2014 has been a year for the travel books. From day tripping across Italy to visiting every town in Rhode Island, I managed to squeeze a lot of travel in. I’ve had a big focus on Europe in the last four months on the blog, so today I want to remember some other spots I visited this year (with a little Europe thrown in), and after reading this post on Travel Stained I decided to reflect on the year in travel.
Brunch in Philly (January)
I started the year off strong with a weekend trip to Philadelphia with my sister and her (now) fiancé Kevin. We hit up a lot of the major sights and ate ourselves into oblivion. While Philly is famous for its cheesesteak, the food that stayed with me the most (with Federal Donuts in a close second) was brunch at the Standard Tap. The food was cooked to perfection, and the cranberry walnut pancakes I had there were the best I’ve ever had. Maybe I’ve romanticized them in my head since eating them almost a year ago now, but they’re holding first place in my….pancake books.
Jumping in Lake Atitlán (March)
I went to Guatemala with a service group from school this March, and we had a free day before flying back home to explore Lake Atitlán, a gorgeous volcanic lake in the countryside. We hopped around a couple of the towns and found some rocks to use as home base when we took the plunge. The water was cold (though we were in Guatemala, it’s still only warm, springtime weather in March) but felt really fresh, and it was incredible to be in the water and surrounded by volcanoes and mountains.
Morning Stroll in Antigua (March)
Before heading into Guatemala City one morning, some of us went for an early morning stroll through Antigua, where we stayed for the week. The streets were quiet, and the sun was just beginning to appear in the sky, casting beautiful light on the pale yellow, lavender, periwinkle, and red buildings.
Chicago Weekend (June)
Another top weekend of the year was when my sisters, Kevin, and I all went to Chicago. As we always do when we’re all together, we ate to no end, sampling Chicago Dogs, Scooter’s Frozen Custard, and Lou’s. Second City and the Chicago Art Institute were both top tier attractions, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation boat cruise was a fun and relaxed way to learn about the city’s famous skyscrapers.
Biking Block Island (July)
For a more low-key day trip, Cara, Kevin, and I headed to Block Island before the Fourth to explore one of Rhode Island’s treasures. We spent most of the day biking from one end of the island to the other, and we got to appreciate the acres and acres of preserved land the island maintains. After returning the bikes to the rental place, we topped it all off with a mudslide (although I’ll have to return next year to be part of that “we” enjoying a mudslide…)
Norwegian Relaxation Competition (October)
My weekend visit with my Norwegian friends was full of surprises, and one of the big ones was the Norwegian Relaxation Competition. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t drone, but it was a very quirky experience enjoying an American-style coffee in a hammock while looking out at the fjord in Oslo.
Walking along the Seine (October)
My friends and I crammed a lot into my weekend visit to Paris and hit up a lot of the major sights and checked out the Disney bar, but one of the most pleasant and relaxing experiences in this bustling, capital city was walking along the Seine with my friend Megan. We took a box of macarons with us and made our way from the Hôtel de Ville to the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed city and the river.
Commemorating the Fall of the Berlin Wall (November)
Another particularly interesting weekend trip was to Berlin. I met up with all my friends from school who were also studying in Europe, we rented an Airbnb, and took on the city. Three of us had just taken a course about Berlin Since 1918 through film, so it was really rewarding to see the city and all of the celebrations going on for the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall.
Pub hop in Dublin (November)
Dublin is known for its beer and nightlife, and I got to experience that firsthand when I visited my friend Brianna at Trinity. We started at the Stag’s Head, continued on to the Auld Dubliner, and ended up at a salsa club. While Bologna’s Piazza Verdi is a spectacle of punk and hippie students sitting cross-legged with beers and cigarettes, Dublin’s nightlife is really something else. Parents, students, bachelorette parties, and kids all hop around from bar to bar and fill up the cobblestone streets while live music plays inside the different venues.
Bolognese Food (August-December)
Finally, one thing I’ve missed the most since coming home is Bologna’s food. Last night, my family and I went to dinner at the Boat House in Tiverton, and I ordered the Bolognese out of a spell of “Bologna-sickness.” While it was good, it still couldn’t live up to a good ragù with the fresh, yellow tagliatelle from Osteria dell’Orsa, a Bolognese staple. Aside from the ragù, the city has tons of great spots for pizza, kebab, gelato, affogato, and piadina.
It’s been a great year for travel, and I’m excited for what 2015 has to offer. I’ll be starting off with a weekend in Princeton, NJ and a day trip to Philly, but I can’t wait to see what else the coming year has in store.