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2012 Travels in Review

I suppose all years can’t be banner ones when it comes to travel, especially when last year’s trips consisted of a visit to the incredible Biltmore estate, a long weekend spent in my favorite city (Chicago), a trip on one of Disney’s newest cruise ships, and a stay on the breathtaking Hawaiian island of Maui. Not to say that this year’s trips didn’t have their own unique charms and allure but with 2012 just about over, I can’t help but feel this year’s trips were slightly lackluster in comparison with those of 2011. However, when I have the following items to contend with, it’s not always as easy as booking and traveling somewhere.

Living in Pittsburgh means there are a limited number of direct flights available and so during the winter I will mainly travel only where I can fly direct to lessen the chances of delays and/or missed flights. Therefore basically I don’t do a lot of traveling in the winter. I’m also sadly not blessed with copious amounts of vacation time and as I am someone who likes to have events to look forward to all year long and not just at one point in the year, I don’t ever take vacations longer than one week. There are really few destinations that I wouldn’t want to see and while it may not seem like a predicament to some, on occasion this can be hard when actually needing to select a destination. But without further ado, a recap of this year’s travels:

Cleveland, Ohio: It took almost a decade of living in Pittsburgh (well, 10 years off and on living, four years of full living), to make it across the state line into neighboring Ohio. In case you can’t see the geographical irony here, Pittsburgh is literally only an hour away from the Ohio border. In February, D and I spent a long weekend in Cleveland, one of the state’s largest cities and home to the world famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We had some memorable meals, the best being a unique take on the ubiquitous grilled cheese sandwich and I was pleasantly surprised at the impressive collection found at the Cleveland Museum of Art. No, it’s not Chicago but with it being so simple to get to, I hope I can return again for another impromptu weekend sometime soon.

Omni Bedford Springs Resort: I love luxury hotels just as much as the next person but I don’t ever really stay at them too often due to their outrageous nightly costs. However, when you live two hours away from one with as much history and grandeur as that of the Omni Bedford Springs, there comes a time when you need to splurge a little and that’s exactly what I did one weekend in March. The hotel is the creme de la creme and what I loved most about it is that on the grounds and in its public areas, so much that you saw looks like it would have been exactly the same for visitors who stayed at the hotel more than 100 years ago. (It’s been functioning as a hotel since 1796.)  It’s truly one of the nicest places I have ever stayed.

Disneyland: I had only been to Disneyland once when I was five, so needless to say a lot had changed there since 1990. Although the Disneyland and neighboring California Adventure parks were insanely mobbed during the time we were there (I swear all of southern California was in attendance Memorial Day weekend), we still had a good time. A Disney vacation is never cheap and yet visitors are always provided with a quality experience between the rides, shows, and eating.

Portugal: One of my biggest regrets when I studied in Spain is that I never visited Portugal. I’m happy to say that I have now been to the “entire” Iberian Peninsula. Portugal was beastly hot, the Portuguese language sounded utterly foreign to my Spanish inclined ears and yet it was a stunning country, at least what I saw of it. As my previous two trips to Europe had been to northern countries, it was nice to be back again in southern Europe where things are decidedly different. In short, the food, sights, and people were all utterly memorable.

New York City: Well, my final trip of the year was a major dud thanks to an autumn storm and a subsequent flight cancellation. Although I still made it to New York City, it was an abbreviated trip and ended up consisting mostly of the primary purpose of traveling there which was to attend my brother’s wedding. Although I did get to visit two libraries, some of the other things I had planned had to be cut from the itinerary which was extremely disappointing. There’s no control on the external factors when traveling and although I’ve been so lucky for years now, I guess my good luck was bound to run out sometime. Hopefully this won’t happen again anytime soon.

(A mural inside the main branch of the New York Public Library)

I haven’t booked any trips for 2013 although I definitely have a few mentally planned out. This is partly due to the fact that when it comes to booking major items like plane tickets, I’m sometimes “gun shy.” It’s not that I don’t want to go but because unfortunately I subscribe to the “what if” mentality a bit too much. However, hopefully I’ll be making some hotel reservations soon so stay posted and happy travels!

For anyone reading this, where did you travel to in 2012 and what are your travel plans for 2013?

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    December 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    This reminds me I have to put my review post together. I am most jealous of your trip to NYC, I haven’t been since 1997 and my husband has never been.

    I’m an over planner, so I have our 2 big trips planned already including Tanzania!

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    December 24, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Ahh, I just wish the NYC trip could have been better (i.e. not been completely marred by the freak snow storm!). I always wonder how the major cities of the world compare to one another as I have never been to Sydney.

    Tanzania-all I have to say is wow! Hopefully I’ll get over my worrisome apprehensions and book something soon!

  • Reply
    ~Holly~
    December 25, 2012 at 5:48 am

    Julie, Happy Holidays!! Cheers to an amazing 2013 and more travels!! I’m trying to get a week at the end of Jan and into Feb for a quickie to Bangkok and hopefully Italy in the fall.

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    December 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Happy holidays to you too Holly and may 2013 be an amazing year! A quickie to Bangkok, no such thing when flying from the East Coast ๐Ÿ™‚ but it sounds awesome. And Italy, well nothing gets better than that!

  • Reply
    Katie
    December 30, 2012 at 4:29 am

    I’m like you. I have rough ideas of where and when I want to go but have trouble actually booking tickets until its almost too late. Fortunately the husband went nuts on flight purchasing one day a couple weeks ago, so we’ll definitely be going to Laos in January and Hong Kong for Chinese New Year.

    Don’t feel at all bad about just getting to OH. This native Ohioan still hasn’t been to PA except to drive through. I really need to remedy that.

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    December 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    That’s great your husband went on a purchasing blitz. And Chinese New Year in Hong Kong sounds amazing. I’ve only ever celebrated the holiday at restaurants in Chinatown.

    Glad to hear I’m not alone when it comes to my only recent visit to Ohio. I’ve only done Cleveland but would love to visit Columbus & Cincinnati too sometime. And yes, PA is cool. Pittsburgh not as much as my hometown of Philly but all have their own unique charms ๐Ÿ™‚

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