In the Rearview – Our Favourite Days of 2012

The best part about our life is the freedom of the unknown, that we rarely know our destinations a few months in advance. Our decision to live by a mantra of “no plans” (or, to just be terribly indecisive, depending on how you look at it), has enabled us to benefit from so many fantastic opportunities.

I love that at this time last year, while we were relaxing in southern Spain, we had no idea that our future selves would be in Wisconsin right now. And where will we be at this time next year? We (blissfully) don’t know that either!

All we know is that if 2013 turns out to be even a fraction as stellar as 2012, then we are in for another thrilling ride. For in the past dozen months we’ve been in a dozen different countries, and have banked dozens upon dozens of great memories along the way.

To adequately sum up an entire year is very difficult, so we did it not by ranking one grand experience over another (they are so hard to compare!), but by simply listing stand-out moments. Some you may be reading about for a second time, and others are brand new…


Sunrise in the Sahara


Morocco Sahara Desert Sunset


What a great way to kick off a new year by exploring a new country, a new continent even, when we left Spain for Morocco early in January. And very few travel experiences can beat being surrounded by the bright orange sand of the Sahara, letting the soft granules run through our fingers while watching the first beams of dawn’s early light reach across the horizon. It was pure magic.


New York with friends


New York Friends


In all honesty, I STILL find it hard to watch TV shows or movies set in New York, as it always brings up severe longing to return. Our six weeks housesitting there were full of great memories and surprises, especially because of all the special visitors we had.

Some of our favourite days:

Winning the Amazing Race.

Attending Sunday service in Harlem.

Getting pierced and inked.


An afternoon with Turkish teens


Turkey Friends


You can bet that with three months spent housesitting in rural Turkey, we have oodles of unforgettable stories. Most of them come courtesy of the the incredible hospitality of the people, and how much they taught us about generosity and patriotism. They were so proud to share their country with us, and no day encapsulated this better than our afternoon with a Grade 11 English class. That day, and many others, made saying goodbye to Turkey one of the hardest things we’ve had to do.


Speechless in Petra


Petra at Night


There are few words to describe what it’s like to gaze upon the Treasury for the first time. (And Pete wasn’t any better when I asked him to write about it too.) We encourage you right now to drop everything you are doing and make plans to visit Jordan, if even just to see visit Petra for a day. So worth it.


Exploring the Slovenian countryside


Slovenia Countryside


A whole month in Slovenia flew by – for such a tiny country, it sure kept us busy. Two favourite days spring to mind though, one where our friend Gregor spontaneously whisked us off to the countryside to explore his favourite spots. Another, again thanks to Gregor, saw him take Pete up a mountain in Triglavski National Park on a day hike. Both were off-the-beaten-path, and in great company. What could be better than that?


Amsterdam again




After Slovenia and brief stays in Munich and Austria, we had only a couple of nights to spare in Amsterdam before leaving Europe for Canada after many months. Although we were dogged tired of the European tourist-scene, visiting Amsterdam again gave us a quick boost, thanks to good friends and a lovely day at the beach. We completely turned off our blogging brains (there is no post on this stop!) and just enjoyed every moment.


“The time I started the bed on fire”


Our two months back in Canada were filled with excellent times reconnecting with our family and friends as well as exploring our own backyard. There is one day in particular, however, that stood out.

For years I have been encouraging my grandmother to begin writing down the details of her life – facts, memories, favourite recipes, etc. – such that I can put them all together in a book. I believe family history to be a dying art and she is an incredible matriarch of her community and our very large family, I am eager to make sure that her stories and legacy are not lost.

I had previously sent her a worksheet of questions and ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ to get her started. She has picked away at it, but while visiting, we decided to sit down and start filling it out together. And then unexpectedly, not only was she recounting details of her life, but so were we all. Some of the stories that came out were quite hilarious.

I learned great tales about my Mom and her twin brother – how they used to be tied to a clothes line so that they couldn’t venture farther than the back yard. Of course, we also talked about “Lumpy Dick“. And then when we began sharing our first memories, my uncle’s story really took the cake.

“Well, I guess that would be when I started the bed on fire,” he said, recounting the time he was playing with a lighter under the covers. When the blanket became lit, he went and crawled into bed with his older sister, not telling her what happened. Finally, the fire was discovered and he was sent to the neighbours while it was attended to by the local fire department. His first actual memory wasn’t of causing the fire, but instead of watching all the commotion he caused from across the street!

Spending time in some of the most incredible places across the planet just can’t beat laughing and sharing with our own dear family.


Behaving as young children do


Wisconsin Kayaking Through Ice


After a hecktic year, settling into our current house-sit in Wisconsin has been a blessing. We’ve been happily unwinding and using the downtime to prepare for what comes next.

It also helps that we are surrounded by gorgeous lakes and pristine wilderness. And before the lake outside our door was completely frozen, we had several occasions to do one of our favourite activities – kayaking.

It wasn’t all quiet waters and gently gliding either, as thin layers of ice began to creep in from the edges, we had the most fun SMASHING and SMASHING the ice with our kayaks and paddles. It was riotous, then peaceful, then riotous again. (Pretty much a perfectly energizing experience.)


As we say goodbye to 2012, we are thankful and grateful for all of these marvelous experiences, and for the opportunity to have shared them all with you. If we haven’t said it enough, thanks for being here, and sharing your experiences with us in return.

All the best to you during this holiday season! And, as we fully expect you to be enjoying time with your families and away from the computer, we’re taking a break from blogging as well. See you in the new year!


41 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • December 21 2012

    What a great year! May 2013 include as many – if not more – travel adventures and blessings!

    • December 24 2012

      Thanks Nora! And to you as well! Looking forward to finally meeting you in 2013!

