2017 is old news at this point, but I still thought it would be fun to give a little recap of the many exciting places I visited this last year! (Similar to this one for 2016, if you haven’t checked it out yet.) Anyone else who blogs knows that blogs are mostly there for sharing thoughts and knowledge and woes with readers like you. But they also have the added benefit of acting as a nice life log
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to check three new countries and two new continents off my list in 2017. January was a pretty heavy travel month for me, so why don’t we start there and continue through the year chronologically? Sound good? Good.
Spencer and I started the year off with a bang when we won tickets to the National College Football Championship game from the (now defunct) Mike & Mike Show on ESPN Radio. We ate great food, stayed in the most beautiful resort in St. Petersburg, and watched my parents’ alma mater Clemson beat Alabama to become national champions!
Favorite Eats: Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops | Between the VIP buffets, we snacked on these awesome ice pops and did not regret one bite. (I recommend the champagne mango!)
Most Swanky Hotel: The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club | ESPN put us up in style. I only wish we’d been able to explore a little more of the waterfront.
I swear I don’t normally spend this much time in Florida (Beaches aren’t really my travel destination of choice), but when your cousin has a gorgeous wedding in her hometown, you show up for the occasion!
Loveliest Reception Space: Epping Forest Yacht Club | I’d been to this event space once for another cousin’s wedding, and I was once again blown away by the beautiful historic building and seaside outdoor areas. Two thumbs way up!
I got to spend three days in Portugal as part of a work trip because my life is honestly too good to be true sometimes. It took me about three minutes to fall in love with the city–the food, the people, the tiles!–and I have no choice but to go back some day (except I’ll spend at least a week and probably bring Spencer, too ;)).
While you wait for me to post my own Lisbon recap (oh God, has it really been a whole year?), check out this guest post I did for my friend/boss/kindred spirit, Corrie!
Favorite Eats: A Cevicheria | We waited two hours for a three-top table smushed in the corner of this tiny restaurant, and I do not regret a minute of it.
Best Tourist Spot: Sintra | This little hideaway is a short train ride outside of Lisbon proper, so you have no excuse not to check it out. Take the super cheap train and the beaten path up the mountainside to visit the Castelo Dos Mouros, and you won’t be disappointed!
In February, the Young Educators Foundation in Ghana celebrated the 10th National Spelling Bee of Ghana, and I got to tag along for the fun! It was my first time in Africa, and I absolutely loved it. The people were lovely, the landscapes were beautiful, and I came home with a suitcase of amazing handmade clothing and a phone full of photos.
Favorite Eats: Buka Restaurant | This little spot in the Osu neighborhood of Accra is known for its traditional Ghanaian fare like fetri detsi soup.
Best Tourist Spot: Kakum National Park | I walked among the trees across a rope ladder that hung hundreds of feet above the ground. It was breathtaking!
New Orleans, Louisiana
Corrie and I got into NOLA on Ash Wednesday when the real parties begin. (Just kidding, we were here for an education conference, but we did eat the best food and meander down beautiful streets and buy Corrie her first hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s.)
Favorite Eats: Sylvain | Champagne & fries. Champagne & fries. Do I really need to say more than champagne & fries is an actual item on the starters menu?
Spot Attraction: Free Tours by Foot French Quarter Ghost Tour | This tour was pay-what-you-like, which is always nice, but I’m pretty sure I forked over all the money I had in my wallet because the tour guide was funny, had so much knowledge about the area, but also kind of scared the pants off me.
My God, Corrie and I did a lot of traveling together this year. Pretty sure I saw her more often than I saw Spencer for the first quarter of 2017. 🙂
More conferences led us to Anaheim, but this is a little misleading because the fun parts I’m going to talk about were spent in Los Angeles proper. We took a half day out to give me all kinds of garden envy at the Huntington Botanical Garden, visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame (I have the same size hands as Emma Watson, and I’m sure that means something!), and see Beauty and the Beast at the El Capitan Theatre.
Favorite Eats: Miceli’s | This was one of Corrie’s old haunts, and between the pizza and the spontaneous show tune serenades, I was into it.
Best Tourist Spot: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens | Just a little ways outside of L.A. is the most beautiful estate with gorgeous botanical gardens and an awe-inspiring library. I could have pitched a tent out on the grounds and happily lived for the rest of my life (and I’m not a tent/camping/outdoorsy person).
This part would be where the whole “personal life log” thing comes into play. I was in Tulsa for literally 24 hours and have nothing exciting to share with you except that the airport was small and clean and bright. (This trip had me in airports for an entire weekend thanks to the great Delta scheduling meltdown of 2017.)
