Points&Travel: My Year in Review 2014.

By Posted in - Year End Review on January 1st, 2015 Montestigliano, Tuscany, Italy

By Cacinda Maloney

As 2014 screeches to an end, I’ve stopped for a few moments, sitting in my cabin in the woods in Telluride, Colorado with light drizzles of snow outside as seen thru my picture window, to reflect on the year that it has been. I am overflowing with gratitude and joy for what I now realize has been one of the richest and most adventure-filled years of my life.  I met so many wonderful people on my travels that I can now call friends. You allowed me to express my thoughts openly and I thank you for that.

Special thanks to a few friends along the way: Marilyn Jones, Annette White, Mary Jo Manzanares, Katja Presnal, Carol Meyer and Alice Smith, I am truly thankful for your friendship. You guys rock!

Here is my 17 country wrap up from 2014 (Finland, France, Greece, Italy, USA multiple trips).  I cannot keep track of the cities or islands…

January

I had an amazing opportunity to be chosen as one of the international travel bloggers for the Nordic Blogger Experience to visit Finland and Estonia, my first time to visit both countries where I enjoyed a magical time in the snow and met some wonderful travel friends.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Also, in Estonia, don’t miss Baar Bistro, I still have food memories of that place!

Tallin, Estonia

Tallin, Estonia

February

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ

I took it easy a bit and tried out my first “staycation”, by staying locally for a week in Scottsdale and Phoenix at three hotels reviewing seven restaurants (what a job!). I also visited local attractions like the Desert Botanical Garden,  Taliesin West, and had a balloon ride over the desert, as well as took a Pink Jeep Tour out near Anthem area to a dude ranch for a BBQ and to ride horses.

I found two restaurants that are now my favorite in the Phoenix/Scottsdale metroplex:

Cafe Monarche – Scottsdale, Arizona

Zookz Sandwich Shoppe – Phoenix, Arizona

March/April/May

Paris, France

Paris, France

At the end of March to almost May, I took a five-week trip thru Europe beginning in Paris, France with my stay at the Napoleon Hotel and my tour of Normandy and its beaches for their 70th Anniversary of D-Day. From there, I made my way to Florence, Italy where I was whisked away to Tuscany to the lovely Montestigliano

Montestigliano, Tuscany, Italy

Montestigliano, Tuscany, Italy

and had a chance to tour Siena and learn about its contrade system. Then up the mountains to Palazzo Donati in Mercatello sul Metauro for the most amazing meal of the year with the coolest group of 9 men I have ever met!

Fave e Formaggio Fresco – Fava beans, salted and Italian Red Wine

Fave e Formaggio Fresco – Fava beans, salted and Italian Red Wine, Mercatello sul Metauro, Italy

From there I made my way to Cesenatico (the Grand Hotel Da Vince is a must here) and Cessena in Italy.

Cesenatico, Italy

Cesenatico, Italy

Then I was off to Athens, an invitation by TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange), staying at the perfectly situated Athens Hilton

Erechtheion, at the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Erechtheion, at the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

before holding myself up in an apartment in Rome until the next wave of touring began.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

I then flew back to Athens and then to Santorini and Mykonos, where I left my heart, that is for sure.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

My Brama Yacht tour around Santorini was one of the most memorable of that trip and probably the year for me, as seeing Greece and its islands was a dream come true. I also cannot say enough about how amazing the San Giorgio Hotel is in Mykonos, so do not miss it if you are ever there.

Little Venice sunset, Mykonos, Greece

Little Venice sunset, Mykonos, Greece

June – I rested from my whirlwind trip the month before and loved every minute of it.

July

Maya Island Air over Belize

Maya Island Air over Belize

This month I had a chance to go on a family trip to Belize and we thoroughly enjoyed our Maya Island Air flight out to Ambergris Caye, where we spent a week at Victoria House and Xanadu Island Resort relaxing, diving with Robbie, of Chuck and Robbie’s Dive Shop and enjoying the sun!

Nurse Shark - Ambergris Caye, Belize

Nurse Shark with my son- Ambergris Caye, Belize

Victoria House, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Victoria House, Ambergris Caye, Belize

August

Blue Osa, Costa Rica

Blue Osa, Costa Rica

This month was a new one for me, a couple of firsts – first time to ever visit a yoga retreat at Blue Osa in Costa Rica and the first time I have ever repelled down a 100 foot waterfall, which I will never do again!

Waterfall near Blue Osa, Costa Rica

Waterfall near Blue Osa, Costa Rica

A quick turnaround at home of laundry and before you know it I was off again to visit Oslo, Norway and do an entire tour of western Finland, which was amazing beyond belief.

