Our 2017 Travel resolutions vs/ our 2017 travels

Now that 2017 has come to an end, I can’t help but reminisce on how we spent our last year.

We had a  promising travel list of 12 bucket trips we wanted to make in 2017: Saint Petersburg/ Russia, Peru/North of Chile/ Bolivia, the ABC Islands, Japan/ Kyoto,Norway, Croatia, Morocco/ Essaouira, Jordan/Petra, Iceland,Cuba/ Habana, Canada/Quebec, The US/The Keys. 

And like many other New Year resolutions they failed! Truth to be told, out of those 12 dreamy trips, we’ve only made one..yes only one: Quebec!

As much as the Old Town was enchanting, my wanderlust was in no state of satisfaction.

Rewinding a little bit,  I must confess that the goals we’ve set for ourselves were a little bit unrealistic: most of the destinations were far, needed a lot more time than the limited 25 days of vacations that Erwin had.

In fact, 2017 surprised us with different priorities: I was back to university learning the Dutch language. I had to pass my integration exam, wait for that results for one month and a half, then wait for another 3 months for my residency to be settled.

Meanwhile we bought a new apartment which is still under construction , we sold our house and yet we still managed to travel often, maybe not to the destinations we chose for 2017 but hey I am pretty grateful for what we’ve accomplished…we both are!

We travelled to 12 countries (2 new for me, 1 for Erwin), 25 cities and 2 islands. Our wanderlust will always demand more travels but our souls are filled with gratitude. We know we are blessed and we will never take that for granted.


We went to Paris/France and Cologne/Germany. Both were road trips and I love those especially when Erwin is driving ***Thank you baby***


The fact is no matter how many times we go to Paris, it never seizes to amaze me. If you want to know more about my favorite city, read those two articles Paris is always a great idea10 things you didn’t know about Paris

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Did you know there are two Arches de Triomphe in Paris🗼? The most famous one is called l'Arche de Triomphe de l'Etoile⭐️ The one in the picture is called l'Arc de Triomphe du Carousel. It was built by the Emperor Napoleon as a replica of the Arche of Constantine (312 AD) in Rome🏟. It was meant as a getaway for the Tuileries Palace (the Imperial Palace). The destruction of the #tuileries Palace in 1871 allowed an unobstructed view (west) toward the most famous Arc de Triomphe🤘 L'Arche du Carrousel is also aligned with the #obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, the center line of the grand boulevard #champselysees and the Grand Arche de La Défense😎 . . . . . . . . . #paris #france #europe #arcdetriomphe #arcdutriompheducarrousel #louvre #travel #travelingram #travelblogger #jesseinwonderland #wanderlust #wanderer #traveler #historicalcities #history #architecture #arches #love #photography #photooftheday #photo #super_france #loves_paris #parisjetaime #citylights #beautifuldestinations #hello_worldpics

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Erwin and I often disagree on which of the two rival cities are nicer: Dusseldorf or Cologne.

I like Cologne while he likes Dusseldorf best. Personally what I like best about it are three things: their infamous Cathedral, the coloured houses and a restaurant called Beirut which completely cures my homesickness.


We celebrated Valentine in Ghent/ Belgium. It was my first time there and I absolutely loved it. Check my article about this trip here


March was very busy. We travelled to Athens, London and Lanzarote.


The  fact that a city as beautiful as Athens is one the most ancient cities of the World and therefore has so much history will never cease to amaze me. Check out First, there was Athens for fascinating myths and stories about this ancient city.


We were in London for a 48 hours trip. Erwin had a food exhibition and I was there to help him communicate with his Egyptian customer. We stayed at the Motel One Tower Hill (definitely recommended especially for business trips) and not very far from the hotel we found a fabulous Asian tapas place called yuu_kitchen. (another recommendation)

