The most impressive places visited this year

As the new year begins, it is the time to draw conclusions about what have been the top places that I have visited last year, and while the number of flights has been slightly smaller than the year before (only 53), the kilometers traveled on air still remain impressive (over 100 000 km), which resulted in 164 h of flight time. The number of hotel stays has actually gone up to around 100, which means that I have spent more time per every flight, so less connecting flights and more direct point-to-point, as well as a few train, ferry rides and on-land transfers! I added 4 new countries to my first-time visited list – Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Egypt, and visited many of the countries I have been to before – Germany, UK, Poland, Belgium, UAE, Spain & Greece! Now I have been to 58 countries. 

Lastly, I wanted to thank all 70 000 of you, who have visited my English version of the site this year! It would have not been possible without you!

If you are interested in seeing the lists from previous years, you can find them all here:






Here is the top of 10 places that have impressed me throughout the year in some way.

10.Lukne hornbeam forest, Latvia

This year we have done four trips here at home, exploring Latgale, Kurzeme, the industrial heritage of Vidzeme as well as Baltic Coastal Hiking route. One could make a seperate top list just from places in Latvia alone! But for purposes of this selection, I have included two Latvian places here. 

In early spring, when the weather is still very much the question of luck, we headed out to explore the nature parks of Kurzeme, as we had wanted to see Dunika bog trail for many years, as well as see grass eaters of Pape lake. I found Lukne hornbeam forest to be especially enchanting, as it is the only place of such kind in Latvia! 

9.Northern Latgale, Latvia

Our first trip of the year was a roadtrip in the Northern part of Latgale, right there at the border, exploring Numerne park, Stompaki bog (yes, we have a thing for bogs!), and many more. It was very white and snowy, with almost no people around, and I wish we could get a chance to explore this area more!

8.Ghent and Brussels, Belgium 

This year I found myself in Belgium twice, and both times I was impressed by how much there is to see! First time in Brussels (which was not my first time there, but the first when I actually saw more than just from my taxi window) I enjoyed beautiful dinner, waffles and finally saw the Manneken pis – famous peeing boy. The second time in Belgium was in Ghent, where I was just speechless by how much there is to do and see! It was mid-August, the streets were deserted and the city was just absolutely spectacular! I must come back some day!

7.Mykonos, Greece

I continued the annual tradition of doing a family trip, and this year my travel buddy was my grandmother and together we went to Greece,  as she had never been there! Rather than just spending a few days in Athens, we decided to combine it with a trip to the islands and visited Mykonos. Soon on the blog as well!

6.Maharashtra,Sinhagad fort and Tiger Point, Lonavala, India

This has been the year of India, especially for Jekabs, who spent two whole months there! I also visited for a little while, during the monsoon season (and got a new stage dress for my bhangra performances, my latest hobby!). This time around we tried to see as much of nature as we could in relative vicinity of Pune. It is far for being quiet even here, but at least we saw a couple of really nice places! Especially interesting was the Sinhagad fort (there are really many forts in this area!), some ancient Buddhist temples and The beautiful Western Ghats and the viewpoint of the Tiger Point.

Jekabs stayed also for the main celebration – Diwali. As he recalls it, it was very, very noisy! Full article soon on the blog!


5.Doha, Khor al Adaid, Qatar

On our way to Singapore we had a wonderful opportunity to extend our time between the flights to slightly more than just a few hours with the Discover Qatar program, where our 4 day stopover didn’t cost us anything extra in terms of tickets, and the 5* hotel we stayed at cost peanuts! As I have colleagues living in Doha, we decided – this is a must! So we did the unthinkable, and stayed for 4 days in the middle of July, at the time when locals drive even such small distances as 100m!

We saw the Museum of Islamic art, visited the Soukh, ate tasty Syrian dinner at my colleague’s place,  saw beautiful skyscrapers, the golden metro, Qatara vilage and the surreal outdoor ACs in Galeries Lafayette. The most memorable part of our stay was the trip to the desert, Khor Al Adaid at the border with Saudi Arabia, where we got a flat tire and weren’t scared even for a moment!


4.Hamburg, Germany

If my math is right, I visited Hamburg 8 times this year, which is 4 or 5 less than the year before, but nevertheless, it is my second home, and finally I explored it as a tourist! Jekabs came to visit me on a weekend between some of my work things and we saw the city, covered in cherry blossoms. It was absolutely spectacular! After two years of frequent visits here, I now have friends there, favorite cafes and parks, and I even recognize ordinary streets from all the many walks I have had there. Read the full article about Hamburg here.

3.Alexandria, Pyramids of Gyza, Khan El Khalili and Nile cruise, Egypt 

Up until this year I had never been to Egypt. And then I almost went three times. Unfortunately, my first trip of the year to Sharm El Sheikh got cancelled due to unforseen circumstances, but in July I found myself in Alexandria, exploring a bit different Egypt, later seeing the famous pyramids and then realizing that my best memories come from Khan El Khalili market, which still smells like jasmine in my mind.

And who knew that the end of the year will bring another trip to Egypt, this time, famous Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan! We took the absolutely fantastic Dahabiya Amirat boat (we were initially supposed to be on a much larger boat), and saw numerous temples, out of which I mostly liked Karnak and Abu Simbel!

And, who knew that Giza pyramids the second time around would be so much better that the first time? The full story soon on the blog!


2.Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, Pulau Ubin, Singapore

It was a long time coming, and finally this year I visited Singapore! If I can say one thing about it – don’t just see it as a transit destination on a way to something else, do spend that week or two here! We had plenty to do in the 10 days we spent there, and still much more we didn’t have time to do! Went full bank at stayed at Marina Bay Sands to have a chance at a swim at the infinity pool!

Also, saw Gardens By the Bay and fireworks, the famed zoo, orchid garden, hiked in Pulau Ubin, roamed around Sentosa island and even accidentally ended up in Malaysia, when a planned trip to see a durian garden turned out to be there, and not in Singapore.

Only can happen to me! In fact, I really liked durians and I would them again. Jekabs does not agree, but I am happy I finally tried them! Soon on the blog!


1.The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE

Emirates was a destination for me twice this year, once in Abu Dhabi and twice in Dubai. I had a chance to revisit the places I have been to before (Dubai Mall!) and see new, breathtaking places. I went to Dubai Frame, La Mer, Louvre, the new President’s Palace and experienced La Perle Dragone show, after which I don’t think anything in this life can surprise me anymore from the performing arts. However, from man made structures, the Sheik Zayd Mosque was absolutely spectacular. 

I wrote the following lines about it: 

Soon it gets dark. There is no massive color explosion at the sunset because of the dust, and the sky just becomes a little bit pinkish yellow before it turns blue. I walk with the crowd, looking for the prettiest views. The main square is off limits to tourists, and it is so shiny that it looks as if it as filled with water. he evening prayer begins and the air is full of deep sound. The mosque becomes even more illuminated than before, the yellow arches and the bright domes. 

Read the full story about Abu Dhabi here.

If you are interested in seeing the lists from previous years, you can find them all here:






Add comment