It’s that time of year again. The holiday season wraps up and we begin to think about the ways we can start fresh in the new year. Some will lament over things lost in 2017: People, life styles, routines.

Good riddance to 2017!” many people will write on their Facebook statuses, “Bring on the next so I never have to think about this year again!

A far less popular phrase: “I’m going to miss this year. It was so good to me and I achieved at lot. Please don’t go!

I’ll be honest, 2017 wasn’t my year. It plagued my life with loss, intimidating gains, rocky transitions, and a heavy dose of anxiety through it all. A lot of good happened this year, too, but unfortunately it’s easier to focus on the negative. In an effort to be more positive about this year and where I’m headed, I will look back on 2017 as a transition period of growth in my life. But you know what, I travelled! I saw new places! Despite it all, a year with travel can never be completely bad.

So here we go. To remember the most significant events that happened to me in 2017, I’ve created the following lists: Where I travelled, my top three favorite new cities, and my biggest losses, gains, and accomplishments of 2017. Let’s start with the fun stuff!

Porto, Portugal

Where I travelled in 2017

Yosemite National Park, California – January

Stockholm, Sweden – February

Madrid, Spain – February

Monterey, California –  April

Nashville, Tennessee – May

Portland, Oregon – June

Detroit, Michigan – July

Long Beach, California – August

Barcelona, Spain – November

Porto, Portugal – November

Seattle, Washington – December

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Out of the eleven places I visited, six were brand new to me: Stockholm, Nashville, Detroit, Long Beach, Barcelona, and Porto. Out of those six, I’ve narrowed it down to my top favorite three of the year. Here they are!

My Top New Cities of 2017

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit marked my first time in Michigan. I’ll be honest, I probably would not have chosen this destination without the encouragement from friends who invited me to their Sip-and-See party to see their new baby, and who’d been raving about Detroit since we met. But they were right. I loved Detroit!

Highlights: I ate lots of great food (let’s not talk about the Coney dog…I just don’t get it!), enjoyed local beer and fancy cocktails, had my first 50/50 (cold brew coffee and beer), marveled at the street art on dozens of city buildings, explored the largest abandoned factory in the world, strolled through a previously abandoned neighborhood turned into art, and sat by the river with a stranger at midnight until we got kicked out of the park by security. All the makings of an amazing trip! There is so much spirit and culture in Detroit. I hope more people continue to visit.

Read blog post: Guide to Detroit, Michigan: America’s Up and Coming City

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm was another city I would not have necessarily chosen if it weren’t for external factors. Why Stockholm? For one, I found a great deal on airfare through Norwegian Airlines that cost $350 roundtrip from San Francisco to Stockholm. Yah!!! Also, why not Stockholm? Bonus: Two of my best friends live in Europe – one in Germany, one in Spain – so we met up for a weekend, after which I stayed in Stockholm for a few extra days to explore Stockholm solo.

Highlights: Fika every day, nearly all day, with my two best friends; getting lost in Gamla Stan the oldest section of Stockholm dating back to the 13th century; drinking in cellar bars – once beneath a Swedish restaurant over warm Glogg and a heart-shaped gingersnap cookie, and once beneath an Irish bar over a pint of cider and live traditional Irish music; eating herring, a typical Swedish  food, from a food truck and actually enjoying it; visiting Fotografiska, a photography museum with amazing city and water views; and waking up to snow on my last day in the city. Pure magic.

Read blog post: Visitor’s Guide to Stockholm, Sweden

Read blog post: Stockholm: What to Know Before You Go

Nashville, Tennessee

I decided to visit Nashville, Tennessee for two reasons. One, my heart would swell every time I thought about going back to the Southern part of the US. (I went to college in North Carolina, so the South is very nostalgic to me – Go Heels!) And, two, I found reasonable airfare. So, four days solo in Nashville it was.

Highlights? Oh my gosh, EVERYTHING. Waiting in line several hours to get a seat at the famous Blue Bird Café; watching three young, talented musicians play at the Listening Room (I remember wanting to cry into my cocktail glass, it was so magical); having the most unique and delicious coffee options I’ve ever had in the States; admiring the street murals sprinkled throughout The Gulch; walking along neighborhoods lined with dog-friendly bars and restaurants and window shopping; eating the best ice cream of my life at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, eating the best pancake brunch I’ve ever had; holing up at a local hipster brewery during a lightning storm; getting lost after said brewery closed and stumbling upon an amazing BBQ place where I ate ‘hot chicken’ for the first time;  flirting with the guy at the Pine Biscuits restaurant who almost asked me out but backed out the last second; wine tasting after a self-guided tour of the Belle Meade Plantation; and running as quickly away from Broadway Street and buy-one-get-one-half-off cowboy boot shops as possible. I could see myself living in Nashville one day, that’s how much I love this city!

Read blog post: How I Ended Up in Nashville, Tennessee using Skyscanner’s “Anywhere” Feature, and Why You Should Visit Music City 

With that said, it’s time to sum up the important stuff that happened in my life this year: The good, the bad, and the ugly, because we like to keep it real.

My Biggest Accomplishments, Losses, and Gains, of 2017

  • Vacationed internationally twice this year, which was a feat because I work full time.
  • Became an AirBNB host for one month, which I loved, but ultimately found it wouldn’t be sustainable for my situation.
  • Successfully finished the Whole30 program (and I’m doing it again starting January 2, 2018. Join me!)
  • Ran the Big Sur 10.6-miler race along Highway 1 in California. (If you are a fan of the HBO series Big Little Lies, you’ve seen Highway 1 in the opening credits.)
  • Invested in a GoPro Hero5, which I admittedly did not use enough. (Goal for 2018!)
  • Endured a breakup. Those are fun.
  • Travelled with my sister for the first time. We went to one of my favorite places: Portland, Oregon.
  • Met the band BUSH for the third time and stood side stage thanks to my best friend, their biggest fan (think: Gavin Rossdale aka Gwen Stefani’s ex, 90’s hit “Chemicals Between Us“).
  • Finished straightening my teeth with Invisalign after two years. (I’m less than satisfied with the results, but that’s another story!)
  • Left my company of five years and started a new career. (Eeeek!!!)
  • Discovered a new city I could see myself living in one day: Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Experienced months of anxiety and bouts of depression. (Real talk. It happens.)
  • Started going to therapy. (Yay!)
  • Attended the first official PodCon (Podcast Convention) in Seattle, and sat six feet away from my favorite Young Adult (YA) author of all time: John Green.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

The Warfield, San Francisco

How was your 2017, and how will you choose to look back on it? Also, I’d love to hear about any places you travelled, or favorite new cities!