I’m going to come right out and say it: 2015 was a hell of a year. I traveled farther and experienced more than I ever have in such a short span of time. Here’s hoping 2016 has this many adventures in store.
Nairobi and Masai Mara, Kenya
On the savannah in Masai Mara.
The year started off with my first of what I hope will be many trips to this beautiful country. Eating bites of salty, blistering-hot grilled goat and sailing over herds of elephants in a hot air balloon was definitely a new way to kick off the year.
Thailand (through the end of April)
For three months, I went back to a very familiar office in one of Asia’s fastest-paced and occasionally absurd cities. During this time, I traveled, I worked, I helped out, I played, but mostly I ate. I went everywhere from vegetarian hot spots to the fanciest table in town to old-school street food icons.
Ngapali Bay, Myanmar
Although the chant of “see Myanmar before it’s spoiled!” is starting to wear thin after several years, there are still patches of the country where food trucks and espresso bars have yet to invade. Though the boutique resort I stayed at was plenty plush, the surrounding fishing villages and beach-shack restaurants remain unmarred by tourism. Let’s hope they stay that way.
The Bukit Peninsula takes the trappings of ultra-luxe travel to their logical extremes. The results are sometimes bizarre, usually over-the-top, and almost always enjoyable. What surprised me most though weren’t the futuristic spas and sky pool villas, but the surviving patches of local culture stubbornly hanging on in the spaces between.
Boston, Massachusetts and Connecticut, USA
Boston’s a beautiful, old city and I appreciate it more each time I visit. In between everything, I managed to stop for what is, without any exaggeration, some of the best pizza in the universe.
Ibiza, Spain (twice)
This little island tends to evoke passionately positive or negative reactions in people. For all its quirks and less-than-savory aspects, it’s still a jewel of a Mediterranean isle with stunning landscapes, an incredible food scene, and a tenacious, bohemian spirit that has nothing to do with all the mega clubs. I spent the better part of the month here over the course of two trips and was discovering new sides to the place up until my final flight.
Technically more of a long layover than a full-blown trip, but I managed to pack a lot into my day in Zurich. I had a chance to thoroughly explore Geneva, Interlaken and Bern last year and it was nice to wander the streets of one of the major Swiss cities I had missed.
This culturally rich city is more or less my second home in Germany and I never tire of visiting it. From waterskiing on Ammersee to visiting the stellar art museums to fueling up on hearty Bavarian staples, this trip was particularly packed.
I can think of few better places to do unwind than Sarti. For about a week, we were part of big, boisterous Greek family at this sleepy, seaside town.
Much as I like Ibiza, it seemed a shame to have it be my only Spanish sojourn for the year. I teared up at Guernica, ate all of the tapas, and instantly regretted not being able to stay for another couple months.
Having never been to Oktoberfest, I snobbishly assumed I would hate it. I was wrong.
Amsterdam just keeps getting cooler, but it’s hardly known for being cheap. On my first of two trips to the country in 2015, I tried to tackle the capital on a shoestring.
Even the oppressive November weather couldn’t render this place boring. Ai Weiwei’s exhibition stole the show, but eating Thai-style grilled goat, grabbing a very posh drink at the Shard, and losing a few hours in a beautifully curated English-language bookstore (the things you miss) came close.
Arnhem and Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Though I’d visited the city a couple times before, Arnhem wasn’t really on my radar (or anyone else’s) before this trip. A quick stop lead to a fascinating conversation about the power of urban design and a newfound respect for this place. I also had a chance to peruse one of the world's coolest gift shops before catching a plane.
I’ve waxed poetic about Bologna quite recently on this blog, so I’ll keep it short. Suffice it to say, it’s an incredible place to return to again and again. Keep an eye out for my upcoming guide.
Portland, Maine, USA
Portland, Oregon tends to hog all the attention, but I’d argue that the East Coast city of same name is equally worthy of a trip. I’ve been visiting for years and each time for years and each time the restaurant scene just gets better and better. Plus, the drive up along the Atlantic couldn’t be more photogenic.