12 Favorite Posts from 2012
Leah Walker December 26, 2012

One of my favorite things about the time between Christmas and New Year’s are the end-of-the-year countdowns. Whether it be music, movies, most-shocking celebrity moments, or biggest news events, I’m a sucker. That being said, it should come as no surprise that I’d have a countdown of my very own. So without further ado, here are my favorite posts from 2012.

#12

Three Reasons Why I Love Las Vegas

“With so many places in the world that I’ve yet to see, I rarely visit a place twice. But there’s just something about Las Vegas that draws me in like a moth to a flame. She’s a temptress, and I fall into her glitter-covered arms every chance I get.”

Las Vegas strip at night with Neon lights

If you know me or anything about me, you know that I’m a fool for Las Vegas. Simply writing about Sin City gets my pulse racing. In this post from August, I explained exactly what makes Vegas so special to me and why I keep going back time and time again. And no, it’s not just for the blackjack.

#11

3 Famous Things I Didn’t See in Europe {and What I did Instead}

“Experiences are much more memorable than looking at a bunch of stone and mortar. For my lifetime, I’ll certainly remember the giggles over Gaudi.”

Rome Food Pizza

This post from December is a snapshot of three of my most favorite and unique days in Europe. These days weren’t simply about seeing stuff; they were about doing stuff. I challenged myself to try new things, and for a few hours, I let go of my inhibitions and willingly embarrassed myself. I kind of liked that feeling.

#10

Breaking Dawn in Dublin

“It was Sunday morning and the city was still in the state of slumber. Although I was running on a mere four hours of sleep, I wasn’t tired. For years I’d dreamt of walking the same streets that James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Jonathan Swift did.”

Grafton Street

There’s nothing I like better than exploring a city in the early-morning or late-night hours. Instead of focusing on the people around me, I see the place stripped down and quiet. I am able to take note of things I would have otherwise missed in the light of day. On this, my first trip to Ireland, I had Dublin to myself. In a week filled with fantastic experiences, these few hours stand out the most in my mind.

#9

Melodies and Travel Memories

“I regret not turning off the music and tuning into my mom. I should have soaked up every minute of that trip with her. How foolish of me. Now when I hear Coldplay’s tune, I feel a mix of melancholy and happiness.”

Guitar

With Pandora playing on my work computer, I was suddenly transported to Scotland when Coldplay’s “Vida La Vida” passed through my earbuds. It startled me a bit, but then began thinking about how songs can instantly transport us to another place and time. In June, I wrote about five songs that immediately evoke travel memories for me. It’s like a welcomed lightening bolt, never knowing when or where it will strike.

#8

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Cruising with Enzo

“It’s rare that you meet someone that makes you pull out a pen and paper in order to document the things he or she is saying. On my recent trip to the Amalfi Coast such a thing happened.”

Amalfi Coast Drive

I’m not sure it’s fair that I count this as one of my favorite posts of 2012 since I didn’t write the majority of it. Instead, the best stuff came from Enzo, my philosopher/driver/guide. However, I’m including it because he was my muse. Psychic or simply insightful, Enzo made statements that startled and surprised me. It’s as if I was an open book and he was reading me line by line. Couple that with the beautiful scenery and I had an unforgettable day.

#7

Part Deux: Screw the Louvre…I’m Dining with Lionel Richie

“Before I knew it, he was gone and I was left standing in front of Le Bar wondering what had just happened. Had I really had dinner with Lionel Richie, music mogul and legend?”

Lionel's Roasted Duck

{Yes, that’s Lionel showing off his roasted duck in the photo.}

Well, you just knew that this would make an appearance in the countdown, didn’t you? Writing this post was tricky. It was hard to convey exactly the mood and surreal feeling that centered around that night. The devil’s in the details, and there are some things that I wanted to keep just for Lola and me. After all, I couldn’t spill everything we talked about. What if Lionel wanted to meet again? If not, we’ll always have Paris.

#6

A Gringa’s Guide to Rio’s Carnival Parades

“As an observer, it’s easy to get lost in the extravagance and exuberance of Rio’s Carnival parades. They’re over-the-top, flamboyant, and outrageous. But for the communities who pour countless amounts of time, energy, and money into this pre-Lenten celebration, it’s a tremendous source of pride. And for a few days each year, thirteen samba schools capture the attention and ignite the imagination of the world.”

Rio Carnival 2012

The Samba Parade in Rio is the most magnificent show I’ve ever laid eyes on. It rivals a Superbowl halftime show or Olympics opening ceremony. It’s not just the over-the-top costumes and floats that make this Carnival event spectacular, it’s knowing the symbolism, tradition, and that a year’s worth of work goes into putting on such a production. It’s the idea that an entire neighborhood pulls together for twelve months to produce something that lasts no more than one hour. Rio’s Samba Parade is easily the greatest show on earth.

