2015 was the year you couldn’t throw a rock at the internet without hitting an article about collecting experiences instead of things, and for good reason. Experiences add dimension to our lives and make for moments that stick a pin in our memories, accessible for years to come. I love reliving those moments that etched their way into my brain – whether voluntary or not – and hearing of other tales that inspire my wanderlust for a far-away land or a close-to-home gem hidden in plain sight. It’s at the heart of Ibn Battuta’s oft-mentioned quote: “Travelling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” In the spirit of travel inspiration, I asked a few bloggers what their favourite travel memory was while on the road. Let take a journey through the list of top 10 travel memories of 2015, as told by the people who fuel our wanderlust!
My favorite memory was spending the day at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is a true elephant and animal rescue where no animal is abused. Instead, they’re given a safe and happy life. Many tourists who come to Thailand don’t realize the cruelty and harsh conditions that most elephants face on a daily basis. They’re forced to perform shows and to give elephant rides. Elephant Nature Park works to provide a safe and loving home for as many elephants as possible. There are no shows or elephant rides — just love! I spent a day volunteering here to help bathe and feed the elephants and it was an unforgettable experience that I will always look back on. I highly recommend a visit here if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai!
Connie of There Goes Connie
My favorite travel memory of 2015 has to be our 44th anniversary dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Maui. This restaurant has recently been rated the #2 Best Restaurant in the US, and we found it to be worthy of that designation. Our table was waiting with a personalized note. We received impeccable service, and the food was outstanding. It was quite a splurge but worth every penny. We spent a week in Maui and another 5 days in Kauai. It was our 4th trip to the islands and quite a long way from Alabama. Romantic and special.
My favorite memory from 2015 was being able to celebrate 25 years of marriage with my husband Scott, while we backpacked through El Salvador and Nicaragua this past June. We had so much fun hiking volcanoes, eating amazing food and exploring different beaches. I can’t wait to see what new adventures are ahead in the next 25 years!
One of our best travel memories of 2015 dates back to the month of July, when we relocated to Italy for a home exchange. We spent three weeks in Florence, a city so rich in art, culture and delicious food to make any introductions superfluous. What made our holiday truly special was a brief encounter with an elderly local woman: she sat beside us on the bus and soon started chatting about her city. Quickly, this chit-chat became a lesson on the history of Florence and we left the bus with a priceless list of tips for off the beaten track locations we should explore: she was amazing and the best guide we could have asked for!
I spent close to a month in Australia this year, & in that time, was able to do some incredible things and see so many beautiful places. The one memory that sticks out most, though, and my favorite of them all, would have to be visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland. I’d always heard great things about the place, & loved and admired that they were a completely self-funded organization, but nothing could’ve prepared me to hold a koala or sit in a field completely surrounded by kangaroos. I could not wipe the smile off my face! Checked two items off my bucket list that day. It was an absolute dream.
I’ve done quite a bit of travel this year, but my favourite memories of 2015 happened just last month. One of my best friends, Victoria, & I planned a trip through Europe celebrating our birthdays.
We travelled through Austria, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, especially loving our time spent in Prague. We didn’t place an emphasis on sightseeing, we just lived. We went to a ballet (Valmont) at the Estates Theatre, took a food tour, walked through the city’s various Christmas markets, and even spent Sunday in, ordering take out!
People say travelling with a friend/partner for the first time really makes or breaks the relationship. This trip helped us form a deeper bond, one that only comes from being in a foreign place and experiencing the ups & downs of travel – like figuring out how find our Uber after both our phones died!
Stephanie of Pearls & Passports
Kyoto is a city that maintains the essence of Japan past. 1600 temples can be found in Kyoto, each a reminder of Japan’s rich cultural heritage. From the simplicity of Ryoan-Ji temple, grandeur of Kinkaku-ji and the overwhelming spirituality of the Sunset orange tori gates of Fushimi Inari each temple garners a different feeling from each visitor. Gion is one of Kyotos Geisha district. A place where Japans mysterious past comes to life before your very eyes. Sunset is when Gion really comes alive. If you are lucky, you will see an Ornate Maiko or an elegant Geiko scurry through the streets and dive into the sanctuary of a small doorway. To a mysterious world where the present meets the inscrutable past.
I think the defining memory was the moment I first saw a Geisha in the street. She came out of nowhere and the whole atmosphere changed. Her beauty and elegance were mesmerizing and all eyes were on her as she sashayed through the narrow street.
One of my favourite travel memories this year was when we went to Cape Town in March and climbed Table Mountain. We chose the easiest route as we’re not exactly hikers, which should have taken between two and two and a half hours. It took us an hour and 45 minutes and at times I felt I was going to die! It was really hot (28 degrees) and we only had one bottle of water each, so we needed to pace ourselves. There were a few times when I questioned why on earth we’d put ourselves through this but I cannot tell you how amazing it is to start seeing the top and know that you’re almost there. And of course the view when you’re at the top makes it all worthwhile! It felt like such an achievement …and yes, we got the cable car down!
Absolutely number one travel memory for 2015 is the stillness enjoyed in Petra, Jordan, when I reached the world famous Monastery. It is situated on the top of a one-hour hike that can also be done with a donkey. As I arrived quite early, I enjoyed the outstanding view together with absolutely no noise. Petra is worth a visit if you have never been there, but I am pretty sure you would like to go back again if you have already spent some time there.
Arnie & Jo of Arnie and Jo Are On The Go