2015 was a great year for me in terms of travel.
My travels brought me to two continents, seven new countries and many new cities.
While I love new stamps in my passport (which I also had to get a new one once I got home from Europe in June), travel isn’t about how many countries I can cramp into a short amount of time. It’s about the people I meet, the history I learn, the delicious food I try, and the memories I make and the lessons I learned along the journey. And I certainly made quite a few of them this year.
My 15 Favorite Travel Moments of 2015
Breathless in Meteroa
While Greece is famous for its islands and sunsets, Meteora is a the true hidden gem of the country. It’s hard not to fall in love with Greece with its friendly people, beautiful landscapes, and ancient history. I loved Athens and the islands I visited, but it was Meteora that made me fall head-over-heels in love with this charming country. How can you not be left speechless watching the sun set over the 1200-foot sandstone pillars with centuries old stone monasteries built atop of them?
Meeting New Travel Friends from Near and Far
I’ve met some of the most amazing people while traveling. While we all live across the globe and rarely see each other now, my travel friends are some of my closest friends because they understand the mindset of a traveler. From meeting a hometown friend in my Athens hostel to my Kiwi and Aussie friends on my sailing tour to the California girls I drank beer with at Delirium in Brussels to my new German friend who spent two days road tripping around Iceland with Hiliary and I, I’ve met some pretty great people I hope to visit during my adventures around the world in 2016.
Sailing the Saronic Islands with MedSailors
I’ve always wanted to sail the Greek Islands and I finally able to find a budget-friendly option with MedSailors. Not only did I meet a yacht full of crazy kids, ate delicious food, and drank a copious amount of alcohol, I got to re-learn how to sail again and enjoy the fresh salty air on the Mediterranean Sea. I’m already planning Turkey 2017. Who wants to go?
Seeing the Glacial Lagoon in Iceland
Just like Meteora, the Glacial Lagoon was the shining star of my travel destination. I had seen pictures of this magical place from another travel blogger and knew that I just had to go there. Thankfully it wasn’t hard to convince Hiliary that the 5 hour one-way drive was worth it. I don’t think I’ve been more excited to see something in my life then when I set my eyes on those mini-icebergs.
Falling in Love with Charleston, South Carolina
I love Maine. Maine will always been home, but I’ve always felt that I should have been a Southern Belle. The South is a place I’ve been slowly starting to explore and it’s a place that I yearn to call home someday. Charleston, South Carolina has been a city I’ve dreamed of visiting but always put off because I didn’t want to be disappointed. But, let me tell you, Charleston does not disappoint! Now only if I had a few millions bucks lying around to buy a centuries old mansion south of Broad….
Feeling at Home in Budapest
Do you believe in gut feelings? Despite considering myself logical, I firmly believe in going with your gut instinct. I’m not exactly sure when and how, but Budapest just felt like home. I only spent little over 48 hours in the city of baths, but I could have easily spent a lifetime there. Someday I plan on renting an apartment in the city for a month or two and pretend to be a local.
Eating the World’s Best Chocolate in Brussels
I love chocolate. And I love Belgium beer. While Brussels felt like just another big city to me, I loved stuffing my face with chocolate, waffles, fries, and drinking delicious Belgium beer. I’m impressed I didn’t gain any weight during my short stay in the city, but I did pay dearly on the flight home. If you find yourself in Brussels, definitely buy chocolate from Mary Artisan Chocolatier. I still can’t get over the pure amazingness of the truffle champagne rose.
Visiting the Bone Church in Kutna Hora
You can’t go to Prague without taking the train to Kutna Hora to see the famed Bone Church. Built with over 40,000 bones, the church is a unique and eerily place to spend an hour.
Saddling up an Icelandic Horse
Iceland is home to its own breed of horse with a unique 5th gait called the tolt. As someone who grew up with horses, riding an Icelandic horse in Iceland was obviously a must on my Iceland trip. While it was expensive and the tour group was way too big, I had a great time nonetheless. Being in the saddle is like going home.
Getting Lost in Prague
Prague is an enchanting city filled with winding cobblestone streets, Gothic architecture, and a thousand spires. It’s definitely becoming much more touristy now, but it’s hard not to resist the charm of this Eastern European city. I enjoyed waking up before the hungover American tourists and exploring the Old Town that led me to getting lost on several occasions.
Climbing the Pyramids in Teotihuacan
Mexico City was a spur of the moment trip based on a cheap flight deal that I couldn’t resist. I had never been to Mexico before so why not start with the capital city that most people avoid because it’s “dangerous?” Mexico City is a fascinating place to visit, but it climbing the great pyramids of Teotihuacan that was the highlight of my visit to the DF.
Photographing the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC
Washington, DC is one of my favorite cities in the world and one that I will probably call home at some point in my life. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years, especially in college, in the city, but always missed out on the National Cherry Blossom Festival. With my impending Great Escape coming up, I knew 2015 was the perfect year to go. And, I lucked out that the April weekend I picked just happened to be peak weekend.
Sampling Delicious Food
I like food. I mean, who doesn’t? I don’t consider myself to be a foodie at all, but I really appreciate good food. I got to participate in a food tour in Athens and in Mexico City which opened my eyes to a whole world of new foods. From poutine in Montreal to olives in Greece to goulash in Budapest. My taste buds were pretty happy!
Road Tripping Around Iceland in Sputnik
Hiliary and I decided to rent a car during our time in Iceland to explore everything we wanted to on our own time instead of taking tours. It gave us the flexibility to drive five hours one-way to the Glacial Lagoon and to relax in the Secret Lagoon over the course of three days. We rented a car through the very budget-friendly SADcars and we named him Sputnik. Despite is tiny engine and rusty appearance, Sputnik was a real champ.
Reuniting with my Azores Family
A long, cold and snowy weekend in Montreal brought a poutine-filled reunion of my Azorean family that I met in November 2014. All but one of us made the long weekend adventures where we drank cocktails in a speakeasy, ate our fair share of poutine, got cultured in art at the Museum of Art, and relived our Azores memories over some beers. I’m always thankful for these people that I don’t see very often. Until next time kids!
2015 was a great year of travel that brought me all over the East coast of the US, Eastern Europe and Mexico City. And, in only a few short days I’m about to begin the adventure of a lifetime that I have been carefully saving and planning for over the past three years – my Great Escape.
Here’s to many more adventures in 2016!