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Travel blogging favorite memories of 2016! Blog & social media year in review.

travel blogger year review summary

Wow, 2016 went by fast! Can’t believe it is already time for my annual year-end reflection. Let’s whip out the “member-berries,” and muse about my favorite moments of the past 12 months.

I traveled to 15 countries this year, a personal record that takes the grand total to about 60. I made it to some of my dream destinations (New Zealand, Istanbul, Myanmar) and appeared on TV shows for NBC and Travel Channel.

“Member” my 2015 summary? (“Yeah, I member.”) Looking back, 2016 built upon those goals, and took everything up a few notches.

morbid anatomy museum queens ny

“Let’s start at the very beginning / A very good place to start.” Yukiro and I flew to NYC at the tail end of 2015, and celebrated New Years Eve with our friends, in full Gothic fabulosity. While in New York, we also made “field trips” to the Morbid Anatomy museum, Lovecraft bar, and more.

New York City, NY – find all my adventures from over the years in the Big Apple.

chichen itza travel bloggers mexico

Next, we escaped the cold in Riviera Maya and Tulum, Mexico. Of course, we dove into the spooky side of Mexican culture: Day of the Dead skull art, and Mayan pyramids where human sacrifices took place.

 Mexico – see our stories here, along with more photos of Chichen Itza.

bela lugosi grave, celebrity graves

Soon after, I was honored to be invited to attend the World Tourism Forum. The journey began in Los Angeles,  where I reunited with friends and got my fangs on (rolling around Bela Lugosi’s grave, and drinking blood wine at a vampire lounge and ball).

Los Angeles, California – I’ve been blogging about LA’s Goth and alternative scene for years, right here.

world tourism forum travel blogger istanbul

Then I flew to Istanbul, Turkey, and soared over the Sultanahmet district (the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are beneath my wings). I’ve been longing to see “Constantinople” for years, and was happy that I reached this goal. With the world changing so quickly, it’s more important than ever to travel now.

♥ All my Turkey (Istanbul) travel stories, focusing on the art and culture of the city.

david bowie memorial mural

We filmed with Brussels and Wallonia Tourism right after, capturing the art and carnival culture. This was right after the death of David Bowie, and two weeks before the Molenbeek terrorist attack…. Travel safely and intelligently, and do it while you can. Who knows when the zombie apocalypse will come.

See all my Brussels, Belgium blogs.

young female travel blog new zealand

Next, I got to hang out with Hobbits in New Zealand! Contiki Asia reached out to me, and I partnered with them on a showcase of their New Zealand North Island tour. What a magnificent country, filled with natural wonders like the mangrove trees of Paihia, and blue glowworms in the caves of Waitomo. And let’s not forget my photoshoot in the Lord of the Rings movie set.

♥ Enjoy all my New Zealand (Auckland and North Island) adventures.

fashion blogger sydney bridge

Life is short, and you never know when you’ll return somewhere, or have an opportunity window… With that in mind, I hopped over to Sydney, Australia for the first time. I only got a taste, but I’m keen to see more of Down Under.

miffy art parade figurines collectables

I applied this same philosophy to my next journey. I wrangled a 24 hour stopover in the Netherlands — which was enough for me to visit the Miffy Museum in Utrecht! I’m mad about the Dutch bunny, and this was my chance to “get my Miffy on.”

It doesn’t matter how nonsensical or bizarre your passions / interests / quests are. Make them happen, now. 

boat ride lake bled, slovenia

I confess that Slovenia was never on my bucket list — but I’m all for saying Yes, and discovering something new. This little country turned out to be one of my favorite destinations of the year. My team and I fell in love with the creative food, kind locals, fairy tale castles…

♥ Read my guides to Surprising Slovenia (Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Portoroz).

goth stockholmm sweden

I’ve been to all the major European countries, but didn’t make it to Scandinavia until this summer. (You can find my exact eyeball shirt here.)

Stockholm, Sweden is gorgeous during this time of year. I walked all throughout the capital, ducked into the Yayoi Kusama exhibition, and ate like a Viking. How I miss the local fish and caviar.

modern design museum helsinki

I rekindled my passion for minimal, modern architecture and design in Helsinki. My team and I loved the Eero Aarnio retrospective (he’s the Finnish designer of the 1960s Ball Chair).

You can get the spiderweb jacket I’m wearing here, on sale.

depeche mode theme bar interior

We took the ferry to Tallinn, Estonia. Once again, we discovered gems in a country that most people know little about. There’s a Depeche Mode bar and hipster art collectives, and a colorful restaurant culture.

super kilen cool park copenhagen

Finally, I strolled through the hip neighborhoods of Copenhagen, Denmark. This photo is taken in Superkilen Park — I came across a photo of the urban design years ago, and it was a joy to to see it with my own eyes.

