Wow another year has come and gone. I can't believe we've been travel blogging full time since 2009. It's been a wild ride and 2013 was no exception. Each December, we love to reminisce about the past 12 months. As our schedule gets busier, we sometimes mix up where we visited and when we were there. Looking back at old posts jogs our memories bringing a smile to our face as we remember just how much fun we had together over the past 12 months. We certainly enjoyed ourselves in 2013 and here are some of the best travel moments that stood out in our minds.
Best Travel Moments, 2013 Year end Wrap Up
Greenland Fjord – We saw many a beautiful sunrise in 2013 but one stands out while on a polar expedition in Greenland. It was near the end of our journey and we woke up early as we heard strange noises coming from outside. It turns out that the noise was our ship scraping against chunks of ice. We were in a Fjord filled with ice for as far as the eye could see. The early morning sun lit up the massive chunks of ice around us as the sky exploded into an array of colours starting with this mixture of deep orange eventually changing to pinks and blues. I don't recall ever seeing such vivid colours in the sky. See more stunning photos of Greenland at 23 Epic Photos of Arctic Ice and An Instagram Journey through Greenland.
Shark Diving Video:
Shark Diving: Since we are an adventure travel blog, I had to share our best adventure first. Yes we already shared it in our previous post, The 2013 Adventure Travel Wrap Up, but many of you probably didn't read that, so here it is! Shark Cage Diving in South Africa. We never thought we'd have the opportunity to dive with great whites. Only national geographic explorers and TV star adventurers do that right? Not anymore. Just off the coast, we had the chance to get in the cage and look the king of the sea in the eye. We had about five sharks visit us that day and they were frisky. They bumped our cage, checked us out and played around in the waters. Once shark was so excitable, he pulled one of our guides right in. Luckily he lived to tell the day. Check it out in the final seconds of our video above.
Best Spa Experience
Four Seasons Spa Toronto – After every great adventure we believe in a little pampering. We love going to the spa, relaxing in hot springs and mud baths and enjoying quiet moments. The Four Seasons in Toronto was absolutely our best time at a spa this year. Nobody has ever given us such a deep and invigorating massage as the gals at the Four Seasons Spa. She actually worked out the knot in my back. Relaxing in the steam room and by the pool and hot tub later made for the perfect day at the spa. Visit the Four Seasons Website to book your own Spa Experience.
Alberta Badlands – We didn't know what to expect from the Alberta Badlands, but this extraordinary view caught us by surprise. We had driven in Dinosaur Provincial Park expecting to see a desert landscape but instead were treated to a mini Grand Canyon. We could have stayed at the lookout for hours as we gazed upon mounds of sandstone for as far as the eye could see
Best Adrenaline Rush
Racing a Ferrari in Italy – We love getting our blood pumping and have had the opportunity to do some pretty crazy things over the past 5 years. In 2013 we really got to fulfill our need for speed. It was in Italy that we hit the track at Auto Dromo di Modena and got behind the wheel of a Ferrari. I have no idea what speed we hit, but we whizzed down the track with our pedal to the medal. We had a professional driver with us in the passenger seat and he coached us as we circled the track.
Best Hotel Room
The Trump Hotel Toronto – We spend a lot of times in hotel rooms so when we have a particularly amazing one, we are very happy. The Trump Hotel Toronto knows how cater to their clients. Our suite at the Trump was heavenly, this 1 bedroom, two bath suites is well designed in a sleek and chic manner with a separate sitting room complete with fireplace and elegant white furniture perfect for business meetings and evening relaxation. But what was the best part? The bathroom of course. The ensuite bath has heated floors, separate tub, rainforest shower and a mirror TV that's perfect for catching up while you get ready for that important meeting or a night on the town.
Read what we thought of the Trump at 8 Great Things about The Trump Hotel
Best Fantasy Moment
Olympic Bobsleigh – Who hasn't dreamt of being an Olympian? When I was a kid, I wanted to compete in the Olympics as a figure skater, Dave wanted to play on the Olympic Hockey Team. Those dreams never came true, but while visiting Whistler this winter and Calgary this summer, we got to whizz down the Olympic Bobsleigh track with an actual Olympian steering the wheel. This is one sport we never thought we'd try in our lives but at these two spots anyone can give it a go. We put on our helmet, held on to the rails and zipped away fantasizing that the Olympic crowd was cheering us on for Gold!
