12.29.2013

2013: My Best Traveling Year


I did this post last year, calling it a "Good Traveling Year." It was good! 2012 had taken me to 6 places I had never been before.

Little did I know, 2013 was going to smash that number. In the span of 7 months, I traveled to 5 countries and 18 cities, most of which I had never been to before! Whew! I honestly am going to dub 2013 the 'Best Traveling Year' of my life, because I don't know if I'll ever have the opportunity, time and energy to do it again later in my life. Being a student in London provided the best situation to accomplish insane amounts of travel (lots of free time and the best proximity to Europe).

Month by month, here's the breakdown:

January was by far my craziest travel month. I had overzealously booked 3 trips in January from getting *a little too* excited from cheap ticket prices from low-budget airlines. The first trip was Switzerland, where my friend Laura and I visited 3 cities:

1. Geneva: An easy city to fly into with great train connections to the rest of Switzerland. 

 Ritzy Geneva was a great introduction to Switzerland: clean and aesthetically pleasing with grand stone buildings, lakes and mountains surrounding us.


One of the funniest moments from this trip: staying in the attic of a couchsurfer, which was so freezing that we had to sleep in our winter gear.

2. Interlaken: Laura and I took the best train ride of our lives into the Alps, where we visited a charming, gorgeous city named Interlaken! 

Above is the Golden Pass train, one of the highlights of my Switzerland trip! This train took us to Interlaken through the gorgeous Swiss Alps. What was a 4-hour train ride felt like 10 minutes because every view was so breathtaking! I highly recommend the Golden Pass Railway. 



3. Luzern: The pretty little city in where I got to meet two blog friends! 



I absolutely love meeting blog friends, and Krystal even gave us a place to stay! I was also fortunate to meet Selma as she was visiting for the holiday break! 

4. Budapest, Hungary: It was about a week later that we headed out to Budapest in the dead of winter. 

 It might have been a little too freezing to really appreciate Budapest, so it ended up being my least favorite trip of the year; however, every city is worth a go! Below: The bridge crossing the Danube. 


5. Barcelona: A city to adore. Barcelona was one of the highlights of my year, and I got to meet yet another blog friend! 

 Barcelona is the weirdest looking city I've seen, but it's that quirkiness that makes me love it!

 Bar Marsella, an old absinthe bar that apparently hadn't been dusted since the early 1900s. Below is Em, a blog friend that also graciously offered me a stay, and acted as a tour guide. Emily is a trusted advisor for the best sites in Barcelona!




Needless to say, I was pretty tired in January, having been to 3 countries, and 5 cities! In February, I decided to keep things a bit more local. Laura and I hit up Bath, the quaint little historical town in England.


This was a highly relaxing trip...we soaked at the spa, perused the Jane Austen Museum, and chowed down on yummy Nepalese food (in my top 3 meals of the year!). 

In March, picking a getaway was quite easy. We were off to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day! We hit up a whopping 4 cities whilst in the Republic of Ireland: 

1. Kinsale: The cutesy town on the sea, complete with colorful buildings and an overall cheerful disposition. 



2. Dublin: I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy this "big city," only to find that it wasn't that big at all and still carried all the charm as the rest of Ireland. 




3. Dingle: Even on a cloudy day, still a breathtaking scene. 


4. Cork: A town a little rougher than the others, but still adorable! 


Of course, Ireland was a bit crowded around this time of year, but it was exciting to be around so many people so full of life! People came from all over the world to be a part of the celebration, and celebrate we all did!

April took me to a city I had been before, but appreciated more the second time around...

Paris! I understand more now why so many people fall head over heels for you! 



Architecturally, Paris is the most beautiful city. I enjoyed it more on the second go because I had more time to wander and imagine a true day in the life. The first time I went, I rushed from site to site. This time, I had more hours to marvel at my surroundings... 

