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Helene’s Best of 2017 Review and Link Up

You know in school when you had the write the date on the top of your paper? Whenever a new year rolled around you had to keep erasing to write the correct year. I feel like I just got used to writing out “2017” and now it's already 2018. BUT HOW?! Since I've moved abroad time seems to be in some weird kind of warp. I feel like I have been here for 5 minutes and other times it feels more like 5 years. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

One of my favorite things to do each year is reflect on the good and the bad. I hope you'll join me and feel free to link up your post below!

I already reviewed my best blog posts, best books to read, and best photos. This post is going to focus on blog stats, travel, and personal life. I'm also laying out my goals for 2018. So, let's take a look back.

Best of 2017

Travel by the numbers

I visited over 85 cities and traveled to 17 countries in 2017. That's the most traveling I've ever done in my life. I'd say I'm slowing down in 2018 but that's not the truth at all. We already have a month of travel planned within the first 3 months of the year! I was named one of the most traveled bloggers of the year.

Want to see where I went? Sure. Let's list it out because this is a review after all.

Bern, Switzerland
Zurich, Switzerland
Innsbruck, Austria
Hohenschwangau, Germany
Paris, France
Speyer, Germany
Mosbach, Germany
Strasbourg, France
Nuremberg, Germany
Munich, Germany
Rome, Italy
Vatican City
Venice, Italy
Pisa, Italy
Florence, Italy
Stuttgart, Germany
Vienna, Austria
Salzburg, Austria
Hallstatt, Austria
Dublin, Ireland
Kilkenny, Ireland
Kinsale, Ireland
Killarney, Ireland
Dingle, Ireland
Ennis, Ireland
Galway, Ireland
Sofia, Bulgaria
Rila, Bulgaria
Schwtzingen, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Hannover, Germany
Éze, France
Manchester, England
Liverpool, England
Rothernburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany
Milan, Italy
Como, Italy
Bellagio, Italy
Mento, France
Monaco
Villefranche, France
Valboone, France
Gourdon, France
Antibes, France
Lyon, France
Nice, France
Mougins, France
Cannes, France
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rotterdam, Netherlands
The Hague, Netherlands
Den Bosch, Netherlands
Boom, Belgium
Frankfurt, Germany
Ellmau, Austria
Kitzbuehel, Austria
Bilbao, Spain
San Sebastian, Spain
Hohenzollern, Germany
Zoll, Austria
Ibiza, Spain
Formentera, Spain
Bad Dürkheim, Germany
Copenhagen, Denmark
Malmö, Sweden
Zillertal, Austria
Capri, Italy
Positano, Italy
Sorrento, Italy
Amalfi, Italy
Ravello, Italy
Sasbachwalden, Germany
Bucharest, Romania
Sibiu, Romania
Ciocanesti, Romania
Sibiel, Romania
Brasov, Romania
Sighisoara, Romania
Glasgow, Scotland
Weinheim, Germany
Basel, Switzerland
Lucerne, Switzerland
Colmar, France
Baden-Baden, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic
Maastricht, The Netherlands
Liege, Belgium

I have a LOT of writing to do because I still haven't written posts about more than half of these places. I'll find the time, some day.

Best of Travel

Best Trip

My favorite trip had to be Rome, Florence, and Venice. Michael planned the absolute perfect itinerary (you can see it here) and I felt like we did each city justice, and then some. We ate gelato every day (okay, more like twice a day), basked in the gorgeous history and architecture, and walked more steps than I thought humanly possible.

The most surprising trip was to Romania in the Fall. I spent 19 days traveling through the country and found it to be absolutely gorgeous. I hope to go back again soon to see even more.

Funniest Memory

We stayed at an Airbnb outside of Munich for Oktoberfest. When we arrived down a dark alleyway the cab wouldn't go forward so we walked the block or so. The host and her husband greeted us with minimal English but very large smiles. After showing us the room (complete with microwave, refrigerator, and hot plate inside the room) they invited us down to our cellar. I was kind of nervous as we kept going down it kept getting darker. But it turned out to be a room they converted into a bar with string lights, a projector TV, and a music area with keyboard and microphone. After they invited us to have a beer with them at midnight the man told us he was a musician. Naturally, he started playing “I'm dreaming of a white Christmas” on the keyboard. Remember, this was September! You just can't make this stuff up.

