Chinatown, Mexico City. Photo by @grubbinseattle
The older I get, the stronger my thirst for travel. The more places I go, the more places I want to see. Wanderlust has grabbed me – hard – and it doesn’t seem to be loosening it’s grip any time soon. In 2017, I walked on four continents, visited seven countries outside the US and ate and drank my way through dozens of cities. It has only reconfirmed that in 2018 I need to experience more (and I’m already planning my first international trip of this year – next stop, Colombia.) But for now, it’s time to look back on a fantastic year of new people, places, art, food and experiences. 2017 was a magical year of exploration; here are the most amazing places I visited:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ah, Buenos Aires… What an adventure I had there. I visited in February of 2017 and this city was absolutely intoxicating. The colorful streets of the Soho neighborhood, the incredible Sunday Market Street Fair in San Telmo, the lively artists, vendors and restaurants of El Caminito (pictured above); I loved it all. The best thing about Argentina, was, indeed though, the amazing red meat and Malbecs. I had the best steak of my life at Parrilla Peña and for only 240 pesos or about $15 USD.
Maui was, in my opinion at least, the definition of paradise. Stunning sunrises and unforgettable sunsets framed each day and those days were filled with beach walks, tropical cocktails and amazing food. I was lucky enough to visit Maui for the beginning of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival and this food and wine event was, by far, the most extraordinary I’ve ever been to. You can’t beat sipping wine on Maui at sunset while amazing chefs prepare you delicious dishes. (Read my full write up on the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival here.)
photo by Martin Strickland
Death Valley National Park, Nevada/California
Who would have guessed that a desert could be so damn beautiful? I fell in love with Death Valley National Park. I didn’t have time to do much research before this trip and really didn’t know what I was getting myself into other than my best friend Martin, his boyfriend Rocky and I would be driving eight hours to get here from San Francisco. It was so worth it, y’all. Majestic sand dunes, incredible salt basins, and fantastic rock formations were all absolutely enchanting; this is definitely one of the most unique places I’ve been. I’ve been to many, many National Parks (in this country and abroad), and this may have been my favorite.
taken from top of the Catedral de Barcelona
Barcelona is the city that stole my heart last year. There are very few times I find a place I love as much or nearly as much as Seattle, but Barcelona was one of them. If I didn’t live in the Pacific Northwest, this is most definitely where I would want to be. I loved the tapas, the art, the nightlife, the beautiful old streets and sandy beaches. Take a paella class, sail in the Mediterranean while enjoying fresh made tapas or take a historic walking tour (all of these things can be booked now on Airbnb via their Experiences feature). Don’t miss the Catedral de Barcelona in the historic Gothic Quarter, the breathtaking architectural work of Antoni Gaudi at the Sagrada Familia, the hustle and bustle of Las Ramblas or the amazing food market, La Boqueria. But especially if you go to Barcelona don’t miss the amazing Tickets Bar, well renowned as one of the best tapas bars in the world (and rightly so). Read my blog on the food scene in Barcelona here.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach makes this list for the second year in a row (and is the only destination to do so). I don’t often visit places more than once because there are just so many places I want to go, but Cannon Beach is a truly lovely little seaside town that I could return to again and again. In 2017 I had the pleasure of visiting with my sister, Colleen, and we had a fantastic weekend of relaxation in one of the most serene settings you could ask for. This photo was taken from the balcony of our hotel, the Surfsand Resort; a place I hope I’m lucky enough to visit again soon.
Marrakech is where I chose to spend my birthday this year. This was an epic adventure that started with 26 hours in Paris; I then flew into Morocco for a week and ended with five days in Barcelona. The week in Marrakech was both a culture shock and explosion. Of all the places I’ve been, Marrakech is, by far, the most alive and vibrant of them all. When you walk down the street it just seems to be humming with activity. Ornate palaces to explore, souks (markets) to haggle in and all the tagine you could ever want to eat await you in this North African city. Marrakech is not for the faint of heart – people will literally grab you as you walk down the street to get your attention; to try and sell you a henna tattoo or to hand you a menu and invite you (quite forcibly) into a restaurant for a meal or to sell you whatever goods they may be selling. If you don’t want to be bothered; walk quickly and don’t respond, but don’t expect to not be approached.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City – the city of endless amazing (and hella cheap) street food. Tacos, juices, flautas, churros and concha bread abound on every corner and you can eat your way through all of these delicious things for next to nothing. This is one of my favorite cities I’ve visited food wise. They boast a mean cocktail scene too with two of my favorite bars in the world – Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Mexico City; perhaps the most impressive bar program I’ve seen and Hanky Panky – a speak easy that took me two days to find (call first) and has some incredibly creative cocktails (and an entrance in the back of a taco shop).