2017 brought us to some incredible places and exposed us to some equally amazing experiences. Including the United States, we traveled throughout seven magnificent countries, each unique and memorable in its own right. We checked some longtime destination wishes off of our bucket list, were pleasantly surprised by some fascinating and lesser-visited places, and ate like total bosses all along the way.
Below are the best of the best, the creme de la creme, of our 2017 travels:
Ah, Cuba. There’s really no place like it. A true step back into time and an utterly fascinating country that left us simultaneously amazed and bewildered. It’s easy to fall under its spell, particularly in its capital city. Havana’s colonial architecture, vibrant colors, intriguing history, and welcoming residents all contribute to its captivating allure. The Habana Vieja quarter of the city is as magnificent as it is charming, and cruising in a classic car along the Malecon sea wall is nothing short of sublime.The free-flowing rum and pulsating music on nearly ever corner certainly didn’t hurt, either. Cuba’s prideful and rich heritage is evident throughout the city and visiting sites like the Royal Force Castle and Museo de la Revolucion are musts if you want a glimpse into the nation’s complex and often contradictory culture.
Traveling with my dad made the trip all the more memorable.
To read more about our visit to Cuba and tips for how to arrange your travel plans, read my Know Before You Go post from earlier in the year.
The largest of the Greek Islands and chock-full of unparalleled beauty, Crete has something for everyone. Stunning beaches, quaint little historic towns, delicious food and wine, and friendly, welcoming locals–Crete is absolutely fabulous. Home to some of the best and freshest produce in the country, the cuisine in Crete is absolutely divine and easily the best that we ate during our Greek travels.
There’s so much to see and do, you’ll definitely want to spend some time on this glorious island. Within an hours drive, you’ll encounter majestic mountains, rugged coastlines, ancient ruins and delicious wineries, all while eating some of the freshest, simplest, and delectable cuisine of your entire life. Crete blog post coming soon.
One of our all-time favorite destinations and arguably the most beautiful place we’ve ever visited, Santorini is what travel dreams are made of. I have written extensively about all of the reasons that this blue-and-white washed island is truly heaven on earth. You can read all about our obsession with Santorini here.
This wildly misunderstood cosmopolitan city boasts world-class museums, an innovative and vibrant art scene, and is home to some of the best restaurants we have ever eaten at. See why we have fallen head over heels for this vivacious and sophisticated city here.
There is so much to say about Kyoto and I plan to write every single word of it in my next blog post. But for now, know this: Kyoto is pure magic. It is everything that we hoped for: a glimpse into Japan’s fascinating and rich history, jaw-dropping temples and shrines, elegant kimonos, exquisite cuisine, and a reverent culture. Easily the highlight of our trip to Japan.
Eating our way through the good ol’ U.S. of A
The way to our hearts has always been through our stomachs, and 2017 was definitely no different. We nourished our souls and filled up our bellies at some phenomenal restaurants this year.
Charleston: We indulged in the finest of southern comfort food at revered spots, Husk and Fig. Read about our Charleston trip here.
Chicago: The Windy City tantalized our tastebuds with delectable fare at Chicago hotspots Tru, Roister, and Cafe Spiaggia. And let’s not forget one of the coolest cocktail lounges in all of creation, The Aviary, where the ingenuity that comes out of this cocktail kitchen can only come from the likes of mastermind cocktail chefs, brilliant ice sculptors, and quite possibly the best people on Earth. Read more about our Chicago trip here.
New York: By far the one of the most luxurious restaurant experiences of not just the year, but of our entire lives, was at the 3-Star Michelin and world-renowned restaurant, Per Se. It was no surprise that this place is an absolute showstopper and truly outstanding. Two innovative nine-course tasting menus are offered: a chef’s tasting menu and a vegetable tasting menu. Yes, the service is exceptional and the food is divine, but what probably impressed me the most is the fact that no two ingredients are repeated throughout the entire meal. Isn’t that just incredible?
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the city where we’ve called home for the past sixteen years. And I should add that I’m not including D.C. just because we live here…we have eaten some phenomenal meals in our nation’s capital and its food scene just keeps getting better and better. Our top three dining experiences of 2017 include Sushi Taro (phenomenal traditional kaiseki-styled meal), Himitsu (imaginative Japanese-inspired fare and a Justice Sonia Sotomayor sighting!), and Del Mar (mouthwatering Spanish food in a stunning setting).
I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
The gifts of friendship and travel were beautifully intertwined throughout the year. We escaped the inauguration and visited Charleston with our good friends (pictured above) Devon and Jess.
I was thrilled to finally visit my lovely friend Jamie in sunny San Diego where yoga, fish tacos, and the mighty Pacific ruled our days. Read about my San Diego trip here.
Just when we thought our trip to Greece couldn’t get any better, we were lucky enough to meet up with two dear couple friends: Tim and Megan in Santorini and Abby and TC (and Abby’s sister, Beth) in Athens. Read more about our time in Athens here.
Wine tasting in Santorini with Tim and Meg.
Athens with Abby, TC, and Beth.
We were able to see our dear and long-time friends Jenna and Marc not once but twice(!) this year: first while sharing our home in the Dominican Republic and second while visiting their home in Colorado. Read more about our Dominican Republic trip here and Colorado trip here.
Aruba was proof that no year should ever go by without a proper girls trip: Four sun-filled days in Aruba with two of my favorites, Liz and Abby, was a fabulous way to end an incredible summer of travel. Aruba blog post coming soon!
We closed out 2017 with the ultimate bang by eating our way through Japan with our good friend and fellow Muhlenberg alum, Bryan. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so consistently well in one country as I did in Japan.
Champion Bar in Tokyo’s Golden Gai: Where all of your karaoke dreams come true.
So where will 2018 take us? El Salvador, Portugal, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, California Wine Country, and Hawaii are in the books so far with the addition of a few Caribbean trips. Very hopeful we will make our way to Morocco by years end, too!
Wishing you all an abundance of joy, love, adventure, and growth in the upcoming year. Happy Traveling, All!
Related Read: Favorite Travel Experiences of 2016