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My Yr in Pictures – Wild Junket Journey Journey Weblog

Final Up to date on December 29, 2023 by Nellie Huang

Ever since I began this journey weblog in 2008, I’ve been writing a wrap-up submit on the finish of every yr. It’s that point of the yr once more, to mirror and look again at the place I’ve traveled and what I’ve executed this yr.

2023 has been a terrific yr for me in each sense of the phrase. I wrote one other guidebook for Lonely Planet, began monetizing my second website, traveled to 5 new international locations, introduced Kaleya to our favourite locations in South America, and reunited with household in each Spain and Singapore.

The most important change in my life this yr was leaving our laidback life in Playa del Carmen and transferring to San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico! Simply final week, we packed our stuff up and drove 5 days throughout Mexico to succeed in our new dwelling. I’ll be sharing extra on our new life beneath, right here’s a have a look at the place I traveled and what I obtained as much as in 2023. 

2023 year in review

2023: My Yr in Pictures

January: Belize

On the primary day of 2023, we took off on a highway journey to Belize, which was only a 4-hour drive from us! Our first journey to Belize was greater than 13 years in the past and we have been desirous to revisit the locations we beloved. This time our buddies joined us, and we had a good time chilling out on the laidback isle of Caye Caulker and snorkeling with nurse sharks in Hol-Chan Marine Reserve. We additionally drove inland to San Ignacio and have been so impressed by the large-scale Xunantunich and Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins. Belize stays one among our favourite spots in Central America. 

2023 year in photos - belize

February: Alberta, Canada

In February, it was lastly time for our winter journey in Alberta! Banff was certainly the winter wonderland I’d imagined, with the entire city and surrounding mountains coated in white. We did a lot exploring in and round Banff, however the spotlight for us was driving the Banff Gondola as much as the highest of the mountain and soaking within the scorching springs after. Ice skating on the frozen Lake Louise was one other main spotlight, and so was ingesting on the Ice Bar at Fairmont. In Jasper, we spent our days snowboarding and even noticed a herd of moose simply outdoors our lodge!

February: Isla Holbox, Mexico

After returning to Mexico, we scooted off to Isla Holbox on a weekend journey (simply 2 hours from Playa del Carmen). Holbox turned out to be my favourite spot within the Yucatan Peninsula! The dreamy island is gloriously car-free and largely undeveloped. Solely a small a part of the island is inhabited, and even then, it by no means feels overrun with guests. No paved roads, no automobiles, no hassling. Simply miles and miles of spearmint water and powder-puff white sand seashore. Regardless of being in a touristy area, Holbox has retained its sleepy, laidback island vibes and small-town really feel.

March: Bacalar, Mexico

In March, we revisited Bacalar with our buddies. Bacalar Lagoon (or Laguna Bacalar) is thought for its crystal clear, spearmint blue waters, and swinging hammocks hanging from overwater palapa. Lately, Laguna Bacalar earned the nickname “the Maldives of Mexico” and is drawing vacationers searching for offbeat locations. The lagoon is totally beautiful and I extremely advocate a go to right here in case you’re ever in Cancun or Tulum.

April: Ecuador

To have a good time Kaleya’s birthday, we went on an epic journey to Ecuador and Galapagos Islands! We first backpacked round Ecuador 15 years in the past, and haven’t been again since then. We first spent just a few days wandering the historic middle of Quito, then we drove to the Andean city of Otavalo and finally  the Cotopaxi Nationwide Park. Sadly we weren’t so fortunate with the climate and it was too foggy for us to hike as much as the refugio of Mount Cotopaxi. The clouds lastly cleared up on our final day there to see Ecuador’s second highest peak in its full glory. After that, we flew to the Galapagos Islands and met up with my sister and nephew, and had a tremendous time island-hopping and seeing the wildlife up shut and private.

2023 year in review -ecuador

Might: Florida

Simply two weeks later, we headed off to Florida on a highway journey that we’d deliberate since pre-covid days (however obtained canceled repeatedly in the course of the pandemic). Orlando was a success with Kaleya after all; the spotlight for me was swimming with manatees in Crystal River which turned out to be one of many coolest wildlife experiences I’ve had. We additionally obtained to spend just a few days in Miami, revisiting many aged haunts that we used to hang around at and the college the place Alberto and I met. It was so good to take a stroll down reminiscence lane.