#5

Lessons Learned from 362 Days of Travel Blogging

“I’m not arrogant enough to believe that my simple keystrokes are powerful enough to change the world, BUT they do change my world. Through my writing, I’ve been introduced to people I wouldn’t have met and experiences I wouldn’t have had without it.”

BCN Spa W

I wrote this more for myself than anyone else. I was feeling a bit ornery and kind of pissed off about some things I was observing. I suppose this was my way of thumbing my nose at the establishment and encouraging myself at the same time. The fact that it got such a response was icing on the cake. If it did nothing else, it made me feel better by writing it.

#4

I Hate Cruises

“I can’t stand floating around with drunk, belligerent, or inconsiderate people who are only concerned with themselves and have no regard for others. I realize that I will and do encounter these people in all forms of travel, but on a cruise I’m stuck with them for the duration of the trip.”

BBC Tour

This was a post that I had in draft mode for at least three months. It was April and I was tired of writing about Ireland, so I polished it up and pressed publish. With a title such as “I Hate Cruises” I knew that it would get some attention, but I had no clue what sort of firestorm it would cause. This has the second most comments {123} of any of my posts and is the third most read. I don’t find the writing in this post to be particularly spectacular, but it’s the chain of events that ensued after. I had my first encounter with a troll. Sadly, he had no idea that he was dealing with the queen of snark, so instead of deleting and blocking him, I used him to drive traffic to my site, which ultimately led to an interview on BBC World Service about my hatred of cruise ships. And that interview led to being driven in a Rolls Royce for my tour of BBC’s new world headquarters in London. BOOM!

#3

Travel Through the Eyes of a First-Time Flyer

“I loved listening to her talk about the New York trip. It was something truly special to her, and with each comment, I watched her brown eyes dance. This was the trip of her lifetime. I decided that we all deserve to have at least one trip of a lifetime, and I’ve been fortunate to have many.”

Plane

This post was unexpected and resulted from an experience I had sitting next to a first-time flyer on the way to New York. Although I had a big weekend planned in Boston, I couldn’t stop thinking about those four hours with Sharice on the plane. I needed an attitude adjustment and this complete stranger gave it to me. I couldn’t help but write about the experience. You can bet that I’ll reference it when I begin to grumble about the TSA or when I find myself taking travel for granted.

#2

 I Want to Go with Oh to Florence

“I am consumed with thoughts of stealing away to the medieval city of Prague, pouring over the Gothic architecture of Barcelona, and listening to tunes by Strauss in Vienna. I’m armed with a suitcase and an American Express Centurion card on a plane bound for Europe. In this most elaborate fantasy, I set off like Gulliver, trying to stave off my insatiable wanderlust by exploring the countryside and greatest European cities, before finally finding peace, strolling along the Arno River in Florence.”

Florence14

The reason why I love this post is two-fold: it’s the best thing I’ve ever written and it presented me with a platform I might not have had otherwise. I’ve written a lot in my lifetime, and to say this is the best, is saying a lot. I poured over this post for weeks. I had a well-published writer rip it and me to shreds. I tore it apart and put it back together more times that I can count. I agonized over the assonance, consonance, alliteration, and personification. I utilized imagery in the smallest of details. In short, this post consumed me for a good month. I knew that this would be the most important thing I’d ever written, even more than my law school entrance essay. Because winning Go with Oh would not only give me a bounty of travel opportunities, it would also help unlock the door to the life I wanted.

I was right.

#1

It Rained the Day I left Paris

“So I had to leave Europe. At least I got to go in the first place. In order for a new adventure to begin the current one must end. Mine ended on a rainy morning in Paris. Perhaps I’ll return in the spring to find a rainbow, tulips in bloom, and the lushest grass I’ve ever seen. And I hope to do it with Lola, the absolute best part of my trip.”

Rain_Paris

When I sat down to choose my favorite posts of 2012, this one immediately came to mind as #1. There wasn’t any other one that even gave me pause. This post was essentially the culmination of my year. Since March, I’d been thinking, writing, or planning for this trip. And as my friends and family can attest, it was pretty much all-consuming. Had my Euro tour been anything short of spectacular then I would have been disappointed. And even though I planned within an inch of my life, I could have never planned to meet such wonderful people while in Europe. This was my tribute and thank you to them and a closure of sorts for me. This small segment of my life is over and now I move on to the next. I’ll always be able to look back on this post and remember that one great month and the people that helped make it so special.

Did your favorite make my top 12? What is it?

