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 🙂 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!

St. Petersburg and Treasure Island Beach

I’ve been to the beach a few times since I arrived here in St. Petersburg, Florida. My favorite things to do at the beach are to walk and people watch.

There was a sandcastle competition at Treasure Island Beach.
The sunset was amazing!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Autumn

My friend Scott and I left Tuesday Morning on a road trip to the Smoky Mountains National Park. I had booked an Airbnb for two nights above Gatlinburg. It was more room than we needed, with three bedrooms and two baths. The highlight of our lodging was the view from the balcony on the third floor.

The following day we did a 2 1/2 mile hike at Laurel Falls.

Autumn is my favorite season, I love the colors!

We stopped to check out Mannish Branch Falls, but weren’t able to cross the creek to see it up close.

Our next stop was “the Sinks”.

Our second hike was 5.5 miles at Rainbow Falls. The elevation change was 1,500 ft.

The mountains were dusted with snow.

Since it hadn’t rained much for a while, the falls were smaller than usual but still beautiful.

We saw two bears from the car.

All together we walked over 10 miles yesterday, and my body knew it. After a hot shower, some pizza, and a couple of Tylenol, I was almost good as new.

Meetup.com Hike in Ludlow, Kentucky

Yesterday, I led 11 hikers on a wooded 3.6 mile loop trail at Devou Park in Ludlow, Kentucky. The trails are seven minutes from my home. I’ve been a member of Meetup.com for 15 years and am an Assistant Organizer for the Tri-State Hiking Group, one of the meetups. Recently, I’ve been making more of an effort to get out to meet people and do more activities. In the past three years since the death of my husband and son, I’ve tended to isolate and lost my passion for most things in life, except travel, which I’ve used as a form of therapy. It was a great 1 ½ hr. hike with wonderful weather.

The leaves are finally beginning to change color.

Afterwards, a couple of the hikers and I went to The Standard Covington Restaurant in Covington, Kentucky for dinner/drinks. This morning I scheduled the same hike for an upcoming Saturday.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 9

On Friday, 9/10/22 my friend Sherry and I walked (I rode my bicycle) less than 10 minutes from our hotel in Mackinaw City to the Star Line ferry that takes you to Mackinac Island. The ferry ride takes about 20-30 minutes. There are two ferries to choose from, the other is Shepler’s. They’re about the same cost. I took my bicycle on the ferry for an extra charge of $14 and Sherry rented one on the island for 5 hours. We cycled 8 miles around the island. We both agreed it was the best cycling experience we’ve had because the island is car free, the paths are wide and flat. You do need to watch out for the horse dung and the multitude of horse drawn carriages close to the main areas of town.

We passed beautiful homes.

We both agreed the parents of these children shouldn’t have allowed them to climb these rocks.

We walked up lots of steps for this view.

Back in town…

About two-thirds of the way around the island, we stopped for lunch at the Grand Hotel. They had a buffet for $75 (nope), so we opted for sitting in the bar area and had their sliders which were good.

The inside is quite colorful and pretty.

Down by the docks…

Leaving the island…

Later that evening, the view of the moon was beautiful from our hotel room…

Suddenly there was a beautiful display of fireworks which was quite unexpected…

My 10 day Pure Michigan road trip was everything I had imaged!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 8

On Thursday, 9/8/22, my friend Sherry and I drove three hours from Marquette to Mackinaw City for a two-night stay. We arrived around noon and since we couldn’t check-in to our hotel until later, explored the town a bit and had lunch. Of course we purchased some of the famous fudge.

Me being silly…

We drove 5 minutes to our hotel, the Best Western Plus Dockside Waterfront Inn and checked in. The view of Lake Huron from our balcony was lovely.

After settling in, we relaxed at the shore…I even went swimming for a few minutes.

We made our way to the pool/hot tub for more fun and had the place to ourselves.

After showering we walked less than 10 minutes to the Hook Lakeside Grill for a drink and dinner.

Pretty views…

Tomorrow I’ll post about our trip to Mackinac Island

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 7 – Part 2 – Pictured Rocks Cruise

Continuing from Part 1 of Day 7, we arrived at the Pictured Rocks Cruises and boarded the 2:00pm cruise that lasts 2 ½ hrs. There’s an open-air top deck and enclosed bottom deck. Originally, I was planning to hike at Pictured Rocks, but with more research discovered the best way to see the beautiful cliffs/rocks was by boat.

The rock formations were beautiful!

My friend Sherry

The Captain took us into a small cove

We drove back to the Airbnb and walked across the street to Blackrocks Brewery and split a flight of beer and then walked 5 minutes to a pizza place for dinner.