Best Hotel

Traveling to 85 cities means I stayed in LOTS and LOTS of hotels. But I had to pick two because they just blew me away with their level of customer service, location, and overall ease of use. Many times, I find that hotels try too hard to be beautiful, then severely lack in function.

I know exactly what I like in a hotel and those are pretty simple: good location, quiet, friendly staff, good bath products and soaps, a blow dryer, a robe (this may be a little bit odd but hey, I like what I like), and a good breakfast.

Two hotels that totally nailed this were Canal House in Amsterdam (see my review and tips on Amsterdam here) and Golden Key in Prague (see my review and tips on Prague here.)

Canal House had a sophisticated elegance, an incredible view, and some of the friendliest staff I've ever come across. The room was plush purple velvet, serene, and the bed was huge and soft. Also, the shower was like a dream.

Golden Key hotel in Prague was quaint and lovely with just the right amenities. The director of the hotel went above and beyond to tell us more about Prague and had an infectious enthusiasm about this beautiful hotel. I felt like we had our own private apartment with the benefit of a hearty breakfast each morning.

Helene in Between by the numbers

The blog had its best year ever with more pageviews than I've ever had before. I hit over 1,500,000 page views (half a million more than last year, this is how I think I grew my pageviews). I really tried to focus on my content this year and hoping to hit 2 and a half million next year.

Instagram

I hit a milestone on Instagram: I received over 1 million likes this past year! I definitely upped my game with a new camera and editing my photos. Photography has become a huge part of my blog and something I really enjoy.

This year, my Instagram grew the most it's ever before. I more than doubled my Instagram following and my Instagram really helped me land travel and hotels. (I have a whole post here on how to leverage your worth in order to get sponsored travel). My favorite Instagram posts were definitely some of the above, but I had to pick two not featured. One of me, because I'm a blogger and Instagrammer and that's what we do, and one of my favorite scenery shots.

A little background on this shot: Michael told me about this lake in Austria and said it's known to be one of the clearest. I thought sure, but how clear can a lake really be? Turns out: crystal. It was absolutely stunning. Despite the scenery, Michael and I got into a little tiff right before taking this photo. So when he took this shot I was actually looking away in anger. But I liked the way it turned out! If you look closely you can see I'm definitely not smiling.

One of my favorite photos (and moments) was when my parents came to visit and we headed to the Black Forest. We didn't have much of a plan, just drove around to see the Christmas Markets in Baden-Baden and grab some Black Forest Cake. We made our way up the mountain at sunset and discovered this beauty! We were all in awe we just parked the car and watched it go down.

I have lots of posts on growing your Instagram, check them all out here. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram @heleneinbetween.

Last year I started the group Boost Your Blog on Facebook. Now it's grown to over 30,000 members! I'd like to think it's a bit different from other groups out there since there are only limited rules and opportunities to meet people and share your blog posts. Many posts went “viral” from others who shared and interacted with the community.

Things I didn't grow: I did an abysmal job of growing my own Facebook page. Next year that's going to be a main priority for me.

Favorite song

If you know me, you know I absolutely love Electronic Dance Music. One of the best trips we took this year was to my favorite festivals Tomorrowland in Belgium. We got to see all my favorite DJs in the absolute best setting. My favorite song this year is without a doubt Martin Solveig's “All Stars“. We saw him perform on stage at Tomorrowland and it was one of my best memories this past year.

Runners up:

Ed Sheeran's “Shape of You

Cash Cash “Matches

M1, Press Play Remix “Emotions

Axwell and Ingrosso “More Than You Know

Highlights From 2017

I wrote a book on Instagram. I wanted to write a book documenting how to beat the often elusive Instagram algorithm and how you can use your own skills and images to grow on Instagram.

My parents came to visit. My mom came in January and both my parents came this past December. We went aroubd Germany, France, Switzerland, to Prague and Vienna.

Millie and Hugo did their fair share of traveling too. They went around Germany , Austria, and to Strasbourg, France. We bought a car this past year which was a big bonus and helped make our life much easier. Living abroad isn't always easy, but this really helped add to our enjoyment and finding hidden gems in Europe. I also wrote about what I've learned about Germans since living in Germany. It's definitely very different than living in America.

This might not sound like news to you, but for me, it was a big deal. I gave up Diet Coke (aka Coca Cola Light in Europe). I've done it once before for six months. Let's see how long it will last this time!

