Where the he** time goes?! I was just wrapping up 2017 and thinking about my next moves and stressing maybe bit about my jobs/weight/travel things and now it is that time again- to wrap another year up!
2018- oh boy what a year that was! I would have never imagined to be able to travel that much- feel so lucky!!
Dream big and work hard and make things happen, right?!
Of course as I said I have had luck on my way, but I have always worked hard, saved where ever is possible to save and year 2018 was no exception.
Did those shifts at groceries and also looked for other places to work at, cos I didnt really enjoy doing those..
I loved my co-workers but I didnt have any passion to do those shifts and cos I was an extra worker I couldnt really plan anything cos I didnt know how much money would I get.
I was asked why dont I want to be listed on one place, but I didnt want to.
I did those shifts just get money but my goal was somewhere else, to work at the office / at the place where I can do different things, maybe work remote every now and then.
And I just got a job from biotech office for 5 months, someone there is going to finish her studies and they need someone to do her job.
So I was lucky to get the place so I dont have to worry about being fast to book the shifts or take 06:30 shitfs cos they ask me to.
I am not a morning person so waking up at 5 sucks.. so am super glad that I got the job (with flexible hours) and I hope thing goes smoothly there and let´s worry more in April when Ulla comes back (keep you thumbs up for me meanwhile 😉 )
This post is about my 2018 travels but you cant really travel without money so that´s why I wanted to share those things with you too.
And I have also had questions how I / we finance our travels so that answers that too= working hard, saving & doing it all over again.
Im ready to work hard, to have 2-3 jobs if I get to travel- like I did last summer.
Travel and travel related stuff are my passion so im ready to work my ass off for that.
My 2018 started as an extra worker (in two companies) and I worked through winter and spring doing those shifts. I was so busy with those so didnt really look for another job until the late spring when it looked like there are not going to be enough hours for other than companies own workers. So I sent an application, got an interview and went there but felt uncomfortable during my interview and wanted to leave.. the next day the called me and said they want me to come and work for them.
They said I was so cool and wasnt nervous at the interview at all.
I wasnt because it didnt feel it was my place and didnt want to go there..
If I really want to have that place am super nervous. You know how that goes.
So after talking to my bf I told no to them and was hoping not to regret it..
I had my regret moments of course but I also had another oppoturnity that saved our summer holiday!
I got a summer job from some kinda electric company office and learnt a lot during those two months (about contracts, invoices, warehousestuff, custom etc.) Even though I was there only two months everyone made me welcome and took me in well.
After that we started our summer holiday- roadtrip 2018 and drove around East-Europe and Balkans for four weeks. That was insane, incredible and im missing back..
So now that you know my backround let’s go and wrap up my 2018 travels!!
TRAVEL ABC 2018 BY 666PLACES
A – AVEZZANO
How many have you heard from Avezzano?!
Well I didnt know anything about it till my godchild Minttu told us she got accepted to do 3-4 months internship there. We googled the place and were thinking hmmm.. looking nice, mountains and everything, that is near Rome, would be awesome to visit her.
Some months before she went there we found out that my mom got a braintumour, we didnt know anything else but that and upcomingg operation that fall.
She said that if the surgery goes fine and she´ll be fine we need to go to Italy- that I must promise that.
And everything went well and so I flew to Italy with my mom and my other godchild Veera (that was her first flight and vacation ever). Minttu took us around in Rome but took us for a crazy hike in Avezzano as well.. She said those gorgeous mountains were close but it took hours from us to get there, just to find out that everything is closed and no busses or cabs goes cos siesta…
That was a hike from hell but view was nice and now we can laugh at this! 😀
B – BALATON, BIH + BANJA
Balaton, my sweet Lake!
There is no place like this, this is the place where I wanna go back, every year..
And we went there twice last summer and am already missing back!
We visited there first time 2015 and it was more like a place to stop cos needed to check if it is safe to travel to Serbia, meant to stay there for 1-2 nights and take off.. but we liked so much that we stayed for few extra nights and since that been coming back every year and also been dreaming to move there.
How funny is that!
