Reflections on a Another Big Adventure

Last big trip of 2013 - Cambodia! Angkor Wat at sunset

Last big trip of 2013 - Cambodia! Angkor Wat at sunset

Looking back, I actually can't believe it was ME that went to all of these places - a whirlwind of new friends, countless airports, amazing hotels, time with family & friends, thousands of miles traveled by car, plane, helicopter, train, and foot, & many pieces written. It is beyond my wildest dreams where my life and job have taken me in the past few years (reflections on 2011 & 2012).

Thank you for giving me YOUR travel tips, following along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and making me feel less lonely when I'm thousands of miles from home.

This year's adventures - in chronological order:

Winter in the Hamptons

Winter in the Hamptons

Breakfast at Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.

Breakfast at Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.

Rocco came with us to D.C., too! 

Rocco came with us to D.C., too! 

Back in the Hamptons

Back in the Hamptons

Brussels was surprisingly awesome

Brussels was surprisingly awesome

Bruges, Belgium - like Disneyland, but still cute

Bruges, Belgium - like Disneyland, but still cute

Loved this B&B, La Vigie, near the town of Spa, Wallonia - Belgium

Loved this B&B, La Vigie, near the town of Spa, Wallonia - Belgium

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

 Tel Aviv - a fast-paced, cool, changing-by-the-minute city

 Tel Aviv - a fast-paced, cool, changing-by-the-minute city

A complicated, beautiful city to explore - Jerusalem.

A complicated, beautiful city to explore - Jerusalem.

Adorable goats at Mizpe Hayamim in the Israel countryside.

Adorable goats at Mizpe Hayamim in the Israel countryside.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

One of many Connecticut weekends

One of many Connecticut weekends

 I loved this exhilirating, gorgeous city - Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 I loved this exhilirating, gorgeous city - Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Emerald Coast of Brazil and Ponta dos Ganchos Resort.

The Emerald Coast of Brazil and Ponta dos Ganchos Resort.

With my dad at the Cliffs of Moher.

With my dad at the Cliffs of Moher.

My entire family rented a house outside Galway for a week.

My entire family rented a house outside Galway for a week.

Wedding in the Catskills.

Wedding in the Catskills.

Back in genteel, lovely Charleston, South Carolina.

Back in genteel, lovely Charleston, South Carolina.

One of my favorite places on the planet, Kiawah Island.

One of my favorite places on the planet, Kiawah Island.

A major highlight - attending the Coronation Festival & concert at Buckingham Palace in London.

A major highlight - attending the Coronation Festival & concert at Buckingham Palace in London.

A couple of days on the Isle of Wight, England.

A couple of days on the Isle of Wight, England.

Eloped and went to Paris for ten days.

Eloped and went to Paris for ten days.

Labor Day - Hiking in my hometown on Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Labor Day - Hiking in my hometown on Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona.

The start of two weeks in Mexico - Imanta Resort, Punta de Mita.

The start of two weeks in Mexico - Imanta Resort, Punta de Mita.

LOVED joyful Mexico City - and this seafood restaurant, Contramar.

LOVED joyful Mexico City - and this seafood restaurant, Contramar.

I want to go to Cabo every year - at Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

I want to go to Cabo every year - at Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

Oxford made me want to go back to school. 

Oxford made me want to go back to school. 

Barnsley House in the Cotswolds.

Barnsley House in the Cotswolds.

View from St. Paul's Cathedral on a sunny, cold London day.

View from St. Paul's Cathedral on a sunny, cold London day.

Teaching a travel writing workshop at Four Seasons Costa Rica.

Teaching a travel writing workshop at Four Seasons Costa Rica.

Mystical Laos - Southeast Asia

Mystical Laos - Southeast Asia

The Dominican Hotel, Brussels

I recently stayed at The Dominican Hotel in Brussels, an urban retreat built on the site of a former monastery near everything in Brussels. Brussels itself is easily walkable - my mom and I only took cabs to and from the train station. The lounge is packed every night, in a cool way, not a "I can't breathe and am too hot" way. I loved the self-service shoe shine machine on every floor to spruce up my well-worn boots after miles of daily walking. And the lobby and breakfast area is gorgeous - high ceilings, rich draping, floor-to-ceiling windows, cozy nooks. If it had been warm enough, I would have been sipping my morning cappuccino and chowing down on eggs in the garden.

Here are more of my favorite discoveries in Brussels - and finding a delicious chocolatier - on my National Geographic column, Urban Insider.

Room at The DominicanLobbyMore lobbyLounge

The Original Le Pain Quotidien in Brussels

I live about 5 minutes from a Le Pain Quotidien in New York and hold a lot of my business meetings there. It's easy, with great coffee and food, and feels very European with communal tables and the long wait time to get your check. I found the original Le Pain Quotidien in Brussels today, first opened in 1990 and now with locations all over the world. It is much smaller than other ones and in the cool Dansaert neighborhood, at 16 Rue Antoine Danseart. There is a larger, flagship property in the sophisticated Sablon area, as well as others around the city. Stop by, buy some mini waffles to go or have the tuna/hummus tartine (much better bread than in the states) and pay homage to a chain that is actually consistently good.

Hidden Alleyways in Brussels

I flew into Amsterdam today, hopped on the Thalys train to Brussels, and have spent the afternoon exploring with one of Brussels' greeters. This is such a cool thing that is now in several cities around the world, like the Big Apple Greeters in New York. Basically, they volunteer their time to show visitors around and you get some great insight into a new city. I loved this hidden alleyway she walked us through. The red brick building on the right with iron rods on the window is a former jail. Below is a snapshot of how homes were identified before there were numbers - "Look for the rooster!"