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Our Most Memorable 2015 Travel Experiences II: Seeking Stillness

Swimming pigs, private islands, and real-life fantasy moments: AFAR staff share their most memorable travel experiences of the year. Part II.

When pigs can swim 
My most memorable experience was going to the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas, where there were nurse sharks, swimming pigs, and wild iguanas—the only place that has all three! We went to another small island, called Stocking Island, where there were beautiful white-sand beaches with waves crashing over the coral and nobody else in sight. The Exuma Cays has some of the clearest waters I've seen in the world! —Denise Hoo, Digital Ad Operations Manager

Alone in Patagonia
Being on the trails of Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, Argentina, totally by myself. Trekking to see Cerro Fitz Roy is one of the most popular things to do when in El Chalten—it’s arguably the one thing everyone is there to do. But because I was a solo traveler, because it was shoulder season, and because I woke up super-early to start the treks, there were certain stretches of time where I was the only person on the trail. It was so still, so peaceful, and mesmerizingly beautiful. When you see pictures of Patagonia, you don’t see other people. But when you hike there, you certainly do, as it’s a well-traveled place for adventurers. But that makes experiencing it alone all the more special, as well as kind of surreal. —Juliette San Fillipo, Associate Marketing Manager 

Train journey dreaming
Taking an overnight train between Poland and Prague was a highlight. I window-watched like a child caught in a dream about the lives of people in the towns I passed. Did I mention having to sleep on fun bunk beds? —Rachel Novick, Sales Coordinator

Utah-Arizona road trip
My wife Cheri and I agreed our road trip through Utah and Arizona in October was not only the best trip we had taken together, but one of the best trips we each had ever taken. The whole journey was one epic highlight reel, but particularly memorable was our first glimpse out over the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon (soon surpassed by actually walking down among them), hiking the Narrows in Zion, the bizarre patterns and colors in the rocks of Antelope Canyon (near Page, AZ), and careering down the natural water chute of Slide Rock in Sedona. —Nick Rowlands, Guides Editor 

Time to unplug & re-center
One of my most memorable travel experiences this year involved a chance to experience stillness. I went on an El Camino Travel trip to Nicaragua in July, and I left a few days early to stay in the Isletas de Granada. I had two nights all to myself at Isleta el Espino, a three-room private-island ecolodge. It was unbelievable. I had a pool, yoga deck, and restaurant at my disposal, and the view of Volcán Mombacho still sits as one of the more surreal I’ve seen in my life. I had a moment to unplug and just be. I felt clarity and connected to who I am and what I want. It was great to feel so healthy and balanced. We all need those moments to re-center from time to time! —Michaela Trimble, Brand Manager

Fantasy moments really do happen
I think my most memorable moment was most memorable because it was a cliché: a sunset over the Aegean Sea, viewed from a guesthouse in Santorini. It was one of those fantasy moments that lives up to the hype, made more intense by your awareness that it’s a fantasy moment that’s actually happening: This is me, this is my wife, this is our kid, snuggling with us under a blanket on our little patio with whitewashed walls. That is the breeze we are feeling, those are the lights of Oia in the distance, that is a cruise ship slowly leaving its port, and that is the sun, setting over the Aegean Sea. —Jeremy Saum, Executive Editor

A different sort of stillness
Amongst many wonderful (and successful) travel experiences this year, the most memorable was when I tried to check in at the airport kiosk for my flight home from Dublin to San Francisco and got the notification “Flight Boarding Closed.” I made sure to get to the airport two hours before my flight, so I couldn’t imagine I was late. After re-reading the ticket and searching the flight tracking boards, I realized I mixed up the time with my previous flights, and the plane was taking off in 20 minutes! We ended up having to stay an extra night in Dublin, and catching the first flight to New York the next morning. Now I know to double (triple, even quadruple) check my flights. Always. —Samantha Juda, Audience Marketing Specialist