With all the year-in-review and retrospective posts floating around, naturally I made a more concentrated effort to reflect on what 2011 brought in terms of travel. Certainly in comparison to 2010, my countries visited and new countries visited totals were rather low in 2011. Why? Well, I didn’t have a job for the end of 2010 / beginning of 2011, and I was back living in the most expensive place ever to travel from. So while 2010 had me fluttering to five new countries and eleven countries total, 2011 was, by the numbers, less impressive. Two new countries, three total.
To say that this year’s numbers make me sad would be idiotic, spoiled, and, quite frankly, insufferable. While I may not have logged as many passport stamps this year, I logged some experiences that are far more memorable and tangible than numbers. I hauled my ass up a mountain, for crying out loud. I faced some major fears. I visited Asia for the first time, something I’d been wanting to do for years. I travelled with one of my best friends, and we had a great time. I went to NYC and didn’t blow the bank. I spent my birthday in Florida, drinking champagne on the beach. I ate dim sum at a Michelin star restaurant and went on a junk in Hong Kong. And finally, I got Toronto back.
After spending seven years away from my beloved hometown, I noticed how much the face of the city had changed while I was gone, and how much I’d changed too. Not being able to gallivant abroad forced me to really re-engage with the city I know, but sometimes barely recognise. I loved it. I’m obsessively devouring independent coffee shops (although I really wish more had wifi; point of contention, I know). I venture off on the longest of walks – wanders, really – absorbing never-before-explored neighbourhoods and the changing façades of ones I’ve known my whole life. Toronto is still my favourite city of all I’ve seen. Of course, I’m biased, but really, when you let the city pull you in, how could you not absorb the bias too?
At times I feel like in 2010 I got a little crazed. I was scrambling to see as many places as I could while I lived in England, where dozens of countries are not only accessible, but affordably so. 2010 sucked me into so many different places, and spat me out excited, energised, and hungry for more. Four days simply wasn’t enough in Reykjavik or Dubrovnik, and there’s much more of Iceland, Croatia, Finland, and Estonia for me to see.
2011 helped pull me into focus. I spent a week in Malaysian Borneo. I hadn’t taken a week-long vacation years; I’d become the mini-break queen. I revisited New York City and Boston, partly for me, but mostly for my bf, who’d never been to either. It didn’t matter that I’d been to both, because the experiences were completely new. I felt at home in a city I’d never been to: Hong Kong. From the minute I touched down, I was comfortable, and that feeling never went away (it certainly helped that my friend was one of the best hosts I’ve ever had).
What’s in store for 2012? We’ll see. I have plans, and I have ideas, but only a few things are concrete. All I know is that it’s going to be a good year.