Top 10 Travel Moments of 2016

2016 was filled with so many amazing travel experiences and adventures. I love looking back each year and reflecting on our travels. You can check out last years post HERE. This year instead of breaking down each trip we took, I decided to pick my top ten favorite travel moments from the year. Here they are, in order of occurance not importance...

Grand Canyon

Talk about majestic! I love the Grand Canyon and I feel so grateful to have seen it. I did an entire blog post on this, so to read more about my day trip to the Grand Canyon, click HERE!

San Francisco

There is so much to see in the city and surrounding regions of San Francisco! We took a wine tour through Sonoma Valley, visited Ghirardelli Square, toured and ate seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, rode a trolley, walked the crooked road of Lombard Street, drank wine in the park near the Painted Ladies and of course took a billion photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. Did I mention this was a girls trip?! I typically am traveling with my husband, and he is the best travel partner I could ever hope for. However, a girls trip with your best friends is so necessary sometimes. Wine, great food, new adventures and tons of laughs is the recipe for a perfect weekend getaway. 

Miami

Nick and I have been to Florida several times, but never Miami until this year. We are extremely surprised by the Cuban culture and influence in Miami. The beaches there are so stunning, with beautiful sand and clear turquoise waters. I did a full blog post on our weekend in Miami, read more HERE.

Amsterdam

In August we began our month long European adventure. We started in Amsterdam. I still need to do a whole blog post on just this city, there is just so much to say that I don't quite know where to begin. My favorite part of this city was the canals. The water was beautiful, they are surrounded by quaint buildings, and there are always boats passing along each canal. My other favorite elements of Amsterdam were the beautiful parks, and the historical museums, including many art museums and the Anne Frank house. With all that being said, there are many things about this city I could do without. The insane amounts of bicycles that are everywhere, leaving you stressed out when you walk around town and the unique culture of the Red Light District. Those things are part of what makes Amsterdam a unique city, I personally just wasn't fond of them. Overall though, our time in Amsterdam was great, we loved walking around while discovering new sights and foods, and we loved experiencing the dutch culture for the first time.

Trevi Fountain in Rome

Rome is my favorite city! It's my husband's favorite city too. We fell in love with Rome a few years ago when we were there on our honeymoon. Going back two years later was a dream. The first time we went to Rome the Trevi Fountain was under construction. It was one of the sights we were most looking forward to seeing, so when it was all covered in scaffolding we were so disappointed. This August when we went back to Italy, Trevi was up and running and let me say looking stunning. It is so much larger and more grand than I had anticipated. The way they light it up at night is just magical. Everyone gathers around Trevi in the evenings, eating their gelato and tossing coins into the fountain while they make wishes. We came back several nights, it just doesn't get old. 

Boating in Tropea, Italy

When it comes to touring Italy, we are spoiled. We are spoiled because we have family there and they give us the VIP tour. We get to see Italy through a local's eyes, not just our tourist eyes. Our cousin Antonio owns a boat in Tropea ( the most beautiful beach town in all of Italy). We took the boat out and got to gawk at the views of the coast from the sea. Tropea is stunning, I love the way the buildings are carved into the cliffs. The sea is such a bright blue, you would think you're sailing through Kool-Aid. We jumped in, swam for a bit, then headed back to the marina where we drank champagne and toasted to family. This is one of my favorite moments not just of this year but of my entire life. I'm so grateful to have family in Italy, they are so fun and such a joy to be around. 

Cinque Terre Hike

Hiking the Cinque Terre trail along the Italian coast had been on my bucket list for probably over seven years. I had first heard of Cinque Terre, Italy because amazing photos of the little fishing towns were going viral on Pinterest. It looked like something I would "pin" but never go to... a dream place that who knew if really existed. This August we actually went! And let me tell you it was as dreamy, quaint and stunning as the pictures on Pinterest made me believe. To read an in depth post on the hike we did, click HERE

Leaning Tower of Pisa

There are some things you see your whole life on post cards, computer screen savers, in movies and in books, but to see them in real life is something else. The leaning tower of Pisa is one of those famous landmarks. It was unbelievable to see it with my own eyes. I loved watching all the tourists take their "I'm holding the tower up" photos. Such a blast! 

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Sunset in Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo

Watching the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence was an evening I'll never forget. It was quite the hike to get to Piazzale Michelangelo but it is so worth it. There you can overlook the entire city of Florence, getting a birds eye view of the red roofs. At the square you will find food and drinks. We drank wine while watching the sun set. It was so peaceful and so stunning that no photo will do it justice. 