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Our 24 hours trip to London is over😌 It was too short and we were pretty busy; the only area we managed to visit was actually the surrounding areas of our @motel_one 🏨 Despite being squeezed on time, we've made an amazing discovery called the @yuu_kitchen : this South East Asian and Pacific rim fusion food is one of the best we've ever tried🍡🍲 Every bite, meal, sip were mouth-watering. 🎯We highly recommend it when you are in London🎡🇬🇧#lavieaubel . . . . . . . . #london #londoncity #londontowerbridge #england #travel #travelblogger #jesseinwonderland #traveltips #foodtips #travelfood #selfie #wanderlust #ig_europe #city #citytrip #cityview #citylights #fusionfood #fusionasian#loveselfietravel

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We travelled to Lanzarote for a week with Erwin’s family (We were 5 adults and one child). We rented a very cute villa with a heated pool on airbnb which we definitely recommend if you are a big group. We booked with Ryanair out of Eindhoven airport; they always have very good deals especially to the Canary Islands.

Lanzarote is breathtaking. We would do it again and again and again. Check out 12 reasons why Lanzarote should be your next travel destination.


We drove to Versailles/France for my birthday. I remember we had such a lovely dinner at a Portuguese restaurant called Saudade  


We went to Lebanon in May. I stayed for a month and Erwin for two weekends (in between was his Middle East work trip). We had 2 interesting road trips:

1-  Anjar, Taanayel, Ammiq. We visited the ruins of Anjar, walked through the lake of Taanayel and had lunch at Tawlet Ammiq which we highly recommend if you feel like authentic Lebanese food.

2– The second road trip was Tannourine Cedars, Bcharre Cedars, Mar Lisha in Qannoubine, and we finished the day right one time for a sunset beer at Pierre and Friends.


After coming back from Lebanon, we went to Valencia/Spain. It wasn’t out first trip there but this time we fell irrevocably in love with it’s narrow and colorful streets, the architecture but mostly for Valencia’s authenticity.

Read more about Valencia in these two articles :9 underrated European beautiful cities we have visited in 2017 and 7 things Valencia, Rotterdam and Porto have in common

Quick Recommendations:

  • We stayed at the Junior suite of the El Siglo hotel. It is a B&B right in the old town of Valencia hence the location was perfect but so was the room. We had a private roof terrace just for us. The room was very spacious and contained a detached bathtub!
  • For breakfast we highly recommend a bakery called Horchateria Santa Catalina for the best chocolate churros.
  • For a trendy acai bowl experience go Almalibre Acai Bar 
  • Don’t leave Valencia without having a Paella. After all, it is the birthplace of this infamous dish.


We travelled to Portugal and Italy in July.

 Porto/ Portugal 

It was my first time in Porto and will definitely not be my last. We met my cousin Stephanie and her husband Jose for two nights. It was fantastic! Check out more about informations about Porto in these two articles 7 things Valencia, Rotterdam and Porto have in common and 9 underrated European beautiful cities we have visited in 2017

Quick Recommendations:

  • We stayed at the Carris Porto Ribeira hotel which we recommend especially because of its perfect location one minute walk to the Ribeira-Rio Douro.
  • For good tapas and wine go to Wine Quay Bar and for a great Portuguese fish experience we highly recommend Taberna dos Mercadores  There are only about 10 tables so definitely make a reservation.
  • Don’t leave Porto without trying some Port wine or taking a few bottles with you.


I hope you do know by now what Venice means to me (if you don’t, please check it out here) I was in heaven!!!

Although we spent only one night there and had to drive to meet Erwin’s Russian customer, it was enough for me to fall in love with it all over again.

Cividale del Friuli/Italy

Cividale del Friuli was recommended by Vladimir, Erwin’s client. It was a two hours drive from Lignano Sabbiadoro where Vladimir was staying with his family.

It was the perfect recommendation: besides its stunning, well preserved, authentic and Medieval center, the most beautiful part of Cividale was how quiet it was: Erwin and I had the whole town for ourselves.