Bih / Bosnia i Herzegovina
Another funny thing- Jani said that he will never go to Bosnia by car cos our car insurance is crazy there!! It is 3-4 times more than in Europe.
So we only meant to drive through that about 20 km coastline that belongs to Bosnia, visit Montenegro and come back the same way. But we ended up driving through Bosnia from south to north, over 500km. So never say never!!
Visited Sarajevo and Mostar on our first Balkan trip 2014 but it was plane/bus trip.
We were bit worried about our car since there were some rocky roads too…
Capital city of Republic of Srpska and second largest city in BIH.
As I said we never meant to drive through Bosnia and am still surpised we did!!
We loved Banja so much that we stayed there for few extra nights.
It felt like home and it was hard to leave. Missing back!!!
Enough stuff to see, shopping places for me, BMW service, massage chairs, Jelen (beer) for Jani and black wine for me, delicious food and places to shoot- there is nothing else we need!!
C – CESIS, CHILLING, CASTLES & CAVES
I have always wanted to go somewhere on my and on Janis birthday, but it is not easy with work/money.
Mine is on May and Jani said then that he has few extra holidays so we can go somewhere.
We were looking at Riga but prices were insane and Riga has become tourist trap.
We wanted to go to Latvia anyway and deciced to try Cesis. There is a car service that people we know use so they kinda recommended the city and so we decided to give it a try. What a gorgeous little town!!!
There happened to be Museum Night- big event in Latvia and there were a lot going on.
On the castle park there were bands playing till 2am, also handcrafts, food and dark local beer was found!
I also got a cake and bubbly drink from Jani, even though I had scratched our car a night before we meant to leave here. It was the night Team Finland lost the medal games to Switzerland.
But despite of the car and lost hockey game we had great time and am sure we will go back!
Cesis is like Riga in good old days!
A picture is worth a thousand words!
I love to see and do a lot on our holidays, even though I have been there before, I just love wandering around, but it is also important to just relax, do nothing, chill out sometimes..
Just enjoy the moment and company (a huge thanks to Jani for taking this photo and everything else).
I bet most of you guess this pic is taken somewhere in South Europe or Aasia.
Many got so surprised when I posted this on facebook and said it’s taken on Jurmala Beach, Latvia..
Castles (and fortresses)
If I see some old castle or fortress I wanna visit them, it is interesting to explore and read about their history. I liked history at school but I suck with dates & all the right terms (glad we have Google nowdays).
These pictures are from Latvia, Spain and Italy.
We booked a half day boat trip from Kotor. Visited Lady of The Rock & Mamula islands but also the abandoned submarine base Boka Kotorska, which was used in WW 2 as an ammuniation storage.
Those are vey smartly designed since it was hard to see from the Sea.
After this submarine base our captain took us to another cave for a swim and the water was so clear and warm, no one wanted to leave there!
D – DUBROVNIK
When people heard we are going to drive to Montenegro they said Dubrovnik is also a must to visit. It would have propably been interesting place to visit but not with 666€ / night!
That was the price for one night, for us2 and the car.
Even though that number would have matched this blog we said no..
Am sure you get great deals if you book months before and go without car, but we take book these one night stops just the day before or while driving so 666 it was!
So we just passed by Dubrovnik and took a look from the passing road to the city and deep blue sea.
E – ESPAÑA
Espana, Spain- it was actually my first time ever to Spain and first times somewhere warm on winter.
I wanted to go back to Serbia on our winter holiday, cos I knew we are not going there on summer since the car insurance. Janis parents goes to Spain 1-2 times a year and every year they have asked us there too. Spain havent been on my top travel list ever (for no specific reason), so I wasnt super excited when we decided to go there, but come on, we only needed to pay our planetickets and me having too many shifts at work – it was a great decision. And I enjoyed my time there a lot, and would go back!!
So Spain really surprised us!!
It was different holiday, since we lived with his parents and son and spent 24/7 together with others.
But it was awesome since they had already rented a car and been there multiple times so they were great guides (muchas grazias!!)
We went to somewhere new everyday, based on Fuengirola/Calahonda we took daytrips to Mijas, Ronda, Istan, Nerja, Malaga, Marbella, Gibraltar…
F – FIRST TIMES & FORUMS
I already mentioned Spain and Gibraltar but there were two other new countries: Italy & Montenegro.