By this point of the year, I was starting to actually get a bit tired from travel (I know, right?). Traveling every month eventually drains you of energy, and I almost considered cancelling my trip in May. Man, I'm sure glad I didn't, because May brought me Italy. I was able to visit 5 news spots in Italy (some big cities, some small villages on cliffs): 

1. Rome: My most favorite city from the year, and probably my second favorite place after Turkey (which is saying a WHOLE lot). 


 To break it down, here's why I love Rome: The sites are so famous and grand, yet don't disappoint when you see them in person. They just are that grand. And the food really is that good. And Italy really is as amazing as people make it out to be! 

 Sonja was my sidekick for this adventure. We had a smashing time together! 

Leaving Rome after 4 days actually pained me a little, but there were a few other places I needed to see...

2. Sorrento: The seaside town with oh-so-pretty views!





When taking the train from Naples (the usual connection point), there is a route that goes straight into Sorrento. Thus, Sorrento is the perfect hub for other harder-to-get-to destinations...

3. Positano: Take a short bus ride from Sorrento to Positano, and you happen across the dramatic village set upon the cliffs. 


Positano certainly has a rustic charm. However, if you have a fear of heights or aversion to walking up steep hills, I would avoid this spot. 

4. Capri: The glamorous local for many movie stars and politicians is just a quick ferry ride from Sorrento. 

 In May, Capri was a tad cold, but I do believe this would be the perfect swimming spot in the summer. You're also allowed to swim in the Grotto Azurra (below) for a small fee. It lights up like this naturally!

5. Pompeii: A short train ride from Sorrento, this is the famed site where a sudden volcano eruption supposedly preserved bodies. 

There is some controversy as whether these bodies are real. Go for yourself and be the judge!

Italy was so great the first time around, June brought me back there! This time I went to 2 new places, my friend Lainey in tow:

1. Venice: The famed city with a maze of alleys and canals that, yes, you'll get lost in! 




Venice was not my favorite, but well worth a day visit. And it's true what they say...sometimes Venice has a certain "odor" to it. Part of the Italian experience, I guess! 

2. Verona: A mini-Rome with the best red-orangey hues set against a cute lil' river. 




I really liked Verona. Maybe because it reminded me of Rome, or because I fell in love with the rolling hills and adorable flats. I could envision having a quiet life in Verona. I also can envision having a lot of fun in Verona, as evidenced by the last picture in where Lainey and I may have had a few too many glasses of wine...

***

It was at the very end of June that I flew back to San Diego from London. I then had a solid 5 months of no travel, apart from L.A. and Santa Barbara. Guess I was a little tuckered out from my tremendous  year of constant travel! In some ways, it did calm my wanderlust a bit. I will always need to travel (it's in my blood), but will I need to travel that much again? Probably not.

2013 was a FAB year of travel! I hope to make 2014 equally as interesting, but maybe not as jam packed! My first trip of 2014? Vegas for the New Year! Whoop! 

8 comments:

  1. Wow, that really is an amazing year of travel! I just re-capped where I've been this year on my blog, but you've got me beat by far. ;) Happy New Year! Cheers to 2014!

    http://www.melindadiorio.com

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  2. Seeing this all in one post is pretty incredible. You've had quite the year in travels! Happy New Year!

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  3. Here's to a fabulous 2014!!! I was so glad to have met you almost a year ago...time sure flies!!!

    Have a fabulous rest of this year, girl. Hope to catch up and see you maybe in 2014!!!

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  4. Wow. That's a lot of travel. Awesome recap. Envious. :-)

    Have a super new year!!

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  5. My instinctive reaction was to hate, not appreciate, an instinct I'm resolved (!) to suppress going forward. Instead I'll cop to jealousy. What a remarkable year! You'll recount your spectacular 2013 travels the rest of your life, so congrats. I hope to spend time in France (with the Coneheads, maybe?) during September and will look to your posts for some guidance.

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  6. P.S. Your Seine/Eiffel Tower photo is stunning. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. I love traveling... hope you get as much or more traveling on 2014!

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  8. wooohoooo i love the luzern shoutout. and WHAT BABY IS THAT? i don't even know who that is anymore!

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