2019 is right around the corner and I already have my eye on vacation hotspots. Have you figured out where your next adventure will be? If you haven’t had time to think that far ahead, or if you need a little inspiration, check out my suggestions below.
I am starting with Cuba because it is one of my top three favorite destinations (it is so hard to pick just one!). Yes, there are a few things you have to do in order to go to Cuba legally however it is not impossible and it is well worth the effort.
My hubby and I went when our kiddo was at camp (the other two are out on their own) because we try to take at least one trip each year by ourselves. I found Cuba to be safe and the people extremely warm and friendly. We stayed outside of Havana in a fabulous Airbnb right on the water’s edge.I recommend Cuba because there is a wealth of culture, history, music, and food to experience. It won’t take long for you to find some gorgeous scenery and to meet some authentically friendly people. Our hosts at the Airbnb were so sweet and took the time to tell us about points of interests.
When we were deciding which visa to choose, we selected the visa that was in support of the Cuban people. The Airbnb hostess helped us find an orphanage to which we donated a lot of hygiene goods, OTC meds, and school supplies. Yes we had to pay an extra bag fee since we stuffed a duffle bag full of stuff, but it was a small price to pay to help the children of the orphanage.
If you are worried about an air/land type of trip, or if navigating around Cuba freaks you out (it shouldn’t by the way), then you should definitely consider a cruise. Many of them include the price of the visa and you will return to the safety of the cruise ship if that is your preference. I haven’t cruised to Cuba yet however Royal Caribbean has some nice itineraries, some of which have more than one port of call in Cuba. No matter how you decide to visit Cuba……just do it!!! (For more info, go to Cuba.com.)
So I am really excited about this one. We are heading to St. Petersburg in June but we will be taking a quick trip to Moscow too! I love trying new foods so I started doing a little research. I am not a huge fan of beets so I think I will pass on the borscht BUT I am ready to try solyanka, pashka, and of course vodka!
Solyanka is made with different types of meat (i.e sausage, bacon, ham, or beef) and vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Smetana appears to be a cheese cake type of dish which is absolutely my speed. Vodka……well that needs no explanation. 😁
I am always curious about superstitions and the paranormal in other cultures. In Russia, a female ghost is called a “rusalka” and is a young woman who died as the result of drowning, either suicide or murder. The rusalka lives underwater and lures men to their death.
Another story is that of a “domovoy.” A domovoy is a spirit that lives in the oven or near the fireplace of a home, but never goes outside. It takes the form of a hairy little man, or it my appear as a doppelgänger of the homeowner. It may act as a protector of the family and their possessions, or it could be a prankster. Seems to me a domovoy is the one you want to encounter, not the rusalka!
The tour I have high on my list is the Bunker 42 Tour. On this tour you can see the inside of a Cold-War era underground facility in Moscow designed to function the case of a nuclear war. (For more info about what Russia has to offer, go to the Official Website for Russia Tourism).
So it seems to me that the Cook Islands are still a bit of a best kept secret. Not a secret at all of course, but I encounter a lot of people who have never even heard of them, much less have actually visited. The flight to Rarotonga won’t be cheap but there is much to love about it making it a great and worthwhile investment, especially if you are a beach lover. The Cook islands are made up of 15 islands in an area known as Polynesia.
Highland Paradise offers visitors a great lesson in the history and unique culture of Cook Islands. Guided tours of both historical sites as well as rebuilt locations give tourists an in depth view of the significant cultural events and the spiritual nature of this paradise location. You should also visit Te Vara Nui Village for a great cultural experience. And if you enjoy seafood, then you are in for a treat! Typical dining fare includes tuna, mahi mahi, and broadbill.
If you are a budget traveler, don’t assume Cook Islands are out of budget. There are some options that offer a comfortable setting for less than $200 per night. The Rarotongan Beach Resort, Aro’a Beachside Inn, and Magic Reef Bungalows offer grand accommodations without a grand price tag.
If you are on the other end of the spectrum, you have plenty of luxury accommodations to choose from including overwater bungalows and villas with private pools. You’ll need to save up though because you are looking at $400 - $2000+ per night. No matter which way you prefer to travel, this tropical paradise is something I recommend you check out in 2019! (Check out Cook Islands.)
When I think of Norway, I imagine rough seas and Viking ships. Has my imagine gone into overdrive? Maybe. In any case, if you love the outdoors, Norway has A LOT to offer you: skiing, hiking, fishing, surfing, rafting, dog sledding, and even wildlife safaris. Yes, I said wildlife safaris.
You have a fair chance of seeing reindeer, or a white-tailed eagle but you can also participate in an organized tour to see whales, the long-haired musk oxen, or the king crabs Summertime is a great time to go whale watching and you will be able to catch a glimpse of sperm whales, pilot whales, minke whales, humpbacks, dolphins, and killer whales.
If the great outdoors isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. There is still a ton of stuff for you to do and see, especially if you love the arts and culture. In Oslo the Viking Ship Museum has some amazingly preserved Viking ships on display, smaller ships, tools, and other everyday utensils.
Southeast of Olso lies a large mound that was believed to be nothing more than a landmark for the locals. Earlier this year it was decided that it needed to be examined and, with the use of ground penetrating radar, a 66-foot long boat burial was found within the mound.
In addition, you should make time for the Norwegian Museum of Science of Technology, the Munch Museum, and the National Gallery. Edvard Munch is a renown Nordic painter known for his works in expressionism. Should you stop by the National Gallery, be sure to stop by the The Fairy Tale Room where you can see art depicting princesses, fairies, trolls and other fairy tale creatures.
Last but certainly not least……….make your way to see the Northern Lights. You can still find some great deals for Northern Lights packages through February and into March but just know that you don’t have to travel to the furthest reaches of the world to see the beautiful lights. Check out this Northern Lights tour on a luxury yacht. (For more info, go to Visit Norway.)
Cambodia's culture has roots in the 1st to 6th centuries in a state known as Funan. The capital city is Phnom Penh and population of Cambodia today is about 10 million. About 90-95 percent of the people are Khmer ethnic. About 10 percent of the population lives in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The remainder live in more rural areas. Cambodia is bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand.
Vegetables are the main part of the meal with favorites being beans, broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce, onions, peas, and sweet corn among others. Vegetables are commonly eaten during the main part of a meal, oftentimes added to a soup. Cambodia is well known in the region for its prahok, fermented fish paste that is used in many traditional dishes. Most Cambodian dishes are cooked in a wok, known locally as a chhnang khteak.
If you are interested in a native dish, samlor kako uses a variety of ingredients including the famous prahok which just happens to be fermented fish cheese, which is unique to Khmer cuisine. Another dish that may interest you is khmer sour soup. This stew is a is a common dish, particularly in the rural areas due to availability of the ingredients.
There is a really interesting tour of a very tragic location: Tuol Sleng Genocide Musuem and the Killing Fields. The museum stands as a testament to the tragedy that occurredin S-21 that resulted in the mass murder of over 1.5 million people from 1975 - 1979. Go to the Killing Fields and you will be on the site in which executions were carried out. The energy is sure to be somber there but you will be standing on the site of a significant, historical world event. Check out the Historical Phnom Penh Small Group Tour including the Genocide Museum and Killing Fields. (For more info, go to Tourism of Cambodia.)