Another year has wrapped up and for the first time in a while, I’m glad that I did not travel as much this year as previous years. In 2013, I survived my first winter in Toronto, returned to Paris for the first time since my study abroad program, spent a week in a paradise island they call Bali, and moved to sunny San Francisco.
This year, I learned to stop caring about the number of countries I’ve been to and start living like locals do no matter where I am. I spent less time traveling solo and more time traveling with friends. I started obsessing over visiting national parks and living in an airstream. I moved to the left coast where the wine is fine and the coffee snobs are snobbier. But I love it.
Get ready for the year in recap.
Living like a local in Paris: 2 years after setting foot in Paris for the first time, I returned to the great French capital. This time, I was no longer a foreign student but felt like a Parisian local. I had remembered enough about Paris to know my way around, I rented a studio apartment minutes away from the Louvre, and spent a week eating oysters and cheese. Paris was cleaned, brighter, and friendlier than I remembered. I think I enjoyed Paris more this time around than I did at 20.
Road trip to Seattle: Seattle always makes for a pleasant road trip whenever I visit my parents in Vancouver. I had actually never been to Seattle when it wasn’t raining so my June visit was a pleasant surprise of sun and warmth. I spent the afternoon kayaking and drinking tea. With its similarities to Vancouver, Seattle felt very livable to me.
Canadian Rockies, Jasper and Banff Alberta: The Seattle day trip was followed by a week long road trip through the Canadian Rockies. I had been wanting to visit the Rockies since I was a teenager and finally got the chance 10 years later. To say that it was everything I expected would not do it justice. The mountains were majestic, the air was fresh, and I’ve never enjoyed nature more. I was standing on top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff when the seed of obsession with National Parks was planted in my mind and my heart.
Discovering Porto, Portugal: I have been to most of the countries in Western Europe, safe for the Netherlands and Portugal. This year checks one of these two places off of my list. I was invited to visit Porto with Kensington Tours. The trip showed me the luxuries of going on a custom tour with a private driver and all. I also spent a lot of time wondering downtown Porto, which surprised and delighted me with its modern and contemporary beat.
Lifestyle photography in Toronto: When I wasn’t traveling in 2013, I got the chance to start developing the lifestyle portion of my photography portfolio. By contributing to blogTO, I was able to photograph the Toronto Underground Market, the Toronto Flower Market, Cool City Oyster Yard. It was a great way to expand my portfolio and explore more of Toronto. I’m definitely looking forward to pursuing more lifestyle photography in 2014.
Eat, Pray, Bali: I cannot even being to put Bali into words. After a few days in Jakarta for work, a few friends and I rented a private villa in Bali for some R&R. We surfed, got balinese massages, went whitewater rafting, and spent a lot of time on beaches and watching sunsets. This is one of my most memorable trips of the 2013. It made me consider, even if just for a second, becoming a serious surf bum.
Tsukji Fish Market in Tokyo: Whilst in Asia, I also visited Tokyo Japan. Like many other photographers, I had been wanting to go to Tokyo for a long time. I didn’t spend nearly as much time there as I wanted but I did get to visit the Tsukji Fish Market. I had seen photographs and videos of this market before, and it’s always pretty special to visit a place in person.
Fall camping in Yosemite: Continuing my newly-developed obsession with national parks, I spent a weekend camping in Yosemite in November. I was quite poorly equipped for fall hiking and camping but it was still great to spend a weekend in near solitude, on long hikes, and feeling like a part of nature.
Eating my way through San Francisco: And that brings me to San Francisco. I officially moved down in October though I’d been flying the Toronto – San Francisco route quite regularly for the last year. Having grown up in Vancouver, Toronto just didn’t feel exactly like home and I wanted to return to the west coast. For the moment, San Francisco is feeling like a great fit – it’s still t-shirt and jeans weather in December, it’s close to home, and it has easy access to a bunch of US National Parks. So, this is where I rest my head for 2013.