2020 is upon us, and like every other self-respecting, emotionally-evolved millennial, I’m reflecting on 2019… although, maybe a couple days late (so many distractions!).
2019’s travel and personal milestones
2019 brought me to two “net-new” countries, Colombia and Portugal (I will forever be in love with Latin culture). I visited Cartagena and Medellin in March, and Lisbon in October. Both trips were exceptional, and I would not be opposed to home-basing in either country — they’re both affordable (by American standards), expat-friendly, modern, and safe, with temperate weather.
2019 also brought me to a few “old” countries, as in, countries I’ve been to before, but elsewhere. That includes Canada — in July 2019, I visited Toronto, having been to Vancouver and Whistler a few years ago, and the Netherlands — in November 2019, I visited Amsterdam and Rotterdam, having been to Maastricht a few years ago. I will go again!
In 2019 I also spent a lot of time just touring the good ol’ US of A. Because this wide and varied expanse of a country has SO much to offer… in 2019, I made it a priority to knock a couple more new and amazing U.S. cities and states off my bucket list. This includes (in chronological order): Charleston, SC; Baltimore, MD; Anchorage, Juneau and Sitka, AK; Nashville, TN, Washington, D.C.; and New Orleans, LA. This brings my total number of states visited to 32 — I guess I have a little work to do in 2020 to reach 50!
Some of my favorite memories in 2019 (note, I make this list not to brag, but to wrap my arms around all the blessings in my life):
- Alaska. All of it. The glaciers. The water. The mountains. The wildlife. The first Orthodox churches in America.
- Swapping 7 Wonders of the World with my Canadian-Irish gal pal: Grand Canyon for Niagara Falls.
- Another Mother’s Day trip with Mom (managed to surprise her this time) to the lovely and sophisticated (and dog-friendly!) Charleston, SC.
- Jumping out of a plane and falling 130 mph to earth — luckily, with a parachute and professional help.
- Wind, water and sand, exploring the Islas of Cartagena with some awesome people who made the day possible (and then hearing my Spanish miraculously coalesce).
- Performing Les Miserables’ I Dreamed a Dream in an audience of hundreds at Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix — and then one-third of the Schuyler Sisters in the Hamilton medley.
- A dream come true that was the Broadway musical Moulin Rouge in Manhattan.
- A bigger dream come true that was Hamilton in the 8th row in San Francisco.
- Hearing my beautiful Dutch friend, a professional soprano, shock and awe the audience in Mozart’s Requiem in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands.
- Six hours of karaoke in Nashville where I made connections with everyone in the bar, sang dozens of times, and had the best karaoke experience of my life to date!!
- Surprising all the Colombians in the salsa bar with my salsa and bachata ability — this gringa’s got moooves.
- Beignets in New Orleans, crabcakes in Maryland, pasteis de nata in Lisbon, bushwackers in Nashville, and all. The. Craft. Beer.
- The candy-colored, straight out-of-a-fairy tale castles of Sintra, Portugal.
- Throwing back to my journalism days at the “Newseum” in Washington, D.C.
- Well worth the 1-hour online queue and the ball in my throat that couldn’t be swallowed, the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, NL.
- The Water to Wine kayaking trip on the Verde Valley River, with five awesome girlfriends, in celebration of my 34th birthday.
- Some truly epic alpine hiking in Washington state with one of my dearest friends.
- Finally hiking the Fossil Springs Waterfall trail in Arizona in the memory of my father.
- Roller coasters with my siblings, nephews and niece in Williamsburg Busch Gardens (fighting over who gets to sit next to Aunt Julie, no less).
- Paying off my car, maxing out my 401K AND my Roth IRA contribution limit for the year — financial independence, here I come.
- Reaching 110+ subscribers on YouTube, 1K+ followers on Instagram, and 8.1K unique visitors to my website! THANK YOU for all the support!!
- Being TRUE to myself and standing up for what I believe in. Taking RISKS and being VULNERABLE. Sharing my story — all of it, both good and bad. Practicing gratitude, slowing down, and taking it all in.
What was your favorite memory of 2019? What do I need to see in 2020? I’d love to hear your thoughts!