At the end of each year, I always make it a point to write a post about the places I’ve been to over the year as a way to look back at the miles I’ve traveled and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned.
2015 has been a very special year for me: Alberto and I welcomed Baby Kaleya into our lives and became parents for the first time! It’s been the biggest turning point of my life and an incredible journey so far. The past nine months have been fun, exciting, challenging, and emotional all at once. Undoubtedly, motherhood has been the biggest adventure I’ve been on and also the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
While motherhood has changed me in so many ways, I’m still me. For one, I didn’t forget about travel. Although I put a short pause on travel at the beginning of the year, I’ve already been back on the road several times this year with Kaleya in tow. This year, I traveled mostly around Spain and only made it to only 6 countries, in comparison to the usual 15-20 countries I visit each year. In 2016, I already have some exciting travels planned.
Here’s a look at where I’ve been this year:
Table of Contents
- May: Granada and Alicante (Spain)
- June: Tarifa, Malaga and Almeria (Spain)
- July: Cadiz, Gibraltar and Marbella (Spain)
- August: Latvia
- September: Singapore and Maldives
- October: Ibiza
- November: Cuba
- December: Cyprus and California
- What’s Next?
- Interesting in reading more?
- 2014 in Photos
- 2013 in Photos
- 2012 in Photos
- 2011 in Photos
- 2010 in Photos
May: Granada and Alicante (Spain)
We brought Baby Kaleya on her first trip when she was 1.5 months old to a country retreat just outside of Granada. It was great to get out into the countryside for some fresh air and go walking amidst sunflower meadows. The setting amidst olive groves and rolling hills was just perfect.
For her second trip, we headed to Costa Blanca to relax and kick back. We spent most of our time lounging by the pool while Baby Kaleya napped, we took long walks on the beach with her in a sling as she curiously looked at the world, we even took naps in the hotel room after a day in the sun, and also had nice dinners in the hotel while she caught up on her sleep. I finally got the break I needed and Baby Kaleya absolutely loved it too.
June: Tarifa, Malaga and Almeria (Spain)
Over the month of June, we went glamping with baby around Spain, trying out some really unique places to stay and exploring our own backyard at the same time. In Tarifa, we stayed in a really cool yurt, explored the funky surf town, and spent a day learning to kitesurf in Tarifa. The city’s now one of my favorite towns in Spain. In Malaga, we went glamping in an Airstream, went for short walks in the forest and just chilled outdoors by the plunge pool. Further south in Almeria, we brought Alberto’s family out to Mini Hollywood, the old film set of Western classics like the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
July: Cadiz, Gibraltar and Marbella (Spain)
In July, we continued traveling around southern Spain with Baby Kaleya to not just introduce her to our lovely adopted home but also get her adjusted to travel. First, we escaped to the beach town of San Roque in Cadiz, spending our time exploring the old town, feasting on delicious seafood and enjoying the sun. We also took a daytrip to Gibraltar, an overseas British territory that’s physically located in Spain. It was such an interesting place to visit– having a blend of both Spanish and British influences. To end our summer in Spain, we headed to the hills overlooking Marbella for a yoga retreat at Shanti Som, experiencing a different type of travel and seeing this region from new angles.
By August, I was ready to head out on my own again and I accepted an assignment to spend an active weekend in Latvia. It wasn’t my first trip to Latvia – I’d visited almost seven years ago on a spa assignment (a different focus indeed!) for a women’s magazine and in the midst of winter so the weather was rather dreary back then.
This time, Latvia was basking in the warm summer’s sunshine and it looked all playful and chirpy. I spent an active weekend biking around Riga, Latvia and hiking in the nearby Kemeri National Park getting to know the outdoorsy side to Latvia. A weekend definitely wasn’t enough time to see it all, but it definitely left me wanting to see more of the Baltic nation.
September: Singapore and Maldives
Since Kaleya was born, I had been looking forward to bringing her to see my family and friends in Singapore. We wanted to wait until she was at least five months old to bring her on her first flight. As it turned out, I really didn’t have much to worry about – Kaleya was actually really easy to travel with. This trip definitely encouraged us to travel even more with her. It was great introducing Kaleya to everyone and hanging out at my old haunts again.
From Singapore, we hopped over to the Maldives, a place I’d been wanting to visit for awhile. Maldives turned out to be even dreamier than I had imagined and it was pure bliss just being there. Our days were spent swimming in the turquoise waters just steps from our overwater bungalow, chilling out on the beachfront day beds where Baby Kaleya would be lulled to sleep by the sea breeze. But we did a lot more than beach bumming — we also went island hopping, cruising with dolphins, scuba diving and learning about Maldvian culture in the capital city Male.
We weren’t quite ready for summer to be over just yet, so we nabbed some cheap flights to Ibiza and headed to the Balearic island for a long weekend. Ibiza has such a bad reputation as a party island, but there’s actually plenty to do beyond hitting the clubs: we took long scenic drives, explored the hippy market, and wandered around the port at Ibiza town. The weather was really warm and pleasant, and the water just the right temperature for swimming. Kaleya loved playing on the beach and napping while we drove around the island. We also had a great stay in an ultra modern and slick mansion from Chic Ibiza Villas with great views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Cuba is one place I’d been dreaming of visiting for awhile and this November I finally made that a reality. As part of my ongoing partnership with G Adventures as one of their Wanderers in Residence, I traveled with them to Cuba to chronicle my experience here with you. I fell in love with Havana the minute I got there – the time-warped city is unlike any other place I’ve been. Almost every street seemed to have an intriguing story to tell, whether one of colonial heritage, economic hardship or revolutionary change – and sometimes all of these, wrapped up in just one block.
Since Obama announced plans to resurrect diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, many people (including myself) are worried about changes in Cuba. Based on my recent trip, it was clear to me that Old Cuba isn’t going anywhere just yet. The world has underestimated the Cubans’ resilience and their strong sense of identity. Even though Cuba isn’t exactly a secret in the travel world, it is no sanitized tourist trap, and the country still buzzes with a chaotic sense of life and a raw sense of the past.
December: Cyprus and California
At the beginning of December, we brought Kaleya on another trip to Cyprus, an island that’s intrigued me for the longest time. I’d first reading about it after its division in 1974 (into two regions: the Republic of Cyprus and North Cyprus). As it turned out, the country is multilayered, not only in its history, but also its rich traditions, cuisine and landscape that few other countries can rival. I’ll be sharing more about it in the next few weeks, read more about our time here.
We’re currently spending the festive season with my family in California. It’s been more than two years since we came to visit my sister so we’re all here (along with my parents who flew in from Singapore) to celebrate Christmas together. We’ve just spent a few days in Palm Springs, exploring its national parks and staying at some of the coolest villas we’ve ever seen. Over the next two weeks, we also plan to explore Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and spend some time at a ski lodge in Lake Tahoe with my family.
I already have lots of exciting travels planned for 2016, including a trip to Cape Verde with just Kaleya, overlanding West Africa solo, a travel writing workshop in Mexico, and a hiking trip to Faroe Islands. It should be another great year ahead in terms of travel.
Here’s wishing all a fantastic 2016, hope to see you around!
How was 2015 for you? What were the highlights?