A look back at 2022 – our 2022 travel review

Monkey looking back from the Rock of Gibraltar monkey: our travel review 2022

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

Travel blogger Natascha climbin in Valle de Abdelajes / El Chorro

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.

Travel blogger Natascha hiking the Caminito del Rey in El Chorro

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

The Mezquita of Cordoba was one of our travel highlights 2022!

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

The golden mosaics of Ravenna (here: Basilica di San Vitale) were among our travel highlights for 2022!

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

Khor Virap with mount Ararat, an iconic image of Armenia and one highlight of our Armenia travel 2022

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

Basel Fondation Beyeler: Georgia O'Keefe exhibition

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.

Sheep near the Rifugio Bonatti below the Grandes Jurasses mountains

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.

Travel blogger Isa trying out roller ski at the Flaeming Skate near Oehna

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

In the Plecnik National Library in Ljubljana: the reading room

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

Melanchthon on the Luther Memorial in Worms, one of the last stops of our 2022 travel itinerary

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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  1. I think it’s not until you do a roundup that you realise just how amazing a year has been. It looks like you went to some great places; I would especially like to visit any of the Stans, and your summer trip to Italy to hike looked fabulous. Have a wonderful 2023, and enjoy Egypt. I was there last March and loved it.

    1. Dear Angela, thanks for stopping by at our blog! The Stans, especially Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, have become so much easier to travel for tourists. And yet they are not very overrun – I would say, now is a perfect time to visit them!

  2. Oh wow! Your 2022 looks absolutely awesome. Rock climbing in Andalusia sounds awesome. I really hope to visit there soon as Alhambra has been in my wishlist since long. I love your Ravenna trip. I should plan that soon as well. All that said, as an Indian, a South Indian, let me tell you, I have a very big smile on my face right now, looking at you, smiling with that big Dosai!!! Love love love it. Happy New Year 2023 to you!

  3. Wow looks like a perfect year except the fact that you missed out on Saudi Arabia. Even without that it looks like you had a great time. The only common factor between our travels in 2022 was Berlin where we spent a few days in October. Tuscany in spring and a day trip to San Marino would be nice to do this year. Also sightseeing in Andulasia and a bit more of Germany would be nice as well to add to our own plans for 2023.

    1. Dear Subhashish Roy, I think spring is a very good time for a trip to Tuscany, as it is not so hot than in summer. Also tourist numbers are smaller, I have heard that getting tickets for the Duomo in Florence in summer is quite difficult.

  4. Happy New Year 2023. I hope this one has more travels for you. And 200 nights travelling is a record, I would say. I thought Lonely Planet was no longer operational, it’s nice to know about the guideooks. Congrats for more contracts and happy travelling.

    1. Dear Ambica, I think they closed down their website and the legendary “Thorntree” Forum. Lots of people still travel with the LP guides around the world. All the best to you too for 2023 and lots of travels!

  5. Traveling to nine different countries in one year is actually exhausting but a lot of fun, so bravo to you two! In the near future, I want to try climbing in the El Chorro region, even though it seems tough. Gran Paradiso National Park is a special place, and Armenia has some amazing sights. I really enjoyed reading this; I appreciate you sharing your wonderful 2022 travelog with us! Please go on more excursions and treks in 2023.

    1. Dear Maria, climbing is a wonderful sport. However before you go climbing outside, you need some instruction and training. If you just want to try the sport – there are guided fun excursions you can take part in without knowing much. This will give you an idea what is involved.

      1. Your itinerary for 2022 has been a remarkable one with such diverse experiences like hiking in Aosta Valley and Liechtenstein, the caves in Uzbekistan, the leaning tower of Pisa in Tuscany and road trip across Gibraltar, monasteries of Armenia and exhibition in Switzerland.And great to know you enjoyed some Indian food in Berlin.

  6. Great wrap-up, you were VERY busy in 2022!

    It was a pleasure meeting the two of you early in the year and hopefully our paths cross sometime in 2023. Congratulations on the pickup in the guidebook business, I hope it’s a good year for you both 😉

    1. Dear Frank, thanks for stopping by. Yes, travel business is picking up again. We have already scheduled more work thant we want to for next year – but I guess this is a good thing.

      1. Wow 200 out of 365 nights! You travel a lot! And that’s why you have guidebooks snd guided tours. Are you based in Europe?

  7. It was great to read about how much travelling you did in 2022. It sure was great to be back on the road again. Even if we did zero nights in tents! You had some amazing outdoor experiences. And tasty treats too. Sounds like 2023 is shaping up to be interesting.

  8. I loved reading your review – so many different beautiful places. I’d be most interested in the ‘Stans’ – I believe that’s still a quite untouched region, however, I’m a bit hesitant going there by myself as a female solo traveller and not speaking either their languages or at least Russian… But you totally got me with Armenia! I was already amazed reading your post on this monastery hike, but the picture in this post….incredibly beautiful!

  9. You have had a fantastic year full of extraordinary journeys and adventures. I’m impressed with your climbing experiences in the El Chorro area. Also, hiking in the Italian Aosta Valley and Liechtenstein is the perfect trip for me. I wish you all the best in 2023, and realize all your traveling plans.

  10. What a wonderful year of travel you had! I would love to see Uzbekistan one day, it looks so fascinating and the history is rich and not as known as other countries. I’m also hoping to visit Japan, fingers crossed!

    1. Dear Lisa, Uzbekistan and Japan are two wonderful countries. As you know we write guidebooks about both of them. So if you go and have any questions, we are happy to answer them.

  11. What a fantastic year of travel, you’ve given me more inspiration to go back to spain for some climbing (I love it there but haven’t yet made it to Andalusia for a climb) and I would love to head to hike in armenia. We also managed to get to Aosta this year for a hike up to Mantova Hut from Staffal.

    1. Dear Nicole, how nice! Most people do not know where Aosta is – and I think it is such an underrated region! We will go back for sure – there is another long-distance trail in the are we have set eyes on. El Chorro is one of the big climbing areas in Spain and it really offers climbs for all grades. Bolting is also fantastic in most places.

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