This is the time of year when everybody is making lists of the past year, before planning new ones for the year to come.  I don’t. I have stored all lists in a cupboard whilst being on xMas holidays.

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(Instagram, mindfull traveling on the train to Cologne)

I have read a multiple of 5 books last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any films at all in a theatre. There have been years when I would have quoted 60. I discovered a few new restaurants which I rated “top of the list”, 25 year old Klemens Schraml in The Omnia in Zermatt the best pick. With my partner I stole some time in between to watch a few drama series. Netflix did a great job with “The Crown”. Loads of money were poured in the production, but – above all, and this is moneyless – the real value was in the characters and how the actors depicted these historic figures. If loneliness had to be illustrated, the last episode would make a perfect case.

In the mean time I collected miles. Because  last year I traveled and traveled and traveled. 2016 brought me to places like Philadelphia, Warsaw, Bucharest, Despensar, Moscow, Kyiv, … and many other apart from the business as usual cities like Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome or Prague.

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(Instagram, Washington DC, Union Station)

This city hopping gave me the time to discover new places, or to get to know some of the earlier visited places much better. There is a lot to discover in between landing at the airport, getting in “the car”, having a meeting and finding a place to sleep.

These are in random order my top discoveries last year. Places to revisit in 2017.

COPENHAGEN

I have been to the Nordics several times this year, both for business and on holidays. Having been an Italy fan for many decades, these countries were a real discovery. Sweden, Finland and Denmark couldn’t be more different than the chaotic South of Europe. Stockholm is a very nice city. Super handsome people, friendly  but nevertheless a bit sophisticated.

My favorite in the North is definitely Copenhagen. They add the Bohemian style to this rich Norther culture, making their lifestyle urban chique with plenty of beautifull design and good food. Try Amass for a starter !

DUBLIN

Dublin is a city you easily skip because there are some many vibrant cities already in the Anglo Saxon countries. Dublin offers all of it but is more at a human scale. You easily feel at home here because people make you feel at home.

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(Instagram, Guiness brewery museum)

MILAN

Traveling has never been so easy and so cheap. Discovering new places brings you so many new experiences. And with each trip you come back a richer person. Unfortunately millions seem to pick the same places which makes me avoid cities like Barcelona, Prague and Rome, the city that was my first love on the Italy school trip when I was 18. In 2016 I fell in love with it’s sister Milan. It has all the flavor, culture, food and shopping that Rome has, but without the tourists.

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GENEVA

Brussels is where I dock. The place I will always come home to. But Geneva is where I live now. I have been hard on this city because I didn’t want to cheat on my Brussels and the first year when I arrived, I didn’t want it to become a part of me. But having lived all seasons now at least once, I really started to appreciate this rather small city, with stunning views on the mountains and the lake. If you don’t have to count the money, it is an easy place to live. A hub for expats like me who create themselves an international bubble.

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(Instagram, “sitting apart together”, near the Arve river in Geneva).

ANTWERP

Finally, yesterday I went shopping in Antwerp. I have been to this city plenty of times but I looked at it with fresh eyes. In my head I was already preparing this blog, when I realized I had to add Antwerp to the list. It could compete with many of the cities I like. It too has good food and shopping, plenty of new museums and a creative spirit.

I guess this is what I like most when I travel : it should be traditional, without change for many decades or centuries, leaving but the traces of the past. Or it should be forward looking, labs for my future life.

For now, Happy Holidays !

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