I only found myself in D.C. twice this year: once for the actual Bee and once for the National Press Club’s Politicians vs. Press Spelling Bee. Two trips to our nation’s capital, but three friend encounters because I have the best friends ever.
Favorite Eats: MXDC | It’s become a bit of tradition to pop in here once the fun of the NPC Bee is over, and since they serve literal skillets full of the best Mexican cheese, I have no complaints.
Best Tourist Spot: Nationals Park | I promise you I am a Braves fan through and through, but the Nationals have a beautiful ballpark.
Los Angeles, California
I was here for an incredibly brief trip, but I got to hang out backstage at Jimmy Kimmel Live! (and Lil Wayne walked right by me), so it was all worth it.
Most Dumbly Gorgeous Hotel: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel | I would go back to L.A. just to hang out in the old, beautiful lobby of this hotel. That is all.
Favorite Eats: Public Kitchen & Bar | It’s also in the Hollywood Roosevelt. It’s beautiful. The food was great. You won’t be disappointed.
San Antonio, Texas
More education conferences means more short little trips to fun cities. I had only been to San Antonio once before, and I really wish we’d had more time to explore. I will say that the city has a great vibe, and they know how to prepare some tequila!
Favorite Eats: The Esquire Tavern | This place charmed the pants off me with its longest wood bar in Texas and its tin ceiling and its mezcal cocktails.
Best Tourist Spot: The Riverwalk | Is it touristy? Of course it is! But there’s something about walking along a beautifully lit river at night, knowing there’s a city hustling and bustling right above you.
How can I possibly explain just how lovely our week in Japan was in two short little sentences? Tokyo was an experience, Kyoto became home away from home, and Nara had deer that ate out of our palms! (I swear there will be an entire Japan post [maybe two! maybe twelve!] very, very soon.)
Favorite Eats: Yakiniku Yaruki Shijo Kawaramachi | We stumbled upon this little place in downtown Kyoto, and while we didn’t spring for Kobe beef, the beef (and beef tongue for Spencer) that we had was good and cheap and fun to grill on the little flame in the center of the table.
Best Tourist Spot: Monkey Park Iwatayama | After a steep hike up to the monkey park, we stepped into a little “human cage” and let macaques come up to the windows and eat apples and peanut right out of our hands. Very much a “the monkeys are the residents, you are merely visitors” place, and I loved it!
More conferences, but this time I got to see one of my very best friends who goes to UCF. She took us around to all the non-theme park sights, and we played a Harry Potter-themed version of Cards Against Humanity!
Favorite Eats: The Ravenous Pig | Oh my goodness, just thinking about this place makes me happy. Best meal I had all year long, and the cocktails were two thumbs way up high!
One More Thing You Should Eat: Jeremiah’s Italian Ice | They’re famous for the gelati: layers of Italian ice and soft serve.
Tourist Spot Nerd-Themed Board Game Bar: The Cloak & Blaster | The entrance doors at the gates of Moria, they have 50 bajillion board games to choose from, and the beer list isn’t half bad.
Green Bay, Wisconsin
I finally made it to a Packers game at Lambeau Field! It was the first shutout at home for the Packers in over a decade… but I feel like I can now consider myself a real fan.
Favorite Eats: Titletown Brewing Company | The beer was good, but the food was amazing. The poutine consisted of the best fried cheese curds dripped with venison gravy, and we almost ordered a second one. It was that good.
Best Tourist Spot: Lambeau Field | I know this is obvious, but it’s actually a really cool stadium with lots of history, and it’s the funniest thing to look at because it might as well have been dropped in the middle of a generic small town.
It was my family’s year for the holidays, which means we spent a full week in southern Vermont, skiing and drinking good beer and experiencing the beginning of this crazy polar vortex we’ve just loved here in Cincinnati. (Please note the sarcarm. A pipe froze and then burst in our bathroom, which leaked into our garage, and it’s just a whole thing right now.)
Favorite Eats: Long Trail Brewing Company | Best food I’ve ever had in a brewery, for sure. Get anything with the Long Trail Ale Cheddar on it, and you must also order one of their brewery-only barrel-aged beers.
Best Tourist Spot: Vermont Country Store | Going to this old-timey country store in Weston is an experience. They have all sorts of penny candy and old sodas, the best meats, cheeses, and spreads to sample, and those odd gems that you can’t find anywhere else.
Whew! I traveled a ton this year. Who knew? What was your favorite place you visited in 2017? Do you already have some vacay plans for the new year? I’m thinking it’s about time Spencer and I visited Spain!
P.S. Take a peek at my travel recap from 2016 for even more getaway ideas!