Top 10 Travel Moments of 2016

2016 was filled with so many amazing travel experiences and adventures. I love looking back each year and reflecting on our travels. You can check out last years post HERE. This year instead of breaking down each trip we took, I decided to pick my top ten favorite travel moments from the year. Here they are, in order of occurance not importance...

Grand Canyon

Talk about majestic! I love the Grand Canyon and I feel so grateful to have seen it. I did an entire blog post on this, so to read more about my day trip to the Grand Canyon, click HERE!

San Francisco

There is so much to see in the city and surrounding regions of San Francisco! We took a wine tour through Sonoma Valley, visited Ghirardelli Square, toured and ate seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, rode a trolley, walked the crooked road of Lombard Street, drank wine in the park near the Painted Ladies and of course took a billion photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. Did I mention this was a girls trip?! I typically am traveling with my husband, and he is the best travel partner I could ever hope for. However, a girls trip with your best friends is so necessary sometimes. Wine, great food, new adventures and tons of laughs is the recipe for a perfect weekend getaway. 

Miami

Nick and I have been to Florida several times, but never Miami until this year. We are extremely surprised by the Cuban culture and influence in Miami. The beaches there are so stunning, with beautiful sand and clear turquoise waters. I did a full blog post on our weekend in Miami, read more HERE.

Amsterdam

In August we began our month long European adventure. We started in Amsterdam. I still need to do a whole blog post on just this city, there is just so much to say that I don't quite know where to begin. My favorite part of this city was the canals. The water was beautiful, they are surrounded by quaint buildings, and there are always boats passing along each canal. My other favorite elements of Amsterdam were the beautiful parks, and the historical museums, including many art museums and the Anne Frank house. With all that being said, there are many things about this city I could do without. The insane amounts of bicycles that are everywhere, leaving you stressed out when you walk around town and the unique culture of the Red Light District. Those things are part of what makes Amsterdam a unique city, I personally just wasn't fond of them. Overall though, our time in Amsterdam was great, we loved walking around while discovering new sights and foods, and we loved experiencing the dutch culture for the first time.

Trevi Fountain in Rome

Rome is my favorite city! It's my husband's favorite city too. We fell in love with Rome a few years ago when we were there on our honeymoon. Going back two years later was a dream. The first time we went to Rome the Trevi Fountain was under construction. It was one of the sights we were most looking forward to seeing, so when it was all covered in scaffolding we were so disappointed. This August when we went back to Italy, Trevi was up and running and let me say looking stunning. It is so much larger and more grand than I had anticipated. The way they light it up at night is just magical. Everyone gathers around Trevi in the evenings, eating their gelato and tossing coins into the fountain while they make wishes. We came back several nights, it just doesn't get old. 

Boating in Tropea, Italy

When it comes to touring Italy, we are spoiled. We are spoiled because we have family there and they give us the VIP tour. We get to see Italy through a local's eyes, not just our tourist eyes. Our cousin Antonio owns a boat in Tropea ( the most beautiful beach town in all of Italy). We took the boat out and got to gawk at the views of the coast from the sea. Tropea is stunning, I love the way the buildings are carved into the cliffs. The sea is such a bright blue, you would think you're sailing through Kool-Aid. We jumped in, swam for a bit, then headed back to the marina where we drank champagne and toasted to family. This is one of my favorite moments not just of this year but of my entire life. I'm so grateful to have family in Italy, they are so fun and such a joy to be around. 

Cinque Terre Hike

Hiking the Cinque Terre trail along the Italian coast had been on my bucket list for probably over seven years. I had first heard of Cinque Terre, Italy because amazing photos of the little fishing towns were going viral on Pinterest. It looked like something I would "pin" but never go to... a dream place that who knew if really existed. This August we actually went! And let me tell you it was as dreamy, quaint and stunning as the pictures on Pinterest made me believe. To read an in depth post on the hike we did, click HERE

Leaning Tower of Pisa

There are some things you see your whole life on post cards, computer screen savers, in movies and in books, but to see them in real life is something else. The leaning tower of Pisa is one of those famous landmarks. It was unbelievable to see it with my own eyes. I loved watching all the tourists take their "I'm holding the tower up" photos. Such a blast! 

