2013! What a good year! I’ve decided to continue last year’s photo roundup style, as in one picture per country, but for this year I’ll add some US states since we did our big US road trip.
We were actually in Thailand until March 8th, so we spent a good chunk of the year there. Until February 17th, we were living our lives in Chiang Mai. We had a cooking class, and I rode an elephant. We also went ziplining, went to the zoo, and ate lots of tasty food. We met lots of travel bloggers too! Our next stop was Railay Beach, where we explored a lagoon and went rock climbing. Next was Ko Lanta, where we mostly just had tasty food, though Jeff did go snorkeling, and we ran into Steph and Tony of 20 Years Hence. What followed was a quick stop in Phuket to fly on to Malaysia. I chose this adorable baby elephant to represent our time in Thailand, since it is the national animal.
This go-round in Malaysia was rather short: just five days. All were spent in Kuala Lumpur, where we ate and ate and ate, largely with our friend Soraya. We also visited the Islamic Art Museum (the photo is of a beautiful illustrated Koran from the museum), Merdeka Square, the City Gallery, and the National Textile Museum.
Turkey was a wonderful month for us. We started in Istanbul, visiting the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar (pictured above), Taksim Square, and the Galata Tower. Near the Galata Tower we ran into Deb and Dave of the Planet D. Then it was on to Ankara, where we saw the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Next was magical Cappadocia, where we took some tours, rode in a hot air balloon, went for hikes, and generally had a grand old time. From there we went to Antalya, which was a beautiful town but saw some health problems for me. After that we visited Selcuk and nearby Ephesus, and then Canakkale to see Troy. Finally we wrapped it up with more time in Istanbul eating all the things.
We spent one week in Sofia. We enjoyed our awesome apartment, took a free walking tour, and visited Rila Monastery, pictured above.
In one week in Bucharest, we ate at a molecular gastronomy restaurant and found some nice things to do. Then we spent a couple of days in Brasov checking out a castle and some other historic buildings. Finally we hung out in Sighisoara, often linked with Dracula. Above is the Dambovita River in Bucharest.
Our week in Budapest included a food tour and lots of nice wandering around the city. The above photo looking over the Danube at the Chain Bridge with St. Stephen’s in the background was taken on a free walking tour of the city.
The week in Vienna saw us doing a lot of wandering and bike riding. We used MealSharing and met some locals. We saw the Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School. I couldn’t take pictures, so here’s a picture of some of the carriage horses around the city. Lots of drivers hang around the tourist attractions to sell you a ride around the old city.
We spent one day in Bratislava as a side trip from Vienna. It’s a rather charming city. The picture is of Bratislava Castle.
Our month in Italy was my second visit to the country, and it was just as awesome this time. Maybe more so, since I had more time to eat and enjoy. Italy is truly a foodie paradise. We took a gondola ride in Venice, toured Florence, searched for gelato in Rome, found pizza in Naples, and stuffed ourselves full of pesto in Genoa. Most of the time we traveled with Jeff’s parents. It was wonderful. This photo is from the Forum in Pompeii.
From mid-June to early August, we were back in Virginia at our respective homes. It was very relaxing and great to see friends and family. Here’s a picture of boats at the marina in Wachapreague.
In Michigan, we visited Jeff’s brother Kevin in Ann Arbor. We went to the lovely botanic gardens and devoured sandwiches at Zingerman’s. We also took a short trip to Dearborn to visit the Ford Rouge Factory. You could sit in a brand new F-150 Raptor (pictured here) after you had watched the assembly line.
Our time in Indianapolis was spent at Gen Con, the country’s largest board game convention. We stayed near the convention center in one of the Marriott properties. Above is sunset as we walked to our hotel.
In Missouri, we visited both St. Louis and Kansas City briefly. We went to a cool sculpture park in St. Louis, and ate at Arthur Bryant’s (seen here) in Kansas City.
