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Posted by on Dec 11, 2016 | 121 comments

2016: Year in Review

This year flew by! I cannot believe I am sitting down trying to jot down thoughts about the different things that happened months ago.

See, I am not that much into year-end reviews.  I haven’t done them in years.  However, during the last days I remembered me thinking: “I really didn’t do much this year.”  But, then, there were other parts of my brain screaming: “What about this” or “What about that.”

Well, after all the searching and organizing, it turns out 2016 was a very awesome year!

Therefore, this review has two purposes.  The first one has to do with gratitude.  I do not want to take for granted the opportunity I have to go out once or twice a month.    I am deeply grateful for the places I went, the food I ate and the people I met.  Mostly, my heart jumps with joy because I was able to share these experiences with my husband (and sometimes with friends and family).

In second place, I wrote this review because I think it is proof of one of my blog’s motto: you do not have to travel far or spend a lot of money to have a great adventure.  I traveled in my own backyard a lot.  That does not necessarily equate crazy adventures or international flair.  But, nonetheless, I made out the most of these short (sometimes long) trips.  The idea is to grow, expand and get out of your comfort zone. I think I accomplished that.

Without further ado, here is look at 2016.


The year started in a surprising way. On January 1st, we attended a church activity and my husband ran into a family he met while studying in Honduras.  We made plans in minutes and ended up taking them to the Palos Verdes Peninsula the second day of the year.

When I think of paradise, images of Cancun, Rio de Janeiro and the Caribbean come to my mind. But, there is a problem. I have to get into a plane and fly thousands of miles to reach those places. That is why when I have had a rough week at work or when things are not happening as expected, I escape to another type of paradise, one located only 20 minutes away from my house. The coves of the Palos Verdes Peninsula are waiting for me with their colorful cliffs, pebbly beaches and historical lighthouses. Just what I need to calm my mind. Photo taken at the Point Vicente Interpretative Center, Los Angeles, California.

The second weekend of the year we went with friends to Tijuana, Ensenada and the Guadalupe Valley.  We had our first taste Baja Med Cuisine.

Tostada, Ensenada, Baja California

Laja, Guadalupe Valley, Mexico

In our hometown of Redondo Beach, we went whale watching for a couple of hours.

Whale Watching, Redondo Beach, California

We ended the month in San Diego by visiting La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Little Italy’s Mercato and Old Town.  Not sure if you noticed a lot of our January activities were related to the beach and sea.  That tells you a lot about the winter weather in Southern California.

La Jolla, San Diego, California

Little Italy's Mercato, San Diego, California

Old Town, San Diego, California


This month we attended Cathedral City’s Balloon Festival.  After that event, we stopped by Palm Springs since the city was celebrating Modernist Week.

Balloon Festival, Cathedral City, California

Balloon Festival, Cathedral City, California

We visited Solvang, one of our favorite gateways.


In addition, we attended The Essentials, a food event organized by LA Weekly.



This month we had the opportunity to visit the gray whale birthing and nursing grounds in Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur.  We got into a small boat to watch the mothers with their calves.  On the way back, we stopped by a fishing town called Popotla and bought a dozen of crabs.

Whale Watching In Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico

We stuffed our faces with tacos, tortas and tostadas during the Latin Food Fest in Los Angeles.

Latin Food Festival, Grand Park, Los Angeles, California


This was another month of eating since we attended the Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival.

Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, California


This month saw us returning to the awesome Joshua Tree National Park.  We spent the day among giant boulders and crooked limbs.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

After the park, we proceeded to Palm Springs.  It was super hot already but we didn’t lose the opportunity for a new adventure.  We tried our first date shake.  Believe the hype because they are delicious and unforgettable.


The month ended with another a dream fulfilled. After more than 10 years living in California, I was able to visit the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  We spend four days exploring the parks and the scenery was breathtaking.

General Sherman Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Kings Canyon National Park, California


This was another month focused on great food.  We attended Tacolandia for the third time.  This gave us the opportunity to have a taste of the best tacos in Los Angeles.

Tacolandia, Los Angeles, California


July was focused on San Diego County.  We started by doing a round trip around the more rural, almost unknown areas of the county.  We made stops at the different auxiliary missions, Mt. Palomar and Julian.  We camped in a beautiful park where we were able to see wild turkeys and deer. And yes, we had apple pie and cinnamon ice cream once again.