  • December 21 2012

    Happy Holidays, Dalene and Pete! 2012 has been an amazing year for us as well, partially because we met some many wonderful new friends like you!
    Jennifer recently posted..Our Favorite Christmas Markets of the Veneto

    • December 24 2012

      Same here Jennifer! And we’re looking forward to crossing paths with you again next year!

  • Aafke
    December 21 2012

    Gezellige Kerstdagen en een heel mooi nieuwjaar! Hope we’ll have our 10th reunion somewhere in 2013. Always welcome on the third floor in Amsterdam ;-).

    • December 24 2012

      En om u onze vriend! We’ll have to carefully plan our reunion, it’s got a lot to live up to!

  • December 22 2012

    Hey! Just started checking out your blog now. Sorry I’m joining the party so late! Just wanted to say, your link about winning “The Amazing Race” really fooled me, I was like, wait a minute, I’m following someone on Twitter who won the race? Good job on experiencing so much this past year. Look forward to checking out more of your posts! -JR
    JRinAsia recently posted..Why Become an Expat? Here Are 2 Benefits and One Challenge

  • December 22 2012

    It was a fantastic year and I have enjoyed following your travels. Here’s to next year.

    • December 24 2012

      Thanks Jan! All the best to you in the new year as well!

  • December 22 2012

    Wow what an extraordinary year! Cheers to 2013 being even better!!!

    • December 24 2012

      Thanks Andi! 2013 is shaping up quite nicely so far, with three new countries to be visited within the first 2 months! Can’t wait!

  • December 23 2012

    I knew Turkey had to be somewhere on the list – glad the country left a lasting impression on you.
    Natalie recently posted..Sanliurfa (Urfa) : The City of Abraham

    • December 24 2012

      (Spoiler alert!) We’re coming back, so I expect it to be in our 2013 Best of the Year list too….:)

      • December 30 2012

        Great stuff – any idea where you are headed to?

  • December 23 2012

    What a lovely year and great memories. Wish you all the best over Christmas and in 2013. Look forward to reading the continued adventures. 🙂

    • December 24 2012

      Thanks so much Cheryl – all the best to you as well!

  • Alouise
    December 23 2012

    Always love reading about the great travels you two have. Here’s to more great travels in 2013.

    • December 24 2012

      Thanks Alouise! 2013 is shaping up to be pretty amazing as well, we’re excited to get started! 🙂

  • Laura @Travelocafe
    December 23 2012

    What an amazing year, guys!! May 2013 be packed with happy travels!

    • December 24 2012

      Thanks Laura! And the same to you!

  • December 24 2012

    What a great year for you guys! I’m looking forward to hearing about your travels for 2013, 2014….. and so on 🙂

    • December 27 2012

      So are we! 🙂 Thanks Jeff!

  • December 25 2012

    Amazing stories! I’m so jealous of your Petra and Slovenia stories- I want to go there so badly!

    Driftwood and Daydreams
    Aryn recently posted..Happy Holidays!

  • December 27 2012

    You two are heroes! Grest post, great year…and you beat my calendar prediction..bah!!
    Rock on and have an amazing New Year!!
    Brian recently posted..*quivering with exhaustion*

    • December 27 2012

      Thank you! Same to you Brian! We’re CRUSHING everyone’s calendar prediction…where’s our prize?? 🙂

  • December 28 2012

    Congrats to a great year! We may be heading to Jordan this spring, and I just got really excited after seeing your photo and write up about it. Happy New Year!

    • January 1 2013

      Thanks Randy – same to you! You will both really love Jordan!

  • December 31 2012

    I love your story about spending time with your grandmother and telling stories with your family. I had a similar experience when my grandmother turned 90 in September and we spent a whole day looking through a book of her life that my mom had made. We laughed and cried.
    All the best to you in 2013. I can’t wait to see where it takes you!
    Jenna recently posted..My “Next Big Things”

    • January 1 2013

      Thanks Jenna! We’re really looking forward to 2013…we’ve got about 1/2 the year planned out and so far it is looking pretty awesome! Happy New Year to you!

  • Jeremy Branham
    December 31 2012

    By far, I am most envious of your trip to Slovenia. It tops my list of favorite countries and I would love to spend 3 months exploring there. What a great year of travels for you two! Best wishes in 2013!

    • January 1 2013

      Thank you Jeremy! All the best to you too! 🙂

  • Erik
    January 1 2013

    Starting the bed on fire… lol… that’s just plain hysterical 🙂

    It’s been great following all of your adventures this past year- here’s to hoping 2013 is just as fulfilling for you!

    • January 1 2013

      Thanks Erik – all the best to you!

  • January 2 2013

    Congrats on a great year! Wishing you the very best for a wonderful 2013!
    Ken Kaminesky recently posted..2012: My Year in Photos

  • January 3 2013

    Sounds perfect. If we can just take a pinch of that we would be happy. We are expats living in Spain, but thinking of house sitting in Europe over the summer. Just starting to research now. Thanks for you stories.

  • A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer)
    January 3 2013

    Cheers to 2013 and living life to the fullest! 🙂

  • January 6 2013

    What a great year! Have fallen in love with your Petra pic all over again 🙂

    • January 8 2013

      Thanks so much Linda, I love that one too!

  • January 7 2013

    although all the pictures are gorgeous but sunrise in Sahara stands out…. amazed to see so many countries visited in a single year…. Great layout of the blog…easy to navigate…
    wandering soul recently posted..Rock Climbing at Dhauj, Haryana

  • January 8 2013

    What a wonderful recap of your year.
    I hope 2013 will be just as great for you two and I look forward on following your adventures!
    But first i’m going to have a look through the old posts again:)

  • January 8 2013

    It certainly looks like you had a great year of travel. Best wishes for 2013!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge