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.
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…
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.
Also, in Estonia, don’t miss Baar Bistro, I still have food memories of that place!
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
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
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!
From there I made my way to Cesenatico (the Grand Hotel Da Vince is a must here) and Cessena in Italy.
Then I was off to Athens, an invitation by TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange), staying at the perfectly situated Athens Hilton
before holding myself up in an apartment in Rome until the next wave of touring began.
I then flew back to Athens and then to Santorini and Mykonos, where I left my heart, that is for sure.
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.
June – I rested from my whirlwind trip the month before and loved every minute of it.
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!
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!
It is at this point that I want to pinch myself thinking of all the wonderful travel I have had this year!
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.
At home again in the Phoenix metroplex, I was able to pull off 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.
And also the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, AZ.
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.
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!
And now for the stunning last month of the year!
I was chosen as National Geographic Traveller’s 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:
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 Sri Lanka, yes, Sri Lanka! Highlights included an elephant safari, a seaplane ride near Galle and visiting UNESCO world heritage sites Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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