Last Updated on 01/26/24 by Rose Palmer
“….changes in latitude, changes in attitude….”
This was certainly a year for the record books for me as I travelled across latitudes from the Antarctic all the way up to the Arctic. I can’t believe how many bucket list trips I was fortunate to indulge in. I have become very spoiled by all my travels this year, and I am very appreciative of the many opportunities I’ve had to see so many special places around the world.
By the numbers…
I don’t think I’ll have a year like this again.
- Total days travelled – 217
- I crossed both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles and cruised across the Equator (did not see any black lines though).
- I visited all seven continents.
- Travelled by planes, trains (including the Eurostar), automobiles, busses, cruise ships, river boats, a sailing ship, ferries, a variety of small boats, a canal barge, and a horse and carriage.
- Total number of flights – 31
- Countries and regions visited – Antarctica, American Samoa, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Falklands, Greece, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, San Marino, Scotland, Tahiti, Uruguay, USA (Hawaii, California, Montana, New Jersey, Utah, Wyoming).
- Added one more US National Park to my list – American Samoa National Park. And also visited two of my favorites, Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP.
- Learned to drive on the left hand side of the road with no mishaps.
No, not everything always went as planned. Our original British Air flight to Egypt was cancelled, and after rescheduling, we lost the first two days of diving in the Red Sea. And my husband caught COVID in the middle of our trip in Egypt. I also got a very bad intestinal bug at the end of my sailing cruise in Greece which required a visit to a clinic on the small island of Symi and also an itinerary adjustment. And I got pickpocketed in Venice.
Still, these were small blips on a very full radar of incredible travel adventures. In fact I am always pleasantly surprised when most everything usually does go according to plan, but I’ve also learned to be more flexible and to go with the flow.
One final note – I checked my bag on every single flight and had absolutely no problems (as I knock on wood).
And the winner is…..
Somehow, in between all the travels I did find some time to write, though not as much as I had planned: 20 blog posts for this website and 10 published articles for other sites, including 2 podcasts.
But what I am most proud of this year are the awards that my blog and I continued to receive. I was awarded two prestigious Lowell Thomas Awards by the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), including a silver for best travel blog.
I also received three more silver awards from the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) for both writing and photography.
And finally, I was awarded 5 additional awards in the annual International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association photography (IFWTWA) competition.
I am honored and humbled to be recognized by these journalistic associations.
The year in review
Continuing my annual tradition, I am recapping my travels for this year and sharing some of the reflections photos which I love to take.
South America and Antarctica
I have always wanted to go to Antarctica, so when I saw a great last minute deal on a Princess cruise to South America and Antarctica without a single supplement, I jumped on it.
The 16 day cruise on the Sapphire Princess left from Valparaiso, Chile at the end of January and cruised south along the coast and then crossed the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Due to bad weather, we only had two and a half days of scenic cruising in Antarctica, instead of the scheduled four days, but it was still one of my most memorable experiences ever.
Falkland Island, South America, and Utah
At the port stop in the Falkland Islands, I (almost) got my fill of seeing and photographing penguins.
My cruise on the Sapphire Princess also introduced me to a couple of new-to-me countries in South America. After the cruise ended, I extended my stay with a few days at Iguazu Falls, another bucket list destination.
February also had our annual ski trip to Park City, Utah where it was nice to have a few days with snow and some down time while my husband skied.
Due to the pandemic, this bucket list trip to Egypt was rescheduled three times, but it finally happened this year. The trip started with a few days on the Red Sea (and my time in Asia) before taking a long river cruise down the Nile from Cairo to Aswan.
I was able to see all the historic sights on my list, especially the off-the-beaten-path ones in Middle Egypt, all of which were truly incredible. Unfortunately, the company we booked with (Archeological Paths) did not deliver the quality riverboat experience they were promising which made the two week Nile cruise feel very long and uncomfortable.
We finished with a four day cruise on Lake Nasser from Aswan to Abu Simbel on a Steigenberger boat which was the quality experience we expected.
Spring is my favorite time to be at home. This is when my yard sprouts all manner of flowering trees and shrubs in a profusion of colors. It doesn’t last long – only about 3 weeks this year – but this is when I love to be outside puttering in my garden.
Greece and a cruise on the Regal Princess around the British Isles
A two month trip to Europe started with a couple of weeks in Greece. I went to Greece to attend TBEX, a travel blogger’s conference. My Greek odyssey started with a short cruise on the beautiful sailing ship Running On Waves.
The conference was in the Penepolese region of Greece, so I used the opportunity to explore as much of this peninsula as I could. There were visits to historic UNESCO sites and lots of great Greek food. I love Greece and was thrilled to have the chance to visit it again.
