What a cherished year of travel! This was the year that I decided to favor lesser-frequented cities. They make it easier to get a more personal feel in a relatively short period of time than, say, a cosmopolitan mecca such as Paris. It took some serious curating, but these are my top 10 most fondly remembered destinations of 2014.
#1 Dusseldorf, Germany #ExploreMoreDusseldorf
When going somewhere new I enjoy choosing a city where I can shop, eat, wander and explore simply by walking. For me, walking is the most intimate way to explore a city.
Dusseldorf is an almost-secret (to much of the world) fashion hub where one can look around and see stylish patrons strolling in both the old and new Dusseldorf.
I used the misfortune of my luggage choosing to go on its own trip without me as a reason to purchase a new wardrobe. After all, I was going to be on a Viking River cruise as part of my time in Europe and needed to look sharp. What’s a girl to do?
Dusseldorf has a centuries old reputation as a haven for painters, sculptors and other artists. The traditional Rhenish cuisine and breweries are worthy of their own in-depth “investigations”. Dusseldorf’s fashion scene is non-stop. The city is home to many fashion schools, holds one of the world’s largest fashion events, the CPD, and is the incubator for many of Europe’s talented young designers.
My favorite place to stay is @CapellaBBH. The hotel staff is genuine, warm and welcoming. They remembered my name from a previous stay and gave me the coveted-by-travelers “home away from home” feeling.
#2 Rothenburg, Germany #JoinGermanTradition
Before sailing off on the #Viking Social cruise on the good ship Delling, I visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a quaint little town in the Bavarian countryside.
I stayed in the old Romantik Hotel Markusturm. The Berger family has owned the hotel for 4 generations. They justifiably pride themselves on their well-crafted, personalized hospitality.
Although some of the hotel’s walls go back to the 11th century the rooms are fully modernized and stylish. Another update since the 11th century is the high-speed free Internet.
Rothenburg, the best-preserved medieval town in Europe, is calling me to come back for further exploration. I may take that call!
#3 Melk, Austria #VikingSocial
The Viking River Romantic Danube Cruise offered an intriguing sampling of destinations and Christmas Markets.
The journey began in Nuremberg. Each town we visited had its unique attractions, but, for me, the beautiful riverside town of Melk really stayed in my mind. I am a hopeless romantic and the humbling beauty of the baroque Melk Abbey, the 400-year-old bread store and the Post Office by the moat fed my imagination.
#4 Vienna, Austria #VikingSocial
My second favorite city from my #VikingSocial cruise was Vienna. Vienna gave me the enchanting feeling of being in a fairy tale. Not only that, but a fairy tale with good shopping, frothy cappuccino and emotionally moving, expertly played concerts. I hope to return and delve into the many streets, shops, cafes and restaurants I didn’t have an opportunity to explore on this visit.
One special memory is of a friend
@BlBrTravel and I going to the cafe Ruszwurm Alapitva. It was founded in 1827 and they have used the time since to develop pastries of absolute perfection. It may not be an original turn-of-phrase, but the pastries truly melted in our mouths. No chewing required. I loved this family-owned shop that goes back 187 years. It’s always heartwarming in Europe to see the many shops that have stayed in families for multiple generations.
#5 Budapest, Hungary #VikingSocial
Budapest is sometimes described as the Paris of the East. But I disagree. It isn’t another anywhere; it is very much its own beautiful gem of a city.
The Christmas market, the colorful, fresh covered food market, the smells of paprika, roasting chestnuts and grilled dough were a bouquet of smells and flavors.
Budapest has a long and fascinating history, and a bright future since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and I want to learn more about it. Viking provided a local guide who gave me a taste, but I want the full meal. (Speaking of meals, I had wonderful ones at Divin Porcello and Pierrot and yummy cappuccino and sweets at Gerbeaud’s.)
#6 Gastown area of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada #HalCruises
In 2014, for the first time ever, I took an ocean cruise. I did my maiden voyage with the Holland America Line. I have some advice for you; fly in a few days before you embark on your cruise. This way you can relax and explore the port instead of rushing onto your cruise ship. I thoroughly enjoyed the culture, and a city in a wilderness setting.
My favorite excursion was afternoon tea at @FairmontEmpress in nearby Victoria, B.C. The hotel’s rich history and exquisite tea treats made it the best afternoon tea experience yet.
If you have never been on an ocean cruise, I recommend reading my 10 ten reasons why I plan to take more in the future. No parking, no taxi, no hauling suitcases required ツ I enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie on @HalCruises—Thanks for the experience.
#7 St. Petersburg, Russia #VikingTravels
I took this Viking River Cruise with Jean Newman Glock. It was Jean’s 30th time to Russia and my first. I was initially baffled as to why Jean visited the same place so many times, until I experienced the beauty, culture, majesty and sensory richness of St. Petersburg.
One visit is simply not enough. One of the many benefits of river cruising is that it provides an appetizer-sized sampling for you to taste many local flavors. If you decide to visit another time, you know where you will want to have your main course(s). For a little sample of my trip, you can read my article here.
#8 Maui, Hawaii #KFresh14
I have been to Maui three times, and each time I explore a different part of the island. My favorite experience on this particular visit was the annual 3 day #KFresh14 Food and Wine Festival. It features the finest cuisine of Maui paired with a selection of international wines and spirits. Much of the food is sourced from farms on Maui and local, as well as “celebrity”, chefs participate.
#9 Oberwesel, Germany #JoinGermanTradition
I was fortunate enough to spend a day in a “Sleeping Beauty” fantasy castle (minus Prince Philip, although someone broke the spell and I had to move on).
Oberwesel, in the middle Rhine region of Germany, is another place I would love to revisit. The half-timbered homes, castles, medieval towers, churches and town walls deserve more time to be properly appreciated. Germany has so much charm and history that it cannot be truly savored in brief visits.
#10 Hesse Wine Country, Rheingau, Germany #JoinGermanTradition
This was my first experience tasting the dry Riesling wines produced from the Rheingau vineyards along the Rhine River. I loved the acidity, citrus flavors and slight mineral taste of the Rieslings from this region. The experience caused me to reassess my old biases against Rieslings.
If you enjoy sweet dessert wines, Spatlese, from the Schloss Vollrads should not be missed. Schloss Vollrads is the world’s oldest operating winery and, as they have produced more than 800 vintages, they have had a lot of time to get it right! (If you favor drier wines rest assured that they have those too.)
I would love to hear what you think of the places and experiences that I have shared with you here.
What travel memories or dreams do you have? I enjoy hearing the types of things my readers seek when they travel. Do you go to relax, learn cultural or historic information, to enjoy luxury or to challenge yourself physically or mentally? What gets you to pick up your passport and set off for a new destination?
Your ideas and experiences may help inspire me as I plan my travel for 2015!