It’s awesome that we explored 14 different countries in 2014. We feel so fortunate to have crossed many items off of our ever-evolving Bucket List! So, as the year comes to a close, we take look back on our top 14 Travel Experience of 2014.
14- Visiting Cinque Terre in Italy
During a Mediterranean Cruise a few years ago, we had to make a choice between visiting Tuscany/Florence or Cinque Terre. Without regret, we chose Tuscany and fell in love with the rolling hills, vineyards, and simply beautiful scenery. Ever since then, however, a visit to Cinque Terre was still high on our bucket list, so we made it happen just 2 years later! Visiting the 5 villages along the Italian Riviera that make up Cinque Terre was a definite highlight for us this year!
Read more about our trips to the five towns of Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.
13- Revisiting Athens, Greece
On the Mediterranean Cruise mentioned above, Athens was also a port of call, but we really only had a few hours to run around the city and see the highlights. We were excited when we found out TBEX Europe 2014 (Travel Bloggers Conference) was going to be held in Athens, giving us another chance to further explore Greece’s capital city. This visit provided us with the opportunity to again see the highlights, but to also leisurely explore places off the beaten (and crowded) path.
While many visitors to the Netherlands visit the nearby city of Amsterdam, we based ourselves in the smaller, cleaner, more charming town of Haarlem. We found what ended up being one of our favorite museums (The Teyler’s Museum) and drank craft beer in a former church (Jopen). Wishing we had more time to wander the streets and along the canal, we’re already thinking about when we can get back for another visit! This wonderful town holds a well-deserved spot on the list of our top 14 travel experiences from 2014.
During a road trip from Switzerland to Belgium, we stopped by the colorful village of Eguisheim in the Alsace wine region of France. This village looks like something straight out of a fairytale with its winding cobblestone streets lined with traditional medieval half-timbered brightly-painted buildings. The entire village can be easily seen on foot as you follow the cobblestone streets through a compact maze of residences, restaurants, shops, and historical sites. No surprise that in 2013, Eguisheim was voted Village préféré des Français (Favorite French Village), an honor bestowed upon a different town in France each year.
During a summer trip to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, we stopped by many beautiful beaches, including Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach, and Second Beach. The coastlines of the pacific northwest were drastically different from any beach we had visited before with their stunning sea stacks, balanced rocks, colorful starfish and tide pools teeming with life!
It’s hard to imagine the grandeur of the Swiss Alps until you’re standing on the valley floor looking up or hiking at an elevation well over a mile above sea level! We visited the Jungfrau region in Switzerland for 3 days in mid-June and at times found ourselves speechless as we marveled at the surrounding beauty.
While staying at Hotel Schützen in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, we were treated to one of the most incredible meals we have ever experienced! I had cheese fondue bursting with amazing flavor! It was herb cheese on one side and tomato flavored cheese on the other. Sam had the beef sirloin steak, which he proclaimed was “the best steak he has ever had”. The cut is partially cooked and then brought out on a hot stone. You decide how much you want the meat cooked; just start eating when it reaches your desired internal temperature.
Seeing the Northern Lights is one item on pretty much everyone’s bucket list! You have to be in the right place (Arctic Circle), at the right time (winter months), with the perfect conditions (clear skies). During our 6-day trip to Iceland in March, we experienced this unbelievable phenomenon every night we went out in search of the auroras!
We felt ridiculously blessed to have such great weather on the day we visited the Cliffs of Moher. I’ve heard stories of people visiting the cliffs on days where the fog was so thick they couldn’t see 5 feet in front of their face! We could see for miles and the vibrant blues and greens popped in the bright sunshine!
5- Exploring Castle Ruins in Ireland & Scotland
This past summer during a whirlwind trip through Europe, we spent a week in Scotland and a week in Ireland. One of our favorite things to do while in these Celtic countries was to go off in search of ruins… and there was certainly no shortage of them!
Aughnanure Castle– Oughterard, Ireland
Interlochy Castle (Glencoe, Scotland)
Kilchurn Castle– Loch Lomond, Scotland
4- Driving Around the Isle of Mull in Scotland
Isle of Mull is located off the west coast of Scotland just a short ferry ride from the town of Oban. We took our rental car to the island on the ferry for a day of exploring! The drive, although a little scary on the one-lane, two-way roads, took us past varied and awe-inspiring panoramas.
3- Exploring Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany
We can honestly say that Berchtesgaden is one of our favorite places in the world. Remove the hordes of people visiting this breathtaking German national park and we’d be in absolute paradise! We spent two summer days in the park. The first day we went on a boat ride on Lake Königssee (first picture below). There are two stops on this boat tour: St Bartholomew’s Church (where you will find a system of hiking trails) and Salet (more hiking trails). The second day in the park we rode the Jennerbahn cable car to the top (Bergstation) and hiked down to Middlestation (3.5km/2.2mi), making a few friends along the way!
When all traditional ice cave tour companies were booked solid for the entire season, Thor and Snorri came to our rescue offering a private tour of glaciers, ice caves, and lagoons in southeast Iceland. These naturally occurring formations come and go each winter and are some of the world’s most incredible natural landscapes!
Such a perfect day! We had absolutely perfect weather. The humpback whales were bubble-net feeding; we saw two whales breach and saw more tail flukes than we could count! We also saw sea lions, bald eagles, and even had Dall’s porpoise play in the wake at the bow of our boat!
We can’t wait to see what the next year brings! We have some BIG plans for 2015 and it should be our best travel year to date, so stay tuned! Our hope is that we inspire you to make time for the things you’re passionate about! Whether it’s also traveling the world, or something else… do what you can to make it happen! Cheers to a new year!