2023 year in review - miami

June: Suriname

In mid-June, it was time for a solo journey! I flew to Suriname (my nation #146) and met up with my pal Janet to discover the capital metropolis, Paramaribo, and the encompassing fort, plantations and reserves. Visiting the sloth sanctuary was the spotlight for me; we met a sloth who had been rehabilitated into the jungle however stored returning to the sanctuary for meals (and luxury!). 

June: Guyana 

From Suriname, we continued our journey to Guyana (nation #147) the place we have been joined by my outdated pal, Hannah. Sadly we solely obtained to discover Georgetown, the capital metropolis, as we needed to wait round for our flight to Kaieteur Falls to get stuffed. Fortunately we did handle to go to Kaieteur Falls and it turned out to one of many most spectacular waterfalls I’ve seen.  

2023 year in review - guyana

June: Trinidad

Then our journey continued on to Trinidad (nation #148), the place my pal Hannah is from. I’ve been wanting to go to Hannah in Trinidad since we met in 2008! It was wonderful to fulfill her household and get to know her nation and tradition. Trinidadian meals fully blew me away; I significantly beloved the roti and curry goat! Trinidad was nothing like what I’d imagined and I beloved having the ability to expertise it by way of my native pal.

2023 year in review - trinidad

July: Singapore

In July, I used to be commissioned to put in writing Lonely Planet’s new Singapore guidebook, so I flew dwelling to Singapore to do some on-the-ground analysis for the e book. I used to be born and raised in Singapore; I do know it higher than every other nation. It was such a particular task for me, having the ability to share my dwelling nation with the world. On this journey, I obtained to take a look at numerous new spots, revisit outdated haunts and dig deeper than normal. Hold a lookout for the e book which will probably be revealed in April 2024!

2023 year in review - singapore

August: Spain

In summer season, we lastly went on our much-anticipated 6-week journey again to Europe! Spain is sort of a second dwelling for us (Alberto is from Spain and we lived in Spain collectively for 8+ years). We have been excited to spend summer season there, see household and discover the area. Our summer season journey began with every week in Madrid, a metropolis we used to name dwelling. The Spanish capital metropolis has modified a lot because the final time we have been there and I completely beloved the lengthy summer season days and superb culinary scene there. Thereafter, we stayed for a few nights in a citadel lodge in Salamanca, and spent every week in Granada with Alberto’s household, having fun with tapas and bar-hopping within the lazy summer season evenings.

2023 year in review - madrid spain

August: Greece

Whereas Kaleya spent the remainder of summer season along with her grandparents in Spain, Alberto and I flew off to Corfu island to sail the Greek Islands with Yacht Getaways. It’d been years since we went on a visit with out Kaleya, and this was the right {couples} retreat for us. Our days onboard the catamaran concerned swimming in turquoise waters, napping beneath the sail with the wind in our face, mountaineering as much as spectacular viewpoints, wandering round stunning little villages consuming the freshest seafood and sipping essentially the most scrumptious wine. We actually beloved each minute of our Greece crusing vacation. It confirmed us a aspect of Greece we didn’t know existed — secret coves, empty seashores and ridiculously charming fishing villages that solely Greeks go to.

2023 year in review - greece

August: Albania

From Greece, I continued onto Albania to journey solo for every week whereas Alberto went again to Spain. I’d truly been to Albania a very long time in the past, however Albania had modified a lot I may hardly recognise it. It’s turn into very talked-about with younger backpackers (it’s no surprise, with the attractive sights and low price), and there’s much more tourism infrastructure in place now. I additionally made a very good pal on the journey and had a blast along with her in Tirana. Then I traveled solo to Berat and Gjirokaster, two locations that I completely beloved and extremely advocate visiting!

2023 year in review - albania

September: Portugal

After Albania, I met up with Alberto and Kaleya in Madrid for the final leg of our journey. Alberto rented a Tesla for our highway journey to Portugal, and I’d booked a ravishing Airbnb within the countryside of Porto. The French couple who owned the place, not solely made the place so attractive, in addition they  made us really feel extraordinarily welcomed and ready a tremendous unfold of breakfast for us every morning. We loved the down time, but additionally did fairly a little bit of exploring: wandering across the antiquated streets of Porto, visiting vineyards within the beautiful Douro Valley, and cruising the waters of Aveiro. This area was so spectacular we wanna come again and dwell right here sometime!

