this article contains a special giveaway!
In a year of traveling the world, you see a lot. Some good, some bad, some down right strange. When I first started my journey, I wondered how I would handle traveling for a full year and living in a different country each month. Would time slow down for me since I was having so many new experiences? Would continuous culture shock become a problem?
The reality is that long-term travel makes you immune to culture. With so many new experiences occurring every day, it becomes normal to accept that you don’t have all the answers. But in the end, this is what makes travelling long-term incredibly freeing. The ability to be able to admit that some places just aren’t that great, that other’s are unbelievably amazing, and that people everywhere are all looking for the same thing; happiness.
Now that I am back home, I have begun to reflect on these moments through creating beautiful photo albums with Artifact Uprising. There is no better way to capture these memories than to put the photography of my trip in a photo album. That way I can easily share stories and imagery with loved ones. Plus, sometimes it's great to take a moment with yourself, a cup of tea, and your photos to reflect on those incredible travel moments. They inspire me to keep on traveling and dreaming!
What I love about Artifact Uprisings albums is that they are high quality - similar to a beautiful coffee table book. They are the best way to showcase high quality photography. To capture all of my (many) experiences during the round-the-world journey, I’m putting together a three-piece photo book series and showcasing my memories from a year of incredible moments. The first album of the three arrived recently and it triggered me to do two things:
- Share my most memorable moments with you in this blog post
- Do a $50 giveaway to create your own gorgeous Artifact Uprising travel photo album. To enter the contest click here.
With no further ado, these are my top countries, experiences, and moments by category in a year of traveling the world.
Indonesia. Specifically Bali because it is incredibly inexpensive to live there, the quality of life is exceptional, the food is grown naturally, presented beautifully (with fresh flowers on everything), and there are immense variety of choices. Also, the island is stunning. The streets are covered in Plumeria flowers, the sunsets have colors unlike anywhere else I’ve been, and the people are friendly. Bali is also known as Asia’s spa center and you can get a great massage for as little as $5. This place rocks all around! See more on Indonesia here.
Least Favorite Country:
Sweden. Sorry Swedes but there are a few reasons that I did not enjoy this country. The main problem is that it is UNBELIVABLY expensive. I am from New York City and am used to paying a lot but in Stockholm the high prices made it almost impossible to enjoy ourselves. The first day we went to a coffee shop and got a tea, a cookie, and a beer, the cost was $27. The other reason we didn’t enjoy Sweden was because it was cold. We were there in August and the high was in 65 degrees. We were just not prepared for that because we were traveling with only clothes for 80 degrees and up. So I guess that one is our fault. See more on Sweden here.
Trekking through the mountains of Northern Thailand and staying with local tribes. This three day trek changed my life. My parents, Luis, and I went with guides by foot through the mountains of Thailand. Each night we stayed with a different tribe, cooked with them, and learned about their culture. During the experience, we also fed elephants, caught a snake (and cooked it for dinner - yikes!), swag from tree vines into the river, and floated on bamboo rafts. It is an experience that everyone should do once in their lives. Click here to see photos and read about this experience.
A man tried to break into our house in Brazil. There was a heavy rainstorm and all the power on the block went out. We were in bed and suddenly heard a loud banging noise. At first we thought it was a tree branch being blow repeatedly against the house, but after several minutes we got suspicious and went down stairs to investigate. What we found was a man throwing his full body weight into the glass on the door trying to break it. Once he saw us, he asked if he could come in from the rain. However, we were skeptical and thought that it might be a trick (or a way to pretend he wasn’t trying to break in) so we told him to go away. Reluctantly he did, but we were still nervous all night that he might come back. Luckily, he never did. See more on Brazil here.
Most Shocking Moment:
Getting naked is more comfortable to Swedish people when you first meet than sharing personal details. In Sweden, it is very common for people to go to the sauna. Unlike the US, where people wear bathing suits in a sauna, this is considered “unsanitary” in Sweden. Therefore, you must be butt-ass naked. When you introduce your significant other to your family, it is very common to head to the sauna, and get naked in front of each other. It is not uncommon for this to occur at the first meeting. Then in the proceeding meetings you get to know them personally. See more on Sweden here.
