A one of a kind year, my 2016.

A year gone and I still can’t believe it. I still remembered when I was talking to my friend about moving to Europe and then, it happened. I moved. Here I am now reflecting on my experiences. Hands-down, it’s been one of the best years of my life. Here’s what I’ve done.

1. Lake Como, Italy: Como was the first trip I took upon arriving in Milan. I went with one of my roommates at that time who later became one of my good friends. Lake Como basically gave me a taste of what Italy had to offer and it was one very high expectation to begin with as Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/como-di-lago/
lakecomo192. Siena & Pisa, Italy: Moving to a new country was crazy but, also finding a boyfriend at the beginning of my move was crazier. Siena and Pisa was our first couple trip together of my boyfriend at the time.

I really liked how the city made me feel the history when I walked down the city center. I remembered standing in the middle of Piazza Del Campo looking around and thought how the architecture brought me back to the past. It made me feel like I was back in the olden days.

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/siena-italy-part-1/
https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/siena-italy-part-2/siena23. Pisa, Italy: Truthfully, it was ok. It’s good to see Pisa for a quick stop on the way back home to Milan or if you have time.

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/pisa-diary/pisa34. Verona, Italy: A romantic city. It’s a cute little town known for Romeo and Juliet but, to me the city is beyond that. I enjoyed having coffee, walking through the castle and eating at the city center. I think Verona is a city that I could live in. It’s small enough with plenty of things to see or do.

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/verona/verona85. Genoa, Italy: My first impression of Genoa was horrible. My boyfriend at the time took me to the downtown area and I remembered being scared. lol The area was run-down, all of the buildings were old and unkept. Then, there were prostitutes everywhere. I did not feel safe one bit even with a boyfriend next to me.

The 2nd time round we went to the beach side. That’s when I started seeing and realizing why many people tell me that it’s one of the most beautiful parts of Italy and I can see why.

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/genova-genoa-diary-part-1/
https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/genova-part-2/genoa-8051genoa-80566. Zurich, Switzerland: My first country outside Italy while studying abroad was Switzerland in Zurich. I didn’t know anything about Switzerland before visiting except hearing about how they’re known for their chocolates. Yes, their chocolates are delicious but, I grew to love Switzerland because dammit they have the most beautiful little towns I’ve ever seen in the world.

You’ll see Zurich in photos and think wow, this place is magnificent and then you’ll see it in real life with the same thoughts but with more wow effect. It was also the first time I was introduced to the Christmas markets that I later realized every European town had them.

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/zurich-switzerland-part-1/
https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/zurich-switzerland-part-2/zurich_day67. Berlin, Germany: My first visitor of the year arrived with full of requests. Berlin was one of the countries we had on the list. I think what I can take away from my visit is how far Berlin had come since The Berlin Wall history. It was the first place where I felt a drastic change has shaped a city. In a way it was sad but, powerful all at the same time.https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/berlin-germany/art38. Venice, Italy: A city that needs no introduction. Time and time again, Venice never looses its charm. It’s one of the most magnificent place in the world. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/venice-italy/venice89. Burano, Italy: An island that seems to be overlooked by tourists because of Venice. Although, you should really see it as it is only about an hour boat ride from Venice. I enjoyed getting lost and walking around these colorful buildings. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/burano-italy/burano2burano510. Nice, France: There’s nothing to complain about Nice except there’s so much to see and so little time. Nice reminded me of home in L.A. A laid-back beach town that made me want to slip on my sandals and relax.

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/nice-france-diary-1/
https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/nice-france-diary-2/

nice5
View from Chateau De Nice

nice411. Monaco, France: Talking about living large. It was cool to see how the rich lived. Fast cars, yachts and a whole lot of bling! https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/monaco-france/IMG_4027IMG_4087IMG_4100IMG_406012. Brussels, Belgium: The best architecture I’ve seen in a city center is definitely in Brussels. I literally dropped my jaw and awed for a few hours looking up at the Grand Palace in the middle of the square. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/brussels-belgium/IMG_4596 copy13. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Why wouldn’t we stop in Amsterdam? It’s a city that offers a lot in terms of food, job opportunities and leisure. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/amsterdam-diary/amsterdam1214. Santa Caterina Valfurva: My ex boyfriend spent a lot of time here during the winter months because he loved to ski. He brought me here one weekend to show his love for the mountains. The town is a picture perfect ski trip getaway. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/santa-caterina-valfurva/winter8815. Bergamo, Italy: It was an intense time of our school year with final exams looming around the corner. Things were a bit stressful and I remembered coming down with a flu. After getting better, I realized I needed to de-stress and decided to join my friends to go to Bergamo for the day. The city brought us sun and plenty of things to see and eat. It was my first time trying a polentine which is what they’re known for. I enjoyed it very much. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/bergamo-italy/bergamo9bergamo1716. Turino, Italy: A group of us decided this month to do a 1 day weekly trip to a new city. Turin was one of them and we got lucky that one of our classmates knew the city to show us around. Turin is one of the big cities in Lombardia. We spent most of our time roaming around the Royal Palace and enjoying the sunny weather at Monte Dei Cappuccini. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/andiamo-a-turino/IMG_5714IMG_561917. Bologna, Italy: Jam packed with students, this city brought plenty of activities for students, family and tourists alike. I was fairly surprised how the city had plenty of digital agencies which I thought was the 2nd best place to live after Milan for anyone who desired to work in the industry. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/bologna-diary/Bologna (26 of 42)Bologna (25 of 42)18. Lugano, Switzerland: If I could have it my way, I would live in Switzerland. Lugano is another cute little town in Switzerland. It was the first time I ever saw swans swim with people. A bit dangerous if you ask me but, hey who can blame them! The swans were gosh darn beautiful. Why not swim with them? https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/lugano-switzerland/lugano3lugano

