2017 – Travel Highlights

I am very fortunate that I get to travel with work. Having travelled extensively for the past 5 years and with the new opportunity I was blessed with this year, I am up in the air again. So I wanted to share some brief anecdotes of the places I have been to this year and of course some photos. No way am I travel writer or aspire to be, but sometimes its nice to show what you can do when you are working and travelling at the same time. I truly believe you have to take advantage of where you are, otherwise I guarantee you, it will be regretful.

Bonn, Germany

First trip for some training to the quaint university town of Bonn. In all honesty Bonn had a village vibe going on. The hotel I was staying in, President Hotel was far from modern, but the location was great. Surrounded by possibly the best restaurants in the area, short walk to the city centre and close proximity to necessity stores. However for me, the best find was the local shisha place up the road called Buddha Lounge Bar. Clearly a place for the locals, but a haven for me to relax in after work and even work in. Each time I need to be in Bonn, I always visit this place at least once. Would I come to Bonn outside of work, not really, but I can see the appeal of living here if you were working Bonn.

Prague

Praha is Prague dumbo. Yes. That is correct. I did not know that Praha was the Czech name for Prague. All these years I thought Praha was a separate city/ town, but no. Yes, I am an idiot. Anyway, managed to spend the Sunday morning checking out the city and I fell in love. The buildings were just magnificent, old gothic style, right up- my street. Heading into the old square, one thing that struck me were the amount of tourists. Did not expect to see that many tour groups. So I did what any other lonely traveller would do, I silently joined one of them at the back of the group, listening to the history and knowing I would be shown the best sights. Once I got a puzzled look from the tour guide seeing in his face, “who is this guy”, I quietly walked away…. to the next one.

We were put up at the Penta Hotel. Loved it. The check in reception which is the actual bar, lived up to their tag #pentawedontdonormal. The style was so me, dark, chic, modern and vintage combined. Highly recommend this place, close enough to the city, local mini markets around for convenience, and plethora of restaurants on the same street. Where I also managed to reconnect with old friends from my previous company. Was so good to take a break from the new and chill with familiarity. I am positive I will be back again, to further explore this wonderful city!

 

Madrid

Not the first time to Madrid, took my sister there for her 30th years ago, so did a lot of the touristy things then. This time couple of short business trips, but my friend took me to some cool places to eat and have a little walk around the city at night. I actually think Madrid looks better at night. I have always loved the Spanish way of life and style. Very modern and chic yet has that relaxed rustic vibe going on at the same time.

Budapest

The downside of my stay at Budapest was where I was staying. In the middle of nowhere next to the airport. Really depressing. And with the cold temperature, really hard to motivate oneself to walk or head to the city in the evening. However managed to do so and glad I did. Unfortunately didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted to, but I saw the main things; Bridges, Parliament Building and the gothic streets/ alleyways. Found a lovely Syrian restaurant for dinner and shisha, although spent way too much time in there and then was too tired to walk around as i’d hoped for 🙂 Definitely a city that needs exploring a little more for sure.

Helsinki

Man it was cold. So cold. Didn’t stop me from having a smoke outside though! So in fairness, I wasn’t that impressed with Helsinki. Perhaps I didn’t see the right things or whatever, but walking around the city, didn’t really grab me. Buildings were quite modern but not modern in the sense of good looking, you get the odd old building sandwiched in between, again nothing of eye candy worth. I did like the underground though, wow so clean and fast! Didn’t see that many ethnics around, but again very quick snapshot. Not a place I would want to go on my own accord, but looks like I will be back there next year sometime, maybe I’ll do a bit more research and give this place a second chance.

Bucharest

Ahh Romania. Brings back memories of my road trip couple of years back and ironically Bucharest was the only place I did not check out. I didn’t get to spend much time exploring the city due to long hours at work, but I managed to sneak in one night exploring the magnificent Christmas Market, strolling through the Old Town, and somehow some secluded side streets. Romania has and will always have a special place in my heart, from the beautiful countryside, to the lovely people, and its history. I will be back again a few more times, but definitely want to go back for another road trip. Staed at the awesome JW Marriott, and thankfully the huge size of this hotel did not leave me feeling claustrophobic in the evenings. Had an old time New York plaza type feeling, modern enough, but still had the classic romantic charm. Till next time.

Bratislava

Flying into Vienna then a taxi drive to Bratislava was the easiest way to get here. Had a full day to explore the city with a colleague and pretty much checked out all that the city had to offer while freezing my ass off. The old town was cool, loved the little alleyways, the buildings were cute, but you still couldn’t shake the feeling of old communist style architecture and feel around the place. Especially in some of the little bars we ventured into. Again the focus was around the Christmas market, and by this time, I was fed up of them. Really, its the same everywhere, and plus I hate the cold.

Amsterdam

Finally some downtime, always been to Amsterdam but stayed around the airport area, so was nice to spend some time not working in the centre. Have to mention the hotel I stayed at, probably one of the best, W Amsterdam. Ultra modern, chic and trendy with funky music playing everywhere you are in the hotel. The room kitted out with tech just added to the character of the place. Around the city, walking around, walking alongside the canals, taking a whiff of the local “coffee’ shops, people watching groups of young dudes and dudettes, lads on stag parties, some families, was awesome to see. Definitely see this place as romantic city break for a couple. Perhaps will come here again, for that very reason alone.

Next up

Have a few new destinations next year, some are known, some are unknown, looking forward to both working with colleagues abroad and exploring the earth we live in. Let me know if you have visited any of the places in the shots taken. All photos are mine, if you want to use no problem, don’t necessarily need a shout out, but a hello would be nice 🙂 Hope you have enjoyed the journey so far, please check out the next and final part of my 2017 review, The Last Word! Peace & Love!

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