As I’m returning to my everyday routine after a massive cooking (and eating) marathon during the holidays, I’m also looking ahead to the coming year. 2014. The year I turn 29. IEKS! But, a new year also means a brand new set of vacation days that are ready to be filled with amazing trips and adventures. Unfortunately, Santa didn’t bring me a money tree so there are choices to be made and piggy banks to be filled (big time). But if you’re hooked on travelling there is always that next trip planned…
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” – Susan Sontag
So where do you go after you’ve fulfilled your decade-long dream of visiting North Korea? Of course. The US of A. Seems fitting to immerse ourselves with fast-food restaurants, outlet shopping malls and fake tans after spending some time in the communist strongholds of China and North Korea. Honestly, we were just looking for a mellow destination for this spring. Even though I truly am addicted to travelling and exploring; it can be pretty exhausting. After a month of living out of your smelly backpack, on smelly Chinese trains, with smelly Chinese people, eating smelly Chinese food, you’re in the mood for something a little less “explorative”.
Chillaxing in the Carib
First, we considered doing some ultimate relaxing in the Caribbean, hopping from St. Maarten to Saba, St Eustatius and Anguilla. But since I’m not really the laying on the beach kind of gal (I’m bored way too easily) we figured this was not the best place to go. And you’ll need a pretty big piggy bank since the (mostly mediocre) hotels are crazy expensive.
Pretty perfect Panama
Next up was Panama. Not sure how this came on the menu, I guess we read something in some sort of magazine. Anyway, Panama was on! We started researching like crazy: where to go, where to stay, how to get there. You know the drill. It seemed like the perfect destination for us: a vibrant capital, awesome rainforest trekking options, deserted islands inhabited by Kuna Indians, and countless snorkeling and swimming possibilities. The perfect combination of bustling city vibes, exciting nature, authentic culture, and yes, gorgeous beaches. But when we took a step back from crazy-travel-planning-mode, we realized we were doing it again. Panama is not the easiest country to cross on your own so seeing all the cool places mentioned above, would involve multiple domestic flights, a steep one-way rental price and a lot of unreliable public buses. Yeah, this was going to be another amazing, but also exhausting trip. Strike out Panama. For now…
At least by now we knew what we wanted: a combo of city life, culture, nature, and okay fine, a nice beach. Enter: California love! I don’t recall getting this tip from 2Pac and Dr. Dre but the song has been playing in my head ever since we decided on a trip to The Golden State. We both haven’t been to the West before, and since we met in the US back in 2010 it will always be somewhat special to us. So after another researching marathon we had a solid trip planned. A California road trip it is!
Don’t mess with Texas
We’ll fly to San Francisco with a stopover since those ticket prices were way friendlier than direct flights. We decided to pick a cool place to hang at an airport: Houston, Texas! Yep. If I can eat some Texas BBQ, take a picture of us wearing cowboy hats, and go to Margaritaville with Jimmy Buffett (heck, it’s five o’clock somewhere as his country singer buddy Alan Jackson would say), this short trip to the Lone Star State is totally worth the extra travel hours.
House on wheels
After a couple of days in SF (apparently that’s what the cool kids call it), we pick up our home for the next two weeks. That’s right, we’ve rented a cool house on wheels with Escape Campervans. You can’t do a California road trip without sleeping in your own vehicle, right?
The Big Northern Cal Loop
The plan is to do a loop that starts and finishes in SF. One thing you should know about staying in San Francisco: the hotels suck. Big time. Man, the prices they ask for horrible, horrible hotel rooms (with shared bathroom – that’s right) are just insane. So we decided to look for a nice place to stay using Airbnb. And boy, did we find one! We’re staying with a lovely couple in their stunning Victorian house in the Mission district. We have a beautiful private room with our own bathroom, and this way we can also benefit from the best insider tips.
First stop on our trip is Napa Valley, you know, sniffing, sipping, spitting and actual drinking of wine. Then we cross Gold Country, you know, finding gold and stuff. Did you see how I said fínding gold, not looking for gold? Let’s inspire the universe! If the weather is good we’ll also visit Lake Tahoe for some kayaking.
And then we’re off to Yosemite NP, which is supposed to be even more gorgeous in spring. I’m hoping to secure a camping spot within the actual park, which usually are completely booked within the first minute after they’ve come available for online booking. And looking at these pictures, I totally get why… So please keep your fingers crossed at January 15th from 16:00 until 16:01 hrs.
After all this beautiful nature it’s time to drive down to the coast and take our cool van up to US Highway 1 – the Pacific Coast Highway. Here we’ll check out the beautiful scenery surrounding Cambria, Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz before heading back to San Francisco.
City of love
Since it’s Memorial Weekend by then, we’ll stay another night in SF and then fly out to our favorite city: New York! As I said, we met in the US back in 2010 and our second weekend away together was a trip to NYC (the first being a weekend to Newport, RI – good summer, sigh…). It only seems appropriate to visit our city of love when we get back to the States. After a day of strolling around and having a deli picknick at Brooklyn Bridge Park (best city views ever) we’re ready to end our trip and fly back to our second favorite city in the world. The one we call home. Amsterdam.
Another exciting trip that is on the calendar for 2014 is a week in France for my brother’s wedding this summer. And then there is the ever-growing Wish List, which changes almost every week, but pretty steady holds a trip to my cousin who works in Lebanon, a trip to our friends in Russia, and a trip to the Motherland Indonesia (actually it’s my mother’s Motherland, but still). We’ll see when we can cross these places of our bucket list… You should always have something to dream about, right? Oh, the places you’ll want to go… HAPPY TRAVELS! HAPPY 2014!
Note: all pictures in this post - except for the first and the last one - are from Pinterest