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Travel in 2013: Our year in photos

December 15, 2013

2013 has been an eventful year! We traveled to 3 new countries – Singapore, China and Mexico. We visited 2 countries which we had previously been to – Canada and India. We did several road trips both near and far within the United States.

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Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

Our year started off with a winter visit to the grandest canyon of them all – Grand Canyon National Park. I have a soft-spot for snow-covered red rocks and I’ve always wanted to see the Grand Canyon in winter. Needless to say, it was a wonderful experience. Fewer crowds, more beauty and incredibly peaceful. Click here for a 4-day itinerary on visiting the Grand Canyon.

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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

From peaceful to wowza! A trip to Grand Canyon is never complete without a stop by in Las Vegas. I’ve been to Vegas so many times now, I’ve lost count. Both Las Vegas and Grand Canyon are top must-see destinations for visitors, so we always make it a point to take any visiting friends and family to these two amazing places.

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Death Valley National Park, Racetrack Playa, Nevada, USA

This was our second trip to Death Valley National Park and we had made up our mind to make it to Racetrack Playa, flat tire or not. Thankfully there was no flat tire to deal with, just the incredible vastness that permeates everything in Death Valley. The mystery of the “sailing stones” might not yet be solved, but I learnt that the Racetrack playa is more spectacular than I could’ve ever imagined. Hopefully we will make it out here again, and this time around, we will be camping in the desolate desert! Read more on things to see and do when visiting Death Valley National Park for the first time.

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Mount Shasta and McCloud, California, USA

Perfect for a weekend getaway, Mount Shasta and McCloud are home to pretty waterfalls, quaint B&B’s and a rest and recreation vibe. McArthur-Burney Falls is a stunning waterfall in a gorgeous setting, with it’s veil-like rivulets running down the 129 foot high fall which make for an extremely pretty sight. Read about our itinerary and experience at McCloud River Inn B&B here.

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Napa Valley, California, USA

The crown jewel of wineries in California, Napa Valley is a world onto itself. Plenty of wine tasting, fine dining, trendy restaurants, cute downtowns and gorgeous wineries to satisfy every palate. Every time we visit Napa, there’s something new to do. During previous visits we’ve rented bicycles in Yountville and biked along wineries on the Silverado Trail! One time we also did an exciting hot-air balloon ride over the Napa-Sonoma valley. Read more about fun and unique ways to spend the day in Napa Valley.

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Glamping in San Juan Islands, Washington, USA

Our first time glamping and we loved it! Who wouldn’t want top-notch service when camping? Heated water bottles for your toes, firewood delivery service, buffet breakfast served up every morning, cozy blankets and soft beds inside the tent, what’s not to love? A true rest & recreation experience! We stayed at Lakedale Resort in their tent cabins just a few feet away from a picturesque lake. Lakedale Resort also had lovely campgrounds which would make a wonderful camping experience in summer.

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Whale watching in San Juan Islands, Washington, USA

We struck the mother lode when it came to whale watching in the San Juan Islands this year. One particularly gregarious humpback whale put on the show of a lifetime when he/she breached 20+ times and frolicked in the ocean so much that the naturalists on our whale-watching boat were stunned beyond belief. Read more about our whale watching experience in the San Juan Islands.

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Banff National Park & Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Ever since I had a wallpaper of Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake on my desktop back home, I’ve wanted to visit Banff & Jasper National Parks. This year that dream came true! We spent a glorious week camping and hiking in these two parks and it was the experience of a lifetime. Where else can you drive up to the toe of a glacier and get to walk / hike on the glacier? Athabasca glacier in Jasper National Park along the Icefields Parkway has to be seen to be believed. Read all about our experience hiking on Athabasca glacier. Both Banff and Jasper are massive national parks, so a week was barely enough to hit all the highlights. We hope to be back again for a backcountry backpacking experience in future.

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Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Canada

We happened to be in Calgary during the same time as the city’s famous Calgary Stampede festival and were thrilled to get a taste of Calgary’s culture and traditions. Calgarians went all out to put up their best show, with bull & horse rodeos, chuckwagon racing, festive fair-style rides, food stalls and fun games, ending with several performances in Cirque De Soleil style, followed by a wonderful show of fireworks – all making for an amazing day experiencing the Stampede festival.

