Captured Moments: Our 50 Favorite Photos of 2014

Writing this as I sit in the public library in Rochester, Minnesota, it’s hard to imagine that one year ago we were perched on tiny plastic chairs in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s still harder to fathom that almost two and a half years ago we landed in Japan, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to...

Writing this as I sit in the public library in Rochester, Minnesota, it’s hard to imagine that one year ago we were perched on tiny plastic chairs in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s still harder to fathom that almost two and a half years ago we landed in Japan, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to begin our adventure. The shift seems almost too big to comprehend, and looking over the photos from the last year I almost feel like I’m looking at some other couple’s journey, except I have all the memories and look an awful lot like the guy in those photos.

Now that the last calendar page of 2014 has fallen, we can collectively look back and think about the year that has passed. The changes, the choices, the journeys, and how they will shape the year (and years) to come.

For us, 2014 was a year of transition. We shifted from constant motion – border crossings and plane tickets – to a more slow-paced, longer-term outlook. We know with certainly that we’re still deep in the grip of wanderlust, but that we need, and want, to make our travels more sustainable for the years to come. To that end, we came back to North America for the first time in two years, and spent six months in Toronto building our business, making contacts, and planning how to shape our lives in the next five years. We’re slowing down, talking about months in one place instead of days or weeks. We have our dogs back, and they’re set to become our constant companions for the foreseeable future. We have a car and the beginnings of a plan.

But, for right now, we’re looking back. We’re looking at the last year and how it will shape the next year to come. We’re looking at the nine countries we visited (11 if you count the US and Canada) and sifting through the nearly 14,000 photos we took while traveling (plus the random shots we’ve taken in the last six months of our time at home). 2014 was a big year for us, which is saying something considering 2013 was one for the record books as well, so we hope that you can share in some of that grand adventure with us through the photos and memories in this post. So, after too much ado (and without any further), here are our favorite photos of 2014!

(If you want to see our photos from 2013, visit that post here.)


We spent the first three months of 2014 living in Ho Chi Minh City, so Vietnam played a pivotal role in shaping our year. The food, the people, and the country itself left an indelible mark on our hearts, and after our second visit to the country we can safely say that three months was not nearly enough time to discover such a wonderful place.

Ho Chi Minh CityThe streets of HCMC roil with hundreds of thousands of motorbikes, creating a low growl that can always be heard below the symphony of honking horns.
Ho Chi Minh CityCrowded with people, HCMC is hectic but fascinating. This market near the Lê Văn Duyệt Mausoleum was memorable not only for its products, but for the people.
Ho Chi Minh CityThe people of Vietnam are its greatest asset (followed narrowly by the food!); they are open, friendly, curious and wonderful.
Ho Chi Minh CityI loved how this vendor’s outfit matched her wares. Perhaps unconsciously, perhaps not, either way, the Vietnamese have an undeniable style all their own.
Ho Chi Minh CityWalking through a park one day, we got sidelined by the teacher for this group of students. She wanted to know if I would play a few games with them, to which I enthusiastically said yes. The kids were thrilled and afterwords the teacher invited us to her wedding!
HueThe 600-year-old Japanese covered bridge outside of Hue. Beautiful, tranquil, and surrounded by the greenest, most beautiful rice paddies in the country.
HueThe countryside of Hue is easily one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been, but it’s matched by its citizens. This temple caretaker saw us admiring his grounds, and invited us to sit with him while he fed us tea and snacks. We spoke little to no Vietnamese, and he spoke no English, but we still enjoyed each others company.
HueThis cat found nirvana in a forest temple 10 miles outside of Hue.


We had no specific agenda for Laos beyond a few key stops, so much of our time was spent adopting the slow pace of life that so many of the locals seem to have mastered. When people say Laos is laid back, it’s not an exaggeration. It’s many other things, but our month in Laos definitely calmed our souls (as long as we stayed away from shady motorbike shops!).