2023 year in review - porto

September: Paraguay 

On the finish of September, I flew to Asuncion, Paraguay, to journey with one among my finest buddies Melinda. Truthfully, I wasn’t blown away by Paraguay (my nation #149); we struggled to seek out something attention-grabbing to see within the capital metropolis and the environment. Asuncion, not like most capital cities in South America, didn’t have a lot going for it. Granted, we didn’t spend sufficient time in Paraguay, however we have been keen to maneuver onto Uruguay.

September: Uruguay 

Montevideo was an enormous distinction to Asuncion; the full of life metropolis had an old-world aptitude, with numerous colonial structure, historic monuments and wonderful eating places. We wandered the markets within the day, strolled the waterfront boulevard by sundown and indulged in good wine and steak every evening. From there, it was a simple 2-hour bus trip to Punta del Este, a small however charming seashore city additionally with broad, windswept seashores. My favourite spot was positively Colonia del Sacramento, one of many oldest cities in Uruguay with cobblestoned streets and restored whitewashed homes. Uruguay (nation #150) positively swept me off my ft.

2023 year in review -montevideo uruguay

October: Guadalajara, Mexico

On the finish of October, we flew to Guadalajara for essentially the most magical time of the yr in Mexico: Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Useless. It’s one of many largest Mexican holidays and it’s celebrated in fervor everywhere in the nation. Elaborate ofrendas and altars are arrange at main squares, whereas folks dance on the streets in parades. In Guadalajara, we visited the Calaverandia (a Day of the Useless themed park), which was such a distinction to the standard celebrations that we’d seen in Oaxaca but it surely was nonetheless a enjoyable expertise.

November: Michoacan, Mexico

From Guadalajara, it was only a brief drive to Michoacan, the state identified for its deeply-rooted Dia de Muertos traditions. On the evening of 1 November, a candlelit procession leads from the pueblo mágico of Pátzcuaro to the close by island of Janitzio. This occasion, often called “Noche de Muertos,” options colourful canoes and boats adorned with candles and flowers. Lots of of flickering candle, the scent of burning copal incense, and the sound of music made it such a non secular and transferring sight.

2023 year in review - michoacan day of the dead

November: Singapore

After we returned dwelling, I acquired information that my father wanted surgical procedure urgently. Within the midst of our transfer, I needed to drop every part and fly again to Singapore to see my dad. It was most likely probably the most aggravating journeys I’ve executed. It didn’t assist that Singapore was a 24-hour flight away from Mexico! Thank goodness every part went properly and the surgical procedure was successful. My father got here out of surgical procedure wanting nice and he’s now in restoration. 

December: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Simply two weeks after flying again to Mexico, it was time to maneuver! We beloved dwelling in Playa del Carmen, exploring the cenotes, seashores and Mayan ruins within the space. We made nice buddies there and positively felt prefer it left a mark in our lives. However after 2.5 years in Playa del Carmen, it was time for a change. So we packed up our stuff, stated goodbye to all our buddies, and drove 5 days throughout Mexico to lastly arrive at our new dwelling in San Miguel de Allende

Christmas in San Miguel is a magical time; the historic middle is clad in Christmas decorations and glowing beneath the attractive lights. We’ve been doing Christmassy issues like cooking and watching Christmas films. However we’re additionally exploring San Miguel and the encompassing nature. Can’t wait to see what the brand new yr has in retailer for us right here!

2023 year in review - san miguel de allende

 What’s Subsequent?

In 2024, we’re wanting ahead to exploring our yard in central Mexico. However we have already got numerous journey plans, together with a weekend journey to see the Monarch Butterfly migration in January, ski journey to Colorado in February, Baja California in March for Kaleya’s birthday, and Tulum in April to get the keys for our funding property! For our six-week summer season journey, we’re considering of heading additional, maybe to South Africa and Namibia. Within the new yr, I additionally hope to journey to the previous few locations within the Americas that I haven’t been, together with Venezuela, Grenada and Dominica. 

Right here’s wishing that 2024 will probably be a yr of journey for all of you! Don’t cease exploring!

Fascinating in studying extra?

2022 in Pictures

2021 in Pictures

2020 in Pictures

2019 in Pictures

2018 in Pictures

2017 in Pictures

2016 in Pictures

2015 in Pictures

2014 in Pictures

2013 in Pictures

2012 in Pictures

2011 in Pictures

2010 in Pictures

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