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The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge – Erica’s 2016

By December 29, 2016 21 Comments

Erica here.  I’d been trying to come up with a unique way to implement a 2016 year in review on the blog for, like, ever.  As travelers, we always get asked about our favorite destinations, our favorite foods, our favorite adventures, our favorite whatever, so I was having trouble coming up with a unique and creative way to showcase my epic 2016.  That’s when I stumbled across the Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge.  I immediately fell to my knees and screamed “Hallelujah!” (well, maybe I didn’t really do that, but my prayers had certainly been answered!).  After reading through the concept and Stephanie’s post, I knew this was the blogger challenge for me!

Blogger challenge - Instagram

Be sure to follow along on Instagram!  All photos by yours truly 🙂

This challenge is a dash of “year in review,” a bit of “bucket list,” and a sprinkling of “daydreaming.”  It’s the perfect combination of have done, will do, dream of doing.  All of this means that it’s fun to write and even more fun to read.  So, go ahead and enjoy this potluck of travel advice and travel lust, and then maybe even participate yourself!

If you had to move to a country you’ve never been to, and live there for 10 years, where would you go?

So, we’re starting out with basically the hardest question ever.

I’d have to go with Australia.  Although it’s suuuuuuuper far away and is home to monstrous spiders and other creepy crawlies, I’m choosing to ignore that and instead focus on the positives here.  It’s beautiful, warm (mostly), full of people with great accents, photographically perfect, and home to adventures.  I’d totally be down for 10 years of surfing, beaching, and photographing.

Blogger Challenge - Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia
Photo by Caitlin Kellagher


If you had to live in a hotel for the rest of your life, which hotel would you choose and why?

Ok, so maybe THIS is the hardest question ever.

I’m not a luxury traveler, so this one is super hard.  I love my little boutique hotels and hidden hostels while traveling, but if I had to live somewhere forever, I definitely have to go with something glamorous.

I did a little research and stumbled across this gem – The Brando.  Situated on a tiny little island north of Tahiti, it’s basically paradise in the middle of paradise.  How’s that for paradise?  I’ll take one of those two-bedroom villas with a private pool, please!

Blogger challenge - The Brando

Is this real life?!
The Brando, from above
Photo from the Google


If you could only eat the cuisine of one nationality forever more, which would you choose?

Ugh why are these questions soooo hard?!

I’m a foodie.  I love food.  All kinds of food.  Basically, all the food.

Blogger challenge - cheese

Pretty photo of cheese by my friend, Katie, from UA Creative Photo

But, I especially love carbs, cheese, and wine, so I guess I’ll go with Italian.  Mexican is my all-time favorite, but if I have to choose one FOR LIFE, I think Italian covers all of my favorite things in one fell swoop.  I’M SO SORRY, MEXICO!!

Who has given you “holiday envy” this year, and how?

I drool over Nicki Sunderland’s adventures pretty much every day on Instagram.  Her blog, Eat, Live, Travel, Drink, is basically a diary of my dream life.  I’m so jealous of her!

Blogger challenge - Nicki

A snapshot by Nicki of her accommodations in The Philippines


If you had to look at the same sunrise or sunset everyday, where in the world would you never get bored of seeing?

I’ve been so lucky to witness some INCREDIBLE sunsets in my life, but I think my favorites were those along the Oregon Coast in the U.S.  The rugged coastline and dramatic sunsets are simply incredible.  I could photograph them everyday.

Is it a scene from a fairy tale or a sunset along the Oregon coast? Photo by me.

Is it a scene from a fairy tale or a sunset along the Oregon coast?
Photo by me.


If you were taking a “staycation” in your hometown, where would it be and what would you recommend others do?

I’m going to cheat here a little bit.

My hometown is Cincinnati, Ohio, but since I haven’t lived there in almost 6 years, I’ll show you around my current town of Columbus, Ohio.

Blogger challenge - Columbus

Columbus, Ohio

I’d definitely enjoy Columbus’ amazing craft beer scene and my favorite food, pizza, by joining Columbus Brew Adventures on their Pitchers and Pizza tour.  I’d then take a walk along the Scioto Mile to walk off those calories (and that buzz), before grabbing some margaritas and tacos at Bakersfield.  I’d then do a little boutique and bar hopping around the Short North before heading downtown to 16 Bit Barcade for some games.  After a quick Tootsie Roll beer at Little Palace, I’d end the night with dinner at Old Mohawk in German Village and craft cocktails at Denmark downtown.

Sounds perfect, actually!

Describe your most perfect travel day of 2016.

It was the day we got engaged!  Antonio and I were picked up in Beijing by our private tour guide.  We drove for a couple of hours through the mountains to a remote area of the Great Wall.  We then spent the next few hours scaling unrestored sections of the wall, picking our way through dense weeds, taking photos, and learning about the history of the wall.  Once at the peak of that area, our guide pulled out a couple of beers for us and we enjoyed the view (and caught our breath) while enjoying some refreshing Chinese beer.

Blogger challenge - The Great Wall

Chinese beers on the Great Wall
Photo by me

We then hiked back down, stopped at a farmers house for “showers,” food, and supplies, then hiked the Wall in the other direction.  We set up our tents at one of the watchtowers on the Wall before perching at the edge of the Wall to eat dinner.  Talk about dinner with a view!

Blogger challenge - The Great Wall

Our dinner view!
Photo by me

After we finished eating, we enjoyed a couple more beers while watching the sunset over the valley.  It was then that Antonio and I started talking about traveling and where our next trip would be.  Before I knew it, he asked if I would join him on our next trip as his fiancé instead of his girlfriend.  It was the perfect proposal in the perfect location from my perfect man.

Our proposal! Proposal photo is taken from a video Antonio secretly recorded. Ring shot taken by me!

Our proposal!
Proposal photo is taken from a video Antonio secretly recorded.
Ring shot taken by me!

That was definitely my favorite travel day of 2016!

What have you ticked off your bucket list in 2016?

Hiked the Great Wall of China.  (I also slept on the Wall and got engaged on the Wall!)

Blogger challenge - The Great Wall

The Great Wall for as far as the eye can see.
Photo by me


Photographed the Northern Lights in Iceland.  It was a bit cloudy, but I still managed to capture them.

Blogger challenge - Iceland

The Northern Lights over a cloudy Iceland.
Photo by me.


Went on a safari in South Africa.  I fell in love with elephants and rhinos while there!

Blogger challenge - South Africa

Elephants walking slowly into the sunset while on safari in South Africa. Basically it was the scene of a movie.
Photo by me.


Rode on a helicopter.  In New Zealand, nonetheless!  (Check out the 2:10 mark!)


Got published in a print magazine.  Two, actually!

Blogger challenge - magazine publications

Had multiple photos published in these two magazines! Exciting moments, for sure.


What is at the top of your travel bucket list for 2017?

Going to Cuba while its original charm still remains!

Blogger challenge - Cuba

Photo via Huffington Post


What is your favorite Instagram photo of 2016?

Blogger challenge - China

One of my “models” while teaching a photography workshop in China. He was so happy, humble, and welcoming as he took us through his home and allowed us to photograph him.
Photo by me.


I hope you enjoyed reading my contribution to the Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge!  Be sure to check out these other contributors, as well!

About Erica Kay

Manini girl Erica is our professional photographer, travel curator, and adventure designer. When she isn't busy working on Manini stuff, she's running two photography companies, petting her pup, eating her way around the world with her fiancé, or hanging with friends and family.

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