Breakfast in St. Mark's Square, Venice

Last, but certainly not least... breakfast in St. Mark's Square! This was the most peaceful, joyous and memorable experience of our Europe trip. I know that may seem silly saying breakfast was my favorite, when we did things like tour the Roman Colosseum, explore the Vatican, we even saw the Pope! But this breakfast was simply my favorite. You pay to sit at this restaurant, you pay for the view and the live orchestra playing right behind you. I ordered a cappuccino and a variety of macrons. It was all so delicious, the best cappuccino and macrons I have ever tasted. We sat there, ate, drank, listened to the music and people watched. There is so much joy happening all through St. Mark's Square, so it is the perfect place to people watch. You'll see people from all walks of life, but they are all seemingly happy. That was one of the most tranquil moments of my life. I can't wait to go back. 

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Sonoma Valley Wine Tour

I just got home from a weekend girls trip to San Francisco. What a blast! The first day there we did a full day wine tour (8 hours of wine drinking!). I must say, this is one of my all time favorite moments in my entire life. Taking a wine tour has always been at the top of my bucket list, but even with my high expectations of an amazing time, it still exceeded my expectations. The combination of great wine, my best girlfriends, beautiful weather, new adventures, green vineyards, and a nice buzz... wow was I in heaven! 

The tour took us to three different wineries. This was special because each winery was entirely different and unique. Each beautiful and special in their own ways. The first winery we visited was called Roche Winery. It is a smaller, family owned winery, so we had a more intimate experience there. We were the only group there which was nice. Our tasting was at their vineyards instead of their wine tasting room, which was so peaceful and the scenery was stunning, it felt like a fake backdrop. They turned a barn into a tasting room and that is where we tried their wines. The vineyards were unbelievably green this time of year and the wine was delicious... What a perfect way to start the day! The woman talking and giving the spiel was so sweet and totally hilarious! She definitely kept us entertained. We got to sample about 5 wines (can't remember the exact number lol). They gave us a few whites and a few reds to taste. As usual, they had a bucket you could pour your wine into if you did not want to drink it all, whether it be because you did not like the wine or because you just preferred not to drink too much. This winery was the only one of the whole day that took us to look at the vines in the vineyard. She told us quite

a bit about the grapes, how they are grown and what is special about the climate in Sonoma Valley. We were there the last week in April and the grapes were just tiny babies. Here is a picture of them. 

The second winery we visited was the Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. This winery may have had a vineyard nearby, but we did not see it. The building was much larger and fancier than the first location. The decor inside the tasting room was stunning, my friends and I kept saying it would be a dream wedding location! There were huge wine barrels all around and fancy wood carvings on the barrels. Here is a pic! 

Photo taken at Sebastiani Winery

Photo taken at Sebastiani Winery

At Sebastiani we got to sample four wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon. They were all tasty in my opinion but the Sauvignon Blanc was my favorite at this winery. They also had balsamic vinaigrette to sample, and a few dessert wines (one that tasted like a Muscato and I loved it)!

Photo taken at Roche Winery

Photo taken at Roche Winery

The third winery we went to was by far the most stunning property. It was the Cline Winery. This one might have been my favorite, even though I really enjoyed them all. Cline let us sample about five wines, then we were able to walk and explore the property, taking photos in the vineyards and wandering around. This property had so many stunning plants and trees. They had another tasting going on where they let us sample five more wines, that was such a treat! My friend and I actually each purchased a bottle from here. I bought the Mourvedre Rose, and believe it or not it was only like 12 bucks!! It was one of my favorite wines I sampled there. I also really enjoyed their Pinot Gris and Cuvee. Can you tell I'm a white wine girl?! Haha. I took a wine course in college and they said that "beginner" wine drinkers like white wine then as your palate evolves as a wine drinker you will begin to love reds. Well, I'm 26 and have loved wine for about six years now... not sure when my "palate will evolve".  

Photo taken at Roche Winery

Photo taken at Roche Winery

Photo taken at Roche Winery

Photo taken at Roche Winery

Here is a video I have put together of our experience through Sonoma wine country! I hope this post inspires you to get on a wine tour asap or maybe it inspires you to take an adventure that matches your personality, or cross something off your bucket list! Here's the video... Enjoy!! 

 

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