It’s no secret that I want to go everywhere –that’s why my travel experiences bucket list was created– but since I believe it’s all about the journey (pardon the cliché), I thought I’d share with you where life has taken me so far…
At the end of each year I’ll update this post, so you can easily follow how my wanderlust is being fed, and you can be part of this adventure called Experiencing the Globe : )
In a nutshell (so far…)
Travel experiences from my bucket list: 78/201
UN recognized and observer states: 54/195
Partially recognized states: 3/9
Dependent Territories and overseas regions: 2/48
Travelers’ Century Club (TCC): 65/329
Most Traveled People (MTP): 110/995
Before Experiencing the Globe…
I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. During my early years, my parents took me mostly to the Lake District in the south of the country. As I grew up, the family trips expanded to other regions in Chile. My first international trip was to Bariloche, in our neighbor Argentina, after annoying mom and dad enough to say yes to leave the country. Years later it was a road trip crossing the Andes to Mendoza, east to Buenos Aires and then north all the way up to Iguazu Falls in Brazil. We also visited the Paraguay, and boarded the longest bus ride of my life back to Santiago from Asunción, 36 hours! I don’t have words to express how grateful I am for my amazing parents that fed my developing wanderlust!
When I started Law School the family trips became scarce, since I was spending some of my summers volunteering and doing internships. But there were two fantastic trips: a fascinating few weeks on an archaeological tour of central and southern Mexico –from Mexico City to Cancún, through Puebla, Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas and Mérida–, and a cruise from Valparaíso to Buenos Aires, stopping in Ushuaia, the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas and Uruguay, and going around Cape Horn.
Before starting traveling internationally on my own I wanted to see every region in Chile, although I had a few visits to Argentina, Uruguay and Perú in between, and I went back to Brazil for a relaxing time in Salvador da Bahia with a friend from University. When every region of my country was ticked off, it was time for the Caribbean. I visited Colombia, Panama, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Honduras. Then I went back to Mexico. Visiting different beaches in the Caribbean opened my eyes to sustainability. I always had the drive to protect the environment and the wildlife, but seeing how tourism money was mostly going to big resorts while the local communities were struggling made me see that there was a lot to learn on being sustainable beyond caring about the environment.
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After working for years as a legal adviser on Human Rights I moved to London to get a Master’s degree in International Relations. My first time living abroad, and my first time in Europe! I quickly started enjoying the advantages of low cost airlines, and jumping into every train my free time allowed me to catch. I explored several towns around England, Scotland and Wales, I had a few long weekend visits to the capitals of Hungary and France with friends, and I signed up for a surprise trip (I paid for it without knowing where it’ll be, the destination was revealed at the airport –so cool!) that took me to Gdańsk and Westerplatte in Poland.
When I ran out of friends that wanted to travel with me, I embarked on my first solo trip to Italy during the break for the holiday season. I spent 8 days discovering the treasures of Rome and the Vatican City, and I learnt that traveling alone was far away from being lonely, it was a great way to make new friends. I also learnt that slow traveling was amazing –I didn’t have to run through landmarks, I could really immerse on the culture and history, learn a few words of the language, and understand the place better. That trip defined the way I was going to be traveling from then on.
On my first month break I combined study trips with leisure time and explored parts of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium and The Netherlands. From Moscow I went to Kiev, I adventured into Chernobyl, visited the United Nations’ Peace Palace and several other international organization headquarters in Geneva, stopped in Brussels and Bruges on my way to visit the International Court of Justice and other Tribunals in The Hague, and added a few days at the end of the trip to see the tulip fields in Lisse.
On my second break I tackled Greece, Turkey and Morocco (my first trip to Africa!). I spent a week between Athens and Mykonos, then went to Istanbul where I got to witness Ramadan, and finally I flew to Marrakesh and visited Essaouira too.
After finishing my Master’s classes I moved to The Hague to attend summer school at the Academy of International Law. During the weekends I explored different cities and towns around The Netherlands, even though Amsterdam was my chosen destination over and over. Then I moved to a small town close to Barcelona in Spain, where I spent most of my time writing my dissertation. During that period, I squeezed in a trip to the small micro nation of Andorra.
When that was done, I went backpacking without a plan and with a super tight budget. This is when I was introduced to Couchsurfing. I traveled around central Spain, where I visited Castrodeza –a tiny village next to Valladolid, the birthplace of my grandparents on my dad’s side, and lovely cities like Segovia, Toledo and, of course, Madrid. Then I flew to Croatia to see Dubrovnik, I quickly visited Montenegro and went back to Croatia to see some of the Adriatic islands and Split, where I met a man that would change my life. From then I crossed to Italy. After a couple of weeks exploring from Naples to Milan, I headed to France to spend my birthday with my heart sister in the Alps, in Chamonix. Then it was time for my first visit to Germany for Oktoberfest in Munich, with a few days in Switzerland in between, where I crossed the country by train, from Geneva to Zurich. This was followed by a few days in the beautiful town of Salzburg in Austria and a return to Italy to wander around Venice.
