One year ago today, we boarded a plane and set off to make our dream of traveling around the world a reality. We are happy to report that we are still alive and well. Today we are wondering, how did this year go by so quickly?! But in all reality, when we revisit the past year in detail, we realize just how much we have experienced.
Our ‘Year in Review’ includes two photos from every country we have visited in the past year. One selected by Mike and one selected by Amy. This was an insanely difficult task, since we have over 12,000 photos now! Some photos are memories of a favorite place we visited, while others symbolize our mindset at that point in time, and a few are just pictures that we really love. We hope you enjoy and thanks for reading our ramblings for the past year; there is still more to come!
Mike’s Pick – La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain
This place is unlike any other church in the world. Our visit to el Templo de la Sagrada Familia took place on the first full day of our journey and really started things off with a bang! I can’t wait to return to Barcelona to see it again when construction is completed after 2026.
Amy’s Pick – La Alhambra – Granada, Spain
When we stepped off the train in Granada, we were shocked with an unexpected bitter cold. Despite the below freezing temperatures we had an incredible day exploring La Alhambra, one of the most stunning palaces I have ever visited.
Mike’s Pick – Port Wine Boats on the Douro River – Oporto, Portugal
We try not to talk about work too much on our trip, but when you work in hospitality and tourism, a RTW trip is filled with very relevant learning opportunities. I have an all new appreciation for port wine after visiting several cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Amy’s Pick – Lagos, Portugal
Lagos was the first of many improvised stops of our trip. To be honest we had never heard of it before, but it was along our bus route from Spain to Lisboa, so we stopped through for a few days. I will always remember Lagos with special sentiment because in my mind it symbolizes spontaneity.
Mike’s Pick – Our Riad – Marrakech, Morocco
Sipping mint tea in the refuge of our riad was one of the most relaxing experiences of our trip. I loved starting and ending our days sitting right here!
Amy’s Pick – Bahia Palace – Marrakech, Morocco
The colorful and intricate tiles in Morocco are unbelievably eye-catching. I would love to use tiles like these to decorate our house someday.
Mike’s Pick – Mike & Nils – Osted, Denmark
Nils (Amy’s host dad from her study abroad experience in 2006) was about as excited for our trip as we were. He and I took many trips “around the world” using these fun shot glasses printed with a world maps.
Amy’s Pick – Candles – Osted, Denmark
These candles represent Danish hygge to me; it is a difficult word to translate into English, but generally embodies spending quality time with family & friends while being cozy, content and relaxed. There was plenty of hygge to go around during our visit with my host family.
Mike’s Pick – Hockey Game – České Budějovice, Czech Republic
During our time in České Budějovice, I had a high fever and terrible case of the flu. I spent three whole days in bed and even considered going to the hospital, but still but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see a Czech hockey play-off game.
Amy’s Pick – View from Castle – Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Český Krumlov is one of those magical places that makes you feel like you’re living in a fairytale. I love this photo because it captures the European-style architecture and lazy river that winds through the town.
Mike’s Pick – Naschmarkt – Vienna, Austria
A major theme of our blog over the past year has been food. In Vienna, the Naschmarkt is one of the best places to take a stroll, grab a bite, have a beer, and see some really great artisan food and crafts. We were in Vienna for less than 48 hours, but made two trips to the Naschmarkt during our time there.
Amy’s Pick – Coin exchange at hostel – Vienna, Austria
We only spent two days in Austria, using Vienna as a stopover for a train connection, however we found this clever coin exchange at our hostel. This photo reminds me of a game we play – whenever we leave a country, we try to use up all of the bills and coins that we have on hand, whether it be buying a piece of candy at a shop or giving it to a fellow traveler.
Mike’s Pick – Széchenyi Fürdő – Budapest, Hungary
Whenever I arrive in a new city and hear about hot springs, thermal baths, or the like I get really excited. Who doesn’t like a nice soak? After a few months of backpacking under our belts, a day relaxing in these amazing public baths was just what the doctor ordered.
Amy’s Pick – View from the Castle – Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is one of my favorite European cities. I love how the river splits it into the Buda side and the Pest side. This day we walked almost 14 miles, exploring both sides of the city and growing our appreciation for how massive, yet accessible, it is.
