Whoa. Another year just flew by! And while 2016 was unfortunately full of hardships around the world and more negativity than I can ever remember in my adult life, it’s definitely proven to me that we people need to come together and just love. Love one another unconditionally. Show compassion towards each other. Help when help is needed. Or for no reason at all. We all need to be better, nicer, truer people.
On a lighter note…
How is it 2017 already? That’s just not possible! My summer in Europe felt like just yesterday! They say the years go fast as you get older, and boy do they mean it! All kidding aside, I honestly cannot believe 2016 has come to a close. I’ve defintely had my fair share of fun this year…
After comparing this year’s extravaganzas to last year’s highlights (2015), it’s evident that 2016 beat 2015 by a landslide. I traveled almost every few weeks this year, and even spent a few months in Europe, something I never thought possible. But let’s dive in, month by month. And for good measure, here are the past few years highlight reels as well: 2013 // 2014 // 2015.
+ We spent a long weekend exploring in and around Las Vegas for a wonderful beginning of 2016, and to celebrate the last year of my 20’s! We hit up the Valley of Fire (quite spectacular I must add!), almost got blown away at the Grand Canyon West Rim (literally, it was so windy on that day!), saw David Copperfield (so cheesy and definitely NOT recommended), and of course ate some good food as always.
+ On my actual birthday, we drove down south and went on a day hike to Castle Rock State Park in Los Gatos. It seriously looked like we had been transported to a different planet. Just look at all that moss! How beautifully spectacular! California, you win at diversity and nature, that’s for sure.
+ We continued the birthday traditions by going indoor skydiving, something I never thought I’d actually say! The instructors said the sensation is quite similar to that of actual, real-life, jumping-out-of-a-plane skydiving, and I decided that for my next birthday (the big 30!), I’ll do just that.
+ I surprised my friends and family by flying in to New York to see them all. Only my aunt and uncle knew about this surprise trip for the longest time, and I finally caved and told my parents a week before. It was chilly to say the least (especially coming from the West Coast), but boy, was it nice to spend some quality time with the fam.
+ Spring Break was spent road tripping around Utah to visit all 5 national parks! We really packed a lot in, and besides hitting up Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands, we marveled at Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley. The weather was unpredictable to say the least, and we experienced the sun, snow, rain, and hail all in one day!
+ My in-laws came to California for a visit, and we showed a family friend around the city who came to visit too! We love showing visitors around SF – we have a lot of pride for the new city we call home!
We saw the Palace of Fine Arts, 16th Street Mosaic Steps, stuffed our faces with some Ghirardelli ice cream sundaes, spent some time in North Beach, walked down Lombard Street, and saw the Golden Gate Bridge from a few different vantage points. To say I’m in love with this city is a huge understatement. I still get giddy every time I see that beautiful burnt orange bridge.
+ After exploring Yosemite National Park last year, I decided it would be the perfect place to bring our friend Danny when he came to visit SF! We hiked to waterfalls, scrambled up mountains, and got lost, a lot. That’s apparently how we roll… We saw half dome from afar and boy was it a spectacular sight…
+ Day Trip! To super eccentric Berkeley that is! I love exploring new hip areas, especially when there’s ice cream involved. We walked down Telegraph Avenue, had the pizza of the day at Sliver Pizzeria, and walked around the beautiful campus of UC Berkeley. I still dream about that pizza… no joke.
+ May was a rather quiet month, with the exception of getting two wisdom teeth pulled. People always told me I was too smart.. ;p Thankfully the surgery went well, and I actually got extremely lucky and had little to no swelling, aka chipmunk face.
+ Spent the better part of the month meticulously planning my summer getaway, organizing my life before leaving for a few months, taking long walks around my (very pretty) neighborhood, and packed like no other. I’m a planner by nature, what can I say? Plus, it was peony season, and nothing gets me happier than a bouquet of fresh pink peonies! 🙂
+ Before heading off to Europe, I spent a week in NYC and then took a Southern Caribbean Cruise with my immediate family. The ship docked in St. Thomas (where we ventured off to St. John), St. Kitts, Aruba, and Curacao.
Lots of beach/pool time, Caribbean cocktails, and never-ending eating. I never get tired of the Caribbean, and since moving to the West Coast, I definitely appreciate how close the islands are to NYC. California does have Hawaii though… 😉
+ I started off my summer in Europe in Munich, where I joined a group tour that journeyed across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Italy. We saw Neuschwanstein Castle (which inspired Disney’s Cinderella!), the Chapel bridge in Lucerne, Florence, Verona, and Venice, and played in the snow at Jungfrau to name a few.
While my entire summer in Europe was downright fantastic, it was the people I met from all around the world that made this first week and then some something to remember. Innsbruck will always hold a special place in my heart. <3
And all that gelato and pizza, absolutely delicious! I then spent a few extra days exploring Munich and day tripping to the Romantic Road and Salzburg.
