Our Top 10 Moments Of 2010

Featured December 19, 2010 7:18 pm

I’m fortunate to say that this list became very tricky to write. We have just had such a ball this year in so many different places around the world, it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 top moments.

Nonetheless – here it is, top to bottom, our most memorable moments of the year 2010.

10. Sand Dune Jeep Ride – Newcastle, Australia

On our trip back to Australia in August we visited some friends of ours in Newcastle, NSW, who’s place backs on to an enormous 20 mile long stretch of wide, undisturbed, beachfront. When you’re out on it, it feels like you’re in a desert. You can see nothing but sand. After a big night catching up, drinking the night away, we took off for a ride out on the sand dunes in a little jeep.

We traversed great sandhills, tackled steep declines that you’d think would make the vehicle flip, and got to see an abandoned ship just off the shore. We finished the day off with a nice lunch overlooking the water at a local surf club. Certainly a unique and memorable day.

9. Hotel Des Artistes Rooftop Pool – Punta de Mita, Mexico

Punta Mita Sky Bar
This one’s fairly easy to explain. Good friends, a rooftop infinity pool that overlooks much of West Coast Mexico’s Banderas Bay, on a day with seemingly endless yet not too harsh sunshine, sliding back and forth between cocktails in the pool and naps on the sun lounge.

There were a lot of moments like this through our year in Mexico, but the combination of all these elements was definitely a recipe for a pretty memorable little afternoon.


8. Cocktails, Street Tacos, Salsa Dancing – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This year we met two people who we connected with more so than anyone we’ve met on our travels so far. The kind of people you just meet, but you feel like you’ve known forever. This was a rather memorable night that started with these guys (Sean & Carla) at our favorite cocktail bar in old town Vallarta with 2 for 1 cocktails, masterfully prepared by the coolest Canadian in Vallarta: Big Al. The cocktails flowed (as they do when it’s 2 for 1 in Mexico) for a couple hours while Sean and I made intermittent trips to the street taco stand downstairs as I introduced them to the highly alluring, all flavorful “tacos al pastor”.

We maxed out on tacos and cocktails and so made our way to the ever authentic “La Bodeguita Del Medio” – a Cuban restaurant on Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon that hosts salsa dancing most nights of the week. The rest of the night proceeded in a blur of Mojitos, Tequila shots, and minimally skillful Salsa dancing, courtesy of our instructor Sean, who had just returned from a trip to Chile and learned a few good steps!

7. Villa La Estancia Weekend – Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

For my birthday in February, Elysia booked a night (that quickly turned into 2) for us in a completely outlandish, 5 star hotel suite on the beach in Nuevo Vallarta. This was the first real hotel “suite” we’d stayed at (though not the last of 2010) before, so the excitement as we walked in the double wooden doors on the 13th of 15 floors was almost overwhelming.

We realized that a “suite” at this type of place is actually a small house. 2 bedrooms, a fully stocked kitchen, an enormous balcony complete with sun lounges and a dining table, multiple 40 inch LCD TVs, jacuzzi in the bathroom… ridiculous doesn’t really cover it.

Elysia and I literally sat for 2 days, in our bath robes, back and forth between reading on our lounges on the balcony, sipping drinks in the jacuzzi, and watching movies on one of the TVs. How could that NOT make our top 10?

6. Basilique du Sacre Coeur, Hills of Mont Martre, Moulin Rouge – Paris, France.

View over Montmartre, Paris

2010 also saw Elysia and my first trip to Paris. There was any number of things that could have made this list, (most notably our visit to the simply breathtaking Palace of Versailles) but our day exploring in Mont Martre has to be near the top.

Amongst other things we hopped off the subway and climbed the hill to the magical Basilica that sits at it’s top. It’s an old Roman Catholic church perched at the highest point of the city. You can take a wander through it’s inside, then sit at it’s steps and overlook the entire city of Paris… which we did… at sunset.

This was followed by a lovely meander back down the hill through curious side streets filled with local butchers, bakers and candlestick makers where we grabbed some homemade chocolates and took photos of little outdoor restaurants and the still spectacular view.

If that wasn’t enough, in the evening we grabbed tickets at the all famous Moulin Rouge. We had terrible seats and were only half impressed at the tourist filled cabaret show, but there’s no doubt it was the perfect end to a completely memorable day.

5. City Of Diamonds – Antwerp, Belgium

Returning to the UK at the end of 2010 we took our first Europe trip with Elysia’s sister, her husband, and our little nephew. It didn’t start out being our aim, but the city of Antwerp definitely ended up being the trip’s highlight.

From the first step out of our hotel and into the quiet but active street market, we knew Antwerp would be something special. In the space of 10 minutes I’d grabbed some Vietnamese chicken skewers with noodles for lunch, a Belgian waffle for desert, and some Belgian sweets from this market, and certainly left it feeling like I’d “maximized” the experience. đŸ™‚

Antwerp just continued to impress, with our most enjoyable day comprising a quick visit to the town’s enormous Gothic cathedral, a walk through the cobblestone streets down to the river on which the city sits, a jaunt through a nearby castle which is now some kind of Naval museum, an insanely thick Belgium hot chocolate to recharge, before dinner at a wild 3 story Italian restaurant that pumped random club/hip hop music and served up utterly delectable food to it’s noisy but highly entertained crowd.