Mike’s Pick – Old Town – Dubrovnik, Croatia
After the Bed Bug fiasco was behind us, we really enjoyed the gorgeous walled city of Dubrovnik. I felt like I had been transported back in time.
Amy’s Pick – View from the Castle – Hvar Island, Croatia
This is my favorite self-photo of our entire trip. Somehow it captured Mike at the split second he was sneezing!
Mike’s Pick – Stari Most – Mostar, Bosnia
When most people think of Bosnia, they think of the war. Few realize what an beautiful place it really is. The iconic bridge of Mostar was destroyed by bombs, but it has since been rebuilt and serves as a symbol of a country trying to heal.
Amy’s Pick – War Tunnel Tour – Sarajevo, Bosnia
The Bosnian War is the first war I remember as a child, so visiting Sarajevo was very emotional. We took a tour with this man who lived through the war, and it was one of the most inspirational and educational things I did in the past year of traveling.
Mike’s Pick – Cave Church – Cappadocia, Turkey
Our first day of exploring in Cappadocia included the Göreme Open Air Museum and its ancient churches and dwellings. Built by early Christians fleeing persecution, it is arguably the “birthplace” of the entire religion. Visiting was a very spiritual experience for me.
Amy’s Pick – Blue Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey
The mosques of Istanbul are a sight to behold. Spending a few weeks in Istanbul taught me so much about Islam. Visiting Istanbul helped me to understand that it is possible for traditionalists, modernists, and everyone in between to coexist without surrendering their cultural identity.
Mike’s Pick – Food Stand – Shanghai, China
For me, one of the coolest parts of traveling is snacking my way through a city. We ate these rice dumplings almost every morning in Shanghai. Some cities in the US have food carts/trucks, but nothing quite compares to the street food scene in Asia. Forget what the State Department tells you; my advice, when you travel abroad EAT STREET FOOD!!!
Amy’s Pick – Rice Terraces – Dazhai, China
In the midst of China’s traffic jams, overpopulation, pollution, and noise, the rice terraces of Dazhai were the perfect escape for a few days of peace. I love this picture because we spent nearly an hour getting this shot with both of us in the air.
Mike’s Pick – View from Victoria Peak – Hong Kong
It may seem like a concrete jungle, but Hong Kong actually has some really great hikes, beaches, and islands. I really enjoyed our hike around Victoria Peak which ended with this panoramic view of the city.
Amy’s Pick – Cheung Chau Island – Hong Kong
The stark contrast between landscapes in Hong Kong surprised me: a mega city that also has remote wilderness islands. We spent the day at the beach and hiking the perimeter of Cheung Chau island.
Mike’s Pick – Haeundae Sand Festival – Busan, South Korea
There aren’t a lot of beaches in Colorado; so it’s not big surprise that I had never seen sand art like this before. These artists are ridiculously good.
Amy’s Pick – Sushi Dinner – Busan, South Korea
We had a hard time fitting this sushi dinner into one photograph! It included everything from raw sea squirt to mud eel. Even though we shared no common language with the couple sitting next to us, they walked us through each dish and how to eat it properly.
Mike’s Pick – Restaurant – Tokyo, Japan
When we sat down and ordered, we had no idea what we were about to eat. We just got what everyone else was having. I like this picture because it reminds me of how the cooks complimented us on our chopstick skills and Japanese table manners.
Amy’s Pick – Fushimi Inari Shrine – Kyoto, Japan
I love this photo because of the sheer color!
Mike’s Pick – Bowl of Phở – Hanoi, Vietnam
Amy’s Pick – Madonna Rock Dive Site – Nha Trang, Vietnam
SCUBA diving is one of the coolest things I have ever learned to do. This was our very first day of diving – we didn’t have the hang of buoyancy yet, so the fact that our dive master captured this photo was something of a miracle.
Mike’s Pick – Banteay Srei Temple – Angkor Wat, Cambodia
What can I say about Angkor Wat? This place is just sooooo cool. Cambodia may not have delicious food like Vietnam or dreamy beaches like Thailand, but Angkor Wat is more than a good enough reason to visit.
