The holiday is around the corner and the New Year will be knocking on our doors very soon. (Scarily soon, but never mind). At the end of the year, I always enjoy wrapping things up, returning to great moments and savoring memories. Travel-wise 2015 has been a great year. A lot of other fantastic things happened as well, but here I want to focus on those 13 very special destinations of 2015. (Hopefully, there will be more than 13 in 2016!).

These were our destinations in spring and summer 2015.

Skopje, Macedonia (Easter 2015)

Macedonia Skopje 1

Travelling in Europe during Easter can be somewhat challenging. There are a few countries that do not celebrate Easter at the same time as most of western Europe (or not at all), Macedonia is one of them. The capital of Macedonia, Skopje, is a very cozy town –  with statues everywhere. History is taken very seriously. Even more impressive is the nature. As we only spent a long weekend in Macedonia, we did not have the chance to see much of the country. However, all visitors should visit the Matka Canyon for some seriously amazing scenery.

My notebook tells me that the food was tasty, too. Dishes worth mentioning are Turli tava, Shopska salad, and Burek. The Balkans is also home to one of our absolute favourite wine grapes, Vranac.

Macedonia Skopje 2

Belgrade, Serbia (Easter 2015)

On our way back from Macedonia, we had a few hours to kill in the capital of Serbia. It was not our first trip to Belgrade, but oh, I would have loved to have more time there. Belgrade is one of my favourite cities in Europe. It breathes a certain type of energy that is difficult to find elsewhere. So, what do you do if you have two hours in Belgrade? You go to Knez Mihailova Street and watch people. Alternatively you can have a cup of strong coffee and enjoy listening to Serbian. Simple pleasures!

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Brussels, Belgium (April 2015)

They call it the capital of Europe. Look past the modern EU buildings and Brussels has all the potential to be an interesting destination. Old buildings and young people sitting down on the street and drinking in the squares added to the charm. Manneken Pis? Not worth all the crowds. The waffles? More so.

The most interesting object to photograph? A turtle.

Belgium Brussels 1

Istanbul, Turkey (June 2015)

Istanbul is huge, noisy, dirty and quite confusing. Old. It is also very beautiful and its people are friendly. Come to think of it, the city is slightly similar to an elegant old lady with a lot of temper. During our visit, there was a general election in Turkey, which was very visible on the streets. As were the cats, they were everywhere. We walked, talked, and walked some more. We did not visit a single museum during the visit – there was no time. That’s one good reason to pay the city at least one more visit!

Turkey Istanbul 1

Turkey Istanbul 2

Gothenburg, Sweden (July 2015)

Gothenburg is the 2nd city of Sweden, on the west coast. It is the perfect place if you’d like to have cozy picnic with your friends in the park, eat fish or check out the penguins in the park. It feels more relaxed than Stockholm, not as crowded and there is a lot of space. Apparently the weather is better there, too. In our case, it was the place where we were introduced to Persian food and now there is no turning back.

Sweden Göteborg 2 Sweden Göteborg 1

Turku, Finland (August 2015)

Turku, Åbo in Swedish, is the oldest town in Finland. Very much like a Gothenburg it has that relaxed atmosphere of having a beer or two with friends in the park. That’s what we did during our visit – well, had pizza in a green park. Apparently there are also a lot of cultural events in Turku every summer. Turku is also famous for its Declaration of Christmas Peace, a tradition dating back to the 1320s.

In August we didn’t think much about Christmas, instead we walked by the river, admired the architecture (the library is fancy!) and visited the market square. I have a vague memory from a very long time ago of spending an early morning on that very square, having a cup of coffee and musing over the lives of the people there. The castle is also nice!

Finland Turku 2 Finland Turku 1

More to follow…

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