16 Reasons 2016 Was the Best Year Ever

I’ve seen it all over friend’s Facebook posts, the media, and in conversations with friends: 2016 is the worst. Can it just be over already? Between terrorist attacks, disquieting politics, natural disasters, deaths of public figures, and just about every other nightmare you can imagine, public sentiment toward 2016 is not exactly the fondest.

Grand Canyon

A monumental year. At the Grand Canyon in December

For me personally, it’s been an insane year. I rang in midnight stranded outside a dark Havana, Cuba bus station after our ride failed to pick us up in time to join New Year’s festivities. This seemed to become a microcosm for the rest of the year: things never went according to plan, and 2016 proved extremely frustrating at times, but it was always, always an intriguing adventure. Continue reading  

Indonesia off the Beaten Path: Spotlight on Cianjur Regency

Many visitors to Indonesia’s choose Bali as their destination, and, as I found out this March, it’s a remarkable place, well-deserving of its status as Indonesia’s most popular island. However, Indonesia consists of up to 18,306 islands stretching across 3,181 miles/5,120 kilometers, so there is no shortage of idyllic destinations to explore. Looking to explore an alternative Indonesian location away from the throngs of tourists that places like Bali experience year-round? Consider Cianjur.

Puncak Pass Resort, Cianjur, Indonesia

The view from Puncak Pass Resort, near Cianjur (photo credit)

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Wining and Dining in Luxury at the Sherwood Taipei

Traveling through Asia, when it came to accommodations, I was no stranger to variety. One night, I’d be in a bustling backpacker hostel, the next a $3 per night shack with no electricity, and the next a luxurious five-star hotel. Reflecting on the trip now, I can safely say that getting a taste of all types of travel was one of my favorite aspects of the journey.

Yi Yuan Chinese Restaurant, Sherwood Taipei, Taiwan

Dining at the Sherwood Taipei’s Yi Yuan Chinese Restaurant

Needless to say, however, the “treat yo self” nights stood out quite a bit. And, of those nights, the Sherwood Taipei was particularly unforgettable. I recently wrote about my experience at the five-star hotel in Taiwan’s capital, but the wining and dining there was so memorable it deserved a post of its own. Continue reading  

Cranky Excerpts from a Curmudgeonly 1913 Spain Guide Book

When you imagine a century-old travel guidebook about Spain, you’d expect a cornucopia of picturesque descriptions of the scenery and fascinating explanations of bygone customs. After all, isn’t a travel guide supposed to feature the unmissable highlights a destination has to offer? But in the 1913 Baedeker guide to Spain and Portugal, you’ll find everything but that.

Cava Baja, Madrid, Spain

The loveliest of lovely, España…or is it?

When a friend referred me to a link he had stumbled upon, the full text of this early twentieth century travel guidebook, I stopped everything I was doing to read it, drooling at the thought of a romantically nostalgic perspective on a country I love so deeply… Only to find it was definitely not what I expected. Continue reading  

Teaching English in Spain as an Auxiliar vs. Studying Abroad

Studying abroad in Spain, it’s hard not to fall in love with the country. Just as I did, hundreds of students who left their hearts in Spain during college return post-graduation to work as English teaching assistants, thanks to the auxiliares de conversación (or North American Language and Culture Assistants) program. Being back in amazing España is a dream come true, but how does life as an English teacher compare to the study abroad life? If you’re returning to Spain as an auxiliar de conversación, here are a few differences and similarities to expect.

Auxiliares de Conversación

With my first graders in my first year as an auxiliar

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Where to Stay in Taipei, Taiwan: The Sherwood Taipei

My time in Taipei was all too short, with only four full days to explore Taiwan’s capital. But I made the most of my limited time there, seeing the city’s famed monuments, escaping Taipei to explore some more rural areas, and experiencing three accommodations. Arriving late the first night, I checked into a hostel, which was pristine yet antisocial, a vast change from the other hostels I’ve experienced in Southest Asia. From there, I headed to the Taipei Marriott for two nights, which I reviewed in this post, and, finally, I wrapped up my Taiwanese adventure with a night at the Sherwood Taipei.

Sherwood Taipei, Taiwan

The Sherwood Taipei’s Yi Yuan Chinese Restaurant

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