Most Memorable Moments of 2014

2014 has been a little out of control. We rocked through 17  countries, 9 of which I’d visited previously, all in the name of wanting to start settling down more. This lifestyle seems to be tough to quit.


Jacob and I went snow tubing.

We spent some time with friends and family before we flew to London and took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland.

 gma and gpa

Introducing my secretly adventure-loving grandparents to Vietnamese pho

We fell in love with Edinburgh’s charm, friendly people, free museums and libraries, and ethnic grocery stores.

Jacob met a friend who introduced us to StuntFit, a type of sport he made up which involves sliding head first down ramps in skate parks.



We had a dance party with a group of friends, and went on a ski trip with them.

Our old dear road tripping friends Ben and Sally came to stay with us for a night or two.


A Kurdish restaurant—delicious!

Still in Edinburgh, we hosted a Couchsurfer—a Greek doctor– for the first time. It was mainly in gratitude for another Greek doctor who let us stay for free in his house while he was gone on the island of Rhodes. I enjoyed it enough to become converted. We had a little pizza party with another couchsurfing family, from Ukraine, at the same time.

We had some friends over for Bangladeshi food.

We took a road trip around Scotland, using stories from to visit locations of both Jacob and I’s ancestors (turns out we share one from the 13th century). It was an unexpected spiritual boost at feeling connected with ancestors, seeing where they lived and worked, and understanding myself better in the process.

We met up with fellow former FLSR-ites to visit the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

bridge ireland

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

dilapidated castle

Castle in Scotland


We flew into Prague, Czech Republic and spent a few days there. I walked away with a totally different impression of it than I had the first time. Sure, it’s touristy, but it’s great for kids.

We went to Dresden, Germany and I saw a fellow BYU grad perform onstage at Semper Oper. She’s now performing at the Met. We left Ryder with a hotel babysitter.

We returned to Vienna, Austria and began making some new friends, including our apartment owners, and falling in love with the city all over again.


MuseumsQuartier , Vienna


I got introduced to Sajaha Yoga and made a good Iranian friend, who also introduced me to Feldenkreis, a type of healing movement.

I made friends with another Couchsurfing family with a little girl near Ryder’s age. We went to Prater, Vienna’s open-air theme park, together, and they made us traditional Turkish food.


We started hosting Couchsurfers frequently. We hosted people from Italy, Canada, Malaysia, a US citizen living in Albania, Turkey, and Czech.


My friend from my study abroad, Sarah, came to visit Vienna with her family. Among other things, we took them to the highest swings in the world.

highest swings in the world


We took a quick side trip to Krakow, Poland for a couchsurfing conference, visited Auschwitz and salt mines, and connected with a fun “family on the move” with three kids.DSC05852

Tired from the overnight train

I visited the Life Ball, a costume charity event to support AIDS research, as I had in 2006.


We went on a train trip and visited Maribor, Slovenia; Zagreb, Croatia; and Belgrade, Serbia.


Possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten: polenta in Maribor



Ryder’s birthday at the lake in Croatia


Tito’s Mausoleum in Serbia

ashes tesla

Ashes of perhaps the most influential man from modern history you know nothing about…Tesla

We went to Jacob’s brother’s wedding in Radovis, Macedonia.


We spent a couple weeks with Jacob’s parents.


We dropped them off in Thessaloniki, Greece.


Ryder and I made a lot of new Macedonian friends, and visited all of our old ones.  He still talks about Vasija, his cousin.

We attended World Cup parties.

Ryder had a birthday party surrounded by friends and family and topped off with a massive pink car cake.

 birthday party 1


We went to the most beautiful water park you can imagine, in the middle of nowhere in Macedonia.

water park

We visited Skopje with Jacob’s brother, took a boat along the Matka Canyon, and saw Mother Teresa’s house.


We flew out of Athens to Istanbul, Turkey.

Ryder discovered a new love: dinosaurs, at this theme park called Jurassic Land:



We spent a lot of time at the biggest mall in Europe.

We saw our friends, Ali and Yusuf again. We gifted Ali, a shoe maker in a factory, with an ipad, because the computer we sold him broke within a week five years ago. IMG_4626

Jacob’s companion from his mission, Daniel, came to stay with us for a few days. We went to Prince Edward Island, and went indoor snow sledding.

A friend from Scotland and his friend came to stay with us for a few days.


We went to San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, and met the leader of a Sufi group called the Life Quality Project. We did an exercise with them, and met many members of the group.

We took a road trip to see Pisa, San Giminiano, and Cinque Terre, and ended up in Rome. We got to revisit one of my favorite areas of the world, Tuscany, and stayed at a centuries-old olive oil estate while watching the sunset.


We went to Iloilo City, Philippines, to meet with Jacob’s outsourcing team. We took them on an all-expenses-paid trip to Boracay, where we got drinks at a midget restaurant called Hobbit House and saw hot dancing chefs at the Boracay Regency.

Ryder became 85% potty trained.

He had a nanny and loved going to the mall across from our hotel. He got his first real haircut.


We tried balut. Out of Jacob and I, only one of us actually swallowed it. And then went on to eat the other one. Any guesses who?

I serendipitously ran into a family friend’s daughter on a mission. We took her and the rest of the missionaries out to eat at a restaurant.

We glimpsed the traffic hell that is Manila, but made a friend named Jane who helped me navigate with a smile.


We moved to Tokyo, Japan.


Traditional Tatami mat apartment

We went trick or treating twice with Ryder, who refused to wear his costume.

We spent some time with Scott and Rick, friends from Utah.

We heard the only professional Japanese yodeler in the world for Octoberfest.


We had dinner at a Japanese Couchsurfer’s house and Ryder played with their son.

We went to the zoo with another Courchsurfing family.


I started going crazy with Tokyo With Kids, a book written by a friend of mine, and the Grutto Pass, a museum coupon book. It kept us very busy.

I went to lunch with the owner of a pole dancing club.

I joined play groups and went to a book club.

Jacob and I bought matching Sony cameras: watch for an improvement in photos in this space.

We spent Thanksgiving at an amusement park and later with Scott at Tucano’s.

amusement park thanksgiving

Toshimaen park

I went to a nose doctor who reassured me that my nose is normal as long as I continue to take proper sinus care of it the rest of my life.

We attended a geisha performance.





The UNESCO World Heritage island of Miyojima

We took a train trip around Japan, visiting Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, and Miyojima.

Jacob was asked to speak at an internet conference, where he ended up meeting some new business partners.

My parents came to stay for a week. I had a crazy itinerary of things to show them, but their favorite things were the ones they found themselves. I love glitz and glamour and architecture; they prefer hiking and open spaces.  Goes to show travel is a very personal thing.


We had a mini Christmas with them.

I saw a kabuki performance.

We flew to Mexico City, Mexico to ring in the new year with old friends.



Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 369 awesome articles for us.

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