It is this time of the year again when we take a look back at our travel year: After two years of pandemic-related lock-downs the travel industry finally picked up again a little bit. We spent almost 200 nights on the road, 30 of them camping in our tent. Some trips were work-related, others were private. Altogether we visited nine countries, four of them were new to us (San Marino, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, and Armenia). Read our 2022 travel review by month.
January/ February: Andalusia in Southern Spain
Hiking and Climbing in the El Chorro area
To escape the cold and wet German winter we went to Southern Spain for some climbing at the beginning of January. Only 50 km away from Malaga, the El Chorro area offers ample crags with well-bolted sport climbing routes. And a lot of them are ranging in the French 5 grades. On rest days we could do some sightseeing and hiking in the area. Among many hikes we also did the famous Caminito del Rey, an almost 8 km hike, mostly on artificial walkways pinned along a 100-meter tall vertical cliffside.
We also met Frank and Lissette from bbqboy.net for the first time in person – before that we had had an exchange through our travel blogs for at least eight years. They invited us for a sumptuous extended lunch on their patio in Nerja.
Sightseeing in Andalusia
After two weeks of climbing in the El Chorro area, we went on a 12-day road trip through Andalusia, visiting as many UNESCO world heritage sites as possible. Undisputed highlight was the Mezquita of Cordoba, followed by our visit of Sevilla. We also enjoyed a sherry tasting in Jerez de la Frontera and a visit to the Alhambra in Granada.
A day trip to Gibraltar
Driving through the pitch-black night from Malaga to Cadiz we saw the blinking lights of the massive rock of Gibraltar in the not so far distance and were hooked. As we had not thought of bringing a passport for our Spain trip, we were not sure if we could enter Britain with our German id card only. It turned out that was possible! And thus, we did a wonderful hike up to the summit of the rock of Gibraltar. Afterwards we even had a very British Fish & Chips dinner.
March: Wonderful Tuscany in spring and a daytrip to San Marino
As we had spent a lot of time learning Italian during the pandemic, we were eager to go to Italy. We started our trip with five days in Florence, which turned out not enough. And then we made our way through the main sights of Tuscany: the leaning tower of Pisa, Lucca, Volterra, the mediaeval skyscrapers of San Gimignano, Montalcino, the Renaissance town of Pienza and Sienna. In Montalcino, the origin of the famous Brunello wine, we took pleasure in some extensive wine tasting. On the way back to Germany we visited the microstate of San Marino on a daytrip and marvelled at the golden mosaics of Ravenna. They were a sightseeing highlight of our whole travel career.
April: Hiking and visiting monasteries in Armenia
In April we finally went to Armenia. After Georgia and Azerbaijan it was our final country in the Caucasus region. Spring was the perfect time for some hiking and we tremendously liked the tasty vegetarian food in Armenia. Sightseeing was mostly Armenian monasteries, but we combined them with extended hiking trips. Overall it was an easy and very affordable country to travel. We might come back in the future for more hiking.
May: Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition Switzerland and Climbing in Finale Ligure/ Italy
The Fondation Beyeler in Basel/Switzerland started their exhibition year with a major retrospective on the painter Georgia O´Keeffe. As we are fans of the bold flower paintings of Georgia O´Keeffe we went to Basel for a few days. We also visited the nearby Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Later in May we went for another week of sunny climbing at Finale Ligure in Italy to improve our climbing skills. And on the way back to Germany we did short stops in Genoa and Milano.
June/July: Guidebook research in Uzbekistan and a stopover in Kyrgyzstan
Guidebook sales were picking up again this year and we had to go to Uzbekistan for research on the fourth edition of our German-language guidebook “Usbekistan”, published by MairDumont. After almost four years it was so good to meet friends and partners again, talk about new developments and explore some new sights and areas. We are especially happy that the Chimgan Region north of the capital of Tashkent developed quite nicely for some outdoor adventures over the last years. And we finally made it to the Zarautsai Cave in the south of Uzbekistan, where we saw possibly up to 8000-year-old cave paintings. As our Uzbekistan visa was only valid for 30 days we once went to Osh in Kyrgyzstan for a few days and got a new visa on the way back into Uzbekistan.
