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My Fab Fifties Life Travel Awards

And the Winner Is…

Location: Travel Awards

And the Winner Is…

Oscar nominations this week!  A big week if you are a movie fan – which of course I am but since I have not stepped foot in the United States in more than 14 months I haven’t seen any of this year’s big films.  But instead I have seen a world of real life drama, fantasy, comedy, mystery and animation.  Enough to last a life time.  So in keeping with the announcement of this year’s Oscar Nominations, I give to you our picks for World Travel Awards, Best and Worst of 2017 and 2018 – My Fab Fifties Life.

And the winner is…

World Travel Awards 2017 2018

Hoi An Vietnam

DESTINATIONS

Favorite City – Hoi An Vietnam

By far our favorite destination in Vietnam with it’s colorful old town, beaches, rice fields and fabulous food.  We loved this place and the airbnb we stayed in here.

Most Surprising – Namibia

We came to Namibia practically blind, allowing our tour guide from Wild Wind Safaris to hold our hand and we were not disappointed.  A spectacular destination I think everyone should visit.

 

Best Value Destination – Bulgaria

We loved our month in the friendly, beautiful and historic country of Bulgaria where we didn’t

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Bulgaria

meet any Americans.  Put this inexpensive and great country on your bucket list and go!

Best Overall Scenery – New Zealand

Jaw dropping scenery no matter where you go or which way you look, New Zealand is an

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Abel Tasman New Zealand

outdoor enthusiast dream  and is stunningly beautiful.

Most Crowded City – Hanoi

The scooters alone make this wild city that never sleeps total chaos.  Then add the cars, trucks, carts, pedestrians, vendors and well – its pretty wild.

Most Beautiful City – Split Croatia

Whether you are perusing the mega yachts in the

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Diocletian’s Palace, Split

harbor or wandering through Diocletian’s Palace, Split is a magical place and my favorite Croatian city.

Most Interesting City – Fez Morocco

Around every corner as you get lost in Fez there is something interesting and amazing and I enjoyed this maze of a city

 

 

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Fez Morocco

Most Disappointing City – Tangier Morocco

Getting lost in Tangier is easier but nowhere near as fun as getting lost in Fez.  We found Tangier a bit of a disappointment.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Best Airbnb for Service – Asilah Morocco

We adored our “mom” Latifah during our ten days

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Latifah unveiling the Tajine

in Asilah and wanted to put her in our suitcase and take her with us.  The food and care she gave us was unparalleled.

Best Airbnb Overall – Koh Samui Thailand

We had a lot of discussion over this one.  We have been, frankly, so lucky with our airbnb’s.  And even this one had a few quirks.  But we loved it for the view, the private pool and the car that came with it.  It was however, also our most expensive Airbnb. https://myfabfiftieslife.com/sweet-samui/

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

We loved our private pool in Koh Samui

 

Most Authentic Airbnb – Siem Reap Cambodia

Staying in an authentic Khmer home in Siem Reap was a treat in itself, but then adding the wonderful breakfasts and services our host provided us made this place one of our all time favs.

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Cambodian Khmer House

 

 

Most Unusual AirbnbMotueka New Zealand

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Funky Truck

We spent two nights in a funky old truck/camper with an outhouse and it was a hoot.

Most Rustic AirbnbHikkaduwa Sri Lanka

We nicknamed this place Castaway Cottage and it was like living on Gilligan’s Island – complete with lots of critters including rats, snakes, mongoose, monitor lizards, gecko and BUGS!

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

View from our Sozopol Airbnb

Best Value Airbnb – Sozopol Bulgaria

We loved this top floor unit with a huge deck and amazing view.  We think we might return to this place some day, only $55 a night.

Best HotelLuang Prabang Laos

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Luang Prabang Laos

We spent three nights in the beautiful Maison Dalabua hotel in this darling and historic city on the Mekong River and it was one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in.  From the comfortable and spacious room, the food, the pool, the flowers and the service, everything about it was first class on a budget.

FOOD

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Because noodles always put a smile on your face.

Favorite Overall Cuisine – Thailand

This is the best food in the world.  Simple, healthy and so flavorful I can’t get enough of Thai Cuisine.

Best Restaurant Meal – Ceverjaria Ramiro Lisbon Portugal, Honorable Mention to Ladja Podlanica in Piran Slovenia

I’ll never forget the dinner we had at Cervejaria Ramiro with our son Erik and his friend

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Lisbon Portugal

Salvador who lives in Lisbon.  It was a gluttonous evening and I loved every bite.  Someday I will go back.  In Piran Slovenia with our friends Raymond and Marbi we gorged ourself on the most amazing anchovies in oil followed by spectacular spaghetti

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Ladja Padlanika Restaurant in Piran

con vongole.  We loved it so very much we went twice.

Worst Food Overall – Camino de Santiago

When we really needed the sustenance the most, our 41 days on the Camino de Santiago provided the least inspiring of food.

