2018 Year of travels in review | Chow Bella Travels

January 25, 2019

And just like that… With a blink of an eye, another year has come and gone. Each year that I get older, I find time goes by even faster. 2018 was a great year for me in so many ways. I visited countless new countries, got my first 10K followers on IG, met some amazing people, and best of all, made memories that I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life.

Laguna Beach, CA

With a year soooooo very full of adventures… I met it would only do justice to write a post recapping the amazing places my family and I were blessed to visit. From sunny California Beaches, all the way to freezing days in the snow in Romania, from sitting in a vineyard in Tuscany, to my nose being so frozen and cold as we are taking pictures by the Eiffel Tower in the freezing cold wind! We have had quite a full year of travels, so without further adiu… Here is my recap of my 2018.


Brasov Christmas market

The year began with a bang. No, seriously… 😉 The fireworks on New Years in Brasov, Romania brought us into the new year with such a beautiful display of spinning, bursting, whirling, and dazzling colors that lit up the night sky above the snow covered trees.


• Budapest, Hungary.

From our magical adventures in Romania, we took a train from Brasov, to Budapest Hungary. This was our first time visiting this enchanting city! I like how George Ezra puts it in his song… “Golden Grand Piano” as it is quite fitting to the city. I have to agree that the buildings, bridges, and details are all quite elegant and that of like a Golden Grand Piano!


• Vienna, Austria.

From Budapest, we then hopped on another train to a city we had long been dreaming of visiting… When you think of Vienna you think of Wiener Schnitzel, Classical composers, opera, Vienna Boys Choir, and so much history!! As you can tell, Austria’s capital, Vienna, Is very rich in music history and culture. That is one of the reasons I truly loved this city so much! As you know, I am a singer, pianist an artist, so being in the city where Mozart lived was a very magical feeling!!


• Prague, Czech Republic.

The infamous city of beer… They say Pilsner was invented in Prague. As my parents have always loved having unique beer that is good for your belly… (Germans, abd Irish have dark beer too that is said to be amazing for your health.) They have had an interest in visiting Prague and trying a beer bath. These baths are said to do wonders for your health, as the beer is able to enter your body through your largest organ… Your skin. They tout the benefits of the treatment to include the soothing effect on the skin, hair, and muscles, easing of muscle tension, detoxification, cleansing of pores, and the treatment of psoriasis, acne, and cellulite. It is really quite an interesting concept if you ask me! But, of course that is not the only thing the city is known for. Prague truly has some of the most interesting architecture, dishes, and culture I have experienced.

• Munich, Germany.

Ok, lets talk the best pretzels in the WORLD… I was so very impressed with the world famous German pretzels, they most definitely live up to their reputation. Of course, when you think of Germany I am sure you think of Castles, Beer, Preztels, and Cars perhaps. This country is truly one rich in history, culture, and a respect I don’t think I have seen anywhere else in the world. I am talking about their respect for the land and properties they have. We rented a car to go from Munich to the Neuswanstein castle, so along our drive we passed by countless homes, horse stables, and factories. Each one perfectly organized and well kept. Everything from pristine piles of wood, to there not being a single thing out of place. I really did not know this about Germany until we visited, yet, It was surely a pleasant surprise.


• Malibu, California.

After our wonderful Europe adventures, we came back to Los Angeles with our heads full of beautiful memories, bellies full of the best food, and our hearts full from the amazing moments with family. Living near the beach is such a blessing as we are able to visit whenever we want… We decided to spend the day in sunny Malibu and get brunch on the beach.

• Laguna Beach.

Staycations are honestly so much fun! Laguna Beach is truly the definition of California Beach Town to me! I totally love the laid back “Island time” vibes and crystal blue water that looks like you’re in Hawaii!! When we go to Laguna we have such a nice break from the “LA busy life” and get to totally just zen out! We spend sleepy afternoons on the beach in the sunshine, long walks up and down the beautiful Cali coast, and have brunch with the ocean right below us and the sound of the waves crashing as our music!


• I hit 10K on IG!

When I started my blog in Feb 2017 I had no idea what I was doing, or where it would go. I truly dived into this whole journey from my heart, hoping to inspire people with my travel stories and personal experiences! I had seen other Travel Bloggers & YouTubers and I had always dreamt of doing the same. Growing up, my parents flooded my sister and I’s little brains with the most incredible self-development, business, and inspirational books, people, and events. They taught us from day 1 that ANYTHING is possible in this world… ANYTHING!!! All it takes is a decision, believing in it, and action/hard work!! So, I have taken those skills and beliefs with myself in everything that I do. The confidence I have in myself is so strong, as I know that what I desire to do in my heart, is my purpose on this planet! Each of us were created unique, for a divine purpose! If we first love ourselves deeply and truly, we can then share that love with the world and inspire. Fast forward a year, and I officially had 10,000 people supporting me and my journey on my Instagram. I was in shock and so very grateful for the opportunities and blessings this whole journey has brought. As I write this now, It is Jan 2019 and my Instagram is almost to 20K followers. It is definitely not easy, and it truly takes hard work, determination, some sleepless nights, and an overall complete confidence in yourself. With that being said, it is all so worth it. I know this is truly in my heart and is a passion of mine. If you are doing something for the wrong reasons, or for false purposes you will get burnt out of the “hard work” and give up. But when you truly have a deep passion and drive to do what you are doing, you will do everything it takes to make it happen. For me my “why” drives so deep and inspires me to keep going every day. I wake up every day excited and ready to hustle to make my dreams a reality. I am grateful to be inspiring people daily! 🙂

• Olvera street.