4. Mystical Mountain Hideaway – San Sebastian, Mexico

This will go down as one of my favorite travel memories of all time. We had a new friend of ours (Rachel) visiting, and had hired a car and drove about an hour inland from Vallarta into the Sierra Madre mountain range. In amongst the hills sits a tiny 400 year old mining town called San Sebastian.

We started out exploring the town’s streets. To prevent burglars in the mining days, all the streets look like they’ll lead to an exit but actually lead around in a circle back into the middle of town. So there’s technically only one way to get in and out.

San Sebastian BarIt came to the evening and we wanted to find a little bar for a drink. We saw a sign for this bar that had been converted from an old underground bunker and with it’s big, black stone brick walls, definitely caught our eye. We wandered into this place and thought it was closed. It was just the owner and his musician, drinking away with one another, fiddling with their mini sound stage.

We started out drinking around a table in this little circular tower (just for 3 people to fit) which we later learned was a converted guard tower complete with little holes in the bricks where guards could point and aim their guns at local thieves!

Half way through the night, the owner comes up to us with an enormous 4L container of this miscellaneous clear yet slightly yellow colored  liquid. He tells us it’s their last night in the town and they are partying to celebrate. We are the only people in the bar, so he offers us free glasses of what is of course, a copious quantity of his friend’s home made Tequila.

We sit around discussing everything from types of Tequila, to political corruption, to Mexican music. That last one turns out to be particularly relevant because the guys we’re talking to are both musicians, one of which is an (apparently) famous Mexican folk singer!

Of course with 2 musicians and a sound stage with keyboard and microphone already set up, it was only a matter of time before drunken Karaoke began. Next thing, we were listening to an impromptu concert as one of the guys sang and the other played Piano. To pause for reflection, we were now sitting in an ancient underground bunker, drinking home made Tequila, getting privately serenaded with Mexican love songs by two random middle aged Mexican men we’d just met.

The inevitable occurred next, as I took to the stage (somehow wearing one of their jackets), and joined the keyboardist for a duet of some random Elton John classics, before deciding that enough Tequila was enough, and making our way back to our room to bed.

Even all of this wasn’t enough as the next day we took a treacherous drive up the mystical mountain of “La Bufa” with these two guys and got to see the view from one of Mexico’s highest peaks. Unforgettable doesn’t do this weekend justice.

3. Snowboarding Trip – Christchurch, New Zealand

Sadly Elysia wasn’t a part of this one, but it was something I had to include. Somehow, a friend of mine was able to organize 7 of our best mates to all be in the same place at the same time (we all live in different cities of the world now) and take a trip to the South Island of New Zealand for some snowboarding.

I got to spend 4 days, talking shit and having a blast while flying down mountains with my oldest friends in one of the most picturesque parts of the world. An extremely cherished memory of 2010 for me.

2. Town Of Mazatlan – Mazatlan, Mexico

This magical moment had two parts. Our luxury stay at Mazatlan’s Hotel Riu was the first. This can be summed up by the words: Jacuzzi on balcony on 25th of 28 floors of the beachfront hotel. Corner apartment. 270 Pacific Ocean views. The sheer bliss of sitting in the bubbles, cerveza in hand, overlooking the ocean and the setting sun is burned into my psyche forever.

Part 2 of the trip was our exploration of the actual town of Mazatlan, from the bizarre old European style streets where every old building was painted a different bright color, to the fascinating local art gallery in a family’s house and courtyard where we were inspired for the first time (despite not being art people at all) to buy a piece of art… to Mazatlan’s breathtaking coastline… This town is a wonder, and a place that begs us to return.

Andrew and Elysia Engagement1. Proposal Week – New York City, New York.

This had to be the most special moment of 2010 for us. Probably the most special moment of our next 50 years too.

On a spectacular sunny day at the very beginning of Autumn, in the voluptuously green and blooming Central Park, Elysia and I enjoyed a casual morning stroll, sipping our frapuccinos, taking in the sites and smells of the world famous outdoor area.

Stopping just by the fountain, my months of secret planning and organization came to a head as I got down on one knee and asked the beautiful woman to marry me.

She said yes, I spent the next half hour telling her everything that had been kept secret the past 6 months, and we wandered back through the park and then the streets of Manhattan’s midtown as we discussed plans for our wedding and our future.

It’s one of those top 3 moments in your life and for us, it was everything we could have hoped it to be.

That’s it!

That’s our top 10 moments of 2010. I feel like we’ve set the bar so high, I don’t know how we’ll top this in 2011. For everyone reading, I can’t recommend enough how powerful is to write a list like this for yourself and reflect back on everything you’ve done in the past year that’s brought you great amounts of joy. And if you do end up writing one, make sure you comment here and let us know!

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