I wasn’t sure where to go next, but that guy I met in Croatia was deep in my thoughts, and after a month of talking every day I decided it was worth to see if it could go somewhere, so we met in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, halfway between where we both were. Let’s say it went well. So well, in fact, that I went back to Croatia with him. After a few weeks of seeing more of the country and starting to fall for the guy, I decided I needed to hit the road again. I spent a few weeks around Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, especially in the capital cities of Sarajevo and Belgrade, and then I returned to Croatia. I spent another month with him, when he officially became my boyfriend, but I still had the southern Balkans to visit. So I headed to Montenegro and spent about a month visiting the main sights of Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.
After flying back to London to get my diploma I went to the south of France and the micro state of Monaco, returned to Spain, and then flew to the capital of Austria, Vienna, and went overland to Bratislava in Slovakia, Prague in the Czech Republic, and finished this leg of the trip visiting Dresden and Berlin in Germany. Prague was my grandma’s favorite city in the world, so I could not leave Europe without seeing it. Even though it was in the middle of winter and it was cold as hell, it did not disappoint. I now have a debt to myself to go back when there’s nicer weather to check whether it is, as she said, the most beautiful city in Europe.
After many many months of vagabonding around the Old Continent I went back home to Chile. My boyfriend went to visit several times, and we explore different regions of the country together, with mountains and wine being the main themes when choosing destinations. I stayed for two years, working at a University with kids I still miss. I had a month of vacation in between, when I headed back to Europe. I went back to Croatia (obviously), and we took a road trip through Slovenia, northern Italy and yet another micro nation, San Marino. I spent a bit of time in France before my return flight, because you can never have enough of Paris, right?
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On 2018 I moved back to Europe, this time to Split, Croatia –can you guess why? My intercontinental flight went to Paris, so I stayed for a week there, exploring the city beyond the touristy sights. From my new home I returned many times to our neighbors Bosnia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Hungary, and crossed the Adriatic to Italy. By the end of the year, Experiencing the Globe was born…
After welcoming the year in Split, I went on a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro with my sister and nephew that came to visit us. Next trip was in February to visit my heart sister in Chamonix, in the Alps in France, with a stopover in Italy’s wine country, both in the Veneto and the Piedmont regions, courtesy of my boyfriend. Then I embarked in a solo trip of from March to May through Iran (first time in Asia!) and the Caucasus region –one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had!
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I went from Split to Sarajevo, then flew to Istanbul to catch a plane to Tehran, the capital of Iran. After a few days there I explored as much of the country as I could overland. I visited Yazd, Kerman (plus an overnight in the Lut desert, and a day trip to Bam, Rayen castle and Mahan), the Persian Gulf islands of Hormuz and Qeshm, Shiraz (plus a day trip to Persepolis), Isfahan (plus an overnight in the Varzaneh desert), the capital of Irani Kurdistan: Sanandaj (plus a day trip to Palangan), and Tabriz (plus a day trip to Kandovan). I spent a month (as much as my visa allowed me), but I would have loved to stay much longer. It’s hard to put into words how much beauty there is in the country. From the natural sights to the architecture, with the cherry on top: the unparalleled hospitality… I just can’t wait to go back!
Then it was time for the Caucasus. I crossed the border overland to Azerbaijan. I visited the capital city of Baku, and the small settlements and cities of Qobustan, Qabala, Durja, Ismailli, Lahic, Sheki, Kiş and Qakh. Then I headed to Georgia. I spent a few days in the wine region of Kakheti, another couple in the capital, Tbilisi, followed by a few trips around, including an overnight stay in Kazbegi. Then moved westwards to the Svaneti region –my favorite one in Georgia– and finally south to Borjomi and Vardzia. Next step was to cross to Armenia, where I used the capital city of Yerevan as a base to visit Sevan Lake, the Garni Temple, the Geghard Monastery and Khor Virap. Then I ventured into the breakaway territory of Artsakh / Nagorno Karabagh. I visited its capital, Stepanakert, and went back to Armenia to explore its southern corner in Goris, Tatev and Khondzoresk.
