Currently in Seattle, United States 🇺🇸
Chicago, United States 🇺🇸
America’s second city has plenty of personality and charm. There’s an infinite amount to do and see, but we barely scratched the surface. Our real reason for being here was to spend the holidays with family for the first time in years.
Montréal, Canada 🇨🇦
Canada’s second city has plenty of personality and charm. It seems very livable… or maybe just survivable, if you’re not a fan of brutal winters.
Québec, Canada 🇨🇦
We finally returned to North America, but compromised by starting in the most European city on the continent. Québec is Canada in microcosm.
Springfield, United States
A brief stay in the US of A. We laid over on the East Coast before heading north and caught up on a bit of Americana while we were around.
Eskilstuna, Sweden 🇸🇪
A small city in Sweden’s Sörmland, Eskilstuna proved a relaxing break from European capitals. We savored the end of summer with quiet walks in the woods as “hikes and bikes” subbed in for “hustle and bustle.”
Tri-City, Poland 🇵🇱
Poland’s seaside cities – Gdynia, Sopot, and Gdańsk – have distinct personalities. One is a modern vibrant port, another a relaxed beach resort, and anchoring them all is a picturesque & historic capital and fort.
Vilnius, Lithuania 🇱🇹
Vilnius so impressed us last year that we decided to return for a second stay. We found it every bit as charming and livable as we remembered.
Lithuanian Song Festival
We were lucky enough to be in town for the Lithuanian Song Festival, a quadrennial celebration of heritage in song, dance, art, and storytelling.
With side trip to Białowieża, Poland
To a pair of avid West Coast hikers, Poland’s famous primeval forest was less wild than we hoped. But we still appreciated our too-brief time in the woods of Białowieża.
Batumi, Georgia 🇬🇪
Though we’d never been to Atlantic City, this felt like its Georgian doppelgänger. Hot & humid Batumi is a popular summer spot. Just… not our style.
Borjomi, Georgia 🇬🇪
This peaceful mountain town in central Georgia is known for its mineral waters and spectacular national park. A quiet place away from people and close to nature, Borjomi was a fast favorite for us.
Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲
Yerevan is an interesting city on an average day: wide boulevards, walkable parks, and Ararat towering regally over it all. But witnessing a pivotal moment in Armenia’s history as the country turned out to protest? That was awe-inspiring.
Tbilisi, Georgia 🇬🇪
We didn’t accomplish half of our to-do list, but Georgia’s charming capital made us feel full in other ways. Unique wines and exceptional carbs (khachapuri especially is worth the hype) made Tbilisi an easy place to enjoy.
Skopje, Macedonia 🇲🇰
The city of a thousand statues still struggles to find its own identity. Its beautiful setting and above-average castle made Skopje a worthy stop – but maybe not in midwinter.
Gozo, Malta 🇲🇹
Malta’s quiet second island is the perfect destination to cut down on distractions. There are few people and fewer places to go. Just seaside strolls, boutique wineries and beautiful solitude.
With short stays in Valletta and Zabbar, Malta
Malta’s capital Valletta bristles with architecture, culture… and tourists. Haz-Zabbar is small and traditional, a perfect peek at the real Maltese way of life. Either is a good home base for exploring the big island’s treasures.
Munich, Germany 🇩🇪
Bavaria offered too many Christmas markets to count, each with a sumptuous selection of Glühwein, Lebkuchen, sausages, and souvenirs. We already knew we liked Munich, but spending the holidays here was something special.
With side trip to Nuremberg, Germany
The world’s most famous Christkindlesmarkt is in Nuremberg (or Nürnberg) Germany. We spent a day drinking in the sights and sounds… along with the city’s famous Glühwein.
Ljubljana, Slovenia 🇸🇮
Their Advent markets don’t hold a candle to the competition, but Ljubljana’s science-themed Christmas lights outshine everyone else by miles (and molecules).
Zagreb, Croatia 🇭🇷
Top-notch Christmas markets drew us to Croatia’s capital, which has a distinctly Central European vibe. Different from the coast, but equally satisfying.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 🇧🇦
Slowly recovering from its painful recent history, there is so much more to this city than the war. Like stunning mountains, and the best cevapi around.
Novi Sad, Serbia 🇷🇸
The ubiquitous popcorn stands captivated Danielle instantly. The city is also prettier and friendlier than we expected, and with great food as well.
Timișoara, Romania 🇷🇴
This beautiful city at Romania’s western edge is more park than pavement. It’s also the perfect home base to see Hunedora, one of the world’s best castles.
Riga, Latvia 🇱🇻
Our third-favorite Baltic capital, which is like ONLY getting bronze at the Olympics. Still head and shoulders above almost anyone else! The parks were especially perfect.
Vilnius, Lithuania 🇱🇹
The world’s best beer, and nobody knows it. From this stay onward, we consider it our solemn duty to spread the good word. The city is pretty swell, too.
