It was quite the year in 2022 that included lots of travel with some incredible destinations along the way. It’s difficult to break it down to just 5, but it’s something I got to do. During this past year, I spent a month in Europe and then made several trips down to Mexico.
Along the way, there were so many highlights that included great surprises, good company, great food, lots of miles walked, and an even greater desire to see more.
One thing I have learned along the way throughout my years of travel is that no matter how much I do it and how many places I visit, my wanderlust is never cured. I find myself often being pulled more and more toward the unknowns. Put me in a room where I don’t understand the language and I feel at home. Put me on an underground subway only to emerge in some random part of the city and that’s when I get my rush of adrenaline.
I wouldn’t consider myself a super adventurous person or an ‘adventure seeker,’ but I do feel the most alive in the unknown. What’s around that next corner? What’s the food like at that little roadside stand? What food is going to land on my table when I randomly order something from a menu even though it’s not in English?
This is the type of thing that keeps me going. As a continue to travel, I want to make sure I get caught up in the moment and in the present instead of always thinking about what’s next, but the future of where to and what’s around that corner excites me and I’m not sure if there’s much I can do about it.
My task of choosing my top 5 travel destinations that I traveled to is a tough one, but here are the ones that in the moment have stuck in my brain and in my memories.
#5 Haarlem, Netherlands
I visited Haarlem on a short day trip about a decade ago while I was visiting Amsterdam. At that time it was quite cold and I only walked around for a little bit. During this recent visit, I stayed for 3 nights which allowed me to really explore the city.
When I arrived the sun was shining and the outdoor cafes were bustling with people both inside and outside. It was early June so the trees were in full bloom, flowers were hanging from windows, boats made their way calmly through the canals and the feel of summer lingered.
I made my way into several of the local brown cafes, which are my favorite places to kill some time while roaming around the cities in The Netherlands. It’s very common to meet friendly people and strike up great conversations, and that’s exactly what happened.
#4 Salamanca, Spain
After spending a few nights a few-hour train ride led me to the beautiful city of Salamanca, Spain. Visually, this city is stunning. The sandstone-colored buildings seem to illuminate when the sun hits them which allows you to get a great look at the incredible detail on the side of the cathedrals and other structures throughout the city.
The city center is lively with tons of great restaurants, gardens, lots of colorful flowers, and people casually making their way throughout the city.
On a nice warm day, it doesn’t get much better than loading up on some tapas, ordering a Tinto de Verano, and just watching the world go by.
#3 Ghent, Belgium
When most people mention stunning cities in Belgium, it’s usually Brugges that is mentioned but after visiting both, I have to give it to Ghent. While Brugge is beautiful and often listed on people’s list of their top travel destinations, it doesn’t have quite the lived-in feel like Ghent.
The scenery here with the Medieval architecture is absolutely stunning. Stone streets line the historic center, there’s a hustle and bustle that envelops the city, and it has just everything that you would imagine about Belgium.
After visiting Leuven, Brussels, Ghent, and, and Brugge, it’s Ghent that makes its way to the top of my list. Leuven is also worth noting as it feels much more local, and has a younger and hip feel to it, but it’s the river that runs through Ghent and the beautiful buildings everywhere you look that grabbed my attention and made me take notice.
#2 Logroño, Spain
I was making my way north from Madrid with the plan of getting to San Sebastian but unless you have a car, getting there in a decent amount of time was quite tricky and took much too long. This is why I decided to look for some other cities along the way to spend a couple of nights and stumbled upon Logroño.
When I arrived at the bus station in the city and started my walk toward the hotel I was not very impressed. I didn’t see any amazing architecture or anything that really stood out.
However, once I made my way down toward the center of the city I began to discover some great little streets lined with amazing tapas bars (I believe they’re actually called Pintxos up in this region of the country). They didn’t have that rustic feel that I’m usually a fan of, but every place was buzzing with energy, had delicious food, and everyone around me was having a great time and seemed to be loving life.
The two streets that feature the “Pintxos Crawls” are Calle Laurel and Calle San Juan.
During my visit, I also spent a morning walking a few miles along El Camino de Santiago, which runs right through the city.
This city shocked me with how much I enjoyed it. I ended up staying an additional night in the city because I loved the laid-back feel of the city. This is definitely one of those top travel destinations that was not on my ‘places I must see’ list, but I’m glad I discovered it and I hope I can visit one day again in the future.
#1 Mexico City, Mexico
I spent over a week in the city and still feel like I barely scratched the surface of what this city has to offer. There is history, culture, street food, fancy food, and just about everything you can imagine.
Recently I have started spending more and more time visiting Mexico because using the CBX out of San Diego to Tijuana has been a great way for me to find less expensive flights to take me just about anywhere in Mexico.
There are so many stories that you hear about Mexico and people try and explain it to you but I think once you actually get down there to experience it yourself, it’s hard to grasp.
When people talk about top travel destinations in Mexico, it’s often beach locations and popular resort towns. I choose to get away from that and try to dig a bit deeper and explore the heart of the country.
It’s hard to explain to someone how a city with over 20 Million people can actually feel quiet and quaint. Yes, there is traffic but there are also Colonia’s (neighborhoods) that are quiet and calm and filled with giant trees and clean streets and people walking a dozen dogs at a time.
The food is excellent, the people are amazing and it’s pretty mind-blowing just how much there is to see in Mexico’s capital city. It’s a place I will definitely return to and continue to explore in the future.