Norsk Folk Museum, Oslo, Norway

Norsk Folk Museum, Oslo, Norway

Lighthouse on Maakalla Island, Finland

Lighthouse on Maakalla Island, Finland

Maakalla Island, Finland

Maakalla Island, Finland

Village of Björköby, Finland

Village of Björköby, Finland

It is at this point that I want to pinch myself thinking of all the wonderful travel I have had this year!

September

I needed to get to Cancun, Mexico for a travel conference (TBEX) and spent some additional time on a culinary tour through Cancun, with my favorite at Benazuzu and their molecular gastronomy.

Benazuza, Cancun, Mexico

Benazuza, Cancun, Mexico

Then I did some exploration of the cenotes and saw an amazing show at Xcaret in the Riveria Maya. I was also fortunate enough to get to dive the Cancun Underwater Museum!

Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) project Cancun, Mexico

Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) project Cancun, Mexico

At home again in the Phoenix metroplex, I was able to pull of a few days of relaxation at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale – with its Spa Avania and the SWB restaurant, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass and its lovely Aji Spa and its AAA Five Diamond Award and Forbes Five-Star Award restaurant in Arizona called Kai.

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Phoenix, AZ

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Phoenix, AZ

And also the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, AZ.

Lon's Hermosa Inn

Lon’s Hermosa Inn

October

Ahh, this one I could not wait for, as I had always wanted to see the changing of the leaves in the Fall and I was lucky enough to see it in the fabulous little town of Jim Thorpe, in Pennsylvania on my Pocono Mountain tour through this Pocono Mountain region. It was absolutely stunning. This region has some of the most amazing scenery and hoteliers to match.

Jim Thorpe, PA USA

Jim Thorpe, PA USA

Jim Thorpe, PA USA

Jim Thorpe, PA USA

Ledges Hotel, Hawley, PA

My room with a view! Ledges Hotel, Hawley, PA

November

Savannah, GA, USA

Savannah, GA, USA

November brought even more dreams come true, as I finally made my way to the lovely Savannah, Georgia. I stayed only long enough to wet my appetite for a return. I also toured Florida’s Historic Coast, staying in the historic St. Augustine, as well as toured the Golden Isles of Georgia, staying in St. Simmons Island at the lovely King and Prince Hotel. What a treat this trip was for me!

St. Simons Island, Georgia

St. Simons Island, Georgia

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Sunset in St. Simons Island, Georgia

December

And now for the stunning last month of the year!

I was chosen as National Geographic Traveller’s Blog of the month:  Dec 2014!

National Geographic Traveller Blog of the Month: Dec 2014

National Geographic Traveller Blog of the Month: Dec 2014

Then I was chosen as Italy Magazine’s Blog of the Week for the first week in Dec 2014:

Italy Magazine's Blog of the Week: PointsandTravel

Italy Magazine’s Blog of the Week: PointsandTravel

I was also invited to write a 700 word article for Italy Magazine that appeared here.

Plus noted at one of the top 100 travel bloggers to follow on Twitter.

I was selected as one of the world’s top 50 travel bloggers to attend the inaugural TBC (Travel Bloggers Conference) Asia as a delegate from the Professional Travel Bloggers Association in in Sri Lanka, yes, Sri Lanka! Highlights included an elephant safari, a sea plane ride near Galle and visiting UNESCO world heritage sites Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa.

Elephant Safari, photo courtesy of Hai Huynh of NotesofNomad.com

Elephant Safari, photo courtesy of Hai Huynh of NotesofNomad.com

From here, I took off on my own for the most serene and relaxing time of my life to the Maldives, staying at the lovely Kurumba Resort. The Maldives truly is what you hear about that it is.

Kurumba, Maldives

Kurumba, Maldives

I was then fortunate enough to be invited by Viking River Cruises to go on a Christmas Market adventure down the Rhine River, which took me from Switzerland, through France, Germany and then to the Netherlands.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Koblenz, Germany Christmas Market

Koblenz, Germany Christmas Market

Strasbourg, France Cathedral

Strasbourg, France Cathedral

Strasbourg, France Christmas Markets

Strasbourg, France Christmas Markets

I spend a few extra days in Amsterdam and in Zurich as well. I must mention the B2 Boutique Hotel in Zurich, as it is one of the most unique and fabulous hotels I have ever stayed in, ranking on up there in the top 5! It has an amazing rooftop spa and library of 50,000 books that is a DO NOT MISS if ever you are in Zurich.