SavannakhetGood food, friendly people, a vibrant market. Savannakhet was a surprise for us. Many people said it was barely worth passing through, and in some ways it is, but we found that a little digging below the surface revealed a lovely little town that lulled us into a happy stupor for far longer than we would have guessed.
SavannakhetTemples in Laos are a riot of color, especially around sacred Bodhi trees. Most temples have at least one, and they are always highly decorated.
Tha KhekOne of our big adventures in Laos was a three-day scooter tour through the back roads and hills of the area around Tha Khek. Beautiful scenery and easy riding made for a great way to get to know Laos in a more personal way.
Tha KhekComing up from a swim in a local river, this little guy couldn’t help but stare at the giant, pale foreigner with a camera.
VientianeKnown as “Buddha Park”, this sculpture garden defies the imagination from every aspect: size, shape, and dedication. In the middle of nowhere, but worth the visit we were left in sweaty awe.
VientianePha That Luang is the symbol of Laos and an icon worth visiting in the capital city.
Luang PrabangEasily the most beautiful waterfall we’ve ever seen, Kuangsi Waterfall is 20km outside of Luang Prabang. It’s a long series of gentle cascades with pools for swimming and respite from the scorching heat. If you see nothing else in Laos, this is worth the trip.


Our time in Thailand in 2014 was far too short. Crossing from Laos, we headed for Bangkok which was our exit point from South East Asia. Being gluttons for all things Thai, we dragged our feet as much as we could, but our visit still amounted to less than two weeks. Not nearly enough time to eat all the things. Again.

Nong KhaiA sleepy border town just south of Vientiane, Nong Khai surprised us with food, color, and the indomitably friendly Thai spirit. We spent only a few days there, but loved every minute. We managed to put our forks down long enough to snap this shot as a local elephant wandered down the main road one night.

Songkran in Bangkok

OMG, Songkran. The craziest party, never mind that it’s a water-fight, we’ve ever seen. Happy people, smiling faces and more water being splashed around than you can possibly imagine. Please go take a look at our post detailing this crazy festival here.

BangkokAh Bangkok. One of our favorite places. The food. The culture. The smells. This was one of our last sunsets in Southeast Asia, and it didn’t disappoint.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka defied all our expectations. The food was spectacular, the people were some of the friendliest and most curious we’d ever met, the landscape was unrivaled, and our adventure there was one of our best: driving our own tuk-tuk across the country for three weeks. We’ve never seen so many perfect beaches, fantastic hills and gorgeous temples in one place. Three weeks merely whet our appetites and kindled a fierce love for the pearl of the Indian Ocean.

South of ColomboOur loyal steed, King Tuk, carried us through hundreds of miles of beautiful Sri Lankan countryside. He performed flawlessly and we are eternally grateful.
MirissaRising before the sun, I was lucky enough to witness locals walking on hot coals. This particular ceremony was an attempt to end the drought affecting the area, and was 48 hours of non-stop dancing, prayer and performance.
Arugam BayThese little houses dotted the countryside outside of Arugam Bay. Mostly abandoned, but still cheery, we couldn’t help but stop.
KandySri Lanka is the land of flowers. At every turn beautiful colors filled our vision and scents drifted to our noses. Temples overflowed with flowers and seemingly every bush was flowering in multicolored splendor.
KandyWalking down the hill into Kandy on the night of the Vesak (Buddha’s Birthday) celebration, these young men stopped and implored me to ride down with them. They had driven 50 miles in from the countryside to see the sights and chattered excitedly to me about the events of the day and eagerly exchanged Facebook information.

London, England

Our first stop in Europe, and one of Steph’s favorite cities, London had a lot to live up to for me. Fortunately, it proved its worth in spades, and we left wanting more.

