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The Best Of Travel 2019

Here it is again. Just like clockwork. Another year comes to an end, or in this case a decade. There’s been a lot of travel in 2019 and more than half of it has been for work.

This was the year I took a career break from my job at the BBC in TV production to concentrate on my blog and try and take it to the next level. There were many sceptics, but with a lot of hard work I smashed ceilings even I wasn’t expecting to reach.

The super busy year was filled with working with brands and tourists boards, unexpected filming for Dutch airlines, delicious restaurant reviews, lock-ins with baboons and more trips around the British Isles – fulfilling a promise of seeing more of my own backyard.

Here are some of the best things I experienced during 2019 and you never know may give you some ideas on where to go in 2020!

Disclosure: Some of the trips and experiences below are sponsored, however, all views, opinions and photos are my own and remain a copyright of the Curious Pixie. This post also contains affiliate links whereby I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. Thanks as always for your support! See my disclosure policy here.

Best uK Hotel

the pig on the beach, Dorset

The charming 16th-century manor house was once the holiday home of the aristocratic Bankes family. Now revived, extended and painted yellow, a labyrinth of corridors lead to a spread of unique rooms. They have 23 in total including mini houses and shepherd’s huts on the grounds.

The charming luxury hotel is laid back and relaxed and everything you’d want from a coastal escape.

READ MORE: The Pig on the Beach, Family Friendly Retreat in Dorset

best uk foodie Getaway

brighton

The ultimate UK foodie getaway is only an hour from London. Brighton not only is a popular seaside city but also boasts an incredible culinary scene. From top notch cuisine, traditional fish and chips, delicious chocolatiers to an abundance of organic food shops and veggie cafes. This is the city to visit for all gastronauts.

READ MORE: How to Eat Your Way Through Brighton in a Day

Best Afternoon tea in london

aqua shard – mary poppins

Head to the Aqua Shard for the most amazing panoramic and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time at their Mary Poppins afternoon tea. The custom-made tea stand with the nanny’s famous umbrella and boots holds all the delicious sweet treats. After you’ve devoured the savoury selection of finger sandwiches make sure there is enough space for the freshly made fairground candy floss – An absolute hit with my girls.

READ MORE: Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea at the Aqua Shard

best place for a lock-in with animals

Camp baboon, bristol

Experience the ultimate wildlife glamping adventure at Camp Baboon. Part of the Wild Place Project in Bristol you’re able to play out your ranger dreams in a unique overnight opportunity and create some unforgettable memories.

Learn basic survival skills, enjoy a private evening tour of the animals, toast marshmallows on the campfire before bedtime and feed breakfast to the animals. What I loved most about Camp Baboon is the fact it’s not a traditional zoo with animals caged up. The emphasis is on conservation where rescued and endangered animals get to live in a natural environment.

READ MORE: Ultimate Wildlife Adventure at Camp Baboon, Bristol

Best UK PUB WITH ROOMS

the bell at stow, The cotswolds

The traditional Cotswolds inn The Bell at Stow combines beautifully a rustic pub and stunning boutique hotel. It’s the perfect escape from the city. Think fresh country air, red wine and roaring fires in winter or basking in the summer sun with a cool pint in a beer garden. A chance to embrace all the delights of the countryside.

Rest in the luxurious and elegantly decorated en suite rooms, complete with complimentary handmade shortbread and a decanter of port. cosy bar and restaurant in Stow-on-the-Wold. The charming cosy bar and restaurant serves British and international dishes with seasonal produce from local suppliers.

It’s also within easy reach of many of the Cotswolds’ most popular destinations, such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Norton.

READ MORE: The Bell at Stow, The Cotswolds: A Review

best musical experience

verona opera

The biggest amphitheatre in northern Italy, the Arena di Verona, is best experienced during the annual Opera Festival. Built in the 1st century A.D the open air Veronese amphitheatre even predates the Colosseum in Rome.

It’s seen gladiatorial games to concerts by The Who, Whitney Houston and Adele. if visiting between July and September don’t miss out on the festival. Due to the incredible acoustics of the ancient Roman amphitheatre, it’s one of the best places in the world to see an opera. Watching Bizet’s Carmen was a dream come true.

READ MORE: 13 Best Things to do in Verona, Italy

best family adventure destination

the french ardennes

Northeast of Paris near the Belgian border, the French Ardennes shaped by the Meuse and Semoy rivers has created a natural playground. A place to engage with the great outdoors on land and water, its hills and valleys kayakers lure kayakersm climbers, hikers, horse-riders and mountain bikers.

