a year's worth of wanderlust II

This time of year always makes me reflect and one of the things that I'm most grateful for are the opportunities we've had to travel. We set out to live internationally for many reasons but traveling was/is priority numero uno. Looking back, I think we did a good job a sticking to our plan even though some days it feels easier to just veg out at home! Here are my fave moments, sights, and thoughts from our 2012 travel adventures....

Breaking away from Europe and landing in Marrakech. High hopes and expectations were met with a chaotic Medina with a character all its own.IMG_9915

Passed Berber Villages in the Atlas Mountains and seeing nothing but beautiful vistas. And snow. Who would have thought Africa had snow?!IMG_0120

Sipping on fresh mint tea while picking out our new/old Berber rug...the perfect souvenir!rug shopping

Our first LA visit together and indulging in three things: In N Out burgers, Mexican tacos, and fresh American donuts. This photo was from our morning binge session while doing loads of laundry next door.LA day _ weekend_3

Re-discovering the cool designs and colors found in LAgarage design, manhattan beach los angeles

Taking a quick break from LA to Anchorage, Alaska for a visit with Joe's parents. It was so awesome to be in the house he grew up in and see his childhood town.walking on a frozen pond

a day-trip to Oxford - LOVED it there. For you Hogwarts fanatics - their cafeteria is just off to the left.weekend_oxford_4

Stopping in Florence en route to Chianti. It's so true that the entire city is a museum.

enjoying an impromptu lunch overlooking vineyards near Greve Chianti. Hands down my fave meal of the trip...for sentimental reasons, mainly, because the other meals were aawweesooomme.italy_2

a "booze and chocolate tour" of Brussels with some sight-seeing on the side. A flea market was also involved - this one was one of the most legit I've been to.

brussels brussels

Leaving our love-lock in Paris as we wrapped up our time in London.paris

Our first trip after moving to KL: Penang. So colorful and vibrant.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

and with charming old character everywhere you look.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

Piggy-backing on one of Joe's business trips to Bangkok and exploring by boat.bangkok long boat

Visiting Singapore for the first time and wishing we had moved there instead since it was so clean, organized, and seemingly perfect. It was during a rough point in my new-home adjustment but now love and appreciate the imperfect and real character of KL.

singapore singapore 7

The beach holiday that ruined it for any other ones in the future. Con Dao, Vietnam was utter perfection. Honeymoon is done and done. Untitled

Going back to LA to give these little ones hugs and kisses and begin research on my new venture. Untitled

Making a long-weekend out of Joe's business trip to London. We'll take any amount of time there, no matter how long the flight. Plus, Joe needed to stock up on his favorite Whisky and you can pack more with two people + checked bags than you can with one ;) Image 1 Image 3

The unexpected layover in Abu Dhabi from London. I did my best to make the most of my 48 hours there despite major jet-lag (I was only one week back from LA!)Abu Dhabi

Getting to know and love the bits of Melbourne that give it it's reputation as a hub for good coffee shops and interesting street art.

grace cafe in fitzroy melbourne street art

Hanging out in Bondi Beach where I used to splash around as a toddler. Can't believe that we used to live just down the road. Part of me wonders what it would have been like to grow up there and be a little beach bunny...

bondi beach

... or just dance around The Opera House all the time...sydney opera house at night

...and with Australia, that brings us to a wrap!

But we won't be idle for too long. With the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa covered in one year (that is cray cray!) it's only fitting that we kick off 2013 with South America in February. Yep, I cannot wait to visit my parents in Colombia and say our "I Do's" with family, friends, and buñuelos!

I'm so thankful for this beautiful year....and to you guys for sharing it with me. I'll stop before I get all sappy but know that interacting with you via this blog, twitter, instagram, email is such a joy. And if you just joined me this year, you can catch up on where we went in 2011 by clicking here. Oh, the places we will go......

the joy of driving + {brilliant beats} althea & donna

bonne route [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwyCpspah0Y?rel=0&w=640&h=25]

Althea & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking

Since moving to London last year I've hardly spent any time in a car. I don't need to in order to get around and I love it (remember when I sold mine and opted to be car-less in LA??? I know, it's cray cray in most people's books).

However, as we drove around the Atlas Mountains in Morocco last weekend I thought back to how much I do love one aspect of driving -  the solid time for just me and my music.

I heard this song on KCRW's Eclectic 24 yesterday and instantly pictured myself driving on the 10 freeway during sunset, completely relaxed, one arm on the steering wheel, and nodding my head to the beat. Somehow listening to the same song through my earbuds on a crowded double decker bus doesn't quite have the same effect.

image: taken in the atlas mountains, morocco

it snows in morocco

first view point - we eventually made it to those snowy mountains!view from a berber home berber family home tea break with a berber family host berber village near the atlas mountains village atlas mountains berber market parking lot berber market in asni spices at a berber market taking in a great view of the snow covered atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains coca cola and mint tea yes, it's a moroccan restaurant roadside lunch - the best! learning about the argan oil process argan nuts breaking down the argan nuts to make oil

Maybe I'm bad at geography but before taking a day trip to the Atlas Mountains I never would have guessed that Morocco, or anywhere in Africa for that matter, received snow. The entire day was a big pleasant surprise, really.

Our awesome guide, Noureddine, picked us up from our riad and off we went leaving the crazy streets of the Medina behind us. An hour or so later we entered the first valley and got our first glimpse into the varying color and texture of the mountains - they literally change every 100 yards. Because of this, each Berber village has its own distinct look since they use whatever soil and materials are on their mountain side to build their homes. Isn't it amazing how entire villages blend into the natural curves of the land?

Mid-route were offered sweet mint tea and light snacks at a Berber home that had one of the most serene views I have ever seen. We then dropped our host off at a market in another village and (thankfully) our guides decided that it would be a good idea to join him. I was thrilled! Never mind that the markets are only male (the men do the shopping in these towns) or that it was a total mud fest due to recent rains - this was the REAL deal. I'm talking makeshift tents, tables, and weighing scales that looked as ancient as the culture. It was awesome.

After the market we drove higher up into the mountains, saw our first winter snow (woo!), and  then stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe. The other car we were with went on to a restaurant in a more commercial area but this was definitely more our style. Of course it helped to have Noureddine with us to ensure that the food was properly cooked and such. We then headed back to Marrakech but not before stopping at an argan oil cosmetics cooperative store. We bought a few things and even learned a bit about how the oil is extracted from the argan nut. Let me tell ya, it is hard work!

I left the cooperative feeling super satisfied and inspired as it was the perfect end to a very real day. I learned that it's one thing look at Berber rugs in the souks of the Medina and it's another to get out of town and see where and how Berbers live. I'm so thankful to our airport driver, Hakim, for suggesting we do it and to our guide/driver Nourredine whose expert knowledge and love of the area made the day such a special experience.