Year in Review: Keri’s 2014 Trips & Adventures

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The great thing about travel as a hobby is no matter how far in advance you plan, you never really know where you’ll end up. And this year was no exception, I started 2014 with a few trips on the books and little idea of all the places I’d end up or wine, BBQ, and another amazing meals I’d consumer.

Thanks to a mistake deal in the previous November, the year started with a long weekend in western Ireland, touring the Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry with a friend. Our friendship did survive me driving the “bike paths” as we referred to the narrow roads.

ballinskellig beach with shawna

Two weeks later I was back in Ireland, this time for one day in Dublin where I touched hands with an 800 year old Crusader mummy and unexpectedly fell in love with the food!

Guinness Experience Dublin Keri Gravity Bar

I finally got to try the famed BBQ in Lockhart  and experience Silvercar when my flight to a San Antonio wedding wound up rerouted due to bad weather.

Blacks BBQ Slicing Ribs

And of course there was a mileage burger run to Los Angeles to get an In N Out Burger and check out BWI.

March was one of the most exciting months — I fulfilled a childhood dream of seeing the Lipizzaners perform as well as getting to visit the gravesite of a ideological hero. AND walk the red-carpet of the Vienna Film Ball when I won the SPG moments auction as well as tour the new Park Hyatt Vienna which was still under construction!

My dad and I did our first Napa wine tasting trip together in April (which reminds me I still need to write a trip report) and I got to share with him the glories of the Andaz Napa’s breakfast potatoes.

Andaz Farmers Table Rick

Jeanne and my schedules finally aligned in April, and we were both out in Seattle for the Freddie Awards, proving our skills as a team during my first experience in a flight simulator (in heels and cocktail dresses of course!).

Jeanne Keri Freddie Awards 2014 Museum of Flight

May was my one “real” vacation a year where I travel for longer than a weekend and I headed to Seoul, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand in Korean First for rest, relaxation, and lots of food!

Korean Airlines First Class IAD-ICN Seat Keri

Seoul was disappointing, but it didn’t help I’d booked my stay during Buddha’s Birthday, which meant the DMZ (my main reason for going) was closed. Kuala Lumpur was delicious, particularly the food tour, and I had my first massage from a blind therapist. In Thailand I went looking for a (Thai Kickboxing) fight and finally got to stay at the Conrad Koh Samui, whose one bedroom villas with private horizon pools overlooking the ocean I’d wanted to stay in years before it was actually built!

Koh Samui Sunset from the Conrad

Shortly after that trip I had a chance to almost like Atlantic City (the judge did rule in favor of taking Charlie’s house away) AND learn what a boat burning was!

Tall Timber Marina Boat Burning Shawna Keri

I had a quiet summer until I tried out Lyft for the first time and my driver was pulled over by the cops! But I did finally make it to the renowned Bern’s Steakhouse and Harry Waugh Dessert Room in Tampa.

Harry Waugh Dessert Room Tampa Taste of Berns

In September I was back in the San Francisco area for wine tasting (still need to write those reviews!) though the Cupertino aloft robot butler wasn’t on duty 🙁 and then Jeanne and I explored the various Mlife/Hyatt properties in Vegas.

One longstanding dream was rather deflated this fall when I went out to Albuquerque for their Balloon Fiesta.

The weather was rough and I never saw the mass ascension, except from a distance the morning I was flying out! I did at least have an amazing day in Santa Fe (report coming I promise) and found a new favorite hotel.

Hyatt Regency Albuquerque Double View Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension

When I wasn’t traveling, I filled my weekends with trips out to the Shenandoah for wine tasting at my favorite wineries and the amazing chef’s whim tasting menu at One Block West and of course, more good BBQ.

Keri Linden Vineyards Shenandoah

My last big trip of the year was two days in Sicily, which I jumped on when <$300 fares popped up. I had one of the most amazing wine tours in my life (report coming), tried out a selfie stick, amazed myself with my ability to drive the narrow mountain roads on Mt Etna, and discovered another favorite hotel (review of Zash Country Boutique hotel coming).

Etna Wine Lab tour lunch

My travels weren’t quite over though. I decided last minute to go for 125,000 EQMs on US Airways to qualify for free Admirals Club membership and on the last flight of my mileage run experienced a first — we flew with the landing gear down for part of the flight.

I’ve been truly blessed this year with great friends, an amazing family, and the ability to see so many breathtaking things. Writing these posts are always a great reminder to appreciate what I have and not take anything for granted (as well as identify all the trip reports I haven’t written yet).

I’m looking forward to 2015 and wish all our readers the best for their coming year!


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.

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