As of the time of publishing this post, half of 2017 is behind us. And this first half of the year had some of our most varied and extensive travelling of our lives thanks to a 6-month Schengen visa (thank you Danish Consulate). So we’ve decided to share our highlights of the year so far. For each country, we pick our top activity as well as the best thing we ate (food is a big reason for our travel) along with honourable mentions.
Tip: Some of our top activities have been summarized in an IG slideshow, swipe when needed.
Countries travelled: 7 – Iceland, Portugal, England, Switzerland, Italy, France, The Netherlands (all Europe all the way)
Distance covered (air + train + road): 17422 km / 10825 miles = A bit more than Earth’s diameter
Blogposts written: 44 (we’ve toned down the pace, expect around 30 more)
Country Highlights (In order of visit)
Top activity (Blogpost): South coast 1-day ice cave express tour from Reykjavik by Goecco. A 14+ hour long day that includes highlights like Jokulsarlon, the ice caves (cancelled for us but replaced with an awesome glacier walk), black sand beach & Skogafoss. Worth the time & money spent, plan your winter Iceland trip today 🙂
Honourable mention: Walking around Reykjavik, what a fun & quirky city!
Best thing we ate: Skyr – an Icelandic yoghurt for the lack of a better word available in a multitude of flavours from the Bonus supermarket.
Honourable mention: Ice cream – try the salted liqourice from Valdis.
Notes: The Golden Circle is super-crowded, if given a choice visit the South Coast.
Top activity (Blogpost): Day trip to Pena Palace, Sintra. A short journey from Lisbon, the palace is very colourful & romantic, perched on the top of a hill and has great views in all directions.
Honourable mention: The National Tile Museum – what a beautiful journey through time for something that defines Lisbon, the Azulejos (tiles).
Best thing we ate: Black pork with tomato rice at Restaurante Cantinho Do Bem Estar – a hidden gem of a restaurant with massive portions and some seriously good food (stood out from all the brilliant food we ate).
Honourable mention: All the shellfish at Cervejaria Ramiro especially the Scarlet shrimp & giant tiger prawns.
Lake District trip report (rained a lot during this trip)
Top activity: Visiting Dove Cottage in Grasmere, William Wordsworth lived there for a few years and wrote a lot of his famous work (including Daffodils) here.
Honourable mention: Walking around the town of Ambleside as this was an hour of no rain.
Best thing we ate: Afternoon tea at Baldry’s tearoom, Grasmere. What a delicious spread and so quitessentially British.
Honourable mention: Beer & pub grub at the excellent Hawkshead Brewery.
Top activity: Walking through Brienz village. The first walk was impulsive (we just got off the train) and so nice that we came back the next day. There is woodwork across the village and the lake views are incredible. Must-visit during any Interlaken trip.
Honourable mention: Scaling the Schilthorn moutain to get the views of Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau before the clouds rolled in. Lauterbrunnen was very pretty but it rained hard by the time we got back.
Best thing we ate: The Swiss meat platter at Stagerstubli, Murren. Expensive at 35 CHF but filling and delicious (loved the boiled beef).
Honourable mention: Fondue at Paquis de Bains, Geneva for its lakeside location and affordable prices (50 CHF for 3 people is a steal in Geneva).
Top activity: Colosseum, our first touristy top sight. It is definitely worth spending a lot of time in (including the Palatine Hill & Roman forum included in the ticket price). Reach there by 8 am before it opens at 8:30 AM for minimal lines.
Honourable mentions: The various cathedrals within the city, we are counting the Pantheon as one of them. But some of the best ones were the smaller ones we stumbled into while walking the lanes & bylanes.
Best thing we ate: Cannot decide (all food in Rome was top-notch) so here are our top 4: Pasta at Osteria Dei Colli Emiliani & pizza at Formula 1 pizzeria (near the uni), Pasta at Cesare Al Cassaleto, mains & wine at Ristorante La Campana.
Honourable mention: Choosing from the 150 types of Gelato at Della Palma, heaven.
Top activity: Taking the little yellow train from Villefrance-de-Conflent to Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via, it is an old fashioned train chugging its way through forests and mountains to reach France’s highest railway station. Plus the fortified village of Villefranche-de-Conflent is one of the most beautiful in France.
Honourable mention: Daytrip to the sun-kissed towns of Banyuls-sur-Mer & Collioure to drink a lot of the region’s excellent wine. Extremely memorable.
Best thing we ate: French-Catalan food at Casa Sansa in some superb ambience. Don’t miss the chicken & shrimp casserole.
Honourable mention: The pastry at Votre Pâtissier Jean-Marie, delightful Saint Honore’s and other pastries by a superb patissier.
Top activity: Buying a Holland travel ticket and seeing a lot of Holland in one day. It was in intense day of travel but very rewarding. Apart from Amsterdam, we highly recommend Delft & Kinderdijk (all 3 were part of the daytrip, pictures below).
Honourable mention: Our daytrip to The Hague & Gouda was surprisingly good, the Hague gave us our museum fix and some awesome food and Gouda was such a charming village (and a great place to buy cheese, obviously)
Best thing we ate: Well cooked & presented fish main course with a crab sauce at De Basiliek, Den Haag – a part of our top Holland meal.
Honourable mention: Nasi Goreng from Selamat Makan, Utrecht. We were blown away by how good the Indonesian food was before being reminded of the Netherlands colonial past. And a huge portion to boot.
Visit Europe and don’t be afraid to venture to the not as famous places (Villefranche-de-Conflent, Gouda & Brienz mentioned above), these are the ones that we enjoyed quite a lot. Of course, the famous cities remain a must-visit too. Go beyond your foodie horizons, there is a rich variety of cuisines to enjoy.
© 2017 Beyond Our Horizons