The Best of My 2016 Travels on Instagram

The Best of My 2016 Travels on Instagram

We’re already 11 days into 2017, so this post is a tad late. I had every intention of posting this a few days before kissing 2016 buh-bye forever, but…yeah…

I have SO many huge life changes in the works right now (that I’ll definitely be catching you up on in future posts), and there’s no denying that my blog has suffered as a result.

I still have so many travel stories, tips, etc. to share from our 2015 travels, not to mention the handful of trips Jave and I managed to take in 2016.

While 2015 was definitely a busy travel year, our travels in 2016 waned. You may recall that we kicked off 2016 with a road trip around Jamaica, and we’d planned on taking a 3-week trip through Asia in the spring, but those plans crashed and burned. So apart from our Jamaican road trip, we only managed to escape the country twice. However, we were also able to squeeze in a few domestic trips – mostly in California – and our usual explorations around L.A., some of which I have yet to write about here on the blog.

So without further ado, here are some images from the best of our 2016 travels as shared on Instagram…

BEST ARCHITECHTURE | WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL – LOS ANGELES

Sure, I could travel to Toronto, Panama or Prague to witness one of Frank Gehry’s architectural wonders, but why do that when I could simply drive 20 minutes to downtown L.A.? Tired of merely admiring pictures of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and occasional drives past the amazing structure, I decided to take advantage of one of the free public tours the hall offers, and I’m so glad I did! The Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of those ubiquitous L.A. landmarks that we natives tend to take for granted, but our tour of the structure gave me a whole new appreciation for Gehry’s genius.

A few weeks following our tour, Jave surprised me with symphony tickets that allowed us to enjoy the actual performance hall which happened to be off limits during our tour. The acoustics were incredible, and it was great to be able to take in the hall’s wonderful architecture once again, this time from a very different point of view.

BEST ART | CHIHULY GARDEN AND GLASS – SEATTLE

I have yet to share our experience at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle. Prior to visiting, I’d seen pictures of this gallery in my social media feeds, and I knew I’d definitely have to pay it a visit whenever life took me back to Seattle.

So when Jave and I decided to tack on Seattle to my birthday getaway to British Columbia, I knew that Chihuly was a must. As its name suggests, the gallery exhibits the glass works of Dale Chihuly, and to say his works are unique would be a gross understatement. I spotted all sorts of glass works – especially chandeliers – that I’d love to display in my dream home someday. But for now, I’m just glad we got to experience Chihuly’s artistry in the flesh.

BEST LOCAL EXCURSION | SAN PEDRO

The wonderful thing I love about L.A. is that it has so many different pockets and neighborhoods to explore – so much so that we never have to venture too far for a new adventure. I went to high school in the South Bay/Beach Cities area, and a lot of kids from my school lived in San Pedro, a community off of Hwy. 110-S, just across the bridge from the Port of L.A. Yet, apart from attending the Tall Ships Festival in the neighborhood a few years ago, Jave and I had never taken the time to truly explore San Pedro.

When we finally got around to our backyard exploration last spring, Jave and I were surprised to find that San Pedro has its fair share of historical landmarks, dine-worthy restaurants (although we didn’t try any during our visit), cultural activities and the like. As we poked around town, I found myself feeling as if I’d completely escaped L.A.

BEST DAY TRIP | OJAI

Although Jave’s work schedule is much better now, earlier last year, his schedule left us with little to no time to enjoy each other’s company on weekends. So one day during his mid-week off day, I took a mental health day off from work so we could hit the road and day trip to Ojai, a city known for its agriculture and spa/wellness culture.

We spent the day learning about and tasting olive oils, enjoying nature, eating and getting a glimpse of Ojai’s past. It was the perfect getaway from the stresses of our jobs, and the drive itself to Ojai along CA-126 through Santa Paula was equally enjoyable and relaxing.

BEST ADVENTURE | ATV’ing in CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO

My idea of adventure is pretty lame mild. You know – hiking in the Colombian jungle, rafting in the Dominican Republic, exploring the Louisiana bayou – things like that. So for 2016, I’d definitely add ATV’ing through the beachside town of Los Zacatitos during our getaway to Cabo San Lucas to the list. Jave and I took turns in the driver’s seat; I navigated the dirt roads while Jave kept us out of the ocean’s waves during the beach stretch. The stunning scenery, the cool breeze and the adrenaline rush all made this our most memorable adventure in 2016.

Backseat driving in Los Zacatitos, Mexico…

A photo posted by Dana Carmel (@thatgirlcarmel) on

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY | NAPA

While I love my girlfriends, with a few exceptions, I’ve never really been into girlfriend getaways. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that after Jave and I spent our first year of marriage living in different countries, once we finally started living together, we vowed to never spend more than two weeks apart (which we’ve remained true to), and we promised to explore every new destination together first before returning to explore solo or with family and friends.

