Top 5 Moments of 2015

With 2015 coming to a close, it’s time to look back on the past year and see what was great, what needs improvement and what I’d like to forget. Here is my top 5 Moments of 2015.

Top 5 moments of 2015

No. 1: Buying a house and moving in

Yes, that’s right, in 2015 I’ve bought a house. It’s the number 1 of my top 5 moments of 2015. Scariest thing I ever done but I was ready and it was a decision long in the making. I had been house hunting for over a year until my heart and mind were finally on the same page. It wasn’t until the end of 2014 when I found my house. On February 5th I moved in. My own palace. With a garden. And a bathroom to die for. And a lovely kitchen full of light and great appliances to cook with.

Top 5 Moments of 2015 buying a house
My travel bookcase, summer day in the garden and my designer table and lamp

For me, buying the house was a very difficult decision. If I stayed in my rental flat, I could save a lot of money and travel more often and spend more money on travelling. But I need to put down some (more) roots. I felt restless and out of place. Moving into my own house was like coming home instantly. Although my living expenses went up, I’m still determined to prove that you can still travel and own a home.

No 2: Following the dream

And that brings me to point 2 of my top 5 moments of 2015. Following my dream. After I unpacked (most) of the boxes I settled in quite quickly. It wasn’t too long after the move that I began to dream again. About my other big dream. Travel to South-America. Initially, my dream is to travel (by sea!) to South America and travel only over land. Taking it slow and take as long as necessary. But I’m not ready to leave my job, my house and my life behind. The urge to travel to South America is still lingering in the back of my mind. I feel I want it all. Both travel and have a stable home. A great job and explore the world. But with buying the house, I put the big travel plans on hold for a while. But I did feel I could at least go. Dip my toe into the continent of South America and at least explore some of it. Maybe not the way my big dream enrolled itself, but at least probe around that part of the globe a bit. I had intensive talks with my boyfriend, who doesn’t share my wanderlust for South America. As he had made other travel plans for 2016, we decided, I should follow my own dream. Go to South America. Maybe not the big dream, but downgrade a little.

Top 5 moments of 2015: booking a ticket to South America
For over a month, I did not do much else than google funny Llama pictures. Can’t wait to see them.

I researched how I could divide my “big” trip into smaller pieces and I ended up with an itinerary through Peru, Chile and Bolivia. It was such a big moment when I booked my return ticket to Lima. I was going to do it. Finally. I’m still terrified for going, but it’s not my first solo trip and I feel this is something that I need to do.

No 3: Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa

For Christmas 2014, I gave my boyfriend plane tickets to Pisa. We’d go together as a mini-break in April. I love to give a holiday as a Christmas gift, read all about it in my recent blog post. It was great to finally see this Unesco’s World Heritage site. It was a bit overwhelming as it was a very hot day. I suffered from travel stress and had to visit the bathrooms on site more than 5 times. But it was great to see this historic sight.

I’ve pre-booked our tickets to visit the main sights and the Leaning Tower of Pisa online. If you book a visit to the Cemetery and/or the Baptisterium, you can visit the Cathedral for free. This is what we did. I paid via credit card and I received tickets in my mailbox. They could be scanned via my IPhone, which was quick and easy.

Top 5 Moments of 2015 visiting Pisa
It really leans

I booked us tickets for the 7.30 pm ascend up the Leaning Tower. We were very early and as there was nobody in line, the ticket lady let us go up earlier. We had the Leaning Tower all for ourselves and we goofed around a bit and enjoyed the views. We only had 1 day in Pisa because the next day we would travel onwards to Florence. But it was enough time to see all the sights on Piazza di Miracoli.

No 4: A week in Florence

After Pisa, we travelled by train to Florence and nearly spend a week here to wander around the streets. We visited the different museums and ate ice cream and pizza. We stayed in an AirBnB apartment just behind the famous Duomo and this was really such a great thing. We were literally just steps away from the Duomo and I certainly can recommend it to everyone looking for a place to stay in Florence.

Top 5 moments of 2015 Panorama of Florence with the Duomo
Panorama of Florence

We visited the Duomo, went up Giotti’s Bell tower. We walked around town and visited the Uffizi and the Galleria d’Accademia. I also pre-booked our tickets to these museums which saved us a lot of time waiting. You can book yours online here. We visited the market hall, had pizza almost every night and had our fair share of ice cream. We left the city and walked in the country side towards Piazzale Michelangelo. Read my review on tripadvisor:

Must go to place in Florence.
Avoid the hustle and bustle from the busy city and enjoy the green hills overlooking Florence. Avoid the crowded bus tours but take the road up from the Ponte Vecchio. You will walk along the old city walls all the way up to the Belvedere outpost. Take a left and at the next city gate, go right. Up the steps and enjoy the sweeping vistas over Florence. Go down the steps to the Arno river again and you’ve come full circle in 2h.

Seeing all the beauty in Florence and enjoy the Italian life in Tuscany was really my travel highlight of 2015. What has been your travel highlight of the year? Please share in the comment section below.

No 5: Toby, a new dog in the family

Since I was 14 years old, my parents always had dogs. When I grew up, our family took care of 2 English Cocker Spaniel. One red, Billy, the other black and white, Taffy. I really considered them to be my animal sisters. After moving out of the house and living on my own, I went over many times a week to visit my parents, and the dogs. But, after 14 wonderful years together, they both passed away which left my parents heart broken and the house empty.

Top 5 Moments of 2015 new dog in the family
Our little Toby

It took them some time to get over it and when spring came, so did another dog! The whole family was waiting on Friday night for my parents to come home with the new addition to our family. Anxious we sat and waited. When the door opened, my dad carried in this small bundle of fuzziness. Sweet to the bone, happy as can be. I fell in love instantly and that hasn’t changed much since. I joined my mom twice a week for walks with the dog. Doggy sat when my parents have to go somewhere where Toby can’t come with them. And, when coming home from my travels, it’s just brilliant to be greeted by this happy cute little ball of adorableness!

So there it is. My top 5 moments of 2015. Not completely travel related, but this year my priorities were at home. For next year, there are great things to come. My 1 month trip to South America and my struggle to get fit before that. I’m more healthy than in 2014 and I haven’t reported ill once in 2015. My Crohn’s disease is under control and my fatigue from Vitamin B12 deficiently is slowly recovering. Now all I need to do is get fit and maybe lose some weight before I can hit the Andes. 2015 has been a big year, with major life changes. But I think 2016 will also be a terrific year with some pretty amazing highlights.

Top 5 Moments of 2015
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What are your travel plans for 2016? Any big trips coming up? Please share them below in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.