In 2022 we learned a dangerous game. We started asking ourselves a simple question: “What’s the coolest thing that can happen?” And acting accordingly.
The question is simple enough, sure, but it’s the aftermath that makes it dangerous. How can you not peruse a wild dream? This game led us to a year of travel where we spent a total of 7 months living abroad.
And holy cow, if that doesn’t change a person, I don’t know what will.
We went through a lot of growth and realizations this year. We’ve also become hungrier than ever for an exciting life full of travel and adventure. Without further ado, here’s a quick recap of 2022.
P.S. Just in case you’re new here (welcome!) the biggest thing that happened in 2021 is that we moved to New York City!
2022 Quick Highlights
- Whisky tasting in Scotland
- Celebrating my 31st birthday in Paris (a lifelong dream achieved)
- Spending winter in sunny Lisbon (+ port tasting in Porto!)
- Our month-long stay in Rome was perfect
2022 In Review
January (Lisbon & Porto)
Last December we had a crazy idea. We didn’t want to spend a blistering winter in New York City, so we decided to bounce for a milder climate. After much deliberation we landed on Lisbon, a city we both love immensely.
We assumed it would be warm (it wasn’t) and sunny (it was). Bundled up in jackets and scarves, we were overjoyed by the daily sunshine poring through the windows of our Airbnb. We spend the month catching up on work and only left the apartment for morning coffee and occasional dinners.
A highlight from the month was taking a 4 day trip to Porto. It’s an amazing city full of kind people, beautiful views and incredible seafood. We especially enjoyed learning about port and did a few tastings. We vowed to return to Porto (and plan to do so January 2023) to get a better feel for the beautiful city.
You may enjoy reading: 20 Memorable Things to Do in Porto, Portugal
Also, during one of our evenings in Lisbon, Will suggested an interesting idea. He proposed that we spent the rest of the year traveling before settling into NYC long-term. Intrigued, I told him I was interested and we spent an evening poring over details over a bottle of green wine.
Visiting Mallorca was my idea. A reasonable person would ask why we’d commit to a month-long stay in a city we’ve never visited before. But we aren’t (always) reasonable people.
So we booked a month-long stay in Palma and found ourselves surprised by two things: the city’s small size and that everything was shut down in the winter. Turns out Palma is a summer destination, and February doesn’t qualify as a summer month (who knew!).
Rather than singing “told you so” my very mature husband took it in stride. We decided to make our time in Mallorca a serious work month and found a lovely cafe across the street from our apartment. We spent every morning and afternoon working like crazy and counting down the days until we departed or summer (whichever came sooner).
We spent weekends exploring the more remote reaches of the island (which were downright stunning!) and had a blast exploring Valldemossa, Deia and Soller.
My mom flew out for a week and we explored the island together. We most enjoyed the great market and easy going evenings over homemade meals (my mom is a great cook).
A huge highlight was spending a day at an olive orchard and learning about the production of olive oil. We signed up for a 4-hour tour that turned into 5 hours unexpectedly.
We meandered through ancient olive trees and learned about olive trees on Mallorca before sitting down for a picnic full of locally made bites. It was such a treat.
March – April (New York City)
We returned to New York City with a renewed sense of love for our new city (isn’t that what vacation is for?). Within seconds of arriving, we were giddy with joy to be back in the Big Apple and made quick plans to visit our favorite spots.
Happy hour drinks at Dante, eating our weight in pizza (and bagels), catching up with good friends and Friday dinners at a little French restaurants in the West Village. We’re back, baby!
Will’s birthday was celebrated at Peter Luger Steakhouse, and I’m still counting down the seconds until our return. Best. steak. ever.
We made it in time for the breathtaking display of spring blooms. The tulips in Central Park are something else! I’d be lying if I told you we didn’t regret committing to travel the next 6 months, because we had a few conversations like that.
But alas, we knew the city would be there when we returned. So we worked, visited our favorite spots, caught up with friends, packed up and left. We decided to travel exclusive with two carry-on bags, so we packed lightly (and brought an extra duffle bag just in case!).
