My Travel Year 2017 in Photos

In 2017, I actually got around quite a bit. So much that my passport fell apart. But instead of souvenirs, I only brought back dozens of notebooks, filled with stories to be told, and a few photos to accompany them. (Actually, some of you did get souvenirs, but that’s for the elite circle of supporters of this blog.)

2018 will be a much quieter year, with a focus on university and on publishing articles about past travels. To help me decide with which stories to begin, I’ll give you an overview of what happened in 2017 and expect your comments on what you are most curious about.

The year 2017 began at one of the most beautiful places, at Lake Titicaca in South America. First in Puno on the Peruvian side, then in Copacabana on the Bolivian side.

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And wow, was I happy to be back in Bolivia, which remains my favorite country. If I ever have to pick one city to live for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t hesitate to move to Cochabamba. But that time, I decided to stay in La Paz until April.

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I was lucky to be there on 21 February, the anniversary of the constitutional referendum, with manifestations from both sides.

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But even if I had missed that, I needn’t have worried. There were protests and marches every day. Living quite centrally, I was awoken by drums or fireworks regularly.

It was almost too late, however, that I discovered a wonderful hiking group, Free Trek, and so I could only join them once. Valle de las Animas looks like out of this world, but it’s actually just a short walk from the bustling city.

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But the best adventure during that time was my walk to Chacaltaya.

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In April, it was time to fly to Colombia, where I was very positively surprised by Bogotá. An organized, bicycle-friendly, green, cultural city full of bookshops, exhibitions and chess players in the street.

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But I had to move after a few days because I had already rented a small house in the countryside.

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I was about to leave Colombia and South America by boat, so I had to go to Cartagena, the port city in the Caribbean. Cartagena looks beautiful, but it’s the opposite of Bogotá: hot and humid instead of mild and pleasant, hedonistic instead of intellectual, and superficial instead of cultural. Where Bogotá had chess players, Cartagena had beauty queens.

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By May, I was already looking forward to return to Europe and happy to get on the cruise. Two weeks on the high seas sounded like an enticing prospect, but it wasn’t really as relaxing as my first cruise. Maybe it was too much Cartagena and not enough Bogotá.

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But that way, I got to some islands which I would otherwise never have visited. On Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, I even had a friend waiting for me, who took me around the island, providing lots of information on the politics, economics, social structure and race relations of the island. And when we crossed from Sint Maarten to Saint Martin, I was already back in the European Union – in the middle of the Caribbean!

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A few weeks later, everything was destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

The same fate befell Antigua, where I was surprised by how British-colonial everything still looked, despite most people being the descendants of slaves, who, by the way, staged a revolt in the 1730s. Yes, the climate was so hot and humid that I preferred to spend a few hours at the local history museum in St John’s.

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The last island stop on the cruise was Madeira. Returning to Europe was as beautiful as I had hoped, with mild climate, flowers blooming, and finally a city where I could sit in the park and read a newspaper without having to listen to everybody else’s music at inhumane volume. I almost wanted to quit the cruise and stay in Funchal for longer.

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But luckily, I stayed aboard until we reached mainland Portugal. I already liked Lisbon, where I only stayed briefly, but Sintra blew me away. Castles and monasteries, hidden in the forest or perched on mountaintops, all connected by hiking paths, and with beautiful gardens, romantic ponds and mysterious tunnels. A magical place!

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And then I was back in Germany. Well, at least it was summer, so it was sunny, green and perfect for hiking. And not having to worry about anacondas and piranhas was a bit of a relief.

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But somehow, I can never stay in Bavaria too long without getting depressed by the petite bourgeoisie there, so already for my birthday in July, I fled to the Caucasus.

In Tbilisi in Georgia, I was lucky to stay in a part of town that hadn’t been modernized yet. Beautiful old courtyards, crooked buildings, wooden balconies, with elements of Persian architecture.

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It immediately struck me as a city where I could imagine living, but Kutaisi and Zugdidi were nice, too.

Yerevan had more concrete than green, but still a nice cultural vibe, while Dilijan turned out to be the hiking paradise in Armenia.

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In Azerbaijan, I felt the weight of the one-family autocracy in Ganja, while Göygöl was completely different and welcoming.

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But the biggest surprise on my Caucasus tour was Abkhazia. The capital Sukhum has the grandeur of a Black Sea resort with a long tradition, but, as an effect of war, flight and emigration, a decimated population. Even at the height of summer, the city was never crowded.

train station Suchumi

As some of you know, I have been toying with the thought of moving to a Russian-speaking place to learn Russian. Because nobody in Abkhazia expects anyone to learn Abkhaz and because almost everyone is bilingual, but not many people speak English, it seems like the perfect place for such language studies. (Transnistria would be another alternative.)

