When we tell someone that we traveled to 33 countries in 9 months usually the first question they ask is ‘So what was your favorite place?’. (Honestly this would be the first question I would ask as well so don’t feel bad if you’ve asked us it!) There’s so much that goes into the answer that we figured it was only right to make a blogpost. So here it goes…
Our favorite place was …
Just about everywhere.
Sorry to disappoint! The truth is that neither of us can give a #1 favorite place. We traveled all over the world, to completely different places, at different times of the year and each place brought something incredible to the table.
But I know this isn’t a sufficient answer. So here’s our top places (in no particular order!).
Switzerland – We always heard Switzerland was beautiful but once you’re there you realize you should have come there sooner. We traveled there at the end of September so not during the busy summer season or the busy winter season. Aka : our accommodations where cheaper. Major plus when you’re visiting the most expensive country in the world. If you love hiking with amazing views (hello Swiss Alps).
Switzerland is your place! Its one of the most naturally beautiful places we’ve ever been to. Rolling hills, snow capped mountains, log cabins covered in flowers, cheese in vending machines. Yes, you read that right. Fresh cheese in vending machines. Don’t knock it til you try it. We loved the back to basics feeling you get in Switzerland. Farmers walk their dairy cows down the street with bells around their necks. It’s a simple place with scenery that leaves you speechless.
Towns we loved in Switzerland: Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Lucerne.
Nepal – I can’t say we traveled throughout Nepal like we did Switzerland but from the few places we went to we can absolutely say it’s one of our favorites. I had this dream to go to Nepal for Holi and because Nick is an incredible husband, he made sure it happened! Holi is a Hindu festival that signifies the start of spring. It’s also known as the ‘festival of colors’. The short version of what happens during Holi is that everyone celebrates love, color and throws paint and dye on each other.
You drink, eat, dance and paint everyone and everything, in color. Holi was something neither one of us have ever experienced before but definitely something we will always remember!
While we were in Nepal we specifically stayed in Kathmandu, one of the most adventurous places in the world! People travel from all over and stay here in preparation to trek to Mount Everest Base camp. The vibe in Kathmandu is relaxed and easy going with an adventurous attitude. The food is out of this world! It’s a mix of a few cultures so there’s something for everyone. Make sure to try Tibetan food, you won’t regret it. We loved walking through the streets of Kathmandu and eating at all the different restaurants, popping into the many shops and experiencing Nepalese culture.
Oh and I guess it didn’t hurt that we flew in a helicopter over Mount Everest (written with an extremeeee amount of sarcasm)! We have a blogpost on the whole experience and the helicopter company we worked with! Big shoutout to Himalayan Glacier for making our Nepal trip over the top! MOUNT EVEREST BLOGPOST HERE
Turkey – We fell in love with Turkey and it’s wonderfully kind people. This is probably going to surprise many people given past news. I myself was nervous about being in there at first. But this just goes to show that you, yourself have to go to a country to experience it. Even our experiences won’t be exactly what you have. It’s so important to go with an open mind and an open heart because places and especially people, will surprise you.
We flew into Istanbul and spent a few days there exploring and of course, eating. We both felt extremely safe. This is such an important aspect for me as a woman. There have been a few countries I didn’t feel the safest in while Nick felt perfectly fine. Every culture has a different view on women unfortunately but I can honestly say that my experience in Turkey was nothing like what you may see on the news. As a woman traveling in Istanbul I never felt less than, I felt safe when we were walking around at night and actually everyone we met were all extremely kind to both Nick and I. I did try to cover up even though it was the middle of the summer. Majority of the women there are covered in some form and dressed very conservatively and I didn’t want to be disrespectful of that. I tried to always keep my legs covered and a shawl around my shoulders, nothing too crazy! Istanbul surprised us both with its melting pot of cultures. Did you know that part of Istanbul is in Europe and the other part is in Asia?! In just a few minutes you can be in an entirely different part of the world but within the same city!
