Glacier Hike with Glacier Guides, Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland

Best Travel Moments of 2013

As the year is quickly coming to a close, we wanted to take some time to reflect on what a wonderful year 2013 has been.  Visiting Iceland was one of our all time favorites, which if you’ve been following along with us, you probably already know as we can’t shut up about it! But, there were many other great travel memories from the year as well, some we have already shared with you, some we haven’t quite gotten around to writing about yet.  Either way, we are excited to think back on 2013 as we ring in the new year, so here is our roundup of our best travel moments from the past 12 months!

Glacier Hiking and Ice Climbing in Iceland

By far, our favorite adventure this year was our glacier hike and ice climb experience with Glacier Guides! There is something mystical about standing at the rugged ice-fall of a glacier; it is unlike anything we have ever experienced before.  Add in adrenaline pumping climbs up ice walls and crevices, and it’s an adventure you aren’t going to forget anytime soon.

Glacier Hike with Glacier Guides, Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland

White Water Canoeing in Iceland

White water canoeing the Hvita River with Arctic Adventures was a close second in terms of amazing adventure of the year.  While it didn’t push the glacier hike out of first place–it definitely got our adrenaline pumping A LOT more.  We decided to forgo the large 8 person raft for a two person canoe, and there may have been some instances where we didn’t think we would make it to see life on the other side of the rapids.  Thankfully, we with the help our guide Ian, we made it through the rapids safe, sound and right side up…that is until we reached calm waters and flipped by bumping into one of the other rafts (ironic, huh?).  After our dip in the extremely chilly water, we were surprised with a nice bout of hail to cool us down even more.  Even though this might sound like torture, it was extremely exciting and we loved most every minute of  it!

White Water Canoeing on Hvítá River in Iceland

Snorkeling Silfra Under the Midnight Sun in Iceland

OK, so evening snorkeling between two continents in 34°F water isn’t something that exactly labels you as sane, but in Iceland with the almost 24 hours of sunlight, it is a surreal experience.  The water in Silfra is some of the purest on earth and runs between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.  Even though the water is quite chilly, dry suits from head to toe keep you warm most everywhere but your lips.  We opted for the midnight sun tour with Dive.IS, as they are the only company that can run evening tours, and we ended up with a private tour by chance! The only people in the entire river were us and our guide, so it was eerily peaceful and a great end to our day.

Snorkeling Silfra Under the Midnight Sun Tour in Iceland

Snorkeling with the Manatees in Florida

Our other snorkel tour took place in sunny Florida, but it still wasn’t exactly warm.  At 72°F, the water temperature was nearly 40° warmer than our snorkeling adventure in Iceland, but it still required a wetsuit to swim comfortably in the winter waters.  In the winter, manatees flock to the warm water of the Silver Springs in the Crystal River, so it makes for prime-time viewing of the cuddly giants.  They are just so adorable–we loved getting close and swimming with these amazing animals.

Snorkeling with Manatees in Crystal River, FloridaSnorkeling with Manatees in Crystal River, Florida

Turtle Hospital and Turtle Hatchling Release

Every year, thousands of sea turtles make their nests along the Florida beaches, and since sea turtles are protected wildlife, there are many programs in place to ensure their safety and wellbeing.  The first ever Turtle Hospital was started in Marathon, Florida, and we recently had the chance to tour the facility.  We learned all about how they care for injured turtles and were able to see some of the famous residents, including the one and only turtle named Bubble Butt!

The other turtle experience we were able to participate in was the Hatchling Release Program at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.  After an informational presentation about the adorable turtles, we walked to the beach to watch over 30 baby turtles be released into the ocean.  These turtles didn’t quite make it to the ocean on their first try, so they are rescued and given a second chance to make it to safe waters.  Good luck little guys–we’re rooting for you!

Turtle Hatchling Release Boca Raton, FloridaTurtle Hatchling Release Boca Raton, Florida

Key West Sunset Sail

Sunsets are a big deal in Key West, and watching the sun dip below the horizon while sailing the seas is one of the best ways to view it.  Taking a ride on an old-time sailboat was so much fun–we got to help steer the ship, fire cannons at passing boats and watch dolphins playing in the water beside us.  It was the perfect way to relax after a busy day exploring Key West.

Schooner Jolly II Rover, Sunset Sail, Key West, FL

Searching for Family History in Norway

Micah and I both have family roots in Norway, and we had the chance to seek out the homestead where his family lived before moving to America.  We were able to pinpoint the Kvitt homes in the tiny fjord town of Flam.  While on a boat ride through the fjords, we were able to get a glimpse of the homes, and with a little help from the kind gentleman at our hotel, we were able to take a few pictures up close as well. It was pretty amazing to succeed in tracing one link of our family history, and we hope to search out more of it again soon.