May (Croatia & Egypt)
Our trip kicked off with a two-week stay in Dubrovnik. We were in a small pickle. Between our two months in Europe earlier in the year, and our planned month in Rome, we were at risk of exceeding the 3-month visitor visa. So we parked ourselves in Croatia (technically not part of the Schengen zone until 2023) and called it a day.
Our time in Dubrovnik was a heck of a lot of fun, although the town is so tiny! Regardless, we found plenty to do and got a lot of work done as well. As our time in Croatia came to an end, we were ecstatic to board our flights to Egypt because seeing the pyramids has been a life-long dream for Will.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Our time in Egypt sucked and we were counting down the days until we could leave. Hell, we paid good money to leave 2 days earlier because we just couldn’t stand it any longer.
All told, we visited Luxor, Aswan and Cairo but at the end of the day, the enthusiasm I have for Egypt is the same enthusiasm I reserve for watered down cocktails and visits to the dentist — hardly necessary.
I know this is harsh, but my goodness — Egypt is not a tourist destination. If you’re interested (and have 456 hours to spare) you can read: I Visited Egypt With an Open Mind, Here’s 10 Reasons I Won’t Return.
After the disappointment of Egypt (I do not say this lightly), touching down in Rome made me want to cry tears of joy.
We checked into the hotel and promptly made our way over to the nearest wine bar, where we split a delicious chilled bottle of white wine and talked about nothing and everything at once.
It was the most beautiful and relaxing month for us. We moved at an easy pace and carved out plenty of time for enjoyment after work. We visited a ton of wine bars, cafes and great restaurants. Will had a truffle pasta meal and claimed it was the best meal he’s ever had in his life.
Will’s parents flew out to join us for a week. We had a great time sharing the Eternal City with them. Getting to tour the coliseum was a highlight. They spent another week in Florence before heading back so we popped over for a day.
While in Florence, we purchased our first ever art piece from an artist we discovered during our honeymoon. Definitely a milestone for us.
Further Reading: 30 Remarkable Things to Do in Rome, Italy
July (Scotland & France)
Scotland was a welcome reprieve from Rome’s heat spell, and we embarked on a tour of the country with great anticipation. As soon as we stepped out of the airport we were greeted with the comforting smells of home (rain, rain and rain).
Everything about Scotland felt familiar. From the unfathomable greenery to the moody weather, we were in heaven. We most enjoyed our time in the Highlands (but Edinburgh exceeded expectations as well), especially Islay.
Will is a huge scotch drinker and re-arranged our itinerary to accommodate 5 days on Islay. The mission was to visit every single whisky distillery on the island (there’s 9 of them) so we did just that. Two of the distilleries were closed, so we visited 7 and considered it a win.
We drove further into the Highlands to the Isle of Skye. We hiked the Old Man of Storr (breathtaking) and drove down winding roads that took us to green pastures that made our mouth drop. We toured epic castles, ate lots of haggis and got our fill of drams. We can’t wait to return to Scotland already!
L’Isle sur la Sorgue, France
Visiting France is non-negotiable when you’re traveling with me. While planning our 6-month world adventure, I vouched for a month in the South of France and ultimately landed on Aix-en-Provence. I had visited once before (5 years ago) and loved the charming old town.
Unfortunately our AirBnB was the worst. The advertised AC was portable and not at all compatible with the casement windows (how nice). We went back and forth with the owners and Airbnb support staff before a resolution was reached. We were able to leave the unit (With a full refund) because the AC unit was moldy.
The entire debacle was a pain in the butt and very frustrating, but we were so glad to get out. We booked a last-minute Airbnb in a French town I have never heard of L’Isle sur la Sorgue, and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.
The Airbnb was beautiful and very spacious. We booked for 5 nights and decided to split the rest of the month between Toulouse and Bordeaux (before heading to Paris for my birthday!).
The town was picture-perfect and very quiet. It’s not touristy at all but had enough restaurants and cafes to keep us content. We loved the little “restart” to our time in France and even got to experience Bastille Day in L’Isle sur la Sorgue, which was just great.
Afterwards we took the train to Toulouse. My french professor was from Toulouse and I thought it’d be interesting to visit her hometown. We booked a week-long stay and found ourselves smitten by the charm of the town. We had no idea Toulouse was so beautiful (the pink brick!).
