Before I get to my California trip, I just wanted to digress about something. I've been asked quite a bit by people if I have had a favourite place or thing on my travels and honestly there were so many events that have stood out that I don't actually have a favourite, but I can at least count down a few great moments. In no particular order:
- Snowmobiling on a glacier in Iceland. That was mind blowing. Picture it: me, a snowmobile and this big, wide, cavernous, snowy space in ICELAND!! On an actual GLACIER!! I mean yeah, you can and I could easily snowmobile at home in Canada but I was doing it in Iceland! I could not stop grinning the entire ride which, I might add, I operated myself thank you very much, first time too!! Yeah, yeah, yeah, shock-horror as a Canadian that this was my first time operating and not riding behind someone on a snowmobile but man did I ever see what I was missing out on! Instead of learning how to ski or skate, I should have been snowmobiling!! Huge shout out to my buddy David who I emailed in a panic the night before so I could get the basics on how to operate one!
- Everything Japan but in particular, Japanese Food – the real deal. I stayed at a traditional Ryokan and ate so freaking well I swear to God I thought I had died and gone to culinary heaven. It was a gorgeous, gastronomic explosion of sight, sound and taste that will never be repeated – well, until I go back that is. I still fantasy about that lobster shell with custard – it was the BEST thing I've ever put in my mouth (no comments please) and that was months ago. I can still taste every bit of it; the deliciousness of that bubbling hot custard is just lodged in my memory, mmmmmm. Ok I'm babbling but whoa am I ever savouring the hell out of that moment.
- The ten hour car ride in India that should have taken about an hour. Thanks to a crazy and may I add somewhat corrupt system involving government roadwork crews who decided to go on strike at that exact moment we were on the highway to Jaipur thus blocking it from further use to everyone resulting in my poor driver Stanly and I stuck in a car on a trip that ended up being the longest car ride of my life. That was the bad part. The great part was having the chance to see parts of the Northern Indian countryside, villages, towns, farmland, people young and old, rich and very poor, up close and personal and totally off the beaten path. It was beautiful and admittedly a little bit crazy, particularly as some of the back roads were clearly not meant for vehicle access but that's India for you. I should throw in the utterly strange moment of being gawked at and treated like some sort of celebrity (I guess being the only black person in the village results in EVERYONE staring in amazement, coming up to the car, waving, yelling, smiling, pointing at me, then to my Amazon Kindle, yikes) – too weird for words but unforgettable.
- India again – can't get the country out of my mind. I loved it, I hated it, and I couldn't wait to leave but didn't want to go either. Plays with your head like that but the best part? Amazing food (I happily ate curry every single day except once and loved it!!) Oh and no Delhi belly!!!
- Spending time in Bali with my family. We just had so much fun together and we still talk about it - best family vacation ever!
- Rome at Christmas. Even though I was alone and missing my family, I still rather enjoyed my new traditional Christmas dinner of spaghetti carbonara with a glass of Chianti. The restaurant provided a beautiful view of the roman hillside and neighbourhood and it was busy so I wasn't totally alone but as far as Christmas goes I'd do that again in a heartbeat.
- Cambodia was like coming home for me. From the moment I arrived to the time I left I loved every single minute. I did not want to leave. The weather was perfect; the people were so amazing, the hotel and food, the sightseeing - all of it. I ate it up and wanted more. That was one part of the trip I wish I could have extended!
- The other side of the pendulum? Vietnam. That was one country where to this day, months after I've been away from it, it still leaves me with feelings of part happiness, part confusion. I still have no idea how to look back on that part of the trip. I mean on one hand I got to see a lot of it as I was there for a month which was incredible, but the other part was like ok I've seen a lot and it's been a month, time to go. Make sense? Thought not. Try being in my head during that period, actually scratch that - you wouldn't have wanted to be in my head.
- Australia had so many things; swimming and surfing on Manly Beach in Sydney; babbling non-stop with that couple on the 6am flight to Cairns and irritating the shit out of the other sleeping passengers – sorry about that; watching my Mum reunite with her good friends after twenty years and seeing their children who I use to play with when I was 3 or 4 and haven't seen since - until now, all grown up with families but it was like nothing had changed, I loved that. Oh and meeting Chef Jason in Melbourne – we did not shut up the entire time together babbling about food, LOVED that part.
- Finally my last memorable moment goes to something slightly unconventional; it wasn't a place or shock even food. It was my guide. Mr. Sherif Alix gets a spot all on his own. He was my guide/driver/psychologist/travel companion the entire two weeks I spent in New Zealand. He was an opinionated, stubborn man who made what I thought might be a bit predictable trip into an amusing/hilarious tour of an odd country (and I'm sorry but it must be said; New Zealanders are odd). Unforgettable.
I'm sure there are things I'm leaving out but these just stick in my memory the most and I smile because I still can't quite believe I did it. So glad and thankful I did.
Anyway, definitely coming up next is my past trip to the golden coast of Cali!