My Top Five Places of 2016.

As I unpack my bag from my three week trip, and repack my bag for my first trip of 2017, I cannot help but reflect on the awesome adventures that I embarked on this year. The best part of these adventures was that most of them were not planned until the last minute, just the way I like it.

I found this list to be so much harder than last years. With three brand new countries and tons of new cities that I loved it was hard to narrow the list down to just five. Here is my second “annual list” of my top five favorite places.

5. Disneyland

I am an avid Disney fan. I’m actually convinced I am a real life Disney Princess. With that said, it took me 27 years to get to Disneyland!

Personally, I found the castle very underwhelming, but Disneyland quickly makes up for it in the amazing designs of their rides. Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World are better in Disneyland. The Indiana Jones ride and Radiator Springs Racers may be the best rides in all of Disney! A HUGE bonus of Disneyland is that you do not need a bus to get from one park to another.

Disneyland may also hold a special place in my heart because it’s something I was really able to share with my parents. It has rides that both my sister and mother were able to enjoy. Oh, AND they still do fast passes the old way. Sometimes, I really miss that at DisneyWorld.

 4. Peru

Embarrassingly, I will be the first to admit … Peru was not high on my list of places to travel, but when Lauren told me that Peru was her yearly work trip a few months ago I could not pass up the chance to join her. I figured, in the future, it would be  easier to find someone to join me on a European adventure than on a Peruvian one. So four months later I found myself in Peru with two of the best girls I know.

There are kind people and then there are the kind of people you will meet in Peru. EVERYONE was incredibly friendly and welcoming.

I learned a really crazy thing about myself in Peru. I am an awesome traveller …. as long as everything goes smoothly. The second it doesn’t I get incredibly stressed. While the detours we encountered in Peru due to strikes really stressed me out, it led us to what I found to be the most beautiful part of Peru – the Sacred Valley. Our detour brought us to Ollantaytambo.

While I wish we had an extra day in Ollantaytambo, nothing could prepare me for the fun that was Aguas Calientes (the closest town to Machu Picchu). This incredibly small town made mostly of tourist offered AMAZING food, the dirtiest Hot Springs I have ever seen in the most beautiful setting, and a beautiful hike that included three waterfalls.

All of this of course led to Machu Picchu. I don’t have much to say about Machu Pichhu, because it’s such a personal experience. Just GO. GO. GO. GO. You won’t ever regret it.

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3. Iceland

I spoke about Iceland in my blog post Why I did Iceland all Wrong (& How A Solo Trip Helped Me Recharge). The place where North America meets Europe. I don’t think it’s a coincidence I feel so drawn there.

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2. Seattle

Those who spend even five minutes with me have heard me rave about Seattle. Seriously, I am a Seattle Mariners/Seahawks fan now because of this short trip.

Of course I did a lot of the touristy stuff; Pike Place and saw the Original Starbucks, rode on the Seattle Great Wheel (and silently panicked every time it rocked), ate way too many cupcakes at Cupcake Royale, and had one of the best meals at Local 360. The week I was there the Seattle Mariners did play the Florida Marlins (my #1 team), but in true Seattle fashion that day it rained … a lot. And while I love seeing two awesome baseball teams play live – the only things I lose by watching them on TV are overpriced hot dogs and overpriced beers. I think I was the real winner here.

I  did skip the Space Needle.  I didn’t feel like spending $22+ dollars to get a great view of the city, when personally Kerry Park did that for me!

While I enjoyed the city itself, I became infatuated with the surrounding nature. There were so many Waterfalls and National Parks. I tried to see as many of them as I could, but I did not spend nearly as much time as I needed to in this amazing area. Seattle is definitely one of the places I will return to sooner rather than later.

1.Home

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For the second year in a row, home takes the top spot. I’ve spent all year gallivanting around the world. I’ve seen the colorful Peru, the amazing scenery that makes up Washington, and fell in love with the most incredible library I’ve ever seen with my own eyes (Trinity College). While all of this has helped shape me into the person I am today, none of it compares to the love I find at home.

At home I find the people who listen to my stories, who will take me to the airport or pick me up at all hours, the people who will literally text me, “I know you’ll only be home for 24 hours. Is there anything you need or that we can do for you?”

You can’t make this stuff up! I am so lucky I travel, yes, but the love I find at home makes me the luckiest girl in the world.

 

And as we say goodbye to 2016 all I can think to myself is wow

This was one of those years that surprised me over and over and over again. Half the time I felt I was in a carnival maze, not sure which way was out, but enjoying all of the detours along the way. I will admit, some detours hurt a lot more than others, but today I am a different person than I was on January 1st, 2016. I owe nothing but gratitude to anything, anyone, or any place that helped me grow. So thank you. Thank you to those who are no longer in my life. Thank you to the places that have been so good to me. Most importantly, thank you to my family and to my friends old and new. You’re continuously helping me create the story of my life.

Cheers to 2017 and all of the adventures that await us!

brave

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