2022 in Review

2022 was definitely a year of travel! My first trip was in late Jan/Feb for almost a month in Honolulu, Oahu. Although I went by myself, I had lined up a few dates through online dating and also went to a couple of Meetup.com happy hours. It was a nice escape from the winter here in Northern Kentucky.

I left in early April for almost three months in Europe, 5 countries, 21 accommodations, with 18 day trips. It was a trip of a lifetime! When you travel solo, you tend to meet people more easily. I met a man at the beach in Mykonos, Greece and had dinner with him, a man and his family from a Facebook Europe travel group in Colmar, France, another lady from the same group in Colmar, France, and was invited to a friend’s country home in Chania, Greece.

I started in Rome for six nights with day trips to Tivoli and Orvieto. (Photo at Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy)

I traveled by train most of the time. Next I spent seven nights in Spoleto with day trips to Perugia, Assisi, and Spello. (Photo in the town of Spello)

My next destination was Florence where I spent eight nights with day trips to Siena (photo below), Lucca, and San Gimignano.

With nine nights in Paris, I was able to take day trips to Rouen, Versailles, Chartres, and Troyes (photo below).

Rouen shown below

During my five nights in Tours, France I took a shuttle bus to see some amazing Chateaus: Villandry (the gardens)…

Azay-Le-Rideau…

Cheverny…

Amboise, Chambord, Clos Luce, and Chenonceau.

I also had my hair colored/cut and had a spectacular 90 minute massage!

The seven nights I spent in Colmar, France were some of my favorite. It’s a magical place.

I took day trips to five quaint towns surrounding Colmar: Riquewihr, Kayserberg-Vignoble, Ribeauville, Equesheim, and Turckheim.

I also took a day trip from Colmar to Strasbourg, which I loved!

I began my time in Germany with five nights in Freiburg Im Breisgau (Black Forest) with day trips to a couple of area lakes. My Airbnb host let me borrow her bicycle which I rode often. I also went to a day spa with indoor/outdoor mineral pools.

Next, I made the journey through towns along the Romantic Road and spent one night each in Wurzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbuhl (photo below), Noerdlingen and Augsburg.

The last stop was in Fuessen for two nights. The Neuschwanstein Castle is located here. The first photo was taken while on the uphill walk to the castle…

I flew from Munich to Mykonos where I spent four nights.

Then took a ferry to Santorini for three nights.

To finish my Greek Islands experience, I flew to Chania, Crete, and spent three glorious days.

Next up was Switzerland…I flew to Zurich, took the train to Lucerne and spent two nights.

I backtracked and spent three nights at Lake Como, visiting Varenna, Menaggio and Belaggio (photo below).

I spent eight additional nights in Switzerland and discovered it’s my favorite European country! The hiking is amazing!

Took the Bernina Express Scenic train to St. Moritz for two nights. (Photo taken from a hike)

Took the Glacier Express Scenic train to Zermatt for two nights. (Photo taken from a hike)

Spent four nights in Lauterbrunnen (Photo taken from a hike)

In September I took a 10 day road trip through Michigan, Traverse City, Taquamenon Falls State Park, Marquette, Munising in the Upper Peninsula, and Mackinac Island. My dear friend Sherry joined me for the UP and Mackinac. (Photo: Pictured Rocks Boat Tour)

In October, a friend and I drove to the Smoky Mountains and hiked for a couple of days.

Finally, in December I found an inexpensive ($160 including luggage) flight to St. Petersburg, Florida and rented a beautiful Airbnb for 10 days. A new girlfriend joined me for part of the trip.

The holidays are rough for me since my husband and only child passed away a few years ago. I don’t contemplate suicide like I used to. I’m getting used to living alone. On Christmas Day I had brunch with my brother and his wife and then went to a get-together at a girlfriend’s home.

A few other things to note: I had my bathrooms and kitchen remodeled and after a six month break from online dating, joined five sites and have gone on too many first dates to remember ūüôā I also joined a health club and have been working out pretty regularly.

I’m writing this on my deceased son’s birthday. We named his Justin, because he was born Just-in time for the new year. I miss him so much. I’ve been invited to go out this evening, but I’ve decided to stay home.

I’m looking forward to a trip I planned to Mexico City for the month of February. I’ve always gone to beaches when I’ve visited Mexico, so this will be a nice change.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Three Nights in Chania, Island of Crete, Greece

I decided to fly from Santorini to the Airport in Chania, Crete instead of taking the ferry because the ferry stops about three hours away from Chania, the town I wanted to visit. I fell in love with Chania! It’s pedestrian only and the pathways are lined with outdoor cafes, flowers, and shops.

Old Venetian Port

This was just outside my hotel…

It’s so colorful!

