As 2009 winds down, I want to do a special kind of year-end summary – one in which I introduce you to some amazing travel people I’ve met during these last 12 months. Some of them I’ve gotten to know only online, and some I now know in real life – but all of them share a passion for travel that I can’t help but respect and admire.
First up is Lea Woodward. She and her husband Jonathan welcomed a beautiful daughter to their tribe this year, and within no time flat she had a passport and was joining Mum and Dad in their Location Independent life.
I’ve written some articles for the LIP blog, and hope to get back to it now that things have mercifully slowed down on my end. To that end, I’m looking forward to getting to know Andrew Hayes. Known as That Travel Guy, Andy has been managing the bloggers at LIP, is just plain awesome in his own right and you should follow him on Twitter!
I met Kim Mance atop the staircase at Campidoglio in Rome in late March, and she instantly became my idol. As part of the Galavanting Girls, this mother of five married an Antarctic explorer in 2009 and by all accounts is an unstoppable force of nature. I’m honored to be a part of anything she does, and again as part of my resolution for 2010 I look forward to writing more for the blog and – fingers crossed – attending the TBEX event in late June in New York! Because lemme tell ya, I was seriously bummed about missing the one in Chicago this year.
I had the distinct pleasure of dragging Kim, her partner in crime Kate, and two other women to my beloved communist restaurant in the sticks, Betto & Mary. These two other women were none other than Jessica of the Rome Photo Blog (note: do not visit this site unless you are ready to immediately get on a plane to Rome due to the amazing), and Katie Parla of Parla Food, (note: do not visit this site if you are the least bit hungry) who is possibly the only person on earth who understands my unabashed love for tripe. When these two friends are not busy being fabulous all on their own they work together at Context Travel, a must for anyone who is interested in a guided tour of pretty much anywhere in Italy.
Later during that same trip to Rome, I attended a Tweetup – a get-together of Twitter users who share a common interest. On this evening those interests were travel, food and blogging – three of my favorite things – and I think I speak for everyone who attended in saying a good time was very much had. In attendance:
The host couple, Kelly and Austin of Travellious. I have never seen two people so jazzed to be exactly where they were at that moment, doing exactly what they were doing. Their love for travel and good times is contagious, and they both totally made me laugh, which means I am their friend for life.
Francesco and Fabiola, owners of Sapore Vero (true flavor/enjoyment) (note: viewing mouth-watering pictures on this site will make you want to learn Italian, just to get at the accompanying recipes!). They brought the food, the wine and their A-Game, taking us on a culinary tour and feeding us delicious morsels of food until we all nearly passed out. Their particular interest is in small, quality Italian producers of a wide variety of foods and wines, and their knowledge is nearly encyclopedic.
Jessica and Katie, and Mama Parla, too!
Fabulous Cousin, in Rome on a quick holiday ’cause that’s how he rolls, was also there, being his charming self.
And last but not least was another Jessica, from whom I was possibly separated at birth. She is BootsnAll’s resident Italiaphile, and is getting ready to make the move to the bel paese. Some time after the Tweetup I kidnapped her for lunch one Sunday, which turned into an epic afternoon of rigatoni, wine and cherries in the Secret Garden. I love her ten times, and cannot wait until she is firmly ensconced on this side of the pond.
Also while in Rome I was honored to spend a wonderful evening with Chris Faust and her talented husband and photographer Don. Having recently ended her successful reign as travel editor of USA Today, Chris has taken to independently chronicling her travels on her personal blog. We shared a delicious bottle of wine at Cavour 313 before proceeding around the corner to Taverna Romana, where we stuffed ourselves silly.
While in the States, I was invited to lunch by a Mr. Tony Martignetti. While not a professional traveler, it is his passion and he introduced me to Afghan cuisine as we traded tales of travel and life in general. What an interesting man, with an innate curiosity and enthusiasm for new experiences.
I was also a guest of Ann Lombardi of The Trip Chicks – she interviewed me on her Atlanta-based radio show about my life and travels, and she even charmed me into revealing some of my best travel tips! That was fun.
Whew! What a group! And what a year, made all the more satisfying because of them. Here’s to 2010!