California is known for its delicious Mexican food, as it is so close to Mexico… In Downtown Los Angeles there is a famous street that holds a lot of the history of the spanish settlers in LA. Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by Spanish pobladores (settlers), on a site southeast of today’s Olvera Street near the Los Angeles River… Today, Olvera Street is long, narrow, tree-lined street that was kept “to preserve and present the customs and trades of early California.” This street is a constant fiesta with marriachis, restaurants, and vendors.


• Boulder, Colorado.

Traveling to new places is always such an adventure… This one was especially fun as we had never been to Colorado before. We live in the U.S.A. and have been to a few states, yet there are so many we still have yet to visit. This was such a cool experience to visit Boulder. This town is so techy with lots of big companies there like google, apple etc… , active, and everyone was so nice! I actually haven’t had a chance to write a deticated post on Colorado yet… Coming soon. 🙂

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• Austin, Texas.

Texas is a big state here in the US!! It holds a lot of history and beautiful cities to discover! My sister and I went on a girls trip to Texas with our cousins an dhad a blast! It was HOT but so much fun! We made it better by swimming in natural springs and walking around the pretty shaded streets!

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• Nice, France.

With a few months in the US, it was finally time to get back to our favorite… Europe. We had been to France before, once on a cruise, and also for a couple of weeks going through the Champagne region a couple yeats before. I am sure you have heard of Provence… Provence is a region of France that boarders The Mediterranean Sea and Italy. It is known for its diverse landscapes, from the Southern Alps and Camargue plains to rolling vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and lavender fields. My family LOVES the old looking Provence arcitechure style that we try to copy here in the US. It was finally time to see the real deal in France. We packed up for a 3 week trip going all throughout the Provence region of France!


• Hawaii.

Tropical paradise for a week? Oh yeah, this was exactly what we needed. My sister and I flew out to Hawaii to stay with our cousins for a week. I am a beach girl at heart, so any vacation at the beach makes me so happy! We went hiking, surfing, took atv’s through the jungle, and went snorkeling with turtles!!


• Vancouver, Canada.

Canada has always been a dream of mine to visit as I have seen the most incredible photos and beautiful videos! We finally got to visit this stunning country as a first stop of our Disney Cruise. It was a wonderful Alaksan Disney cruise, my family and I love Disney cruises for the quality and wease of travel! I will be visiting Canada and Alaska again for sure as I loved them!


• Downtown Los Angeles.

Another fun area in LA to explore is DTLA. It is really gaining popularity nowadays with so many trendy restaurants, the staples center, and lots of cool museums. Los Angeles is full of so much to explore like, hollywood, Griffith Observitory, Malibu, and so much more


• Milan, Italy.

We headed back to Europe, and this time, to our FAV country, Italy!! My fam and I all have a very special connection to this Pasta loving country, so thid time we were staying for a month! We Starterd off in Milan, a city we had not yet visited. Milan was a very loud, busy, and trendy city full of fashion, business, and architecture that will make you cry… We had no idea we were flying into fashion week in Milan… (The bussiest time of year there.)


• Tuscany, Italy.

There really isn’t anything like lazy afternoons relaxing under the Tuscan sun… Sipping on local wine or grape juice in the vineyards, while you snack on some fresh grapes and cheese. Tuscany is one of the most relaxing places on this earth. I will forever return to these rolling green hills, leaning towers, and little villas.


• Lake Como, Italy.

Ahhhh, Lake Como… My new love. I seriously do not know how I have lived all these years without this place!?!? Everything about Lake Como is right out of a fairytale! As you take a ferry from one side of the lake to the other, the water just glistens in thr sunsine… There are birds flying over the water, fishing boats out, and on land people basking in the Italian sunshine with wine and a newspaper!


•Venice, Italy.

Venezia will always be one of my favorite cities. There is just so much beauty and mystery to a city that floats!! I could never get tired of wandering down canal after canal… Around ever corner, over every bridge, and through every alleyway there is something truly magical to discover.


Bologna, Italy.

This town is known for its meat delis, cars, and little streets. We love Bologna and we couldn’t help but visit again. We 1st visited when I was 8 and fell in love… Piazza Maggiore is a must visit location when in Bologna, it is the heart of town and full of life!


•Verona, Italy.

Romeo, Oh Romeo… Verona is known most as the home of Shakespeare’s classic love tragedy, Romeo & Juliet. The most popular things to do in Verona include, visiting Juliet’s Balcony, Seeing a production at the Arena Di Verona, and visiting Castelvecchio (we did all of these things in just 1 day!)


• Rome, Italy.

