2017 was a banner year for my travel. Some destinations were carefully planned but others were just serendipitous, popping up out of the blue. Either way, believe me, the travel gods cranked it out on my behalf. During this remarkable stretch of travel and exploration, the trips were chronicled in this space. And now, as the year winds to a close, here are my 5 favorite destinations for 2017. I hope you’ll find some ideas and inspiration for your 2018 travel plans.
Favorite Destination #1: South America
South America was first on the list, on the other side of the equator from my native continent.
The question of where to start was overwhelming. You can’t tackle an entire landmass in one go. There is so much history, European and indigenous culture, topography, jungles, mountains, beaches, sophisticated cities, incredible food, art, architecture, wine….the list goes on and on.
The answer was the wonderful and very helpful assistance from Yampu Travel. This first-rate tour company put together a customized, varied trip to Argentina hitting three top destinations, perfect for the first-time traveler.
To start, Buenos Aires. As sophisticated as any European capital, but with unique color, cultures, and pizzazz that makes it a city like no other.
Not to mention the gauchos, a short ride away from the city center.
Afterward, on to Mendoza.
In the heart of Argentina’s famed Malbec wine region and a day-trip away to the Chilean border high in the Andes; Mendoza is a place that calls for a return.
And finally, the incomparable Iguazu Falls, on Argentina’s border with Brazil.
After the 12,000 foot, snow-capped peaks, the lush climate of Iguazu was a welcome change. The trip under the falls – do NOT miss that!
On a strong recommendation, while in the “neighborhood”, I took a side trip to Uruguay, to visit the posh seaside town of Punta del Este, and, next door, La Barra.
Ok, it could be argued, convincingly, that “Punta” is a young people’s playground – a beach for the tanned and waxed to the max.
Maybe not a place for, ahem, ‘older’ types. However, it was the end of the season (March) so I was in good company with other grandmotherly-aged but very hip contemporaries.
Besides, staying at Casa Zinc, probably one of the coolest boutique hotels ever, was a highlight of the trip.
And, in retrospect, so was the wine. If you go, don’t miss the Bodega Garzón .
Favorite Destination #2 London
You probably know I travel to the U.K. a lot, and to London in particular. It’s the lucky outcome of having family there, my son and his young family. (Well, sort of lucky, but miss them too! Thankfully, video calls save the day!)
So, in that way, London is always one of my favorite destinations. 2017 saw me there twice (!) plus a trip to savor the beauty and tranquility of Somerset, to the southwest of London.
A very fun place to stay, not the least of which because each room is fully stocked….
Just in case, somehow, the bar ran out…
Favorite Destination #2a – Countryside beyond London
In Somerset, near Bristol, is Tyntesfield, a Victorian estate run by the National Trust. You are transported to another era enjoying the immaculate grounds and the intact home, as if the resident family had just left for the afternoon.
Best of all, the Chaplain’s House is available for rent.
No denying that hosting my family here at Chaplain’s House made this a favorite destination. On the other hand, it would have made the list anyway. It’s that special.
Favorite Destination #3 Umbria
In the Spring, I got a surprise email from a friend I hoped to see while in London. She asked me to join her for a few days in Umbria, Italy.
As Verdi is credited with saying, “You may have the Universe if I may have Italy”.
That argument is even more resonant in springtime Italy. One would surely trade the world for this ageless and enduring beauty. I can say no more.
Favorite Destination #4 Barbados
The 2017 Travel serendipity shower just continued. A dear friend celebrated a milestone birthday with a dozen pals in a charming villa on Barbados.
I’d not been to this bit of Caribbean paradise but recommend it highly – especially for a special event in your life!
All too soon, it was time to go…
Favorite Destination #5 Budapest
Finally, Budapest – a city of charm, compelling history, architecture, food, wine that would honor the most discerning palate. I’d wanted to go for a long time, and found myself completely swept into its spell. Put Budapest on your bucket list, if it’s not there already. As you can tell from the pix below, you’ll think, at times, you’re in Paris.
Where did YOU go in 2017 that is a favorite destination to share?
There is a whole big world out there; here’s to exploring more in 2018!
Cheers and Happy New Year,
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