New cities Cesis, Györ, Gothenburg, Banja Luka, Järvenpää, Kotor, Neum, Pecs, Rzeszow, Tihany and I guess few more since we drove around and were boating too here&there.
It was also first holiday abroad with Janis family and I havent been travelling with my mom either for over 20 years I think- 2018 I travelled twice with her; to Italy and to Sweden, where I also took a rental car – for the first time ever!! I also had Fish´n Chips for luch when we visited Gibraltar and that was my first time ever and I must say I loved it- muy bueno esp. with that green mint sauce!!
So it was pretty interesting year!!
Loyal customers since 2011 – till 2018
We found Forums on our first tript to Riga, 2011 and been staying there multiple times since then but Janis birthday trip on October was nothing we imagined and sorry but wont cheer for this hotel anymore.
We have stayed in double, economy etc rooms there before so when we saw there were only economy rooms left we decided to take it, we knew it just to be smaller than regular room but that´s no problem since we were staying only over the weekend..
But it was a problem: there were construction site right outside our room, so we couldnt keep window open to get fresh air and they had huge spot light etc.
They never mention that on their webpage, they even sent email right after reservation “welcoming us” , asking if there is anything to do etc.
We went back to reception to ask if we could change and pay the difference, but there were no rooms left. Receptionist said that they dont start to work too early on the morning and it is not even on our floor. Then we went back to our room and saw earplugs on our bed..
PS I wrote my review to Booking too but they reacted 20 days later apologized for the noise and said they pay great attention to the comments but I have been checking their page and there are still nothing about the renovation!! I just walked by the hotel on our X-mas trip and they are still renovating. I just looked at their hotel/room description from Booking and there is nothing about that- so I dont recommend you take economy room there if you go.
G – GIBRALTAR & GYÖR
Gibraltar was interesting place to visit, small (about 30 000 ppl) but pretty.
I was actually surprised about the place that it had lot to offer, I loved those parks, old walls, buildings, narrow streets, cafes and the vibe.
We booked the minibus and our guide took us up the hill, showing amazing view and of course those monkeys. I had seen pics and heard horror stories about those nasty monkeys but we had no problems with them since we respected our guides rules (unlike the other group bringing food etc outside the car and having the monkeys climbing on their kids).
I didnt know there is also airport and it looked bit scary to me and it is said that landings on winter can be uncomfortable since the strong crosswind.
We spent a night in Györ cos wanted to get closer to Balaton since we had booked apartment for week there, again. We could have stayed another night in Katowice, Poland but the staff at the hotel was super rude we wanted to leave as soon as possible.
There was Baroque Wedding- event on that weekend so we got to see some dance showns, plays and awesome old costumes. Györ old town was charming, food was good and ice cream portions huge!!
Great place to stop close to Slovakian border.
H – HUNGARY & HAKUNILA
As told you before that Hungary was never our top destinations, till we got there first time..
And then we got crazy about this HUF -country!!
Especially the lake side, Balaton is awesome!!
2018 we spent 11 nights in Hungary, one night in Györ and one in Pecs, rest 9 we stayed at our fave city, next to Lake Balaton- so 1/3 of our holiday was spent in Hungary.
So no need to ask which is one of our fave countries..
Our neighbourhoods, not maybe the first choice to spend your day here, but now that they have cleaned the park up, it is actually nice place to go and have a walk with the dog, enjoy a picnic or visit the old house. They do some kind of ghost tours there since it said to be haunting there. I was interested to go for that tour on Halloween but we were in Riga then. They do those on Halloween weekend but on Easter too.
I – ISTAN & ITALY
Aww, Istan was so cute, sleepy & sunny village somewhere in the mountains.
As to Mijas, we did a day trip from Costa De Sol to Istan. If you are looking for small spanish place without all the tourist things- visit here. There isnt much to see or do but I liked it a lot cos of that.
My first time in Italy- I flew to Rome with my mom and my godchild on March.
