Sunday, January 18, 2015

Places I Visited in 2014 (Photo Post)

2014 was full of lots of changes and travel for me. I have never done so much traveling (or moving) before in any other year of my life. 2015 will be fairly similar minus a move almost halfway across the country! (cue the laugh track, haha)

Check out where I went and what I saw in this photo post below! More details on each trip to come.

1. Los Angeles area and San Diego, California


Stopping to take a photo on a drive through the mountains near Beaumont, CA

My brother and I flew from different parts of the US to visit our grandmother in Southern California in March 2014. She was incredibly generous and paid for our plane tickets out there and we were able to spend a whole week with her! And we squeezed in a day trip to one of my favorite cities in the entire US - San Diego! Gorgeous weather, great beaches and even better food!

Perfect day at Pacific Beach  in San Diego, CA


2. St Augustine, Florida


Outside of the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida

On top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse after having climbed all 219 steps to get there!

After months and months of contemplating and praying over a decision to move, in late March 2014, I moved from Jacksonville, Florida (where I went to college and lived two, almost three years after graduation) back home with my parents in Dayton, Ohio. Just like moving to Jacksonville in 2007 was life-changing, moving out nearly 7 years later, also changed my life. It wasn't easy to leave but it  was -and still is- the best decision for me. Still miss all my friends who were like family there! :)


3. John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs, Ohio






Moving home back to my parents' house in Ohio afforded me the opportunity to explore more of my own state and do things I hadn't wanted or been able to do. One of those things was to visit a few parks like John Byran State Park, use the many bike trails around the Dayton area and go canoeing on the Little Miami River in Oregoina, Ohio with new friends. I was not only able to do new  things in an old place but I was also able to meet new people from all over the world in just 6 short months. I also miss all of my friends and family who are back home and reading this! I think about you all often and with a smile on my face. :)



4. Chicago, Illinois


I had to go to Chicago (which is just a short 6 hour and $20 Megabus ride away from Cincinnati, Ohio) in order to apply for my visa to teach in Spain but I ended up going three times in a span of three months, haha! The first trip (June 2014) was to see a friend who's lived there for a little while now, the second one (August 2014) was to apply for the visa at the Spanish Consulate and the third one (September 2014) was an unsuccessful attempt to help my friend apply to teach English in France at the French Consulate (conveniently located right across from Spain's! haha) I got to drive almost all the way to Chicago one way before I kissed cars and US interstates goodbye for 9 months so that was much needed! Each trip was its own adventure and I went alone two out of three times and ended up liking that city after all. ;-)



5. Omaha and Bloomfield, Nebraska


Standing next to the Nebraska sign just a few feet away from South Dakota
Taken on the way to the best small town in the world: Bloomfield, NE
My family took our almost annual vacation out to see my dad's parents in the great state of Nebraska. I have visited this state and their town which boasts of being the "Busiest Community in Northeast Nebraska" almost every year of my life. I do love to travel to other places in the US and world but there is nothing like going to my second home (of many) and settling in with familiar surroundings and faces and slowing my life down. I love living in cities and absorbing some of their energy but a little dose of uncomplicated small town living is good for the soul. My grandparents have done their fair share of traveling but they have spent most of their lives in their beautiful state and I love visiting them there. Not everyone's grandparents live out in the country but mine do and I love that they love the slower pace of life out there. And that many of our many talks and story times throughout the years have revolved around tea and cookies. Nothing beats a visit out there once a summer.



6. Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa



On the drive out to Des Moines, IA (caution you might fall asleep!)




Not much difference between IA and NE except for more turbines in IA and more hills in NE
My brother and I spent a couple days with our cousin Laura in Sioux City, IA where we went to the city's local museum (more on that in another post haha) and then drove out together to see our younger cousin Emily in Des Moines, IA where she lives and works as a general manager at Scratch Cupcakery. I had not lived before I tried one of their cupcakes just FYI but I'm so glad we visited and got to see Emily in her element! And it was neat to check out a part of Iowa that we usually just drive by and don't stop to do much in it. I can't say I love the drive out there but the people who live in that state are near and dear to my heart...so I put up with the boring drive! :-P



7. New York City, NY
I spent just a few short hours in NYC and rode the subway (and then the AirTrain) to JFK International Airport to catch my flight to Madrid via Frankfurt, Germany. I rode a low cost bus all night just to get there but I was woken up to this amazing view of Manhattan and was able to have lunch with a friend in Chinatown before battling with my luggage once again and heading to the airport to embark on my new adventure. New York is my favorite city in the world and I was a little sad to spend so little time there but any amount of time spent in NYC is always awesome. I'll just have to come back for a longer visit one year and hopefully in the summertime!




