8 years ago I married this stud, formalizing our love and partnership, and so far we’ve enjoyed a beautiful, exciting and sometimes challenging beginning to this lifelong adventure called marriage! We don’t really do anniversary gifts, preferring to spend that money on experiences we can enjoy together, so I thought I’d share 8 of my favorite shared memories from our travels!
We wanted a warm escape for our Babymoon, in January 2019, just two months before our son was born. And we had a non-reciprocal home exchange to redeem, so we had a free place to stay for a week in Cape Canaveral. But we landed during a cold front so our beachside vaca was a lot chillier than we had originally hoped for. Less poolside relaxing and more hot tubbing. Our poor weather timing didn’t end there, though: the day we chose to visit the space center was the rainiest day of the cold week and we did not have appropriate rain attire nor did we realize the space center was mostly outdoors. One of those totally avoidable travel mishaps that just made us laugh, even in the moment! The week ended with two nights at a Disney hotel, where we enjoyed a ton of non-park Disney fun. I will always cherish that final trip before we became parents.
Hanging out with penguins in the Falklands
Just two months before the world closed down, we went on a 3-week South American odyssey with my parents and our ten-month-old baby. A few days in Santiago, Chile, followed by a 2 week cruise that took us down around the southern tip and back up to Montevideo, Uraguay and ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I can’t believe I never did a review of the cruise itself because it was amazing; truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience gifted to us by my very generous parents. There were only about a million highlights from this trip (empanadas and street art, murals and outdoor markets, protest art and skyscrapers, the literal End of the World, one of the coolest bookstores ever, and a hella nice cruise ship) but for both of us, the penguins of the falklands remains at the top of the list. (Also, technically Justin’s first time to the UK! lol)
Befriending the cruise staff and grabbing drinks in port
It pays to treat service people with respect! While on an Alaskan cruise to attend the wedding of some of our best friends, we befriended some of the photographers, drinking with them after a shift one night. They invited us to join them in Victoria when we got into port, so we got to hear a lot of internal employe drama and learn about the internal workings of cruise staff. Definitely eye-opening and a lot of fun!
Hanging out with sex workers in a Rotterdam brothel
During our four week home exchange in Den Haag, we visited a few other cities in the Netherlands including Amsterdam, Gronigen, and Rotterdam. Our day in Rotterdam was long — and ended with bloody feet* — but is one that we look back on with great amusement. We had booked the earliest appointment we could find (11 pm, ug!) at a popular but tiny cocktail speak easy called Doctor that we’d heard a lot of good things about. Around 10:45 we went back to the area where the bar is. We’d already been on our feet exploring and eating our way around the city since we arrived in the late morning, and had made our way to the neighborhood we needed to be in. We just wanted to sit, rest our feet, and have a drink as we waited for our “doctor’s appointment”. We see one that is closed for a private costume party (looked fun!) but right next door there’s one called Bar Le Petit, so we go in. I did NOT notice the red light above the door……. All ladies at the bar. And they peer at us strangely when we come in. We ask if it’s a private party and make a joke about ladies night and sit down. I DID NOT GET IT YET. Drinks are cheap, music is all good (old 1960s and 70s, a lot of classic French stuff), and three of the four women sitting at the bar are very friendly as is the bartender. We all chat, have a drink. When we get ready to leave for our appointment, we tell them all about the Doctor bar and they have never heard about it but want to know all about it and what we think and ask us to come back when we are done if we get finished by 2 am (when they close). So after our appointment (where we had to ring the secret bell 7 times and wait to be let in), we went BACK to the brothel and had another drink with the women before they shut down. There were a couple men at the bar this time, and one of them said he’d never seen a married couple come in to one of these places before! It was such a memorable evening.
*When we got back to the Hague, we sat around waiting for half an hour before realizing that the local trams had already stopped running, and then had to walk 2.5 miles back to our house without our GPS since our phones were dead. We literally did not go anywhere the next day. Another totally avoidable travel mishap that taught us a few valuable lessons about public transit (the first was to carry coins to use public restrooms at the train station, since I nearly peed my pants waiting to get on the train home in order to use a restroom; and the second was to look up when the local trams stop running).
Nearly falling off a mountain while driving around Puerto Rico
One of my favorite ways to settle in and really get to know an area is to drive it. Luckily, my husband is always down for a little adventure, even if it means navigating questionable streets and imaginary driving rules. One of my most favorite travel days from any trip was the day that we drove around Puerto Rico. It was incredibly stressful at times; the car had zero power and the roads were precariously narrow without any sort of guard rails. I white-knuckled about a third of the drive, but once we got out of the mountains, it was all good. We saw so much of the island, witnessed some stunning vistas, met some friendly locals, ate some incredible sea food, enjoyed some strong beverages, visited the oldest church within US jurisdiction, and shared a memorable day that we both reflect upon fondly.
Speeding around on a golf cart in the Panhandle
I underestimated how much fun it is to drive a golf cart, and the first time we got our hands on one during our first family vaca to the Sandestin resort in Miramar Beach, I think we were both ruined for life. Golf carts are way too much fun. We loved just speeding around the resort property, taking in the scenery, the mansions, and the lovely weather, blasting some 90s hip hop on a little bluetooth speaker. Way too much fun, indeed.
Counting honu on the Big Island during our honeymoon
We were generously gifted a free week’s stay on Hawai’i at a condo owned by some family friends, so we opted to make that our honeymoon. The condo was located on the west side of the island, in Kailua Kona. We rented a car so we could freely explore the island at our leisure throughout the week, and one of the greatest joys of the trip — besides the incredible fresh seafood! besides the stunning views and perfect weather! — was randomly seeing sea turtles everywhere we went. We lost count after a few days, but it never got old stumbling upon one at a beach. (Though I do still feel bad about accidentally kicking one in the head when snorkeling around the black sandy water of Punaluʻu Beach. I couldn’t see the guy! Whoops.)
Playing tourist in our own town
We are probably the only locals who regularly tourist around Nashville. We go downtown amongst the bachelorettes and hoards of tourists a dozen times a year; usually, just for short bursts of time, to attend an event or enjoy some weekend weather, and we usually try to leave before the real craziness begins. But we’ve also been known to get a hotel room for the night and go a little crazy ourselves. And I love that my husband is always down to engage with our home town in this way, enjoying it for what it is, nothing more. (The cover image of this post happens to be from a random Saturday when we wandered around downtown with nothing better to do.)
A bonus story, from before we got married
In 2009, my dad and I spent three weeks in France, Germany, and the Netherlands. It was the longest time that I’d spent away from my super hot boyfriend at the time, and it made our constant texting difficult to maintain. We sent emails and Skyped a lot. Well, one afternoon while I was at the apartment by myself (not sure where my dad was at the time), someone was banging on the door and through some very poor French communication skills and my refusal to open the door to an unknown man, we decided they had the wrong address. Later, I find out that my BOYFRIEND had tried to surprise me with a delivery of chocolates that I totally derailed! Whooops! Apparently it was quite the ordeal with DHL and Justin swore he’d never try to surprise me when I was out of the country again! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
It was hard to narrow down to just 8 memorable travel moments that Justin and I have shared together. We’ve been so fortunate to be able to travel as much as we do — and frankly, I am grateful for a partner who goes along with 90% of my wild ideas. So cheers to 8 years of marriage, 13 years of love, and too many memorable moments to count. Here’s to whatever adventures come our way during the next 8 years!