Where We Went in 2011: GoNOMAD Travelers

GoNOMAD Travels: Where We Went in 2011

GoNOMAD's writers are also extensive travelers. Hey, how else would we be able to create so much unique travel content if we sat in our offices and never left? Below is a compendium of the many travels our staff and regular contributors took during this year, we hope this inspires you to make your own fantastic journeys in 2012!

Editor Max Hartshorne

The end of Australia's Great Ocean Walk in Victoria at the 12 Apostles. Max Hartshorne photo.
The end of Australia's Great Ocean Walk in Victoria at the 12 Apostles. Max Hartshorne photo.
Max Hartshorne, editor of GoNOMAD.com

In 2011, I got back to my normal pace of travel after deciding to close the GoNOMAD Cafe at the end of May. My first trip of the year took me to Victoria, Australia, where I hiked the Great Ocean Walk, along the bottom of this vast country. Beginning in Apollo Bay, this trail takes hikers in one direction along a 90 km trail through woodlands, dunes and most of the time, with amazing views of the Southern Ocean. The hike ends at the Twelve Apostles, dramatic rock outcroppings that dot the shore and where the park is one of the country's biggest attractions. Though most visitors arrive there by car over the equally famous Great Ocean Road.

In March I discovered three 'hidden gems' in Utah, the ski areas Snow Basin, Powder Mountain and Sundance, that aren't as well known or well skiied as the giants like Snowbird and Alta. These resorts are lift-line free and this part of the state is easy to get to from Salt Lake City, which will soon have an airport linked to a light rail system!

In June I joined 30,000 other bicyclists to ride the streets of Montreal; first during a 17 km night ride, and the next day 50 km with an even bigger throng. This city is very European and deserves its crown as a Canadian foodie paradise. Later that month I discovered the gleaming wine-lovers capital of Bordeaux, and in the Aquitaine countryside, visited a Palombiere, or hunting lodge. Then I spent the weekend in a chateau in the Dordogne to survey the local gastronomy.

In August I joined GoNOMAD shooter Paul Shoul to traverse the Fjordlands of Norway on trains buses and ferries and met great chefs in Alesund and Oslo Norway. Then a last minute invitation brought me biking the streets of Zagreb, Croatia, and ballooning in Plano Texas.

Then a trip to Wales provided a bunch of new culinary treats especially the morning spent foraging for porcini mushrooms. In November I visited Hana, Maui and the tiny island of Molokai, which couldn't be any more different. One island is a paradise, and another is remote and barely inhabited.

The year's last trip was a road journey to the Far North of New Zealand's North Island and a journey up the Coromandel Peninsula east of Auckland.

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Associate Editor Stephen Hartshorne

Stephen Hartshorne

Steve took the trip of a lifetime to Dublin, where he rode in a bus at the head of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, cheered on by 500,000 festive Dubliners. He also attended the Dublin Swell, a literary event the city's new convention center, which featured readings by dozens of great writers, including Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, and a two-year reunion concert by the Commitments.

The famous black dog of depression in the Dublin St. Patrick's Day Parade. photo by Steve Hartshorne.
The famous black dog of depression in the Dublin St. Patrick's Day Parade. photo by Steve Hartshorne.

Stephen and his daughter Sarah enjoyed a delightful trip to Squam Lakes in Holderness, New Hampshire, where the movie 'On Golden Pond' was filmed. They saw a performance of the play on which the movie was based, directed by the author, Ernest Thomson. They also visited lots of galleries and craft studios, dined like royalty, and took a boat tour of the Lakes on a glorious Sunday afternoon.

He took a short trip to Williamsburg, Massachusetts to attend a three-day intensive welding workshop at Snow Farm, a local crafts education center where he fashioned a number of brilliant works of art from metal scraps he found in the welding workshop.

Stephen also took a tour of eleven cities in Germany. Beginning in Wittenburg, he visited many of the important places in the life of Martin Luther, and walking through the cobblestone streets of these medieval cities and visiting historic sites, he gained a sense of how important Luther is to the spirit of the German people, not just as the founder of a new religion, but as the founder of the German traditions of music and education.

The second half of his tour took him to the fairy-tale palaces of the Rhine-Main Region. He visited Hanau, the home of the Brothers Grimm and the magnificent Philippsruhe Castle. He also visited the Johannes Gutenburg Museum in Mainz and learned about the invention of movable type and gambled at the casino in wiesbaden where Dostoyevsky lost all his dough.

While he was away in Germany, New England was blanketed with two feet of wet snow which knocked out the electricity for three days all over the Pioneer Valley. Fortunately the snow had all melted when he returned!

