I have been lucky nonetheless for being able to visit more countries in 2013. To date, I’ve got a total of 19 countries and over a hundred cities and towns. In 2013, I was able to add 9 new countries and over 20 new cities on my list, which is quite a lot by the way, compared to previous years of my traveling spree. Lucky me.
Another too, I just found a new travel buddy – my husband. And lucky boy, he’s been to over 50 countries all throughout his life. So that perhaps explains why I’m more inspired to travel around and discover more new places. It might be also my competitive side that’s secretly wanting to beat his high travel score, too!
So yes, 2013 is the year that I finally got hitched, to the man I love who is apparently a genuine travel junkie. Truth is, our travels this year are comprised of events that somewhat led us to take our relationship to the next level – settling down to eventually start a family we’ll call our own. In most weekends, my husband and I would spend quality time together visiting nearby places such as Lyon and Interlaken. As we visited other places in Switzerland and France, I also started meeting his friends. Last August, we went to Belgium for me to meet his family and friends. By the following month, we got married in Denmark and went to Italy for our honeymoon. Then by December, we flew to the Philippines for him to meet my family and friends, and to get to know more about my home country as well.
My travel moments have just gotten better this 2013, and here are the 10 most memorable times.
1. Savoring the gastronomic capital of France – Lyon
Lyon must have been popular as home for the greatest classic 3-star Michelin restaurants in France – Paul Bocuse, Troisgros, Georges Blanc, Anne-Sophie Pic, Alain Chapel and La Pyramide. Nevertheless, the good way to enjoy traditional Lyonnaise cuisines is through visiting this type of restaurant they call as bouchon. From its hefty menu in a very reasonable price, I was able to enjoy salade Lyonnaise, fatty escargots, Andouillette, duck pâté, and French wines coming from Rhone and Burgundy regions.
As it is also the second largest Renaissance city after Venice, Lyon is rich in culture and history. And it is very evident when we strolled around Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse. For a panoramic view of Lyon, we went up to Fourvière. Then I went to Presqu’île to do what most women like doing. Believe me or not, shopping in Lyon was intoxicating. There were lots of interesting finds, yet less expensive than in Switzerland.
For all the gastronomy, sightseeing and shopping experience, it is worth visiting Lyon all over again.
2. Champagne tasting in Reims and mustard picking in Dijon
I’d always associate Dijon as a mustard kind, which is true enough that the best mustard in the world originated here. But little I did know about Reims, until we got invited for some champagne tasting activity in this city.
Nowadays, Reims, along with Epernay and Ay, is one of the big producers of champagne. Many of les grandes marques (champagne-producing houses) have its headquarters in Reims. And of course, who wouldn’t miss the infamous Dom Pérignon? While I was starting to get tipsy as we’re “tasting” wines, er, champagnes, I had a rare opportunity to visit the abbey where the monk peacefully lies. But then, I met and tasted Henri Giraud. I got infatuated to it right away, without knowing how expensive it would be, I still bought a bottle to bring home.
After a few days in Reims, my husband and I visited Dijon next. In this Burgundian city, I bought all the Dijon mustards I can carry home. Here I also had my first taste of beef bourguignon, with a tray full of cheeses to boot, for our sheer delight.
3. Road trip to Avenches, Thun, Spiez, Interlaken and Bern
I personally enjoyed the trip in this side of Switzerland. We spent the whole day visiting these nice towns namely, Avenches, Thun and Spiez. We were able to see a Roman amphitheatre in Avenches, the downstream of Aar river that flows majestically out of Lake Thun, and the historic castle in Spiez. We arrived in Interlaken and decided to stay for a couple of days. It could have been perfect except for the rainy weather that didn’t entice us to go up and visit the “top of Europe,” the Jungfrau. Going back home, we passed by Bern and I was glad to meet the Bernese bears and see the medieval Zytglogge clock tower.
4. Getting to know my second home, Belgium
It was not only meeting his family and friends, but also was an opportune time to get to know my hubby’s home country – Belgium that is. I was eagerly anticipating a visit to a frite kot (“Belgian fries stand”) but for some unknown reasons, my husband seemed to be diverting my attention to something else, which appeared to be much more interesting anyway. Going around Mechelen, I found colorful 16th century houses, the palace of Margaret of Austria, old nunneries and convents, the rustic Het Anker Brewery, and a carillon concert. Then in Antwerp, I found the statue of hand-thrower hero Brabo standing in front of 16th-century guild houses, the adventurous Tintin and the gang, Nelo and Patrasche, its beautiful central train station, and house of diamonds from which we bought our wedding rings.
Then this December, we spent Christmas with my husband’s family in Belgium. During our stay, I was also able to visit Brussels for the first time. Of course, I couldn’t skip seeing the Mannekin Pis and a freebie, the Jannekin Pis too!
Yet still, no frite kot. Anyhow, I can always look forward to it, just the same as I excitingly look forward to seeing myself with a new life in Belgium.
5. Tying the knot in Aeroskobing, Denmark
We took the smell of Nordic romance, uncomplicated and free, and embraced Denmark as the wedding place to be. We chose Aeroskobing, a quiant, peaceful island-village that is full of maritime past. Days before the wedding, we stayed in Copenhagen . My first taste of anything Danish started here in this sophisticated capital city.
It’s a must for every first-time visitor to take a canal cruise in Copenhagen. It’s also a great way to do sightseeing while experiencing a genuine maritime atmosphere. After the canal boat tour, we started strolling around until we finally reached the beautiful stretch of Nyhavn, to take more photos and grab a beer or two.
Then off we went to melancholic Aeroskobing where we finally tied the knot as Mr and Mrs. Definitely, we’re onto a new journey in our lives.
My top 10 memorable travels list continues on my next post. Read on here – My Top 10 Most Unforgettable Travels in 2013 (Part 2).