End of the year, peeps. A recap of my favorite trips this year, near and far:
Exploring Kauai, January. I’d been to Oahu numerous times, but I had no idea how lush and green Kauai was—I guess that’s why they call it the Garden Isle, eh? My family and I stayed on Poipu Beach and spent time on the east and southwest shores: Kapaa, Wailua, and Waimea. I loved the beaches, Waimea Canyon, and jungle hiking to secluded swimming holes on the east side with my brother and sister-in-law. Oh, and the shave ice at Jojo’s is sweetness to daydream about. (For photos, check out Flickr: Kauai.)
Breathing in the mountain air in Bend, January. 2010 marked 10 years since my time in Cannes, France. I made three stellar friends from this semester: Robin in Los Angeles, Elise in DC, and Maggie in Bend. I’ve met up with Robin numerous times over the years—in 2008, I stayed with her for a few weeks in London, when she was editing a Bond film; I’ve spent time with Elise on the East Coast—New York, DC, and Maryland; and I’ve seen Maggie here in California and up in both Oregon and Washington. But we’d never been able to all get together…until this year. I’d visited Bend one July, when it was super hot, so I was glad to visit in January to experience its cold, crisp weather. I adore this town’s outdoorsy, laid-back vibe. Bend has got some inviting coffee shops, too, from Strictly Organic to Thump Coffee. Quite cozy.
Laptopping and latte sipping in Carmel, February. Carmel isn’t far from San Francisco; I made a pact with myself that I’d take more short weekend trips throughout Northern California. I’d passed through Carmel before, but I’d never stayed for the weekend. It’s a quaint village by the sea—a bit too on-the-beaten-path with cheesy, overpriced boutiques and galleries with ugly art. Still, it’s a laid-back little town to escape from the city, and I liked the Carmel Coffee House and Roasting Company, down an alleyway off the main drag, for laptopping and lattes. The Carmel Mission Basilica is a nice pitstop: serene and spooky, and photo-worthy for sure. (View photos via Flickr: Carmel.)
Spending $$$ and cocktailing in Las Vegas, February and December. Earlier this year, I hit the slots and dined extremely well (at Bradley Ogden and other spots) in Sin City. It was also my first trip to Vegas in which I was more financially sound than ever before, which makes it much easier to live the good life on the Strip. Earlier this month, I flew to Vegas on a random Wednesday, spending the day with Twitter’s favorite pharaoh, Nick. I hit a few Texas Hold ‘Em tables with him, which was fun. I love Vegas—it’s an anything-goes adult playground, and there’s nothing better than wandering casinos with a cocktail in hand.
Couch crashing in Brooklyn, April. One of my closest friends, Irene, lives in Brooklyn, and I visit at least once a year, just to chill and hang out. A few summers ago, I crashed on her couch when she lived in Prospect Heights, a neighborhood I love. Nearby, there’s Soda, a bar with an outdoor patio for lazy weekday happy hours, and Cheryl’s Global Soul, a cute brunch spot. Now, she lives over in Park Slope, another area I like. Irene’s got me hooked on Korean BBQ, so I look forward to our visits to Don’s Bogam in Midtown. I’m counting down the months ’til spring arrives…can’t wait to visit again. (For some photos of my spring trip, check out Flickr: NYC/Brooklyn.)
Getting pampered in Sonoma, May. For Mother’s Day, I treated my mother to a spa day at the posh Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. We got massages, tried out the inn’s bathing ritual, and lounged by the pool for the afternoon. After, we walked around downtown Sonoma’s historic town square of shops, tasting rooms, and a vintage theater. (For photos, visit Flickr: Sonoma & Napa.)
Roaming Disneyland, July. Disneyland never gets old. I’ll admit in my college years, my friends and I went to Disneyland to partake in all sorts of mischief, and the park through crazy goggles is quite the spectacle. I now have three nephews, and I’ve visited the park twice with two of them; Disneyland is just as surreal as an adult—perhaps even more so, as you’ve got the memories of your childhood built into you and can’t help but contemplate the passage of time.
Swimming down Cenote Aguila and surviving the temazcal steam hut (both on Tres Rios’ property) were highlights. I’m missing those beach beds right about now. (See more photos via Flickr: Hacienda Tres Rios.)
Sunbathing and food truckin’ in Austin, February and September. I love, love, love Austin. My first visit in February led me to explore downtown and its neighborhoods to the south, mainly South Congress. My end-of-summer trip with my good friend Angel focused on the outdoors, and we hit up several swimming spots, from Barton Springs to Hamilton Pool. Food trucks, outdoor drinking spots, grub-worthy BBQ, quirky bars with a whole lot of character (like Lustre Pearl)…It’s all good. If you stay in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood, I suggest this cool cottage that we found on Airbnb. (See photos via Austin: Spring 2010 and Austin & Dripping Springs.)
Lingering in Madrid, August. I finally wrote a post on Madrid yesterday, four months after my trip. It’s a hot mess of a post, quite roundabout, but Madrid is such a special city and I’m still processing and absorbing it, I suppose. Simply put, I adore it and how life unfolds there. The wine, the tapas, the lingering. I would love to stay there for several months. Don’t know how I’d fit that into my future schedule, but it’s always fun to scheme. (View photos via Flickr: Madrid.)
Gazing at all that’s grand in Lisbon, August. Oh goodness, Lisboa. You’re quite the awe-inspiring city with your panoramic city views, creaky trams, and gorgeous ancient districts, like the Alfama. It was so easy to get around, and I loved its pasteis de nata and ginjinha. Check out my previous post, 5 Things: A Quick Peek at Lisbon, Portugal. And I totally recommend the hostel I stayed at, Travellers House. (View photos via Flickr: Lisbon.)
Making my techno pilgrimage to Ibiza, August. This visit was a decade in the making, and although we didn’t get uber-club-crazy here, I still view this part of my trip to Spain as a nod to the many years our San Francisco and Los Angeles crews spent hitting the dance floors. I especially love Cala Tarida, a beach on the island’s west side with a cliff to jump off, and wandering San Antonio‘s waterfront in the evening.
Finding my place in Granada, August. Sometimes, you visit a place and just know, you know? You just know it’s a place that will stay with you long after you’ve left—a city that will carve out its own little nook in your heart, soul, and memory. Granada is such a place. I had not felt such strong pleasurable emotions of wonder, comfort, independence, and curiosity in a very long time, and Granada was the one city on my trip where I wished I didn’t have to come home.
I’d return in a second, and stay much longer, when money and time allow. The first post I wrote when I was there, A Glimpse of Granada, put my blog on Freshly Pressed, so I think Granada is an all-around positively karmic place for me. (I previously wrote about its street art, as well as my visit to the Alhambra, too.) (View photos via Flickr: Granada.)
So, there you go. I went to other places as well, but these are the trips that I especially enjoyed. I’m heading to Hawaii in January and Egypt in February, so my 2011 is on the right track so far.
Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Blogger at Writing Through the Fog. Story Wrangler at Automattic.