With 2014 coming to an end, it’s a perfect time to reflect on this year’s trips. From international getaways to weekend jaunts, some of my best travel moments include:
I spent three months in Thailand back in 2009 when I first got my passport. While I loved the entire country, I found the beaches along the country’s Andaman Coast to be particularly exceptional. I’ve visited 44 countries in total now, and nothing has yet to beat Thailand’s beaches and islands (although French Polynesia comes pretty close).
I was excited to be re-visiting Railay Beach five years later, my favorite spot of all–but I was also a little nervous. Would it be ruined by tourism? Would it be just as beautiful as I remembered?
While it does seem more tourists have discovered just how wonderful Thailand is in the last five years (especially in Phuket), it certainly wasn’t ruined. As far as the beaches still being as pristine as I remember–absolutely. In fact, as I told Joe when we first arrived:
“This place is even prettier than I remember it.”
Traveling with my mom
During the summer, my mom and I spent an amazing two weeks traveling through Europe together. It was her first time traveling abroad and she had just gotten her passport. We visited five countries in total, and overall, the entire experience was very special to me. Not only was it incredible to visit some of the most beautiful parts of Europe, but I feel very fortunate that my mom and I were able to make these wonderful memories together.
Flying business class on Cathay Pacific
Not all business class cabins are created equally, and I’ve heard good things for a while now about Cathay Pacific. We were able to find availability recently using our miles, and this is the flight we booked for our Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong trip. This is by far the nicest first/business class I’ve flown in before: lay-flat seats, tons of space, large selection of movies, etc. The flight from Newark to Hong Kong was almost 16 hours, but it honestly didn’t feel that long at all.
Hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey
Hot air ballooning is one of the top attractions in Cappadocia, and while you wouldn’t catch me dead in one of those things (major height phobia, not to mention it’s pretty dangerous) it was an incredible sight to witness. In fact, as a spectator, I think you get to see more than you do while you’re in a balloon. We arrived at the launching site just before sunrise and watched as the balloons prepared for their flights and then slowly took off, one by one. We climbed a huge hill to get an amazing view of all the balloons soaring overhead (approximately 100 of them take flight every day, as long as the weather is cooperating) and it really was magical to see all these balloons soaring through the sky.
I also thought I’d do something a little different this year, and in addition to highlighting some of my best moments, I wanted to also mention some of my favorites:
Favorite food: Cinque Terre, Italy
It’s a popular opinion: Italy has some of the best food in the entire world. Because cheese. And pasta. And pizza. And wine. And more cheese…
But Cinque Terre was exceptionally delicious. This region is the birthplace of pesto, and I love me some good pesto.
Favorite hotel: Museum Hotel
This cave hotel is located in the Goreme region of Cappadocia, Turkey and is one of the most unique places I’ve stayed at. I spent a long time trying to figure which cave hotel to stay at, and I’m confident that this one is the top choice.
Favorite beach: Kaputas Beach, Kas, Turkey
While Thailand overall is still my favorite beach destination, this particular beach has to be the best one I’ve visited this year.
Favorite city visited for the first time: Mdina, Malta
Visiting the walled city of Mdina is like taking a step back in time. So very unique and I really loved the architecture.
Favorite country visited for the first time: Turkey
I visited a lot of countries this year for the first time: India, Malta, Spain, Vietnam, etc. Maybe it’s because I was there the longest and got more time to explore it, but out of all the countries I visited for the first time, Turkey was my favorite.
What were some of your best travel moments this year?