2016: Travel Year in Review

9 Countries

20 Cities

5 New Pins on the Map

100’s of Memories

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Wow! Losing your job can certainly help to up your travel game!  I started off 2016 with the expectation of visiting perhaps 4 foreign countries (which is my minimum travel goal every year).  But when I was making those plans, I did not factor in losing my job mid way through the year.  And while losing something is rarely a good thing, I looked at the situation as a mixed blessing.  I didn’t hate my job or the people I worked with, but still I had thoughts of leaving. It wasn’t so much the job that I disliked, but rather being tied to a cubicle everyday.  There are certain professions where you do need to be on site, but a project manager in the digital world is not one of them. Wifi access, a laptop and a good work ethic and you can be productive almost anywhere.

So while I wasn’t terribly proud to say my job was made redundant, I did look at it (and the accompanying severance package) as a way to focus on the things I love while looking for a job that did not require me to punch in and out of the same location every day.  I decided to take my job search on the road and travel as much as possible, while still spending a good amount of time in my hometown of Los Angeles.

So where did I go in 2016?

Mexico City

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I started off the year with a trip to Mexico City in January. This was a city that I had been wary of visiting for years due to stories of crime and corruption. But in 2015 I decided to give it a try, and enjoyed my trip so much that I returned again in 2016.

 

Chicago

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Next up was another travel tradition – my third April in Chicago in a row for Formada Colibri’s batizado. A great way to reconnect with capoeira friends, visit a beautiful city once the extreme cold has worn off and eat at one of my favorite restaurants: the Girl and the Goat.  This was actually the first of two Chicago trips in 2016, as I was lucky enough to go back in September for a networking conference.

 

Houston

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May is a month for mothers, so this month I headed to Houston so I could see my own for Mother’s Day.  We decided to take a little break from our traditional activities of eating and shopping to explore the NASA Space Center, a place I had wanted to visit for years.

 

London

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Next was a quick trip to London in May to just be in my favorite city, to visit a dear friend ….and admittedly to see if the exchange rate really was better after the Brexit decision. And it was – hooray!

 

New York City

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Late May brought another capoeira batizado trip – this time to New York City over Memorial Day weekend for Professora Joy’s event. More capoeira friend reunions, more capoeira training and more fun as I ran the streets with the Up All Night crew (No Sleep Till Queens!)

 

I spent June wrapping things up at work in preparation for the layoff and planning a summer of travel.  I must say it is much better to plan a trip when you know you do not need to rush back to a full email inbox and status meetings.  There’s something freeing about that – even if you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for it in the long run.

Lake Gregory

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Before heading off to Europe, I had the chance to visit someplace new that is also close to home. Fourth of July weekend with friends at their home near Lake Gregory, a few hours drive from Los Angeles, was the perfect way to ease into a month of travel.

 

The Lake District

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July took me from one lake to another.  I started with a second visit to London for a few days (a year with two trips to London is never a bad thing) which was the jumping off point for a trip to Lake Windermere.  This was my first trip to the English Lake District where I was surrounded by gorgeous green scenery and fresh country air. Even with the chilly temperatures and near constant light rain I loved being in this part of the world.  And having my good friend’s family to show me around made the experience even better.

 

Stockholm

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From the UK, I got down to business in Sweden. I was visiting Stockholm to participate in TBEX – a Travel Bloggers Conference that takes place in different parts of the world each year.  I would one day love to make blogging and travel writing a full (or at least full-er) time business and this is a great conference to connect with those that already do.  But it wasn’t all work in Stockholm which is a brilliant place to visit in the summertime. I am always amazed by the ridiculously long days where the sun barely sets.

 

Copenhagen

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From Sweden on to Denmark to visit another friend who had recently moved to Copenhagen after living in Beirut for a number of years.  It was great to ride bikes, explore the city and catch up with a dear friend.

