I absolutely love writing this blog post each year, even though it takes me weeks to put it together. It is fun for me to reminisce about another amazing travel year! I hope it’s fun for you to read and enjoy the awards we bestow on our favorites and the best of the best from our year of travel; the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022.
Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022
I’m surprised that I am already talking about the “sixth annual” travel awards 2022! We are now well into our seventh year of travel as part of The Grand Adventure and still no end in sight. What a remarkable ride it has been. As I write this post, I’m in the country of Honduras – our 123rd country.
Unlike 2021 where we only visited three countries due to that damn Pandamit, this past year has been a full and fabulous year of new destinations. We visited 14 countries as well as ten states in the USA. The list includes; French Polynesia, USA, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, Morocco, Senegal, France, Malta, Cyprus, Northern Cyprus, Israel, Palestine, Guernsey, and Jersey. The states included Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Wisconsin, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Virginia and Hawaii.
So sit back and get ready….here are the winners! Our Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022. ( By the way see our First Annual, Second Annual, Third Annual, Fourth Annual and Fifth Annual awards by clicking on the links. You might also enjoy the observations and lessons I shared after One Year of Travel.)
Destinations – 14 Countries and 10 USA States
Favorite Country – Malta
Malta was such a pleasant surprise. Beautiful, ancient and surprisingly inexpensive. We had planned to visit Malta in 2020…so that didn’t happen of course. We were very happy to get it back on our itinerary. Malta has a very interesting and ancient history. Valletta where we stayed was a fascinating walled city and we just loved everything about it. We highly recommend our favorite country of 2022 – Malta!
Favorite City – Jerusalem, Israel
Returning to Israel, after fleeing in March of 2020 when the Pandamit was closing everything, was a high priority. So it was a true blessing to get back to this fascinating country. This time we based ourselves in the astonishing city of Jerusalem and I am so glad we did. What an incredible place to visit and we absolutely loved everything about beautiful and fascinating Jerusalem.
Cutest Town – Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA
Sturgeon Bay in Door County Wisconsin was such an unexpected surprise as I visited with two good friends for a long weekend. We lucked out by choosing Sturgeon Bay as our home base. Colorful, centrally located and lots of wonderful things to do, July in Sturgeon Bay was a real treat.
Favorite Island – Moorea, French Polynesia
High on our list for a return visit, the small French Polynesian island is a short ferry crossing from the larger and more populated island of Tahiti. We loved our cute Airbnb bungalow in Moorea, and found the island a wonderful and relaxing destination. We really hope to return in 2024.
Most Expensive Country – USA
The United States continues to be an expensive destination for us, compared to so many places we travel around the world. Especially given our long visit to the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii which really ratchets up our daily average. We also had a long visit to New York City which is also very expensive, so all in all, this year the award for most expensive has to go to the United States on our list for the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022.
Least Expensive Country – French Polynesia
Our two months on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia was really inexpensive. Granted we were there in the off-season, but if you compare to other tropical places we have visited, French Polynesia can be downright cheap. Our choice of simple accommodations and living frugally really puts Moorea on our wishlist to return for great price, friendly atmosphere, and natural beauty.
Accommodations – 10 Airbnbs, 22 hotels and one desert camp
Favorite Airbnb – A Tie between Moorea and Valletta Malta
We have really been so lucky in our travels to rarely, rarely have a bad experience with any of our lodgings. And this year once again we had some first rate accommodations. Two of our favorites were our lovely bungalow on the island in Moorea and our tiny authentic stone house in Valletta Malta. We highly recommend both!
Favorite Airbnb for service – Moorea
We have had several experiences over the years where we have become friends with our Airbnb hosts and our host Maea in Moorea was one of the best hosts we have ever had.
Most Expensive Airbnb – New York City.
Everything in New York City is expensive. Trying to find a place to stay for our two week visit was difficult, with prices in every neighborhood outrageous. Our very teeny Airbnb space in the Upper East Side was more like a closet than an apartment, but we loved the location so it certainly had that going for it. $230 a night.
