2020 has been a year we will never forget. Who knew that a pandemic would ravage the world, take away so many lives, and change everything for us?!
The pandemic changed my lifestyle drastically, but it honestly hasn’t been too bad for me. It forced me to slow down and spend more time with my loved ones. I discovered new interests beyond travel, reevaluated what I want in life, and made good friends who continue to make a difference in my life.
Alberto and I also bought a campervan (after dreaming about it for years) and found a new home that we love! I even started a new channel to share my love for plants and home decor, and hope to launch a new website in 2021.
Table of Contents
- 2020: My Year in Photos
- January 2020: Seychelles
- February 2020: Belgium
- February 2020: Germany
- March 2020: Sudan
- March 2020: Eritrea
- April 2020: Lockdown
- May 2020: Exploring our Backyard
- May 2020: Texel
- June 2020: Buying a Campervan!
- July-August 2020: France, Monaco & Spain
- September 2020: Moving into a New Home
- October 2020: Italy
- November 2020: Launch of Wild Plantage
- December 2020: Switzerland
- What’s Next?
- Inspired? Pin it!
- Interesting in reading more?
2020: My Year in Photos
January 2020: Seychelles
We rang in the new year in Seychelles, after spending a week on safari in Kenya. Our Seychelles trip was so laid back– we spent all our days on the beach, driving around on our car rental and island-hopping. The island nation is seriously paradise, with some of the best beaches I’ve ever been. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the new year!
February 2020: Belgium
After returning to the Netherlands, we took a long weekend off to visit nearby Ghent and Bruges, Belgium. Just a 2-hour drive from Amsterdam, Ghent was full of surprises. One of our favorite places to visit here was Sint Jorishof, a restaurant recommended by my good friend Keith (check out his Ghent guide). The traditional tavern was filled with old-world charm and eclectic collectibles, and the food was really good. Bruges was even more surprising, with ridiculously charming architecture and a vibrant craft beer scene.
February 2020: Germany
Shortly after we returned to Amsterdam, we took off to Germany once again (3 months after our last visit) but this time to Winterberg for a ski trip. It was only Kaleya’s second time skiing (her first attempt was in Donovaly, Slovakia) and she did so incredibly well! She can already ski much better than I do.
March 2020: Sudan
I had been looking forward to this trip since 2019 and was so excited to travel with my friend, Joko, who lives in Bangkok! I knew very little about Sudan and had only heard of the Meroe Pyramids, but it completely blew me away. The country has been unfortunately overlooked by many but there’s SO much to see (in fact there are more pyramids in Sudan than Egypt!). Check out my detailed Sudan travel guide.
March 2020: Eritrea
From Sudan, we continued on to Eritrea. Dubbed “the North Korea of Africa”, Eritrea is a hermit kingdom and one of the least visited countries in the world. The scars of the world with Ethiopia can still be seen, but the legacy of the Italian colonization also remains. Its entire capital city Asmara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with 1930s Art Deco buildings, churches and open-air cafes.
April 2020: Lockdown
Right after I returned home from Eritrea, the Netherlands went into a partial lockdown. Restaurants, shops and schools were all closed for a month. We had to self isolate at home, but we could still go for short walks and bike rides. The main challenge for me was trying to balance work and Kaleya. Thankfully, Alberto started working from home, which meant we were both there for our daughter.
We had planned to go on a Florida road trip for Kaleya’s birthday, but that got cancelled. Since we were stuck at home, we started to do a lot more activities at home — like cooking, building 3D puzzles, painting, and gardening. They were things I’d never done before as I was always too busy traveling, and I found myself starting to enjoy this rare quality time with my family.
May 2020: Exploring our Backyard
With the arrival of Spring, we were quite glad when the lockdown was lifted in May. Our trip to Egypt got cancelled of course. But the Netherlands were still doing rather well in terms of infection rates then, and we were allowed to go outdoors.