Best Cooking Class –  Chiang Mai Thailand with Honorable Mention to Cape Town South Africa

I try to take a cooking class in most of the countries we visit, and I do it as much for the cuisine

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

My favorite Chiang Mai Noodles

and culture as to meet local people who love their food and want to share it.  My classes in Chiang Mai (two full days) and my evening class in the home of our instructor in Cape Town South Africa fulfilled what I am always looking for.

Best Beer – Cape Town South Africa and Honorable Mention Piran Slovenia

Capetown because they had a vibrant micro brew scene and good non-lager beers available in most stores and restaurants, and Piran because here my husband had the single best beer he has had since leaving the USA.  Don’t know what brand it was but it was a spectacular Slovenian IPA.

Worst Grocery Availability – Seychelles

Hands down the most difficult place to find decent produce and healthy ingredients for day-to-day cooking, we learned to eat a lot of rice, lentils and beans during our month in the

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Hmong Village Laos

Seychelles Islands.

CULTURE, NATURE AND EXPERIENCES

Best Authentic Cultural Experience – It’s a tie between Hmong Village Laos and Himba Village Namibia

Seeing these two places will stay with me all my life – when you think about opening your mind to understand cultural

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Himba Women and Children

differences, embrace and learn from living hand to mouth and become more tolerant of other cultures – visiting these two places had all that and more.

Best Beach for Scenery – La Digue Seychelles

No wonder Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition has shot here several times.  This place with it’s unique rock formations, sparkling white sand and out of this world blue water is about as spectacular as they come.

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

La Digue Seychelles

 

Best Beach for Spending the Day – Meia Praia, Lagos Portugal

It helped that our condo was a short walk to the beach, where we went everyday during our three weeks in Lagos.  Golden sand, lots of room to spread out and easy and safe swimming made this our favorite.

Best Day Hike – Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand

An experience I will never forget, climbing the mountain, seeing the volcanic crater and lakes and just accomplishing this feat will always hold a special place for me.

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Tongariro Crossing

Most Difficult Day Hike – Climbing Down Table Mountain, Cape Town South Africa

We thought down would be easier.  It wasn’t.  There were times where I literally didn’t think I was going to make it.  My body gave it all I had, and it was

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Table Mountain Hike

more than a week before I didn’t hurt.

Best Outdoor Experience – Able Tasman New Zealand

Our three-day Glamping Tour on the Able Tasman was one of the highlights of our time in that country.  We were blessed with spectacular weather, met new friends and were introduced to the wonders of New Zealand.

Best Historic Sight – Angor Wat, Siem Reap Cambodia

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Angor Wat Cambodia

It was a lifelong dream for me to see Angor Wat and it was not disappointing.  The fascinating ancient story that unfolds in these ruins set amidst the friendly and persevering Cambodia people is not something I will ever forget.

Fewest Tourist at a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Dougga Tunisia

Nothing like having an entire UNESCO site to

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Tunisia

yourself, and that is exactly what we enjoyed at the beautiful Dougga Roman Ruins in Tunisia.  Not many tourists in Tunisia, but slowly they are returning, and we loved our time in this ancient country, cradle of civilization as we know it today.

Best Tour – Namibia

Our ten-day tour with our amazing guide “Seven” introduced us to this unknown country so full of natural wonders and spectacular animals.  I love Namibia..

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Etosha National Park Namibia

 

Worst Tour – Three day bus tour of the Mekong Delta Vietnam

This tour was cheap but it wasn’t worth it still.  Terrible traffic, over pitched and very touristy.  Sorry we went.

Most Unique experience – Camino de Santiago Spain

Even though the food was bad, the experience is now branded on my soul. It changed me and I loved it.

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

On the Camino

Best Live Performance – Tie Violin Concert Piran Slovenia and Carmina Burana outdoors in Dubrovnik; Honorable Mention to Kandy Cultural Show, Kandy Sri Lanka

Front row seats in a tiny historic theater in beautiful Piran Slovenia made for a special night as we enjoyed a beautiful violinist accompanied by a guitarist.  It was just so pleasant.  Just as mazing the spectacle that was hearing Carmina Burana performed outdoors in historic Dubrovnik

Carmina Burana performed outdoors in Dubrovnik

town center.  Spectacular!

Kudos also to the very authentic Sri Lankan dance, music and firewalker show we enjoyed (also front row seats) in Kandy Sri Lanka.

Best Nature and Animal Experience – Etosha National Park Namibia

I’ve said it before – this country was such a surprise and this National Park was the bomb.

Best Free Experience – Free Walking Tours 

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Our Free Walking tour guide in Sofia Bulgaria

In nearly every major city  you can take what is known as “Free” guided walking tours.  These are awesome and we love them because it is always a local guide, someone young and enthusiastic.  You tip them at the end – so its not really Free – but it is worth it and we have done this at least ten times.  A great value.