+ I started off July in Greece, and what a place to venture to after some tears saying goodbye to those I met in Germany. I traveled to three more Greek Islands (Hydra, Poros, and Aegina), did a bit of hiking in Delphi, and was blown away by the monasteries in Meteora up north. I met some fantastic people at my hostel in Athens and spent a few frisky nights wandering the streets (and eating everything in sight) with them.
+ Noah then met me in Athens where we explored for a few days before boarding our Meditteranean cruise! We saw all the top sights, ate too much gyro and coconut sticks, and then we were off!
The cruise stopped in Santorini (swoon, again!), the Amalfi Coast, Taormina Sicily, and Kotor Montenegro (for panoramic views of the Bay), before docking for good in Barcelona. Lots of Gaudi-time, fresh fruit juices, and tapas! We then flew to Rome for a fantastic few days, and ate all the pizza, gelato, and fresh pasta our stomachs could handle.
+ I then joined my second group tour of the summer, where we made our way from Rome all the way to London. Of course we made a whole lotta stops along the way, including Venice (again!), Ljubljana and Lake Bled (Slovenia), Pag Island and Zadar (Croatia), the Austrian Alps (for paragliding), and had a sombering visit to a concentration camp in Austria.
+ The tour headed back to Germany where I got to explore more of this country I fell in love with earlier in the summer, this time in Berlin. After a few days in Prague and Amsterdam, we were off to London! I then headed back to New York for a few days, where even more pizza and bagels were consumed before boarding my final flight of the summer back to SF.
+ I regretfully started working again on the 15th; and to say I filled my summer is a complete understatement.. But thankfully I made it back in time to California to witness my sweet little niece Emily being born! What a cutie!
+ I spent the long Labor Day weekend cheering Noah on in Anaheim during the Disneyland Half Marathon! Disney magic, Mickey cookies, fireworks, and all! On the way back up to San Francisco we spent some time in Santa Barbara and made sure to get a tour of the exquisite Hearst Castle on the beautiful California coast line.
+ LOVED the Indian Summers here in late September.. I was wearing dresses until late October! 93 degrees and the leaves were changing… California is weird I tell you. Spent a few too many nights sitting in Wendys eating frosties.. our apartment heats up so fast!
+ October was full of autumn goodness, including the Apple Fall Party with some friends where we had pumpkin cupcakes, got our faces painted (never too old for that!), ate way too much (complimentary) food truck food, and slid down 100feet slides in dresses. Yes, I’m a big kid at heart and that little fact will never change.
+ The definite highlight of October was finally visiting Alyssa in Denver, Colorado, who I sent to the Dominican Republic to represent A Passion and A Passport in June! It was an absolute pleasure finally meeting her in person, and we instantly hit it off.
We roamed Rocky Mountain National Park (where we almost got run over by a moose!) for a few days and hit up the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and Red Rock Amphitheatre. Already figuring out how I can plan a weekend to Colorado in the spring /summer.
+ Back to NYC it was for Noah’s first marathon! We made signs, cheered him on, and while we spent the better half the day freezing our little tushies off (cold in November in NYC, what?! 😛 ), I wouldn’t have missed this event for the world.
I’m still so proud of my man and cannot believe he ran 26.2 miles throughout all 5 boroughs of New York City. He’s already thinking of running the Honolulu Marathon in 2017… I won’t say no to that! 😉
+ November ended with a really-last-minute-spontaneous-trip to South Lake Tahoe for Thanksgiving Day weekend. We literally decided at 9pm after Thanksgiving dinner that’d we leave the next morning at 7am… And after scoring a fantastic deal on a 4-wheel drive and wildly good savings at a top hotel, we knew we made the right decision.
We drove all around the lake, took the gondola up Heavenly Mountain for spectacular views (despite some cloud cover at times), and played in the snow together.
+ The first weekend of the month was spent in beautiful Park City, Utah, where Noah and I planned the ultimate itinerary for those who don’t ski or snowboard. The area is downright spectacular, and I cannot believe it’s taken me almost 30 years to figure that out firsthand.
We had exceptional dining experiences, got spa treatments, rode on an alpine roller coaster, relaxed in our own private hot tub (during a snowfall – so romantic I must add!), and get this – went bobsledding on an Olympic track.
+ We finally busted out our San Francisco CityPasses and explored the California Academy of Sciences in the city. An aquarium, planetarium, and science museum all under one roof? Yes, please!
+ I closed out the year by spending New Years Eve in Monterey, California with Noah. It’s a definite stop on any California coast road trip! We had hoped to do some whale watching the following day, but unfortunately the tide was too rough and our trip got cancelled. What a bummer to the start of 2017, oh well!
So what’s up for next year? I’ve already got a few things in the works (of course, that’s me, always scheming!). I’ll be spending a few days solo exploring LA and meeting up with a few friends, spending my 30th birthday in Hawaii in late January/early February, and will hopefully be booking flights to Japan in a few weeks for mid-April.
A trip to Europe with my sister is in the works, as is an epic road trip throughout Canada’s National Parks.
What was your favorite experience in 2016? Where are you hoping to go this year?!