We flipped the pages of another year. Tad late but never too late to look back and reflect on the pursuits to gather priceless experience and memories that one can get only with travelling. 2017 was the year which took us to 2 continents, 5 countries, 11 cities with 17 flights and stayed in 11 different hotels!
First in April it was our much anticipated venture in the far east with China and Hong Kong, followed by European explorations closer to home in Portugal, Denmark and Hungary from June to September. Just like collecting precious photos in an album, we had the pleasure to flip through our memories from earlier in 2016, in 2015 and even in 2014. The more years pass by, the wiser we become and more content life seems. In this post, we bring to you highlights from our travels in the year 2017.
You can break the internet with arguing for or against the fact whether Hong Kong should be treated as a separate country. Starting with our experience of dealing with the Chinese Embassy in London and the visa application process and ending with our discovery of Hong Kong ourselves – we were convinced that Hong Kong was, is and perhaps will continue to hold on to its unique identity even though it is officially the Special Administrative Region of China.
The place with the highest number of skyscrapers in the world, it was worth allowing ourselves to get struck in awe with the cloud touching buildings. Stark contrast was the Mongkok neighborhood which was holding on nicely to its old-school charms. Not only a financial super-hub, Hong Kong is also famous for its movie industry, giving rise to the likes of Bruce Lee and Anita Mui.
3 things to take away from our Hong Kong travel in 2017
- Sky-scrapers! So many of them, 1303 to be precise (taller than 150m)
- Hong Kong Film Industry: Rich, influential and has a worldwide presence
- British heritage negotiating with mainland Chinese influence
No doubt endless blogposts can be published only on the magnificent journey we made through the heart of China. Given that today’s post is only a digest, we are reluctantly limited to mention only the highlights through our travel to this country which ticks just so many big boxes in any voyager’s CV.
9 things to take away from our China travel in 2017
- We made sure that before we boarded the flight, we installed VPN Express in our mobile phones and laptops to bypass the Great Firewall of China and so that we could easily access Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
- We could put our knowledge of Chinese Mandarin language in good use because not knowing, speaking a few words of Mandarin will restrict full enjoyment of the sights and sounds seen and heard in China.
- China has the largest population in the world (1.4 billion), so no wonder the queues were exceptionally long everywhere we went and those in the queue were not always polite
- Our first entry point to China from Hong Kong was Zhangjiajie, where the famous Avatar mountains was simply jaw-dropping
5. The surreal Tian Men Mountain was also found in Zhangjiajie, a spiritual experience to enjoy the sunset in front of the giant mountain hole. Also in the same location, the famous “Road to Heaven” with its 99 bends!
6. From Zhangjiajie, we went to Fenghuan, the most picturesque ancient rural village in China. The heart of China vibrates in its villages such as Fenghuang, the big city sky scrapers only show where the country is heading to, not where it rose from.
7. Then we went to Xi’an, the land of the famous Terracotta Army. We stood in awe contemplating at the army of soldiers of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang
8. We then flew to Zhangye where we were mesmerized by the rainbow coloured mountains of the Danxia National Geographic park
9. Finally in Beijing, the capital of the might Chinese country, we trekked along the Great Wall and found ourselves overwhelmed by its sheer architecture, lengths, breadth and delightful surroundings!
There was no better way than to celebrate Shehzaad’s birthday discovering Portugal through a roadtrip. Starting with the beautiful capital Lisbon, we drove up north to Porto and later drove through the entire country to the south to be enthralled by the foamy waves of the Algarve region.
7 things to take away from our Portugal travel in 2017
- The uneven landscape of Lisbon, being built on seven hills and the yellow iconic trams plying through the streets was a sight to cherish. When in Lisbon, why let go the chance of going for a day trip to the fairytale-ish Pena Palace that stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra.
2. Pastel de nata, the traditional Portuguese creamy custard tart was no less than an addiction
3. The feeling to drive through the Vasco Da Gama bridge, the longest in Europe was enough to give goosebumps of discovery
5. Porto, the 2nd largest Portuguese city was infact the jewel of the crown. The old town was a fairy tale and worth discovering on foot
6. Sipping five different types of porto at the Ferreira Cellars in Porto and coming out tipsy turvy was an experience not to forget
7. The boat ride along the Algarve coast to discover the sea-caves was one of the most exciting marine experiences we could recall
There is hope in Copenhagen and we knew that we had to go to Denmark if we had to leave our voyage mark in 2017. Just a couple of hours of flight took us to Copenhagen in August and we were ready to recycle our senses in the city of bicycles!
3 things to take away from our Denmark travel in 2017
- The Little Mermaid turned out to be much hyped for nothing, also very much at risk of being violated by invading Chinese tourists. Instead found the soul of Copenhagen residing somewhere in Nyhavn. A boat ride from Nyhavn across the numerous canals inside the city was a great way to discover the Danish capital.
2. Ofcourse Tivoli Gardens, the 2nd oldest operating amusement park in the world! Where the difference between kids and adults got diluted because everybody was having a good time.
3.Kronborg Castle, also known as the Hamlet Castle, mentioned in the famous play by Shakespeare was just a short train journey north of Copenhagen. Perfect for a day trip.
It is ok to be hungry to visit Hungary, because it was worth it. We did not spend too much time being confused whether to stay in Buda or Pest because it was Budapest together which made what the Hungarian capital is today – vibrant, historic, iconic and full of life. We went to Budapest in August to discover the Hungarian capital and fell in love unsurprisingly.
3 things to take away from our Hungary travel in 2017
- Undoubtedly the National Parliament Building, the 3rd largest in the world was a beauty to behold at different times of the day. However the view of the Parliament after sunset was breathtaking
2.Széchenyi thermal bath, the largest medicinal thermal bath in Europe is a must visit to enjoy a few dips and feel the warmth of the natural water possibly on a cold day
3.The entire Buda Castle district, including the castle itself, the St. Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion were worth the experience. The views of the Chain Bridge and again the National Parliament from the Buda hills were astonishing
We stayed at the gem of an apartment just 5 minute walk from the National Parliament. Make sure you make this place your nest in Budapest.
We hope you enjoyed the highlights from our travels in 2017. In 2018, we have followed the marine trails left by the Spanish conquerors in their discovery of Mexico (the reason why this post wasn’t published in January), our 1st destination of 2018. We also aim to return to India to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary! If you want to follow our trail in 2018, why not join our mailing list to continue to be inspired? Click now. Leave a comment below to tell us about your travel experiences in 2017 and your voyage plans for 2018.0