My 23rd year of life has been straight up 50/50. The first 6 months (50) were shit. 1.) The universe (home office) took away (needed) my passport (my livelihood) to get a new visa (wallet drainer), which meant that no travel could be accomplished from December 14 - February, and then again from August - September. Talk about a nightmare. 2.) Crazy roommate. Much better now. I'll save that story for another time. 3.) Transferring to a different university for my masters. Also much better now.
The times of the year that I was in actual possession of my passport / not living with a crazy have been fantastic. I've gotten to do a significant amount of exploring, have found my "calling" working and studying human rights, have moved into an excellent new apartment, and bae. Much improvement.
Usually I'm not one to ~reflect~ or make new year's resolutions, because TBH, why set yourself up for failure? *AMIRITE* But 2015 had just too many adventures not to share. So here's my top 15 (in no particular order) adventures of the year. (ALERT: a lot of these photos contain lovey boyfriend stuff... so sorry in advance.)
1.) The Royal Ascot - Ascot, England (August)
All I've ever wanted is to wear a funny hat, and I finally got my wish. Few things are better than drinking Pimms all day, getting dressed up, and betting on horses. You BET (HAHAH!!!!!!) that you'll be seeing me at every Ascot as long as I'm living in England!
2.) Chicago/Wisconsin (July/August)
Truth: I'm from here. And typically, a trip back home isn't necessarily an "epic adventure" but this time was different. I brought Patrick back to Chicago for the first time, where he got to meet my family, and I was able to show him Chicago in a different way. As I'm sure is true with most hometowns, you don't always take the time out to appreciate your city, and I'm the first to admit that's true. But because Patrick was with me, we went on an architecture boat tour, stuffed our faces with pizza, roadtripped up to Wisconsin for a music festival, and went waterskiing. I've never been so appreciative of my hometown.
3.) Wales (August)
I've written about Wales and how it's the most badass place on earth, so you can check it out here. But the gist of the story is that I had been dying to go to Wales for years, and finally convinced my boyfriend to take me this year for my birthday. I always wanted to do a roadtrip, and since I can't drive in the UK, my trip to Wales was pretty much contingent on having a British boyfriend (just kidding... kinda). We stayed in a small town up north called Bewtsy-coed, which with its picturesque cottages and mountainscape, was the most perfect adventure to ring in 23.
4.) San Juan, Puerto Rico (December)
I've capped out 2015 in San Juan (I'm here now!) and let me say that I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of this city. Often times it's difficult to find beach towns or tropical locations with a well preserved history and culture, and for me, a history buff, I appreciate a little cultural learning some of the time. The Puerto Rican culture has been so well preserved, even though they are now an American colony. It's got a bit of Latin American flare, while not making you feel like you're in a completely foreign country.
5.) Bratislava (April)
I literally could not have been more pale if I tried, but a trip to Bratislava with a close friend of mine topped off most of my Western Europe travels (it's arguably Western, but whatever). Not only is the old town beautiful, but the countryside outside is stunning. You can look out to Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic from just one viewpoint.
6.) Romania (June)
Romania is easily underrated, and many travelers that I've spoken to have put Romania on the top of their list of favorite countries. Bucharest itself has such interesting architecture, from Soviet blocks of apartments, to Art Nouvou. But what really stuck out to me was the Romania countryside. Transylvania isn't just home to vampires, but gypsy villages and castles too. This is going to sound super betchy, but I've seen a lot of castles, and they're not usually that interesting to me anymore. But the interior of this castle (called Peles Castle) is made entirely out of WOOD!?!?! So cool.
7.) Bulgaria (November)
I'm going to be honest when I say that Sofia doesn't have much going for it. It's not the prettiest city I've ever been, but it has quite a rich history that makes touring around very interesting. But it makes my list of top adventures for its effort. Basically, the city of Sofia has tons of ruins that are like trillions of years old, but the city didn't want to do anything with them. So they're just there. I wish I could be more articulate about it than that, but that's really the jist. Also, I stayed at a fantastic hostel called Hostel Mostel, which I must recommend.
8.) Salzburg, Austria (November)
Mom came to visit! It was such a happy week when mom came, and she finally got to see my life in London, and we ventured into Salzburg for a few days. I kid you not, the Sound of Music tours is one of the dopest tours I've ever been on. They basically force you to sing (but let's be honest, why would you go on the tour if you wouldn't want to sing??) and you get to see a lot of the filming locations from the movie, like the gazebo, the front/back of the Von Trapp house, the church where Maria was married etc. etc. But I've already rambled on about this tour in my article here, so have a little read if you want to learn all that Salzburg has to offer!
9.) Sweden (December)
Aside from the fact that I could (and probably will) happily consume only Swedish meatballs for the rest of my life, Stockholm has remained my favorite Scandanavian city. Patrick and I were greeted with Swedish hospitality and bitter cold, but that couldn't stop us from wandering the city all bundled up.
10.) Rugby World Cup - Brighton, England (September)
Patrick turned 23 in August, so I thought what better to celebrate than watching my country smash at rugby (just kidding, we lost)! But Brighton is a fantastic little seaside town, and we were sure to stuff our faces with fish and chips, wander the pier, and attempt a tan by the water in 65 degree weather.
11.) Athens/Madrid (May)
My best friend Danny came to visit in May, which called for massive amounts of shenanigans and epic adventures. D & I wandered over to my city, Madrid, and followed it up with strolling through the Acropolis, with lots of drinks and banter in between. 10/10.
12.) Cyprus (April)
Ain't nothing like escaping the cold London weather for a little R&R, so I found myself venturing to Paphos, Cyprus in April of this year. Not only are there casual ruins just about everywhere, but beautiful beaches and a cute little seaside town.
13.) American Embassy (June)
Probably one of the most epic nights of 2015 was brought to you by the American Embassy. Which randomly holds parties sometimes apparently? So this happened. (And it was western themed... hence the cowboy hat).
14.) Hawaii (January)
Hawaii still remains my favorite vacation spot, and it's filled with childhood memories of my family. I rang in 2015 with my family in Kauai, and even got to meet up with a friend I met in London and his sister along the way!
15.) VE Day Parade - London, England (May)
I'm including this on here because this is the day that I saw the queen and the prime minister twice by accident. My best friend Danny who was visiting at the time and I decided to wander down toward the parade, where we scored a standing space right outside of Westminster Abbey. And there came the queen!
So there we have it! 2015 was a year of the highest highs and the lowest lows, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. I anticipate 2016 to be full of even more laughter, love, and adventures, so let's bring it on!