♥ See all my Scandinavia and Nordic Europe posts here.

coolest temple shrine japan kyoto

In the fall, it was back to my old stompin’ grounds: Japan. I had the opportunity to work with J Rail Pass, and ride the rails throughout the country (I made it to Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka and Koyasan in a week).

I always feel energised here, and loved catching up with my friends. I also got to try something new: a Buddhist temple stay in the mountains of Koya. I’ll share this experience with you soon.

♥ All my travel tips about Tokyo and Japan are here. I hope you find them helpful for planning a trip.

nbc better late than never, william shatner

This year, I was also in some big travel TV shows. I hosted an episode for Travel Channel, and danced with Captain Kirk for NBC’s Better Late Than Never!

holiday nail art, christmas penguin nails

In November / December, I returned to Hong Kong for a job with STAKK Factory, a new media site that specializes in fashion, travel and food videos. We shot a DIY nail art video about holiday nails, with much more to be released soon.

Finally, Yukiro and I flew to Yangon, Myanmar with HK Express. What an extraordinary country… I posted a few previews on my social media (@lacarmina), and the full story will come out early next year. Stay tuned — you don’t want to miss this one.

miffy giant statue museum utrecht

Here’s to friends, trying new things, and saying “yes” in 2017. As Yukiro wisely says, “Always go forward, but never straight!”

What were your favorite member-berries of the previous year? Do you have any bucket list destinations / goals for the New Year?

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Hong Kong cat cafes, Bangkok clubs & European train journey. LaCarmina year in review, pt 2.

tall boots, grunge clothing

Goodbye, 2013! What a spectacular year you’ve been. Let’s continue our look-back with highlights of the last six months.

hong kong cat cafe, cats theme restaurant food

But first: a peek into a Hong Kong cat cafe! Watch my new video on Huffington Post, where I visit Causeway Bay’s “Ah Meow” theme restaurant. It’s home to dozens of adopted cats, including at least three Scottish Folds.

My round Basil Farrow makes a cameo too… Can you find him in there?

tv filming, circus halligalli

Now, back to the yearly sum-up. As you saw in Part 1, I spent the first half of the year traveling for work. In July, I remained in my hometown of Vancouver — but did I stop to rest? Hell no.

The famous German TV show, Circus HalliGalli with Joko and Klaas, flew in to shoot a challenge about lip-sewing body modifications! When it aired, it caused quite the stir among the tabloids. Watch my evil TV hosting in this episode, if you dare.

anime convention vancouver expo

Seby and I also appeared as guests of honor, at Vancouver’s Anime Evolution convention. We had a great time meeting you, and hope to be back next summer.

Lolita Treff fashion Österreich

Next, my film team and I did an epic journey in Central and Eastern Europe with Eurail. We “coolhunted” emerging trends, nightlife, fashion and more in Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Belgrade (Serbia), and Zagreb (Croatia).

web travel videos series

Our videos are getting hundreds of thousands of views, on Business Insider; I’m glad you’re enjoying this series. Here are all my east European travel guides.

bangkok thailand press trip

Then it was back to Asia. Thailand Tourism sent Seby and me to Bangkok, to experience “T-pop” culture and share it with you. We were hosted by Sofitel So, a blissfully elegant 5-star hotel (this is their funky “Earth”-themed room).

siam discovery designer fashion

We were enthralled by the colorful local fashion at Siam Discovery, and golden temple of Wat Pho. I still have more Bangkok posts to share with you, so stay tuned to the South Asia page.

I also had the chance to do more TV presenting. Some projects, I can’t say much about yet due to contractual agreements… but rest assured that when things air, you’ll be the first to know.

Above is my latest TV hosting reel, which includes clips from Discovery TV’s Oddities. The cover image is from my dinner with my friend Andrew Zimmern, who was in Vancouver filming Bizarre Foods!

sexy astronaut costume

Every year, I go all-out for Halloween and Day of the Dead. This time, I celebrated my favorite holiday in Portland. Between partying, this space-girl floated to steampunk stores, vegan brunches and Lovecraft bars. Click here for all the PDX, Oregon action.

uo hong kong express airways magazine

Are you exhausted yet? The year’s not quite done: a TV job meant spending most of November in Tokyo, Japan. I love seeing the cute Christmas lights and decorations during this festive season.

I was also on two magazine covers in December: the alternative fashion Rebelicious Mag, and the in-flight magazine of Hong Kong Express Airways.

cat licking feet

And here we are, licking our feet. I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds. Already, there are meaningful travel projects in the works, and a new destination in January… Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement. Hint, it’s somewhere in the Middle East.

scottish fold cat face

For you Tokyo fashion lovers, worry not: I have lots of Jpop posts coming up. You can get sneak peeks (along with snapshots of my cat) on @lacarmina Instagram.

cat winking, closing one eye

And don’t forget to watch my new HK Cat Cafe video, wink wink.

