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Now that I am home from holiday travel and diving into the new year, I’ve been able to spend some time reflecting on the beautiful places I visited last year. With restrictions to travel being (essentially) lifted, I checked many destinations off my bucket list by visiting 9 countries. It was a beautiful, enriching, and busy year, and the best I have had for travel to date. It would be nearly impossible to list and reflect on every place I went, so I figured I would “award” my favorites much like editors at popular travel magazines do. I am hopeful that this will give travelers some inspiration on where to go in 2023.
I picked 5 categories to give awards to, and there are 5 winners in each category. However, the 5 winners are in no particular order. It was already a challenge to choose the top 5, and they are all so varied in their uniqueness that I couldn’t possibly rank them further. More details of these places can mostly be found on my blog, but a few are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, so stay posted!
Oh, and what is the award, you may ask? A metaphorical pat on the back by yours truly. How priceless. So, without further ado, I give you My 2022 Travel Awards.
My picks for the best places I stayed are hotels and rentals with beautiful views, pristine amenities, and exceptional service.
1. Costalmandorlo (Rental), Montespertoli, Italy
2. Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort and Spa, Barga, Italy
3. Pine Cliffs Hotel, a Collection Resort, Albuferia, Portugal
4. La Casetta (Rental), Cinque Terre, Italy
5. Palacio Santa Clara, Valencia, Spain
Honorable Mentions: Apartment Rental, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland; Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Orlando, Florida
My strongest memories from this year are the excursions we went on. From exploring the coast of Cinque Terre by boat to tasting Chianti Classico in the heart of Tuscany, there is no denying that splurging on unique activities is one of the best ways to spend our vacation budget.
1. Old Town Tour with Food and Wine Tasting hosted by Sea Saffron, Valencia, Spain
2. Prague Foodie Tour hosted by Taste of Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
3. San Giorgio Boat Charter, Cinque Terre, Italy
4. Wine Class and Tasting hosted by Tenuta Del Palagio, Tuscany, Italy
5. Spa at 43 the Spa, Barcelona, Spain
Honorable Mentions: Original Beer Spa, Prague, Czech Republic
This was absolutely the most challenging category to narrow down. I ate at so many excellent restaurants with varied flavors and ambiance. However, I had to choose and ultimately decided on these as some of the best for their taste, atmosphere, and memorability.
1. Mlynec, Prague, Czech Republic
2. Ristorante Scacciaguai, Barga, Italy
3. Restaurant Gaudim, Barcelona, Spain
4. Domu, Orlando, Florida
5. Coso, Rome, Italy
Honorable Mentions: Středověká Krčma, Prague, Czech Republic; Amazónico, Madrid, Spain; Ristorante Podere Torricella, Montespertoli, Italy; Meissl & Schadn, Vienna, Austria, Ostera Santo Spirito, Florence, Italy; Yakuza Algarve by Oliver, Albuferia, Portugal
Best Landmarks and Museums
The most important part about traveling is learning about history and culture through iconic landmarks and museums. I personally love ancient history and art, but I was impressed with all of the cathedrals and castles I saw this year.
1. Hohenzollern Castle, Bisingen, Germany
2. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
3. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
4. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
5. Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain
Honorable Mentions: Colosseum, Rome, Italy; Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy; Pantheon, Rome, Italy; Church of San Nicolás, Valencia, Spain; Wiblingen Monastery, Ulm, Germany; Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria; Royal Palace of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Overall Best Destinations
Again, this was a terribly difficult category to narrow down. I enjoyed every place I visited and would recommend them to anyone. I mostly went to destinations popular with tourists, but hey, they are famous for a reason! So, while I know my top picks might not be groundbreaking, that doesn’t make them any less magical.
1. Prague, Czech Republic (This will be posted within the month. You can sign up for updates on my homepage sidebar.)
4. Tuscany, Italy ( I went here twice, so you can also click here for extra Tuscany content.)
Honorable Mentions: Barcelona, Spain; Vienna, Austria; Albufeira, Portugal; Amalfi Coast, Italy; Strasbourg, France; Sevilla, Spain; Segovia, Spain; Fredericksburg, Texas, USA; Orlando, Florida, USA
2022 was a monumental year for travel. There were moments of serenity, moments of laughter, and moments of awe. While 2023 will be more focused on pursuing my writing career, I’m still hoping to travel to many places and continue to share my adventures with you all! Where are you planning on going in 2023?