My 2023 Travel Superlatives

My 2023 Travel Superlatives

Call me fortunate because I feel very blessed that I was able to travel to 25 cities in 10 countries across 3 different continents in 2023! When I became a digital nomad back in 2022, I had no idea (or really no intention at the time) that I would embark on a journey that takes me around the world.

With my 2023 travel recap in mind, I thought I'd share some awards for best and worst in many different categories.

Here are my 2023 travel superlatives:

Favorite Destination: Grindelwald, Switzerland

Looking at two large mountains in Grindelwald, Switzerland

Switzerland totally lived up to the expectations I had for it, and Grindelwald was nothing short of magical!

While I didn't live in this destination, I just stopped in for a few days on a vacation, I still feel it was my favorite destination of the year.

From the center of town, you have access to many different mountains in the Swiss Alps. With the 3-day pass, the options to explore the region are nearly endless, so I recommend doing your research before you go to figure out what you want to see. You can't go wrong with anything you choose to do, but there is a lot of options.

During our vacation there, my friend and I had a hotel at the top of the town with the most amazing view of the city. But that came at the price of having to walk 20 minutes pretty much straight up a mountain to get from town up to where we were staying. Most of the time it was alright but it was honestly a miserable walk with our luggage.

There have been 2 countries at the top of my travel bucket list all my life - Italy and Switzerland - and both were even better than I could have dreamed of.

The entire country of Switzerland is purely magical. If I were to pick a country I traveled to as my favorite, I would also consider the winner to be Switzerland.

Least Favorite Destination: Catania, Italy

Might be controversial but... this one is more about the experience versus the actual destination.

Catania itself is a very beautiful destination, but I went during the Summer heatwave and had a miserable time. The temperature was above 100 degrees Farenheit daily, and some days reached over 110 and felt like over 120. It was so hot that the power cables melted, which caused the water to go off. So in the extreme heat, I didn't have running water for 4-5 days.

With it being over 110 degrees, it made it very difficult to get out and explore. I walked from shady spot to shady spot and avoided being in direct sunlight as much as I could. I stopped in a few coffee shops to try to cool off but some didn't have air conditioning, and a few gave out free water when they normally wouldn't.

One day I gave up on trying to explore, so I went to a restaurant and drink wine all day. 

I still think it's a very beautiful destination with lots of great things to do. I'd love to give it a second chance someday, but absolutely not during the brutal Summer heat.

Where I Would Consider Moving To: Bologna, Italy

Standing under an ornate portico in Bologna, Italy

I fell in love with this adorable little Italian city from the moment I arrived! Maybe it's because everything is colored in hues of red, orange, and yellow, but this place had such a charm that I couldn't resist.

I also loved the fact that is was smaller, narrow streets. I felt like I was getting a more authentic Italian experience than going to some of the larger cities. Traveling to destinations like Bologna and Pisa made me realize my travel preferences are to go to smaller towns and cities when I'm abroad, which is typically the opposite when in the US.

Best Sunrise Destination: Cancun, Mexico

I'm not much of a morning person, but I woke up every morning I lived there to watch the sunrise whether it was from my apartment or from the beach. Some mornings, I made my coffee and took it down to the beach with me (which occasionally turned into me spending a few hours at the beach). Other mornings, I enjoyed watching the sun come up from my kitchen with the ocean breeze blowing through my Airbnb (because I didn't have AC so windows and doors stayed open a lot).

The sun rose every day above the horizon, and the sky was painted in many different beautiful colors!

Best Sunset Destination: Zermatt, Switzerland

Colorful sunset over the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland

I still can't get over the sunset with the Matterhorn view! I've seen a lot of great sunsets in my day, and this one was truly magical!

After my friend and I finished hiking the 5 Lakes Trail down from Blauherd, we contemplated whether or not to spend the money to ride the Gornergrat Bahn up to the Matterhorn since we only had a few hours to explore.

The ticket to Gornegrat was totally worth every penny! We went to the Rotenboden stop as the sun started to set to see the reflection in the Riffelsee lake. As it got closer to the time the train was coming to take us back down the mountain, the sky gradually changed colors into the most beautiful sunset.

P.S. Make sure you make the last train back down though.

Best Hiking Trail & View: Grindelwald, Switzerland

Hiking from Eigergletcher to Kleine Schedigg in Grindelwald, Switzerland

My friend and I hiked from the Eigergletscher train station down to the Kleine Scheidegg train station, and it had amazing views every which way you looked during the entire hike. I'm sure there are tons of other great hikes in the Jungfrau region, but this one stood out to me of all the hikes I completed this year.

If I'm being honest, I can really only think of one hike in 2023 that I didn't enjoy.

Favorite Unit I Stayed In: Xlendi, Gozo, Malta

Standing on a balcony in Xlendi, Malta with the sun setting behind cliffs in the background

This unit was nearly perfect! It really wasn't necessarily upgraded or fancy, but it had incredible views of the cliffs in Xlendi and it had easy access to the sea where there were less crowds.

It also didn't have AC in the Summer heatwave, so that's why I say nearly perfect. 

Least Favorite Unit I Stayed In: West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I technically stayed in two places in Philly, but one of the one in West Philly takes the cake for least favorite, as the destination felt very unsafe for me there. I also booked it with the understanding that I had the unit to myself, but it was only a private room.

Favorite Beach Destination: Cancun, Mexico

I'm a sandy beach kinda gal and the beaches in Cancun were nothing short of incredible. The beach stretches for miles, and since it curves a bit, you can see all the way from the north end to south end. Towards the north end of the hotel zone, the sand was whiter and finer, and the waves were much calmer.

I just love a good beach destination, and this was one of my favorites.

Favorite Food: Italy

A bowl of pasta with tomatoes and a mushroom sauce paired with white wine in Domodossola, Italy

I'm leaving this one to the entire country because I can! Don't get me wrong, I love a good taco, but the pasta dishes I had all over Italy were *chef's kiss* so good — from trying Bolognese in Bologna to a mushroom sauce pasta in Domodossola to some delicious pasta that an Italian grandmother in Catania made with love.

 

2023 left me with so many great memories and experiences. I can't wait to see what 2024 holds!

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