Kvitt Farm, Flam, Norway

Exploring the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

I had very low expectations for the Giant’s Causeway, but it surprised me in so many ways.  The stunning beauty stretched for miles, and I didn’t want to stop exploring the unique basalt columns that were created from lava so many years ago.  Even with the cloudy, rainy weather, we snapped copious amounts of photographs before reluctantly moving on to our next stop.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Icy Weekend Back Home in Minneapolis

Apparently, since moving away from frigid Minnesota, I have developed a newfound love for ice.  Even though I still hate being cold, exploring ice at any chance we get has become sort of a mission this past year.  We went back to Minneapolis to catch up with friends and went ice skating, toured the Ice Castle at the Mall of America and explored frozen waterfalls.  It was a fun weekend full of ice!

Ice Castle at the Mall of America in Minnesota

Little Havana Culinary Tour

I had been wanting to explore Miami’s Little Havana area for quite some time, so when we received an invitation to join Miami Culinary Tours on their food tour through the area, we jumped at the chance.  We walked down Calle Ocho and sampled so many delicious foods that we were about to burst; from the savory empanadas, chicken stuffed plantains and midnight sandwiches, to the sweet ice cream and guava pastry and more, we definitely left with full and satisfied stomachs.

Little Havana Culinary Tour in Miami, Florida

Meeting So Many New Friends Along the Way

Over the past year, we have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, and it has become one of our favorite aspects of traveling.  In Iceland, we met up with Inga form Tiny Iceland, and her hospitality was outstanding–we had so many fun adventures including driving the Golden Circle, having a run in with an elf, exploring the famous Reykjavik nightlife and so much more.  We can’t wait to return to Iceland one day soon!

Spending an evening with our friends from Felix Fables in London, was the perfect way to end our one day in the city–we were invited over for a delicious Sunday roast and wasted away the evening with great conversation, impromptu music sessions and scrumptious apple crumble dessert.

We also attended the travel blogging conference, TBEX, in Dublin, Ireland, and we made some great friends while we were there.  The highlights of our three days in Dublin all revolved around the wonderful people we met.  And, last but definitely not least, we met up with other blogging friends in Norway and right here in Florida as well!

Friends from Blogging in 2013

Whew, that was quite a list.  Thank you all for joining us in our first full year of Wander The Map–we are so happy to share and interact with each and every one of you!  We hope 2014 brings us all many exciting adventures!

Share with us: What were your favorite moments in 2013?


  • Samantha
    Posted at 17:46h, 31 December Reply

    What a year! Especially that ice climbing looks crazy! Jealous you guys got to snorkel with manatees!
    Samantha recently posted…Favorite Travel Photos of 2013My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:29h, 02 January Reply

      The ice climbing was so fun! We didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into, but we are so glad we chose the tour we did! The manatee snorkeling was great too–they are so adorable! You will have to go if you find yourself in Florida one day! Happy 2014 🙂
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Best Travel Moments of 2013My Profile

  • Les Petits Pas de Juls
    Posted at 17:57h, 31 December Reply

    Great retrospective of a beautiful year! It made me want to do it all over again and some of your activities are high on my to-do list now! snorkeling in Iceland!!!! and with the manatees!
    It was great to meet you too and I hope we have more opportunities to do so later in our respective travels!

    Enjoy the road and Happy New Year!
    Les Petits Pas de Juls recently posted…Weekly Photo Challenge : JoyMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:27h, 02 January Reply

      Thanks, Julie! You will have to do the manatee snorkeling next time you are in FL! It was so fun & the Iceland one was awesome too 🙂 It was great to meet you too–definitely hope our paths cross again in the future! Happy 2014 and safe travels!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Best Travel Moments of 2013My Profile

  • Bridget
    Posted at 19:40h, 01 January Reply

    These are some great travel experiences! You have had a great year! Iceland is high on my list and I am hoping to go this August so I will need to refer back to some of these great excursions when it is time to book. Giant’s Causeway looks beautiful, I need to make my way back to Ireland and tack on Northern Ireland next time! Food tours are my favorite way to absorb the local culture and the Miami one looks fantastic. I’ll need to look into that next time I am in Florida! Happy New Year and here’s to more great travel experiences in 2014!
    Bridget recently posted…In Photos: VeniceMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:25h, 02 January Reply