Amy’s Pick – Ta Prohm Temple – Angkor Wat, Cambodia
I love this picture because it allows you to actually see the thousands of years of history that has taken place at Angkor Wat. The sheer size of this tree’s roots growing into the temple walls helps you to appreciate its place in the past and present.
Mike’s Pick – Elephant Reserve – Chiang Mai, Thailand
We spent a lot of quality time with animals in Thailand: riding on elephants – cuddling with tigers – fending off monkeys.
Amy’s Pick – Pad Thai – Bangkok, Thailand
Pad Thai with tofu is my absolute favorite Thai dish and I miss eating it every day for breakfast! Surprisingly, considering all of the times we ate it, I can’t believe this is the only photo we took.
Mike’s Pick – Mekong River – Vientiane, Laos
This amazing sunset over the Mekong in Vientiane was one of my favorite from the entire year. You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but it seemed like the entire city came out to the river that evening to watch the sun slowly disappear.
Amy’s Pick – Flight from Luang Prabang to Vientiane – Laos
After the most horrifying bus ride ever from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, we decided to fly back to Vientiane instead of enduring another death-trap bus. This was the most beautiful flight of my entire life – the mud brown Mekong twisting through deep green jungle.
Mike’s Pick – View of Downtown – Singapore
It may be a small country, but I was really impressed by Singapore’s modern architecture.
Amy’s Pick – The Helix Bridge – Singapore
The truth is that Mike stole the photo I wanted to choose for Singapore, so I picked this one instead. This photo is of the ground of a DNA helix-shaped bridge in Singapore. My nerdy science-loving side really loved this bridge:-) The A and the T represent the nucleotides adenine and thymine.
Mike’s Pick – Salang – Tioman Island, Malaysia
SCUBA diving and beach-time pretty much sum up our month in Malaysia. 15 tanks each in less than 30 days. In retrospect, I think we should have stayed longer.
Amy’s Pick – Long Beach – Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
This is a place where two days turned into four, and four into six, and six days into two weeks. I loved living on the beach, relaxing, diving and having a blank mind.
Mike’s Pick – Gnaraloo Station – Gnaraloo, Australia
If you’ve been reading our blog since the beginning, then you may recognize our friends here. It was our first time in Australia, but they really made us feel at home. Juan wasn’t very pleased with the fishing that week, but the Coral Trout I caught is enough to keep me enthusiastic about giving it another go.
Amy’s Pick – Fishing – Gnaraloo Reef, Australia
A memory of the first fish I ever caught in the open water!
Mike’s Pick – Kaikoura, New Zealand
We almost left Kaikoiura the day before this picture was taken. I am glad that we decided to stay another night, because we would have missed out on a great hike and some unforgettable views.
Amy’s Pick – Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown, New Zealand
This is only one of the hundreds of beautiful scenic photos from our month in New Zealand. This road into Queenstown from the south is one of the most spectacular drives I have ever taken.
Mike’s Pick – Laguna Tebenquiche – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The water in this lake was so salty that it felt thick when I walked through it. The natural wonders of San Pedro de Atacama left me in awe day after day.
Amy’s Pick – Pan de Azucar National Park – Chile
After a week of camping at Pan de Azucar, one of the most tranquilo and beautiful places that I saw in Chile, we hitchhiked back into town to catch our bus. Our ride was from a local fisherman, and I had the luck of riding in the back of his truck along with his day’s catch. During that ride I remember thinking to myself “now this is traveling!”
Mike’s Pick – Christmas Asado – Escobar, Argentina
I’m really going to miss this. But I always have Tio Francis in Denver, so I guess I’ll survive 🙂
Amy’s Pick – Iguazu Falls – Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
During our second day visiting Iguazu Falls, we were graced with perfectly blue skies and a rainbow across the falls!
Mike’s Pick – Practice for Carnaval – Montevideo, Uruguay
Hopefully this was just a small taste of things to come during Carnaval in Cartagena.
Amy’s Pick – The Hand Sculpture – Punta del Este, Uruguay
This sculpture is just plain fun. It makes you feel like there is a giant living underneath the sand, waiting to grab you off your towel while you’re sunbathing.
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