We were on TV! House Hunters International documented a small part of us trying to find a place to live in our home Heidelberg, Germany.

Michael and I got settled into life abroad and explored more around our own city. It crazy to see the number of castles and history just right around us. After living in Heidelberg, Germany for over a year we still think it was the perfect choice.

Goals for 2018

Grow my pageviews to 2,500,000 (that'd be an additional million from this past year) by posting more detailed posts.

Work on my app. I feel like I have a promising app idea that will hopefully help bloggers grow in a major way.

I'd also like to focus on Facebook and really make an effort to see more interaction.

Travel plans are to visit Croatia, Iceland, Portugal, and really anywhere I haven't yet been in Europe. Greece is on the list too!

Now that I gave up diet coke I really want to start working out more regularly and continue to lose weight. I'm hoping to be at my goal weight by December of next year.

To end the year I'm wrapping up my giveaways with a $100 and a chance to win a one on one session with me to grow your blog and Instagram (worth $1500!). Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link up your year in review (or any review posts) below!

 

Helene in Between

Comments

What an amazing year! Congrats on all your successes, both personal and professional. My husband and I traveled quite a bit in 2017 too, although not as much compared to you! We stayed within the US, but we managed to visit:

Tampa, FL
San Antonio, TX
Orlando, FL
Los Angeles metro area, CA
New England (Boston metro area and lots of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont)

Plus lots of cities in Georgia (where we live), South Carolina (where I’m from and my dad lives), and Ohio (where my husband is from and his family lives). Just for Christmas break in Ohio we spent time in Bluffton, Findlay, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus!

2018 will definitely include more travel, including two weeks in Japan! Neither of us have been anywhere in Asia, so this is a big deal for us. Tampa will hopefully happen one more time before our friends move, and Orlando will probably happen again if my husband’s job sends him to the same conference as last year. I also want to visit New Orleans and Asheville this year.

Oh wow, what a year! You’ve achieved so much! I recently joined Blog Boss Babe and am so excited to get back into blogging after some time off feeling unmotivated. Thanks so much for all the materials and inspiration you provide 🙂

Yes! Croatia and Iceland have both been two of our favourite trips over the last two years – you’re gonna love it! You should also go check out Morocco – it’s not Europe, but it’s super close! We are moving to Berlin and looking forward to explore Germany via all your awesome recs 🙂

You had such an amazing year, Helene! This is probably going to sound super cheesy, but I’m so glad to have been part of it in a small way as a spectator. You’ve been to so many beautiful places and done so many cool things, and you’re such an inspiration. I love how honest you are and how willing you are to help people and share your experiences and knowledge. I’ve been living vicariously through you, and I hope someday soon I’ll be in a position financially (and mentally) to be able to do some of what you do.
PS: Shape of You was one of my favourite songs of the year, too. I just want to get up and dance every time I hear it!

~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

My husband and I were just brainstorming locations for our vacation that’ll be in December. We narrowed it down to Croatia, Portugal, or Greece – so I’m really excited to see and read about your experiences going to those places this year. Hopefully you can help us decide. 🙂

So many cities in so little time! What an adventure! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do this year! I did a 2017 Review and you can read it here: https://www.thenatalog.com/single-post/2018/01/03/The-Rewind-Best-Photos-of-2017

YAY CROATIA FINALLY!! My faaaaaavorite place – I’m planning to go this year again for what will be our third visit. Just so much love for the Balkans 🙂 Loved this year in review post. 2017 flew by, but it’s crazy to think about how much happened in just one year!

I’ve just discovered your blog and am excited to read your posts, especially about Germany as I’m living here at the moment too. Have you visited Hamburg? If not, you should as it’s a very fun city 🙂

OMG so many places you’ve visited – I LOVE it! And the Italian trip is just like mine in 2016 so it brought so many beautiful memories… Rome, Venice and Florence are all so gorgeous and amazing. I hope 2018 is going to bring you even more lovely places and great memories <3

With kindness,
https://gentileame.wordpress.com/

Wow! What a year you’ve had! You’ve been to so many places and to see such success with your blog, it’s so inspiring! My next big trip will be Italy, so it makes me so excited knowing that was your favorite trip! 🙂

McKenzie
thrivergirl.com

I am absolutely dying over this recap. I of course followed along for the whole thing, but laying it out like that just blows my mind. You two set your mind to travel the world, and you’re really actually doing it. How many people can really say that?????? Get it girl, I’m so proud of you.