The Palace of WestminsterIf there is a more quintessential “London” shot, I don’t know what it is. Parts of the Houses of Parliament are well 1000 years old, which is simply hard to comprehend, especially in such a bustling, modern city like London.
The Tower of LondonA Yeoman Warder, commonly known as a “Beefeater.” One of the 12 guards of the tower of London, he had time enough to give me a great smile before getting back to his duties.
Tower BridgeOne of the great landmarks of London, many mistakenly refer to it as “London Bridge,” (which, despite its grand name, isn’t much to look at). Supposedly, sometime in the mists of history, the Americans bought London Bridge mistakenly thinking they were getting Tower Bridge — much to their dismay, they had been outfoxed by the canny Brits, and left London Bridge where it stands today.
The Shard, near Borough MarketLondon’s newest, ultra-modern skyscraper (and the tallest building in the EU), the Shard peeks out from behind the ruins of a cathedral bombed in World War Two.
Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s CathedralOne of London’s newest and one of London’s oldest landmarks meet on the River Thames.

Paris, France

Continuing my trend of firsts in Europe, I made my way to Paris for the first time. Steph hadn’t been for nearly 10 years and was eager to see if the city lived up to her memories. Well, it did and it didn’t. But, the pictures sure were nice.

The Eiffel TowerThis monument is hard to miss if you find yourself in the city of love. The view is best from the Trocadero, but be prepared for vendors hawking all things Paris (and Jamaican beads, you know, because France…)
The Musée d’OrsayAlmost as famous as the art inside the museum, the back of the clock face is a must-see, in addition to the works of art which comprise (in my opinion) the best collection in the city.
Love Locks, near Notre DameIt seems like all we heard about last year were the stupid love locks and how they’re destroying bridges everywhere. Couples in love clamp them to immobile objects (usually bridges), thereby guaranteeing that their love will last. While we appreciate the sentiment, the craze is lost on us (though we have to wonder about the confidence of the couples that use gigantic bike locks instead of the more diminutive padlocks).
Streets of ParisFrom wide boulevards to narrow cobblestone alleys filled with cafés, the streets of Paris were marvelously picturesque.


Known as the land of food, art and easy living, we looked forward to tucking in to some great Italian food and stumbling our way through as many landmarks as we could stand. We can say one thing for sure: Italy is beautiful and very photogenic, albeit overrun with travelers. Though swarms of tourists and touts detracted from the sights, we still managed to capture photos that forget all the hassle and marvel at the raw beauty of the country.

PisaOverlooked and very much under-appreciated, Pisa is far more than just the Leaning Tower. Colorful buildings, winding streets and friendly people made our two days in the city quite enjoyable.
PisaSeeing the Leaning Tower at night was surreal. No crowds, no noise, just us and the Field of Miracles. Eerily beautiful and unforgettable.
FlorenceThere is no doubt that the Duomo is the star attraction in Florence. It dominates the landscape and cuts an imposing figure. Best viewed from the outside, the scale of the building is hard to capture in photos. Suffice to say it is big.
FlorenceTaken from the Ponte Vecchio at susnet. The Ponte Vecchio itself is chock-a-block with gold vendors and street performers, but the view sure is nice.
RomeThe eternal city, Rome is like no other. Could there be a more “Rome” photo than this? I defy you to find one!
RomeClimbing down at the end of our tour of the Vatican, we saw what is possibly one of the most famous stairways in the world. Certainly the most photogenic.
RomeThe Pantheon was one of the few monuments in Rome that wasn’t under construction when we visited. Grand, imposing and beautiful, it’s hard to fathom that this building has stood in this spot for over 2000 years.
RomeIt’s said you can see three countries from the Aventine Hill. We can’t vouch for this, however the view was spectacular and the setting was quiet and beautiful.
BolognaOur last stop in Italy was arguably one of our favorites. Good food, great people and gorgeous scenery. Sadly, most of it was seem from underneath an umbrella, but that didn’t dampen the experience (Ha!).
BolognaDid you know vespa is Italian for “wasp”? Neither did we.

Madrid, Spain

Madrid was our only stop in Spain. A beautiful city, nice people and generally good food ensures that we’ll be back one day to see more of the rest of Spain.

