I’m not going to lie…I won’t be sad to see 2013 go. While it was a decent enough of a travel year, non-travel parts were “meh.”
As is customary, I’m doing my 2013 travel roundup although as opposed to past years when I simply pointed out the places I had been, this year I decided to show the “highlights.”
But here’s a quick list of all the places I traveled to this year:
- Washington D.C.
- Holland, Michigan
- Montreal, Canada
- Kentucky Bourbon Trail
- Hawaiian island of Oahu
So I visited two new American states, a new Canadian province, and a new Hawaiian island (there are eight in total in case you didn’t know).
Most disappointing: None of the places I visited this year were disappointing; however, the drive to Holland was a bit long (around seven hours) for what it was. I’m glad I went but I think it would be a more incredible spot if it was a three hour drive or less. When you drive for that many hours you want pure awesomeness…not, “oh this is nice.”
Hottest destination: Although Montreal was a lot hotter than I thought it would be, Oahu was ghastly hot. There wasn’t a lot of humidity (thank god or that would have been miserable), but when we visited Maui a few years ago and only a month later than when we were visiting Oahu, I was amazed at the difference in temperatures. Daily temperatures were in the high 80s/low 90s but the intense sun made them feel even warmer!
Pleasant surprise: Montreal happened because I had run out of time to plan a more elaborate and exotic long weekend trip somewhere. Although we had to connect, both flights from Pittsburgh to Montreal were only an hour each making it pretty easy of a trip (waiting through immigration lines at Toronto’s airport was another matter). While many people I know had raved about Montreal, I was slightly lukewarm, this perhaps attributed to my only speaking beginner’s French. However, Montreal was truly a lovely place with a simply fabulous culinary scene (more on this below) and a true sense of feeling like you’re in a foreign country (if you think Canada is “America junior” travel to the province of Quebec and you’ll how inaccurate that statement is). I’m really hoping that I can make it to Quebec City for Christmas next year although I’m sure Montreal is equally fabulous during this time.
Friendliest people: People in Midwestern states are known for their pleasantness and kindness to complete strangers and people in Southern states are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality. So this distinction will go to both the people of Holland, Michigan and the people we encountered during our driving of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Best food: Prior to traveling to Montreal I had read that it is THE place to go to for great food and oh my, it definitely is. Between our terrific meals at a French and Italian restaurant, and poutine from a famous restaurant that we literally took a subway and bus to be able to try, I came home with such fond memories of la cusine de Montreal.
Best restaurant: When one has to leave Hawaii it’s a pretty sad day. But if you have a great final breakfast like we did at the Hula Grill which overlooks the pristine Waikiki Beach, it’s not AS bad (it’s still tough though). The food was just home cooked comfort and the views, one of a kind.
And for a close second if not tie, I loved our meal at Oyamel in Washington D.C. But that should come as no surprise since it is a Jose Andres restaurant after all.
Favorite experiences: I can’t pick just one here because with all of my trips I saw and experienced so many incredible things, each one extremely unique in its own right. So here are my top three and even these were hard to choose:
- Seeing the inside of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Montreal. The outside is plain but the inside, simply wow.
- Afternoon tea at the Westin Moana Surfrider. I have always wanted to go to a high tea and finally being able to experience this was a dream come true (the backdrop wasn’t too shabby either).
- Going down the sand dunes at Saugatuck State Park. In the Anne of Green Gables movie (the first one), there is a famous scene of Anne and Diana racing down the sand dunes on Prince Edward Island. Although Michigan isn’t exactly Prince Edward Island, it still was pretty cool.
I saw, ate, and experienced a ton of wonderful things this year. I only hope that next year is even better!
Where all did you travel to this year?