‘Tis the season for year-end lists! In the “business*” of blogging, year-end lists are a great way to contemplate the year that’s passed, while it’s still too cold** to think about next year’s travel plans. 2013 has been a pretty terrific year for me, travel-wise and life-wise – an amazing year filled with adventures and memorable life experiences.
Ever since I made the conscious decision to pursue a life of travel and interesting experiences, every year has just been getting better and better. As I approach 40 (and I’m coming up on it quickly since my birthday is in January), I spend a lot of time thinking and wondering if I’m living the life I want to be living. Without question, I am and 2013 was the perfect illustration of that.
2013 started out with some terrific road-tripping in Northern Nova Scotia, with the requisite maple syrup on snow. I also happened upon this magnificent herd of alpacas, the photo of which brought me joy throughout the year.
2013: Year of the cronut (and cronettos)
If one word could describe my culinary travels this year, it would be CRONUT. It was never meant to be that way, but once the light, sweet, carby intensity found its way into my life there was no going back. I was lucky to encounter cronuts (and their pretenders) in a couple of places this year, but 2013 was capped off by the real thing, the Dominique Ansel Bakery original cronut in New York. The flavour for December 2013 was Valrhona Chocolate Champagne with fresh orange zest and it was simply unforgettable. Worth the trip – and the wait – in a minor snowstorm.
Before my New York cronuts, however, I met the next-best-thing, the cronetto at Montreal’s La Cornetteria. Much like how the debate between New York-style bagels and Montreal-style bagels will never be resolved, so too should the New York cronut versus Montreal cronetto. We should just agree that they’re both excellent and that our world is a better place for their presence.
New York (thrice)
I had one trip to New York planned this year. Then, I won tickets (again) to Saturday Night Live and returned. Then, my friend won an all-expenses paid trip and I returned again. These multiple adventures meant I covered A LOT of ground in my favourite place. I got to see the glorious cherry blossoms bloom in the spring and got to witness New York take on even greater epic proportions in the Christmas season. I saw some great shows, especially from my lucky lottery seats at Book of Mormon. This was the year I became friends with Brooklyn. But I’m really trying to manage the crazy and not call all the time and tell it how cool it is.
In terms of life-long dreams accomplished in 2013, I got to see one of the original versions of The Scream, and celebrated the moment in the most dignified way I could.
2013 also saw my return to Montreal, one of my favourite places in Canada. The original purpose was to see Beyoncé in concert, but with a very robust agenda of eating, fun, and mischief, we nearly forgot the purpose of our trip. We didn’t, it was Beyoncé. Mrs. Carter didn’t disappoint, and from our sweet seats, we got almost a front-row view of the more infamous incidents of the tour: a (mechanical) fan daring to attack Beyoncé’s hair.
Road tripping in Acadian New Brunswick
I had a great time road tripping around a French corner of the Atlantic region, coinciding with the Acadian national holiday on 15 August. I also got to visit some remarkable, shockingly bright churches.
On top of all of this travel, I took my “big trip” to Italy this year. Honestly, I had never been particularly motivated to visit, but I found the country had a lot to offer and I ended up being completely charmed by it. I took the wrong train, ate well, drank lots of wine, went on a beautiful hike on the Cinque Terre, and even saw Pope Francis up close at his General Audience on a blistering hot Wednesday morning.
DO meet your heroes: Spaceman edition
On top of all of these wonderful travel adventures away from home, I met one of my more recent heroes, Chris Hadfield, at a book signing in Halifax. The event started at 6:30 and we were in line until 9:30. When I met the Commander, he was visibly tired, but took the time to ask some questions and have a brief chat before moving on to the next person. He did that for at least six hours that night and the reviews were universal: he was kind, patient, and charming. The epitome of grace.