Top 10 Travel Experiences of 2017 (Part 1)

2017 was a great year of travel, thanks to my continued accumulation and usage of miles and points. I visited five new countries this year and made return trips to a few previously visited countries to see new cities. I actually have one final trip this year, but I decided to go ahead and determine my favorite travel experiences of 2017, excluding my last trip. So in this post and a subsequent post, I will highlight the top 10 experiences.

10. National Museum of African American History and Culture

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National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

This museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has been on my must-see list since even before it opened in September 2016. I finally got the chance to visit this year and was glad to see it lived up to the hype. I spent three hours perusing all of the exhibits and could have spent longer if the museum wasn’t closing for the day. I did get a little fatigued reading the exhibits toward the end, so a second visit would probably be useful. The areas of most interest to me were the community and cultural sections showcasing the arts (visual, music, stage, film, TV) and sports. I also spent quite a bit of time in the area that discussed segregation, from post-Civil War up to the mid-20th century.

9. Flamenco Dancing

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Flamenco dancing show in Barcelona

Though Barcelona is not known for flamenco dancing (it’s more of a Southern Spain thing), I didn’t want to pass up a chance to see this traditional Spanish dance. I had visited Madrid a few years ago and didn’t see a show, so it was high on my to-do list while in Barcelona. Many websites said Tablao de Carmen had some of the best flamenco dancing in Barcelona, so that is where I went. As someone who likes dancing as both a spectator and a participant, I enjoyed the show and it made for one of my most memorable experiences this year.

8. Sagrada Familia

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Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
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Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

The beautiful architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi was certainly a highlight of my trip to Barcelona. And Sagrada Familia is his masterpiece. Lines can be extremely long and crowds heavy at this site, but as I visited early morning in the off-season, neither were a problem. At first, I thought the admission price was a bit high to see the inside. Just the outside of the building is a brilliant work of art. But looking back at my photos, I’m actually glad I went ahead and “splurged” to experience the beauty inside the church.

7. Teotihuacan

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Standing in front of the Pyramid of the Sun
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View of Teotihuacan

I traveled to Mexico City with three friends from work and had a great “girls weekend.”  Visiting the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan was the best part of the trip for me. Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located just north of CDMX. I highly recommend traveling there like the locals (subway and bus from the city) rather than taking a tour. Traveling on your own allows you to arrive early to climb the centerpiece, the Pyramid of the Sun, and enjoy the views from the top with fewer crowds.

6. Argentine Tango

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A tango show at Piazzolla Tango in Buenos Aires
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Watching street performers dance the tango at the Feria de San Telmo in Buenos Aires

After years of watching Argentine Tango on Dancing with the Stars (lol), I was quite excited at the prospect of observing this beautiful dance in Argentina. I attended a dinner show at Piazzolla Tango in Buenos Aires. The singers, musicians, and dancers all put on a great show. I felt the price was quite high, especially in comparison with the flamenco show I saw in Barcelona. I also enjoyed watching some (free!) street tango dancing in a neighborhood called San Telmo, where there is a large antiques fair every Sunday.

Stay tuned for my five remaining favorite travel experiences this year!

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