Friendliest People – Sri Lanka

Hands down the kindest and friendliest people we

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Monk in Sri Lanka

have met – despite all the hardships they have been through; colonialism, monarch assassination , civil war and tsunami.  Still they smile.  Love them.

Worst Drivers – Vietnam

There are several runners-up here, including Sri Lanka (and we haven’t gotten to India or Bangladesh yet), but still Vietnam takes the prize for the craziest drivers, most dishonest cabbies, scooter

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Scooters in vietnam

mania and absolute lack of any pedestrian rights.

Worst Experience – Dog Bite Koh Samui Thailand

Hands down the worst day has been the day Arne was bit by a dog in Koh Samui.  The one saving grace is it could have been much worse.  But still it makes me angry and the overall feral dog situation in Thailand makes me question whether I will ever visit again.

Experience I liked More Than I thought I would – Camel Ride, Erg Cheba, Sahara Morocco

The colors and the light of the desert at dusk, the animals, the other guest from around the

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

On the camel trek in Morocco

world and having this experience with our friends Sarah and Steve all added up to a very fun two days and one night camel trek in the desert.

Least English Spoken – Spain

Only in the last decade has English been taught in schools, so few adults are fluent.  Especially in the small towns and villages on the Camino we did a lot of pointing and hand charades to communicate.  It was fun!

WEATHER

Hottest – Seychelle’s and Honorable Mention Doha, Qatar

We saw some rain in the Seychelles but it was never

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Seychelle Islands, Praslin

under 85 degrees and the water was like a bathtub.  We only spent one night in Doha Qatar, but it marked the hottest one day on the

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Doha Qatar

trip at 113 F.

Coldest – New Zealand

We were in New Zealand in the fall and we had a few nights were the temperature dropped in the 30’s.  Living in the Kiwi Karavan we wore hats and coats and wool socks to bed to stay

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

New Zealand

warm.

Worst Rain Storm – Tie between Hua Hin Thailand and Koh Samui Thailand

After a two hour taxi ride turned into a five hour taxi ride in a monsoon we arrived in flooded Hua Hin Thailand not sure what we had gotten ourselves into.

More than once the sky opened up in Koh Samui, accompanied by flashing lighting and booming thunder.

Best Sunrise – It’s a tie between Napier New Zealand and Galicia Spain

I’m a sucker for a good sunrise, and we have seen

World Travel Awards 2017-2018

Napier New Zealand

some amazing ones but these two stand out above and beyond for the sheer majesty of the experience.

Best Sunset – La Digue Seychelles (see cover photo)

Mother’s Day Dinner in La Digue we watched the sunset from a beach restaurant and it was a religious experience.

 

 

TRAVEL

Favorite Airline – Emirates

They know how to treat their passengers, even those of us in Coach

Least Favorite Airline – Air Maroc

The only airline (after 37 flights) to lose our luggage.  Eventually it was found.  Plus the smell of something (not cigarettes) burning during approach.  Ack.

Best Airport – Hamad International Qatar

A very user-friendly and beautifully designed airport.

Teeniest Airplane – Air Seychelles 

Eight seats.  ‘Nuff Said.

Most Expensive Visa – India

We haven’t even arrived in India yet, but it was hands down the most expensive Visa we have purchased and one of the most difficult online applications.  Hopefully when we arrive tomorrow everything will be in order!

Easiest Airport Entry – Capetown South Africa

We breezed through passport and customs so fast in Capetown we were totally surprised.

Worst Airport Entry – tie between Siem Reap Cambodia and Carthage Tunisia

In both cases we got in the wrong line.  The line with the guy who was arrogant and pompous and was going to make every passenger know he was the boss.  Any sign of dissatisfaction could get you pulled out of line and make your life hell.  And so we waited.

Lucky Girl. Fabulous Life Award.

So there you have it.  The winner of the Fab Fifties version of the Oscars for 2017-2018.  But you do know, the real winner is me.  Me and my husband.  The luckiest people on the planet. Who needs a little gold statue when you have a Fab Fifties Life?

What a fabulous life it is.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Debra Sidor Tanner

    best post EVER!! And the winner is…………..
    Me! Loved reading about the best and worst!!

    January 19, 2018 at 11:15 pm
  • Reply Candice

    What a great post! I’ve booked marked the hotel in Luang Prabang, it looks lovely.

    January 20, 2018 at 1:25 am
  • Reply adventureswithnienie

    Omg I love this post! It’s awesome to see your bests and worst. Love this idea!

    January 20, 2018 at 1:27 am
  • Reply Dennis Kelly

    Love this. Hoping at some point to get the details of recommended places to stay and eat around the world. Maybe you’re destined to become a travel book writer. Call the book “Fab World Traveler.” Peace…

    January 20, 2018 at 5:31 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      I’m always available to assist in travel plans for my Fab friends! Thanks for your nice comments!

      January 21, 2018 at 1:05 am

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