Driving a motorcycle for the first time on a highway in Brazil at night in the rain. This is an experience that to this day still scares me. Long story short, we wanted to rent a small motorbike in Brazil and soon discovered upon arrival that they only rent big motorcycles. Neither Luis nor I had ever driven a motorcycle, but the women somehow convinced us that it would be fine (likely because she wanted the business). We thought that she would show us how to drive it, but did not, and quickly left after we paid for it. Then we were stuck in a town we didn’t know, not speaking the language, and not knowing how to drive the motorcycle. It took us nearly 3 hours to do the 40-minute drive home. By the time we got home, we had stalled the bike easily over 50 times, the bike fall on us and burned Luis leg, and it had gotten stuck in the middle of a major intersection in the dark and rain while a Brazilian cop was screaming at us. Oh by the way, the whole time all we were wearing was swimwear. If we had crashed, we would have been dead. I still look back at this and ask myself “what were you thinking?!” See more on Brazil here.
Peru. The cuisine in Peru combines the best food in the world. It comes from Spanish, Creole, Chinese, Italian, French and Japanese influence. There was never a meal in Peru that I didn’t say “holy s*** that is the best thing I’ve ever eaten”. The food is just that good. It should also come at no surprise that three of the top ten restaurants in the world are in Peru. If you visit, you must have ceviche and lomo saltado. Both of those dishes are extraordinary. Click here to see my top suggestions on where to eat in Lima, Peru. See more on Peru here.
Florianopolis, Brazil at Artesano Pizza Bar. As a New Yorker, it saddens me to say that the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life was in Brazil. However, it was just THAT GOOD. I heard from a lot of my travel blogger friends that the best pizza was at Jupiter Pizza in Pula, Croatia. I went there after going to Artesano and it just didn’t match up to Artesano. It was still delicious, but Artesano was better. Artesano had the perfect crust; the ideal ratio of sauce to ingredients, and the flavor was out of this world. See more on Brazil here.
Most Unique Place:
Seoul, South Korea. Everything about Seoul is backwards from what you find around the world, and that is what makes this place so fascinating. Instead of hugging or shaking hands upon greeting, you bow (and almost never touch). Instead of eating with a fork, you eat with chopsticks. The language is written in symbols and it is quite challenging to find anyone over the age of 35 that speaks any English. You can go days in Seoul without seeing another non-Korean. They love K-Pop with its boys that wear makeup, and anything “cute”. It is common to see grown women dressing like little girls and holding stuffed animals. You learn to not blink an eye when you see ads for face slimming devices, skin whiteners, and plastic surgery for a more “western” nose or eyes. It’s unlike any other place I’ve ever been. See more on South Korea here.
Most friendly people:
Croatia. The moment we arrived in Croatia we were welcomed with open arms and excitement from it's people. Over the course of the month, we were invited into the home of two friends we met there; one in Slavonia (inland), and one in Pula (coastline). We went to concerts in vineyards with them, swam in secret grottos, and even cooked with them. To read more about that experience click here. See more on Croatia here.
Cyprus. Truth be told I was dreading going to Cyprus. I had really not heard much about it and figured that because of that it must not be that great. Boy, was I wrong. To be honest, it is hard to say which country I like more; Indonesia or Cyprus. The reason is because Cyprus is such an underdog in travel. It is just as beautiful as the Greek Islands but with less tourists, tastier cuisine, and cheaper prices. They even have a secret red lake! Essentially it is the Greek Islands upgraded. How could you not love that? See more on Cyprus here.
Traveling the world was full of interesting memories. Now that I’m back home, I love reflecting on these moments and what I learned. If you have a question about my experience, write it below and I’m happy to answer. Don’t forget to enter the Artifact Uprising giveaway here so you can make your own travel photo album, and happy travels!