The Crystal Palace, Parque del RetiroNo mention of Madrid would be complete without talking about the parks. We spent hours relaxing in the verdant wonderland that is the parks of Madrid. Endless groves of trees, lounging locals, cool breezes and soft grass lulled us into more than one hours-long nap and reading session.
Streets of MadridArchitecturally speaking, Madrid is a fascinating hybrid. Styles on top of styles are everywhere you look, and there is no fear of color. After the uniformity of Paris and Rome, Madrid’s slightly erratic construction was a breath of fresh air.

Lisbon, Protugal

Lisbon was our last stop before our return to North America. Combine being a bit down in the dumps over our impending return home with a room in the most dangerous part of the city and you get the fewest pictures from any destination on our trip. Oh well.

LisbonOne of the ubiquitous trolleys that prowl the streets of Lisbon.
LisbonBack alleys near our room were decorated for some sort of festival.

North America

Finally back home, our work picked up and our photography slowed down. Still, we managed to catch a few worthy shots between hours bent over the computer.

Toronto, CanadaA worthy skyline, nighttime Toronto is dominated by the CN tower.
North Ontario, CanadaLazy weekends spent at our friends’ cabin in northern Ontario were a luxury of space and time, surrounded by beautiful forest and endless quiet (punctuated by the mad barking of running dogs).
Toronto, CanadaOur dogs in their favorite spot: spying on the neighborhood.
Rochester, MinnesotaThe view for now. A river runs through the snowy back yard of my parents’ house.

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed walking through this last year with us, seeing some familiar things as well as some new ones (for now!). We still have so many stories to tell on our site, and not just from this year! We’ve yet to finish talking about everything that appeared in last year’s captured moments post, so we have a lot of stories left to tell and a lot of work to do! That said, we’ve enjoyed every minute of it and want to thank all our loyal readers for following along with us on this wandering journey and its many unexpected twists. Here’s to another year of adventures and many more photos!

Tell us: Just like last year, which of these photos was your favorite? Did your travels in 2014 take you to any of the places we visited? Which of our adventures are you most excited to hear about? And, for bonus points, what new year’s resolutions have you made? We hope they involve some travel too!

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40 comments Leave a comment

  1. What a year! You’ve captured some great memories. Quite the transition from Vietnam to Toronto!

    Jan. 3 2015 @ 3:26 pm
    1. Cam author

      Thanks so much! It was indeed a huge transition (with some stops in between) and we still definitely miss Vietnam a lot.

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:02 pm
  2. Wow, I am blown away. One by how inviting all of these photos are and two that you managed to cull it to 50. The Tuk Tuk in Sri Lanka story (I followed the link) is amazing.

    Jan. 3 2015 @ 4:51 pm
    1. budget jan author

      Thank you so much for your kind words! It was a real struggle to whittle the photos down to just 50, that’s for sure. And yes, the tuk-tuk adventure was incredible, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! Thanks for reading!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:06 pm
  3. Amazing photos you guys. I especially loved the pics of Vietnam, they brought back lots of good memories. Here’s hoping that 2015 provides you with many more photo taking opportunities.

    Jan. 3 2015 @ 5:31 pm
    1. Kim author

      Thanks Kim! Vietnam was great, and we certainly miss it every day. 2015 should be pretty good, as we’ll be heading across the US and down to Mexico, so there should be plenty of chances there!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:07 pm
  4. Gorgeous collection of photos – especially the ones taken in Southeast Asia! I hope you have an amazing 2015 as well!

    Jan. 3 2015 @ 8:33 pm
    1. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary author

      Thanks and I hope your 2015 is great too! SE Asia was our jam, but Europe was no slouch when it came to being photogenic.

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:09 pm
  5. Wow! Stunning photographs from the year and you guys were all over! Looking forward to seeing your adventures this year!

