This post was last updated on January 6th, 2015
Today marks our final post of 2014! It’s honestly a bit weird, primarily because this past year has been utterly fantastic, but also because we have a lot of new and exciting changes coming up in 2015.
We’re incredibly excited to go forward and make the most out of each and every day that the New Year will bring. And of course, we’re practically bursting at the seams to share with you all of our upcoming life changes. But before we look forward, we wanted to take a couple of extra moments to look back—to reflect on 2014, on our favorite adventures, and on our most beautiful memories. We feel so blessed to have been able to share these experiences with all of you, and we hope you’ll enjoy reminiscing with us a bit! If it can inspire you to go out and have more adventures of your own in 2015…well, that’s even better!
As always, we’re insanely grateful to have such a great group of readers to share our stories with. Happy, Happy, Happy New Year! Look forward to sharing more wonderful adventures together in 2015!
And now here it is: our 20 most epic travel experiences from 2014 :)
1. Humpback Whale Watching In San Pancho, Mexico
We began 2014 in the small, friendly beach town of San Pancho, Mexico. We fell in love with the community, the people, the dogs, the sunsets, the food, the yoga and the surf. It’s the type of place we could see ourselves living in permanently one day. And while we made countless wonderful memories during our time there, one of the highlights had to be going humpback whale watching. We squeezed into a small boat and floated in the Pacific Ocean, waiting for the whales to approach us. And boy, did they approach us! At one point during the tour, a mother, father and baby humpback whale swam so close to our boat that we could have reached out to touch them. It was a beautiful moment that still gives both of us goosebumps to think about.
2. Exploring the Cenotes In Mexico
It’s a bit embarrassing, but we didn’t even know what a cenote was before our trip to the Yucatan Peninsula. However, these magical bodies of water are not easily forgotten once experienced. There are over 6,000 cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. We visited only four of them, each vastly different from the next. In between kayaking, snorkeling, zip-lining, cliff-jumping, and rappelling into the crystal-clear water, we cultivated a deep admiration for these natural sinkholes. Learning about their significance to Mayan Culture proved extra fascinating.
3. Spotting The Northern Lights In Lapland
I’ve wanted to see the Northern Lights for as long as I can remember. But it was one of those bucket list items that I never really thought I would have the opportunity to cross-off my checklist. And then we went on an Arctic Adventure through Swedish and Finnish Lapland and were fortunate enough to see the Northern Lights on multiple occasions. The entire experience was even better than I could ever have imagined.
4. Skinny Dipping In An Ice Pond In Finland
Unlike seeing the Northern Lights, going skinny dipping in an ice pond in Finnish Lapland was something that never, ever made an appearance on my list of things to do before I die. But when in Finland, do as the Finnish I suppose. That meant that after an evening in a traditional wood-burning sauna, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to run naked into the adjacent ice pond to cool off. (Luckily it was a relatively secluded spot!)
5. Getting Our First Glimpse Of The Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands are hands-down the most beautiful place we have ever been. The Islands are harsh and dramatic, with tumultuous weather conditions and craggy mountaintops that tower above icy water. But despite the archipelago’s rugged nature, there are also plenty of charming details, such as the traditional stark-red fisherman cabins, the rows of codfish hanging out to dry, and the boats that slowly sail through the fjords to deliver mail to the area’s unlikely inhabitants. It’s all of these details that come together to make the Lofted Islands such a uniquely fabulous travel destination.
6. Road Tripping To Pulpit Rock
The Lofoten Islands might have been won the award for the most beautiful place we visited, but the rest of Norway wasn’t far behind. To fully experience the immense natural beauty that the country has to offer, we rented a car and drove down south to hike iconic Pulpit Rock. It was one of those journeys where you can’t possibly stop to take photos because absolutely everything, everywhere along the way belongs on a postcard.
7. Eating Our Way Through Paris
It was our second visit to the City of Love, this time to celebrate our three year wedding anniversary. Since we had already checked off all of the touristy attractions, our goal this time around was to eat as much as humanely possible. We did a pretty good job, from learning to make macarons to taking a food tour in Montremarte to day-tripping to Champagne. Let’s just not talk about how many calories we likely consumed!
8. Housesitting In The South Of France
Spending a month at two different house sits in the South of France was like a dream. We spent our days walking the dogs through expansive vineyards, driving around to different mom n’ pop wineries, and picnicking on French cheese we had never heard of before. On the weekends, we took day trips to Bordeaux, Carcassonne, and other small French towns barely visible on a map. It was wonderfully romantic (not to mention affordable because we were housesitting!)
9. Drinking Beer And Eating Chocolate In Bruges, Belgium
As you can tell by now, we did a lot of eating during our time in Europe—and we wouldn’t have had it any other way! But Bruges was an especially amazing foodie destination. Not only were we sampling countless varieties of beer and chocolate, we were doing it against a backdrop of canals, cobblestone and clock towers. We also stayed at one of the most gorgeous historic boutique bed and breakfasts in the world. The champaign buffet breakfast was especially delightful.
