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I didn’t do a “Year in Review” post last year and wanted to start up this blogging tradition again
For me personally, 2019 was an epic year of travel. It was also a wonderful reminder on how truly fortunate I am to be able to go all the places I have and experience such incredible things still being (relatively) young. I know many people are not able to do all that I do and for that I am eternally grateful that I have the means, health, and most importantly, desire to do so.
I’ll speak more on this below but 2019 was also the year where I traveled solo after more than a decade of not doing so. Don’t get me wrong, on all of my past trips, I was always the leader, the planner, etc. But I always had someone with me. I hadn’t truly traveled alone internationally since my college days and it felt both empowering and invigorating to do so again. And at meals when dining out it provided the perfect excuse to read my book.
Favorite travel moments of 2019
So many to choose from. But some of my favorites-
-Having afternoon tea at the Ritz London to celebrate my 34th birthday
-The most incredible of beach vacations in Mexico’s Riviera Maya
-Visiting the Anne Frank House, a place I had wanted to see since I was a little girl
Worst travel moments of 2019
-Dealing with the British Airways pilot strike in September which meant I had to stay an extra day in Turkey at a horrible airport hotel. Thankfully I had some advance warning to prepare, but still.
-Losing a lot of money as a result of train cancellations and the nation-wide strikes in France which started in December and made me completely change my travel plans. All in all, mentally speaking I did pretty well rolling with the punches and planning on the fly (something I tend to not ever do).
Before I go into the meat of it all which I’ll break down by month,
here’s 2019 in review by statistics:
Number of countries visited: 6
Number of new countries visited: 2
Number of (American) states visited: 3
Number of planes taken: 26 (I have to connect a lot…unfortunately)
Number of trains taken: 4 (Europe is to thank for this)
Number of books read: 43
Number of books written & published: 1 (more on this below in the month of May)
I had wanted to stay at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba Resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya for a long time and it did not disappoint in the slightest. It was an incredible place and it’s easy to see why it consistently receives such high praise and accolades. I certainly would return in a heartbeat.
Alas, a month with zero travel. The only thing worse is being in Pittsburgh in February…
I traveled to Disney World, a place I hadn’t been to since 2002. I will say that as someone in her mid-30s, I feel I’m over the whole theme park experience with the exception of culturally unique spots like Disneyland Paris or any of the Asian Disney parks which I’ve yet to visit. My favorite part was ambling around Epcot’s World Showcase and of course trying as many sweet treats as humanly possible.
I returned to Scottsdale, Arizona, one of my favorite places in the United States and still an area I hope to relocate to someday. I absolutely love the desert landscapes and am still as smitten as ever with the cacti. I didn’t do a whole lot but greatly enjoyed the pool at my resort. I also visited the Desert Botanical Gardens and had a fabulous meal at Cafe Monarch which is located in the Old Town. I highly recommend it.
No travel this month but my book, The Tears of Yesteryear, a work of historical fiction set in Pittsburgh at the turn of the last century was published! It was my first ever novel (my first book, Full Circle: Tales of Travel and Self-Discovery from Around the World was a collection of short stories). It was a great accomplishment for me (possibly my greatest ever). To everyone who read it and said or wrote how much they enjoyed it, those kind words mean everything to me.
Link to an interview I did on a local Pittsburgh radio station about The Tears of Yesteryear
I’ve (hopefully) made a new tradition where each year for my birthday, I travel somewhere. For my 34th birthday, I went to London. I chose it because it was someplace I hadn’t been to in nearly 15 years and also since Pittsburgh began direct service there back in the spring and I LOVE direct international flights. My entire time there was just wonderful (even with London’s to be expected rainy, gray skies). My favorite experiences (besides tea) were my truly memorable naan tasting meal at the LaLit and visiting beautiful and historic Oxford.
Made a quick weekend jaunt to New York City to visit my brother and his family. I also saw the musical about the Temptations (one of my favorite groups), Ain’t Too Proud to Beg and took a pizza-themed food tour in the West Village .
Had a very short but lovely time in Clearwater, Florida (another spot I hadn’t been to since I was a teenager). The weather was idyllic and the beaches absolutely breathtaking (and the water SO warm, which I love).
The travel month I had truly been waiting for, my trip to Turkey. I spent the bulk of my time in Istanbul, a city that I pretty much fell for in an exotic, loud, obtrusive, and colorful sort of way. But then also visited the fantasy looking landscape world of the Cappadocia region where I got to fulfill another lifelong dream of riding in a hot air balloon.
Favorite moments there were my private cruise on the Bosphorus…visiting the Gallipoli battlefield…and trying so many delicious Turkish foods.
Recovering from Turkey and planning for my next month’s unplanned, totally spur of the moment adventures.
For most of the year I had zero plans/intentions of visiting Western Europe again this year. But then after my Turkey trip, something I had been waiting to finish for MONTHS finally did and for the first time ever, I could do something totally spontaneous – make a big life change. So I did. I decided to go to Europe for almost a month. The plan was to attend language school in France (the southern city of Montpellier to be exact) and then do some weekend travel to other French cities I had never visited. Well, the language school portion didn’t work out quite as I had hoped and all my France travel plans turned into a big clusterf*&%. Coming to the firm decision that life is too short to be miserable for a second longer than you need to (and I’ve already experienced way too much of that in my 34 years), I decided to completely alter my travel plans and instead go to Amsterdam, a city for some reason I had never made it to before, and then Berlin.
As I mentioned above, I lost a bit of money I wasn’t able to recoup but I salvaged my trip and ended up having a much better time doing exactly what I wanted to do.
The Netherlands was extra special since it marked the 30th country I’ve visited.
I was still in Berlin for the first part of the month and loved seeing all of the Christmas decor and markets (there are SO many in Berlin). I lost even more money when I found out less than two days before that my flight from Berlin to Paris was being canceled as a result of the nationwide strikes that were paralyzing France (they started on December 5 and are still ongoing). I was originally going to fly to Paris to catch my flight back to the United States. In hindsight, I’m so glad I was able to avoid France altogether because for travelers then and now, it’s a nightmare, and also deal with one less flight. I just would have preferred to have done so without incurring that extra cost.
I forewent it last year but this year I got a Christmas tree, my first ever live one (as an adult that is). I love seeing it decorated with all the ornaments from my travels.
What’s up next?
I’m embarking on a huge adventure come February. It will involve me returning to a continent I’ve only been to once and not since 2004. I’m excited beyond words about it.
Also in 2020-I have some ideas on where I’d like to celebrate my 35th birthday…I also hope to finally do a Bermuda cruise, especially since I didn’t do any cruises this year. And I hope to do another mother-daughter trip next year too; I’m thinking somewhere in New England.
Where will your travels take you next year?