Special note: Good luck to Heath Spence from Australia who trains in Alberta. His mornings are spent navigating tourist through g-force turns while his afternoons are spent training for the Winter Olympics! He'll be competing in Sochi this winter. We may be Canadian, but we'll be cheering on the Aussies as well.
Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler – We don't get excited over food often. We leave that to the foodies out there who really appreciate a good meal. However, eating at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, British Columbia was the best dining experience we've ever had in our lives! The night started with an oyster tasting accompanied Moët & Chandon, followed by a trip to the ice bar for a vodka tasting. It's the coldest ice bar in the world, but you are given Canada Goose parkas to keep you toasty. Our next stop took us to their wine cellar where we sabred a bottle of champagne, hopped in to an Olympic bobsled and then popped upstairs for a 6 course dinner. The meal was incredible with perfect wine pairings for each course, but who could ever forget the ice cream made table side with liquid nitrogen. Go to Bearfoot Birsto! You won't regret it.
Read more at The Best Dining Experience Ever
Parmesan Cheese with Traditional Balsamic – Since we're on the subject of food, we thought we'd share our best treat. When visiting Italy one cannot go without tasting Gelato. However, we found that we were more partial to Parmegano Remano with traditional balsamic vinegar to be our treat of choice. We ate it every single day while staying in the beautiful historic town of Bologna in Emilia Romano. Oh how we miss our daily dose of handmade two year aged Parmigiano Regianno. Lucky for us, we have a bottle of traditional balsamic that we're saving for a special occasion. We've decided to eat it after our 10 day trek north of Lake Superior this january. We'll have earned a good treat after that!
Read about Balsamic and Cheese at Traditional Balsamic, 10 Years in the Making
Best Road Trip
Iceland Ring Road – We surprisingly took a lot of road trips this year. South Africa and Alberta were two amazing drives, but nothing compares to the Ring Road in Iceland. The 10 day trip around the entire country lets you explore everything that Iceland has to offer. From spectacular waterfalls to hot springs to witnessing horses running across lush green fields. I don't think we've ever seen such a unique landscape. The terrain constantly changes from vast lava fields to snowcapped mountains, black beaches and massive glaciers. Iceland is truly a once of a kind destination and having the freedom of driving yourself is the way to go.
See more on Iceland at 18 Photos of Mind Blowing Beauty Get 20% off your own road trip in Iceland with Iceland Travel. Details here.
The Exumas in the Bahamas – We didn't know much about the Bahamas. We thought it was just a touristy destination that attracted cruisers stopping at their busy port. But when we flew to the Exumas we couldn't believe this tropical paradise existed just off the coast of Florida. This group of 365 islands has deserted sandy white beaches, pristine emerald blue waters and outstanding marine life. Highlights are visiting the famous swimming pigs and snorkelling at Thunderball Grotto. Woah!
Summerfest Milwaukee – We've witnessed some amazing and offbeat festivals around the world, but as music lovers, we were blown away by Summerfest in Milwaukee. It's the world's largest music festival with 17 stages attracted all the biggest names in music. In one evening we saw Tom Petty, LL Cool J and one of our personal favourites Cake. We managed to squeeze ourselves all the way to the front of the stage to groove to their cool beats like Short Skirt, Long Jacket and Sheep Go to Heaven. The best part of Summerfest, it's only $17 to enter and you can explore all the venues once you are in save for the one headliner grandstand stage where one group a night performs for a premium.
Cooking School in Morocco – We always love learning and in Marrakech, Morocco we had the chance to take an authentic Moroccan cooking course. It lasted all afternoon in the beautiful courtyard of Riyad El Cadi. We learned to make dishes like Berber Chicken Tagine and Zaalouk Salad. Moroccan food takes hours to prepare properly and there is a reason that most restaurants charge more for their meals than other destinations. A lot of love and time goes in to making a meal and we loved eating it all in the centre of the Riyad that evening.
Read about our experience here.
Kangaroo Island, Australia – One of the most unique places to see a sunset is at the Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island in Australia. The rocks are certainly interesting formations but when the sun goes down, they are downright stunning. We arrived as a busload of people were leaving. These rocks are one of the main attractions on the island, but when dusk hits, everyone disappears. We had it nearly all to ourselves as we enjoyed saying goodbye to another wonderful day of travel.
What were your best travel moments of 2013?