On another weekend, we explored the beach cities of Northern San Diego County. We had a blast in Encinitas, Oceanside and Carlsbad.



August / September

We didn’t go out a lot in August because we were preparing for our big trip of the year.  We spend 17 days in Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.  I can’t still fathom the huge number of places we saw and the memories we made.  I am slowly writing about the trip.  I still have tons of material; so, expect some nice content next year.

Views from Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary

Schonbrunn Palace

Schönbühel Castle, Wachau Valley, Austria


During this month, we experienced some new places like the Los Angeles Original Flower Market.  That was quite a nice experience.


In additional, we attended Artisanal LA, a marketplace showcasing all sorts of goods made in Los Angeles. We made our first trip to Oak Glen too.  We kept searching and searching for some good apple related experiences.




At the end of the month, we camped for two nights in Bishop (Eastern Sierra).  That allowed us to visit Bishop Creek (where we found incredible fall colors), Alabama Hills, June Lake and Mammoth Lakes Basin.  This is an area in California that deserves more of our time (it is that beautiful!).

Cardinal Village Resort, Bishop Creek, California

June Lake, June Lake Loop, California


On November, we went to see the Indian Markets in Los Angeles.  The ticket included entrance to the Autry Museum of the West, so, we spent some time there (and learned a lot). Also, we got out first taste of Indian fried bread.



We went once again to Santa Barbara and went back to places we have not been in a long time (city hall, wharf, presidio, etc.).  In the Santa Ynez Valley, we kind of followed the same trend.  I risked my life once again while feeding ostriches (let’s say they are not that friendly).



The weekend before Thanksgiving we flew to Dallas for the weekend.  We spent most of the time with friends but found time to discover street art and eat tons BBQ.

Murals and Street Art, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas


This month we visited the Los Angeles Natural History Museum with our nephews.


On Friday, I am flying to New York to spend two weeks with my mom and sister.  I hope I can do a lot during that time since I have not been to New York in a long time.  My plans are weather dependent of course.

There you have it.  This kind of gives you an idea of how my year went in terms of travel and going out.  It would be impossible to describe all the beautiful moments we had.  We are surrounded by a lot of loving friends who fill our days with joy and laughter.

Last but not least, I want to thank you, yes you, the person who is reading this post right now.  It has been an honor to share a lot of my experiences with you (and some of you share your experiences with me too).  It is my most honest desire that 2017 comes full of opportunities to seize.

Cheers to 2017!

How was your 2016?  Let me know in the comments section. I am eager to read about your adventures!



  1. Looks like an amazing year filled with lots of good food! And you are right, you don’t necessarily have to travel far or expensively for it to be worth it.

    • Thanks Amanda! I am glad you are on my side on not having to travel far to have a great time.

  2. This year has just been flying by and I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by. I love seeing everything people have achieved in these posts and there are so many lovely moments and memories here. Your blog is one of my favourites to return to each time I have time to so thank you for keeping me smiling through 2016! I think May’s shots are my favourite in this post though, stunning photos! – Tasha

    • Ahh Tasha! Thanks a lot for your kind words. It has been a pleasure to develop a virtual friendship thru our blogs. Wish you the best for the next year!

  3. Great photos and now I’m hungry LOL

    • That is supposed to be a good sign!

    • Great! Thanks for your good wishes!

    • Thanks Jim! Hope your was a blast.

  4. Love the year-end review, reminded me to do mine (more of overall, not just travelling ;p). As I agree that such recap is great to expressing gratitude, as well as locking-in the good memories.

    I did not have grand plan for 2016 from the very beginning, short trips were decided last minutes and did not do much research work prior to the trips. But it turned to be awesome fun no less! Grateful for that! (I think i really should start writing my 2016 review… lol)

    pc recently posted..Kota Kinabalu: Blue Sea, White River and Green RainforestMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing a bit of your 2016 in here. When life gets busy, it is not so easy to plan. That is why I like to go with the flow and make last minute decisions. Those work well for me.

  5. What a fruitful year! It looks like you made some amazing memories, and stayed true to your blog motto. Such a good idea to write a year in review too! A great way to remember all the adventures you’ve had during the year. I hope your 2017 is just as great!
    Bryna | Dotted Line Travels recently posted..One Rainy Day in VeniceMy Profile

    • Like I said, I have not done one in years. But, this year, I felt compelled to do it. Glad you got something positive from it.

