2011 has been an awesome year for travel. I left Saudi Arabia for San Diego on December 24th to spend the Christmas holiday with my family in San Diego. What started out as a six week visit turned in to a six month West Coast holiday. When I add that to my impromptu trip to Stockholm and another trip back to the United States: I’ve calculated that I was living out of a suitcase for 9 of the 12 months for 2011. So…where did I go?
DMM > AMS > SEA > SAN > SEA > LAS > SAN > SEA > SAN > LAS > SAN > SEA > STR > KON > LAX > SAN > SEA > AMS > DMM > AMS > ARN > AMS > DMM > AMS > ARN > AMS > DMM > AMS > SEA > SAN > SEA > JFK > SAN > SEA > AMS > DMM
Amsterdam is always a layover stop for me when I travel from Saudi Arabia. This year, it wins as my most visited city. Even though I’m only there for 8 hours at a time. I always go into town for some sightseeing. When it comes to the layout and the architecture (I love those canal side houses) Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities.
San Diego is my hometown, born and raised. I love San Diego. For me, it’s like that friend who has known you since childhood, and you know them. However, even with knowing the friend so well… people change; as do cities. The thing is I have not actually lived in San Diego for any length of time since 1999. When I come to San Diego, it’s all about family for me, and free room and board. LOL My family is pretty much the only thing happening for me in this town. I have love for my hometown, but as far as cities go I think it’s kinda boring. The vibe of this town is beach and sun. Other than that, there isn’t much of a “culture.” But, that’s okay because I still got love, and I’m proud to call myself a San Diegan.
Seattle is my adopted hometown. I lived in Seattle from 2000 to 2008. I LOVE Seattle. From the time I moved to there the vibe was good, it was easy for me to get in, make friends, and start a life. I have my favorite neighborhood (West Seattle), my favorite happy hour spots (Bahama Breeze and The Black Bottle), my favorite food spots (Chaco Canyon), along with my favorite grocery stores (Marlene’s Natural Market and Metropolitan Market), and all my favorite friends (who I won’t name ). I headquarter myself out of San Diego, however, whenever I come back to the States, I always spend time in Seattle. I fly in and out of the States via SEA. Besides the fact that it’s cheaper than flying directly into San Diego or Los Angeles, it gives me the opportunity to lay over for a couple of days; which is what I typically will do. Before I leave to go back to Saudi Arabia, I always spend at least 3 days in Seattle. If I had a house in Seattle, I would make it my home base. The only problem I have with Seattle is the weather. OMG. The weather sucks!!! But, you can’t have everything.
Veeeeeeeeeeegaaaaaaaassssssss!!! I Love Vegas!!! This year, I went to Las Vegas 3 times. I have totally rediscovered this town. I went in January for a wedding, then I went back again with a girlfriend in April to check out Janet Jackson at Ceasar’s (she was fabulous), then Rolle and I went back again a month later for the Billboard Music Awards (I love going to award shows!!). The only gripe I have about Las Vegas is them trying to turn this town into a “family” destination. I view Las Vegas as a playground for adults.
I made my first solo vacation trip this year. Even though I’ve traveled alone numerous times, I’ve never traveled to a city and stayed for an extended period of time by myself. I kinda had to be talked into it, but once I made my decision to go I was excited and nervous. Stockholm was the perfect city for me to have my first solo experience. I lived there for a short period (1999/2000), so I knew the city and felt comfortable there. My intention was to stay for 10 days, I ended up staying for 2 weeks. Stockholmers can be a little “not friendly,” but the trick is to not try to speak Swedish, don’t expect to make “new friends (or acquaintances), they only speak to people they know (which begs to ask, how do you meet people?) . If you go in just doing your thing, you’ll do fine in this beautiful, easy to navigate city.
Along with those oldies, I visited some new cities this year as well.
It started with Santa Rosa, CA. It’s located smack dab in the middle of Sonoma Valley’s wine country and farm land. This didn’t do me much good considering that I was there for a 10 day stay at a health retreat. I did a 7-day water fast. Yes, people, that means for 7 days I only ingested water. While at the facility, I was not allowed to leave the grounds as they couldn’t have me passing out on the streets. LOL. However, the last 3 days we were able to get out and see a little bit of Santa Rosa. I actually wish I could have spent more time here but Hawaii was calling.
This wasn’t my first trip to Hawaii, however it was my first time to The Big Island. We headquartered ourselves out of Waikoloa Beach, but spent most of our time in Kona-Kailua or Hilo. I blame the fact that I hadn’t eaten in several days as the reason for me booking myself in a planned resort community with a Macy’s across the street (ughhhh). If I had done the research that I typical do before booking a trip I would have had us staying in Kona. All and all it didn’t matter; we had a blast. We discovered our favorite healthy restaurant, we zip lined, we circumnavigated the island, and we witness smoke plumes at National Volcano Park. What’s not to love about Hawaii?
Last but certainly not least is, New York Baby!!
OMG I Love New York. It appears I love all the cities I went to this year, but seriously I loved none more that New York. It was nothing like I expected. I thought it would be overrun, overcrowded, I expected the people to be harsh and rude, and Central park to be a deep dark cavern of a park in which I could get raped, robbed or maimed at any corner. Well…for once, I’m glad none of my expectations were true. We had a nice apartment on the Upper West Side, right on 72nd Street. I felt like a local, and at one point I had someone tell me they thought I was from there. I considered that a major compliment considering I was trying my best not to look like a tourist, which is hard when you’re carry around a big ass camera, which is why I left it in the apartment 50% of the time.
And, in between all of this were quite a few day trips to Bahrain and to Los Angeles. What can I say? 2011 has been a fabulous travel year for me, and I’m already looking forward to where I may go in 2012.