I went back home and soon left it again to go hiking in the Italian Dolomites with friends and boyfriend in June. The summer was split between Croatia and the Baltic countries. I spent two months visiting Helsinki in Finland, Saint Petersburg in Russia, and exploring Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. From the Estonian capital, Tallinn, I explored the Lahemaa National Park, then I headed to Saaremaa, where I spent several days enjoying the peace of Kuressare and sightseeing around the island. I stopped for a couple of days in Parnu before crossing (the non-existing border) to the Latvian capital of Riga, from where I visited the Guaja National Park, Salaspils, Jurmala, Kolka and Mazirbe. Afterwards I went to the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, from where I took a day trip to Trakai, then headed to Siauliai to visit the strangest of sights in the country, the Hill of Crosses, on my way to the Baltic Sea port of Klaipeda, from where I continued to Nida in the Curonian Spit.
After regaining energy for a few days between sand dunes and forests, I visited my third Russian destination, the Kaliningrad oblast, an exclave of the country in territory that once belonged to Germany. I continued to Poland, where I took an overnight train south to Krakow. I got heartbroken visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, and then I healed my soul between the mountains of the Tatras National Park. Then it was off to Germany to visit friends in Coburg, and to The Netherlands to meet my boyfriend and board a cargo ship that took us around the North Sea.
Then we came back home and spent the end of the year in Split and around, enjoying being put, and writing about the fantastic trips I had through the awesome 2019 : )
Oh 2020, you horrible, horrible year. Hands down the worst one of my life.
The year started brilliantly meeting my niece in Zagreb in New Year’s Eve day for her first EuroTrip. We spent January and February road tripping around Croatia in winter, visiting the most famous sights of Italy (Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples, Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius), some of the capitals of Central Europe (Ljubljana, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna) and finished her visit in Athens, Greece. I returned home overland, stopping in Meteora and revisiting Albania, just in time for the closure of the borders.
In March I was supposed to be exploring Sicily and climbing Mt Etna. I also had a trip through the -Stan countries, following the Silk Road, planned. I guess there’s no point saying that all that went to hell. Instead, from March on it was mostly sightseeing around my apartment, doing armchair travel, with a few little escapades to the mountains around us when the authorities allowed domestic travel.
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When the cases went down to almost zero, I revisited Dubrovnik (during summer and without crowds!) and discovered the amazing island of Lastovo, which I ended up visiting a few times. Then I dragged my boyfriend out of the couch and we took a couple of road trips, first to Rogoznica, Pag and Nin, and then to Vransko lake, Zadar and Paklenica National Park.
With autumn came a spike in the cases, which meant more staying in. After a few months of nothing, I decided to finish the year on a happy note. After a PCR test and 3 days of 4 different flights and endless time transiting at airports, I arrived in Chile! I surprised my mom for Christmas and finished the year among my lovely family <3
After spending the first few weeks of January being pampered by my mom, and enjoying being in my home country with my family, I snapped out of COVID-induced terror and decided that enough was enough. I wrote a piece about why travel shaming has to stop, and I booked a ticket. I chose a big country with lots to explore to keep the border crossings to a minimum (which became the theme of the year). And I fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine: visiting Egypt.
I landed in Cairo but immediately took a train all the way south to Aswan, from where I visited several of the impressive temples of the Upper Egypt region. The next stop was Luxor to visit the Valley of the Kings and the Karnak temple. Then it was Alexandria, in the Mediterranean coast, a city that offers a strange but captivating mix of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman ruins. The last urban stop was the capital city. Hectic, loud and chaotic, but full of treasures, Cairo slowly showed me its beauty and I got to learn about its contrasts.
As my initially planned three weeks became six, I also escaped the Nile Valley to venture into the desert. The first stop was the Siwa oasis, probably the most off the beaten path destination in the country, next to the border with Libya. Then it was onto the central part of Egypt, in the Bahariya oasis, to wonder at the otherworldly White and Black deserts. The last destination was the Sinai Peninsula. I spent a few days in Sharm el-Sheikh to renew my visa, and quickly moved to Dahab, from where I hiked, climbed the iconic Mt. Sinai, and had my first encounter with the blue planet diving in the Red Sea.
After a PCR, and long 55 hours of flights, connection, and buses, I got back home to Croatia. I spent a couple of months taking full advantage of springtime: doing some hikes around Split, visiting the islands of Vis, Brač and Čiovo, and getting the COVID jabs to be able to continue travelling internationally.
Literally the first day the EU COVID certificates started working I boarded a plane to Portugal, where I spent three weeks going from the Algarve region in the southern tip, to the only National Park, the lush Peneda-Gerês, in the north. I stopped in the beautiful cities of Faro, Lagos, Lisbon, Coimbra, Aveiro and Porto. I tried the wine and the ginja. I listened to Fado. I rode boats, trains and trams. I went hiking and road trippin’. I met old friends and made new ones. And I got time to sort out the visa for my next destination.