August: Hiking in the Italian Aosta Valley and in Liechtenstein
Summer in Europe for us means hiking in the European Alps! This year we did a fantastic hike on the Alta Via 1 in the Italian Aosta valley. Aosta is Italy’s tiniest region and even Italians go there for the unusual culture and the exotic food. We spent some more time hiking in the Gran Paradiso National Park and visited nearby Turino.
As we went back to Germany by train we stopped at the Lago Maggiore for a weekend. Then we made another stop in Bellinzona to visit the UNESCO-listed castles, and in Liechtenstein for some more hiking.
We also wrote some pieces for a new Lonely Planet publication for which we climbed the Hindelanger Via Ferrata in Oberstdorf, one of the big classical Via Ferrates in Germany.
September and October: mostly Berlin
In October we had to cancel a planned (and already partly paid) trip to Saudi Arabia literally the day before our departure. Isa got diagnosed with a herniated disc in the cervical spine and we did not want to risk her health by driving for days through the desert. So we spent most of September and October in Berlin, writing up the Uzbekistan guidebook and Isa was busy with doctor appointments and physical therapy.
For another Lonely Planet project we did a day on roller skis through the Brandenburg region near Berlin. While it was quite a muscle-exhausting experience, we rolled only 20 km in one day after all. And we celebrated our 20-year wedding anniversary with a dinner at the Michelin star-rated restaurant Cookies Cream in Berlin!
November: Ljubljana in Slovenia, and Germany
To make up a little bit for the cancelled trip to Saudi Arabia we went to Ljubljana in Slovenia for one week in November. While we were surprised at the high prices in the Slovenian capital, we enjoyed the modernist architecture of Jože Plečnik, the orange wine and the food.
December: Bern in Switzerland and visiting some friends in Worms and Mainz
As the first part of research for a new guidebook for Switzerland we went to Bern in the early days of December. During our whole stay in the cute Swiss capital we were caught in snow! On the way back north we made some stops in Worms and Mainz to meet friends and give a lecture at the University of Worms. But then Natascha came down with a cold and we had to cancel our planned Christmas trip to Isa’s family in Cologne. Instead, we went back to Berlin and spent the holidays just the two of us, with good food and a lot of books and movies.
Other highlights of our 2022 travel review
In between our travel highlights, we had great food experiences in 2022. In Berlin, we had some great meals – at the Cookies and Cream, but also at the India Club and Saravanaa Bhavan (both very good Indian food) and also more locally in Neukölln. Manakeesh (flat bread with thyme) have become very popular and there are several places near us that make very good ones. We also learned to make our own Tukhum Barak in Khiva/Uzbekistan: ravioli-like pasta filled with liquid egg. Meanwhile, we manage Tagliatelle on our own, too. And then we had our first camel milk ice cream in Southern Uzbekistan.
We also discovered great street art. Florence in particular is home to several street artists – we were always looking out for those hilarious traffic signs by Clet Abraham! And since we started flashing Space Invaders we look for those funny mosaics in all “invaded” cities on our travels.
Plans for 2023
It seems the guidebook and tour guiding business is picking up again. We are all settled for a research trip to Egypt in January, updating our (German-language) guidebook on Nile travel. From the end of March we are booked for several tour guiding trips in Japan and in summer we will update one of our Japan guidebooks. We have also signed a contract for another guidebook on Switzerland, so between our Japan travels we will go for more hiking and climbing in the Bernese Alps.
We are looking forward to stay in touch with all of you and wish you a fantastic 2023! Hopefully our paths will cross again!
NB: Obviously we had no sponsoring for our 2022 travel review!
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