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......

a non-planning traveler's dream

urbanwalkaboutsurbanwalkabouts urbanwalkabouts

Whenever we board our flight to our holiday destination I look around and see other travelers fiercely clutching their Lonely Planet guide books to countries X & Y. I then have a moment of panic like "crap. I should have bought one of those, too" but then I realize that I love how we approach it. We aren't big on planning what to do and see when we arrive to our destination since maps don't make much sense until you're actually there anyway and we often go off of the day's weather and how late we stayed up the night before. Of course we pre-book our lodging in neighborhoods that we research for their ease of transport and available services but other than that, we figure that we'll see the major points of interest along the way and find our own little gems by happy surprise (ie. this rad little bar literally tucked inside of an alley).

However, for as much information that I don't collect before we depart, upon arrival you can bet that I'm the first person at the info kiosk loading up on every free brochure, map, and local magazine available. Those are my golden tickets to a city. Particularly the local independent weeklys that often feature ads and reviews for great cafes and shops, which often lead to great little neighborhoods. I was getting my fill of these in Melbourne when I found an Urban Walkabout for Melbourne City. It was a non-planner's dream because it suggested shops, galleries, restaurants, and bars all over the CBD that we could wander to and explore with a bit of local knowledge. Then I found more for other creative neighborhoods and I was hooked. The design, the layout, the simple and approachable information - these guys know what they're doing! In Sydney I found their "Style Seekers" publication (also free) and was even more impressed. They have curated itineraries from local artists and business owners and offer all of the basic information you need to feel the creative pulse of the city. At that point I finally downloaded their free App and, you guessed it, was really impressed.

I did cheat on Urban Walkabout a bit with Broadsheet and Time Out but there's plenty of local info to go around, right?

What kind of traveler are you? Do you plan everything you want to see and do or do you go with the flow?


holiday we

Untitledmelbourne buildings camberwell market grace cafe in fitzroy melbourne street art melbourne building Untitled seaford pier sydney watsons bay bondi beach bondi beach Untitled

Hi guys, how are you? It feels like I've been away for so long! We loved our holiday in Australia and for the first time in our travels, I really felt like a local rather than a tourist. Maybe it's because I was born there or because Melbourne and Sydney each have familiar qualities from London and LA that I love (like pubs and good mexican food to name a few). Or maybe it had everything to do with forgoing a traditional hotel and booking local rooms in vibrant neighborhoods like Fitzroy and Darlinghurst via Airbnb. Whatever the reason, it was awesome. Melbourne was just the artsy and indie fix that I needed since it's so hard to come by in KL, and Sydney was sort of like a walk down memory lane through my parents' stories of the places and things that were once a part of our everyday lives. Joe and I found ourselves talking about what it would take to move there, what we'd do for work, what neighborhoods we'd live in; we do that a lot with the cities we like but this time it felt more plausible. The only downside is that Australia is SO far from everywhere else in the world so we'd have to be pretty sure that our travel bugs had more than fully been satisfied. That's a tough call to make at this point but with my citizenship there it sure is nice to have the option. Thanks for that, mom and dad ;)