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Over the last three years, I have spent much of my time in cities other than my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. I have had the unique opportunity to visit places I never thought I would see. As part of our “Life” blog, this article highlights these travels. A quick insight into the last three years of my life.
My first trip to the southern hemisphere happened in early 2015, as I traveled to Australia. Managed to accidently join a contortionist act on a Saturday afternoon near Sydney Harbor. This trip introduced me to pleasures of watching football(rugby) with a good beer in a small pub. I then spent much of 2015 in a small town of Bluefield, VA where I met some of the most genuine people…and enjoyed some homemade shine. I learned that hard work and a good team can yield amazing results. I then watched a Steelers game on a plane to China that December, where I learned all about the Chinese culture. Also learned that if you stay late enough, the bartender will drive you and your friends home, but it may cause you to almost miss your taxi to see the Great Wall the next day. I spent that trip contemplating the future of my personal life, attempting to master chopsticks, trying all different foods and flavors, and learning the ins and outs of a culture based around respect for one another. A week after returning to the States, I proposed to my girlfriend of 5 years.
I started 2016 eating my fill of fish and chips (and mushy peas) in the United Kingdom. Finding family abroad brought the comfort of home to London and enjoyed a night on the town. Also, had the opportunity to visit Stonehenge and drink mead from a homemade horn mug. After a whirlwind trip through the midwest and west of the US, I headed to Chile. Antofagasta is a friendly place with beautiful views of the Pacific followed by poverish huts in the hills. Though I have yet to find a place with stray dogs as socially aware, plump and well fed. Home to a platter of tender steak, rice and avocado that I still crave weekly, along with some of the best wine available. Donde Mauro’s is a small restaurant with amazing food and even better service. Mauro’s heart is as big as his smile.
2017 proved to be a pivotal year in my life. With wedding plans in mid-February, I headed off to France just a month prior. Lyon is a city full of old world sights and new world appeal. January greeted us with a beautifully chilly view of the city highlighted by a well-lit Ferris wheel in the town square. The food did not disappoint, and the hot wine warmed us as we toured the hidden tunnels used in the old wars.
February brought unseasonably warm weather, which was a perfect setting for exchanging vows. Family and friends are the most important thing we have in life and times like this allow us to celebrate those people. Following our wedding, we headed to a small island just north of Venezuela. Grenada is a spice island that saw their economy destroyed in early 2000s due to a hurricane. As they began their regrowth, they expanded into tourism. We selected an all-inclusive Sandals resort (our first Sandals vacation). This turned out to be everything we hoped a honeymoon would be.
In March, I headed back to China. This time the smog in Tianjin was much less and the sun had a chance to show itself. I spent my 32nd birthday visiting my families homeland of Poland, which I received news that we would be expecting our first child. We floated a river between Poland and Slovakia, toured a salt mine and had a sobering experience at the Auschwitz camp. (Note: Its listed as a Polish death camp, but the Polish take high offense to this. As time moves on, history has a way of molding itself into an altered reality and Poland would prefer to not have their name associated with Nazi Germany actions.) The Patio in Katowice has an excellent mixed grill dinner, local beer and chance to people watch as the train station is near (if your into that kind of thing). We had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in Krakow where we ate and drank at the square and got to witness the daily horn sound from the tower. The afternoon quickly turned to an evening as we found mediocre Mexican food and a cellar bar with a band, a 30th birthday party and some of the smoothest vodka.
Following Poland, I traveled to beautiful Wyoming and South Dakota. Stopped in Sturgis for lunch, a quick walk through at Mt. Rushmore and tried to visit Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood. Next, I headed back to Sydney. After a few changes/delays, I managed to get a few center seats with a 30 hour total travel time. This put me in Sydney on a Monday morning, in a rental car, driving on the right side of the car and left side of the road, with little sleep and no co-pilot. Not my first time, but not my best either. I learned the true application of red bull.
I spent the fall of 2017 in a tree stand and traveling in the US. As we are excited to welcome our first child in early 2018, I have decided to transition myself away from the global travel. As I said before, 2017 has proven to be a pivotal year in our life, and we cannot wait for all 2018 will bring. The most frequent question I am asked about my travels is maybe an obvious one – where is your favorite place? My answer is always, here. Home. There are many great places to see, but for me, there is no better place than home. 40°N 80°W