Now onto Cappadocia, Turkey! A place that will be in our hearts for forever! We left our huge suitcases at the cheap hotel we were staying at in Istanbul. It was actually cheaper for us to keep the hotel room and fly to Cappadocia with less than it was to fly with all our bags. So we took a quick flight from Istanbul to Kayseri, a city about 1 hour away from Cappadocia. Only later to realize we could have flown into Nevsehir because that’s actually a closer airport. We didn’t mind though because we enjoyed driving and being able to see more of the small towns in Turkey. We’ve realized that any trip that involves us renting a car and driving always ends up being a rememberable trip. It’s something about being able to stop as you drive, getting to see places you didn’t plan to see and the flexibility of having a car that we love. To us, its worth the money of renting.
But back to Cappadocia!
We were working with Sam from Koza Cave Hotel and he and his family along with their boutique hotel definitely added to our experience. Staying in a hotel room thats actually a cave?! Insane! Koza Cave is actually the highest hotel in the area, so you have a birds eye view of the hot air balloons that go off every morning. We’d wake up early, watch the balloons take off (sometimes literally within an arms length!) and then we’d go and explore Cappadocia the rest of the day. We’d drive around and eat amazing Turkish food (its one of our favorites!). We’d check out the different valleys and incredible landscapes Cappadocia has. As amazing as the pictures are they still don’t do it justice!
Seychelles – I actually had no clue what Seychelles was until Nick showed me a picture. In the beginning of our trip he jokingly said ‘I hope we make it there’ and opened his phone to reveal a picture that blew my mind. I totally thought it was fake. After being there I can say firsthand the pictures you see of Seychelles look edited, fake and even photoshopped. They’re not. White sand beaches, huge smooth boulders that are the size of houses, crystal clear water and laid back people make up the incredible place that is Seychelles! La Digue and Praslin are really the islands you want to go to if you’re traveling there.
I’d go into more detail but honestly the pictures speak for themselves.
Mauritius – We recently posted a picture on our Instagram with the title being totally dedicated to the friendly people of Mauritius and that still rings true. Mauritius is a beautiful country. The beaches are filled with white sand, the water is clear, it has mountains and jungles and most importantly it’s safe. I credit that last aspect to the Mauritian people. If you were to ask us what country had the kindest people… We would say Mauritius. They are over the top kind, accommodating, inviting and helpful. Not just at resorts or hotels but in grocery stores, walking on the street, at the airport, etc. We talked to numerous people who all told us the same thing “We’re happy when tourists visiting our country are happy”.
Croatia – Throughout our trip we made it to Croatia about 4 different times for an overall stay of about 2 1/2 weeks and that still didn’t feel like enough time. This will definitely be a place we come back to and explore more areas of! We fell in love with Dubrovnik, the medieval city directly on the water. Waves splashing on the old stone walls that protect the people inside. There is SO much to do in the area of Dubrovnik and we waisted no time! Everyday we filled it with different explorations of the area and islands around. Then it was time to head northwest. We drove a few hours through the famous wine region Pelješac Peninsula. We stopped along the way at local wineries located right on the Adriatic Sea. We then made it to our destination of Korcula, specifically Vela Luka. A quiet Croatian town that was filled with fresh fish, local markets, kind people, super cheap prices, and tons of boats to head to other beautiful Croatian islands. Can’t really beat that! We explored the island of Korcula and then made our way over to Proizd and had a day filled with snorkeling and swimming. We were amazed at the sea life we saw and how clear the water was. We spent about an hour following an octopus from coral reef to coral reef. One day we hope to head back to Croatia and to explore the other islands we didn’t have a chance to see!
Israel – I could go on and on about Israel but this blog post has already turned into a book so I’ll try to keep it short. We went to Israel for numerous reasons but the main one being that we’re Christians. Nick has already been to Israel and it was really important and exciting to me to be in the place that I’ve read about in such detail in the Bible. But after we left we both agreed that you don’t have to go there with the same reasons that we did. Israel is a place with SO much history and culture. Religion of course plays a large part in both but you don’t have to necessarily be religious to connect with all that Israel has to offer. If you’re a history buff you have to make your way to Israel. It’s overflowing with knowledge. If you’re not a history buff no worries, Israel has plenty to do. We drove throughout Israel checking out ancient ruins, we did 2 separate hikes through the Serengeti, we swam in the Dead Sea and of course, ate delicious fresh food everywhere we went. Israel is in short terms a small oasis in the middle of the desert. I was blown away driving through sand mountains with nothing to see for miles and then pulling up to waterfalls, greenery, natural swimming pools and palm trees. You can drive through Israel in just a few hours but trust me, you’ll be making so many stops along the way. We ended our Israel tour relaxing on the beaches of Tel Aviv, a place known for its nightlife right on the Mediterranean! Israel has something for everyone!