  6. Looks like you had a great year – how lucky I stopped by from OWT with the review, but I have clicked follow for everything for 2017 so I don’t miss out when you post!
    I had an awesome year too full of travels and fun!
    Wren x

    • Thanks a lot for clicking and leaving a comment. I am glad you got here. Will love to hear more about your awesome year.

  7. Boy you saw a lot of California this year! Much of which I never made it to when I lived there! You’ve really made me miss home! I grew up in Oceanside/Vista! Looks like you had a wonderful year! #Mondayescapes

    • I am glad I brought back the good memories. Southern California is not easy to forget / live without. I am making plans to go back to Northern San Diego.

  8. Wonderful shots from a great year!

  9. It is always so interesting to look through year-end reviews –whether it’s my own or someone else’s. Looks like you had a lovely year!

    • Thanks darling! I like to take a look at year end reviews too. They give me more wanderlust ;0)

  10. Wow! Is there any place you didn’t travel to? 😉 Loved seeing all that you did. I hope next year is just as fulfilling for you. Can’t wait to read more posts from your 17-day August vacation. 🙂 #MondayEscapes #CityTripping
    Mandy recently posted..Seine River CruiseMy Profile

    • Thanks Mandy! I have some think planned for next year but nothing really big yet. I do have to work more on my Europe related content. I still have tons to share.

    • Thanks Tanja! Hope the new year brings lots of exciting adventures.

  11. You’ve had an amazing year! Lots of things on your list I’d like to experience one day (especially whale watching). I’m halfway through writing my top 10 experiences of the year so will link the post next time. #Mondayescapes

    • Ohhhh, great I would love to read your highlights for the year.

  12. I should not have read this at lunchtime when I’m not allowed to leave my desk. Great post though! #citytripping

    • I have the same problem too. Too much food photos when I am at work.

  13. Enjoy your time in NY with your mom and sister! Happy holidays! #CityTripping

    • Thanks Ahila! I will surely do.

    • Wow Rhonda! I am aiming for a better year too. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. You really did get to do and see so much this year, and in your own backyard too! That’s one of the things that I’d like to focus on next year, trying to see and do and learn more about the city that I call home. I hope that you have a great rest of 2016!

    • Thanks a lot Ashley! I will like to explore more of the US next year. Visits to Dallas, New York and Philadelphia reminded me how great this country is.

  15. Looks like you had an amazing year and I love reading about your Europe trip! All the best for 2017!!

    • Thanks Vanessa! I will keep on writing about my European trip. Hugs and kisses to you.

  16. You had a great year 2016. Very well summerised.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Rajesh.

  17. Sounds like you had a great year! Here’s to 2017!!! #wanderfulwednesday

    • Thanks! Best wishes for you and your loved ones!

  18. Great summary of the year. You inspired me to start my summary of the ending year

    • Great! I will like to read it.

  19. You had wonderful year and the photos are so colourful!! I enjoyed seeing your photos, we used to visit a lot of them while living in Southern CA.


    • Glad the photos reminded you of the time you lived in Southern California. Wish you the best for the next year.

  20. It sounds like an exciting year – hopefully your 2017 will be just as good.

    • I hope that too! Thanks for your continuous support. I’ll see you next year.

  21. Wow, great photos and a great wrap up of travels and adventures in 2016! Here’s wishing you more adventures for 2017 🙂 Cheers! #citytripping

    • Thanks Kat! I am sure the next year will be a great one (for all of us).

  22. Great whale sighting! You certainly ate well too. Great food pics. Especially that fried taco. Everything looks so delicious. It looks like a great year.

    • I am looking for new adventures! Especially the ones related to food!

  23. What a fantastic year for you Ruth. I love reading all your adventures at home and abroad and cant wait to hear more in 2017. Thanks also for being such a genuine and active participant in all the link ups you join. It is noticed and appreciated. Have a wonderful holiday season

    • Ahh, Katy, thanks a lot for your words. I do my best to show appreciation to those who contribute to the world of travel and photography blogging. I am glad you feel like that.