 

And that was as far as I had planned for my 2016 travel.  From Copenhagen I knew I wanted to go “someplace else” but where? After England, Sweden and Denmark, I had two requirements.  I wanted to go south so I could trade in my light sweaters for shorts and sundresses.  I also wanted to go to a country I’d never visited before. So I decided to play flight roulette.  I went to Skyscanner.com typed “Copenhagen” into the Departure City field and “Everywhere” into the Arrival City field and considered my options.  Of all the cities that came up, for warmth, newness and affordability, I ended up with Dubrovnik, Croatia.  I booked my ticket and I was on my way.

Dubrovnik

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It was exciting to be in a totally new location where every turn brought a new site, sound, taste or experience. And Dubrovnik was definitely warm..some days a little too warm as I nearly melted under the summer sun.  But the city is gorgeous, surrounded by stone walls and beautiful waters. I admit to dealing with some bouts of loneliness as a solo traveler during this trip. Dubrovnik seemed to belong to romantic couples, families on their summer holidays and bachelorette parties, but that didn’t take away from the beauty of that part of the world and I’m still glad that I went.

 

At this point I decided to head back to Los Angeles for a bit. To unpack my bags, make sure my cat hadn’t disowned me and get in some much needed training at my capoeira academy. I love that I can find a capoeira school to train with anywhere in the world, but it is also good to come back to your home academy with your close friends.

Winston-Salem

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At this point I still had not landed a new job, and truth be told I was budgeting to be “temporarily retired” until October. So I used this time to visit my dearest childhood friend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  One of the great benefits of travel is getting to reconnect with friends who mean the world to you even if they live thousands of miles away.

 

Rio de Janeiro

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Back home in Los Angeles, in a moment of weakness (I must have been eating pão de queijo, listening to Bossa Nova music and sipping on a caipirinha) I let myself get talked into a last minute trip to Rio de Janeiro. It was right in between the Olympic games and the Paralympic games so things were a little calmer, but with yet another batizado to attend and friends to visit, there was not a dull moment. Not to mention a last minute day trip to Niteroi that ended up being perhaps my very favorite day of 2016.  A day of hiking, capoeira, swimming and laughter which ended with eating fresh seafood while sitting with our feet in the sand – it just doesn’t get any better than that.

 

Portland

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After Rio, I decided to stay put…for about a month before hopping on a plane up to Portland, Oregon for a friend’s wedding and to celebrate another friend’s birthday. Good eats, good times, not so good weather and one inaccessible Nike employee store taunting me.

Curaçao

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Note to self: it is not smart to plan a trip to Portland, where you can eat yourself silly, the week before you have to get into a bikini on a Caribbean island.  There were a whole lot of emergency sit-ups and last minute dieting on the way down to Curaçao. As close as it is, I don’t get to visit the Caribbean too often, so I am glad that another capoeira inspired trip gave me the excuse to visit this island for the first (and definitely not the last) time.

Tijuana

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Living in Los Angeles means that a taco run can take you down the street, or almost as easily, across the border.  I joined a bunch of friends who like tacos as much as they like to travel and headed down to Tijuana for the day.

 

Suncheon Bay & Seoul

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Was I done with travel for 2016? I may have thought so, but then the opportunity to go to South Korea presented itself and I couldn’t resist.  First stop was the quiet, southern city of Suncheon Bay to see my incredibly talented friend present her artwork at an international exhibit. Then we headed up to Seoul to take in the sights, sounds, tastes and shopping of this vibrant city.  As a bonus I got to visit with a college roommate that I hadn’t seen in years.  I am blessed to have friends in so many of the places I visited this year.

 

Ensenada

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One more impromptu trip to Mexico (if you’re counting, that makes three for 2016) was hatched during a LA Clippers basketball game. Within a week, I was driving back over the border with two friends to spend a couple of days in Ensenada.  Clearly this was the year of spontaneous travel – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Atlanta &  Palm Springs

And finally I rounded out the year with two more domestic trips.  One to Atlanta to gather with family for Christmas then a New Year’s getaway with a house full of friends in Palm Springs.  One good thing about a New Year’s Eve trip is that you automatically start off the next year with travel already in the works.

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Where will 2017 take me?  I have my hopes and will share those in my next post.  And where will  2017 take YOU?  Here’s to another great year of travel adventures ahead!

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