re looking for a fun and adventurous activity, then paragliding is the way to go!
7. Staying at one of my bucket list hotels in Switzerland
I have always been a huge fan of luxury hotels so it comes as no surprise that I have a list of bucket list hotels where I want to stay at least once in my life. Villa Honegg in Switzerland is one of those hotels and last Summer I had the pleasure of staying here for 2 nights.
This experience would have probably been higher up this list if Christof would have been with me. Cause to be fair, I was alone here and completely surrounded by couples and families. Nevertheless I had an amazing time and enjoyed some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets of 2020!
6. Chasing Castles and Trolls in Belgium
I never would have thought that my own country would make it up this high on this list. But when the first lockdown ended we still weren’t allowed to cross borders. So I decided to make the most out of it and explore as much of Belgium as possible.
I never could have imagined I would find so many beautiful and unique places only 1 hour driving from where I live. Some were even right around the corner! It left me with a new found appreciation for my own country. But I am not going to lie, I am still longing for the days where I can jump on a plane and fly across the world.
While creating and posting these photos I also noticed someone else. Before I never really thought of myself as an influencer but I have to take that back now. Over the past months so many of my images have been recreated, copied and I even sold some of them :D. Giving credit to a fellow content creator or to your inspiration is the biggest compliment you can get. It always puts the biggest smile on my face when some of you tell me you’ve visited a place because of me. Or that you took a certain photo because of me.
The effect and power of TikTok also became very noticeable and there are a lot of self proclaimed Belgian travel bloggers out there right now :D. I think it’s a great way to discover new places although I still prefer actual articles and Instagram as my main Social Media platform.
Some of my favourite articles about Belgium
- Where to find the hidden trolls in Belgium
- The most beautiful castles in Belgium
- Hidden gems in Belgium
5. Hiking the Pico de Arieiro with my mom
Right before Europe went into its first lockdown my mom and I were still blissfully unaware of what was yet to come on the beautiful island of Madeira. They don’t call it the European Hawaï for no reason. This tiny island completely blew me away and one of the most fun but also challenging days was when me and mom hiked from Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo and back.
We started before sunrise and were completely surrounded by clouds. At times we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the landscapes surrounding us but soon enough we were woken up by one of the most challenging hikes I have ever done!
It’s definitely worth it and if you ever visit Madeira this is the one hike you can’t miss. But know that you’ll be tired as hell when you arrive back to your car. They do however have ice cream at the local store so that makes up for the entire struggle!
4. Going on solo hikes in Switzerland
If you would have told me a couple of years ago I would go hiking for fun I would have started laughing for sure! It’s something that has grown on me in the past years and by now I plan my trips around hiking trails.
It was my first time visiting Switzerland and two regions there really stood out to me: the Jungrfrau region and the Alpstein region.
The Jungfrau region because of the many mountain ranges close by and the beautiful lakes and valleys. I spent 5 days in this area and still felt like it wasn’t enough!
The Alpstein region is a lot less known among the tourist crowds and you pretty much only find locals here. The only downside I had here was the weather. The entire time it was very clouded and misty. At one point I even waited for over 3 hours to see the mountains appear… but I guess I’ll just have to go back one day to try again!
3. Exploring South Tyrol with my parents
When I get really excited about a destination I tend to force it on people haha. I did so with the Dolomites and managed to bring both my parents and Christof with me. I know my parents loved Berchtesgaden so I told them they would for sure fall in love with the Dolomites as well! Aand I was right! My dad even said it was one of the best holidays he ever went on!
We had 6 days to explore as much as we could and we went on some incredible hikes together. Me and my mom even swung from the highest swing in the Dolomites! But the highlight for me was that I could finally show my parents what travel blogging is all about. Visit South Tyrol was kind enough to include them in all the activities and I was so happy I could give something back to them. We had some incredible dinners and lunches and even went on a pick nick besides lago Dobbiaco.
You can find our exact Dolomites travel itinerary here.
2. Going on our first trip as a couple to Berchtesgaden
Christof and I met halfway through June and less than a month later we already went on our first trip together. I wanted to show him one of my favourites places and in my opinion also one of the most beautiful places in Germany: Berchtesgaden! Some might say we were moving too fast but to me it felt right (and I think for him as well :p).
We ended up having the best time! And I found out what it’s like to hike up a mountain without using the cable car part. My legs hadn’t been this sore in ages but I loved how he made me challenge myself even more!
Of course there was also a stressful part for me. I was used to traveling alone or with fellow content creators so when it came to taking photos I didn’t want to focus on it too much. I found a new balance where I wouldn’t only focus on the photography part but be more present in the moment itself. I learned to appreciate time spent off my phone that much more and to give less value to “the perfect shot”.
1. Our Fall road trip to the Dolomites
Nothing can beat this years road trip to the Dolomites! It was one filled with adventures and actually started on a pretty bad note when I crashed my drone first thing in the morning when we arrived. Mushu was never to be seen again but luckily Christof managed to cheer me up soon after. When we arrived to Sesto we were greeted by an actual snow storm… in October :D.
But somehow nothing managed to stop us from having fun: not falling through the eyes and having to hike back down for 4 more hours with our feet soaking wet. Not him falling through snow and scraping open his knee on a covered rock. And not me losing my eye sight after 3 days and seeing blurry for the rest of the trip.
In spite of all of that we had a magical time and saw some of the most incredible landscapes together. We enjoyed a fresh beer after a hike more than once and indulged in delicious pizza also more than once!
For me the Dolomites have a special place in my heart and I am just really happy and grateful I got to experience this place together with Christof.
I hope you enjoyed this recap of 2020 and while we learned that inspiration can be found close to home I do hope 2021 will bring us even more joy and to far off destinations!
My daughter and I moved to Belgium during the first lockdown this spring…and have yet to travel anywhere outside the country. I am so happy I found your blog, as we have been doing our best to explore all the “hidden” Belgium beauty that is out there. Castles, Trolls, nature…you continue to inspire us to explore en Belgique!
Ooooh <3 Thank you so much for these kind words! It makes me so happy to hear that you and your daughter are loving these little trips! 🙂