20/12/2016: My thoughts are with the victims, and their family, friends and colleagues, of the terrible attack on the Christmas market in Berlin on 19/12. Please do not let this cowardly attack or any other attack on freedom stop you from living and enjoying your life! For Berlin, for Paris, for Brussels, for Istanbul, for Nice, …!
What is the BEST thing about the end of the year?
It’s not just about celebrating Christmas and New Year. Although I really enjoy this time of the year (after all, I love good food and great company) and all the colourful lights in the streets make me feel happy and the smell of glühwein or hot chocolate (or jenever!) is wonderful, the thing I love most is the feeling that a new year opens a world of opportunities and plans!
Some people see a new year as the perfect opportunity to make a positive change in their life: they make plans to go to the gym more often, to spend more time with the people they love, to eat healthier. That all applies to me too, sure, but the most important thing is:
When can I travel, where can I travel and how can I travel?
Unlike with birthdays, which are increasingly becoming less and less fun because you damn well know you are getting old :-P, the promise of a new year makes me feel very positive and at the same time it’s a moment to look back on everything that has happened in the past year. It’s the moment when you can start planning new, exiting things!
2017 is extra special for me, because it’s the first year I’ll spend away from what I know so well: the home I have always lived in and my amazing mom, who has always understood my travel vibe. It’s time for a new chapter: this weekend (10/12/2016) my boyfriend and I have moved into the house we bought and renovated together.
Finally, the moment we have been working for so hard has come! And although we (and our parents, too) have been preparing for this moment for about 2 years, it still feels so strange to leave what you have always considered to be your warm home, where you could relax and laugh and cook, eat, sleep, drink, play, … But I am sure that our new home, which is already feeling like a perfect marriage of his/her things although not everything has found its place yet, will be our new piece of paradise. And this home will be filled with memories of great times and especially: travel!
When I go somewhere, I often buy earrings or scarfs. When I wear these (I wear different earrings every day, except when I travel, it’s one of my ‘things’ 🙂 ), the memory of that amazing time in Porto, the Bulgarian sunshine and the beautiful nature of Cuba is revitalized. And that makes me happy. Do whatever makes you happy in 2017!
The end of 2016 is the end of a very busy, stressful period for me, and every moment in 2017 will be put to good use, that’s the idea. In Belgium, the average amount of legal days off is 20 days. Where I’m currently working (as you know, this blog is all about the combination of a full time job with a strong travel virus), you can get up to 8 extra days (max 1 each month) when you put in extra hours. In 2017, there are 8 official holidays in Belgium, such as Easter Monday and Labour Day (Dag van de Arbeid). It doesn’t seem all that much for an entire year of working, however: these days off are, combined with excellent planning and a very, very close eye on budget (I frantically use Excel and calculate everything, and yes, that does take time, as well as booking everything by yourself, TripAdvisor and Trivago are a few of my friends, as well as Google Flights), just right to plan the following trips. 5 is my target for this year, that’s a minimum of course 🙂 :
- February: Prague (5 days of working for 4 days of fun, that’s a good deal)
- May: Malta
- July: Iceland
- August: Oostende, Belgium
- November: 3 weeks left to travel Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia or somewhere else that fits the budget
PS: Is Vietnam a good idea in November? I preferred March, but that would be too soon, first of all we need to get used to our new situation (and our adopted cat) and we absolutely do not have the budget. We would be budget travelling from North to South, starting in Hanoi, but I read that November is still tricky in Central Vietnam due to typhoons and tropical storms. Hoi An seems to be such an amazing place, I would hate to see it literally ‘fall in the water’ (as the Dutch expression goes: ‘In het water vallen’, haha). Any tips you can give me are welcome :-).
At the end of 2016, we already have a full travel agenda for 2017, and I’m so exited, I just can’t hide it! 😀
Before this year has ended, I also will have visited several Christmas markets in Belgium, and you should definitely go explore them too!
I’m a lucky basterd in this case, since little Belgium has a lot of very nice, historical cities and our culture of beer and food is undeniably one of the best in the world (for many others things, it’s as crazy as a back door). I love the Christmas markets in Brussels, Brugge and Gent and you can find them even in the small towns. After a year where many bad things have happened, I feel like everyone is trying to make this December extra warm.
In 2013, I also visited the Christmas markets of Luxembourg (GH Luxembourg), Maastricht (the Netherlands) and Paris (France), they are always great if you want to take in the typical Christmas atmospfere.
Here are some teasers :-D:
Enjoy the end of the year (jeeey, food! Or as I like to call it in Dutch: een tijd van Spijs en Vreten), Merry Christmas, happy New Year and see you soon!