One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is documenting my adventures in as many forms as I can.

For my past few vacations (Thanksgiving in Italy, with my boyfriend, Christmas 2017 in Spain, with my dad, and Christmas 2016 in Ecuador with my family) I’ve gotten a small softcover notebook of various brands to journal and draw urban sketches in to help my documentation process. Writing down the events of the day and taking the time to sit down and draw from life helps me make my trips more special to me, and helps me remember each day more clearly.

I enjoy the process of studying every small detail in front of me and figuring out how to summarize it into a few lines in an urban sketch. I enjoy the silence in thinking about the food I ate and writing the meals down, however mundane. And I enjoy scrolling through the endless photographs I take during vacation, figuring out which ones to print out and which ones to turn into little drawings.

I enjoy collecting all my airplane tickets and various other memorabilia as well, and sometimes I have the space to scatter these throughout my journals as well.

This past vacation was no different. I was given the immense privilege of being able to go on a cruise with my family in the Galapagos Islands, a place I’ve only dreamt of going to but thought mostly impossible. My mom wanted to go with my little sister Hera and invited me along, and my dad ended up paying for my portion of the trip.

Disclaimer – I am aware of how truly lucky I am to have a family financially capable of taking me on a vacation this extravagant, and I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for this every day.

While some of the contents of my travel journal are obviously private, I did want to compile my drawings and share them with you, as well as a few photographs. I want to be able to share the magic of this place with you, and I hope that my drawings do the beauty of the Galapagos justice.

For this trip, the notebook I used is a Traveler’s Company (previously, Midori) blank insert (No. 003). The pen I did my sketches with was a Uni-ball Signo DX in 0.38, and I painted them with my Sakura Koi Travel Watercolor Palette. I did all my journaling with my TWSBI Eco EF fountain pen, filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink.

Day 1.

We arrived to the Galapagos a day before the cruise began, so we spent the day exploring the small city of Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz Island. Our hotel rooms were two separate little cabins with hammocks in the front, and was really a picturesque paradise.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
The view from the seats outside my hotel room.

The garden outside my hotel room had a bunch of growing tiny pineapple, which my dad, my sister, and I got excessively excited about. They were really cute!

Day 2.

We arrived onto the cruise and got to explore the space a little after we settled down. It was a really nice place, and I think we were all happy to call it home for the next week.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
The view from Deck 4.


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
The room my dad and I stayed in! Our beds were really tiny but comfortable. Hera and I spent many afternoons snuggling in my dad’s bed (the one near the wall) while she worked on making my dad’s bed stinky from her little feet.

Day 3.

It was Christmas day! We went to our first island, saw a bunch of new animals, and we also exchanged presents. The mockingbird was one of my favorites because it was so adorable. It was also my first time ever snorkeling, which ended up being less stressful than I expected and actually loads of fun.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
Mockingbirds are tiny and adorable, as well as extremely territorial.


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
Some drawings of the really interesting wildlife we saw in the afternoon!


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
My little sister is real cute. 🙂

Day 4.

One of the coolest things we did this day was visiting Post Office Bay, which used to be an old port and a mail drop-off point. Sailors would write letters and leave them in the hopes that someone going in the same direction would pick them up and deliver them eventually. The people of the Galapagos are trying to keep that tradition alive – so I did end up finding a postcard destined for Brooklyn that I will deliver sometime soon!

I also got to snorkel in the morning, and saw a sea lion swim right past me. So, I basically swam with sea lions. It was so incredible I almost cried.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
Some of the beautifully bright yellow things we saw on the islands that day.


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
Blue-Footed Boobies are simultaneously so derpy looking and so majestic, with their pretty blue feet.


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
We saw so many sea lions that my mom got tired of seeing them by the end of the trip, but I managed to maintain my excitement throughout. They’re so cute!


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
The Post Office Bay was so small and unassuming, while the tradition itself is quite romantic and beautiful.

Day 5.

Day 5 ended up being one of the most stressful moments of the trip – I took Hera out snorkeling by myself, and we got caught in the current. It was really difficult for me to drag her back into shore because I’m a pretty weak swimmer, and I definitely had moments of irrational panic even though I knew we could call for help any time. Thankfully, I did get her back to shore safe and sound, and we saw two giant green sea turtles swim with us (so close we could have touched them) during our little snorkeling escapade.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
These are the three types of cacti that can be found in the Galapagos.


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
We found a Galapagos Penguin! They’re really such miracles of evolution – the only penguins that can exist in the northern hemisphere, since the Galapagos crosses the equator. Their ability to survive is quite inspiring, if you think about it!


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
This land iguana was tired and took a break from crawling in the middle of the path.


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
Hera shows off her cute little stinky feet.

Day 6.

On day 6 we saw an orca in the wild, up close and personal. I nearly cried with pure joy, and texted my orca-obsessed friend the minute I was back on the ship in a wi-fi zone. His name, apparently, is Berto, and he’s free and wild and one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
Marine iguanas fight for territory by headbutting each other. Needless to say, Hera and I were inspired by them and created a new game. It makes our heads hurt a little, but it’s still fun!


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
We got to see an orca in the wild. After watching Blackfish with a friend last year, seeing this wonderfully free orca in the wild was the most beautiful thing.

Day 7.

Despite already being out in the Galapagos for so many days, we still managed to see something new – some beautiful swallow tail gulls! They have red rings around their eyes, which are kind of jarring to see but still really pretty. Hera spotted one having a little baby on the edge of a cliff.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
I definitely did not do this beautiful bird justice – I made its head way too small! I try not to be too hard on myself in these journals though – they’re not meant to be works of art, just a method for me to document my experience. The odd proportion just gives it a little more charm – am I right?


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
Baby human, meet baby sea lion.

Day 8.

Our last real day on the islands ended with a bang – we toured Puerto Ayora, did some shopping, and saw a lot of giant tortoises! They’re so old and wrinkly and cute. When you get near them, they get scared, and they make a whoosh sound as they retract back into their shells – we all tried to be really careful and quiet when we were walking near them.

We also helped plant trees and got to see some folk dancing by some middle- and high-schoolers, which was quite an experience! At the end, they pulled some of us up to dance with them, and I got picked. It ended up being really fun, and I could hear Hera’s merry laughing the entire time in the background.

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
One of the many giant tortoises we saw. They have funny Voldemort-like noses, but they’re significantly less evil than the fictional character, and they’re much cuter!


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
We found this sea lion at the fish market in Puerto Ayora. He clearly knew exactly where the food was.


Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos
One of the pictures I managed to snap during the lively folk dancing!

Final Thoughts.

The next day, we were on our way out of the Galapagos and, for me, back home to New York for the new year. I was pretty excited to reunite with my boyfriend, who I sorely missed throughout the entire trip, and I was excited to see my cutie roomie and mail out the postcards I had written while I was there. It really was a trip to remember, and I’m so happy and privileged to have been able to go. I would definitely recommend going, if you ever get the chance to.

Meanwhile, I hope my drawings and photos have managed to show you a bit of the beauty I was able to witness. I hope you enjoyed scrolling through the many drawings I’ve chosen to share!

Documenting Adventures: Christmas in the Galapagos

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