Another post about travel memories that defined 2015? Oh yes, we’re going there! I know, it’s 2016. (Happy New Year by the way!) I know it’s not just me who loves looking back on a year well travelled and relive some of the moments that stood out! After recounting the travel memories of some pretty awesome bloggers, I got to thinking which moments emblazoned their way into my long-term memory. Some were simple. Some were exciting. All touched on the main reasons why I love to travel. In no particular order I present to you my favourite travel memories of 2015.
Mopeding around Honolulu
The three times I went to Hawaii in 2015 were all work-related (oh yes, I know how lucky I am!), but it was during the second trip I got my first official taste of Hawaii. I woke up at 4:30am Hawaiian Standard Time in Honolulu on Memorial Day. Not sure what to do with so much time on my hands, I wandered the streets until I got hungry enough to head into a restaurant for some breakfast. My belly was full of macadamia-nut pancakes when the clock struck 8am. Most of Honolulu remained asleep, not suffering from the same curse of a six-hour time difference that I was. I decided to call home before heading out to climb the skyline-defining volcanic Diamond Head crater. It was during this phone call when my mom suggested I try a moped to make getting around quicker. I had never rode any type of motorized two-wheeler but the idea of having the wind in my hair was too tempting to pass up. I headed to Tropical Moped Rentals to make it a reality.
After a five-minute lesson consisting of me making wobbly circles in the adjacent parking lot, I hit the road. I admit, there were a few white-knuckle moments, like when I turned onto Waikiki’s main artery, Kalakaua Avenue, and when I nearly skid sideways into a ditch (no biggie!). It was when I got my bearings and felt confident enough to look at the scenery to my right that I was greeted with the turquoise and teal waters and palm-tree lined Waikiki Beach, wind in hair, smile firmly plastered on my face. I rode my moped to my destination, Diamond Head, and enjoyed the stunning panoramic views of Oahu at the top. But this was one of those instances where the journey was a highlight onto itself.
Feeling zen in Nicaragua
I’m pretty sure we’ve all been on a trip with a group (friends, family, etc) and needed some solo time just to recharge our batteries and do 100% of whatever strikes our fancy. I had one of these moments in Nicaragua, where I split from my travel buds to visit the Mombacho volcano nature reserve (more on that can be found here). My first stop was the Remax office we rented our treehouse from for some advice. I had heard that getting stopped by cops on the roads of Nicaragua was a regular occurrence and that your license may be taken away (and all the usual bad things you tend to read about on travel advisory sites). I figured if anyone would know, it would be the locals. I was right. Turns out that there was nothing to be afraid of, that, yes, it is highly possible to get stopped on the road but to not lose my cool and I’d be fine. I even got some coaching on how to act if/when the officer approached the car. All this put my fears to rest, and I hit the road to make the 2-hour (fortunately uneventful) journey from San Juan Del Sur to Mombacho.
I pulled into the nature reserve and waited for the old military truck to pull up and take us to the top. There’s something about being surrounded by the forest canopy that I find absolutely magical, and the magic didn’t stop. We stopped once on the way up to fuel up on very yummy coffee (I got the iced – highly recommend) which added to my happy haze of the day. At the top, I hired a guide to take me through the cloud forest and out to view the scenery below. Surrounded by thick, lush greenery housing so many different species of birds, insects, and reptiles, and a thick heat and bright sunshine uncharacteristic of cloud forests, it seemed like the Universe was banding together to give me the best experience possible.
Slowing down in Venice Beach
I love Venice Beach. I got to visit this quirky neighbourhood in August, and my two favourite memories involved strolling. The first was strolling the beach with my boyfriend, talking about the sights and sounds surrounding us. After months of busy work schedules, we both had our wind-down moment at this exact point, which happened to be our second day in L.A. From my past travel experiences, this feeling is one I relish. It sometimes takes a change of scenery to step out of the hectic day-to-day we live in our home bases, doesn’t it?
The second moment I loved was walking along the canals of Venice. The gingerbread houses standing next to modern glass abodes located just a few blocks away from the street performers, graffiti artists, and edgy boardwalk all add to the hodge podge that makes Venice so extremely unique. Knowing the history behind the area makes a difference, and adds to the experience. I love imagining what places looked like a century (or two) ago, especially when you realize you’re walking on a street that used to be navigable by gondola only. In the US. *Insert the emoji with heart eyes here*
No place like Montreal for the holidays
The final favourite memory of 2015 was also the most recent. When my original plans on Christmas Eve fell through, I decided to go home (Montreal) a day early for the Christmas holiday… and of course not tell them! On Christmas Eve, I lied to my parents saying I’d see them the next day just before arriving in the Toronto City airport and boarding a plane to see them. Dinner was at my uncle’s that day, and the reactions I got from each family member as they slowly trickled in was priceless. 2015 was a pretty chill year for me, despite the insane overtime I had to pull at work. All my favourite memories were quiet and kind of unassuming but clearly touched on that wind-in-my-hair feeling that I associate with travel. I’ll leave the jumping out of planes to another time, but in the meantime, I can’t wait for what’s to come in 2016!