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Singapore

Dimsum. Merlion. Cleanliness. Little India. Arab quarter. Night Safari. Spectacular skyline. Hawker markets. Singapore sling. Malaysian food. Chinese food. Indian food. Peranakan food. Did I forget to mention food? A true foodie’s paradise, Singapore delights with it’s veritable collection of cuisines and unique dishes that have been created as a result of the mingling of different cultures and traditions. Read more about 10 must-try dishes in Singapore.

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Bangalore, India

Bangalore – my hometown. A mélange of colors, sounds, aromas, emotions. The city where I “grew up” and which I visit every year to spend precious time with family and friends. The city where you will find the best dosa in the world. My home away from home. Enough said.

VictoriaPeak_HongKong

Hong Kong, China

Skyscrapers. Really tall skyscrapers. And people. Lots of people. And lots of energy! Hong Kong is not only one of the leading financial centers in the world, but also one of the most densely populated regions in China. This is evident when walking around the city – there are people everywhere, not unlike in other parts of Asia. And an undercurrent of energy and urgency is palpable as locals and tourists alike walk fast and run up/down escalators to get to their destinations. Hong Kong is also a foodie’s paradise offering dim sum to ramen noodles and everything else in between. When in need of a Zen moment, hop onto the well connected public transport system (including ferries) and visit Lantau Island where one can sit underneath the world’s largest outdoor Buddha statue and contemplate life and all it’s mysteries.

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Macau, China

Along with Hong Kong, Macau is another SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China. But the vibe in Macau is very different from that in Hong Kong. Being a prior Portuguese colony, Macau has a distinct Portuguese flavor, evident in the architecture, the food and the people. Don’t miss the world famous portuguese egg tarts (which are to die-for) and the flavorful Galinha à Africana (African chicken). St. Paul’s Cathedral (where only the front stone facade is left standing) is a popular tourist spot, as are the dozens of ostentatious gilded casinos in the heart of the city.

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Santa Cruz, California, USA

Hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate down the West Coast in winter and Santa Cruz in California is a great place to watch them. We had seen these beautiful creatures in Pismo Beach near San Luis Obispo a couple years back and wanted to see them again when the annual migration started. Santa Cruz is an easy day trip from the Bay Area. We got to see clusters of black and gold gilded butterflies, bunched up on branches of the eucalyptus trees at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz. We learnt a ton of fascinating info on these wonderful butterflies thanks to the free docent-led walks. It takes a butterfly to remind us of how fleeting time is and how important it is to live in the moment. Read about the top places to see the Monarch Butterfly Migration along the California coast

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Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is a marvel of architecture and a great introduction to the Mayan civilization. The accomplishments of the Mayans in astronomy, science and agriculture is showcased with their precisely built monuments and buildings. The Temple of Kukulkan is a spectacular pyramid, built with such accuracy to align with the rising and setting schedules of the sun that every year during Spring equinox, the shadow cast by the stepped pyramid resembles a snake slithering down the pyramid’s edge. We had a fantastic time exploring Chichen Itza. Standing in the vast Ball court imagining the game being played with rubber balls passing through those impossibly high hoops was a definite highlight. Chichen Itza is an easy day trip from anywhere in the Yucatan / Quintana Roo area, and many tour companies offer day trips to this historic site with transportation and lunch included.

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Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Cancun is THE party city in Mexico but there’s so much more to do in this beachside town. Staying anywhere along the Zona Hotelera will afford you views like this right when you step out of your hotel room. Palapas on the beach and a turquoise Caribbean stretching as far as the endless horizon. We made full use of all our resort’s all-inclusive perks but also headed out for day trips to see the rest of the Yucatan peninsula.

Where have you been this year and which city/country/experience was the most memorable for you? Let us know in the comments!

Feliz Viaje!

~ Trupti

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2 Comments
  1. Lovely photos, Trupti!
    We invite you to participate in the next edition of our Travel Photography competition. Every week we publish 3 winning shots on our website and write a nice bio with a link to the photographers’ websites/FB/Flickr pages.
    Find more details here: http://hitchhikershandbook.com/your-contributions/travel-photography/
    Happy travel!

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