There is more than just adventure to keep your family from wandering spooky castles to catching a puppet show in Charleville-Mézières, the world capital of puppetry.

READ MORE: How to Visit the French Ardennes with Kids

best homestay

philipkutty’s farm, kerala

This beautiful and intimate homestay on the Vembanad Lake in Kerala, oozes charm. Owned and run by a local family, this homestay gives guests the real Kerala experience with a chance to experience what life is like on a working organic, sustainable Keralan farm.

Spend your days learning about the farm, cruising in a traditional Vallam along the canals, or sightseeing at the nearby villages and enjoying communal meals under the old mango tree. It’s an idyllic stay and one you will never forget.

READ MORE: Kerala with Kids – Beaches and Backwaters

best city for sweet treats

ghent, belgium

If you have a sweet tooth, Ghent is like an Aladdin’s cave. The medieval and picturesque port city in northwest Belgium is often overlooked in favour of Bruges – mistake!

It’s a sweetie paradise from the best pralines and chocolates to cuberdons, or neuzekes – chewy purple cones filled with sweet syrup. They’re often not found outside of Belgium with only a shelf-life of 3 weeks. And let’s not forget the Belgian waffles, found on most street corners. I guarantee you will eat more than one on your trip.

READ MORE: Why Ghent Should Be Your Next Family City Break

best luxury hotel

hotel ALFONSO xiii, seville

This grandiose landmark property is a piece of Seville’s history and one of Spain’s most prestigious hotels. Commissioned by the King of Spain to play host to international dignitaries during the 1929 Exhibition, Hotel Alfonso XIII is iconic and centrally located in the historic quarter of Santa Cruz, next to Reales Alcázares and Seville Cathedral. 

Step into a world of luxury from the moment you step through the door. Elegantly designed the architecture includes Moorish detailing through arches and ceramic tiles and Andalusian touches. The 151 rooms and suites equipped and furnished with luxury and comfort are decorated in three different styles: Andaluz, Moorish and Castilian.

READ MORE: On the blog soon!

best SUMMER family hotel

vila monte farmhouse, portugal

A three hour flight from London followed by a 30 minute drive will bring you to a fabulous family friendly hotel in the Eastern Algarve. The newly-renovated Vila Monte Farm House, a member of the Design Hotels group, offers a tranquil retreat with a garden and two heated outdoor swimming pools in Moncarapacho.

Rooms are found among orange groves. And the farmhouse restaurants serve Algarvian delicacies, all made from fresh ingredients including fish from the local markets and the resort’s own fruits and herbs.

READ MORE: Ultimate Algarve Escape – Vila Monte Farmhouse Review

Best place for gingerbread

nuremberg, Germany

Love gingerbread? Go to Nuremberg, home of the wonderfully aromatic and delicious Lebkuchen.

Recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and Nuremberg of course has its own exclusive version – the Elisenlebkuchen. The soft and chewy round cookies are baked on thin communion wafers called oblaten. Legend has it they’re named after Elizabeth the daughter of a master baker. The secret recipe helped her recover from a grave illness when no doctor could help.

Make your own at Wicklein Lebkuchen the leading brand for the original Nuremberg Lebkuchen and has been around for almost four hundred years. It last 1.5 hours and only costs 14.90 €. Perfect way to break up a day of city sightseeing.

READ MORE: Gingerbread Making Workshop in Nuremberg

best new landmark

the vessel, new york

New York City’s newest landmark created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick The Vessel is a sight to behold. The humongous copper beehive like structure sits proudly in the new neighbourhood development called Hudson Yards.

Comprised of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings, it offers views of the city and the Hudson River. Tickets are free but please ensure you book in advance as slots do get booked up.

READ MORE: 12 Things Tourists Must Never Do in New York

best city for museums

basel, switzerland

The city of Basel in the northwest of Switzerland, is home to over 40 museums. The historic city along the Rhine has a museum to appeal to everyone. There are the internationally renowned galleries such as Fondation Beyeler, Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts) and Museum Tinguely.