On our night in Kansas City, we stayed on the Kansas side. The next day, we drove through the state, stopping in Wichita at the Doo Dah Diner (super good!) on the way.
We spent 5 days in Lawton visiting my brother and my sister-in-law. Here’s a view from the top of Mount Scott. It is ridiculously hot in Oklahoma in August.
We had one night in Amarillo. We visited the American Quarter Horse Museum and walked along old route 66. We also checked out the Big Texan Steak Ranch, a great roadside attraction and home to a 72-ounce steak eating challenge. We didn’t try it.
After Amarillo, we had a night in Santa Fe. We stopped by a very tiny farmer’s market and I got a haircut. We walked around the cute town center, pictured above.
Our time in Arizona was brief but awesome. We saw the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park, stayed in Flagstaff, visited the Grand Canyon (pictured here), and stopped at Navajo Bridge.
In Utah, we stayed in both Kanab and Panguitch. We visited Bryce Canyon, seen above. Truly beautiful.
Las Vegas was fun. We gambled a little and visited the Pinball Hall of Fame. The above picture is from the Fremont Street Experience, which has some of the best neon in town.
California is a big state, and we more or less traveled the length of it. We started with 7 days in LA, then drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and stayed in San Francisco for 5 days. In LA, we hung out in Burbank and then Venice Beach, and visited LACMA and Runyon Canyon. We stayed for a night in San Luis Obispo along the PCH. The picture is of juvenile elephant seals that we saw along the way. San Francisco consisted of yummy food, as well as a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods, and a night visit to the California Academy of Sciences.
We spent 5 days in Portland. We saw the International Rose Test Garden and went for a hike, and did a bunch of shopping (no sales tax in Oregon).
We were in Seattle for a brief three days, staying with Andrea and Matt of World Walk About. We went to Pike’s Place, saw the Fremont Troll, watched salmon swim up the fish ladder at the Ballard Locks, and enjoyed Gasworks Park. Above is the Space Needle.
Our return to Vancouver was nice. We spent 3 days there, walking around Gastown (the gas clock is pictured above), visiting the aquarium, seeing Stanley Park, and hanging out with my friend Gavin’s parents.
We stayed in Bozeman for three nights. One day was spent visiting the Montana Alpaca Farm’s annual open house, and the other was our day trip to Yellowstone, which is mostly in Wyoming. On the way to Rapid City, we stopped at Little Bighorn National Monument at the eastern edge of the state.
Our day in Wyoming was spent in Yellowstone National Park. We also drove through a teeny piece of the state on the way from Bozeman to Rapid City.
We spent two nights in Rapid City, checking out Mount Rushmore (from the road only – the government shutdown meant we couldn’t go closer), the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park. The next day we drove to Sioux Falls, through Wall (home of Wall Drug) and Mitchell (home of the Corn Palace, pictured above).
One night in Minneapolis comprised our time in Minnesota. We visited the Mall of America and, in the morning, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Above is one of the holes in the artist-created mini golf course at the sculpture garden.
We had one lovely night in Madison where we played board games and ate cheese products. On the way to Chicago, we stopped for a tour of the Sprecher Brewery (chosen for the available soda in addition to beer) in Milwaukee as well as at several cheese stores, including the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha.
We had actually spent a brief time driving through the southern bit of Illinois between Indianapolis and St Louis. This time we spent three nights in Chicago. We wandered around, went to the zoo, and ate pizza.
We spent a total of three nights in Ontario: one in London with our friend Max, one in Toronto, and one in Niagara Falls. We ate poutine and wandered around in Toronto, finding the graffiti above. And in Niagara Falls we of course saw the famous falls!
The final stop of our road trip, just before heading back to Fairfax to begin our job hunt, was in Boston, or more accurately, in Cambridge. We stayed with our friend Trevor, played board games, and ate food, mostly. Above is Cambridge’s city hall.
We didn’t make it to Spain like we had hoped, but instead we drove 10,000 miles around the US, so I think that worked out well for us.
Where did you go this year?