As I close my 2015 year of travels with a trip to Aberdeen, South Dakota, I could not help but think about the amazing adventures I have been fortunate enough to embark on. I started the year with my favorite RunDisney event, Marathon weekend, and am ending it with some much needed quality time in Connecticut.
In between I visited three different countries and over ten different states! So here is my first “annual list” of my top five favorite places.
5. Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, is hands down, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen with my own eyes.
It has the perfect mix of mountains and ocean.
The most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
The unique landscape allows for so many different activities. Bike riding up and down the endless miles of ocean, challenging hikes that ended with incredible views, a nightlife, wineries which allow for wine tasting, and of course (my favorite) awesome food!
4. Warsaw, Poland
I don’t want to limit #4 to just Warsaw, because ALL of Poland is just amazing. PIEROGI’S anyone?? (I am sure you will see a common food trend here). But in all seriousness, Brad and I had the opportunity to attend a wedding in Poland this summer and in the words of BK “It was the best day of my life.”
We are forever grateful to our newlywed, lifelong friends, Piotr and Beata, for inviting us to one of the best events we could have ever asked for. Not only did we experience a Polish wedding, but we met people who we will never forget from all over the world.
The history in Poland is absolutely incredible. A quick story, that I feel is necessary to share: the day before we went home BK and I decided to explore Old Town Warsaw. The entire day, I had said how I wish we had time to stop by a museum, and he told me there is always next time (but I wanted a museum now). It was significantly colder than we anticipated it to be so we decided to head back to the hotel early.
Well, on the way home I decided to walk down a narrow alley we were unfamiliar with. In this alleyway, we just so happened to pass the Old Town Historical Museum and Brad pointed it out. I was so intrigued (History major here) that I felt compelled to go inside, but I knew Brad was ready to get back to the hotel. So I said we didn’t have to and continued walking in the direction of the hotel.
To make a long story short, Brad insisted we turn around, and he waited patiently while I read EVERY sign, report, etc. in the museum. By the time I was finished, it was pouring rain outside and we had no umbrellas. Brad ended up sick for weeks after that.
In my heart it’s a selfless story on BK’s part, and just proof that treasures are hidden everywhere – even the tiniest alleyways – in Poland.
3. Lincoln, Nebraska
Yes, I know. LINCOLN? NEBRASKSA? If you asked me six months ago if I would ever even consider going to this city on my own, I would have said not likely. Mr. Kollmann went to the University of Nebraska and he always told me corn fields & more corn fields & more cornfields. But, my goodness, I am so grateful I did go.
The best part about Lincoln is that it’s a city with NO PEOPLE! I swear I am not anti-social, but I must admit, it is soo nice to walk around without having to worry about someone crashing into you.
The food is AMAZING. Three places I HIGHLY suggest are: Blue Sushi Sake Grill – Best Sushi I have ever had, Longwells – a bar with over 70 craft beers, and Barry’s Bar Grill – which has an awesome “roof top” terrace.
Some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life live in this city. A city with nice people. It exists! I have found it!
And, if you like football, I swear no other city will compare to the love they have for their college football team. Go Cornhuskers ? 😉
2. Florence, Italy
I continuously joke that coming back to Italy ruined my life. I spend every day missing it. For those of you who haven’t been to Italy, and are considering it (or not considering it), I suggest going … NOW.
Italy has everything.
Beautiful Scenery AND art, wineries, a language that is literally music to the ears.
Did I mention great food?
The kindest, most beautiful people.
In this city, I also had my first AirBnB experience. I could NOT have been happier with our place, location, and our host. Mama (her name), spoke no English and I understand Italian a lot better than I speak it – so she told us the house rules and we nodded that we (or I) understood, and the place was ours!
If you ever plan on doing an AirBnB in Florence, stay in Piazza Santo Spirito. Every morning we woke up to vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, and clothes. Every night the restaurants and bars stayed open until 3:00 – 4:00 AM. It’s also INCREDIBLY close to Gusta Pizza and Gusta Panino (win/win).
Brad even made friends with people on the church steps! A popular nighttime hangout spot.
If none of this has convinced you to go .. maybe Gelato will ?
While seeing new places, eating amazing food, and meeting awesome people is the dream life –
There is nothing, I mean NOTHING, like coming home to love.
There is so much comfort in coming home to people who want to hear all about your adventures, and who genuinely miss you when you’re away.
How lucky am I to have something so wonderful to come home to?
Cheers to new adventures and new favorite places in 2016 !