Daily life…

I had tried Octopus once in Florida, but this was delicious!

Cats everywhere…

Sooo pretty…

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

My Big Fat Greek Lunch Invitation

I mentioned my friend Rebecca who owns http://www.santorinilocaladventures.com in a previous post.¬† ¬†She invited me to have lunch with her family while I was on Crete in June of this year.¬† Her husband picked me up (and a couple of visiting relatives) from the city center and drove us about 40 minutes to their home in the country.¬† It‚Äôs surrounded by olive trees. Rebecca told me that they don’t measure the land there by acreage but by olive trees and they have 450.

It was so nice meeting her family and seeing her again! The food was so fresh and amazing and included goat, lamb, rooster, pilafi, two salads, two potatoes, etc. and homemade wine. Of the eleven of us only three people didn’t speak English so it was fun to listen to a combination of Greek and English being spoken. They have goats and chickens and cats and dogs and her husband likes to go rabbit hunting with one of his dogs. Definitely one of the highlights of my Greek experience!

Rebecca and I

Her courtyard

The wine was flowing freely

The drive back home

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Santorini Food and Wine Tour

Rebecca, a friend that owns http://www.santorinilocaladventures.com invited me to a complimentary tour while I was on Santorini. It began in front of the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, located between the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli.

We strolled along Firostefani’s pathways, tasted local yummy food and spirits, and admired breathtaking views. Here was our group.

We tasted a variety of wines

The tour ended in Fira. It was a fun evening!

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Santorini: Catamaran Cruise with Lunch & Open Bar

My catamaran cruise was amazing!  I booked the ‚ÄúSantorini: Catamaran Cruise with Lunch & Open Bar‚ÄĚ cruise through Get Your Guide, but it was run by a local company, www.vistayachting.com.  After being picked up at 2:15pm it took about an hour to pick up a number of other people scattered on the island, so I had a little tour of the island.  My phone froze up and wouldn‚Äôt work or turn off before I left on the cruise, and I was worried that if it couldn‚Äôt be fixed, that my data might not be able to be transferred to a new phone.  I decided not to worry about it and have fun on my cruise.  I took my camera so I could have photos from the trip. 

The “Captain”

We saw Red Beach from the boat, got up close to the volcano, and snorkeled near Mesa Pigadia beach.  I made friends with a young couple from Denmark and did a mini photo shoot for them and another couple at sunset.  I started a conversation with a couple from India, who live in London, and I asked him to take a look at my phone.  He‚Äôs an engineer and he fixed it!  I was so relieved I gave him a hug, after asking his wife if that was okay.

Mesa Pigadia Beach

There were snacks and drinks, dinner was delicious, and the scenery was stunning

It was a wonderful outing and the sunset was special!

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Three nights on Santorini Island, Greece

I took a two hour ferry from Mykonos (‚ā¨80) to Santorini. Getting on and off the ferry is quite an experience, there are so many people. I had arranged transport through Get Your Guide for the 20 minute ride to my hotel, which was only a 10 minute walk into town. I went exploring the next day before going on a catamaran cruise (tomorrow’s post).

Santorini is dramatic and stunning! The cobalt blue sea is amazing! It’s a photographer’s playground.

I walked through Thera (Fira), almost to the 3 Bells of Fira. I kept wondering where are the pretty houses. I passed by lots of donkey dung. I had done so much research (months) for my 11 week trip especially concerning trains and 21 accommodations/18 day trips and everything else that I just assumed the pretty houses were here.

I finally asked a girl where they were and she said Oia. I saw a bus stop but it was faded and hard to read and she said to go back to Fira, to the bus station. I walked 2 miles total before taking the 8:30am bus, arriving at 8:55. The full size bus was packed.

I made good use of my time, taking paths up and down and back up again.

Here’s my hotel room. I had a patio with a view of the sea.

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Elia Beach and my date on Mykonos Island

There are lots of beaches to choose from on Mykonos and I chose Elia beach because it’s the longest stretch of Beach and there’s a bus (‚ā¨4.6 r/t ) that leaves from the Old Port, which was a 15 min. walk from my hotel and takes about 25 minutes to get there.  It actually stops in front of my hotel, but I wanted to see the Old Port anyway.  After researching I knew there would be umbrellas and sun beds available for a fee (‚ā¨25 per person). One side of the beach is gay-friendly and clothing optional.  The water was cold but refreshing! I would have gone for a walk on the beach but after walking 300 miles according to my Fitbit since April 2nd, I thought I would just relax.