We stayed in guesthouse next to Termini and took a train to Avezzano (to hell hike),but got time to wander around Rome too. Enjoyed pizza, pasta, cappuccinos, cakes and redwine, spent a day at the huge mall since it was raining a lot. And then walked some more cos there was a strike on our last day in Rome.
Rome was interesting, photolovers place but too touristy for me..
J – JURMALA
Jurmala was our first stop on our first Via Baltica roadtrip 2011 and we went back the following year for few nights and went for a coffee on some winter trips.
Since Riga was fully booked (out of our price range on our last summer holiday) we decided to go to Jurmala instead for those last days and it was perfect choice. Jurmala was still so charming!!
There were only few others, fabulous weather and most incredible sunsets!!
I still wish I had better (real) camera since the sunset on our last night was amazing-never seen like before!!
I thought I saw the best at Balaton / Balkan but nope- it was found in Jurmala (just take a look at the pics..)
K – KOTOR
Kotor, Montenegro was fine, road from Croatia to Mne was awesome, view was jawdropping..but it was still kinda disappointment.
We had nice apartment with terrace- offering a view to Kotor Bay..
Kotor didnt give me the feeling like I had with Banja or Balaton.
Didnt get the feeling I wanna go back, it was more like the opposite. I think it was our first night there when Jani said can we leave now?! We had booked and paid for 4 nights and that was too much.
Kotor was too much: too much traffic, too many people, so many cars, too hot, too expensive, bad food etc.
It was totally different from what I have read about and expected.
If we go back it wont be August, it´s gonna be late fall or early spring, since I would like to climb up to the top of the fortress and visit Cetinje- but I dont see us going there in near future (never say never though 😉 )
L – LIMMARED & LINNAVUORI
Limmared, Sweden- about an hour away from Gothenburg.
Small town where I spent summer holidays when I was a teenager, so it was about a time to go back..
It felt like time had stopped – nothing has changed, it felt weird, like I was taken back to 1996!
My grannys brother moved there in 60-70´s and there lives now cousins, their kids etc.
I travelled there with my mom and few other relatives to my uncles funeral. Im glad I got to meet him in Finland when he was fine some years ago since in past year or two he couldnt remember or regonize anyone. So it was sad but im glad I was able to go, since I got to see the house I spent some much time in past and I got to meet my family there <3
Hill Fort in East-Helsinki.
It was beautiful sunday in autumn and we wanted to go out for a walk, but outside our neighbourhood.
And so we ended up to Vartiokylä, near the place I grew up and took long walks with our dog back then. and ”climbed up” to this hill fort.
Jani had never visited there before and it wa s over 10 years from my last visit there too, so it was nice to go back. There isnt really much left but places like this are always interesting!
M – MIJAS, MONTENEGRO & MATKA (travel fair)
Another charming village (like Istan as well).
One of the first places we visited in Spain was Mijas / Mijas Pueblo- one of the top destinations in the area.
It was beautiful village, typical whitewashed Andalusian houses with shiny blue flower pots, narrow streets and multiple shops, cafes and attarctions.
Some churches, a chapel, more shops and observation point offering a breathtaking view the Sea.
You´ll also find oval shaped Bullring and attached a small museum about the bullfights and matadors outfits. I heard there is a chocolate factory and awesome hiking paths but didnt check those this time.
This is the place you find those Donkey taxis..
Since Serbia is our top-places (home-away-from -home Balkan) we kinda thought Montenegro is similar and a country we would enjoy too.
Montenegro means Black Mountains and those mountains we saw were stunning!!
We drove from Kotor to Republika Srpska through Mne and it was so gorgeous on mid- Montenegro that we almost stayed there.. Mountains, Adriatic coast (road), lakes and canyons were unbelievable but Kotor wasnt. I could see us going back to Tara and Durmitor sooner 😉
Matka- travel fair
This was actually my first time at Matka- travel fair as a blogger and it was awesome experience!!
I met other bloggers, found new blogs to read, talked with tour operators, travel ambassadors, worked at travel agency- Travellers desk, had new business cards and listened many presentations about the travels, business, future etc. and of course wanted to book a trip here, there & everywhere 😉
N – NEUM & NERJA
Before Montenegro we had to find a place to stay for one night and since Dubrovnik was over priced we went to Neum. Yeah we didnt mean to stay in BIH cos the car insurance but Neum was over 600€ cheaper than Dubrovnik.. And Neum was a great surprise!
