This year was incredible. I was able to check a lot of items off of my travel list and I went to Scandinavia, which is the home of my ancestors. I flew to Iceland which is a place that I have always wanted to visit and hung out with Icelandic horses. I climbed peaks and walked through valleys. I camped on volcanic rock for six days and came out with bruised hips. I have lost luggage and had it reappear.
This year was one for the books, but my hope is to include even more travels next year. For now here are some of my favorite memories from my travels in 2017.
1. Meeting an Icelandic horse
The only thing that would have made this better would have been if I were able to ride one. I am not what I would consider a 'horse person', I just was fascinated by these adorable squatty horses. Icelandic horses are also unique because their breed is specific to Iceland and rarely interacts with others outside of the island. I personally love their long manes and the beautiful coloring that they had. I was partial to the blonde ones, but they were all gorgeous.
2. Climbing Bessegen Ridge
I wrote a blog post about this one, but this was just such an amazing experience. This was a hike that was scary for me to do, but I am glad that I conquered that fear and was able to complete it. Being high above the world and looking down at the turquoise glacial water was something that I will remember forever.
3. Seeing the Underground Art in Stockholm
I have a lot of wonderful memories from Sweden, I loved the Galma Stan and walking along the river, but my favorite was the underground art. What stuck me about this art was the unique nature of its location, and the beauty that it brings to a place that would not otherwise be beautiful. Leave it to the Sweds to make even their underground beautiful. I also think it is representative of the attention to detail that the Stockholm has, even in the underbelly of the city, beautiful things still exist . The miles-long display of art was beautiful, and one of my favorite things that I saw in 2017.
4. Bicycling around Copenhagen
This was one of my favorite memories from Denmark, partially because we had walked so much prior to that day that I was just so excited to sit for a while. I also really enjoyed riding a bike in Copenhagen because it seemed only natural. To experience Copenhagen like a local, riding a bike is a must. We were also able to cover a lot of ground and see a lot of places by bike, which we simply would not have made it to without that mode of transportation. Plus the sensation of the wind blowing through your hair while you ride by the river is pretty incredible, I would highly recommend it.
5. Visiting the Sea Fortress Island in Helsinki
When we got to Helsinki, we were exhausted and a little skeptical, but once we hopped on the ferry and rode out to the Sea Fortress, we were hooked. This little island is adorable, and I loved it because it was picturesque and peaceful. While there were other people there, there weren't many and it was a very relaxed atmosphere.
This year I went to Sitka, Alaska and Pasadena, California for two of my very sweet friend's weddings. While these trips were both wedding-centric we went on adventures and had great times as well.
Watching my sweet friend Maddie get married was incredible. Her wedding was beautiful with rustic Alaskan vibes and I loved celebrating this moment with her. She also showed us around her hometown of Sitka, which while it is not a large town was very charming and I love the time spent there with my dear friends.
I had a couple of favorite activities from Alaska, the first of which was a kayaking trip through a few little islands in the ocean. I love being on the water. And this little kayaking trip was the perfect thing to do with our little group.
Another incredible thing we did for the rehearsal dinner was we went on a boat that enabled us to look for whales. We did end up seeing one, though it was difficult to capture an image of. The whale kept surfacing and splashing his tail at us though which was an incredible experience.
Anela and I have been friends since Kindergarten, so when she asked me to be her bridesmaid, I was flattered and excited. Her beautiful wedding was in Pasadena California in an amazing outdoor setting with beautiful twinkling lights at a historic manor. This was my first time being a bridesmaid and I loved standing alongside my beautiful friend as she said her vows.
In Pasadena, one of my favorite moments was visiting the Huntington Gardens and Library. In this location there are acres upon acres of beautiful gardens with different themes. My favorites were the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, and The Renaissance Garden. Exploring this area was one of my favorite days.
Another one of my favorites was the day that we spent at Ivy Glen Hot Spring Spa, which was incredible and relaxing. At this spa there were different pools and portions that we were able to visit which all had different feels. There was even a mud pool where you could cover yourself head to toe with mud. One of the best pools in my opinion was one that had a hot and cold component. For ten minutes you stay in one pool, then you hop into the freezing cold pool for a minute. My nordic blood loved it!
I have had the opportunity to visit a lot of incredible places this year, and I hope to see even more next year.
Countries on my list to see:
Peru, Costa Rica, and Cuba
Eastern Europe: Greece, Russia, and Czech Republic specifically
It is my goal to make it to all of these countries in the next year, and I am going to do my best to make it happen.
Cheers to a Happy New Year and achieving all of the goals you set your mind to.