That morning I made reservations for dinner at Karavaki, located less than a 5 minutes walk from my hotel. I made the reservation for two because I thought they might not fit me in if I said one.¬† While I was waiting for the bus at Elia Beach, I began talking with a man that was also waiting. His name was Olli. He’s from Finland, but splits his time between Belgium, where he works and a city south of Amsterdam where his children and other home is located. Anyway I mentioned my dinner reservation to him and said if he wanted to join me he could just show up. He asked for my phone number, which I gave to him. I told him if he decided to come he needed to be on time because I was going to tell them that my partner didn’t feel well. He arrived to the restaurant a few minutes before I arrived.

We had an enjoyable dinner and the view from the patio was amazing. I made it clear on the bus that I would be paying for my dinner but he insisted on taking care of the bill. That was his last day on the island for his vacation. He walked me back to my hotel and I showed him the steps he needed to go down to get to the Old Port area where his hotel was located (a 15 min. walk) He was afraid of getting lost and doesn’t use Google Maps so I had my hotel call him a taxi.

The view from our table

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Four nights on Mykonos Island, Greece

It was the end of May of this year when I took four trains from Fussen and 3 ¬Ĺ hours later I was at the Munich Airport for my flight to Mykonos. Side note about taking trains in Germany. Occasionally trains will split, meaning the front goes one way and the back would disengage at some point on the ride and go somewhere different. Since the scrolling messages on the platforms are in German, it’s wise to ask someone. It happened on one of the trains on my journey to the airport and numerous other rides I took during my almost two week stay.

I was picked up by my hotel’s shuttle and transported 10 minutes to my lodging. I’d only been to Greece once in 2010 for part of a day in Corfu while on a Mediterranean cruise. After checking in, I ordered a daiquiri from the pool bar (photos below) and walked 15 minutes round-trip to a grocery. Mykonos is lovely!

The Kato Mili, constructed in the 16th Century by the Venetians, are beautiful!

Little Venice Quarter

It was only a five minute walk downhill from my hotel to the center of town. My room was very nice.

The pool was so refreshing after a morning of exploring. The weather was perfect in the high 70’s.

My front patio and view.

That 13 euro daiquiri I mentioned.

p.s.¬† If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022. ¬†Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Shopping in Greece

The Island of Corfu, Greece was the final destination of my 12 night¬†Royal Caribbean Mediterranean cruise.¬† I spent the day shopping!¬† Actually, I’d only bought a few things up until this point…so I made up for lost time.¬† Most likely–compared to many women, I didn’t do much damage.

There was no sign of the civil unrest that had been publicized recently (this cruise was in June 2010).¬† I ran into a couple I had met on the ship and had lunch with them.¬† They were with a few of the cruise ship employees…one of¬†whom was the Director of Entertainment on board.

I had an authentic Gyros and it was delicious.  And of course some Ouzo!

This photo is early in the morning as the shop keepers were preparing for the day…

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Photos of life in Corfu…

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¬†As I walked¬†around¬†the old town section of Corfu, I paid a small entrance fee to enter the old citadel…Palaio¬†Frourio.¬† I didn’t tour the new citadel, which is called the Neo Frourio.

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¬† This was a¬†view from within the¬†Citadel’s walls.

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These little local boys were sooo cute!!

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The next two days were spent at sea¬†cruising back to Barcelona.¬† It was quite an adjustment after the long days of walking and sight-seeing!¬† I almost felt bored, after rushing for almost three weeks, but there were always people to talk to.¬† I love to read…but for some reason I wasn’t in the mood on this trip and I also didn’t feel like sun bathing…I’d¬†already had too much!

After disembarking in Barcelona, with luggage in tow, we made our way to the¬†train station.¬† I have a “Heys” suitcase that when empty, only weighs 3 lbs.¬† It has¬†held up nicely through¬†10 trips in the past 2-3 years.

On the train to the main train station in Barcelona, a girl in her 20’s got on and had a wire hanger with a paper mache banana that she hung from¬†a¬†handlebar on the train.¬† She also had a stuffed animal and a small step stool.¬† She stepped onto the stool and in Spanish, began belting out–what seemed to be a dramatic play or¬†story, to the passengers on the train.¬† The other passengers seemed to be ignoring her.¬† I caught the eye of a fellow passenger and she smiled at me.¬† Since I don’t understand Spanish…I didn’t know what she was saying.¬† I wondered if she was practicing for a class in school…perhaps a drama student…or if it was political in nature.¬† But, at the end she walked around with a hat for money and a couple of men gave her a few coins.¬† We had encountered musicians on a few of the other train or subway rides.¬† I like being surprised…not knowing what type of entertainment could be around the corner!

We boarded our three hour reserved train ride to Madrid and were picked up by the free shuttle bus from the Hilton Hotel by the airport, where we stayed for the night before heading home the following day!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed your trip through Europe with me!