As a reminder, nearly all my trips are work related, so don’t go getting any ideas that I’m some rich playboy slurping down poolside piña coladas at every stop (though I admit, I love a good piña colada). In 2016, I visited 21 countries, an increase of seven countries from 2015. Three were new countries for me: San Marino, The Faroe Islands, and Papua New Guinea. Since countries have so many destinations within them which vary place to place, I try not to generalize what individual nations are like. My 22 favorite destinations of 2016 (in a forthcoming post) come from only 9 of the countries I’ve visited.
What makes a destination a favorite for me is its ability to remove me from my everyday and drop me into a totally new reality. After the US election in November, I fell into a state of low-grade rage and despair, and it took a two-week trip to Japan to remind me that life goes on. What draws us to places is deeply personal and subterranean and we needn’t agree on what they are. A close friend is drawn to the chaotic and colorful like Bombay and Nepal. Another visits untouched taboo destinations like North Korea and Saudi Arabia, two countries we often mindlessly vilify. Most travelers stick to tried-and-true destinations like Amalfi, Mykonos, and Paris. That’s fine, but I’m a big advocate of visiting lesser-known places. Regardless of wherever you go, it’s important to remain opened minded. English theologian and writer G.K. Chesterton once said : “The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
All Destinations I Visited in 2016
In 2016 I traveled to 87 destinations in 21 countries.
- Ecuador. I spent nearly three weeks touring the equatorial country in December 2016/January 2017 basing myself at a friend’s place in Quito and making small trips to Baeza, Cuenca, Mindo, Riobamba, Quilotoa, and Pappalacta.
- Italy: I made six different visits to Italy this year including a 3-night winter ski trip with friends to Dolomites/Sud Tirol then directly onto a long weekend in Brescia and Milano. A 12-day summer roadtrip took me and my husband from Lake Como to Rome with stops in Lago di Iseo, Emila Romagna (Parma, Modena, Savigno, the Apennines, Rimini, Ravenna, Sant’Agata Feltria), Perugia (Citta di Castello), Le Marche (Urbino), Umbria, (Montefalco and Assisi. ) A spontaneous 3-hour drive to Lake Como and Mennagio was a nice break in September. In October, a 5-hour train journey to Venice led me to a week-long Adriatic and Mediterranean cruise. Another 6-hour train trip to Bologna and Parma in November brought me to the launch of the 2017 Michelin Guide to Italy. I’ll make one more train trip to Milano with a visiting friend in late December.
- Switzerland: My 2016 trips across der Schweiz included a 3-night ski trip to Engadine with a visiting friend. Two trips brought me to Ticino (one in January including stays in Lugano, Bedretto and Bellinzona, and the second a hiking trip in July with visits to more remote pockets like Faido and Cavagnago). I also had three different summer hiking trips to Stoos, and a few overnight trips to destinations like Lauterbrunnen, Golzernsee, and Gruyeres. Other day trips took me to the Furcha, Klausen, St. Gothard, and Grimsel Passes, the Silber Woods, Altdorf, Vierwaldstattersee (Lake Lucerne), Rigibad, Einsedelen, and various other hikes and excursions in Cantons Uri, Obwalden, and Schweiz. I live in Zurich.
- Germany: I made two separate trips to Deutschland this year, a day trip/ grocery run/ baden visit to Konstanz in February, and a 5-night stay in Sylt and Hamburg in September.
- Indonesia: My husband and I made a two-week trip to Indonesia in March/April with stays in Java, Bali, and Moyo and a 2-night stay on a Klotok boat in Borneo.
- Papua New Guinea: My 10-night trip to Papua New Guinea included 7-nights in the PNG Highlands (Tari and Mt. Hagen) followed by 2-nights on the steamy Sepik River.
- Spain: I took the overnight train for a 4-night visit to Barcelona in April.
- France: I made four visits to France in 2016, including an unexpected overnight in Mulhouse in April, two separate day trips to Paris by train in the spring, and a brief stop in Le Havre to board a ship.
- UK: I visited England twice in 2016: A port stop in Greenwich in April, followed by a 5-night September trip to London, Stonehenge, Dartmoor, and various villages in Devon and Dorset.
- Norway: I had a full day and overnight in Bergen in April, after disembarking a cruise.
- Faroes: I spent 6-nights on the Faroe Islands in May.
- Slovenia: I made two trips to Slovenia in 2016: A roadtrip to the Soca Valley with a friend in July and a day trip to a port-of-call in Koper while on a cruise.
- Denmark: I made a 4-night visit to Denmark by train in September with overnights in Vejle, Aarhus, and Silkeborg.
- Hungary: I flew to Budapest for a five-night trip in October.
- Croatia: Technically, I made four trips to Croatia in 2016, but in reality I never slept on land there. In July, an overnight train from Zurich to Zagreb allowed for a brief afternoon stroll through the capital city with a friend before and after a roadtrip to Slovenia, while brief ports-of-call day-trips in November brought me to Zadar and Dubrovnik.
- Montenegro: I visited Kotor for a day in November as a port of call.
- Greece: I made day four different day trips on four different days to destinations in Greece: Corfu, Santorini, Katakolon (Olympia), Athens in November.
- Japan: I made a 2-week trip to Japan in November/December with 4-nights in Tokyo, 1-night in Karuizawa, 6-nights in Ise Peninsula (Shima and Toba), an express lunch in Kyoto, and 2-nights in Kinosaki Onsen.
- Austria En route to Süd Tirol, my husband I drove through Austria and stopped for lunch in Völs.
- Liechtenstein We also drove through Vaduz, Liechtenstein on the same trip.
- San Marino During our Italian roadtrip, we drove through San Marino.
*I never count airport layovers as visiting a place, so I’m not making an exception here. I’ll only make a footnote mention of my layover in Singapore because it produced one of my best meals of 2016.