Looking back on 2017

Letter 119

What a year 2017 has been! I would go as far as to say it has been the best year of my life, but I’m looking forward to 2018 even more. In this letter I’ll recap 2017 the best way I can and look back over my favourite letters.

Letter 56

The year began in the best way possible – travelling. I visited one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever been to and enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would. Iceland. Land of fire and ice – and boy was it incredible. While it is an extortionate country to travel in, I managed a week for £538 including everything, which you can read about here. We based ourselves in the cityof Reykjavik for the week but ventured out every day on trips which took us around the Golden Circle, to the middle of nowhere to see the Northern lights, to the Blue Lagoon (at night), to a frozen botanical garden, to an outdoor swimming pool and to beautiful parts of the colourful capital. Check out all of my Iceland posts here.

Letter 73

In February I was lucky enough to combine my course with my love and spent 10 days in beautiful ItalyIn that time I visited Rome, for the second time, Turin and Milan. I loved the diversity between these cities and leisurely enjoyed architecture, food and sun. What a wonderful way to escape Scottish winter?! You can check out all of my letters about Italy here.

Letter 85

March was a month I actually really enjoyed as spring had finally sprung in Edinburgh and I spent a lot of time out enjoying my city. I visited the botanic gardens, walked the various hills and enjoyed relaxing in the sun that had been hiding for a few months. Who says you can’t travel at home? I wrote a few random letters in March – check them out here.

Letter 89

In April I did a little more travelling around the UK as my birthday came about which included visiting my best friend in Cardiff and spending the night up in Fife, north of Edinburgh. Amidst all of my uni work it was good to take some solid time out. I also celebrated 1 year of aletterfromlou!! I honestly thought I would’ve had more letters by this point but alas, I’m proud of what I achieved. April was also when I booked my first fight of the summer – the beginning of my biggest adventure! Check out my April updates here.

Letter 95

May saw the completion of my second year of university and my summer trip begin. I spent the last 2 weeks of May in Spain, 1 with my boyfriend relaxing in Nerja, the second exploring Malaga, Cordoba and Sevilla on my own. I love Spain and my Spanish definitely started to improve! If you’re interested you can check out either my May letters here or those about Spain here.

Letter 99

June was busy. I spent a few days holidaying in Portugal on the Algarve with one of my friends, followed by a few days in Lisbon on my own before meeting up with my mum in Porto for a week’s holiday. I then flew over to Budapest to meet my boyfriend, spend a couple of days there, and then travel down to Zagreb in Croatia. I then spontaneously decided to go to the music festival with some people I met and had the best time. My boyfriend and I then headed to the beautiful spot of the Plitvice Lakes and it was stunning. Afterwards, we continued on to Pula in northern Croatia for our last days of holiday. When he left I embarked on my 4 week solo trip to round off the summer. What a busy month June was?! Check out all of the letters: Portugal, Budapest & Croatia.

Letter 104

July was a month of beaches, old towns, hiking, islands, new friends and smiles. I loved this month as it saw me travel down the coast of Croatia and spend 2 weeks in Montenegro, now my favourite country. I had the most incredible time and loved getting to travel without planning in advance and changing things at the drop of a hat. What an amazing month. Check out letters about Croatia here and Montenegro here.

Letter 109

August puts up a fight for the toughest month of the year, but also one of the most fun. I worked Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival at an awesome lego exhibition and was incredibly proud of the work I did. It was long hours and stressful days in a packed city but it was worth it. What a great thing to do!

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Letter 111

I’m going to roll September, October and November into one here because I actually don’t have any posts on these months – because I did very little other than uni work. However, as usual, I still spent time exploring my city but didn’t have time to write about it. I also went to Loch Lomond for a weekend which was stunning – but no time so here’s a quite picture anyway!

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Letter 118

Although the last few months of 2018 may have been somewhat ‘cloudy’ I did finish on a high note in December. I flew over to Berlin for a few days to see my friend who’s now living there and had the best time. I stepped straight back into travel mode and loved every second. What a fantastic city and I can’t wait to explore more of the country – hopefully in 2018! I then spent time with my family, friends and boyfriend over the Christmas period, cherishing relaxation time before heading back up to hell uni.

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Thank you 2017. It’s been a great year, especially for travel. I visited Iceland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro and Germany. Quite the list! I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings, I have a feeling it will be a good year.

Happy New Year folks! I wish you all the best.

From Lou

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BUDAPEST, ZAGREB, PLITVICE AND PULA

Letter 102

A lot has happened since I last posted a letter at the right time. The last two weeks have been incredibly busy and equally amazing. I spent most of the time with my boyfriend, friends from home and new friends I made in Zagreb and have had so much fun. So instead of doing 4 posts I’m rolling them into one so that I’m caught up and can start writing about where I currently am! Here goes…

Budapest

After spending one more night in Lisbon and enjoying an extraordinarily hot day in the city I took a flight to Budapest, arriving in the middle of the night. I successfully made it to the airbnb my boyfriend and I were staying in and crashed. The apartment was great, very central and perfect for what should have been a longer stay. Unfortunately we only had two nights, giving us one full day – not enough in beautiful Budapest.

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We got straight to exploring the next day but only after a hearty breakfast. Despite the chilly breeze from the river the walk along the bank to the parliament was pleasant and the buildings we passed were stunning. I had expected to be impressed by the city because, who isn’t, but I didn’t expect to feel at home so quickly. The city is full of grand classical buildings, quirky apartment blocks and large sweeping parks. No two streets look the same and there is something worth seeing around every corner. I cannot wait to return to properly spend time exploring this city, and the country.