Another beautiful and fun day in the UP.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 7 – Part 1

Wednesday morning, 9/7/22 my friend Sherry and I drove 50 minutes from Marquette to Munising Falls. It’s only a ½ mile round-trip walk to the falls.

Back in the car, it’s only 10 minutes to Wagner Falls

Next, I drove 20 minutes to the Upper and Lower Overlooks near Miner’s Beach. The view was beautiful from the Upper Overlook.

The Lower Overlook view is nice also…

Lastly we drove 20 minutes to the Pictured Rocks Cruises, arriving at 1:20pm and waited in line for the 2:00pm departure to see Pictured Rocks from the water. I’ll post about that tomorrow.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 6

We started our first full day in Marquette driving to Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park, where we had a short hike to a waterfall.

Next, we drove to Sugarloaf Mountain and walked up 304 steps to the viewing platforms. Wow!!

Lake Superior is large enough to fit five states in it.

Our last stop was Presque Isle Park. We drove around the one way loop and stopped a couple of times to view the lovely scenery.

After stopping at our Airbnb to freshen up and have a drink, we walked to The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Restaurant.

We shared a smoked whitefish appetizer and had a delicious Whitefish entree (it looked so good I forgot to take a photo 🙂

Another wonderful day!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 5 – Marquette

My first morning in Marquette, I cycled 8 miles on the multi-use path along Lake Superior.

I cycled in to town and saw some interesting sites.

My Airbnb was right across the street from Blackrocks Brewery.

I went from there to the airport in Marquette to pick up my girlfriend Sherry who was spending three nights with me at the Airbnb and then our next stop was Mackinaw City for a couple of nights. After she settled in, we walked less than 10 minutes to The Iron Bay Restaurant for dinner. We shared the Whitefish tacos and we each had a bowl of the Whitefish chowder…yum! The flight of beer was also delish!

We walked down to the shoreline and then back to our Airbnb, it was a full day!

Pure Michigan road trip – Day 3

The only outing I did on Day 3 of my Michigan road trip was hiking a few miles at Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve. The trails are along the Boardman River. It was only a 20 minute drive from my Airbnb.

It’s always fun to hike somewhere you haven’t been. Afterwards I packed for my departure the following day to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, aka the UP.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 2

On my 2nd day in Traverse City I drove my bicycle 10 minutes from my lodging to Boardman Lake and cycled the four mile loop around the lake. If you missed Day 1, it’s here.

It’s a relaxing and pretty ride.

Then I cycled into Traverse City and the waterfront to explore a bit.

This is one of the waterfront beaches.

I’d read about a very short hike to see the “hippie” trees so I drove about 10 minutes to check it out. Here’s the beginning of the hike.

Within a few minutes I was there.

I love to see eclectic things. So colorful and unexpected.

Less than three minutes away is The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. It’s a complex of buildings filled with shopping and dining.

I had brunch at the Red Spire Brunch House, located there.

I drove back to my Airbnb and took a nap. To finish my day I went to see a movie …Where the Crawdads Sing. I’d read the book and the movie was very good.

Pure Michigan Road Trip and Sleeping Bear Dunes

The morning of August 31, 2022, I left home (Northern Kentucky) and drove 7 and 1/2 hours to an Airbnb in Traverse City. I had three days to explore Traverse City and the surrounding areas. I stayed with a couple who have a beautiful view of Michigan Lake from their deck. They were very helpful giving me tips to tweak my itinerary. One of my followers Phil (and I follow his beautiful blog https://philperkins.photography/ ) was very helpful with ideas of where to visit on my Michigan trip.

The following day I left early, drove to Suttons Bay, and took a few photos.

The weather was perfect.

Then I drove to Good Harbor Bay Beach.

My next stop was Glen Arbor, where I had breakfast before driving to Empire Bluff Trail.

The trail is two miles round-trip and there’s a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

My next stop was Mission Point Lighthouse.

On the way back to my lodging I stopped at Mari Vineyards for a glass of wine. There are lots of wineries to choose from. I drove a little over three hours total. There wasn’t much traffic and the scenery was beautiful.

I was surprised by how pretty Michigan is and how Caribbean blue the water is.

Four nights in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Originally, I was going to take seven scenic train rides (a section of it known as the Golden scenic route) from Zermatt to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, but after having been on 70 trains in the past 10 weeks, I decided to take the shortest route which only took a little over three hours on three trains. Upon arrival in Lauterbrunnen, I had a five minute walk to my lodging. The view of Staubach Falls from my balcony was stunning (photo below)!

I walked towards Staubach Falls taking photos along the way.

The Friedhof Lauterbrunnen cemetery is adorned with flowers and so well kept.

Staubach Falls drops 974 feet (297 metres) from a hanging valley that ends in overhanging cliffs above the Weisse Lütschine.

The falls are lit up at night.

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.