We managed to visit the Japanese Bloesempark in Amsterdamse Bos to see the cherry blossoms. I’d never seen so many pink cherry blossoms in one place and it was just glorious. It was also tulip season, so we drove out to see the tulip fields in Lisse and wandered around the fields (while social distancing of course).
May 2020: Texel
There were no imposed restrictions on domestic travel, so we decided to escape to the countryside and explore more of our adopted home. We spent a long weekend in Texel, one of the Dutch Wadden Islands famous for its pristine nature and tranquility. It’s a popular destination for weekend trips from Amsterdam, and it’s easy to see why. The island is relatively untouched, home to wild seals, and abundant sand dunes and hiking trails.
June 2020: Buying a Campervan!
During the lockdown, Alberto and I started spending more time looking for a camper van (we’d been on the look out since 2018 but never found the perfect one.) We felt like this was the perfect time to get a camper van since flying would not be an option for a while.
In mid June, we finally chanced upon a 2008 Volkswagen Crafter that ticked everything on our list. It was already converted into a family-friendly camper van and had everything we’d need (including a double bunkbed). Within a week, we became official owners of a camper van! Read about our experience of buying a campervan.
July-August 2020: France, Monaco & Spain
Three weeks after buying our van, we set off on a month-long road trip around France and Spain. For the first time in years, we didn’t have a fixed plan or itinerary. We just knew we wanted to explore the South of France and end up in southern Spain to see family.
Our days were spent visiting small villages, hiking, swimming, discovering interesting sights and just spend time together as a family. Each night, we’d look for a scenic spot to park for the night, cook, eat outdoors, play games and drink wine. For me, this was the thing I love most about traveling in a camper van: the sense of freedom and flexibility.
Traveling on a camper van gave us the opportunity to not just see our destination, but also everything in between. We explored so many interesting corners of France that we would have missed otherwise. Like the natural swimming hole in Limoux, the marmots we saw in the Pyrenees, and a gorgeous lake in the Gorges du Verdon.
September 2020: Moving into a New Home
Before we returned home, we found out that we got the house we wanted! The lockdown made us realize that we needed more space, especially since Alberto was going to work from home on a permanent basis. Once we got back to the Netherlands, we started packing and selling furniture that we longer wanted. It was a nightmare cleaning up the old apartment. But by the second week of September, we were all moved in!
October 2020: Italy
I had not flown since March, and it felt like an eternity. Even though Italy had one of the highest infection rates earlier on, the numbers had dropped substantially by October. We were glad we didn’t cancel the trip as our Puglia road trip turned out to be amazing. I was completely smitten with the cave city of Matera and impressed by coastal towns like Polignano a Mare. There were plenty of COVID measures in place and we were the only foreign tourists around.
November 2020: Launch of Wild Plantage
Since moving to our new place, I’d been incredibly busy with turning our house into a home. When I wasn’t working on the blog, I would be researching home decor ideas and reading about plant care. I became obsessed with plants and interior design, and decided to start a separate Instagram account to share my new-found interest. Check out Wild Plantage on Instagram if you’re also into such things!
December 2020: Switzerland
Every Christmas, we usually escape the Netherlands to somewhere hot. Sadly, this year we might not be able to travel anywhere at all. The Dutch Prime Minister just announced a full lockdown that will last till 19 January 2021.
We plan to do a Switzerland road trip in our camper van and explore the Interlaken and Jungfrau area. On our first trip to Switzerland in 2013, we had such a magical time staying at an ice hotel and exploring charming villages like Zermatt. We’re hoping to have a white Christmas this year!
With coronavirus still wreaking havoc particularly in Europe, it’s hard to predict when we can all travel freely again. It has been a shitty year, and I really hope things will improve for everyone.
I haven’t booked any flights yet (only redeemed a voucher but let’s see if that’s going to happen). I sure hope to return to Egypt in March, explore Colombia in April, and travel solo in Pakistan later in the year.
Here’s wishing all a better year ahead! Stay safe and healthy!
Inspired? Pin it!