2015 has been an amazing year for my travels. I went to 6 countries this year, and 5 of those were new countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, France, Italy, India and Thailand. Italy was the only repeat. This is not counting the two trips to the U.S. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to travel this much. Each country has been a great experience, but each place has offered some unique experiences. I cannot possibly rank them in any order, but here are my top 10 travel experiences of 2015 in order of occurrence.
Going to Bahrain
After going to Dubai and not being that impressed, I wasn’t sure what I would think of Bahrain, but I am determined to see as much of the Middle East while I live in Qatar. Bahrain was very different than both Doha and Dubai. There were very few high-rise buildings in Bahrain like there are in Doha, and it felt more like what the Doha must have been like in the late 1980s. It was much more organic in its development and seemed to have more things to do than in Doha. My favorite thing there was visiting the Bahrain National Museum. The museum was filled with Bahraini artifacts and amazing art.
Meeting My Family in Paris
When my parents decided to go on a trip to Europe, I knew I would meet up with them somewhere, and when Paris became part of that plan, I decided that was the place. Later, my Mom told me they were going to bring my oldest niece. The highlights were sharing a room with my niece for three days and getting to spend some more time with her that way, sitting outside a Paris cafe having a beer with my Dad and my Mom staying with me on the lower levels of the Eiffel Tower instead of going up to the top because I am afraid of heights.
Visiting Monet’s House
Once I decided I was going to Paris, I knew I would go to Monet’s House in Giverny. I have always been a fan of Monet and couldn’t go to France without visiting. Not only did I love seeing the gardens of inspiration for his Water Lilly paintings, that I saw in Paris, but the bed and breakfast I stayed in was amazing, and I am planning to go back one day.
Driving in Italy
Italy is the third foreign country I have driven in and I loved every minute of it. I was a bit worried about not being able to read the road signs and missing an exit, but an excellent GPS unit helped prevent that. Driving the Fiat felt very Italian, although it had a few quirks, like going in reverse when it was in drive. However, getting to see Italy from the road was great fun and I was able to stop a few places along the drive from Rome to Venice.
Visiting Friends in Italy
Visiting friends is always fun, but my friends had tons of fun plans for me on my three-day visit. Not only did I eat mussels for the first time, but they took me to visit the Monster Park. I have never seen anything like it! The amazing food continued throughout the trip both homemade and the restaurant food. Thank you, Jackie and Alessio, for an unforgettable experience!
People Watching in Piazza San Marco
I loved all of the things I did in Venice, but my favorite thing was sitting in Piazza San Marco with an Aperol Spritz watching the people. At one point, before I was sitting down, I saw a seagull take a sandwich out of a woman’s hand! Scared the woman to death I am sure as she screamed really loud. It was interesting to see people from all of the world sightseeing at the same place. The Aperol Spritz is a must while in Venice.
Finally Making it Further East than Qatar
Exploring Europe and the Middle East was great, but I have wanted to go further east into Asia. I managed to get to India for the second Eid for a beach vacation in Goa. Although parts of Goa felt like Europe. I went on this trip with friends and really enjoyed the less busy time I had on the beach with little sightseeing.
Visiting a Spice Farm in Goa
I love to learn while I am traveling and the Spice Farm we visited in Goa was one of the best places to do so. We all use spices every day in cooking, but many of us don’t know what those spices look like as a growing plant. I learned what many spice plants look like while visiting this farm. Also, I learned that Mace is made from nutmeg!
Making Travel Friends in Bangkok
Now that I am blogging on a more regular basis and really enjoy it, I have been working on making the blog more professional. I found out in the early fall that there was a travel bloggers conference in Bangkok in October, TBEX Asia. Not only would I get to go to the conference, but I would get to see Bangkok, so I made this unplanned trip fit into my schedule. I met some really great bloggers there. We had a great time sharing travel stories and a few of them I got to swap expat stories with as well.
Discovering a Mystery and Thai Silk Weaving
One of the tours I went on during TBEX, was to the Jim Thompson House and to tour some Thai Silk Weaving manufacturer’s shops. The Jim Thompson house was a well-preserved house that is built in the traditional Thai style with a few western touches. It houses Mr. Thompson collection of artifacts, but the most interesting thing was that Mr. Thompson disappeared without a trace in 1967 and had never been seen since. After that, we walked down to tour the silk manufacterer’s shops. I was expecting large areas of manufacturing, but what I found was small houses with one to two weavers each. I felt privileged to be allowed in to see this amazing craft being made.
Where did you travel to in 2015? What did you enjoy most? Please share with us in the comments!