Monday, January 2, 2017

A Year Full of Family Travels - Our 2016 Year-in-Review

Looking back, a lot of things happened to our family this year. So many things that it feels like too many to fit in a year. Early January of 2016, we were still living in Poland, now we are in the United States. In between, we travelled to many places. We moved to Szczecin, Poland from Cebu, Philippines and lived there for a year. Then just in the month of May of 2016, we were in 3 countries - Stockholm, Sweden; Krakow, Poland and Chandler, Arizona, USA. I was in the US many times in the past because of business trips, so I always dreamt of bringing my then-girlfriend, now wife, to the US to enjoy the road trips. Then there's the bonus. Now that we have our little one, it's even better. We get to enjoy travelling as a family. There's just a lot of things to be grateful for this year. We traveled a lot, and looking forward to more family travels in the future.

Due to the nature of my job as a software engineer, I often travelled for business trips. I have been to more than ten countries over the last decade. In US alone, I have been into seven business trips, the last one on January 2016. I had to be away from my wife and daughter for a 6-week business trip to Arizona, USA, which eventually became our place of residence. It's amazing to realize that my daughter is spending her birthday in a different country every year. She had her first birthday in Philippines, second in Poland, the upcoming third one is gonna be here in the US.

I read a lot of inspirational articles, and one thing that always sticks to mind in terms of our pursuit of happiness, is to travel. It's the experience of it that gives you a different perspective in life, that beyond our daily routine, many cultures thrive. The things that bother you today could somehow be petty compared to problems of other countries. Or there is just so many things to experience out there you never knew existed. Living in first world countries, you get to see how our country could be improved, now that you have a reference. Having lived in many places, lets you realize how blessed you are in life. It doesn't have to be away of a country, it can be on a different island from your home town. Getting yourself outside of the comfort zone allows you to see your life in a bigger picture. So go out and travel. Vacation trips isn't as costly if you plan it well, or check for promotions. For example, we spent our Thanksgiving holidays in Las Vegas at Trump International Hotel for 4 days 3 nights for only 100 dollars as a marketing promotion of Hilton hotel, which is normally at least 1000 dollars.

These travel memories will last a lifetime. I could imagine we will have some more travels in the new year. So compiling our travel photos for this year could come in quite handy. Time flies, you wouldn't notice how much and how far you have been travelling.

Here are some of my photos during my business trip in Arizona, USA.

Then I came back to Poland. My company asked me to move to USA. This is the same company that asked me to move to Poland. So we prepared our paperworks. Before even leaving Europe, we wanted to at least experience other places there, so we decided last-minute to travel and visit friends in Stockholm, Sweden. And by last-minute, it was a bit pricy, but all worth it. If possible, better planning always pulls down the travel cost.

On the way back, we had to go to Krakow, Poland for our US visas. It was on my birthday when our visas were approved.

Things happen too fast that upon getting back to Szczecin, Poland, we had to pack things up and donate stuff. Before we knew it, we were on our flights crossing the Atlantic. We settled in Chandler, Arizona.

I took my family to the Grand Canyon so they can see how grand it is. As for my wife's impression of Arizona, it is spacious, too spacious! :) In terms of weather, we arrived during the summer in Arizona, so that sudden shift from the cold Poland temperature took a bit of an adjustment.

In the following months, we travelled to nearby places. It has always been my dream to take my wife to an interstate road trip, which happened when we went to Los Angeles, California.

At Santa Monica Beach

At Griffith Observatory

At Walk of Fame

Then my company sent me to another business trip to Silicon Valley. The good thing in the US is that, with good preparation, I can take my family with me on those trips. So off we went for a 12-hours total drive in 2 days to San Jose, California.

We also got the chance to check out San Franciso's Golden Gate, and the Lands End.

What I liked most in staying in the Bay Area is the awesome food. It's a bit crowded though but I guess we were used to that back home.

Then comes Thanksgiving holidays where we spent it in Las Vegas. At first, our impression of Vegas is just a bunch of hotels and casinos in the middle of the desert. Indeed it is, but, the structures were really nice. There's a lot to check so a few days weren't even enough. We just went to as many places as we can, but with an itinerary that allows us to relax a bit. After all, it was the Thanksgiving holidays, and we're with our little one, so nope, we didn't gamble in a casino. :)

At Hoover Dam
At Caesar's Palace
At Caesar's Palace
At Caesar's Palace
At Caesar's Palace
Bellagio Hotel

Bellagio Hotel

At Flamingo hotel
At Venetian Hotel
At Venetian Hotel
We also visited nice places within Arizona. We always hear good things about Sedona, so went for an unplanned road trip there - one of our anything-can-happen days.

And here comes Christmas time. We had a simple celebration at home. In welcoming the new year, we celebrated with friends. Winter in Arizona is awesome! In about 70 degrees F mid-day in Phoenix area, you can get some snow for sledding and skiing just a couple hours up north.

Overall, this year was awesome! We feel so blessed to have the opportunity for travel, together as a family. Cheers, to more family travels to come! :)

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