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for four years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

35 Comments

  1. What a fab idea and what a great selection. I remember each one of them and #1 is quite something. Of course you forgot the NoLa post which after Texas Tuesdays made me book a flight to Houston. And I’m arriving tomorrow, baby!

    We started talking this time last year when I was in Rio. And what a year it has been. Bring on 2013!

    1. Yes, Rio, just another example how social media and travel can bring us closer together. I’ll forever look back on Rio with adoration, but more so since it indirectly brought me your friendship.

  2. Great idea and well done. Looking forward to see what you have in store for all of us in 2013. I hope the desire inside you continues to inspire you to do great things and see new places.

    1. Thank you. If I have my way I’ll be checking things off my list left and right, but more importantly, experience things that will stick with me for my lifetime.

  3. Thank you for sharing your favorites and why you liked each one–there are several on here that I missed during the year. You had quite a year, and I wish you an equally fulfilling one in 2013.

    1. Thank you so much for following along on my 2012. Here’s wishing us both fantastic 2013 travels and hopefully we get the chance to meet up.

  4. What a great year! Haven’t read all of the posts you have referenced, but I am looking forward to reading them! Love the way you write Leah…looking forward to following more of your adventures in 2013! Happy New Years.

  5. I was going to vote for the Lionel Ritchie story as the top one but I forgot about the first time flyer story. That story is a great reminder that there people around us with interesting stories and most of the time we do not take the time to find them out.

    1. Interesting, Jeff, the first-time flyer was your favorite. I really enjoyed writing that, so I guess it shows in the final product. Thanks for reading my stuff! I appreciate it more than you know.

  6. What a fun count-down and reflection of your amazing year of travel! I definitely could not choose my favorite, you had so many unique travel experiences throughout the past twelve months- I love them all! It was such a pleasure for me to meet you this year, and even more, to be a part of your travel journey in 2012. This past year was definitely good to you , so excited to see what’s in store for 2013!

    1. You’re exactly right, this was a great travel year for me and I have you to thank for much of that. I appreciate all the work you did for Lauren and me for the European trip. I simply couldn’t have asked for anything better, and you were a big part of that. I’m forever grateful to you.

    1. I know, Craig! When I had the number at 15 there were two included and even then it was hard. I guess ultimately I didn’t choose one is because all of those experiences were for previous years. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  7. oooo it would be hard for me to pick my favorites. i think the Enzo post because it makes me giggle so! your #1 is probably my number one too. it was one incredible month in a magical year of adventure. bring it on 2013!

  8. What an amazing top view of Las Vegas. LV looks so gorgeous in night light. Thanks for sharing your amazing top 12 posts. While reading this post it takes me in other world seriously.

    1. Thanks, Richard. I was glad to get to meet you in Barcelona. Sorry I was so sleepy! We’ll have to meet up again in Houston for a drink and some travel talk.

  9. Great round up, lovely, although you didn’t include my favourite post of yours from 2012 – your guide to Texas BBQ! At least, I *think* that was from this year?! Made me drool!

    1. I know. It was in the top fifteen, but then I cut it to twelve. I’m glad you loved it. I’d split a rack of ribs with you any day.

  10. I enjoyed all of your posts, but three stand out to me as being my favorite. Two of them did not make your top 12. Only the Lionel Ritchie one made the list. My other two favorites were the one about Paris where you started off complaining about it and then turned out loving it. The other one was the Devil’s River in Texas. I also really liked the spring fed pool one in Texas. I guess that means you have been writing a lot of quality stuff this year. Happy New Year!

    1. I know, Ted, you gave me a little grief about the France one. 🙂 The Devil’s River one made my top 15 along with the BBQ one, but ultimately I decided 12 for 2012 was enough. I’m glad you liked them both.

  11. Great list of amazing posts, definitely some of my favorite reads as well! The Italian coast is absolutely stunning and can’t wait to explore it in the future. As much as you love Vegas, I loath the place (after living there for a year) but I think it totally fits you. Looking forward to more amazing post dahhhling! Happy New Year and onward to more adventures!

    1. Haha…Vegas “totally fits me”? I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Either way, I take it as such. I couldn’t see myself living in Vegas, and I understand why you wouldn’t like it after having done so. It’s such travel candy for me. No real need to try and sight see or learn anything. It’s what most people go to the beach for. I just sit at the blackjack tables.

      Thank you, doll face, especially for naming me one of your Gnarly Travel Bloggers. 🙂

  12. How on earth did I miss the Lionel Richie story? What a great experience! You’ve been really busy on the travel front in 2012, my word! All the best for 2013 and safe travels, Leah!

    1. Yes, how could you have missed Lionel? He was what everyone was talking about! Haha…Yes, I was very busy in 2012 and I hope to do more in 2013. It was a great year for travel. Thanks, Christina.

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