Your 2017 sounded great! I hope you reach all your goals of 2018!

Laila from Townhouse Palette

What an awesome year for you!! I hope Iceland makes it in 2018:)

Wow, Helene, look at you! You totally owned 2017! This was a hefty read, but inspiring just the same! Congratulations, and I hope that you achieve all your 2018 goals (and then some)!

“Shape of You” is STILL my jam. That whole album is fantastic. Can’t wait to see where you go in 2018!

Sounds like an amazing year! I’m so glad I got to follow along on Instagram through all your adventures!

Sounds like its been a paw-fect year! Would love to hear more about your travels in Europe with Millie and Hugo too!

Absolutely incredible year girl! And how stunning is that shot of the lake in Austria <3

Green Fashionista

I have loved following along on all of your adventures, Helene! I can’t wait to see what 2018 will be like for you.

Congratulations!! That’s so awesome. It’s always so inspiring to see people doing what they love and making a living at it! Keep doing you, in the most non cheesy way of saying that.

Ninette Axelson-Dean

Do you recommend making contact at travel shows? There is one in DC I wanted to collect names and cards to make contacts afterwards.

Ninette Axelson-Dean

Love the post. You’ll love Iceland it’s like nothing you have ever seen. You can rent a camper and tour the whole island on your own see Happy Campers.

Great post and tons of info. My brother in laws went to Croatia this year and loved it. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on your trip.

What a great year for you! I love, love, love, all of the travel. That lake picture with the dress is so pretty and I love the backstory. Cheers to a new year! Sierra~Beautifully Candid

That photo of you in the lake with the flowing dress is one of my favorites from this year – so funny to hear the story behind it!

Here is my year in review! Not too bad for my first year. 2018 is all about increasing sales and growing pageviews! http://www.learninglotuses.com/best-of-2017/

I love all your photos, Helene! Congrats on all the wonderful things of 2017!!
-Little Lion, STSI | Many Stories | Two Authors | One Website

I am really excited to see what the APP is all about!

Wow! What a great year for you! So good that you were able to achieve all these amazin things. I feel inspired to try new things this year too.

Ohh, Iceland! That’s on my bucket list too. We’re heading to Ireland in February and I plan to write about our travels. Love that country so much! Cheers for a great 2018!

What a year! I don’t know how you managed to do all of that travel and get so much work done at the same time, but you did it! Super impressive. I hope you have a wonderful 2018! Can’t wait to follow along.

sounds like a great year! love following along

I love hearing about your favorites from 2017! Congratulations on your blog’s growth – it’s been so great seeing it exponentially grow over the past few years, and how exciting with all the travel you’re doing! Hope you had a wonderful New Year and woohoo for 2018!!!

You had such an amazing year! I love looking through all of your photos and pretending I’m traveling with you!

Helen I just wanted to let you know that on your rafflecoptor giveaway the tab asking to follow you on Facebook connects to your Pinterest account. Thanks for the opportunity, I’ve been following all your accounts for some time and I’ve taken your course and seen tremendous growth from it. Thanks for always being an inspiration and cheers to a new year!

Awesome post, still living vicariously through you! Your writing and photography is so inspiring, I hope I can make it to Europe one day. Good luck on the app, I can’t imagine the kind of work that goes into something like that!

I’m excited to check on Golden Key. I think it’s going to end up being a really great find in Prague! I’m excited to hear about Croatia and Greece, too. Both are on my list, though I’m pretty sure that only Croatia is on the husband’s list… so we’ll see what the compromise looks like! I love Italy. There’s no getting around it. I’ve yet to have a bad trip to Italy.

I can’t wait to follow along with all your adventures in 2018!!

What an amazing year for you! I loved the story behind the Austria lake photo. Haha!

I love this Helene! I’m loving everybody’s years in review! You went so many places this past year! I’ve loved reading the blog throughout!

I hope you’ve had a great Wednesday!
Michael
https://www.mileinmyglasses.com

You’re going to love Portugal. When you’re in Lisbon, stay in the Chiado neighborhood. Hotel Borges is fabulous! Amazing location too! Porto is also a great city! Enjoy! We ate our weight in Pasteis de Belem. YUM!
Thanks for the opportunity to link up. 🙂

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