It’s hard to pick just ten highlights, but here are some that have stayed in my mind.
1. Artist’s Point, Grand Marais, Minnesota
In March we headed up to Minnesota’s North Shore to stay with some dear friends and visit Grand Marais. While there, we met some other friends. On a beautiful, warm and sunny day we walked out to Artist’s Point. I had never been here before and was delighted by the views of the city and out to the lake. It was a perfect day to amble along with friends, enjoying the unseasonable warmth and sharing time together.
2. Evening in Istanbul, Turkey
April found us in Istanbul. Our trip began with stunning weather and I convinced my girlfriend and her mom to go out with me to take night shots around the Blue Mosque. It was wonderful to be roaming the city at night – the city felt smaller and more manageable in the darkness; the soft evening air, warm and humid, was comforting; and the local men were entertaining as they pitched marriage proposals to my friend.
The opportunities for photography were good too!
3. The airshow at Pamukkale, Turkey
Our trip to Turkey included a stop at the terraces of Pamukkale. I had been looking forward to this, inspired by beautiful pictures of the otherworldly – and deserted – blue pools suspended in glistening white terraces. In what seemed like an unfortunate coincidence, our visit to the terraces coincided with Turkey’s National Sovereignty and Children’s Day and the site was mobbed. People crawled along the edges of the terraces like so many thousands of ants.
It was almost impossible to even get out on the terraces through the crowds, but disappointment turned to awe as the red and white planes of the Turkish Stars began swooping in from all directions, twisting and turning as they danced overhead.
The terraces of Pamukkale had become a giant stadium for spectators.
As they would at an air show in the U.S., the crowd oohed and awed and cheered as the display continued. I did the same. It was wonderful to be part of the crowd and, for those few moments, I felt a little bit Turkish.
4. The Travel Blogger’s Exchange Conference, Keystone, Colorado
Spring brought a trip to the Denver area for the TBEX conference. While the Colorado Rockies were beautiful, the conference was a fabulous experience. It was amazing to be around so many people who see travel blogging not as an odd hobby, but part of a business. The speakers were informative and inspiring and I came home with all sorts of ideas (some implemented now!) for improving this blog and – maybe – creating a business in the future.
5. An Apostle Islands Fourth, Wisconsin
Friends of ours with a boat on Lake Superior invited us out on the lake over the Fourth of July. It was wonderful to be out on the water, enjoying the gorgeous northern landscape and the company of friends (and their dogs).
6. A Lake Vermilon Get-Away, Minnesota
There’s nothing like starting your weekend with a “cab” ride in a friend’s pontoon. And that was just the first in a string of wonderful experiences during a relaxing summer weekend spent with friends at their cabin on Lake Vermillion. It was the epitome of summer in Minnesota.
7. A Night Out in Concord, Massachusetts
Fall brought us to Massachusetts to visit a couple different friends. The whole trip was wonderful, but the night of fine dining, driving my friend’s BMW electric prototype, and then all of us getting locked out of the house provided a lot of adventure for one evening. Luckily, it was a beautiful evening and none of us had any other place we needed to be. . . and now our friends know how to break into their own house without damaging anything!
8. Ashore on Anse Lazio, Praslin, Mahé, Seychelles
There is nothing that makes a beach more fabulous than having to earn your time there. Anse Lazio is noted as one of the loveliest beaches on Praslin in the Seychelles and it did indeed look lovely from the deck of our sailboat anchored in the bay. Thus I was disappointed when we were advised not to go ashore because of the surf.
But that was just advice, so several of us set out in the dinghy with the goal of landing on that beach.
Success has never been so sweet.
9. On and Off the Road on Mahé, Seychelles
The guide books tend to recommend against driving in the Seychelles (especially at night), but it was a treat to move freely around the island. . . even after running off the road in the darkness. (The friendly and helpful locals helped us pick up the car and ensured that all four wheels were back on the pavement.)
Still, it was awfully nice to have a friend along to serve as navigator and tour guide on our first day out!
10. A Friend’s Neighborhood, Paris, France
A friend in Paris gave us a brief tour of his neighborhood, a neighborhood filled with markets, butchers, cheese shops, cafes and restaurants – all just a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. I can’t imagine being able to call this “home.”
Every trip has moments that will become a treasured memory. I picked this year’s travel highlights rather randomly, but it turns out that they generally have one thing in common – the moment was shared with others.
A big thank you all my friends for sharing my travels over the past year. I hope to see all of you again soon.