The other day I was feeling nostalgic and decided to browse through my Instagram photos from 2013. Wow! What a year it’s been. Road tripping through Jordan, backpacking French Polynesia solo, eating my way through New Mexico, moving from Long Island to Brooklyn. There have been so many great moments, and luckily, I’ve been able to capture many of them (and make them extra beautiful) on Instagram. To give you a recap of some of my experiences in the past 12 months and inspire you to make some memorable moments of your own in 2014, here are my favorite Instagram travel photos from 2013.
After hiking to the top of the Monastery Lookout Point (I took the “Best View Point” trail) at Jordan’s Petra, I was excited to find an empty cave, despite how crowded the attraction was. Not only was it great for a moment of peace, but also for interesting silhouette shots.
While I loved all the cities I visited in Colorado, a main highlight was the quirky Ouray. I especially enjoyed a popular local restaurant called The Outlaw, which was also a favorite of the famous John Wayne. In fact, the establishment keeps one of his old hats behind the bar, which I was so excited about my server let me pose with it on.
In 2013 I discovered a Caribbean destination I’d never heard of: The Exumas. Part of the Bahamas, the Exuma Cays are known for their exceptionally translucent blue waters and quirky attractions like swimming pigs and a deserted island inhabited only by endangered rock iguanas. It was here — specifically at Compass Cay — that I got the chance to swim with nurse sharks, a harmless (as long as you keep your fingers out of their mouths) but intimidating-looking shark abundant in the area.
During my time on the Galapagos Islands I had a number of interesting wildlife experiences — including swimming cage-free with hammerhead sharks and seeing sea lions waddling down busy restaurant-lined streets; however, the most memorable sighting by far was seeing two giant tortoises having extremely loud and awkward sex. While the male tortoise used all his effort to “thrust” himself on top of the female, she hid in terrified fashion inside of her shell. In terms of sounds, it was something akin to a group of dinosaurs simultaneously throwing up while being stabbed — very slowly. It was one of the most interesting displays of nature I’ve ever seen.
In 2013 I learned Taiwan was a major cycling destination. In fact, I got the chance to bike all around the island state, conquering the Cisingtan Scenic Area cycling path, Taroko Gorge National Park, Water Bird Park Byway and Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, to name a few. One of the most beautiful cycling paths was the above-photographed Sun Moon Lake in Yuchi Township, Taiwan’s largest alpine lake.
As a Long Island, New York, native, one of my favorite pastimes is driving the North Fork Wine Trail. Long Island is home to about 50 wineries and vineyards, most of which can be found on this trail. One of my favorites is Sparkling Pointe, where you can sip sparking wines poured by knowledgeable servers on comfortable couches in the vines.
In summer 2013 I moved from Long Island to Brooklyn, New York. My goal since I’ve moved here is to have as many unique NYC experiences as possible, one of which was taking a sailing lesson from a friend. As you can tell from the photo I’m not exactly a professional; however, it was a really fun day on the Hudson (especially as we added some wine to the mix!).
My final big trip in 2013 was a road trip around Hawaii’s Big Island. I was excited the destination crushed the stereotype in my head of it being nothing but beaches and surfing, introducing me to local artists, agricultural attractions, challenging hikes and unique adventures like swimming with enormous manta rays and cliff diving into deep sea caves. That being said, what most impressed me about Big Island was its bold, never-ending sunsets. The clouds on Big Island hang extremely low, making you feel like you can reach out and grab their pillowy softness. The otherworldly shapes they make are especially beautiful infused with striking reds, yellows, oranges, purples, pinks and blues.
One of the top items on my bucket list has been to visit South Africa and go on safari, which I got to do this past year. After exploring the arts and cultural offerings of Johannesburg and the Cape Malay and wine cultures of Cape Town, I headed to Kruger National Park to stay at one of the outside private game reserves — Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps — and see the destination’s exotic wildlife up close. What amazed me was how much more there was to being on safari than just looking at animals. You’re immersing yourself in their world and seeing bush life up close, as well as learning about important conversation issues, eating delicious multi-course meals paired with wine, and making friends from all over the world.
Tuscany is one of the few destinations in the world that is in no way underrated. The food really is that delicious, the wine really does flow like water and the countryside really does enrapture you with its idyllic beauty. My experience was enhanced with a stay at Castello di Gabbiano — a luxury yet historic castle — and taking part in experiences like traditional cooking classes, olive oil pressing, barrel tastings, vertical tastings, vineyard touring and hiking.
There are many reasons to visit Turkey, but one is undoubtedly the spices. The markets are a delight to the senses: the diverse scents, the robust tastes, and colorful sights, the sound of daily life, the feel of the small flecks between your fingers. For photographers (and Instagramers) the spices are also one of the most fun photo opportunities, with the bright hues creating captivating pictures.
Albuquerque is one of my favorite food destinations. I love how its agricultural roots are still strong, with a local, farm-to-fork presence and focus on fresh ingredients found throughout (even their margaritas are made without concentrated sour mix!). Additionally, many of the recipes stem from Pueblo cultures, with a main ingredient being the spicy chile. The above-shown photo was taken at the Pueblo Harvest Cafe and is of a dish called “Chackewe con Huevos” containing traditional blue cornmeal mush is topped with traditional carne adovada (chopped pork cooked in red chile sauce), two eggs, cheddar cheese and diced tomatoes.