Now that 2016 has come to an end, a lot of people are reflecting on the year and making resolutions for the new year. My main resolution/wish for every year is to continue leading a life of adventure, in whatever way I can. Some years are more adventurous than others, but I always manage to sneak in a few trips!
While 2016 will go down in the books as “the worst year ever” for a lot of people, it will go down as a pretty good one for me. I had some pretty awesome travels; got to spend some good quality time with friends and family; worked out some personal things; got a promotion at work; and have some good ideas for what I want out of life in 2017.
But since this is a travel blog, let’s focus on the travel! (And I know I haven’t written about some of these trips yet–I failed pretty miserably at blogging in 2016.)
Fall is in the air here in Pennsylvania, and while most people are enjoying their pumpkin-spice everything and dreading the impending winter, I’m just thrilled to be experiencing my first real autumn in about seven years. It’s always been my favorite season and living in Austin meant that I didn’t get to really experience it. I might pop over to another state or country and soak up the weather for a few days or weeks, but I’d been seriously missing the cooler weather, wearing boots and scarves, driving warm beverages, and most of all: the colors. I took a drive to Pittsburgh last week and was in total awe of the myriad of colors that whizzed by.
A few years ago I spent fall in the Netherlands with two Dutch friends and a Brazilian friend. One day we took a little trip to Kasteel de Haar to walk around the grounds, soak in the atmosphere, and work on acquiring Type 2 Diabetes with the amount of hot chocolate we consumed to stay warm. But! The best part of the whole thing was the colors. Oh, the colors! The reds, greens, oranges, and yellows were magnificent and I could’ve spent the whole day there photographing. This is one of my favorite photos from the day. Thank you, Holland, for giving me that much-needed dose of autumn that year.
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I’m not the world’s foremost expert on solo female travel, but I have traveled around (at least) ten countries alone so I have a bit of insight on the subject. There are people on both sides of the fence regarding solo female travel–some are strongly for it and some are strongly against it. I fall on the side that stands strongly for it. While I don’t like always traveling alone, I think there’s something really special about going it solo–relying on yourself for every decision, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, etc. I think you can learn a lot about yourself and the world while traveling solo.
Before my very first solo trip, I was so nervous that my teeth were chattering and I swore my heart my burst. Things were a bit crazy, but I fell into a routine that was comfortable for me. Then, years later, when I decided to travel alone for an extended period of time, I was dreaming up every imaginable horrible thing that could possibly happen to me. I decided that the best way to go about it was to ease myself into the long-term solo travel by starting with an “easy” country. So, with that, here are my top solo female travel destinations.
Well, my first three months of travel are over! And as you read this, I am en route back to the States, where I will spend just over a month catching my breath, hopefully making some money, seeing my friends and family, and kissing the shit out of my dog. But don’t worry–I’ll also be furiously planning my next round of travels (and as I said, I have a few things in mind–just need to actually take the time to start booking a few things and look at logistics).
In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a rundown of the past few months–the places I’ve seen, quick highlights of the experiences, and little teasers for what you’ll soon see on my blog (because let’s face it–I’ve had a seriously difficult time keeping up with blogging as I’ve been traveling, and I have a lot of stuff yet to put out!).
Possibly one of the strangest things I’ve ever encountered while traveling is that the Dutch like to eat hagelslag (sprinkles or jimmies) on their buttered bread for breakfast. The first time I saw this was when I lived with a Dutch roommate in Rome. One morning, she broke up a loaf of Italian bread, smothered it with creamy butter, and dumped on an outrageous amount of hagelslag.
So, I have a confession to make: I’m kind of an old lady. And up until probably two years ago, whenever I’d travel I’d totally wear myself out by the time dinner rolled around, which meant that I was missing out on most cities after dark. I’m not much of a partier or club-goer, so the “nightlife” part of a city is rather lost on me (though, if we’re talking cocktails in a lovely bar, I’m totally in). It wasn’t until I started seeing others’ photos of cities at night that I realized I was missing out on something special, because really, seeing a city at night can totally change how you feel about it and can make you appreciate other little parts of it.
Amsterdam (and pretty much the whole of the Netherlands) is one of those places where you sort of always have to be prepared for what the weather might be like. When I pack to go there, I’m always certain to bring cold- and rain-friendly clothing, as well as one or two items in case the sun decides to pop out. I’d rather be prepared than grossly underprepared for any situation. It’s good to pack boots, rain shoes, or any other kind of waterproof shoe just to be safe. Scarves are also a great addition–easy to throw in your bag when you don’t need it, but you’ll be happy when you do need it.
My favorite Van Gogh painting is Café Terrace at Night and before heading back to the Netherlands to begin my road trip, I wanted to know if the painting was on display in the country. I found out that it was housed at The Kröller-Müller Museum just outside Arnhem.