Well, I broke the second part of that promise in the fall when my girlfriends and I ventured to Napa, a beautiful slice of northern California that had been lingering on my wish list forever.

In the spring, I received a group email from my friend Rhonda. The subject read: “Need wine…”

That’s all it took for my friends and I to agree on a fall date when we could meet in Napa for some much needed debauchery enjoyed with some much needed wine without husbands or kids in tow.

What ensued was a weekend filled with venting and confiding, political talks and lots of laughs. And of course there was great wine…and excellent food which I especially appreciated.

We all left Napa feeling rejuvenated in a way that only happens when you’re with your girls, and we all vowed to make annual getaways a tradition. So this year, hopefully we can make a spa getaway a reality.

#blackgirlmagic #wineoclock #PejuWinery

A photo posted by amyelisajackson (@amyelisajackson) on

*This photo was posted by @amyelisajackson

BEST BEACH | FRENCHMAN’S COVE – PORT ANTONIO, JAMAICA

I first visited and fell in love with Frenchman’s Cove during our “honeymoon” to Ocho Rios and Port Antonio. Our first visit years ago left me feeling like we’d just visited Eden.

I’m glad to say that after revisiting Frenchman’s Cove at the beginning of 2016, I left with the same impressions of this beautiful beach although I was a bit miffed that it was much more crowded than it was during our first visit 8 years prior.

But the water was still crisp and cold, the sand was still white and powdery and the view was as breathtaking as the first time.

BEST OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE | MARVELING at YOSEMITE

I’d been longing to visit Yosemite for years and years, and at times, I felt like a fraud calling myself a California girl considering I’d never visited its most popular, and quite possibly its most beautiful national park.

A colleague of mine would often go on and on about how he loves to hike and camp in Yosemite, and one of my besties would often go on and on about how her family takes annual trips there each year. But for whatever reason, I just couldn’t seem to prioritize a visit.

That all changed when, in the early summer, I received a Travelzoo offer to stay at Tenaya Lodge, a popular resort just outside the park’s boundaries. The rates were half off, and Jave and I just couldn’t pass up the chance. When I shared our plans to book the deal with my mother, she told me she’d also received the Travelzoo offer and was considering booking a stay. So right then and there, we decided that Yosemite would be the site of our annual family Thanksgiving retreat.

On the second day of our stay, we booked a full day family tour of the park and marveled at El Capitan, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls and many of the park’s other captivating landmarks. It was easy to see why so many people find themselves returning to the park over and over again, and I know that Jave and I will definitely return at some point.

Stunning natural beauty in Yosemite…

A photo posted by Dana Carmel (@thatgirlcarmel) on

BEST RESTAURANT | INOTHEKE

During the first half of 2016, in an effort to compensate for our forfeited travel plans, Jave and I ate out like it was nobody’s business. But during the latter half of the year, we put dining out on the back burner. So it’s a good thing we prioritized a dinner at Inotheke, a Greek restaurant near the Santa Monica pier, when we were in full-on binge mode.

I’ve already shared the full details of our sumptuous Greek feast, but let me just tell you – a meal at Inotheke isn’t like a typical gyro eatery or your typical lackluster Greek restaurant. The food at Inotheke is the definition of elevated Greek food. You hear me? So even if you’re not really into Greek food (I’m normally not), a meal at Inotheke should be on every L.A. visitor’s must eat list.

It’s all Greek to me @inothekela – my new fave restaurant in L.A.

A photo posted by Dana Carmel (@thatgirlcarmel) on

BEST DESTINATION | VICTORIA, BC

Jave and I traveled to Victoria, BC because I was in search of a quaint, quiet and relatively green destination where I could celebrate my birthday, and I have to say, Victoria definitely delivered. While Vancouver, Victoria’s northeastern neighbor, is beautiful in its own right, Victoria is slower, quieter and more family friendly. While we didn’t have the fortune of dining at any particularly exceptional restaurants during our stay, we learned that the city has a lot of other things working in its favor apart from food, most notably its rich history and natural beauty.

Happy it’s fall, but reminiscing about our summer days in Victoria, BC.

A photo posted by Dana Carmel (@thatgirlcarmel) on

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see where 2017 takes us!

What were some of your best travel experiences in 2016?

  • Heeey! *waves*. I hope you’ve been well despite recent events. I’m just catching up on your blog, I fell off the blogging bandwagon as wel but I am trying to get back. Looking forward to whatever travels you have planned this year.

    • Hi Rachel!!! Sorry for my delayed response – that seems to be the story of my life lately. I have to catch up on making my rounds on the blogs and get back to a consistent posting schedule. I hope all is well on your side of the world and that your 2017 is going well so far!

thatgirlcarmel

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