I still owe you many blog posts from each place I visited in 2017 but thought I would highlight my top experiences and food with you today. I can’t believe I went to 11 countries and over 45 cities!! It was an amazing year. Don’t get me wrong; there were many struggles but the good outweighed the bad. I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Just in case you never read the reasons why I’m traveling check out this blog. If I’m being honest, one reason missing from that blog post is I was totally sick of the hustle. Having my own business since 2004 left me drained, overworked, and I was sick of constantly having to promote myself. I just needed a break. Traveling the world was my answer. Now I’m starting to feel ready to get myself out there again and share my years of experience and knowledge with the world. I forget how much I had to share and the late 30s/early 40s perspective is missing so badly in our (vegan) social media world today. Keep an eye out for hopefully once a week Facebook live videos where we can have a conversation about important stuff. I miss connecting with my followers!
Now onto the best experiences and food (duh!) of 2017! I first have to say that I met so many awesome vegans that I knew online in person this year. When you have a blog, or are a public figure, you make so many online friends and get to know them through the internet. So when you meet in person it’s like you’ve known each other all along. It’s pretty cool. It would take too long to name everyone here but shout-out to Anne-Marie, Lisa, and Jenny in Toronto, Caitlin in London, Sam and Veren in Brighton/Berlin, and many more new friends I made and old friends I saw along the way.
One of my favorite experiences was taking Spanish classes in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. I only spent 9 days in San Pedro, a little village around the lake, but I fell in love. It was so peaceful and the Guatemalans live such a chilled and simple life. I could have easily stayed there for months and might consider doing that someday. Lots of vegan food options, lovely weather, and really nice locals. It’s an often overlooked destinations so do consider adding it to your list (I like it more than Costa Rica!).
I came back in the country after Guatemala and went to Los Angeles to visit friends. A highlight from March was attending the Vegan Street Fair for the first time and hanging with Maria and seeing so many friends. The food was incredible! If you ever go to this event definitely splurge on the VIP ticket because then you don’t have to wait in long lines!
Spending my 38th birthday in Toronto in May with these special ladies was so wonderful. It was my first time visiting Canada and I fell in love with Toronto. If it wasn’t so cold most the year I would totally move there. So much vegan food, easy public transportation, and cool things to do. We just ate and ate and ate. Another must-see is Graffiti Alley. Thanks to Nicole for hosting me and all the lovely people that spent time with me on my bday!!
One of the best meals I had all year was at Sushi Momo in Montreal. You must go there! I went twice during my 8 days in Montreal. There are many great choices for vegan food. The Best Coffeeshop Award For Digital Nomads goes to Cafe Tuyo in Montreal. I also met some really nice vegan yogis while in Montreal and it had a really good healthy vibe about it.
I don’t usually attend yoga retreats because I am leading my own, but I found a really affordable one in Northern Greece that I couldn’t pass up. The retreat itself was just okay but the little village where it was located had the most beautiful beach. The water was so clear and the air so fresh. I will also say that Greece is one of the most vegan-friendly countries I’ve ever visited. Their traditional food has so many vegan offerings so you can eat anywhere and it’s pretty affordable. I fell in love with Greek food, but not so much the country as a whole. I found it not very friendly or accommodating toward tourists and the infrastructure was sometimes that of a 3rd world country. It’s too bad because it’s beautiful and diverse.
A really cool experience I had in Greece was watching the changing of the guards in Athens. In every country this process is very different and it sort of became a thing for me where I wanted to see it everywhere I went. Athens had the most interesting production! Definitely recommend it if you stop there. I didn’t like Athens in general but the food is pretty good and seeing the Parthenon is a must.
The Best Landscape Award goes to rural Hungary. I volunteered in June at a language exchange summer camp about 2 hours outside of Budapest and was welcomed by fields and fields of sunflowers. Each morning I would go on a walk with this amazing view. It was breathtaking.
One of the best experiences I had all year was going to the symphony in Budapest. It was actually the first time I had ever been to a symphony in my life because usually it costs so much in the US. But this was only 15 Euro so I couldn’t pass it up!
In Berlin in August, I got to speak at the Vegan Sommerfest on staying healthy and fit while traveling. This was my first speaking gig in a really long time and I was super nervous, but I knocked it out of the park. It reminded me how much I love teaching and giving presentations and sharing my knowledge with others. Many years ago I was doing 5-10 a year. I hope to do more speaking engagements in 2018!
I must give a shout-out to Berlin’s vegan food scene and give it the Most Vegan Friendly City in Europe Award. I ate so much good food here and it’s all so affordable! There’s a number of vegan Vietnamese/Thai restaurants all over town that had some of the best Asian food I’ve had in my life. This rivals the famous Thai dynasty of restaurants in Los Angeles. There’s Veganz vegan supermarket with the most amazing vegan products including a love affair with some of the best vegan chocolate I’ve had in my life. Vego and iChoc have my heart.
The Best Street Art Award goes to Barranco in Lima, Peru. It’s just incredible!
The Most Thrilling Award goes to sand-boarding and riding around the sand dunes like a rollercoaster in Huacachina, Peru. I was screaming at the top of my lungs as we charged up the hills and over the sides of the dunes. My heart did backflips. It was thrilling to say the least!
Always rewarding and life-changing our my wellness retreats. It’s incredible the amount of love and hard work that goes into them, but how much transformation happens in both the guests and myself. I learned a lot and experienced some awesome things with hopefully life-long new friends. Machu Picchu was another highlight of Peru.
So that wraps up my travel highlights on 2017! If you want to see a photo collage recap by sure to check out my highlight reels on Instagram. Be sure to follow me there since that is where I post the most and you won’t miss any of my exciting travels!
Happy New Year! Hope you have the most blissful year yet.