Of late I have been a BAD blogger. I haven’t written a post in months and have taken some time out from Twitter but one of my New Years resolutions is to show the blog a bit more love and post regularly. So, as we launch into the New Year (and I’m too hungover from last night’s festivities to move from the sofa anyway) it seems like a good time to get writing and start 2016 as I mean to go on!
2015 was a difficult year for me in many ways but I still did some amazing things and made some brilliant memories. One of the major highlights was the incredible trip I took around the USA and Mexico with one of my best friends, Bonita. I had intended to write about my journey as I went along but that plan didn’t quite come to fruition. I could blame this on the temperamental internet connection in the cheap hotels we stayed at, or the fact my tablet got stolen from my bag on a night bus in Mexico, but in reality copious quantities of frozen margarita and my penchant for Mexican waving the night away is closer to the truth.
Travelling is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Having never taken a ‘gap yah’ like many of my friends did before uni, I had developed a niggling desire to visit far flung places and return with dreadlocks, a tattoo and the self-satisfied belief that I had ‘found myself’. So, at 26 it was a great feeling to finally be packing my backpack and heading off on a big adventure of my own. Thankfully, the dreadocks and tattoo didn’t happen but I did manage to see some amazing places, try delicious new foods, meet fantastic people and generally had an unforgettable time.
Much of our route, especially in Mexico, was planned on-the-fly. We kept things flexible, moving from one place to the next when we felt we had seen what there was to see. Our final route was:
- Washington D.C
- New York
- New Orleans
- Las Vegas
- San Fransisco
- Mexico City
- Oaxaca (pronounced ‘Wahaca’)
- San Christobal de las Casas
- Playa del Carmen
- Isla Holbox
- Cancun (which was a tourist zoo, avoid unless you like sunburned Brits abroad drunk on all inclusive hotel beer)
People always ask me what my favourite place was but it’s really hard to compare such different experiences when you have gone from the craziness of NYC to a tiny laid back island like Isla Holbox. But some particular highlights for me (if I had to choose) were:
I have always wanted to visit NYC so this was a bit of a dream come true. Finally visiting the Big Apple (and feeling well-prepared having watched every single episode of SATC – don’t judge) it felt a bit like stepping into a film. Chilling in central park, taking in the madness of times square, riding the New York subway and bar-hopping our way around seemingly every happy hour in town sipping cocktails was such fun. Staying on Staten Island to keep costs down was a bit sketchy but at least it meant that Bonita and I had a romantic (albiet windy) ferry ride to Manhattan each day with a view of the statue of liberty.
There was just something special about New Orleans. It felt the most European of everywhere I visited in the USA both architecturally and the culturally. Loved the live Jazz music, the friendly people, the fascinating history of the city and the creative, liberal atmosphere. I’m still missing the delicious beignet pastries we ate for breakfast each day from the famous Cafe du Monde…
There is a lot to love about San Francisco. The beautiful houses, the vibrant cultural scene and the stunning views from the top of the near-vertical streets make this City stand out. There is also a big gay scene in San Fran which reminded me of Brighton.
They say if you can remember your trip to Las Vegas you didn’t do it properly and while the events of some nights are certainly hazy I remember just enough to know that Vegas is such a bizarre place it needs to be seen to be believed. Memorable sites included the restaurant where you can eat for free if you weigh over 350 pounds (scales provided), a drive-thru wedding chapel and cocktails you drink out of a shoe. I’m not sure I’d go back but it was certainly an experience!
Mexico City is a crazy, wonderful place. You feel as though you are taking your life in your hands every time you step into a car because road rules are either ignored or non-existent, and things happen at their own slow pace; a phenomenon which the locals refer to as “Mexican time”, but it’s hard not to fall in love with D.F. The people are so warm, welcoming and fun. Visiting the museum and former home Frida Kahlo, one of my favourite artists, was inspiring.
Pronounced ‘Wahaca’ had incredible street food, interesting museums and art galleries and a charming central square where you can get serenaded by – in my opinion – the best mariachi band in Mexico.
San Christobal de las Casas
Up in the mountains the atmosphere at San Christobal de las Casas was unique. The indigenous communities still practice their own religious and cultural customs here which was fascinating to learn about. One example is that photographs are forbidden due to local belief that having your picture taken can steal your soul.
Stunning undeveloped beaches, Aztec ruins and a carefree hippy vibe, Tulum is somewhere all sense of time seems to go out the window. We cycled everywhere on bikes which were falling apart and explored some of the near-by cenotes – which are natural pools created by sink holes which fill up with water. We also took a day trip to Akumal and had an incredible time snorkeling around the coral reef with giant turtles.
Isla Holbox is a tiny island which at certain times of the year is home to whale sharks which you can go diving with. Sadly, we just missed the sharks but still had a great time exploring this little paradise island. Watching the world go by, seeing wild flamingos and staying at a homestay with two beautiful resident pugs, affectionately referred to as “the ladies” was wonderful. Despite the chilled atmosphere we somehow managed to start a party on the beach with nothing more than a mini speaker and a bottle of vodka so the next day all the locals were waving at us and knew who we were as we walked through town…oh dear!
Thanks so much to everybody who made the trip so special and I’m looking forward lots more travel in the New Year. So far I have booked to go to Sri Lanka and Luxembourg but am planning to squeeze in many more trips… I hope you all make 2016 a year of adventure too