When it comes to traveling and exploring new places, 2016 has been a pretty amazing year for me. Thanks to a new job, a couple of months off from uni and a new travel partner in crime I got to visit 9 very different and unique countries and had the time of my life while exploring crazy cities, hiking on unknown paths, tasting delicious food and experiencing a variety of cultures. Whether you are looking for some travel inspiration or simply want to distract yourself from a boring, rainy Sunday afternoon… these are my favourite three travel destinations of 2016.
Our 4 day trip to Istanbul started in the best way possible: with a gorgeous and affordable Airbnb apartment located close to the vibrant Karaköy quarter with all its bars, traditional tearooms and yummy restaurants. My boyfriend and I didn’t waste any time and quickly dived into the busy city of Istanbul, exploring gorgeous architecture, the colourful Grand Bazaar, eating Börek, Baklava and Turkish delight as well as getting to know more unknown city districts.
We especially enjoyed our short coffee breaks at Türk Alman Kitabevi, hopping on and off the nostalgic Taksim-Tünel tram and drinking tea while watching the sunset behind the Maiden’s Tower. Istanbul is most definitely worth a trip and please don’t let yourself be stopped by the complicated political situation Turkey has been facing since 2016; it does not make any sense to give terrorists from all sides of the conflict the satisfaction of locking yourself up at home and not interacting with people of different cultures and belief systems.
Granada may not be on every backpacker’s bucket list, but the small city in beautiful Andalusia is by far my favourite place in Spain! Architecture and history fans will love this place because of its rich Arabic culture, people who simply love life will enjoy the countless bars, restaurants, clubs, quirky shops and fascinating people Granada has to offer. Famous sights include the Alhambra as well as the Albaicín, where you immediately feel like you have been beamed back to the 8th century. Granada is the perfect place for spending a long relaxing weekend or a couple more days, with the beautiful cities of Córdoba and Málaga nearby. If you are lucky enough to visit this magical place please say hello to my friends at Bar Poe, have a lovely breakfast at Cafe 4 Gatos and enjoy the amazing view of the Alhambra from the viewpoint of Mirador de San Nicolás.
Israel and the Palestinian territories
Spending two full weeks in the beautiful, diverse country of Israel was definitely one of my highlights this past year. From the Mediterranean cities of Haifa and Acre to Nazareth and the Sea Galilee, the Jordan River Valley, Jericho, Bethlehem and of course the fascinating city of Jerusalem: I simply could not help but fall in love with this beautiful corner of the world. Since the newscast is usually full of bad news about this area, you unfortunately have a lot of prejudices implemented in your mind. Being German I also couldn’t help but wonder how my family and I would be received but it did not take long for me to realize that Israel and the Palestinian territories are far more than the image news coverage has created: I found people in the entire country to be welcoming and inviting, enjoyed the cultural diversity I saw at every corner and opened my mind to all the different point of views locals offered to me about different issues regarding the region. If you ever get the chance to travel to this fabulous place, don’t hesitate!