From the vantage point of December 2022, it’s strange to look back and remember that at the start of this year there was still so much uncertainty around travel.
While it was certainly possible to travel internationally in the first few months of the year, the Omicron variant made a lot of us wary, and the USA didn’t stop requiring negative Covid tests for inbound flights until the summer, making transatlantic travel (my usual route) anxiety-inducing and extra expensive.
But “normal” travel did return, and while I was still masking up on flights, it was a relief to be travelling in the second half of the year without tests and forms and worries over quarantines.
2022 was apparently the year of “revenge travel,” as everyone rushed to book holidays in an attempt to make up for lost time during the first two years of the pandemic. I may have only dipped a toe into that trend, travelling to two new places (Michigan and Portugal) in 2022, but I filled the year with plenty of local travel as well as some of those transatlantic trips – it was only while writing up this post that I realised just how many adventures I’ve squeezed into the last 12 months!
So without further ado, here’s my annual year in review…
Cape May, New Jersey | January
We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary with a weekend at the Lokal Hotel in Cape May – which coincided with the east coast’s first big snow storm of the winter! I’d never seen such heavy snow drifts before, and once the storm itself calmed down, we had a great time wandering the quiet, snowy streets and enjoying delicious local food at Beach Plum Farm, which had luckily stayed open despite the snow.
Maryland, USA | February
We saw very little of the state other than some rolling fields with horses mooching around in the distance, but the 7-hour round trip we made to Maryland one early Sunday in February was probably the most significant one of the year, as we came home from it with our puppy, Winston!
Harris Gin Ceilidh, Brooklyn | March
The first international Harris Distillery Ceilidh took place in Brooklyn in March, and after two long pandemic years, it felt momentous! Not only was it my first blog-related event since before the pandemic, but also my first visit to the Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood since early 2020. With music from fellow islander Alasdair White, videos and information about the gin, and of course, plenty of G&Ts, it was a fantastic night celebrating all things Harris Gin.
The Outer Hebrides, Scotland | March
I headed back home to the Outer Hebrides for a week in late March, which coincided with a) a week of sunshine and blue skies and b) some of the highest Covid case rates in the islands to date. Because I needed a negative test to get back to the USA, I spent the week outside in the fresh air with my parents, everywhere from the west coast of Harris to Bernera Beach (which I hadn’t been to since I wrote this post back in 2014), and just generally enjoying being back in my beloved Lewis and Harris.
Edinburgh, Fife, and The Borders, Scotland | March
Once I had that negative test confirmed, I made the most of my last weekend in Scotland with a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh with my brother, plus a day trip to the beautiful seaside town of St. Abbs, and a few tentative steps onto the very high Forth Road Bridge!
Portland, Maine | April
In April, we headed up to Maine for a quick weekend to celebrate Easter, and for the soft opening of the new cafe and shop, Onggi. (This trip also marked our first time travelling with Winston, but staying with family meant it was a pretty straightforward experience in the end.)
New York City | May
Maybe some people don’t consider local adventures “travel,” but after 2020 and 2021, going to new places in NYC felt truly thrilling. My parents came to visit us for the first time since 2019, and we made the most of it with lots of local sightseeing: the new observation deck at Summit One Vanderbilt; the beautiful Snug Harbour in Staten Island; the Time Out Market and Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn; and Little Italy in the Bronx. We had a jam-packed few weeks, and I felt like I was discovering the city all over again after the last two years.
Seattle, Washington | May
To mark the “unofficial” start of summer (which is what the Memorial Day holiday is considered in the USA), we headed out to Seattle for a long weekend to visit Mr. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell’s family. We came across a “MacLeod’s Pub” in the Ballard neighbourhood, and went for a hike on the lower reaches of Snoqualmie Mountain.
I couldn’t get over the difference in the climate as the elevation changed: in the city, the weather was fairly mild, but up on the Denny Creek trail, we were climbing through knee-deep piles of snow! It was such a fun experience, and another reminder of how much I enjoy getting outside when I travel.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, New Jersey | June
Okay, I’ll admit, this wasn’t technically travel – but in my defence, it felt like a holiday celebration! We stopped off at a British shop in Montclair, New Jersey, for some appropriate snacks, before heading to a garden party with fellow Brits in Maplewood, where we enjoyed cakes, Pimms, and had the Jubilee concert playing on a laptop in the corner.
Detroit and Plymouth, Michigan | June
We were in and around Detroit, Michigan – a new city and a new state for me! – for less than 42 hours, but we had an absolute blast for all of them, thanks to a reunion with lots of old friends at a brilliant wedding in the town of Plymouth, just outside Detroit. In our one full day there, we managed to squeeze in a slice of Detroit-style pizza, a walk to admire the street art at The Belt in downtown Detroit, a stroll along the banks of the Detroit River, and even a quick jaunt around the university area of Ann Arbor.