As I returned to Germany, I met a former classmate of mine who was living in Britain at the time, in Lancashire to be exact. It was wonderful to see how well we got along after not having seen each other for at least ten years, and he invited me to visit him in Lytham St Annes, that “bubble of happiness”, as he called it.

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But we also had time to explore the seedy side of Blackpool, watch an impressive airshow in Southport

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and go hiking in the Lake District.

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Once again, I realized how perfect Britain is for hiking. Not only the beautiful landscape, but also a really good infrastructure, with public transport, pubs in every small village and even food deposited by friendly people along the path.

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And then I returned to university in October, and traveling was over. Well, I did go to Hagen in Northrhine-Westfalia for one week. Allegedly, it’s Germany’s most boring city, but I honestly didn’t find it too bad. But maybe that was due to an intensive week of history lectures.

Now that she is retired, my mother is becoming more interested in traveling, and so she suggested a trip to Prague for a couple of days in autumn. It turned out to be the perfect time because it was still warm, but the leaves were already golden and red.

In Germany however, November was becoming more and more depressing. I urgently needed to escape and chose to move to Kotor in Montenegro for three months. I had been there before and liked it a lot, but this longer stay reconfirmed that Kotor really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world – even in winter.

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So, now it’s up to you. Let me know what you are most interested in, and I will get cracking on the articles, edit the videos and publish more photos.

(Zur deutschen Fassung dieses Artikels.)

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Abkhazia, Antigua, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Colombia, Europe, Georgia, Germany, Madeira, Montenegro, Peru, Photography, Portugal, Sint Maarten, Travel, UK and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to My Travel Year 2017 in Photos

  1. DANSON Jacqueline says:

    Well, “too much of a good thing is never enough”. So I would like to hear more about ALL of it (with Britain being the least interesting to me, as I have lived here most of my life, so it does not have the same exotic lure of all the other places you’ve been to).

    Yes; all please – impossible to choose between them. Can’t wait!

    • For the same reason I am hoping that nobody will ever ask for an article about Germany, because it’s the least exotic to me.

      But we can be lucky that we live in Europe, where we have “exotic” places much closer to home or only a very cheap flight away.

  2. renatevermaas says:

    Living in South Africa Europe is my favourite destination. I visited Lissabon for a few days many years ago but was not impressed at all. Your comments peaked my interest so I would read something about that. I would like to read your view of Prague as well. Sorry for you, but being of German descent I would read articles on Germany as well :)
    Since you asked for topics: I have a deep interest in the Romans and their culture. What about something on “where to find Roman history/remnants in Germany” or something like that?

    • I liked the architecture of Lisbon, everything was full of purple flowers in May, and for a capital city it didn’t seem too crowded. And then, I received a friendly welcome from people whom I had only known online until then. Especially after my exhaustion with South America, it was a wonderful return to Europe. But I only stayed in Lisbon briefly and didn’t take any photos, so there is not enough material for an article (until I visit again). But I highly recommend Sintra.

      Prague is always fantastic. A city that I can go to again and again. Each time, I am discovering new parts of the city. Last year, I went to Vysehrad and Troja for the first time.
      Sadly, I never took any notes or photos in Prague, probably because I have never been there alone. But next week I am going to Pilsen for one week and that could turn into an interesting article about the European Capital of Culture 2015.

      Your question about Roman remnants in Germany is actually quite interesting indeed. After all, I went to university in Regensburg, an important Roman town on the northernmost point of the Danube.
      Because I’ve been looking for a one-month long hike anyway, your question gave me the idea of a hike along the Limes in Southern Germany. There are a number of museums and even reconstructions of Roman fortifications along that line.

    • renatevermaas says:

      looking forward to your post. Meantime I will read up on Regensburg

    • Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      If I may add Cologne has a very nice Roman museum. There are also some underground ruins of the earlier Roman town.
      Wow a hike along the Limes. Stuff of dreams for me, if you do manage to do it please make extensive notes for me. I’m planning to trek along Hadrian’s wall this year. Let’s see how that goes.

    • Ohh, the Hadrian’s Wall Path is a fantastic hike! Beautiful landscape and I was surprised how much of the wall is still intact. I guess it was lucky that there was never any large settlement near it, so nobody came to take all the stones away.

      Here are just a few tips about it:
      https://andreasmoser.blog/2011/06/12/hadrians-wall-path-advice/ The mentioned guidebook is really very useful, with good maps and listing all the places to sleep and eat, as well as buses if you don’t want to walk all the way.

    • Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you, that’s very useful. I definitely don’t intend camping in the wild. I have no experience camping outdoors and I’m not sure this is where I will start but I’ll definitely get the guidebook.
      Indeed we’re lucky that so much of this wall is left. There was another wall called the Antonine wall built further north and that was destroyed fairly early on

    • Well, then the guidebook is even more useful for you because it lists all the B&Bs and inns where you can sleep on the way, with prices, conditions and phone numbers. Some of them are small places that may not be on booking.com or such.
      I think you’ll be staying in very cozy places, if I remember the B&Bs where I stopped for dinner, and with lots of other hikers stopping by.

      I read that the Antonine Wall is also part of the joint UNESCO World Heritage site and that there are plans to expand it by the South-East European limes.

  3. We have biggest interest about New Zealand.

  4. your stories and perspectives from the Caribbeans

    • Too hot and humid. That’s it. :P

    • loll I definitely believe you but I enjoyed reading about your travels in Brasil and how disappointed you were about it, so I would definitely love to hear more about the Caribbeans even though they were too hot and humid :-) It always seems like the Caribbean are only described as an idillic tourist destination, where the only thing is the beach and eating conch and jerk chicken. So, I would like to hear what else you found during your travels and encounters with the locals..

    • Ok, Ma’am. It will hopefully be more profound than the beach-and-sun stories on most travel blogs.

    • hmmm not always….unfortunately…

  5. Que historias tienes de Colombia?

  6. Grace Fujita says:

    Your adventures in Portugal (I also loved it there!), hiking in the Lake District in the UK, and your travels to Abkhazia!

  7. You mentioned a Portugal write up.

  8. July Rojas says:

    Cómo hacerme una ruta económica y turística por Europa ?? Ese podría ser un tema :D

    • Si, eso sería útil para mucha gente. Me entristece que muchos amigos de América del Sur paguen miles de dólares por un viaje corto que debería costar mucho menos. O solo van a los mismos lugares (Madrid, Barcelona, París, Roma), tal vez incluso en la temporada turística, pagando 10 veces más de lo que podrían pagar en lugares mucho más interesantes como Rumania, Montenegro o Albania. Además, allí sería más fácil obtener un visado.

  9. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    I’m curious about your notebook and how you take notes. I always think I should take notes so I remember things better but never do it.
    As for more stories please share your experiences in the UK. And when I’m on the subject I must recommend books by Robert MacFarlane. Especially The Old Ways which is about walking along some of the oldest paths in UK and other parts of the world.

    • I have no particular favorite notebook and I always find it suspicious when people only buy a certain brand, usually one where notebooks cost as much as a small car. After all, I rip out pages (during a hike in Armenia, I had to burn pages of my notebook to get a fire going to get rid of the flies) and once I have transferred the notes into articles, the notebook will be discarded.
      So I usually just get the cheapest one from the supermarket or the street vendors close to schools. Some companies also give out nice notebooks as gifts Once I had to get one last minute at the train station in Nürnberg and I was shocked about the price. It was something like 8 euros, and the flight from there to Manchester was only 13 euros. That was grossly disproportional.

      I have only begun to take notes in recent years, and I still find it hard to do so when traveling with someone else. Because I prefer to write down more than just some names or dates or ideas. The best articles come from long-form notes, where I already write the whole story while being in the midst of it. The observations are more detailed, associations and jokes come to mind, and by writing everything down right away, I force myself to observe more closely. But that’s hard to carry through if someone else is by your side and wants to continue the walk or is becoming impatient if you sit down every hour to write for 15 minutes.
      That’s one reason why I prefer to travel alone.

      I saw that the library in Amberg (one of the few, but a great advantage of living here) has The Old Ways and I am going to pick it up today. Thank you for the recommendation!

    • Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Ha ha! I have fallen for the old notebook scam. I realised I was buying expensive stationery that I never used!
      That’s fantastic about the library. I’m sure you’ll find the book interesting.

  10. Now that is quite a travel palette and speaks why you got back with notebooks full of interesting stories. I am amazed by your travel experiences in different parts of the world. I would love to include Chacaltaya, Bogota, Portugal (especially for castles) and Britain in my bucket list if I am to take my pick of all places here. Enjoyed reading this lovely post of yours. Please keep them coming.

    Cheers!
    Sayori

    • Thank you very much!
      And if you like castles, then Sintra in Portugal is really the place for you. And keep in mind that I am from Bavaria and that I lived in Transylvania for a year, so I am used to lots of impressive castles. But Sintra blew my mind.

    • Jackie says:

      +1 for Sintra and castles!!!

  11. An excellent article with a wonderful conclusion (Kotor <3 ).

    • Yes, in a way, 2017 began and ended with a highlight: Lake Titicaca and the Bay of Kotor. But on Lake Titicaca, there is no city as beautiful as Kotor.

  12. Pingback: Wo war ich 2017 eigentlich überall? | Der reisende Reporter

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