We got our car to monitored garage, had room with ac, hotel next to the beach, food, welcoming wine etc.
We were thinking to go back there but ”plans changed” and we drove to Banja.
On our Spanish tour we visited also Nerja and those magnificent caves (Cuevas de Nerja).
Going underground and exploring the caves was incredible!!!
We also drove around the city and it felt cosy. Jani said that this looks like it would be nice to live there, so pretty and quiet and I joked that after few years we find ourselves living in Spain- even though we are more east-siders! Dont have good pics of Nerja, only cave and window pics so u have Google for some city pics 😉
O – OWN HOME & OWN CAR
Home sweet home! I had office job and my extra job last summer and was lucky to do so much but doing 55 hours a week, having one day off is still bit too much.
On my day off I just wanted to stay home, do nothing but am glad Jani took me out then and we drove to Järvenpää, Porvoo, Loviisa and some places in capital region for a walk, coffee, ice cream etc. but I had time to enjoy some bubble bath too 🙂
That is the best and must have.. Life would be so much different without a car, been there so I know.
Going to some shifts would be impossible, grocery shopping, moving stuff, going to visit people would be hard, and going to summer cottage or road trips would be impossible as well.. Hope there wouldnt be so high taxes and there woild be cheaper diesel too but dont think that happens here..
P – PECS
Pecs was another pleasant surprise and one of those cities I didnt know anything about before we went there. We booked a room from Pecs because it happened to have perfect location between Banja Luka and Balaton- where we wanted to go back before heading back north.
Pecs was beautiful, lively, friendly and a city of art and history.
Another homely town, even though it is not that big- it felt like a metropolis after Banja.
Q – QUALITY SILESIAN HOTEL
Disappointment. Quality and this hotel doesnt match. Receptionist was ok but staff at the restaurant not..
We had so rude service from the waiter (who shouldnt be working at customer at all) so we didnt want to stay in Katowice more than that one night.
So we had dinner at McDonalds and breakfast- paninis and Mike Tyson energy drink for breakfast 😉
R – ROME, RONDA & RZESZOW
I put Rome, Montenegro and Paris together.. what is the fuss?!
Rome was nice, I liked wandering around and shooting those old stuff, spending time with my familymembers but I didnt fell in love with Rome (or Paris/Mne).
There is a lot to see, sometimes felt I was in different world but it was way too crowded and too much.
I went to Trevi too and threw a coin as everyone else – and found out later it means that I´ll be going back.. Well, I dont feel like I need to go back right away, I could go there some day to show those hovels and other stuff to Jani.. 😉
Pueblo Blancos, charming white villages they say about Ronda.
It started to rain when we drove there but it stopped for awhile so it was grey and rainy the whole day but Ronda was still charming. So gorgeous that I felt bad leaving, wanted to stay a night over, explore the area more, but we had limited time and only one car so we couldnt stay.
Ronda is worth to visit. I loved the road there, breathtaking view, those bridges and other architecture..
I still need to check how to write and pronounce the name right.. (–> ʐɛʂuf)
Spent there two nights, in a hotel. It was our first time there but I knew the city because we wanted to visit Lviv few years ago and checked from the maps best ways to go- road was closed then and we didnt go there then, but am hoping to get there in near future, as I want to back to Rzeszow too- which has stunning Old Town, huge mall, green parks, castle etc.
S – SUOMI – FINLAND
Well there are some nice places in Finland too but it is so expensive..
We travel much here or dont go out for dinner etc. cos the high prices.
For example two small, basic coffees (from paper cups) and two ice cream balls were 16€ in Porvoo -so you can just imagine price tag for lunch/dinner.
Hotel room is double or triple the price we pay in East-Europe and then add gas, food, activities…
Janis parents have amazing summer cottage and a house (his father built) at Suomijärvi, near small village called Suomenniemi and we are lucky to get to visit there too.
