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Will 2022 finally be the year?

Yeah, those thinking 2021 would be their year might be hugely disappointed by the outcome. All those promises of freedom and traveling wide and far again didn’t really end up being fulfilled…

But that doesn’t mean this year isn’t worth it to look back on and still be grateful of what we got. It wasn’t all bad, right? Time for a little recap!

My plans for 2021 were at the start of the year actually the same as those I had in 2020. Participate in a Olympic Triatlon in Lisbon, attend my friend’s wedding in the South of France and finally go on my backpacking trip through Australia. Check on one of those, fail on the other two – again -…

My triathlon got postponed twice and canceled twice in 2021. It’s been a long two years of training, training and more training. My body often feels permanently exhausted. But fortunately I did get some sort of mid challenge in 2021; an Olympic Triathlon in the Lac d’Eau d’Heure in Belgium. The same distance, but another place. A place I visited earlier in 2021 with my dad and thoroughly enjoyed.

Then the one planned trip that did happen; my friend’s wedding on the French Riviera. One of the best experiences of my life and definitely one of the highlights of this year. I didn’t get to see much of the French Riviera but I’m not one bit sad about that. There will be time for that later in life. Because what I did see really made me wanna go back one day!

Australia. My dream trip of travelling through Australia. Five weeks of backpacking on my own. Cancelled again… And even worst; the agency I’ve booked most of my with has gone bankrupt. Bye bye money. This was probably one of the biggest blows this year. Not only did I not get that amazing experience I’ve been looking forward to for so long, I’ve also lost my money I’d saved for it…

But I’m trying to stay positive! There are worst things in life. Much worse. I’m happy to be alive and healthy. And I haven’t been stuck at home as well. I did manage to explore a bit more of Europe. Another eye-opener of the opportunities close to home.

The first half of 2021 I mostly went on short daytrips or weekends in Belgium. From the Kempen to the Ardennes to the Eupen-Malmedy region; I’ve tried to check off as many highlights within my own country. I even finally made it to Belgium’s only National Park! Hooray! All very great memories and places I’ll definitely return to!

The first time I crossed to border again in 2021 was for a short day trip to the Netherlands. My new – hehe- boyfriend and I explored the area of Rotterdam and then the UNESCO site of Kinderdijk. A lovely first dip into new territory!

But then end of September, my major holiday and time off work! Time to head a bit further away from home and do some real traveling! We didn’t have anything planned in advance, to make sure we didn’t end up disappointed over cancelled plans because of COVID, but had been looking at some regions and had some ideas. Our preference was to head toward Basque Country and we were in luck! A roadtrip through the North of Spain was allowed so we managed to check off Basque Country and more. Highlights of that trip were Picos de Europa, San Sebastian and the Ordesa Valley.

Little over a month later, I was ready to explore some more. This time destination Italy! The gorgeous Amalfi coast. Traveling through that part of Italy in November was quite a challenge weather-wize, but we managed to turn it into a very memorable trip! It’s a very hyped, busy region and it’s easy to see why. The atmosphere and the sights are amazing! I still have a bit of info on that trip that has to be completed, so more Italy stuff coming up soon!

But I wasn’t done traveling yet in 2021. For my birthday this year, I went to the city of love. Hello Paris and fi-na-ly, for the first time; hello Versailles! This visit was a long time overdue as I’d already been to Paris many times, but had never ventured outside the city limits to this gorgeous palace. I can now see why it attracts millions of visitors each year!

And that leaves me with my prospects for 2022.

This time, I’m even more careful with making plans. It certainly looks like our lives aren’t going to return to normal anytime soon. Not with new Omicron rearing its ugly head… So while I’m dreaming big, I’m planning small. Or not even at all.

The only thing that’s -still- on the agenda, thanks to my employer, is my Olympic Triathlon in Lisbon. Hopefully this May I’ll be able to check that off my bucketlist. Hopefully with a little roadtrip through Portugal attached to it.

For the rest, I’m just starting to look into my options. Australia is still a major dream, but my boyfriend isn’t able to get five weeks off work so that long travel dream has been buried. We’re planning on taking time off work together end of October/November for three weeks. Australia is still a possibility, with some alterations, but I’m also checking out other destinations that might be easier to travel to if Covid would still be a thing. It’s all still very far away, so we still have plenty of time to plan and see how the world will change by then.

For now, let’s just celebrate what we can. I’m grateful of the year I’ve had, even though it didn’t go as I planned. It was still a very good year with many amazing memories. So bring on 2022, may it be better than any of the previous years!

Happy New year to you all!

P.S. get vaccinated, people!

♡ Ellen

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