Not to start off with a cliché, but — it defeats me how quickly 2019’s passed by. Just yesterday I was summing up my travel highlights of 2018, which included incredible experiences in cities such as Tokyo and Melbourne. Then 2019 came through, and I spent time in 9 different cities across the United States, 5 of which I was visiting for the first time. And not to mention sinking my toes onto the sandy beaches of Cancún, Mexico during my Spring Break, and then ending the year on the even sandier (a lil bias, perhaps) beaches of Diani, Kenya. Wowow!
Here are my travel highlights of 2019:
1. Roaming Around San Francisco, California
When I was in Portugal, I recall a taxi driver mentioning to me that San Francisco was, in essence, the American version of Lisbon. Immediately upon my arrival to SF, it didn’t take long for me to see why. San Francisco is a city full of hills and colours, a chill ocean, and lots of yummy food. Visiting a close friend of mine there, I was able to catch a glimpse of life and culture by the bay. It was a great way to kickstart my year!
2. Finding a Giant Blue Cock in Washington, D.C.
I’ve been to the US Capital several times, but never with as much purpose as this: my cousin and I went with a mission to feast our eyes on the 15-foot sculpture by German artist Katharina Fritsch that currently resides in the National Gallery of Art. The gallery itself is packed with other incredible pieces, too; and that’s not even the start of what the capital’s museums have to offer. Washington D.C. houses 70+ other museums, including four of the top 15 most visited museums in the world. There is also the newly opened National Museum of African American History, which has been extremely popular already. I’ve definitely got my eye on that for next time.
3. Spending Summer Break in New York, New York
During the duration of my degree at NYU, I have always left the States during the summer months for more reasons than one. This summer then was the first time I stayed for over two months, which was a strange, but also interesting, time. Campus felt almost like a shell of itself, and while some of my friends were around, many were not. I was kept busy with two internships, met many awesome people, and I was able to identify some favourite places to hang by myself (Dumbo, as always; the Think Coffee on Bowery; etc!). Not having my life revolve around school and the NYU campus gave me a taste of what life might be like in the city should I stay for a little after graduation. Adulting!
4. Holi in Hoboken, New Jersey
Holi, the Indian Festival of Colours, usually happens in March. However, for reasons unbeknownst to us (capitalism? americanisation? the weather?!), we found ourselves celebrating in July, sharing in the joy and culture of the Indian diaspora living in the area. It was a fun and colourful time! (Yes, the powdered paint washes off easily).
5. Singing for 40 hours in a Week – Los Angeles, California
I was in Los Angeles for the NEO Voice Festival which was a rather pivotal week for my career in music composition. The week was full of learning, making music, and being inspired by incredible musicians from all over. While our schedules were tightly packed, we used our free moments to steal away to the famous Hollywood Sign, as well as to Santa Monica Beach to get some of that famous Californian sunshine.
6. Drinking 100+ Coke Flavours from Around the World in Atlanta, Georgia
Taking my brother for his first year of university allowed me a peak at the vibrant city of Atlanta. Not only is it the home of the busiest airport in the world and of mega-corporations such as Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and CNN, but it’s also birthed countless popular culture icons from Andre 3000 and Childish Gambino to Janelle Monae and Lil Nas X. Atlanta is undoubtedly a powerhouse of a city.
The (very capitalist-y, rather gimmick-y) World of Coca-Cola is a museum that documents the famous soda from its conception up until now and even the future. I usually practice a no-soda policy in life general, but this I had to suspend for the last part of the tour was tasting session of over 100 different soda flavours unique to every continent in the world. It was…interesting. I have never tasted so much nasty soft drink in my life. Some were good though.
And there’s more to do in Atlanta. For a classic tourist experience, the gorgeous Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Georgia Aquarium, Martin Luther King Junior National Historic Park came up as frequent recommendations. I’m excited to return and get a little more taste of what Atlanta has to offer.
7. FINALLY visiting the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island!!! YES!!!
YESS!!! That’s all I have to say.
(Also, that its full name is Liberty Enlightening the World. Who knew!!!)
7. Autumn in New England – Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts
Turns out that New England isn’t a state, but a region; and that catching Fall in New England is actually a whole sort of, event. From walking the gardens at the country’s oldest park, Boston Common, to strolling along the Charles River Esplanade, and even walking the Harvard Campus in Cambridge had me in awe of how incredibly gorgeous the season of Autumn was on this side of the States! I didn’t even mind the cold as much…
BONUS: Ending 2019 in Diani, Kenya
a.k.a., one of my most favourite places on Earth.
To spend the last days of the year (OF THE DECADE!!) on the gorgeous Kenyan Coast was 100% the most fulfilling part of my year. The weather, the rhythm, the peace…just generally being here, at home, was a fitting way to tie things off.
As I come towards my last semester in university at NYU (CLASS OF 2020!!!), it’s been phenomenal having the chance to see more of the United States. When you have a country covering over 9 million km² with a population of over 300 million people, each town, city, even each neighbourhood is so nuanced and so distinct. I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I’m so grateful for what I’ve gotten to experience thus far.
Cue in 2020! More adventures, more magical moments, more learning, practice and growth is yet to come. Thanks for all your support in the journey, and wishing you all goodness and light as we step into a new decade. Happy New Year!
What are YOUR travel highlights of 2019? Or, where are you looking to visit in 2020?! Let me know in the comments below!
The blog is now approx. 1 year and 7 months old and this marks its 16th post! What!!! As always, I’m looking forward to continue writing and sharing my experiences with you all. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe with your e-mail or WordPress account below to get more updates.
In addition, I launched my official/professional website in September, where, if you’re interested, you can find out more about all the concerts, events and projects in the world of music composition that I’m involved in. Feel free to browse the site and subscribe to the accompanying newsletter!