New Zealand – I really didn’t know what to expect from New Zealand. I did zero research before we went so when we got there I was completely blown away. We first flew into the North island. We were only there a short time but got more of a beachy island feel while we were there. We made sure to visit Hobbiton. And I can honestly say that even If you aren’t a fan of the Hobbit series you will be a fan of Hobbiton.
Then we made our way down to the South Island and started our 7 day long journey through it by way of a motorhome. If you’re going to see the south island of New Zealand please do it by motorhome. We had an incredible time, stopping along the way, driving through snow capped mountains, pulling up to huge bright blue lakes and waterfalls. We fell in love with Queenstown, known for it’s adventure and thrill seekers! If you’re not into bungee jumping, skydiving, and or risking your life in other crazy ways, Queenstown still has amazing restaurants and food (are you surprised I’m adding this?), hiking and also low key activities that even less adventurous people would love.
New Zealand as a whole has so much culture. We learned about the different indigenous people that live there and the aspects they find sacred. Kiwis (the people of New Zealand) are kind, laid back and back to nature type people! Whether you head to the North or South Island you’re in for an experience of a lifetime. We can’t wait to head back there one day!
Japan – You may have sensed a common theme with food throughout the countries. It’s such a big part of Nick and I’s relationship (as weird as that sounds) and throughout our travels! As a whole we’d both say Japan overall had some of the best food during our entire trip. Fresh sushi on every street, places entirely dedicated to the most delicious gyoza we’ve ever had, kobe beef that melts in your mouth and noodles cooked any kind of way you want. Sorry if I’m making you hungry. At one point we actually ate octopus balls, on mistake I might add. But regardless they were amazing! (When I say ‘Octopus balls’ I mean fried dough stuffed with a tiny octopus. A few people had this confused with the private area of an octopus which I’m not even sure is a thing by the way.) You’re probably not hungry anymore so let’s get back to Japan. We spent 2 weeks there and still wasn’t able to do it all! We spent a good amount of time in Tokyo and then took one of the fastest trains in the world to Kyoto to get a more authentic Japanese feel. Overall our time was spent eating delicious food, taking in museums and art galleries and learning Japanese culture and fashion.
South Africa – I have such guilt when thinking about South Africa because I had tried to get out of it so many times. Nick has always wanted to go there and I heard less than great reviews on it. I read that a few bloggers went there and got robbed and then I very stupidly googled ‘South Africa+robbing’. First of all…never do this with any place. You’re only going to read horror stories and honestly people get robbed everywhere. But I had read that my favorite bloggers got robbed there and so that was it for me mentally. Until we got there…
Never once did I feel unsafe in Cape Town or South Africa as a whole. I feel so stupid now thinking back to how quickly I had judged a place I never even went to!! Crime happens everywhere and its extremely unfortunate but it doesn’t define an entire place made up of SO many different people. South Africa was a trip I learned a lot about having an open heart and open mind.
Thank goodness Nick pushed for Cape Town because it is forever one of our favs. It has a little (in reality a lot) for everyone. Do you like hiking? Head to Cape Town. Do you like beautiful beaches? Go to Cape Town. Do you like a city feel with amazing restaurants at cheaper prices? Cape Town.
I’m sure you’re getting the picture quickly. South Africa just kept on surprising us. Wine tours? It has that. Safaris? Got that. Adventure? Laid back people? Things to do everyday? It has it all. I’ll forever be thankful for Cape Town, South Africa!
This is a novel of a blogpost but we got so many questions about our favorite place and it wasn’t a simple answer. I really could have kept going with Italy, Greece, France and Germany but I figured those were places so many people have been. We really wanted to touch on countries that may not be on everyones radar. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep an open mind and an open heart towards places and people. Someone’s experience will never fully be your own! But you’ll never know that unless you get up and go there! We hope through our own personal experiences you feel nothing but encouraged to see a new place!