19. Cinque Terre: You’ve all seen V on my blog posts. She was my travel partner in crime. She and I hopped together all over Europe whenever we could and one of the big travels we went on was Cinque Terre. V was awesome as a travel partner because she knew my style.

On this trip, she found a hotel near the train station which I thought was perfect. From there we hopped from Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso, Riomaggiore and Manarola. It was one of the most memorable trips that I could imagine.

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/cinque-terre-vernazza-diary/

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/cinque-terre-corniglia/

https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/cinque-terre-monterosso/
https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/cinque-terre-manarola/
https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/cinque-terre-riomaggiore/vernazza-8348vernazza-8368corniglia-8418monterosso-869220. Desenzano Del Garda, Italy and Sirmione Lake Garda: All this time I thought I had to travel far or spend a lot of money to go swimming at a lake. Little did I know there lies a cute lake near Milan. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/desenzano-del-garda-italy/https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/a-day-in-sirmione-lake-garda/

desenzado-9074IMG_926821. Paris, France: My 2nd visitor of the year arrived and she too had a list of places she must see. Paris was one of them. It had been my 2nd time visiting Paris but, I didn’t mind. It was as beautiful as the last time I’ve seen it. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/summer-in-p-a-r-i-s/IMG_9616-2-222. Basel, Switzerland: One thing I will remember on our 1 day trip in Basel was seeing the locals swim down the river. It was the first time I’ve ever seen people do anything like that but, I came to learn that it’s something that the Swiss does in the summer. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/a-day-in-basel/IMG_0278IMG_0221-223. Portofino, Italy: It’s cute, charming and absolutely stunning. Portofino was one town I heard of before my move to Italy and it sure lived up to all of my expectations. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/my-sweet-life-in-portofino/IMG_042824. Split, Croatia: If you ask me to name a country where I would spend my summer laying out at the beach relaxing it would definitely be here in Croatia. You can’t go wrong with Croatia, it’s an ultimate beach getaway. It’s one of the best memories I had this summer.  https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/dance-with-me-in-split-croatia/croatia_split2

25. Krka National Park: An hour ride away from Croatia this park had a cool factor.   https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/krka-national-park/croatia_krka2-3

26. Ibiza, Spain: What would my European trip be without a stop in Ibiza. V and I had a time of our lives beach hopping and partying. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/tanning-topless-in-ibiza-oh-my/ibiza-35-of-45

27. Mantua, Italy: A lot of firsts for me this year. Before arriving in Mantua Paolina and I missed our train ride on this trip but, luckily we had a ticket where we could take any train that we wanted to. Half hung-over and half awake, Mantua as I remembered it was authentic. The city center was declared in 2007 on UNESCO to be a world heritage site. Definitely not to be missed! https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/5-hours-in-mantua-italy/manrova-2-of-2428. Cremona, Italy: My friends and I came to celebrate together our end of the year in Cremona. We had just finished our final exams, we all passed and were ready to move on. In a way, it was also a place where we celebrated our friendship. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/playing-with-my-fingertips-on-a-string-in-cremona/cremona13cremona1829. Lecco, Italy: It was one of my last trips in Europe. We got very lucky with the sunset as it provided a beautiful backdrop of the mountains in Lecco. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/the-golden-hour-in-lecco/lecco5lecco430. Geneva, Switzerland: The best saved for last. V and I ended our European trip here in Geneva. Although, it was cold Geneva surprised us with a weekend full of activities. We got very lucky that we came during their annual festival because we saw many attractions that we wouldn’t see if we came another time in the year. https://astintabroad.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/twinkling-lights-in-geneva/geneva5geneva13geneva24My 2016 has been one of my best year. It will be difficult to top it but, as I’ve said many times traveling will always be something that I will do. I look forward to many more adventures in 2017.

Happy New Year!

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