Favorite Travel Moments of 2017

  1. Backroads of Portugal
Looking up a pedestrian street. Two-story buildings on each side of the street are painted golden yellow on the bottom 3 or 4 feet and then white above. There are planters with flowers attached to the walls of the buildings. A door in the foreground leads into the Fabrica dos Pasteis and there is a sign identifying the store above the door.
The back streets of Evora – with the Fabrica dos Pasteis!
Blue tile and carved art at Convento de São Paulo.
Brown cow standing in field with trees and brush in the background.
Cow keeping an eye on us in the cork forest.
Poppies along a country road.

Culturally rich, geographically beautiful, friendly and fun – the villages and countryside affirmed that the best thing we did in Portugal was get away from the cities and beach resorts. The cork tour at Herdade da Maroteira, staying at the Convento de São Paulo, devouring pasteis at Fabrica dos Pasteis in Evora, climbing the castle ruins in Portel, and appreciating the blue tile art in the cathedral in Beja – just a few the experiences I’ll reflect on for years to come.

  1. Feria de Abril in Seville

The April Fair in Seville takes place two weeks after holy week (with dates being flexible because of the shifting dates for Easter, so that the Feria is always in April.) We got to see thousands of women of Seville dressed in their beautiful, colorful flamenco dresses and men in their suits, or ‘el traje corto’. We strolled the fair, with tents and horse-drawn carriages, and watched the locals strut their stuff, drink, and flirt.

  1. Gaudi’s Barcelona

Since this was my first time in Barcelona, but my husband had been before, he put together a 3-day tour of Gaudi’s architecture. We followed the progression of Gaudi’s work chronologically and took our time. We’ve seen a lot of amazing European architecture, including an emphasis on art nouveau, but Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Park Guell, and the Sagrada Familia blew our minds.

  1. Nepal Trek

Obviously, getting to do a bucket-list experience like a trek in Nepal has to be included on my list of favorites for 2017. Along with the beauty, the photos, the friendships, and the eye-opening glimpses into such a different culture, I came away with a strong desire to “trek” in more places around the world. Fortunately,  I live right in the middle of some of the best hiking in North America so I have the perfect training ground. Treks for the future: anything in Ireland or Scotland, pieces of the Colorado trailer and Continental Divide trail, Camino de Ronda in northern Spain, Camino de Santiago with my high school friends, Peaks of the Balkans, and the Nakasendo Trail in Japan.

  1. Celebrating holidays in Asia: Tihar in Kathmandu and Chung Yeung in Hong Kong

We were thrilled to find ourselves in Nepal during the celebration of Tihar (in India they call it Diwali). This 5-day celebration includes the honoring of crows, dogs and cows, along with a special day for brothers and sisters to honor each other. The Hindu goddess Lakshmi plays a central role in the celebrations. We were invited to participate in the brother/sister celebration and ritual at a friend’s sister’s home, which including the giving of tika, a traditional lunch, and the presentation of gifts. It was such a beautiful family holiday.

When we got to Hong Kong, we found out we were there for a holiday called Chung Yeung. This is another family day during which people go hiking (to higher altitudes – but that’s a long story), have picnics and honor their ancestors. It was a special time to visit the temple, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin, and see all of the people there for the holiday.

  1. Hike and photos at American Basin

Colorado’s mountains are beautiful, but every now and then I come across a place that takes my breath away and makes me feel lucky to be alive. American Basin is one of those places. We drove up the Alpine Loop outside of Lake City (4WD with some steep and scary drop-offs) and arrived at American Basin in the late afternoon. The wildflowers were in full bloom and there was only a handful of people there.

7. Cripple Creek mine tours

My husband is working on a guidebook about gold prospecting in Colorado, so we spent a couple of months touring the state doing “research” for his book. One of my favorite sites was the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine. The mining company offers a wonderful tour of the impressive mine. Yes, they are tearing up an entire mountain, but, yes, people want and need gold (if you are reading this on a smart phone, you are depending on gold mining whether you like it or not), and they are setting aside soil and money to restore the land. The Molly Kathleen is an historic underground mine you can also tour is one of the best tours in the state.

  1. Yellowstone in winter

I’m a national park fanatic and, so far, Yellowstone is my favorite. At the beginning of 2017 we did a trip to Yellowstone with some snowshoeing and wildlife observing. There is simply nothing like snowshoeing along the hot springs and canyons in the silence of winter.

9. Eclipse in Wyoming

Along with a few hundred thousand friends, we journeyed to Wyoming to see the full solar eclipse in August. We spent 3 days in the area in order to avoid traffic, and enjoyed walking and driving the country roads that run between ranches. After years of cruising through Wyoming on the Interstate and wondering what is just beyond that ridge in the distance, I finally got to take the time to find out – and it’s beautiful with surprises around every turn. The eclipse lived up to the hype and I look forward to experiencing the next one in the USA in 2024.

10. Palisade wine tour with my sisters

It’s probably nothing compared to Napa, but spending a weekend in Palisade, Colorado, (or any other off-the-beaten-bath wine country) with my sisters, sampling wine and taking time to really enjoy each other is priceless (and yet affordable!) Also, helping my sister get past her fear of heights by walking along the cliffs at Colorado National Monument National Park reminded me that I’m the older sister.

  1. Introduction to moorish culture in Seville and Granada

This year was a year of new cultural experiences for me. Seville and Granada were my first exposures to Moorish culture. The architecture shifted my perspective and enjoying an Arab Bath was a great introduction to a world that is new to me. Before this year’s trip to Spain I had seen and experienced much of what Europe has to offer, but I don’t think I had a well-rounded experience until I’d gotten to southern Spain and Portugal.

  1. Riding a roller coaster at Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park. At the front of the scene is a man-made pond surrounded by shrubs and yellow flowers. There are three rowboats on the pond with a person in each boat. Beyond the pond is a roller coaster with a loop. To the right of the roller coaster is an Asian pagoda. Trees frame the photo on each side.
Tivoli Gardens

We lived in Europe for 18 months when our kids were young, and we visited a lot of child-centered attractions, including amusement parks. I used to blame it on the children – Disneyland Paris, Europapark, Legoland. I could claim that I wanted to visit the Tivoli because of its history, or the fact that I have a professional connection to the Tivoli Student Center on the Auraria campus in Denver. But the truth is, when I saw that loop-de-loop roller coaster at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen I had to go for a spin. My husband took video while I did the $12 90 second ride, but it was entirely worth it and reminded me of why we travel – adventure, curiosity, youthfulness and fun!

What’s ahead for 2018:

Alaska, Bahamas, Washington D.C., who knows?

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