Pennsylvania | July
The 4th of July saw us head out to central Pennsylvania, where Winston learned to swim in the local creek, and we relaxed and caught up with family – the perfect holiday weekend!
New York City | July
July was possibly one of my favourite months of the entire year. My brother came to visit (his first since pre-pandemic), and we had so much fun, whether we were hanging out at home just catching up, or out and about exploring in the sunshine: we went boating in Central Park, saw the Moulin Rouge on Broadway, ate dim sum in Chinatown, enjoyed drinks on Lower East Side rooftop bars, and saw the city from above at Summit One Vanderbilt (again!). It was a busy month of more “local travel,” and I loved it.
Portland, Sabbathday Lake, and Ogunquit, Maine | July
I’ve always enjoyed visiting Maine, but I think this summer was the one when I truly fell in love with the state. In July, I wrote on Instagram that Maine is the reason I now understand why some people return to the same destination year after year. There’s just something about it – the salty coastal air, the slanting light, the artsy small towns and excellent food – that gets under your skin. We went back in July with my brother, and did everything from swimming and eating ice cream at Sabbathday Lake, to strolling the coastal path at Ogunquit and eating all the food we could manage in Portland.
The Outer Hebrides, Scotland | September
In September, we spent a week in Scotland, with half our time in Lewis and Harris. Mr. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell went golfing in Harris and Stornoway, and after our Fish ’n’ Trips excursion had to be cancelled at the last minute, he even managed to catch a fish off the end of the pier at Bayble Beach. The weather wasn’t great, but as I always say, you don’t go to Scotland for the weather, and I just enjoyed being back at home for the second time in a year – such a treat!
Loch Lomond, Scotland | September
Back on the Scottish mainland, we had one afternoon in and around Glasgow with friends, and spent it on the water at Loch Lomond. The views of the “bonnie banks” from the Sweeny’s Cruises boat were lovely, but to be completely honest, I spent most of the boat ride around the loch catching up with my dear friend Victoria, who I hadn’t seen in over a year.
Edinburgh, Scotland | September
On the same trip, we had a few days in Edinburgh before flying back to the USA, and visited a whole host of new (to me) spots: the award-winning sculpture garden at Jupiter Artland; Holyrood Palace (especially poignant in the weeks after the Queen’s death); the Royal Botanic Gardens; and Rare Birds Books in Stockbridge. (Because let’s be honest, I’m always in search of a good bookshop, whether I’m at home or away!)
Governors Island, NYC | October
In October, my friend Marie (who runs the travel blog One Carry On) and I spent an extravagant evening on Governor’s Island, which sits in New York Harbour just south of Manhattan. We’d been invited to the launch of the new Glenmorangie whisky, A Tale of the Forest, and after enjoying the new spirit in some autumnal cocktails, and hearing from Dr. Bill Lumsden, the Director of Whisky Creation, the event turned into an outdoor party with the local DJ Austin Mills – a surprising but very fun turn of events!
Portland, Maine | November
My third visit to Maine in 2022 was my 10th visit to the state since 2015 – I wasn’t joking when I said earlier that it’s one place I can return to again and again! It’s a beautiful place to visit in the autumn, when the leaves are changing and the weather is cooling down, and we enjoyed some lovely forest walks with Winston, who seemed overjoyed to be surrounded by nature, as opposed to the concrete of the city. We also enjoyed (as always) some fantastic food, like pizza from Quanto Basta, pastries from Bellevue, and a dinner at the James Beard-nominated Leeward restaurant.
Porto and Lisbon, Portugal | November
Almost three years to the day since I did it last, in November I landed in a country other than the US or the UK, when Mr. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell and I spent a week in Portugal. This trip reminded me what I love so much about travel, and how invigorating it is to walk the streets of somewhere new and soak up a different way of life, even if only for a few days. (I could definitely get used to a way of life that involves coffee and pastel de natas enjoyed outside in the sunshine in the morning!)
New York City | December
December has been busy, and passed in a bit of a blur as I added a few extra New York City travel experiences to the 2022 list! There were the Dyker Heights Christmas lights (a true spectacle); a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset (something I haven’t done in years); an afternoon at the Whitney Museum to see the Edward Hopper exhibit; and an evening at the Lincoln Center to watch the American Ballet performance of The Nutcracker.
Phew – looking back at that long (long!) list of travel experiences, maybe 2022 was a year of “revenge travel” for me after all, even if a lot of that travel was still close to home.
Of course, there was much more to 2022 than just travel. There was quality time with family and friends, much needed after 2020 and 2021; lots of good books (59 to be precise!); morning walks with our puppy, Winston; kitchen dance parties to the soundtrack of 90s tunes on Radio 2; and all the other things that don’t make it into a post like this. After 2020 and 2021, it was the year I needed – as I’m sure it was for so many others.
It felt so good to be back out in the world this year, and I’m hoping for just as many adventures, near and far, in 2023. So on that note, all that’s left to say is Happy Hogmanay, and a Happy New Year!