Senior Travel Editor Kent E. St John

Kent St. John
Kent St. John

It isn’t work if you love what your doing it, especially true at GoNOMAD. While due to circumstances beyond control I traveled less it still was a great travel year covering some new activities, from banging drums to hanging ten. We’ve been around for quite a long time and the adventures just keep building. Thanks for checking in with us and maybe next year we might have some of you on the pages. (check the writer’s guidelines link on the top right)

I started the year with a jaunt down to Rincon Puerto Rico, the Caribbean surfing capital with huge swells, great food and some of the most die-hard wave riders in the world. The lodging choices are all different and reasonable. At evening time, the knights of the board ensure a lively bar scene and love is in the air. An added plus is Puerto Rico's accessibility.

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While exploring some of the best manor houses surrounding Dublin I managed to play the Bodhran (Irish Drum) after just one lesson, at Eric Clapton’s one-time Irish home. Thankfully the band was very patient. Meeting the best chefs on the country and even getting some pointers added up to one incredible trip. Every trip to Ireland is a pleasure but this one was extraordinary because of the sumptous accommodations…

Sanssouci Castle in Northeastern Germany. photo by Kent E. St. John.
Sanssouci Castle in Northeastern Germany. photo by Kent E. St. John.

I have always been a Francophile and renewed that feeling again after a trip to Montpellier and southern France that remains a fact. We reversed the usual art museum equation and visited some new contemporary offerings as well as the reopening of the fabulous Fabre in Montpellier. The village of Sete on the Mediterranean served up some of the best seafood I ever tasted and the lodging choices were superb.

I have always had my own thoughts on East Germany, mostly based on old spy movies. After a visit to Potsdam and the surrounding countryside it was out with the old ideas and in with the new. East Germany maintains its own identity even as it continues to meld into the unified Germany, it remains a bit different and wonderful. The pace is a slower and the food is hearty. We stayed in a variety of castles and manor homes.

This year I started a new GoNOMAD Blog called Checking In to share some of the world’s most unique and interesting lodgings I have stayed in over the years with readers. Guest bloggers will also share some great finds.

Tomorrow I end the year with a road trip to Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico, to revisit the spirit, culture and foods that make New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. As a follow up to my photo gallery of Vermont this Fall, three cameras are packed and ready to go. All in all a very good year of sharing what the world offers.

Travel Blogger Will McGough

Will McGough
Will McGough

Puerto Rico (February): I’m a big fan of the Latin culture, and exploring Old San Juan was a great experience. Zip-lining stole the show, though – flying like superman 800ft in the air.

Chicago (April): The Windy City chilled me to the bone, but the details of the city kept me warm when the red wine did not.

Will McGough swims with pigs in the Bahamas.
Will McGough swims with pigs in the Bahamas.

San Diego (June): I love San Diego for many reasons – it’s beautiful. The weather, vibe, and beach/sailing communities position the city right up my alley. The San Diego Brew Fest was all smiles.

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Los Angeles (September): I went for the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival (TASTE) and came back with a photo of myself and Giada. The food and booze was icing on the cake.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic (September): The pictures from the Catamaran ride pretty much tell the story – I can’t help but smile when I’m on the water.

Giada DeLaurentiis with Will McGough.
Giada DeLaurentiis with Will McGough

Los Cabos Mexico (September): The arches of Los Cabos were as good as any natural beauty I saw this past year.

San Francisco (October): With urban hiking, unique neighborhoods, two wine countries, and stunning scenery, San Francisco instantly became one of my favorite American (major) cities.

Finger Lakes, New York (October): For the first time in my life, I came to understand why people miss the seasons. Something else I had never done: Wine tasting in the snow.

Eagle Island, Georgia (November): Whether you’re catching crabs, fishing, kayaking, walking, boating, drinking coffee on the porch, or reading a book by the fire, the Lodge at Eagle Island is good old-fashioned Southeast living.

Bahamas (November): Two things I never thought I would do were accomplished on this trip: Swimming with wild pigs and feeding french fries to an endangered species.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico (November): The Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a revamped promenade put the lush Puerto Vallarta on my list of places to return.

Manzanillo, Mexico (December): I don’t think I’ve ever been to an industrial town with better views.
Still to come: Monument Valley, Roswell, San Antonio, Austin, Alabama (cross-country road trip begins 12/11). Here’s hoping next year is equally busy.

Cindy Bigras

Travel Writer Cindy Bigras

January took me to Cancun Mexico's beautiful beaches and reliably warm temps. An easy to reach spot from all corners of the USA, you'll eat, party, and relax in style!

A few months later I donned layers of warm clothes to ski in the Alps outside Torino, Italy. After a dozen years of not touching skis, the challenging slopes of the Via Lattea awakened my love of skiing! Like most things, it's definitely better in Italy. 🙂


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