B2 Boutique Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland

B2 Boutique Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland

And last, but certainly not least, I am in the world class town of Telluride, Colorado while I write this final note, having spent the days on the slopes of Telluride’s Mountain Village and eating at 10,000 feet at the Bon Vivant restaurant, where you will stand and view the most breathtaking views in the world.

Bon Vivant Restaurant, Telluride, CO, USA

Bon Vivant Restaurant, Telluride, CO, USA

You have not heard enough about this town, I can assure you.

I wanted to let you guys know my plan for 2015 is to slow down a bit on my travels, yet I am still hoping for an amazing 2015 travel year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Dr. Cacinda Maloney

PointsandTravel.com

(25) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Jeff -

    January 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    What a great year for you travels. If I could do a fraction of your travels it would be a good year for me. Keep it going in 2015.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 1, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks Jeff, you must come along with me in 2015, it should be a very good year!

  • Walter Sanders -

    January 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Splendid recap! Vivid writing, brilliant photography! What a year!

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 2, 2015 at 8:15 am

      What a year indeed!! Thanks for reading.

  • Alana – PAPER PLANES -

    January 2, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Oh my gosh, that waterfall photo gave me anxiety… What a year!

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      That waterfall thingy – me too! I won’t do that again! But once you are there, there is only one way down! ha! Great to meet you back in the early days of blogging – BLOGHOUSE TORONTO roomie! What a year it was indeed!

  • Derek Freal -

    January 2, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Wow oh wow, you had an amazing year….congrats!! It was such a joy to meet you in a Sri Lanka as well 🙂 May 2015 bring you even more fun and adventures and hope we cross paths again elsewhere soon 🙂 take care and keep up the great work!

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 2, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Derek, so great to meet you too. What a year! I am sure we will meet again!

  • Kerwin -

    January 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    And my friends say I travel a lot. This is way cool! It was my pleasure to hang with you in a few of these destinations. I like traveling with you and seeing you in action. You have a real sensitive eye Cacinda when you capture the surroundings.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 3, 2015 at 12:14 am

      Thanks Kerwin, so great to see you too, you world traveller you! #‎WhereisKerwin‬? is what I always want to know. Let’s see, I saw you in Athens, Greece, Cancun, Mexico and Sri Lanka this year!

  • Jenna -

    January 3, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Wow, what a fantastic year of travel you had. A river cruise with Viking River Cruises is on my travel wish list, but I think Telluride would be a great way to end the year! It looks beautiful.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 3, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      Viking River Cruises and the Christmas Markets are amazing! And yes, Telluride hit the spot! The Family loved it!

  • Marilyn Jones -

    January 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Wow; what a year!! And to top off your excellent writing and photography, you are earning worldwide attention as a celebrated travel blogger!! Bravo!!

  • Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe -

    January 4, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Wow – you’ve had a pretty fantastic year! I’m exhausted just reading about it! 🙂

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 4, 2015 at 11:37 am

      Yes, what is funny, is that I didn’t even realize it was that much until I wrote that article, but I am slowing down for 2015.

  • Lance -

    January 4, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Very nice! Looks like you hit some amazing destinations in 2014. Looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store for you.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 4, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Hoping to slow down just a bit! Sometimes I let travel get the best of me!

  • Carolyn -

    January 5, 2015 at 2:45 am

    Wow, what a year of fantastic travel adventures. I bet you almost forgot what your house
    looked like! All the best for a great 2015 – even if it is a little quieter.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 5, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      Yes, what does my house look like! ha ha! It was a fantastic year, but need to slow down a bit!

  • Lance | Trips By Lance -

    January 6, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    What a busy year of travel. I told you this back in the summer, but I was inspired by your trip to Greece. Things happened that prevented us from visiting Greece in 2014, but who knows what the future holds. Your year really does show what can happen for someone who puts in the hard work to make all of this work. Your blog is filled with inspiration, I’m just sorry I’ve made myself so busy in recent months that I haven’t had much time to visit inspiring blogs like yours nearly as much as I want.

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 6, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Ahh come on Lance, you provide plenty of inspiration for your readers! Plus I was extraordinary lucky this year.

  • Hannah @ GettingStamped -

    January 7, 2015 at 5:19 am

    What a year, love the cayes in Belize! We hope to get to Finland in 2015!

    • Cacinda Maloney -

      January 7, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Yes, Belize is AMAZING and so is Finland, I had a great tour of Finland this time around, visiting many areas in Western Finland.

  • Easy Healthy Meals -

    September 15, 2015 at 5:29 am

    […] road! What does world traveler Dr. Cacinda Maloney do when she is on the road? Having traveled to 17 countries in 2014 and 16 countries so far this year (and that even included my 40 day+ HOMEcation!) Here is my secret: […]

UA-35342723-1