America, Diving, Food, Indonesia, Life in Asia, Malaysia, Qatar

2018 Travel Highlights

Dining poolside

As 2018 draws to a close, with thankfulness and joy I look back on 2018 and it’s many highlights. Most of which are centered around raising my baby girl and seeing her thrive. But a few of this year’s highlights are travel related, so I thought I’d share some great traveling memories from the year…

Experiencing the New Developments of Tampa, Florida’s Riverfront
We started 2018 in the US, home with family & friends and our new baby. I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, which I never really took pride in until recently. Over the past 10 years, I’ve really began to love how my city has grown and developed. What used to be a collections of chain restaurants, big box stores and shopping malls is starting to shift to independent and artisan endeavors. Take the downtown Tampa riverfront area. Downtown Tampa used to be dull and not worth seeing, just something to pass through on your way to Hyde Park or St. Pete. But now, it’s a destination. Beautiful Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park at one end and the new ultra cool dining warehouse Armature Works at the other. Biking and walking paths line the river. And no trip to downtown Tampa is complete without a stop at Insta-famous Oxford Exchange for food, coffee, tea and shopping. I’m now proud to say I’m from Tampa, and love to recommend these unique experiences to out of town guests. Each time I come home, I discover something new myself!

Riding a Camel in Qatar
I had never been to the Middle East before this year. So I was super excited to add it to our itinerary in 2018! And if I had one thing I wanted to accomplish in Qatar, it was riding a camel. These magnificent beasts which I had only seen in movies & storybooks are strong and massive. I felt as though I may plummet headlong into the sand while climbing aboard. But I held my balance, and sat atop this incredible creature for a great photo op. Then I had to get down, and it was equally terrifying. But what a cool experience!

Cooling Down in the Bedugul Mountains of Bali
I love living in Bali, and I love the sunshine and beaches. But I’ll be honest, it’s real hot. That’s why whenever we can, we sneak away to Bedugul. Located in the northern half of the island, nestled in the mountains between 2 volcanic crater lakes, Bedugul weather is cool & crisp. The sometimes oppressive humidity of the coast vanishes. From the botanical gardens to the lakesides, I love taking in the green lush wildlife of Bedugul. Even though the temperatures barely reach below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a refreshing change of pace from the rest of sweltering Bali weather.

Penang’s Art Scene
Penang, Malaysia was so cool. I’ve had this place on my radar for awhile, and I’m thrilled to say that it measured up. The art scene especially is fabulous. I love the creativity & the architecture. I love the colors and the flavors. I loved wandering down Armenian Street and discovering new works of art painted on the street corners. I really enjoyed stopping into shops filled with creations of local artisans. I adored walking through the abandoned bus depot turned art gallery to soak in the vibes. I feel like Penang needs more than one visit to truly understand all it has to offer. I can’t wait to go back!

Amed, East Bali
If I had to pick one city in Bali to visit, it would be Amed. I absolutely love this little village in East Bali. It’s small and minimally developed. Yet many great hotels and homestays have found their way into the Amed community. But what I really love about Amed is the food. There are so many great restaurants here! I can’t even eat at them all in one visit. I love the ocean, the snorkeling and beautiful black sand. I love the cliffside view of sunset over the volcano and Jemeluk Bay. I even created this Amed City Guide on my blog a couple years back, because it has so many great things to offer! I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve visited Amed since moving to Bali, and I know we aren’t done yet.

So, where am I headed in 2019? Stay tuned for my 2019 bucket list in the coming weeks!

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