December 27, 2016

Alexa's Best of 2016: Moments & Places

As this year draws to a close, I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite things with all of you, both bookish and non-bookish. Beginning today, you'll have a chance to hear me gush all about the things that I've loved in 2016, and I'm so pumped to be able to talk up all of my beloved new favorites! 

This is the last post in my 2016 Best Of series. In case you missed them, here are the four posts I shared last week:
I decided I wanted to get personal this time around, and so, I'm going to be talking about some of my favorite experiences I had and places I've gotten to visit in 2016. It's been one hell of a year for me and a lot of the people I love, and looking back on it (which you'll see more of in my yearly recap), I have been extremely fortunate to be able to do so many incredible things, and to go to such a variety of places, and it was a true joy to be able to look back at some of my favorite moments by typing up this post. (Note: These are in no particular order, as I found it impossible to rank them since I loved them all for different reasons.)

the Colosseum by night
Earlier this year, I got to go on a whirlwind family trip with my family & Macky to Europe. We hit up a bunch of different cities and did a whole lot of things, but one of my favorite experiences was going on a night tour of the Colosseum in Rome. I thought that it was impressive by day, but at night, it was even more striking. It was interesting and creepy to explore the underbelly in the near dark, and I definitely think it was one of the coolest experiences ever.

the Palace of Versailles
Before we had even finalized our trip plans, I already knew that I was going to suggest visiting the Palace of Versailles. I've always been fascinated by the place, based on what I knew of it in my studies of European History when I was still in school. And it was everything I had imagined - opulent and gigantic and well-crafted. I loved the Hall of Mirrors the most! I wish we could have spent just a little bit more time wandering around, but I suppose that just means I'll have to come back for another visit.

Of all the cities we put on our itinerary, I was most unsure of Lucerne. But I'm happy to report that I fell head over heels in love with the city! It's a small metropolis, but it's got some picturesque views and a lot of careful attention to detail in the construction of buildings and their appearances. It was seriously one of the most charming little towns I've ever had the fortune of visiting, and I would gladly go back.

Danica and I made a pact to take a trip to Orlando last year - and we made it happen! It was seriously one of the most magical trips I've ever taken. We got our money's worth, that's for sure. I'm always charmed by the magic of visiting my favorite theme parks, and it was especially wonderful to visit with one of my best friends in the whole entire universe. Here's to another Orlando trip in our future!

Pokemon Go runs
In July and August, Danica and I were pretty obsessed with Pokemon Go. (I still play now, but not nearly as much as I used to.) Anyway, we spent a lot of time this summer walking around, visiting places we wouldn't normally go to and just hanging out to catch new Pokemon. It was definitely something I'll remember about 2016.

New York Comic Con
I got to go to my first ever New York Comic Con this year! It was a crazy but wonderful experience, and I loved every second of it. It's so cool to see all these people who have a genuine love for different fandoms and creators to come together in one place! I loved seeing the creative costumes, drooled over a lot of the art and merch that was on sale and also managed to snag quite a few books.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Charity Screening
It was so. effing. cool. to be able to see one of my most anticipated films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, early at Carnegie Hall. Macky and I paid for tickets to the advanced screening, which was held to raise funds for J.K. Rowling's charity Lumos. We got the chance to hear J.K. Rowling and Eddie Redmayne chat a bit about Lumos and about the film, and the rest of the main cast even made an appearance onstage before the screening commenced. Such a magical night!

The Secret Garden concert performance
Speaking of magical nights, it was absolutely wonderful to get to see a whole host of talented individuals perform a concert version of The Secret Garden at the Lincoln Center. It was truly incredible to see one of my favorite childhood books come to life via live musical performances, and I was madly in love with how it was staged.

James Bay on Good Morning America
On a rainy, chilly morning during the summer, Danica and I woke up early to head over to Central Park and line up to catch James Bay performing live on Good Morning America. We spent hours waiting (in the rain) (without umbrellas), but it was worth it to see a little of his rehearsal and then his actual performance - even if we ended up having to buy new clothes before work because we were completely soaked.

James Bay at Radio City Music Hall
Speaking of James Bay, Danica and I also watched his concert at Radio City Music Hall. It was incredible! He's such a talented guy, and hearing him play his guitar and sing the songs he wrote live is always a real treat. Plus, we got really great seats that were so close to the stage and we basically died and went to fangirl heaven that night.

Blogger Brunch Panel @ B&N Tribeca
One of the coolest experiences I had this year was being part of a blogger panel at Barnes & Noble Tribeca! I got to sit and chat about blogging and books with the gals from Quality Fangirls, Dana Square & Brittany's Book Rambles, and it was really great. I've always enjoyed talking about the processing of blogging and what I've learned in the years I've been doing it, and I loved recommending books as well.

Visits from Family & Friends
One of the things that Macky and I have always agreed on is that we wanted our future home to be a home for all our friends and family. It's been such a treat to get to welcome so many of our loved ones to our small little apartment, and to have them fill the place with their love and their joy. A number of our loved ones have graced the apartment with their presence this year, and we could not be happier about it. 

Game Nights & Studio Nights
Personally, one of my favorite things about 2016 has been the official establishment of game nights and studio nights at our house. Game nights involve Macky's spin on a Dungeons & Dragons type game, where he serves as game master and concocts the stories and helps us shape our characters. It's been so fun to play all sorts of games and different characters, and I always look forward to more! And studio night is something Danica, Macky and I (and his brother Kahl) collaborate on, where we help Macky shape his own stories. (Photo c/o Russell)

A Very Harry Potter Birthday
Even though it was decided so last minute, my friends & I rallied together and came up with the most magical Harry Potter birthday celebration I could have ever imagined. The set-up was perfectly wonderful, with just the right touches to make me feel like I was in Hogwarts. 

A Very Merry Christmas Party
Macky wanted to host a little Christmas dinner at our house, and we turned it into a casual, cozy affair. He cooked a lot of his standards, and Kahl and I teamed up to decorate our home and make it a nice little cheery holiday spot. There were a lot of laughs, plenty of food and good cheer and I would be happy to host more Christmas parties like that one, if given the chance. (Photo c/o Thea)

Escape the Room
One of my favorite things I got to try this year was my very first Escape the Room. The basic concept is that you and a whole group of people are locked into a room for about sixty minutes and you have to solve all the riddles in it to find your way out. The theme of our room was bank heist, and in spite of technological difficulties with their equipment, we still managed to solve all the riddles! So much fun, and I would gladly do it again.

What were some of your favorite experiences and places you went to in 2016?


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