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I love beautiful stories; I love myths, #legends, #fairytales and unrealistic scenarios. The story behind the construction of this "Devil's bridge😈" is definitely a favorite: legend says that this bridge was built by the Devil himself. He wanted in exchange, the soul of the first who crosses the bridge. The locals managed to cheat him: they let a 🐱 cross the bridge. The Devil accepted his soul 🐱 as a sufficient sacrifice and therefore kept this outstanding bridge intact and still standing🌉 . . . . . . . . . #italy #cividale #cividaledelfriuli #beautiful #beautifulvillage #beautifuldestinations #travel #travelblogger #jesseinwonderland #travelcouple #travelgram #travelphotography #beautifulviews #bridges #bridgestone #river #wanderer #wanderlust #traveler #travelerstories#europe2017 #europeandestinations

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Erwin and I were invited by his Swedish customer to visit him in Stockholm/Sweden. It was my first time in Sweden. I never been this far North, yet it looked very familiar to me, very Germanic: those narrow cobbled streets, the colorful houses, the waterfront, the canals. I loved every tiny part of Stockholm and even had one the best burgers there at Barrels Burger and Beers :It had even gluten free buns and a lettuce made bun***I loved this one best****.

The nice thing about Stockholm which people often miss are the islands surrounding it. Erwin’s customer Bjorn lives in Ingaro, an island in the archipelago in the midst of the Baltic Sea with the closeness to water and the forest, and still only 30 min away from the city of Stockholm!

Ingarö has been the location for movie-making, including  parts of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo featuring Daniel Craig.


We went to Montreal/Canada for two weeks to visit my sister, brother in law and most importantly my nephew Joey. Other than Montreal we visited Quebec ( was one of our 12 bucket list destinations), Niagara Falls and Toronto.

To our surprise the city which actually took our breath away was Toronto.

Toronto food and drinks recommendations:

  •  Byblos for drinks and fusion Lebanese food. I want to go back just for that.
  • The Distillery District is a must visit. You can get the best hot chocolate at Soma Chocolate
  • Lady Marmalade for the best egg benedicts ever . We had to wait for 20 minutes to be seated. It is that busy.
  • No matter what, don’t be tempted to drive from Montreal to Toronto. Take the train!!! We’ve done it and it is horrible. Never to be repeated again.


We went to Lebanon after Canada. I stayed for three weeks.

Road trip recommendation:

We had planned for another Bekaa road trip: we visited Domaines des Tourelles in Chtaura for some Lebanese wine tasting. It is a boutique winery with a beautiful champetre wine tasting setting and an excellent white wine and arak ***highly recommended***

After we went to Zahle and had lunch at Casino Mhanna for some traditional Lebanese barbeque and mezze.***Highly recommended***

The last stop of our visit was the ruins of the Niha temple which is sort of a small Baalbeck.



November was a very busy month. Two days after I came back from Lebanon, we drove to Paris again. It always a  great idea to visit Paris especially in Autumn when it is all yellow and less busy.

My best friend Rima and her husband Edy came to visit us for four days at the end of November. We drove together to Ghent and Bruges in Belgium and Dusseldorf in Germany. 


It has been since my birthday 2 years ago that we’ve been to Bruges. It was even more beautiful in Winter at 2 degrees Celcius than in Spring at 18 degrees celsius. European cities are best visited during winter


It was our second time in Ghent this year and despite a food poisoning the night before, we still enjoyed Ghent pretty much.

We stayed this time at NH Gent Belfort which it is definitely recommended especially for its central location. Everything was at a 2 minutes walk.

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Don’t look back, just keep walking 👫

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We’ve been to Dusseldorf for the zillion time, but it was the first time we visited the Japanese Eko cultural center. It was a piece of Japan in the middle of Germany. It was small, outside the city center, but it was free and the closest we got to Japan. In fact, we did get a glimpse of what it would like, or feel like when we visit and oh boy that made us want to go even more.

We visited the Christmas Market in Dusseldorf and I must admit that the ice ring made it look even nicer compared to last year.


December was the month was a domestic tourism one especially with my mom and brother visiting. We managed to visit Maastricht, Amsterdam and Utrecht.

I don’t know where we will be travelling to in 2018. All I know is that we will become homeless in February since the buyers will be moving in then. We will be staying at my brother in law meanwhile till our apartment is built (thank you Arjan). We won’t be making travel plans this time around yet. I think last minute trips will be a very good idea considering our situation. So come what may!

We wish you a fabulous year filled with joy, laughter and loads of travel.