From Greece I headed to the UK for a two week cruise on the Regal Princess around the British Isles. The cruise took me to stops in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. With a port stop almost every day, it was a very busy cruise, but I still had time to enjoy all my favorite amenities on a Princess ship.
Italy and a European Waterways La Bella Vita Barge cruise
After the British Isles cruise, I took the Eurostar from London to Paris and then took a train from Paris to Turin, Italy. In Italy I met up with my husband where we toured the Veneto and Emilia Romana regions. We also spent a few days in San Marino, one of the smallest countries in the world.
Our tour in Italy ended with an incredible week on European Waterway’s La Bella Vita barge. This was my third barge cruise with European Waterways and once again we were spoiled with fantastic service and delicious food accompanied by some of the best Italian wines.
Ocean City, NJ
This month’s trip was more local as my family and I went to Ocean City, NJ to play in the sand and surf with my two grandsons. There is nothing like the simple, innocent joy of a young child as they dig a hole in the sand.
Iceland circumnavigation cruise with Iceland ProCruises
Iceland is another one of my favorite countries. I was thrilled to be offered a circumnavigation cruise around Iceland with Iceland ProCruises on the expedition ship MS Seaventure.
This cruise was a totally new experience for me. Even though I had been to Iceland before, the Icelandic guides provided insights into the culture and scenery that I did not get on my first visit. It was also interesting to experience a small ship expedition cruise with only 100 passengers.
This cruise also took me to spots on Iceland that I had not been to before. And, I got to see lots and lots of puffins and got up close to whales.
Montana and Wyoming
September started a three month long journey with a variety of destinations and expereinces.
My husband and I went to Montana where he indulged his passion for fly fishing. After catching his fill of trout, we spent a few days in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, two of the most beautiful national parks in the lower forty eight.
Princess cruises from Vancouver to Auckland, NZ
This was a month of cruising as I took two back to back cruises on two different Princess ships.
I started with a week on the newest ship, the Discovery Princess, sailing from Vancouver to Los Angeles. I was attending a conference on the ship with the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers’ Association (IFWTWA). It was a busy week as I tried to keep up with the conference events and also experience the many venues on the ship.
Keeping the ship theme going, I spent the night in between the two cruises on the historic Queen Mary steamship which is now permanently docked in Long Beach, California.
In Los Angeles I boarded the Majestic Princess for a 21 day cruise ending in Auckland. With 16 sea days, this was a truly relaxing cruise and the Majestic has become my favorite Princess ship to date. It has some unique features, like the Hollywood Conservatory and Pool and the Harmony Chinese restaurant that I particularly enjoyed.
The stops in Honolulu, Tahiti and American Samoa were just enough to break up the routine.
My husband flew out at the beginning of November to meet me in Auckland. From there we spent almost 6 weeks driving the North and South islands of New Zealand, exploring the main tourist sights as well as some off-the-beaten path stops.
I was worried about driving on the left side of the road, but it turned out not to be too difficult. In many ways, traveling in New Zealand was not that different than traveling in the US which made it easier to explore.
December was time for being at home with family to celebrate the holidays.
Since I was not home very much this year, I did not have a lot of time for sewing. I’ve had Egyptian themed fabric for a while, but did not have time to make the quilt that I envisioned. Guess that means I’ll have to go back.
I did make a small penguin themed quilt for Antarctica and for my youngest grandson.
I used Elizabeth Hartman’s penguins pattern to make a crib sized quilt in shades of black, white, grey, and blue.
On the back side, I used an asymmetric pattern for a snowflake in shades of white and grey.
My first impressions of New Zealand came from my husband when I was first dating him. He told me that in New Zealand you can ski in the morning and then go swimming in the afternoon.
I used this comment as my inspiration for this quilt. One side represents the cool, icy side of New Zealand. The other side of the quilt represents the warm, tropical side of New Zealand. The silver fern is New Zealand’s symbol and I added that as a large applique, including Maori tattoo designs in the pattern.
The beautiful longarm quilting was done by Cindy Carey of North Star Long Arm Quilting.
“The Two Sides of New Zealand”
Quilt for my goddaughter
I also made another version of Elizabeth Hartman’s Forest Friends crib quilt in shades of mint green and blues for my goddaughter who was expecting her first baby.
After such an incredible year, I don’t expect 2024 to be as eventful. I have a few trips lined up for the first half and have ideas for the rest of the year. Hopefully, I will also have more time for sewing and writing.
To everyone who reads and enjoys this blog, thank you for your support. And may the new year bring you your own wonderful and unique travel expereinces.
Safe travels wherever your 2024 journey takes you.