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Sunset in Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo

Watching the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence was an evening I'll never forget. It was quite the hike to get to Piazzale Michelangelo but it is so worth it. There you can overlook the entire city of Florence, getting a birds eye view of the red roofs. At the square you will find food and drinks. We drank wine while watching the sun set. It was so peaceful and so stunning that no photo will do it justice. 

Breakfast in St. Mark's Square, Venice

Last, but certainly not least... breakfast in St. Mark's Square! This was the most peaceful, joyous and memorable experience of our Europe trip. I know that may seem silly saying breakfast was my favorite, when we did things like tour the Roman Colosseum, explore the Vatican, we even saw the Pope! But this breakfast was simply my favorite. You pay to sit at this restaurant, you pay for the view and the live orchestra playing right behind you. I ordered a cappuccino and a variety of macrons. It was all so delicious, the best cappuccino and macrons I have ever tasted. We sat there, ate, drank, listened to the music and people watched. There is so much joy happening all through St. Mark's Square, so it is the perfect place to people watch. You'll see people from all walks of life, but they are all seemingly happy. That was one of the most tranquil moments of my life. I can't wait to go back. 

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Miami Florida | A First Timer's Perspective

One of my favorite things about travel is getting to experience different cultures. And last weekend when my husband and I visited Miami, Florida for the first time, we had the privilege of experiencing a new culture. We had previously been to Orlando on many different vacations, but we never headed a few hours south of there to Miami. I wanted to write this post because in many ways Miami was very different from what I had pictured. Since we had been to Orlando, I pictured Miami being extremely similar (with the exception of Disney World of course), the only thing I thought would differ was that I thought it would just be a bit more beachy. I also want to preface this by saying, I am a Colorado girl, born and raised here in Colorado, so my perspective on Miami is slightly different for the fact that Denver and Miami and very different. Not one is better than the other, simply different.

First off, I was right about my assumption that Miami would be "beachy". The beaches in Miami, well at least the one we went to in South Beach, was absolutely stunning! The water in Miami is bright blue and extremely clear. When you get into the water it feels like a warm bath tub, it felt amazing (this was in July). The sand is smooth and the sun is so hot. The water reminded me of Mexico, since it was so warm and the color was so vivid. On these beaches, get ready to see some skin... lots and lots of skin lol. Miami loves it's "cheeky" bikinis. There were thong bikinis everywhere we looked in South Beach. So, needless to say, I'm not sure if Miami is the very best option for a family vacation with kiddos. I didn't mind it, but I sure wouldn't want my kids to see all of it. Actually, the beach we went to happened to be a topless beach. Or at least there were a few tops off, so I just assumed it was called a topless beach. Let's just say Miami is filled with people who are young, wild and free. 

While being in Miami, my husband and I kept saying "I feel like I am in a different country" or "This does not feel like America". Miami has a huge cultural influence from Cuba. Cuba is only about an hour long flight away from Miami and many people from Cuba or parts of Central America move to Miami. The food in Miami is heavily influenced by Cuban food, and let me just say it is delicious. We tried Cuban bread and ate a lot of plantains, and yes of course we tried Cuban coffee while we were there. It was all delicious. Just about everywhere you go in Miami serves a Cuban sandwich, even the Subway restaurants in Miami serve a Cuban. It was such a treat to experience Cuban food and coffee for the very first time. That is one of my all time favorite parts of travel, I enjoy trying new foods and discovering what people from different parts of the world eat. It gets me out of my "food bubble". 

Another thing we noticed while in Miami was the language difference. Spanish seemed to be the main language there, which was another reason it felt like a different country to us. A friend of ours who lives in Miami told us that if you don't speak Spanish and are trying to get a job in Miami, you basically have no shot at getting hired. I can understand why, it seemed like more people spoke Spanish than English there. Just about every Uber driver we had spoke only Spanish and most of the people working at our hotel (Hilton) spoke only Spanish. 

Overall I loved Miami a lot. It is absolutely stunning and is such a great place for a beach getaway. Next time I go back I want to experience a bit more of the culture, I want to try more of the top local restaurants, and I would like to spend more time soaking up the sun. This isn't somewhere I will ever bring my kids, since it has a party vibe, but it'd be a great spot for a husband/wife vacation. The best part in my opinion is that you get to immerse yourself into a new and exciting culture without having to leave the U.S. (if of course you live here). Can't wait to go back!

 

 

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