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With nothing on the agenda we decided to just walk around and have a relax. We headed for the city park which is a huge expanse of green containing the biggest baths in Budapest, a lake and a zoo. We stayed here for a little while soaking in the sun and enjoying the surroundings. We didn’t go to the baths here but instead decided to head to the smaller one, Rudas, on the other side of the river in the evening. Such a treat to bathe in Budapest’s Roman baths and must-do when in town.

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In the afternoon we met out friends to conquer Gellert Hill and catch the views across the city. This is a great little walk and the views at the top are something else. There’s also a statue that looks like a bottle opener, some markets and a garden.

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The following 24 hours were a bit of a blur. We headed back to the (very nice) airbnb before going to dinner. We ate in a small Serbian/Hungarian restaurant and I kid you not, the food was incredible! It was called Castro Bistro and I had one of the specials, a pork dish which totally filled a whole. We then headed off to the baths and had a lovely stroll back over the bridge afterwards when the city was lit up in the darkness. The next morning we overslept – not surprisingly considering the lack of sleep the night before, busy day and late night. We then had a quick breakfast and packed before leaving for our bus. On the way we popped in to Szimpla Sunday Market which I really wish we’d had longer to enjoy. Such a cool place which tonnes of fresh food and great decor. Overall, absolutely loved Budapest and am planning a return to do it properly ASAP!

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Zagreb

This city has surprised me more than any other because I had such low expectations for it. So many people had told me that it’s not really worth visiting, not very pretty and that I shouldn’t spend so long there – how wrong they were! I intended to stay in the hostel and explore the city whilst my friends were at the inmusic festival, but plans change. I ended up meeting some really great people, got convinced to buy a ticket to the festival, and spend three nights enjoying great company, scenery and music on the stunning island in Zagreb. Even better, I got great sleep every night at my fantastic hostel and spent my days exploring this little city and falling in love with it. As an introduction to Croatia, it set the bar pretty high.

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I did the free walking tour on my first day there which was the best thing I could’ve done. The guide was the best I’d ever had and the stories he told about the city were fascinating. He took us around some of the best parts of the city and instructed us on where else to go. I really felt like I got to know Zagreb through this great guide. I also happened to meet someone who became a really good friend and who I spent a lot of time with – in and out of the festival.

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The second day I went to the Museum of Broken Relationships – ie Croatia’s most famous museum. It’s easily one of my favourite museums I’ve been to purely because of how unique and touching it is. It’s basically a collection of objects paired with the story behind them written by people who’ve suffered broken relationships. It’s so interesting and a must see! After this we went for lunch at a place recommended on the walking tour which was unbelievable. It’s a Croatian tapas restaurant and everything is sourced locally. It’s so delicious and cheap and I wanted to return again and again. It’s called Heritage and is very near the main square (as is everything really). The afternoon was spending lounging at the lake before going into the festival to watch KINGS OF LEON! What a hard life it is.

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For my last day I took a walk around the ‘green horseshoe’ of Zagreb. This is possibly the prettiest part of the city and is a collection of garden squares and colourful grand buildings. There’s also a Botanic Garden which is a very pretty place. I then stopped for a cake in a cafe recommended to me called Amelie – and I was not disappointed. I also had looked around the central market of Zagreb which hosts stalls upon stalls of fresh fruit and veg plus a whole underground space full of meat, fish, dairy and even pastries. Beyond this the market stretches down the streets and becomes a space to sell clothes and other goods. You can’t miss this market in Zagreb!

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Plitvice Lakes

At two and a half hours from Zagreb (or Split or Zadar), the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a very popular day trip. However, I strongly encourage you NOT to do a day trip. I recommend you stay over in the park for at least one, if not two nights. The reason to do this is that having had a good night’s sleep and only been a short while away from the entrances, you can get into the park early, at 8 or 9, and can enjoy this stunning area without the hoards of day trippers. At least you can for a couple of hours. We did the second longest route around the park (because we weren’t told about the longest) and we finished by 12:30. It really doesn’t take very long and it is completely spectacular. I honestly felt I was in paradise. I won’t give too many photos because you must see it for yourself!

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Pula

I had a pretty lengthy stay in Pula with my boyfriend and luckily we had a fantastic airbnb with a pool. This was a blessing and a curse because obviously it was amazing to have, but it meant we were a bit lazy and spend a day and an afternoon lazing by the glorious water. However, Pula is quite small and for us, a morning was enough to wander around the town and get a feel for it. It’s a pretty little town steeped in Roman history and lined by some serious ocean liners as well as posh yachts. It makes an interesting contrast of ancient buildings, pretty tenements and ships.

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We spent one of our days in the Kamenjak National Park. Now this place is really beautiful but takes some patience. Firstly, after checking the bus times we went to the bus station aiming to get a bus at 10:15 – but it never arrived. Instead we waited for the next one at 11:35 and eventually got to the park at about 12:30. Well, we got to the town near the park at 12:30. Premantura is actually a really pretty place and from what I can tell, is popular with locals and holiday-makers. The town is about and hour walk from the end of the peninsula on some very well defined dusty roads. It’s an easy walk but not very shaded. What’s great about the park is that every few minutes you come across a sign to a little cove where the water is crystal clear and great for a cooling dip. There are a number of beach bars in the area and the view from the tip of the peninsula is stunning. A great day out, lovely to get out in nature, but I would be tempted to rent a bike if I did it again, just to save some time.

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So that’s me almost caught up now! A quick stop in beautiful Budapest, a spontaneous festival in Zagreb, a stunning day spent in Plitvice and a relaxing stay in Pula. Thoroughly enjoyed this little interlude in my travels where I got to spend time with my boyfriend and both friends from home and new friends.

I’m having such a fantastic time, meeting some great people and seeing some wonderful places. I have a month left of my trip now – how has it gone so quick? – and approximately the next week will be spent here in Croatia.

Stay tuned!

From Lou

About Me