As Africa kept calling my name, I bought a one-way ticket to Tanzania. You see, I was a little girl when my mom took me to the cinema to see the Lion King, and all I could think about was how amazing that world looked like. Sorry about the cliché, but anyone else growing up in the nineties will understand. Well, since then I’ve been fantasizing about touring the savanna and seeing the diverse animals that inhabit it. I could picture myself exploring the Serengeti in a 4WD, hanging out of the window with a camera in one hand and binoculars in the other, documenting the wonders that I was witnessing. And that I did.
I arrived in Dar es Salaam and caught an early bus to Arusha the next morning. 13 hours of going from semi-arid landscape, to lush green, to mountainous sights in a slow, bumpy road. I arrived to beautiful views of Mt. Meru, and to chaos. After a couple of days I found a safari that took me to Serengeti and Ngorongoro, two of the most amazing places on earth to see wildlife. Driving among zebras, lions, wildebeest, leopards, giraffes, gazelles, cheetahs and elephants, just to name a few, was a dream come true. What I didn’t know is that the most heartwarming experience was yet to come. When I returned to Arusha I offered to volunteer with the renovations of a nursery school in the outskirts of the city. It feels like a tiny grain of sand in the immensity that needs improvement, but it allowed me to see the other side of Tanzania, away from the fancy tourist spots that most bloggers and influencers showcase.
After that I went to Moshi to get to the other must-see in Northern Tanzania: Kilimanjaro. I was a bit sad I didn’t get to climb the mountain because I couldn’t afford the hefty fees, but after going on a day hike to the first camp and seeing how the porters are overworked and underpaid, I’m glad I didn’t. There would have been no fulfilment in summitting it since the work wouldn’t have been really mine. So I settled for a few chill days camping close to a small village in the foot of the mountain, and exploring the surroundings, including a day with a local farmer that showed me the coffee cycle, from farm to cup.
Even though during my camping days I didn’t see another tourist, I was done with the touristy sights. It was time for off the beaten path Tanzania. I went from Lushoto to Mambo in the West Usambaras, and then all the way across the mountain range to the Magoroto forest in the East Usambaras. The trip continued to the big lakes. I took two crazy train rides across the country (to Mbeya and from Kigoma) to visit Lake Nyasa (that you might know as Lake Malawi, the third biggest in Africa) and Lake Tanganyika (the second biggest). The next stop was Gombe National Park. Probably you’ve heard of Jane Goodall and her work with the chimpanzees. Well, that was her home. I got to trek around the park mountains and see chimps up close!
The adventure continued with one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had: living with the Masai in the bush in the middle of nowhere, in central Tanzania. Afterwards I took a little ‘vacation’ and went to Zanzibar. I spent several days around Stone Town, and then a few more at the beach in Paje and Nungwi. It was a lovely way to say goodbye to Tanzania after 9 weeks around the country.
Because the pandemic has made traveling a bit of a jigsaw of green and red countries, I flew to Romania and crossed the border to the only country in South-East Europe that I haven’t visited yet: Moldova. Before starting to properly explore the country I embarked on a journey back in time, to a ‘country’ that doesn’t exist: Pridnestrovie. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve heard about it as Transnistria. I based myself in the capital city of Tiraspol and visited a few smaller towns around: Bendery, Cioburciu, Chitcani and Sucleia. I spent almost a week meeting people and trying to understand what it’s like to live in a place where the Soviet Union symbols still adorn the flag and coat of arms, and where Lenin statues are ubiquitous.
After exploring this European geopolitical gem, I went back to Chișinău to see the city, and treated myself to an evening of wine tasting in what I was told was the most beautiful winery in the world: Cricova, a true underground city/cellar. Then I headed south to visit another geopolitical wonder, the Gagauzia autonomous region and its capital Comrat, followed by the other extreme of the small country, the northern city of Soroca (known as “the Roma capital of Moldova”). The last destination of the three weeks I spent in the country was Orheiul Vechi, a cave monastery in the core of a National Park, with a stop in Brănești winery, to have one last toast for yet another amazing trip!
The last stop of the year was the United Kingdom. I spent a few lovely days in the Cotswolds visiting my soul sister, and then headed to London for the Traverse Creator Awards ceremony, since I was nominated among other amazing writers, photographers and videographers for best opinion piece. I didn’t win, but I had so much fun finally meeting in person so many fellow creators. I’m still very much honored to have been nominated. And I’ll try to bring a trophy home next year!
I went back home to Croatia to finish the year with my boyfriend (whom I barely saw during 2021), to rest after such a filled-with-travel-2021, and to catch up on all the writing : )
→ This is an ongoing journey, so I’ll continue adding to this post at the end of each year. Make sure to come back for updates : )
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