My friend Ali at Ali’s Adventures has nominated me to participate in the Best Dozen Posts of 2012, a round-up of posts from last year. Then I’ll nominate five more people to participate so we can keep the fun going. While I looked back at some of the best places I visited in 2012, I didn’t really do a review of my favorite posts, so this sounded like a fun way to look back at what I wrote over the year and share with you one post for each of 12 categories. And if you’re new here, it might be a good way to catch up!
1. Most Popular Post
Oddly enough, my most popular post in 2012 was a post I wrote in 2011 – How to Get a Russian Visa. The process can be expensive and time-consuming, so it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of people out there are looking for help figuring it all out.
2. Most Helpful Travel Tip
While it probably won’t apply to a large number of people, I think my most helpful post was the one I wrote about chasing down visas to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan while I was in Baku, Azerbaijan. I got lost the first time I tried to find both embassies on the outskirts of the city so afterwards I took pictures of nearby landmarks and compiled thorough notes about exactly how to find each. I also detailed the visa processes themselves as I had to visit each embassy three times.
3. A Post That Was Surprisingly Successful
None of my most popular posts particularly surprised me – at least none that I wrote in 2012. My biggest surprise was a post I wrote in November 2011 as part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge – they provided a prompt with a different topic each day. My post about making meaningful connections on the road continues to get a ton of traffic and was my second-most viewed post last year.
4. A Post I Thought Was Underrated
People did not seem to love Moldova. At least, they showed little interest in Moldova – none of my posts about the tiny country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania received a lot of traffic. Not my visit to Orheiul Vechi monastery, not my exploration of Europe’s largest underground wine cellar, not my day trip to Moldova’s breakaway republic of Transdniestr and not my summary of my overall impressions of Moldova. So please, if you have a minute, show Moldova a little love.
5. Most Controversial Post
McDonald’s can be a controversial topic. Some people swear they will never, ever set foot in the popular fast food chain at all during their travels – and they seem to look down at anyone who does. Therefore, when I wrote about how sometimes I just desperately need the Golden Arches when I travel, I expected some negative feedback. While it wasn’t nearly as controversial as I expected, it was probably as close as I came to stirring the pot.
6. Most Amusing Post
The subject matter of this post wasn’t so amusing when I wrote it, but now the overall story is one of my favorite to tell from my trip – being trapped on a boat crossing the Black Sea for 137 hours. I was miserable at the time, but as someone pointed out, one day it would just be a great story. That day is now.
7. The Post I’m Most Proud Of
Over time, I’ve realized that the posts I am most proud of tend to be those that I write fairly easily – they come to me quickly, the idea flows and the writing follows. Sure, I may make some minor edits, but they are just that – minor. The posts that take me forever and just drag on don’t turn out as well in my critical mind. That said, my post comparing travel in the Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan was one of my favorites – and it seemed to be one of yours as well, placing in the top 5 of my most viewed posts.
8. Best Travel Story or Travel Perspective
I’m declaring this one a tie. There are two stories I love to tell from my trip – one for the story itself and the other for the lesson I learned. The first is my experience traveling from Kars, Turkey to Tbilisi, Georgia, dealing with a wannabe scam artist and getting the last laugh. The latter took place in Kyrgyzstan, when the universe was conspiring to take me somewhere I didn’t intend to go and it took me a while to pay attention to all the signs being sent my way. Lesson learned: things will work out in the end, you just need to let them.
9. Best Travel Adventure
My pilgrimage to the underground mosque at Beket-Ata in Kazakhstan was one of my most memorable adventures last year. With a fellow tourist from Spain, I rode for hours through the dusty desert in a van with Sufi pilgrims, joined them for tea and prayers and then finally made a strenuous trek under the blazing sun to visit a mosque in a small cave built into the side of a cliff. A hit and run with a camel on the way back to Aktau capped off the exhausting day.
10. Best Cultural Perspective or Insights
I think my post about village life in Tajikistan really summed up what I experienced living in mountain villages in Tajikistan for a month and how it all made me appreciate what I have in the United States even more.
11. Most Beautiful
So perhaps “beautiful” isn’t quite the right word to describe my post featuring the most adorable stray cats in Istanbul. But these were some darn cute cats and some of my favorites pictures.
12. Best Photo or Photo Gallery
While some of my photos may have been more beautiful or captured more attractive destinations, I thought the photos that accompanied my post about visiting Chernobyl were some of the most moving pictures I took on my trip, capturing the desolation of the abandoned town of Pripyat.