A Year of Travel in Review – 2016

by Madam ZoZo

2016 has been an exciting year of travel, exploring in and around our new base in the Midwest U.S.A plus international sojourns to Canada, Cuba, Mexico and home to Australia. To celebrate a year in travel, here I share a pictorial of our 2016 adventures, including many never-before-published photos.

Florida Roadtrip

We began the year thawing out in Florida, on a road trip that took us from swimming with manatees at Crystal River on the gulf coast, through the wilderness of the Everglades and down to tropical Key West. From the U.S.A’s most southern point, we turned north through the art deco district of Miami, to explore the NASA facility at Cape Canaveral and on to historic St Augustine.

2016 A Year of Travel in Review | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg, Florida
2016 A Year of Travel in Review | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Gator spotting in the Everglades

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

February was party time in New Orleans (NOLA), joining in the Mardi Gras festivities. This was a short trip just for Mardi Gras, and we returnedto New Orleans in 2019 to explore more of this amazing city. See my first-time visitors guide to New Orleans for what to do beyond Carnival.

Mardi Gras flags
Mardi Gras flags in the French Quarter
10 Creative Ideas for Upcycling Your Leftover Mardi Gras Beads
Mardi Gras in New Orleans


One March weekend we flew to Philly for a crash course in American history and a cheesesteak of course! We discovered a variety of architectural styles, and a lifetime’s worth of art museums to explore..

Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell
Whoopie Pie
My first ever whoopie pie. Actually my second, the first one was devoured too fast for a photo
St Patrick's Day runners, Philadelphia
Unexpected leprechaun encounter in Elfreth's Alley, America's oldest residential street. This was the weekend of the St Patrick's day parade
Robert Indiana's Love sculpture
Robert Indiana's Love sculpture

Hiking in West Virginia

Our first April getaway was cold and grey. We drove across the border to tick another State off our map and hiked through the West Virginian Appalachians.

Lion's Head, Dolly Sods | Art by Nature - West Virginia | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Lion's Head, Dolly Sods
Art By Nature - West Virginia | Duende by Madam ZoZo
River in West Virginia
Fording a river in West Virginia

The Girls Take on NYC

April was a busy month as I rendezvoused with Aussie girlfriends in NYC for an itinerary full of Big Apple experiences. We were on a mission for art, architecture and icons. I found the perfect souvenir of our visit, with a nod to one of my favourite design eras.

View looking Downtown from Top of the Rock
View looking Downtown from Top of the Rock
Urban Rattle on the High Line, NYC | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Urban Rattle sculpture by Charlie Hewitt, on The High Line, NYC
Russ and Daughters, NYC | Duende by Madam ZoZo
2016 A Year of Travel in Review | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Bronx's CRASH and Dublin's Solus' tribute to Joey Ramone, across from the former site of iconic club CBGB


Cuba was my much coveted Caribbean trip for the year, spending time in Havana, Vinales, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Bay of Pigs. We discovered duende ranging from street art to architecture and even sparked a love affair with vintage cars.

Vinales Valley, Cuba, view with red soil farms and lush vegetation
Vinales vistas from our lunch table on an organic farm
2016 A Year in Review | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Reversible dolls being sold on a former sugar plantation outside of Trinidad
Large Spanish colonial buildings around a plaza, viewed from above
Plaza Vieja and beyond from the rooftop of Edificio Gómez Vila
A line up of classic American cars in Caribbean colours parked in front of a colonial building and a large tree
Classic American cars in Havana

Niagara Falls

We drove to Niagara Falls one warm weekend in May and tasted our way through the plethora of wineries at Niagara-On-The-Lake.


June saw us head south of the border to swim with whale sharks migrating along the Yucatan Peninsula, along with swimming in Cenotes and being awed by ancient Mayan temples. You can will find all our favourite things from this trip in our Yucatan guide.

