Friday, December 23, 2011

My Top 5 Trips of 2011

Last year, two of my most popular blog posts were year-end lists that looked at my 10 top songs of 2010 as well as my five favourite concerts. This year I’ll be skipping both of those lists as I can’t think of 10 songs that I absolutely love while show-wise, I'm also drawing a bit of a blank.

Compared to last year, I listened to, and saw, significantly less music and a big part of why that happened is because I was busy travelling in 2011. So instead of music-oriented lists, here’s a list that looks at the top five places I visited this past year.

1. Le Meridian – Bora Bora
We didn’t stay here, just spent the day enjoying its turtle lagoon, but if I was to ever go back to Bora Bora, I would somehow come up with the money to stay at this amazing hotel. Not only is it beautiful, has two pools and a lovely little beach, but did you read the part where I said it has a turtle lagoon? And yes, you can snorkel all day with the turtles, clown fish and other colourful things.

The only downside to this place (besides the price), is the food (we had a very mediocre lunch) and potentially the location. The Le Meridian is actually located on one of the tiny islands that surround Bora Bora so any time you want to go to the main land, to say, get a proper meal, you have to catch the shuttle boat (which is free) and then a cab (which is not free). But on the other hand, its location does give you a stunning view of Bora Bora.

More on my Bora Bora trip.

2. Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa – Moorea
This hotel we did stay at and I would happily stay there again. Our little hut, complete with a private background pool, was big, clean and packed with local details. And while the resort itself didn’t have much of a beach, it did have a wonderful infinity pool, amazing food and even better snorkeling.  Plus it was located right outside the main town, which I really liked as it made it easy to go shopping.

More on my Moorea trip.

3. The Lagoonarium – Bora Bora
This attraction, located on one of Bora Bora’s many little islands, isn’t it for everyone. Yes, it has sea creatures (fish, rays, sharks) in pens but in 2010, a cyclone destroyed the fencing and almost all the creatures stayed at the Lagoonarium instead of swimming off so they must like it.

What I really liked about this place is that it wasn’t just, “Oh, look at the rays and the sharks in the pens.” No, here you got to snorkel with them as well as feed and touch them.

I also really liked how you got to spend multiple hours at the Lagoonarium, where you could also enjoy the beach, explore the little island (including a coral bed that's been exposed because of the cyclone), eat yummy food (this place had the greatest grapefruit ever) and learn a bit about Polynesian culture.

4. New York City
My 2011 trip to NYC wasn’t my first and it certainly won’t be my last. There is always something new going on, or somewhere new to eat, or somewhere new to shop, plus it always takes multiple trips to such landmarks as Central Park and the Met to truly appreciate them.

More on my NYC trip.

5. Bruges, Belgium
Everyone calls Bruges a “fairy tale” but that’s because it really does look like the setting for one, a fairy tale that’s all about chocolate shops. Oh, and frites, can’t forget about the frites.

This well-preserved medieval town has a surprising amount to do given its small size. Activities include canal rides, lots of shopping and of course a trip up the belfry.

While the town is generally always full of tourists, things get extra busy on the weekends so if you go then, be sure to get to the Saturday morning market early so that you have your pick of cheap chocolate.


Prague – Yeah, it has even more tourists than Bruges but its buildings are so stunning. Plus it’s quite affordable as long as you don’t walk into a Starbucks.

Verona – I have a bit of a soft spot for this Italian town because I got to sit in the emperor’s box in its ancient coliseum (if you go, try to take in a show at this truly unique venue). Besides lots of history, Verona has some great shopping and of course incredible food.

Nice – I love the ocean and the beach, even when the beach is all pebbly. Yeah, Nice is expensive and the locals have attitude but the views make up for it (also, this another town full of great food).

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