As I update the remaining 2011-related sections of this blog and officially shift into my new NYU grad student existence, I am finally facing the reality that my “travel plans” widget is about to become, and will most likely remain, depressingly empty for awhile. This post is a quick reminder to myself before I delete the old and bring in the new that I’ve been very fortunate in terms of my opportunities to travel the world, particularly during my South America backpacking trip in 2006-7 (I’ve included a few shots from that trip below, for fun) and my shorter, more recent adventures throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East from London.

     

My ability to travel relatively frequently and easily was one of the best parts about living in London. I would’ve been crazy not to have taken advantage of such an amazing travel base. I had five weeks of vacation plus bank holidays, and there were TONS of awesome, incredibly different destinations only a short train or plane ride away. Sometimes the journey was a bit longer – to South Africa, for instance – but not nearly as bad as it would’ve been from the US!

Obviously, these trips weren’t always cheap, particularly in my last couple of years out there. However, I love to travel and made it a priority, knowing that my years in London were limited and it would be a lot more expensive and time consuming from the US. Instead of buying unnecessary clothing or overpriced drinks, for instance, I would put whatever money I had left after living expenses and savings towards travel. If I planned far enough in advance, flew with carriers like EasyJet and/or traveled during the off-season, I was usually able to find some reasonably priced tickets, especially within Europe.

I’d try to find good value hotels (with the occasional splurge, given that these trips were often only two nights and I had a travel companion) and then would offset nicer meals and expenses like late night cabs with using public transportation or walking during the day and eating lunch at a farmer’s market (or secretly making sandwiches at the gigantic breakfast buffet – yes, I confess to doing this without shame!). I of course always brought my running shoes – best way to explore a new place, in most cases, while squeezing in some exercise.

So, where did I go while I lived in London, aside from the 2-3 trips per year I made back to the US? In 2008 and the first half of 2009, my travel focused more heavily on weddings, reunions and other family events back home, although I managed to visit Madrid, Edinburgh, Sicily, and South Africa, as well as a number of places throughout England.

From the summer of 2009 onwards, I started to travel like a madwoman! I spent the second half of 2009 seeing Barcelona, Copenhagen, Paris, Istanbul, Amsterdam and Lebanon, twice (Beirut is amazing – that’s actually where I spent NYE), in addition to another extended trip back home to CA. Must include a few random photos, obviously!

   

  

In 2010, my free time was dominated by marathon training – plus I was in CA twice for weddings/family time – but I still made it to Paris (for the marathon), southern Spain, Italy (Trieste and Venice), Dublin, Stockholm, Berlin, NYC (for the marathon) and more long weekends across the UK.

       

This past year was pretty epic, with London as my travel base from Jan – Aug and Santa Cruz/San Francisco, CA as my base from Sept – Dec. It makes me sad that I have to delete the following entries from my “2011 Travel Plans” list, knowing I have hardly anything to include for 2012 (related blog links below):

Zanzibar (Jan/Feb); Marrakech, Morocco (March); Northern/Central Vietnam (April/May); Oslo, Norway (May); Lake District, UK (June); Amalfi Coast, Italy (June); Reykjavik, Iceland (Aug); Santa Cruz, CA (moved back Aug 30th); Big Sur (Sept); Portland (Oct); NYC (Nov); London (Nov); New Hampshire/Boston (Nov); San Antonio (Dec); and Los Angeles (Dec).

      

I’m in the process of making a 2011 photo book. E and I had our share of travel disasters, but for the most part the hundreds of photos that we took are bringing back some wonderful memories.

As for 2012, my new travel list will include the following on January 1st:

NYC (Jan 14th…until I graduate many many years later)

Okay, that’s a (slight) exaggeration. I do have a trip or two in the works for 2012, including a long weekend in Rome for a friend’s June wedding (thank you frequent flyer miles) and, hopefully, a long weekend in Chicago to run the marathon. That’s probably all I can handle, though. Quitting my job in August, facing insane tuition and living costs in NYC, having little time to spare in between year-round school, volunteer work and part-time work, and no longer living in such a lovely travel base means very little travel for me in the coming years! Not that I have a right to complain after being so spoiled…

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