2016 A Year in Review | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Swimming with whale sharks off the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
2016 A Year in Review | Duende by Madam ZoZo
We were treated to amazing sunsets of Isla Mujeres
2016 A Year in Review | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Exploring cenotes - limestone sink holes
Tulum, Yucatán Peninsula
Clifftop view of Tulum archaelogical ruins


September took us to Detroit for Motown, Ford history and jazz. From the historic Diego Rivera rendered Detroit Industry Murals to the modern murals of the Z Parking Garage, Detroit is clawing its way back with its creative class leading the way.

Large, multi-story high lobby with arched ceiling lined in coloured tiles
Main foyer of the Guardian Building
Panorama photo of frescoes consisting of twenty-seven panels depicting industry at the Ford Motor Company
Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Art
Floral mural by Detroit local Ouizi for Murals in the Market
Pure Detroit
Pure Detroit stores are pack full of soulful souvenirs

Local exploration in Ohio

Weekends at home were spent exploring our local parks on foot and in pursuit of covered bridges.

Mechanicsville Road Covered Bridge | Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County
Mechanicsville Road Bridge, the second longest single-span, covered bridge in Ashtabula County complete with quilting square
Winter in Ohio
Attempting not to look miserable in -13 degrees celcius weather - I am a tropical flower afterall
Lake Kendall, Ohio
Lake Kendall on an autumnal afternoon hike

Return to NYC

In November I returned to NYC to show James around my favourite spots and explore some new ones. We enjoyed New York’s fine dining scene, with 12 Michelin stars worth of amazing meals. We walked it off by clocking up approximately 150,000 steps around town.

Guggenheim NYC building from street
Solomon R. Guggenheim designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
9/11 Memorial
A reflective moment at the 9/11 Memorial
Autumn colour in Central Park
Autumn in Central Park
Jean Georges chocolate dessert
Indulgence at 3-Michelin Star awarded Jean Georges

Washington D.C.

We walked another 64,000 steps around Washington D.C., exploring the impressive architecture, memorials and monuments of the U.S.A’s capital. We also took in the highlights of D.C.’s plethora of museums and galleries including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and Udvar-Hazy Center; the National Gallery of Art; and National Museum of American History.

Ruby Slippers
Most importantly, a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, on display at the National Museum of American History
The U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C.
The U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C. The iconic meeting place for the House of Representatives and the Senate
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial - Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence
Washington Memorial
The distant obelisk is Washington Memorial, being mirrored in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool


2016 was completed with a trip home to Australia, beginning in Sydney and then northward to Ballina, Byron Bay, Gold Coast and Brisbane. After a beautiful Christmas day with family, we were fortunate enough to witness the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race start from a ferry on Sydney Harbour.  The mood on the harbour was electric, as hundreds, if not thousands of sea vessels jostled for a position to catch the starter’s gun and many pursued the racing yachts as long as they could keep up .  Not only was the race start incredible to experience from such close range, but the weather was perfect and I got to spend time staring lovingly at the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney skyline as viewed from boat on Sydney Harbour.
Sydney skyline
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race start
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race start | Duende by Madam ZoZo
Excitement as on of the racing yachts nearly capsizes moments after the start
Madam ZoZo and the Sydney Harbour Bridge | Duende by Madam ZoZo

I’m super excited to see what inspiring destinations and experiences 2017 brings. I hope you will join me along the way, here on Duende.

Peace, love and happy holidays,

Madam ZoZo

Duende 2016 Year in Travel Infographic

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Agness Walewinder December 21, 2016 - 7:20 pm

I see there has been a great year full of travels and good food for you. I’m really excited about reading your new adventures in 2017! 🙂 Lovely to know you’re also such a foodie!

Madam ZoZo December 21, 2016 - 8:07 pm

Hi Agness, thanks for stopping by Duende. Isn’t food one of the most fun ways to experience a culture? Wishing you happy holidays and awesome travels in 2017!


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