Ahhh, Roma. This timeless Italian city will always be close to my heart. I don’t know exactly what it is that makes this city so regal and charming… Is it the ancient ruins that date back to almost 500 B.C. ? Or the colosseum built in in 70 A.D. that could accommodate 87,000 people? Or the little streets with cobblestones and vines growing up the side of a building draping across a wire attached to the building across from it? Yes!!! It is all of those things that make you fall in love with Roma one by one.

• Disneyland, CA.

Growing up in California near Disneyland is truly such a blessing! My family and I started going to Disneyland since I was about 2 years old, and have been going ever since. This is definitely the most magical and “Happiest Place On Earth” as they like to say! It is a place full of fun, laughter, and thrill! You can just throw all your worries and cares away and live in the moment as your racing through a desert in a fast sports car, twirling upside down on thr big rollercoaster, or drawing one of the happy characters in the animation academy… Walt Disney once said, “Disneyland is not just another amusement park. It’s unique, and I want it kept that way.” The purpose of Disneyland isn’t to amaze or enchant. Yes, it does those things, but the purpose is to tell a story.


• New York, New York.

New York City is one of my favorite cities in this world! It makes you feel so inspired and grateful. I love the feeling of ambition and opportunity in the air! Everybody in NYC is chasing their dream. I love how when I turn the corner onto Broadway, I feel chills of joy and inspiration as I see the countless theatre’s and lights shining bright! I dream to perform in operas and In Broadway shows. And when I am there, I truly know all of my dreams will come true. The fact that I have the desire in my heart, means I am meant to fulfill it! I am meant to inspire people through accomplishing my dreams and spreading my passion and joy!! This busy city has so many incredible gems to discover… The Statue Of Liberty, Flat Iron Building, Times Square, Empire State Building, and sooooooo much more!

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• My Sweet 16.

For my Sweet 16, my family threw me the most beautiful winter wonderland party! I had the best time celebrating with my friends and family! As life goes on, I am learning, growing, and creating every day! It sometimes feels like a flash, and it sometimes feels incredibly slow. Yet, some of the most important things I have learned to this point in my life are…

• Change is the only thing that is constant in life. When we learn to go with the flow of change, all things will be much simpler.

• Always be true to yourself. We were created unique from every one else. You have different talents & goals. You were given a calling that is specific to you, and it is your job to to achieve the things that fill your soul with joy.

• You need to first love yourself in order to give love to others.

• There is no such thing as “good” or “bad”. It is not the black and white… It is always someone’s perception on the subject. You can see something as horrible, yet the person next to you sees it as a wonderful opportunity to learn!

• Las Vegas, Nevada.

Viva Las Vegas. This is a city my family and I have visited quite a bit throughout the years for business and fun! Vegas is not all “bad”… In fact, it has some of the most amazing food in the world! I truly love going to the Wynn, Bellagio, and The Venetian in Vegas and marveling in the beautiful, elegant decor!

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• Paris, France.

The city of love… I FELL IN LOVE WITH PARIS the first time we visit 3 years ago… It is truly any girls dream city. Its charm is undeniable in its tree-lined avenues and parks, bistros and cafés, and the effortlessly chic style of the Parisians. Everything is so elegant, romantic, and royal! Even the language is stunning, it makes you feel like you’re in some royal city! Don’t even get me started on the Parisian architecture… 🙈🙈 I could go to Paris any day to stroll along the Seine River at sunset, have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower, or explore the most charming streets in the world! We had a 9-hour layover in Paris before we headed to Budapest and then Romania for The New Year… So, we took this opportunity to get lunch at a bistro and see the Eiffel Tower.

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• Budapest, Hungary.

My hearts in Budapest… I think George Ezra describes Budapest perfectly I his song. He compares this city to a Golden Grand Piano. He is spot on. As you explore Budapest, you are enchanted by its elegance and beauty! I truly love this unique city that sits on the Danube. The Buda Palace has one of the most beautiful views out over the Danube across to the Parliment building!! We flew from Paris to Budapest and spent a few nights exploring this pretty city, before we headed to Romania to ring in the New Year!

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• Brasov, Romania.

Romania is a country close to our hearts… My father was born in Romania, he and his family came over to America in 1979 from communist Romania. Growing up, I have had very strong roots in my Romanian culture! It was always important for my family to keep the culture and traditions alive! We always have big family parties with all the traditional food & music! We have been going to Romania for the last few years for the holidays to go skiing and spend time with our family. Romania is one of the most underrated European countries in my opinion! This country has faced a lot of struggles getting out of Communism, and is just beginning to get its charm again!

WHEW… That sure was a full year of travels!! (And a lot to write about) I feel so grateful for the amazing memories my family and I made this year! I feel truly blessed to have visited all of those amazing places, and be able to share our experiences with all of you!! I look forward to this year of travels in 2019, and I look forward to the growth to come personally as well! As you saw, I have quite a few posts to finish up and publish, which will be happwning these next few weeks as I am home and have some time to put together lovely guides and tips for you!


Thank you all for the support in 2018 and to come!

Until the next adventure,

Bella Popa

AKA ChowBellaTravels

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  • Cameron January 25, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Wow! Bella, you had a fabulous 2018 and saw such beautiful cities all over. Looking forward to seeing where 2019 takes you!❤️