Do you feel you’ve grown or changed in 2013? What are you looking forward to in the New Year?

Miami to Maldives, Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong: Travel blogger’s year in review, pt 1.

shinjuku hanazono shrine torii, red shinto gates

Ready to ring in the New Year?

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know it’s time for my annual Year in Review. This gives me a chance to reflect on the past 12 months, and share some bonus photos with you. So let’s head straight (or gaily forward, as my friends would say) to the first half.

art deco girl, 1930s hair curls

My site’s focus and projects grew significantly in 2013. At this point, I’m traveling at least once a month to a far-off place, usually with my film team or a TV show. It’s my passion to report first-hand on alternative cultures around the world.

Last January, I escaped the cold at Miami Art Deco Weekend. I caught up with friends and did this retro 1920s photoshoot with Mayleen G. Enjoy the Florida posts, including a Bettie Page runway show, in this category.

david bowie theme restaurant cafe

I’ll never tire of going to Tokyo. I continue to be in Japan several times a year for television hosting and arranging jobs. Each time, there’s something new to experience, like the David Bowie cafe, Alphonse Mucha exhibit…

pirate themed restaurant japan

… and King of the Pirates theme restaurant. Best of all, I get to have fun with my friends. (Interested in hiring us? Learn about our TV production and consulting services.)

maldives boat ride

Next, my filmmakers and I were invited to a very special place: the Maldives. We fell in love with eco-luxury resort Gili Lankanfushi, and I got to live out my Treasure Island fantasies. Here’s our Maldives video and all the sunny photos.

abu dhabi head covering mosque

We also landed in the Middle East for the first time. Dubai was a sci-fi wonderland, and I loved walking through the egg-like Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi. Discover the Arabian peninsula’s grandeur in these blog posts.

montreal bagel shops

There’s no need to jet to far-off places to have an adventure. I featured my home country – Canada – in a series about Montreal’s Goth culture and Kinetik Festival. One of the highlights was bagel-tasting with Aesthetic Perfection’s Daniel Graves.

hong kong model, fashion blogger

It appears a lot of people read my site for the Hong Kong travel guides, which makes me happy. This city is full of energy and pop culture oddities, like cute food and giant floating ducks. (Intrigued? Then see my Hong Kong tips.)

japanese prayer cards, shinto ema

I leave you with an image from Shinjuku’s Hanazono Shrine. Shinto worshipers write wishes on these little wood plaques (called ema), and leave them for the kami to hopefully deliver.

On that note, do you have any New Years resolutions? What do you hope to achieve or improve in 2014?

british shorthair coupari fold

I think we can all resolve to take care of ourselves, do meaningful work, and treat our furry companions like the kings they are! I’m shooting everything with DSLR now, so you can expect more images like the one above.

Coming up next: part II of my annual reflections.

Italy modeling, New York fashion week & Dancing for Japan. La Carmina travel blog: 2012 year in review, part 1.

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Merry Christmas, pirates! It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the end of 2012. Let’s usher in 2013 with my annual “year in review,” beginning with reminisces and outtake photos from the first six months.

I spent January in Italy with Seby. We stayed with his family in northern Italy, and then ventured to Florence for Luisaviaroma’s Firenze4Ever (the event that flies in the world’s top fashion bloggers for photoshoots and fun). One of the many highlights was modelling designer fashion with the Duomo as my backdrop. You see more images from this shoot here.

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I did quite a few TV hosting and fixing gigs this year, with my First Mate Naomi. It’s a pleasure to work with her, and team up with some of my favorite shows including National Geographic Taboo, Discovery TV Oddities, Fashion TV, and more. More TV hosting clips to come in 2013.

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In February, Yukiro and I attended New York Fashion Week, and even sat front row at Lincoln Center shows. We also checked out NYC’s Goth Punk shops and nightlife, such as this romantic Dances of Vice party in a church.

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For the one year anniversary of the Japan Earthquake, I teamed up with Industrial dancers tank9 and Mary Nine. We made a dance video in Seattle, as part of Ridley Scott’s Japan in a Day collaborative film (watch it here.)

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As you know, I host a regular travel video series published in Huffington Post. My film crew and I got the chance to shoot in gorgeous Maui, Hawaii. We explored the local fashion and over-indulged in Japanese food (check out my Hawaiian travel guide).

I’m always looking to stretch my creative wings, and do something new… and one of my favorite projects was the release of DNR’s Rock Princess music video. Do you like my red hair and Vivienne Westwood disco dress?

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Don’t worry: between all the adventures, I put in plenty of Basil-snuggling time! In the next post, we’ll take a look at what happened in the second half of 2012.

Did you travel anywhere this year? Try something new, or achieve a goal? What were your favorite memories? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.