  24. Ummmm, that pie looks amazing! I went to Sequoia and Kings Canyon this year as well. Kings Canyon was such a good surprise- I’d never even heard of it before.
    Andrea recently posted..Weekend Recap- December 10-11My Profile

    • I am glad you visited the parks too! I think a lot of places in California can be taken as a surprise. That is why I like the state so much.

  25. What a fantastic year and a great way to remember all these fantastic memories by putting together this post. I’m working on my own as I love going back over all the good times we’ve had at home and away. I totally agree with you that you don’t have to go far to have meaningful adventures. So of the best places to see are right under our noses. Thanks for joining in the last #MondayEscapes of 2016. See you in 2017!
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted..A fairy tale Christmas at Enchanted Saltram, DevonMy Profile

    • Claire, cannot agree more. If you want to get out of the routine, just start exploring your own city or surroundings. They may surprise you! See you next year.

  26. You’ve had a jam-packed year Ruth. I will being looking forward reading about your travels in Europe. I had 5 overseas holidays in 2016: South East Asia cruise, girl’s holidays to Thailand, a week in Queenstown NZ, 6 day media trip to Japan and 8 days in Bali. In between those I’ve had a few weekends away nearby. Phew! I really don’t know where this year went either!

    • Wow Kathy! You are one of my travel heroes. You know how to travel and travel well. Hope you have some exciting adventures planned for next year.

  27. You certainly did end up doing a lot Ruth. I love the way you interspersed food shots with the scenery shots. I remember those Baja Med posts!
    budget jan recently posted..Coolum Beach by InstagramMy Profile

    • You know I had to include some food photos in there! Glad you likes the recap! Wishing you the best in the new year.

  28. What an amazing year! I envy all the cool stuff you’ve done. Funny how the cinnamon ice cream sticks out: it definitely would for me too! I can’t wait to hear about your big trip, especially the Czech Republic #FarawayFiles

    • Cinnamon ice cream, how that cannot stick out? I have not posted about the Czech Republic yet. It was so great. Hope to have great articles about the country next year.

  29. You had a vibrant, full-of-life, colorful year from this review. It has been great joining you on many of these adventures. Look forward to the journey in 2017!

    • Jackie, you are so sweet! Love the way you described the year. Cheer to 2017!

  30. I love that food features heavily in your end of year review! Will all of those delicious dishes, how can it not?! #farawayfiles

    • I am glad you like those. They are an integral part of what I do here. Hope the new year brings tons of eating adventures.

    • I did it mainly because of that. Sometimes we focus a lot on what others do but do not realize we are having a great time too.

  31. What a great year review! Doesn’t it make you walk though all the travels you’ve done thought out the year? Awesome reminder for everything to be grateful for. Oh and you visited my home town San Diego! Hope you loved it! #FlyAwayFriday

    • I really love San Diego! Such a cool and lovely town. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.

  32. Looks like you’ve had an amazing year. We focused a lot on local travel as well this year getting to know our area. Here’s to a spectacular 2017 for both of us. P.S. I was salivating over your taco and caramel apple pictures. 😉 #weekendwanderlust
    Allison recently posted..Walk This Way at Christmastime- A Book ReviewMy Profile

    • Good for you guys. I believe local getaways contribute to a happy life. Glad you were “moved” by the taco and caramel apple pictures ;0)

    • Yes, that was pretty special. The sea was a bit rough that day and I thought I was not going to make it but all the fears went away when the whales started to say hi.

  33. What a fun year you’ve had! I’m jealous you went to Solvang, I missed that this year! I’ll have to go back in 2017 🙂 Thanks for joining #FlyAwayFriday and always following the rules! We love having you! xo

    • Kana, gotta go to Solvang next year. And, thanks for you comment about the link. I know the work an activity like this takes. The minimum I can do is to obey the rules and share the good posts.

  34. It looks like a pretty amazing year to me, Ruth. Your photos are always so wonderful and really highlight the delicious food and great sights you’ve seen both at home and abroad. Thank you so much for being part of #FarawayFiles and sharing your adventures with us. Wishing you a brilliant 2017.

    • Oh Clare, your words mean so much. I am glad you have enjoyed reading my stories. I getting so pumped for next year!

  35. I have enjoyed all your blog posts and photos over the year, Ruth! And I, too, am not much in to year – end reviews but they do serve one big purpose – gratitude. I, also, started trying to go somewhere once a month and when I plan my year of travel out ahead, I try to space it each month.