    Jan. 3 2015 @ 8:59 pm
    1. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer author

      We’re looking forward to our adventures as well! While we’re planning on slowing the travel pace down, I doubt that will mean a decrease in photos. Thanks for keeping up with us!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:11 pm
  6. I love seeing how your year unraveled through your photos. What an unbelievable year you both had and your photos are spectacular! I really love the Songkran photographs I just looked up your post on the festival and it looks absolutely crazy. How did your camera not get totally ruined with all that water?! Anyway, I’m so excited to see where 2015 takes you. Happy travels 🙂

    Jan. 3 2015 @ 9:11 pm
    1. Justine author

      Thanks Justine! It’s interesting to see a year compressed into one post like that. Even though it felt like our year didn’t involve that much travel, looking back over the photos makes it seem much bigger than it was in my memory. As far as the Songkran photos go, we have a waterproof case for one of our cameras that we use for scuba diving, so it kept our camera safe from all the craziness.

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:14 pm
  7. I think you should come back to Vietnam by the look of your photos 😉

    Jan. 3 2015 @ 9:51 pm
    1. Jimmy Dau author

      I’ll take any excuse, really, to go back, and that’s as good as any. We loved HCMC and it’s people (and food!). Such a fascinating and photogenic place. Hue was no slouch either, easily one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam.

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:17 pm
  8. so many beautiful places, its cool to see how your year tracked out. I’m also quite excited to read about your 2015 adventures. Cheers!

    Jan. 4 2015 @ 7:46 am
    1. Rebekah author

      Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for keeping up with us! We’re looking forward to our new stories in 2015 (and getting to so many of the old ones we haven’t covered yet!).

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:19 pm
  9. I think all your photos are stunning, and I love the ones that really tell a story like your smile with the school children. I love the pink Sri Lankan cottage…just love it! Happy 2015!

    Jan. 4 2015 @ 10:32 am
    1. Corinne author

      Thanks Corinne! I think telling a story is the ultimate goal of any great photo, so I’m glad you see some stories in my shots! The little cottages were pretty great, even if they were mostly unoccupied. We did get to meet one person living there, but the rest were pretty quiet.

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:22 pm
  10. You guys had a great year and we’re excited to follow along on your next chapter! I love all of your shots, but my favourite of this bunch is likely the school children in Vietnam – they look so sweet and happy!

    Jan. 5 2015 @ 9:54 am
    1. Emily author

      Thanks! The little Vietnamese kids were pretty great, and they were super excited to get to play with the weird, giant foreigner. That was one of the best things about walking around Ho Chi Minh City, that moments like that could happen at any second. Such a great place!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:25 pm
  11. Happy New Year Steph & Tony… amazing photos, as usual!

    Jan. 5 2015 @ 3:50 pm
    1. Rhonda author

      Thanks Rhonda! Happy New Year to you as well!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:26 pm
  12. I’ve very much enjoyed finding you Steph and Tony both! Your blog brings a serious thoughtful aspect to writing and photography. 🙂
    I love, love, love, all your photos but the ones that really call to me are those of the close-up faces. I also like the Sri Lankan guy walking over hot coals. That must have been burning! Oh yeah, not forgetting your dogs. They’re so beautiful. Thank goodness, you can now take them with you to Mexicoooo!
    I went to 10 countries last year so I’m not doing too badly I think, coupled with the fact that I have a full-time corporate job and a husband and child. I don’t know how I managed it really LOL!

    Jan. 6 2015 @ 12:31 am
    1. Victoria@ The British Berliner author

      Wow, 10 countries and a full-time job and a family! I’m impressed! Thanks so much for following along with us, we’re glad to have you! I love portraits the most, so I’m glad you like those best, I appreciate it! And our little dogs are pretty great, and they’ve been really good travel companions, they love to ride in the car. Maybe they’ll be sick of it by the time we make it to Mexico, we’ll see!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:30 pm
  13. Except for Sri Lanka, we visited all of the SE-Asian countries you went to in 2014. In fact, I can’t believe it was this time last year that we met up with you both in HCMC, the time has flown by! I think your photos capture the essence of these places so well, I love the moody London sky over Tower Bridge and the photos from Songkran which bring back memories of our own incredible Songkran experience in Chiang Mai. A great year!