10. Going Bungee Jumping in Canada
I swore I wouldn’t do it. Then, by some nonsense I uttered on a whim, Dan and I were tied up and jumping off a bridge. For me, bungee jumping was more than just overcoming a fear. I think the thing that made bungee jumping so life changing was that I was able to have the experience with Dan. Not just alongside him, but gripping him with my whole being as we went over the edge. If that doesn’t make you bond as a couple, I don’t know what will.
11. Watching Ships Sail Through The Panama Canal
We knew no trip to Panama City would be complete without a visit to the Panama Canal. But I think the reason why this one makes the list of top twenty epic experiences is because we were surprised by just how marvelous of a feat the canal really is. Seeing the locks in action, watching the ships sail through the canal, and learning about the scale and history of the construction is something that everyone. should experience.
12. Going To The World Cup
When we got married, we made a promise that we would go to the World Cup in Brazil. For a while, it didn’t look like it was actually going to happen. But then, miraculously, we pulled it off. We won tickets in the lottery, we got our visas at the last minute in Panama, we found airline tickets that would get us to South America on frequent flier miles, and we couch surfed in the major cities that were hosting the games. What would have been an insanely expensive experience turned out to be financially manageable—not to mention, incredibly fun.
13. Learning To Samba Dance In Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is up there with our favorite travel destinations. The energy, the culture, and the nature all contribute to making this one fun city to play and party. We decided to rent an apartment in Vidigal, one of the pacified favelas, for our six weeks in the city, where we had mind-blowing views out over Copacabana and Ipanema from the roof of our house. One of the highlights of living there was taking Samba dancing classes with new friends on the roof of our guesthouse, the lights of Copacabana and Ipanema twinkling along to the pulsating beats of the music.
14. Watching The Sunrise In The Amazon Jungle
Just the sound of the name “The Amazon” had conjured up images of untamed jungle adventures, undiscovered native tribes, and unpredictable wildlife encounters for as long as we could remember. Luckily, visiting the iconic rainforest proved just as memorable as had hoped it would be. But above spotting wildlife or cruising along the rivers, the highlight was waking up at 4:30am and climbing to the top of the Cristalino Lodge towers to watch the sun rise above the forest. If that doesn’t make you appreciate the stunning world we live in, I don’t know what will!
15. Spotting Jaguars in the Pantanal
It was on our second day in the Pantanal. We looked up from our boat, and not more than 1- feet in front of us stood a beautiful male jaguar, frozen along the side of the bank. This moment will forever be etched into our minds. Our eyes connected as the jaguar took a long, hard look at us. And then, casually, as if without a care in the world, the jaguar continued to walk alone the bank to look for his breakfast. For the next hour, we continued to drift alongside the fantastic feline. We gave the jaguar plenty of space and respect, and in return he swam in front of our boat, hunted along the bank of the river, and snacked on a baby cayman.
16. Photographing Iguazu Falls
You don’t have to be a waterfall fanatic to appreciate Igauzu Falls. The thunderous roar of the 275 waterfalls stretching 2.7 kilometers that make up Iguazu is an experience we won’t soon forget. But rather than explain the brilliant sight with words, it is better to simply check out the photos.
17. Making Friends With Locals In Medellin, Colombia
Even though we had around $3,000 worth of technology stolen from us in Colombia, the country will always be home to some of the most generous, friendly and hospitable people we’ve ever known. In Medellin, we were fortunate enough to meet many locals who took us under their care, ensuring that we experienced the city like the Colombians who live there. Our experience in the country would not have been the same without all of the gracious people we met, for which we will be forever grateful.
18. Becoming A Certified Yoga Teacher
This was something I had been looking forward to since the very beginning of 2014. Needless to say, the experience didn’t disappoint. Participating in the Blue Osa one-month immersion yoga teacher training program was one of the most challenging—but rewarding—experiences of my life. The more I learn and practice yoga, the more passionate I become about the life-changing effects it can have on the mind, body and spirit. I fully believe that the world would be a much happier place if everyone practiced yoga, and I am eternally grateful for the experience this month at Blue Osa provided me with to further my yogi journey.
19. Spending Thanksgiving In A Treehouse
What’s better than eating turkey and drinking wine with family and friends? Why doing it in a treehouse in Costa Rica, of course! This was our fourth Thanksgiving abroad, and we can confidently say that it was the most memorable yet.
20. Celebrating Christmas (And Soon New Years) In New York City
After such an epic year, it only made sense to go out with an equally awesome bang! Which is why we’re currently in New York City, enjoying all of the Christmas activities and gearing up for what is sure to be a memorable New Year’s Eve party in the Big Apple. We’re actually considering going to Time’s Square to watch the ball drop—an experience that’s sure to be epic, even if it turns out to be epically miserable. ;-)
Happy New Year everyone! Hope you have all had wonderful years, and wishing you all the best for 2015!