      Thanks for stopping by! We did have a great year; hope yours was great too! 🙂 We loved Iceland and really hope you enjoy it this summer–there are so many fun things to do there and it’s so beautiful. The Giant’s Causeways was really pretty too and we would recommend a visit to NI too. We kind of did the opposite of you–we need to explore more of Ireland next time! And, yes, the food on the Little Havana tour was so good–their other tours look fun too. Happy 2014 and wishes for great travels to you as well!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Best Travel Moments of 2013My Profile

  • Agata
    Posted at 09:37h, 03 January Reply

    This is a wonderful list! I agree with your choice completely!
    I have recently experienced some extreme activities in New Zealand. My favorite would be sea kayaking and white rafting in LOTR filming locations!

    Safe travels in 2014!
    Agata recently posted…Best Way To Chill OutMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 22:25h, 09 January Reply

      Thank you–we had a great time! Sounds like you had some amazing experiences in New Zealand! Would love to go there and try them both sometime!

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 16:34h, 03 January Reply

    Looks like a fun year! We also loved glacier hiking and snorkeling at Silfra.
    Jennifer recently posted…Our 13 Best Travel Moments of 2013My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 22:29h, 09 January Reply

      Thanks–it was a fun year! Glad you enjoyed the glacier hike and snorkeling too! Hope 2014 is great for you both!

  • eemusings
    Posted at 19:35h, 03 January Reply

    I’m going to do my own version of this on our RTW departure anniversary! So many great moments, but getting to meet amazing blog friends IRL all over the world was just incredible.
    eemusings recently posted…A mantra for 2014 (and beyond)My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 22:35h, 09 January Reply

      Awesome–hope you have been having an amazing time! Always love meeting other bloggers all over the world as well 🙂 Look forward to your recap!

  • northierthanthou
    Posted at 16:37h, 04 January Reply

    That looks like a damned good year.
    northierthanthou recently posted…2014 Happens!My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 22:39h, 09 January Reply

      It was a great year! Hope yours was great and 2014 is even better! 🙂

  • wanderingeducators
    Posted at 21:51h, 04 January Reply

    what fun! can’t wait to see what you’ll do THIS year!
    wanderingeducators recently posted…Taipei with Kids: 24 Tips for a Great TripMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 22:40h, 09 January Reply

      Thanks! We did have a great time–can’t wait for the upcoming year as well! Hope you have a great year!

  • Kenin Bassart
    Posted at 11:42h, 10 January Reply

    Looks like you had a fantastic year. Here’s to a great 2014!
    Kenin Bassart recently posted…The Ramblin’ Tampa Travel GuideMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 19:38h, 11 January Reply

      It was great–thanks! Hope your 2014 is amazing!

  • Tana B
    Posted at 20:48h, 13 January Reply

    Sounds like quite the year you guys had. Iceland was never really on my radar but I have been hearing a lot about it lately. Looks like an amazing place. Seems like there are a lot of extreme sport and outdoor activities to do there. Looks like I’m gonna have to add it to my bucket list.
    PS- you have some really great/beautiful pictures
    Tana B recently posted…Riding Motorcycles in Complete ChaosMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:29h, 20 January Reply

      Thanks so much! It really was a great year. Iceland was amazing–we loved how beautiful it was and there really are so many fun adventure activities! Hope you have a great time when you make it there! Happy 2014!

  • Natalie
    Posted at 07:19h, 19 January Reply

    Wow! What an amazing year you had! Beautiful photos.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:45h, 20 January Reply

      Thanks, Natalie! It was a great year–hope yours was too, and happy travels in 2014!

  • whywasteannualleave
    Posted at 20:42h, 23 January Reply

    What a year you’ve had!! You guys are so brave doing the ice climbing in Iceland! I had no idea Manatees looked so adorable!!
    whywasteannualleave recently posted…Orangutan spotting in Borneo Part 1: Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Sabah MalaysiaMy Profile

  • Oliver
    Posted at 06:31h, 27 January Reply

    Absolutely stunning recap of an apparently marvellous year 2013 for you guys! I especially like the impression from Iceland and Norway. Sort of a dream of mine to discover these countries plus a decent stopover on the Faroe Islands by car. Maybe not the definition of “the ultimate road trip”, but still something I would crave to do…
    Oliver recently posted…Dreams ~ Henry David ThoreauMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:48h, 05 February Reply

      Thank you, Oliver! I think that sounds like an amazing trip! The Faroe Islands are high on our list too! 🙂 Hope you get to make it to Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands soon and have a great 2014 too!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

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