    Jan. 6 2015 @ 5:25 am
    1. Amy author

      It was a great year indeed, and it doesn’t feel like an entire year since we sat down with you two! Time moves faster every year, now a week is almost nothing and a month goes by in the blink of eye. Thanks for the kind words, the photos are no substitute for being there, but I’m glad they evoke the feeling!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:32 pm
  14. I love all of your photos Tony but you have such a gift with portraits. These are gorgeous, especially those beautiful Vietnamese faces.

    Jan. 6 2015 @ 3:50 pm
    1. Maddie author

      Thanks Maddie! Portraits are my favorite subject, so it makes me happy to know people appreciate them as much as I do. There is just so much story in those faces, I can’t help but take photos of them!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:33 pm
  15. The shot of the Beefeater in London is one of my favorites — I’m always amazed at what great portraits you get, I’m always too shy to approach people for their photo! I also really like that Rome one — it actually makes me want to go back to Italy, and you know what a big deal THAT is…. Happy New Year guys and here’s to more photos and adventures!

    Jan. 7 2015 @ 6:12 am
    1. Edna author

      Thanks Edna! It takes a lot to overcome that shyness and ask for the photo, but I think Asia really helped me get out there and ask. So many people all over Asia were happy to be in my photos (and lots of them ask ME for photos), so it just helped me realize that the worst that can happen is the person will say no, and you just move on. Italy is super photogenic, right? I’d hate to be the one whose photos tricked you into going back, but thanks for the compliment! Happy New year to you too! Maybe one of these days we’ll be in the same country again and we can share a meal!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:36 pm
  16. What an amazing year you guys had! I want to be you when I grow up…

    Jan. 7 2015 @ 6:40 am
    1. James author

      Ha! Thanks, I’m glad we can be such good role models for you ;P

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:38 pm
  17. What a wonderful selection of beautiful pictures. I’m so glad I could have followed you guys on your journey this year, and can’t wait to see much more this year! Happy new year!

    Jan. 8 2015 @ 8:36 pm
    1. Tim | UrbanDuniya author

      Thanks Tim! Glad to have you along. We’re excited to get going on our next year as well, it will be epic but in a very different way!

      Jan. 10 2015 @ 2:41 pm
  18. Tony, you have a real gift for capturing the beauty in people. I love all your photos (and would love to pass off yours as mine since we hit some of the same places…maybe? maybe??)…but the photos that really stuck with me scrolling through these shots are the faces. Great work. And cute pups!

    Jan. 13 2015 @ 8:21 pm
  19. deanna hall

    this is the first time I’ve been on your web site.
    I really enjoyed what I have seen so far. My
    daughter recommended it to me. I try to take
    a trip a year – where ever my daughter is at
    the time. I love visiting new places.

    Jan. 18 2015 @ 10:48 am
  20. Hii Tony, your photography is really too good. Every click looks live here. Happy to hear that you have enjoyed your every minutes last year. Waiting for your stories too 🙂 And hope this year brings more fun to you. Thanking you a loyal reader of yours for sharing too. 🙂

    Jan. 22 2015 @ 11:03 pm
  21. You have such a fantastic year, both of you! I love those pictures from Sri Lanka and London the most. Very Beautiful Photo essay 🙂

    Jan. 27 2015 @ 12:12 am
  22. Rick Gronefeld

    Tony, your photography is amazing. I’m so glad the two of you have the opportunity to share these adventures. Take care.

    Jan. 30 2015 @ 10:05 am
  23. Some fantastic images here, Tony! Although the one of the elephant roaming the street in Thailand breaks my heart. 🙁

    May. 4 2015 @ 7:32 am

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