2012 was a damn good year. In fact, I think it might have been one of the best years of my life. I thought 2011 was great, but man, things have only gone up! Not only was I living abroad in my favorite city in Spain, Logroño, but it was without a doubt the happiest year of my life. So many great things happened, I met so many wonderful people, traveled to new and exciting places, and realized a secret dream I had of one day become a long term traveler and writer. 2012 was also year of great personal reflection, where I spent a lot of time thinking back and working on self improvement, something I believe is inherently linked to world travel.
I am going to try to keep this simple and sweet, sharing only a sentence or two and one photo for the 12 best moments of 2012. Brevity and self-restraint not really my strong suit, but I am working on it. New Year’s resolutions here we come! All I can say is how will 2013 top my amazing 2012?
I also wanted to personally thank each and every one of you guys for following my adventures, leaving me comments, sending me emails, tweeting me or liking what I post. It means the world to me and makes every day a little bit more special. So thanks a million!
How was your 2012? Any great moments? Travel anywhere fun?
1. Ringing in the New Year in Zaragoza, Spain with friends
Last year I decided to stick around Logroño, Spain for Christmas and New Years to relax and save money. By Christmas I was lonely, missing home and mildly regretting my decision to stay in Spain. Luckily one of my amazing students, M, invited me to spent New Years Eve with her family in Zaragoza! We feasted all day, played games, sang songs, and ate the traditional 12 Spanish grapes at midnight to ring in the new year. It was unforgettable!
2. Driving around Lanzarote in the Canary Islands
By February I was sick of freezing Logroño and hopped on the cheapest flight I could to the beautiful Canary Islands! With temperatures in the 80’s and the sun shining, I rented a car and zipped my way all over the island, from beach to beach. Did I mention that when I showed up to the car rental agency to pick up a cheap little Fiat they upgraded me to a Saab convertible? One of the best parts of the trip!
3. Watching the sun rise over the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt from a hot air balloon
One of my travel dreams came true this April when I spent two weeks in Egypt. Years ago I had heard about hot air balloon rides in Luxor, something I had always wished to do one day. Finally that magical day happened and I got to watch the yellow sun burst through the morning mists over the desert in lower Egypt high in the air. Not something I’ll likely soon forget. Read more here.
4. Visiting Monet’s house and gardens in France
I am a big Impressionist art fan, and I had been dying to go to Paris and take a day trip to Giverny, where Monet lived and painted. I heard a rumor that you could rent bicycles and cycle out to his house instead of taking a bus. After several days of constant rain, the sun finally came out and we had perfect weather. We wandered around the famous lily pad strewn pond and posed for photos on the Japanse bridge. It was a perfect day.
5. Wine Battle
I was so excited to spend the summer in northern Spain, especially in La Rioja, the beautiful wine region I called home. One of the biggest festivals there is the famous Batalla del Vino (Wine Battle) in Haro. Picture a giant food fight but with red wine. Only in Spain! Garbed all in white, we filled our super soakers with red wine and ran screaming into the battle only to be drenched immediately. It was complete pandemonium and by far my favorite Spanish festival I have ever been to! Read more here.
6. Spain winning the Eurocup
If Spain is famous for one thing, it has to be for it’s amazing soccer culture. People watch local matches here with a Superbowl level of intensity. Everyone has their favorite team and favorite player, but all come together when the national team, La Roja, battle it on on the international arena. I was in the US when Spain won the Euro Cup in 2008, and the World Cup in 201o, I wasn’t going to miss being in Spain when they were slotted to be champions for the 2012 Euro Cup. I was not disappointed. The level of excitement in Logroño was INSANE! People were in the fountains, hanging off balconies, setting up foam machines, throwing fireworks in the crowd all night long, everyone wearing the Spanish colors of red and yellow. It was a night I will never, ever forget.
7. Watching the bulls run in Pamplona, Spain
Do I even need to elaborate on this one? I was lucky enough to visit Pamplona not once, but twice for the running of the bulls this July. The first day of San Fermín I was not on top blogging form and I passed out in a field an hour before the bulls ran. Oops. But I went back the following weekend, danced and partied all night long in time to watch the bulls run at 8am sharp! It was incredible to be part of such a world-renowned festival!
8. Discovering Porto, Portugal
I traveled back to Portugal for the first time in years this September to attend TBU’s travel blogging conference. Porto is an amazing European destination and I was so happy to get to know it better.
9. Discovering a career path at the Blog House in Besalú, Spain
Besalú is high on my list of the cutest villages I have visited in Spain. Straight from a fairytale, this medieval town is definitely worth a visit on any trip to Barcelona. I spent 3 days here in September at a villa dubbed, the Blog House, with some of the best travel bloggers in the business learning all I could about the business side of travel blogging. It was an eye opening experience and it gave me the encouragement to pursue travel writing as a future career.
10. Falling in Love with the Costa Brava at TBEX in Girona
Over the years I neglected Barcelona and Cataluña when traveling around Spain, feeling it to be overrated and too touristy. Luckily, I spent some time around the Costa Brava and Girona for the TBEX travel blogging conference in September and definitely reevaluated my feelings for this region! So unique from the rest of Spain and so much more than just Barcelona, Girona and the Costa Brava definitely deserve to be visited all on their own.
11. Trying every coffee imaginable in Seattle
In October I flew home to the US for the first time in over a year, and headed directly out to Portland and Seattle on the west coast for a wedding. Little known fact about me, I am the world’s biggest coffee addict, so visiting Seattle was almost like a Mecca pilgrimage for me, with several meals a day revolving around coffee. I frequented as many coffee shops as I could in my few days in Seattle, even making the ultimate coffee lovers pilgrimage to the the original Starbucks. Amazeballs. I was on a caffeine high for days.
12. Celebrating a white Christmas at home with my family
This year was my first time home for Christmas in ages. I had 5 days at home with my mom in Virginia, relaxing by the fire, wrapping presents, trimming the tree and cooking up a storm! And the best part? On Christmas Eve it started snowing all day! I woke up on December 25 to a white Christmas! I haven’t had one in years. It made for the perfect end to a wonderful year!