You can also discover gems such as the Spielzeug Welten Museum (Toy Worlds Museum), created from a private teddy bear collection, the Basel Paper Mill Museum and Cartoonmuseum

READ MORE: Basel, Switzerland in 48 Hours With Kids

best island

grenada

Grenada known as the Spice Island is a tranquil, off-the-beaten-track alternative to the Caribbean’s bigger islands. Famous for its spice plantations, delicious chocolate, beautiful mountains, untouched rainforest and secluded beaches this is paradise minus the crowds.

There is plenty of time for relaxation and rum and great opportunities to explore the beautiful landscape. Follow hiking trails to discover pretty waterfalls, go whale watching, explore historic forts and go diving to see the world’s first underwater sculpture park and incredible marine life.

READ MORE: Ultimate Travel Guide to Grenada, the Caribbean Spice Island

2019 has been an epic year of travel for the Curious Pixie.
I can’t wait to share with you the adventures 2020 will bring!

sima

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24 Comments

  • Angie Silver 1st January 2020 at 3:27 pm

    Such a fantastic travel year!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 2nd January 2020 at 10:31 am

      Yeah we certainly had a lot of fun. Looking forward to the adventures of 2020!

  • Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi 2nd January 2020 at 11:33 am

    What a year indeed! Bring on 2020!!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 2nd January 2020 at 5:47 pm

      Looking forward to it.

  • Bejal 3rd January 2020 at 11:46 am

    What a fab year of travels you’ve had! I’m loving Verona and have wanted to go for years! Love your ‘best ofs’

    • Sima Sthanakiya 4th January 2020 at 10:43 am

      It’s been crazy, but loved it. Verona for you this year, perhaps? 😉

  • Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays 3rd January 2020 at 4:12 pm

    What a year you’ve had!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 4th January 2020 at 10:43 am

      Absolutely mental year of travel. Loved every minute.

  • Davida | Wonders of Wanders 3rd January 2020 at 5:23 pm

    This is a lovely round-up with lots of great inspiration. The farmhouse in Portugal looks gorgeous.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 4th January 2020 at 10:42 am

      Thanks so much Davida. The farmhouse in the Algarve is a hidden gem!

  • kerry 3rd January 2020 at 10:13 pm

    What an exciting and jam packed year you have had Sima! Smashing those ceilings is amazing. I really loved your trip to Kerala, it looked like the sort of trip Nik and I love! Id love to add it to my list this year, we will see what life has in store. It is defo one for the future! Wishing you the best year! xxx

    • Sima Sthanakiya 4th January 2020 at 10:42 am

      Keeping my fingers crossed it happens for you Kerry. Can’t wait to see aqllyour exciting developments with your freelance writing.

  • Kathryn Burrington 4th January 2020 at 9:06 am

    That’s a fabulous roundup! I’ve never heard of Camp Baboon. I’d love to do that one day. I’m thinking birthday present here. I studied zoology at Bristol Uni a great many years ago and it’s high time I went back again. This would be perfect!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 4th January 2020 at 10:38 am

      It would make an amazing birthday trip, such a cool experience.

  • Anita 6th January 2020 at 4:04 pm

    It looks like an awesome travel year for you. If I ever would go back to New York, I would love to visit the Vessel for sure. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th January 2020 at 8:33 pm

      It was a great year. And yes the Vessel is a must for your next trip to NYC.

  • Rhonda 6th January 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Looks like a fun year with some interesting destinations, although it was the food that really caught my eye here. Are the neuzekes the noses in the photo?

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th January 2020 at 8:32 pm

      Yeah Rhonda the nose shaped sweets. I ate a lot and could have turned into a neuzekes by the end of the trip.

  • Kacie Morgan 7th January 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Sounds like you had an adventurous year. Your foodie trip to Brighton with Binny definitely stands out in my mind!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th January 2020 at 8:31 pm

      Loved that trip. I was fit to bust by the end but so happy!

  • Larch 7th January 2020 at 9:06 pm

    What an amazing year, Sima. I hope you have some great adventures in 2020!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 8th January 2020 at 9:57 am

      Can’t wait to see how my adventures unfold in 2020!

  • Kirsty Marrins 15th January 2020 at 5:47 pm

    I loved visiting The Vessel when we were in New York over New Year. Such an amazing structure! Sounds like you had an epic 2019!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 19th January 2020 at 7:13 pm

      It was amazing and exceeded my expectations travel wise!

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    About Me

    About Me

    I'm Sima, join me as I explore, experience and eat my way around the globe. Inspiring you to escape the everyday through my adventures... Read More

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