Prague, Czech Republic 🇨🇿
Everyone’s favorite beer destination was only okay drink-wise, but charmed us in other ways. The medieval Old Town and beer culture were excellent.
La Floresta, Uruguay 🇺🇾
This little town has one of the most unparalleled stretches of beach we’ve ever seen. If only our rental was less of a nightmare, we might never have left.
Montevideo, Uruguay 🇺🇾
La Rambla, showpiece of Uruguay’s capital, democratizes the city’s entire waterfront. Could be the most laid-back and family friendly spot on the continent.
Punta Arenas, Chile 🇨🇱
Chile’s southern city reminded us more of Alaska than Latin America. A hard life for humans, but the whales and penguins in the strait don’t seem to mind.
With side trip to Torres del Paine, Chile
We raced to the top of the Torres trail and ruined our legs for day two. But the incomparable vistas made this our favorite hiking trip since we left Seattle.
Santiago, Chile 🇨🇱
Chile’s megalopolis was sunny and hot, but not unbearably so. The greenbelt parks and endless markets made this oversized city feel surprisingly neighborly.
It turns out that cruising is incompatible with our travel style. Too expensive, too restrictive, and too many people. But the places we visited were nice.
Buenos Aires, Argentina 🇦🇷
This city may be one of the continent’s most popular spots, but we never fully got into its rhythm. An abundance of red wine and red meat helped us cope.
Lima, Peru 🇵🇪
Easily the best food in South America, Peru spoiled us with ceviche, chupe, and even cuy. The smell of the Pacific air made us just a little bit homesick.
Cancún, Mexico 🇲🇽
The sugar sand beaches have some allure, but we picked Cancun to catch a flight. Tasty street food can be found if you venture far enough from the hotels.
Mérida, Mexico 🇲🇽
Being in town for the Day of the Dead was amazing. But this city was our favorite in Mexico for so many other reasons: food, art, architecture, and people.
With side trips to Chichen Itza and Uxmal, Mexico
These two Mayan ruins are close to Merida but worlds apart. Chichen Itza’s vastness draws mobs of daytrippers. Uxmal is comparatively calm and compact.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico 🇲🇽
Playa is like Cancun’s crowded little brother, but the beaches are worth it. And a few blocks from the main drag we found a more relaxing, local stay.
Tallinn, Estonia 🇪🇪
We fell in love with Estonia instantly. The charming little capital of this charming little country felt made for us. Chalk up a win for the introverts.
Kraków, Poland 🇵🇱
Poland’s best-preserved Old Town is stuffed with churches and tourists, but we were more concerned with stuffing ourselves with pierogies and Polish beer.
With side trip to Auschwitz, Poland
A deeply powerful and sobering sight to see in person. Visiting Auschwitz put into perspective the sheer scale and cruelty of the Holocaust.
Warsaw, Poland 🇵🇱
We were supposed to like Krakow more, but Poland’s capital wowed us with a blend of modern vibrancy and powerful history drawn from stories, not structures.
Budapest, Hungary 🇭🇺
Budapest (not Bucharest) is a grand capital on the Danube River, with impressive architecture, great parks, and a remarkably affordable cost of living.
Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪
Ireland was a pricey vacation. But this enchanting city of literature and history (and yes, whiskey) had a surprisingly international vibe that we loved.
Bucharest, Romania 🇷🇴
Bucharest (not Budapest) is a grand capital on the Dambovita River, with impressive architecture, great parks, and a remarkably affordable cost of living.
Dubrovnik, Croatia 🇭🇷
Croatia’s pushy tourist capital doesn’t take more than a day or two to see. We got our pictures, then spent the rest of the stay watching Game of Thrones.
Split, Croatia 🇭🇷
Our stay in Croatia came with a great waterfront view and a month of gorgeous sunsets. Toss in a few islands, castles, and bottles of wine, and we were set.
With side trip to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Our first chance to go hiking in months was a treat. Though we ended up with more candid shots than calories burned, Plitvice was very much worth the visit.
Barcelona, Spain 🇪🇸
This overcrowded Catalan tourist trap offered a few redeeming charms, from art museums and tapas to the very-deserving-of-its-fame Sagrada Familia.
Lisbon, Portugal 🇵🇹
Portugal’s hilly waterfront capital reminded us most of home. But the best-value wines, egg tart pastries, and cool clouds made this winter stay extra cozy.
With side trips to Sintra and Mafra, Portugal
The colorful patchwork castle of Pena Palace gets all the glory, but we loved the Castle of the Moors even more. Mafra’s library is a sight to behold.
Penang, Malaysia 🇲🇾
Malaysia’s foodie paradise. While our most fond memories are of the incredible hawker stall meals we ate, we also enjoyed Thaipusam and the island’s sights.
Chiang Mai, Thailand 🇹🇭
Thailand’s cosmopolitan northern city is delightful, and cheap. Highlights included good food, gorgeous temples, and a spectacular New Year’s celebration.