Midsummer weekend is my favourite and we try to spend some other weekends there as well.
I wish I had one more week so could spend that there or remote job 😉 Place is gorgeous!!
T – TATRA MOUNTAINS & TRAVEL MAPS
Tatras… 2015 we had to change plans and instead Bled we headed to Kosice (and Serbia or so we thought). Just a week before we left there were heavy rain and some road got closed so we had to take detour and we ended up driving through some shady camp/village and then through Tatras when sun was setting.
That´s the first time I (and Jani) felt scared on our trips. And we didnt want to take East Poland / Slovakian roads after that.. Now 3 years later we checked the real road should be open and all went smoothly. Maybe next year we take the same road..
We have TomTom & Google Maps, car navigator and also some papper maps.
Jani found this new app, Sygic Travel and bought the navi system for us.
I took also the travel app for me, you can find sightseens, restaurants, hotels etc.
Didnt really have to time to use it much before our big trip but it seems good!
It has great options like showing which lanes to take, cameras, traffic and even parking places!!
With this Sygic navigator we had few bumps in the road (like death roads and silly detours) but we made it and like it and have used it also in Finland and other trips to Latvia. Pic is from our summer holiday.
U – UNBELIEVABLE SCENES
Even though Kotor wasnt my fave places- nature was super awesome there!!
We had already booked our Banja Luka hotel but almost cancel it cos mid-Montenegro was so incredible!!
If we would have chance to use internet I think we would have cancel / move it..
Durmitor and Tara area were stunning!!!!
Also Croatian coast, especially south parts offer jaw dropping views!! My fave roads for sure!!!
V – VATICAN CITY
On our Rome trip we visited also Vatican.
It was another rainy day but there were hundreds of peoplealready on morning- waiting..
We walked around bit, went to some shops, sent some postcards, had coffee and ice creams, walked some more and headed to Trevi & other sights.
W – WWW
I have been thinking to have/create my own page for awhile but there is still a lot to learn and Rantapallo has offered help for all bloggers here so it´s been easier. I had huge problems with those menu boxes and almost gave up but then I figured out what to do.
They also have some events, workshops etc. so it´s been nice too. I still have some problems with pics here, to find out what’s the right size but how to get rid off those huge caps between pictures.. anyone?!
X – X3
Dream! Dreams will come alive!!
Last Christmas it happened, we got a ”new” car X3- been talking about that for months before and almost bought one on summer 2017, glad we didnt then cos my work situation changed.
Later that year somebody wanted to buy our old car, we sold it and got Mr X!
We had few roadtrips to Latvia and Suomenniemi on that winter / spring before that almost 6000kms roadtrip last August. It is always nerve-racking to do such a long trip with ”new” vehicle but all went well!!
I love to drive this car – it moves great 😉
Y – YOU & I
I didnt travel to any Y- cities this year but we did a lot of couple vacations, which I love the most!
On Valentines Day we spent time in Spain, had coffee & cake at Malaga castle, my birthday Jani took me to Latvia (check C) for a weekend and on his birthday we went back to Latvia..
Just to mention few awesome trips we made together <3
Z – ZZZ
We almost fell a sleep while waiting our coffees in Borås, Sweden.
We (and others) had to wait almost 30 minutes for our coffees. And no, am not kidding that was the situation at EspressoHouse there. Wanted to leave without the coffees but had already paid so we stayed and waited and waited and waited… Coffee was great when we finally got it but I dont know if I want to try Espressohouse again..
So that was my travel year 2018!!
Incredible, insane, wild, unbelievable, full of awesome – planned and unplanned adventures!
As family trips, roadtrips, surprise trips, long weekends, 4 weeks roadtrips, flying, walking, eating great (and bad) food, tasting awesome wines, taking thousands of photos and working hundreds of hours to get to do all those!! But as I said, I would do it again-just to get to travel of course 😉
I dont count countries am counting down the days till our next holiday!
But I have had questions about how many countries I have been to and I had no clue, so I put all together and result was 27. This year we travelled to 13 countries and some of them were new places since we travelled to Montenegro and Republika Srpska on summer and Spain and Gibraltar just happened to happen as Italy.