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Where has 2019 gone?! This year has just flown by! Here’s a round-up of my 2019 fave spots below for your reading enjoyment and (hopefully) inspiration for the year ahead.

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1. Antwerp, Belgium

This wasn’t our first time in Antwerp, but I’d forgotten just how gorgeous a city this was, especially arriving in the central train station, a masterwork of architecture and structural beauty. In fact, just 10 years ago, Newsweek called Antwerpen-Centraal station the world’s fourth greatest train station.

Antwerp
[Antwerp Centraal Station]

It’s easy to see why as we look up and admire the grand hall, enormous clock and the grandeur that evokes the glamour of train travel.

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Once you leave, the city awaits, with chocolate shops lining the streets, department stores and boutiques beckoning your wallet, and of course those famous Belgian frites and waffles to entice your tastebuds!

SUGGESTED READING

Canals and Culture: 24 Hours in Amsterdam

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2. Shanghai, China

This spring, I had the chance to (finally!) visit Shanghai for a couple of weeks. I attended CES Asia for the fist time and then added on another 10 days to my trip, staying in five-star hotels while touring the enormous city. I’ve been forever spoiled by Asian hospitality; the hotels here are on another level in terms of luxury and service!

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It was a challenge to get in the things I wanted to see in each part of Shanghai, but through careful planning and a colour-coded Google map broken down by day, I got to the major sights, including one high on the list: the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre.

This one is sadly housed in a crumbling building in the French Concession and isn’t easy to find (housed in the basement of a standard apartment complex), but worth seeking out for the sheer collection of artwork and posters from the Mao era and beyond.

SUGGESTED READING

Navigating Shanghai: A First-Timer’s Guide
CES Asia 2019: Tech Innovation in Travel and Tourism
Minimalist Beauty, Stellar Service at Luxury Hotel The Sukhothai Shanghai

Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort & Spa
[Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay]

3. Mazatlán, Mexico

What made my introduction to Mazatlán (aka The Pearl of the Pacific) a fabulous start to a one-week visit was Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay. This five-star property contains 20 acres of beautiful tropical foliage, wildlife and colourful cocktails at the pool to enjoy year-round.

Immaculate Conception Basilica
[Immaculate Conception Basilica]

The old town is filled with gorgeous neo-classical architecture inspired by Spain, France, England and Germany. Cafés, bars and restaurants line the streets and Mazatlán is the only city on the Pacific coast with a historical theater (the Angela Peralta).

SUGGESTED READING

Mazatlán Offers a Bird-Watcher’s Paradise
Five-Star Pampering at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort & Spa Mazatlán
Experiencing Aeromexico’s Clase Premier Service From Vancouver to Mexico City
Mazatlán Winter Getaway: El Cid El Moro Beach Hotel

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4. San Juan, Puerto Rico

For the most part, San Juan has re-emerged following the horrific damage from Hurricane Maria. The forts, old town architecture, beaches and food made San Juan one of our favourite spots to visit this year, as we arrived a few days ahead of our Viking Ocean Cruise around the West Indies.

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Make sure to spend some time in Old San Juan to admire the colourful buildings, those unique grey/blue Adoquín cobblestones, and the imposing forts of Castillo San Cristóbal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro (aka El Morro). San Juan is worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage status.

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Pro tip: Stay in the Ocean Park neighbourhood, close to the beach and numerous destination-worthy eateries!

SUGGESTED READING

Viking Ocean Cruises West Indies Explorer: San Juan, Tortola, St. Kitts (post live 1/10/2020)
Boutique Vegan Hotel The Dreamcatcher Offers an Idyllic Setting in San Juan (post live 1/8/2020)
Flying Air Canada Business Class from Toronto to San Juan, Puerto Rico (post live 1/6/2020)

Antigua

5. Antigua

Of all the island nations we explored, somehow Antigua stole my heart. There are 365 fine-sand beaches here, and we had a morning to discover a quiet one for ourselves.

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Military buffs will enjoy the 1787-era Block House, located in an area dotted with the ruins of the former British regiments who provided defence against attacks and invasion from the French. Nearby, Shirley Heights, a restored military outpost and gun battery, offers stunning views of both English and Falmouth Harbours.

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Nelson’s Dockyard owns the distinction of being the last remaining Georgian dockyard in the world, and is beautifully restored, still in use today as a working dockyard for ships and yachts.

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[Dockyard Bakery]

Speaking of yachts, Antigua’s Classic Yacht Regatta is held here each April (to be held from April 1 to 7 in 2020); rows of gorgeous craft lining the marina near Nelson’s indicates a decadent lifestyle on Antigua. We won’t soon forget that stunning blue water though!

SUGGESTED READING

Viking Ocean Cruises West Indies Explorer: St. John’s, St. Maarten, St. Thomas (post live 1/15/2020)
Viking Ocean Cruises West Indies Explorer: Roseau, Bridgetown, St. Lucia (post live 1/13/2020)
Viking Ocean Cruises West Indies Explorer: San Juan, Tortola, St. Kitts (post live 1/10/2020)

Here’s to a travel-filled 2020 with bucket-list memories to share! What are some of your fave spots around the globe?

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