Mornings were spent nursing Nespresso pods while working. Evenings were spent sipping wine late into the evening over traditional fare. We absolutely loved our time in Toulouse and would return in a heartbeat if the opportunity every presented itself. Such a charming town, very underrated in my opinion.
Much like Toulouse, Bordeaux exceeded expectations. I swear, France is such an impressive country — I fall in love with it every time I visit (I should really get back to my French lessons!).
Bordeaux is one of the most beautiful cities we’ve seen to date. The old world charm is irresistible, and the kindness of the locals only adds to the charm. We booked an Airbnb 15-minutes from the heart of town and enjoyed strolling in for a bite (or coffee) daily.
The Airbnb itself was SO dang cool. It’s a family home (rather than a unit being rented out exclusively for Airbnb) that was so tastefully decorated, I swear the owners are interior designers. Their mom showed us around the apartment and explained everything in French (I was able to comprehend and respond with very basic “yes” and “understood” lol).
Our time in Bordeaux felt too short, even though we checked off all the top attractions. There’s just something so interesting about the city and I could easily see myself enjoying a slow, easy-going month in Bordeaux simply for the sake of relaxing. Yet another new-to-us gem we discovered this year.
August (Paris & Oregon)
We spent a full week in Paris because my husband loves me and I love Paris (and him, obviously). We had a great time getting acquainted with the city (it was my third visit, but they’ve always been very brief and I don’t feel like I know the city well).
We celebrated my 31st birthday in Paris!!!! This has been a lifetime dream of mine and I wasn’t about to let the heat wave spoil my fun.
We spent the day walking around the city aimlessly before parking ourselves at Les Deux Margot for a chilled bottle of rosé. We people-watched for 4 hours (I kid you not) before making our way over to my favorite little restaurant.
It’s impossible to get a reservation day-off, so we figured we’d show up super early (like 3 hours early) and nurse a bottle of wine until they kicked us out or felt sorry enough to let us stay. Thankfully they opted for the latter.
We spent two hours enjoying a delicious meal and talking about nothing. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday and our last day in Paris before flying back to Portland, Oregon.
September – October (Oregon)
We spent the tail end of summer and most of fall in Portland, Oregon. Will took it upon himself to give my mom’s front yard a face lift and proceeded to update the grassy front yard into a Mediterranean oasis. It was a lot of work (for both) and a lot of fun (for him).
The yard turned out beautifully, but we didn’t get much work done. We did get to enjoy a few restaurants and hung out with friends often. It was gloriously warm and sunny well into October, so we enjoyed our time immensely.
A big perk for me was getting to hang out with my 1.5 year-old niece while I was in town. She’s growing like a weed and it’s a joy to get to watch her learn something new.
We waited for Oahu with bated breath. We love Hawaii and never miss an opportunity to visit. Heck, at this point I’d love visit once a year, if possible.
We spent the entire month in a remote location on the west end of Oahu. We chose the location specifically because of the isolation — we wanted to get a lot of work done. We locked ourselves up and worked like mad until we hit a road block.
At which point we rented a car and took off in search of the best breweries, poke and acai on the island. We fell in love with Oahu harder than before and even toyed with the idea of saving for a home (distant dream, but life is for dreaming).
Our time in Ohau felt way too short (surprise, surprise) and we returned to the cold and rainy weather of Oregon. Somewhat relieved though, because the holidays are a joy and then we embark for a 2-month stay in Portugal before returning to New York City.
December (Oregon + California)
We returned to Portland December 7th. Our days were marked by calm mornings, long work days, good meals and tons of planning for the year ahead.
We spent a two nights in a charming cabin in Hood River with our good friends JJ and Frankie. We were determined to try the various breweries in Hood River and are happy to report they don’t disappoint.
But the biggest highlight of the month goes to the three days we got to spend with Will’s 93-year-old granddad in Los Angeles. Will was determined to pour the man a proper Islay scotch and they spent an entire evening sailing through half a bottle of Laphroig.
His aunt is an excellent cook and I spent the days eating my way from one meal to the next. It was a great trip and we plan to visit again soon!
We’re excited for 2023 and have some huge plans on the horizon. Can’t wait to share more as things keep changing.