2011: A Travel-Filled Year in Review

All right, so maybe it’s a little passé to do a 2011 in review post when we’re almost two weeks into 2012, but who said I was hip anyway? 2011 was a fantastic year, perhaps my best year yet (though I kind of say that every year, don’t I?), and it was full of lots of wonderful trips. Therefore, I present you with a review of my trips of 2011!

January and February
No trips outside Southern California in these months, but that’s not to say they weren’t utterly fantastic in lots of other ways!

In late March, my friends Julian, Sélim, and I embarked on a spring break road trip from L.A. to Vancouver and back, with nights spent in Santa Cruz, Seattle, and Folsom, not to mention luxurious nights sleeping in the car in Redding, California and Bellingham, Washington. Everything that could have gone wrong seemed to go wrong on this trip (Car stuck in the snow? Check. Not being able to pass through the Canadian border because of forgotten residency papers? Check. Dead car battery? Check. Arrests? No comment.), and that’s what made it so completely amazing. I was surrounded by great company, got to see my beloved 8th grade Spanish teacher, Doña Kim, and two of her daughters in Seattle, and made more friends along the way. I don’t think I could have dreamed of a better road trip.

Trying to fit in with the Canadians in Vancouver

My aunt Valerie got married in Lexington, Virginia in April, so my mom and I flew to Raleigh, North Carolina, picked up my sister and spent a night in Chapel Hill, and then drove up to Lexington. I love that part of the country, and I loved being with family. And what’s not to love about a trip featuring a stop at Foamhenge, the foam replica of Stonehenge?

My sister and I at Foamhenge. America. What a country.

In May, I flew to New York City and then took a train to Poughkeepsie to see my best friend Jessica graduate from Vassar. Visiting her campus, meeting her friends, and spending time with her was great, and then I had a day to myself in the city and spent the evening with my stepmom’s brother and his wife. I’d always been a bit iffy about New York City (mostly, it overwhelmed me), but I found myself really charmed by the city for the first time, particularly after spending a few hours chilling in Washington Square Park and listening to a live bluegrass musician. Plus, I flew Virgin America for the first time, which, as it turns out, is the coolest airline ever.

Jessica and I apparently attacking each other at her graduation

First, let me say, on a non-travel note, that I graduated from college that month. What?!?! My friend Amber invited me to join her and her coworkers (two canceled, but we found a replacement) for a trip up to San Francisco. I really fell in love with the city for the first time when I was there in December 2010 (I was too young on previous trips to really appreciate it), and this just cemented my love for it. We were there during Pride, which meant lots of fascinating characters and celebrations. San Francisco’s weather may usually be chilly and rainy, and Mark Twain may have said that the coldest winter he’s ever spent was a summer in San Francisco, but we were lucky enough to have lots of sun and warmth (can you tell from this blog how important good weather is to me when I travel?). I now definitely want to live in San Francisco at some point in my life, even if just for a few months.

Our travel group plus a few people we met there at the Pride Parade

My sister spent her summer volunteering in Peru, and I was lucky enough to visit her there! First, thanks to an extended layover in Miami, I got to see that city for a few hours, and it definitely impressed me. Peru absolutely blew me away with it’s awesomeness. I got to see Ollantaytambo, the small town she was teaching in, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. All were stunning, and the people were incredibly friendly. Peru is now, for sure, one of my favorite countries in the world.

Machu Picchu!

From Peru, my sister and I flew together to Buenos Aires, Argentina, which didn’t enchant me quite as much as Peru but which was still pretty damn awesome. The two main highlights of Buenos Aires were getting to see the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo march and visiting the charming neighborhood of La Boca. We also took a ferry one day across the Río de la Plata to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, an adorable little town on the water. I’d been dying to go to South America since as long as I could remember, and this trip made me love the continent even more! I can’t wait to go back and explore more!

Colorful houses of La Boca, Buenos Aires

After returning from South America, we took off on our annual Colorado River trip in Parker, Arizona. For the past 10+ years, every summer, my dad, sister, Jessica, and I spend a few days boating, water-skiing, ski-bobbing, and generally having the most wonderful time. Despite losing my brand new camera, this year was no exception. We also continued unfurling the mysterious government conspiracy in the middle of the desert, but the government might capture me if I tell you about that.

My sister, Jessica, and me at The River

Over Labor Day weekend, I joined my co-workers at sketchbookLA for a trip to Las Vegas. One of sketchbookLA’s clients is Jeffrey Sanker, who puts on big gay dance parties, notably White Party (in Palm Springs) and White Party Las Vegas. Although we were there on business, we had a ton of fun exploring Vegas, eating great food, and dancing the night away at White Party. Las Vegas, of course, is always a fabulous time.

Journey, Justin, and I on very important business

And then, of course, later that month, I took off to Sevilla, my new home!

In October, I took a day trip to Matalascañas, Huelva for a lovely day at the beach. I also joined DiscoverSevilla, who I now work for, for a beautiful weekend in Lagos, Portugal. Finally, I revisited my old home, Madrid, spending an awesome extended weekend there. A+ to all of them!

My dad came to visit me in Sevilla, and, thanks to his rented car, we were able to visit Faro, Portugal, Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, and Gibraltar! The post on his visit is long overdue, but, don’t worry, I’ll flood you with details soon! I also took a day trip with my auxiliares friends to the fascinating Roman ruins of Italica, near Sevilla.

Sara, Allie, me, Jimmy, and Linnaea (with Javi behind the camera) in Italica

Thanks to a super long puente (school/work holiday), I joined DiscoverSevilla on a trip to the magnificent Morocco. Once again, I’m overdue on that post, and I won’t spoil it here, but, let me just say wow. And then, of course, I boarded a plane back to the good old U S of A for perhaps the best Christmas break of my life!

So, yeah, 2011. How much better could it have gotten? How’s 2012 going to top that? I say that every year, yet the following year always manages to top it (eh, okay, 2010 may have been slightly less exciting than 2009). But, hey, I’m living in Spain until June and will be traveling around in the meantime, and, after that, who knows? There’s a good chance I’ll be back in the fall for another year of teaching in Spain! Whatever lies ahead, it’ll be great, and I feel so blessed to have had the travel-filled year that I had.

5 Responses

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