8. Madrid & A Coruña, Spain

"Spain is the destination that you carry inside." (taken in the Barajas Int'l Airport in Madrid)

First view of the Torre de Hercules that watches over me and my new home each night!

Spain and I said "hola" again as I flew from NYC > FRA > MAD and landed the morning of September 27th, 2014. I spent just a few short hours in Madrid and saw an old study abroad friend  Paige (she blogs at the Town Mouse) who helped me navigate the metro of Madrid with all my luggage a bit. I have to get back down  there to see the city and the surrounding small towns but it was a good entry into Spain before I headed North to Galicia and got settled in A Coruña, my home for the next 8-9 months.


9. Oporto, Portugal

Porto as seen from the Torre de Clerigos (tower)

The second weekend of November 2014 I embarked on my first solo "international" trip to Oporto, Portugal. I had already made plans about two months earlier to travel here to see a well-known fado singer Carminho's in concert but little did I know that this trip would change my view of Portugal and the Portuguese language entirely. After studying Portuguese for almost a year and a half, I finally got to go to Portugal for the fourth time but for the FIRST time in my life, I understood what the people around me were saying! And I forced myself to speak the language with as many locals as possible even though it came out broken or mixed with Spanish the majority of the time. Oporto itself was an enchanting city filled with great seafood, wine (oh, my the wine!!!!) and beautiful views like the one you see above. I plan to go back in the spring when the weather's a lot nicer. Let's see how much Portuguese I speak this next time! I'm still so pumped about the language and have even more of a motivation to keep learning and practicing it! Obrigada, Oporto! :-)



10. Finesterre, Spain
At the "end of the world" aka overlooking the Atlantic and Cantabrian Seas
At the end of November 2014, a proposed a day trip to Finisterre (Fisterra) to my new found friends and one Saturday morning, we all got up early and hopped on a bus that took us to a tiny town that afforded us luxurious views like the one above. We met a older Spanish man who was accustomed to helping pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) who offered to take us to the lighthouse the town was famous for and we had a blast with him. I've been meaning to write a separate post on this particular adventure so stay tuned for that!



11. Barcelona, Spain



The Sagrada Familia as seen from the back. SO impressive!
In the middle of December, just days before my 26th birthday, I flew over to Barcelona to see my sevillano friend Santi and see his documentary and see the city itself! I had been trying to go for so many years and while I didn't have the highest expectations for the city, I was pleasantly surprised by its people and the mini-culture there! I even got word of a secret Christmas tea time in the Gothic Quarter and attended it. I had a blast and needless to say I will be back, Barcelona!!! :)

12. Paris & Grenoble, France



First time I set eyes on the famous and known-around-the-world icon, le Tour Eiffel!
On December 18th, 2014, I flew into Paris ORY that morning and spent 5 jam-packed days in the City of Love. It was a birthday/Christmas present to myself as I would be away from my family during my birthday that week. I learned a lot about Parsians, French culture, the French language and even myself and my travel style during that trip. I would love to go to Paris another time when it's warmer but I will have to save up a ton more money in order to do that. It's beautiful but very expensive as they say! :-P More on the City of Lights and Parisians in future posts. 



The Lower Alps as seen from the Bastille in Grenoble, France 


And last but not least, on December 23rd, I headed to Grenoble (Greh-knob), France to see my friend Gwen (she blogs at Ad-French-Ures: Grenoble) and spend Christmas with her and her new friends and "family" there. I stayed until December 30th, 2014 and had a fantastic time exploring the city and navigating the French language a bit better with my amazing translator! ;-) It was definitely interesting to spend the holiday away from home but I felt right at home with Gwen and her friends from the start. I did miss speaking Spanish terribly and while using English to communicate was fine, I wanted to be able to communicate through cultures sometimes and English didn't always help. At any rate, I was so happy to be near the mountains, see snow, drink warm beverages, eat amazing Italian and French food (and comfort food at Christmas) and learn how people in another part of the world live and celebrate the holidays. More posts on all those things I listed soon!


That's my 2014 travel recap. Where did you go last year? Were we in any of the same places at the same time but missed each other? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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