    • I am glad I have had the opportunity to meet you through this medium. Love your adventures and people like you help me to keep going. Wish you the best!

  36. I agree you have had a great year. I didn’t know your hometown was Redondo Beach. One of my best friends lives there too, it’s such a nice area. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • Yes, it is a nice area. Come an visit us one day.

  37. It was nice to read your re-cap, I was surprised by how many of your blog posts I’ve read this year! You’ve had some great adventures and some fab food to go along with it! Just reading this made me hungry! #flyawayfriday
    Alex recently posted..Wild About PembrokeshireMy Profile

    • Alex, that is great. Hope to see you around next year. Hope you have a good one!

  38. Congrats on an amazing year. Yes, you have made me hungry reading this so I am looking forward to what you bring us in 2017. Happy New year to you and your family, from Gordon and I

    • Paula, you are so lovely. Keep going forward! You have no idea how much I admire you.

  39. Looks like you had a fantastic 2016. I agree that you don’t necessarily need to travel far to get a good experience. (My problem is that I don’t do enough exploring close to home.) That photo with the whale is so exciting. It’s my favorite from your year in review.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..GPSmyCity Travel Article App review & giveawayMy Profile

    • Glad you liked the whale photo. I get chills when I remember that moment. Hope I find more of those moments next year.

    • Thanks Lyn. I guess the objective is to keep moving no matter what.

    • Great you like those local posts! To be honest, I am blessed to live in California. Therefore, those local posts look very worldly.

  40. What a year full of magical experiences and delicious looking food! I loved the hot air balloon pics and the whale experiences. I love whales. How important it is to be grateful for all of the opportunities to learn and experience! Thank you for sharing with #FarawayFiles – looking forward to seeing where you go in 2017! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    • Thanks a lot Erin. I am very grateful for each and every experience. I just came back from New York. That was another trip to be grateful for.

    • Wow! I do realize that. I was reading the top 100 adventures to have in California and I haven’t even had half of them. Those are good and bad news at the same time.

  41. Lovely travel opportunities, beautiful scenery, Good food, good friends family … who could ask for more!

    • That is right Sallie. How I can ask for more?

  42. It seems you had a very busy year, Ruth. Lots of fun places and lots of good food. Hope 2017 will be even better for you.

    • Thanks you Anda. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • You are right Vlad. I had to go thru my photos to remember everything I did on the year. I forgot a lot of stuff. Therefore, this was a good exercise.

  43. Wow, it looks like you had an amazing year! And I totally agree about traveling in your own backyard – there’s so much to see and do without having to break the bank! I can’t believe you were in a little boat with those whales – how amazing!

    • You can read more about my whale watching trip (I wrote a post on it). In Mexico, that is the way to do it.

  44. I love this!! How did I not know you guys lived in Redondo?? We got married at Wayfarer’s Chapel in RPV!! We used to live in OC before moving to Denver two years ago!! Loved all your memories, looks like 2016 was a fun year!!

    • Whoaaaa! That is an awesome spot to get married. Hope you are having a blast in Denver.

  45. WOW! That is a lot. I would say not a bad year! 😉 #flyawayfriday

    • I second that. Thanks for stopping by.

  46. I find it so interesting to hear what everyone has been up to over the past year. Yours does sound amazing and very inspiring. It’s been great to read your posts. Thank you for linking to #citytripping and all the best for 2017! X

    • Thanks Elizabeth. It has been great to share this year with you.

    • Sally,I think that is exactly the point. There are a lot of options if you want to get out of the routine and explore. I am glad you enjoyed what your city had to offer.

  47. Thanks for sharing your 2016 travels with us. I always look forward to reading your posts. I look forward to following you again in 2017.

    • Jan, thanks a lot! That means a lot to me. I am the happiest when I am talking or sharing travel. Hope the years brings tons of new adventures your way.

    • Lovely Birgit! The best to you too.

  48. What a great year of travel, food and experiences, Ruth! I love that most of these are in SOCal and I just got so many ideas for our adventures close to home this year (especially all your foodie festivals). Looking forward to reading more about your European adventures too. Wishing you both a wonderful 2017 filled with great travels.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..2016 Travel Review: A Year of Wildlife and NatureMy Profile

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