I was absolutely terrible at writing about my travels this year and plan to change that in 2015 with a targeted goal. I found myself lucky enough to take two trips to Europe, explore three new states and get in some California adventures too. Here were some of my favorite places.
10. Englischer Garten, Munich, Bavaria Germany
I’m incredibly fortunate to get to travel to Germany for work. Munich was a strange place to be alone. Hitting it between Oktoberfest and Christmas Market Season was also tricky. However, thanks to a woman in my yoga class at Yoga Garden, I learned of Mike’s Bike Tours and was able to explore The English Garden the sunny fall weekend I was there. Even had a nice hangover lunch at one of the few opened biergartens on Sunday.
9. Ratna Ling Retreat Center, Sonoma County, California
Two weeks after I finished my marathon, I rewarded myself with a yoga retreat with two of my dearest, longest friends, Mary Ann and Marley. One of my favorite instructors at Yoga Garden, Sonya Genel, leads these twice a year. It was lovely to go to a peaceful place, deepen my practice and bond with wonderful women.
8. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
Mountains in Oklahoma? Who knew? Always rewarding to summit a peak, no matter how small, and I was able to do so here. Found out about this place thanks to sitting between two friendly Oklahomans on my flight from Denver to OKC. This was also the place I aborted a seven mile hike after realizing I didn’t know how to handle snakes and stumbled upon an entire family whilst singing “My Favorite Things” to quell my fear.
7. Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas
For reasons I won’t go into, this stop was incredibly emotional for me. I made the best of it and enjoyed two spa treatments (a modern one and an old-fashioned bathhouse treatment), a bit of hiking, and some tasty beer at America’s first geothermal brewery.
6. Pollença, Mallorca, Spain
I did not plan a trip to Mallorca until a few days prior. May in Germany proved rainy this time and I needed sunshine. I scrapped a hiking excursion to Swabia and went to the Mediterranean instead. I hiked and biked the island, but found the medieval city of Pollença absolutely charming to wander.
5. Teddy Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota
North Dakota is a great place to be alone. There are so few people that when you pass someone on a rural highway, they wave. Spontaneously driving to its western edge on my first day, I got to take a post-sunrise run in the shadows of the Badlands, make a ranger’s day by purchasing a National Parks Pass at an undervisited park, and be alone with majestic bison and wild horses. I also took a seven mile hike expecting to not see another soul, but encountered two hot firefighters setting up for a controlled burn. Oh, and the museum also contains TR’s bloodied undershirt from the assassination attempt on him in Milwaukee – one of my favorite history anecdotes of all time (he was saved by a copy of his long speech).
4. S036, Berlin, Germany
What better way to kill nine hours between flights than to go dancing with German friends until sun up at an epic 80s night in a grungy club fueled by Club Mate and Vodka? One of the most fun nights of the year, if not my life.
3. Portland, Maine
Hey! The one trip I actually wrote about. A blast exploring my birthtown with my childhood friend from the other Portland.
2. Yosemite National Park, California
Finally checked this one off my list after years. Celebrated Sarah’s birthday and Labor Day with a group of good friends at a rental just outside the park. Only did a couple of lighter hikes and “best of” drive, but know I will come back to this magical place. Thanks to our friend Brad, we spent the end of each day hanging out at a hidden swimming hole away from the crazy crowds.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
The best journeys are unplanned. Landed in Berlin from San Francisco, learned my college friend Dan lived with his girlfriend, Dora, and Brussels terrier, Jerome, in Prague, discovered a train leaving in 20 minutes, and showed up six hours later. Couldn’t have enjoyed my jetlagged reunion with one of best pals more. Washed delicious Czech food down with even better Czech beer (my favorite). Drank coffee in a cubist café. Stumbled onto the set of a French thriller television show. Went to a picnic at a Crossfit. Fell asleep in the back of Dan and Dora’s Subaru and woke up alone in the rain. Got into a standoff over a pizza. Stayed up until 4 a.m. having a dance party to everything from the Dixie Chicks to 50 Cent to Atomic Kitten to Bonnie Tyler. Took a six-mile running tour to the Prague Castle. Drank beer in a classic writer’s hangout with pompous Israelis. Happened upon a hip hop competition dominated by a chubby Vietnamese-Czech teen. Woke up at 5 a.m. to catch a train to Berlin. I need to go back and see more of the “sights,” but I couldn’t think of two better people with whom to have spent an “ordinary” Prague weekend.