One year ago today I got on an airplane heading west, to San Francisco. Four months and fourteen countries later I arrived back in New York City from the other direction. My trip around the world changed my life, and I’m so grateful for every moment, every experience, and all the incredible people I met along the way.
To celebrate the one year anniversary of setting off around the world, here are my 10 favorite photos I took on the trip. I took over 10,000 photos, so it was a little difficult to narrow down, but I feel good about these 10.
(I decided to limit these 10 to the photos I took abroad, during my originally planned 4 months of travel. I will do another post later with my top 10 favorites from my 3 month road trip around America with Graham. It would have been way too hard to narrow both trips down to just 10 photos!)
I saw many amazing sunrises and sunsets in Australia, but this sunrise near Uluru was the most spectacular. I felt a great sense of serenity from being on the completely opposite side of the world from home and in the middle of the outback – a sense of calm and distance from any possible troubles. (More photos from Uluru and the Australian outback.)
The Great Ocean Road in Australia is incredibly photogenic. My month in Australia was coming to an end by the time we drove this famous route, and the combination of the crashing waves and epic scenery made everything feel bittersweet and dramatic. I had to leave a country I’d grown quite fond of.
I took a lot of Buddha photos in Thailand and Laos, but this one is my favorite. I love the serene expression and the way the background brings out the little bit of remaining gold coating.
The Kuang Si waterfalls in Laos are beautiful, and also quite crowded during the New Year holiday. I enjoyed a quiet moment away from the crowds at the base of the waterfall, and was delighted to discover that a little butterfly was doing the same thing. (More photos of Songkran, the New Year’s water festival in Laos.)
I climbed the stairs to the top of a WWII flak tower in Vienna and found these two pigeons, just chillin’ and enjoying the view. (More photos of Vienna: Spring in Vienna.)
Prague constantly impressed me with its beauty, and my favorite way to appreciate it was from high above. This photo is from the top of the clocktower in the old town square.
I visited so many stunning libraries and bookstores during my travels. The Theological Hall at the Strahov Monastery in Prague was my favorite. It wasn’t the biggest or the grandest I saw, but it has its own majesty. I love the globes and the beautiful ceiling. It would be a dream to be able to work, read, and think in this glorious space every day.
Amsterdam was the European city that unexpectedly took my heart. In my opinion, it’s the most charming city in Europe. I spent a lot of time outside of the main downtown area, in the beautiful streets and canals in the Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht districts. One lovely afternoon I took a small open boat tour, and I loved seeing the city from one of its most important perspectives: by boat floating gently along the canals.
The amount of beauty Norway possesses seems nearly greedy. It’s just so ridiculously good looking. This photo is from the Lofoten archipelago. Like many places I visited, I had never heard of it before my trip, but left completely smitten.
Seeing the Norwegian Fjords was high on my list when I planned my four months of travel. I got to see them via a two week trip on the MS Expedition, one of the most incredible experiences of my life. This photo is from the top of a mountain overlooking Geirangerfjord – probably the most well-know and most beautiful fjord in Norway.
When I look at the photos I selected, I now notice that they reflect a theme of calm – of peace and serenity. I didn’t plan this, but I think it’s appropriate. The trip held a lot of excitement and very lively places and experiences, but during the four months of traveling on my own I developed a strong sense of inner calm, or zen. Quitting your job and leaving your life and everyone you know behind is a very scary thing, but learning that you can thrive on your own in the world seems to provide a perspective on life that probably sounds cliche, but is still true. Our everyday lives get very full of things that make us feel so busy all of the time. But there is so much beauty in each moment if we can just be still and find it. If we can stop worrying about little things and also realize that our sense of security is largely false, we can find a place of calm and acceptance. We need so much less than we think we need to be happy.