Best Value Airbnb – Moorea French Polynesia
With a kitchen, two bedrooms, parking, beach access with great snorkeling and the best host, we have nothing to complain about with our Airbnb on the island of Moorea. $75 a night – which was a substantial discount for our extended two-month stay.
Favorite Hotel – O Plum ‘Art, Giverny France
This very unique, but slightly expensive, lodging in the teeny French village of Giverny was a wonderful pit stop on our September whirlwind tour. Walking distance to Monet’s Gardens, we loved this rural little farm hotel and the breakfast was fantastic. Highly recommend O’ Plum ‘Art.
Most Expensive Hotel – Hilton Logan Boston
Ridiculously expensive relative to our normal hotels, the Hilton at Logan International Airport in Boston is certainly convenient but expensive. $390 a night.
Most Authentic and Least Expensive Hotel – Dar Abdesalaam, Fez Morocco
With the kindest proprietor, the Riad we stayed in for the wedding of our friends in Fez was both inexpensive and very authentic. Beautiful five story old house with central courtyard and roof top area, located in the beautiful old city of Fez. $45 per night with breakfast! When in Fez stay at Dar Abdesalaam.
Most Unique Accommodations – Marrakesh Camel Trips
This was our second time doing an overnight camel trip in the Moroccan Sahara. Without realizing it, we booked a very different camp this time…with more amenities. This time we had electricity!! It was warmer too, being May instead of November so we were very comfortable. A two hour camel ride (gorgeous) a full queen bed, delicious dinner, music around the campfire and a fantastic breakfast. We loved every minute of it.
Best View Accommodations – Kihei Surfside Maui
Not a hotel or an Airbnb, the Kihei Surfside in Maui is one of our most favorite destinations in the world, precisely for the view. There really is nothing like it.
Honorable Mention – Cyprus
Returning to one of our all time favorite Airbnbs was a special treat – the ONLY Airbnb we have every returned to so far. We returned to thank our Cyprus Airbnb hosts and see the sights we were not able to see when we were locked down on the island of Cyprus early during the PanDamit. The view, the neighborhood, the hosts, the pool….we love this place so much. We just might visit again!
Food and Drink
Favorite Country Cuisine – Israel
Mediterranean style food is always my favorite, and the amazing combination of Mediterranean, middle eastern and everything fresh and local makes the foods of Israel the best. Israel has the best hummus in the world and I could (and did) eat it everyday.
Best Food Tour – Marrakesh Food Tour
We try to do food tours in as many countries as we can, so we definitely have some experience in this category. And our food tour, and our guide in Marrakesh was one of the absolute best we have ever had in any country. At $50 per person we more than ate our weight in every Moroccan delicacy learning so much about food, culture and history. We loved our guide Yahya who made the tour so much fun!
Best Cooking Class – Food Cook Lab Moorea
I’m so glad I stumbled on to Food Cook Lab Tahiti, a local, organically focused cooking school. Arne and I took a Tahitian cooking class, which was so phenomenal, I signed up for a second class about fish. Everything I learned was amazing, delicious and so much fun. I loved the flavors of French Polynesia.
Best Meal – Jardin de Plumes Giverny
Our lovely boutique hotel in Giverny was associated with this restaurant Le Jardin de Plumes and though more expensive than we would usually choose…it was worth every penny. A very unique tasting menu of the chefs choice. The best way to describe it is food as art. Beautiful and delicious.
Best Beer – Bend Oregon
Our third visit to Bend Oregon, we always make time to try new breweries when we visit this lovely town. One of the best beer towns in the Pacific Northwest and that is surely saying something.
Best Distillery – Hali’mail’e Distillery Maui
Last year we visited a different Maui distillery, Ocean, but this time we discovered Hali’mail’e Distillery in Upcountry where they use local pineapple juice for their products. We enjoyed it and recommend it.
Best Coffee – Morocco
As you know I love my coffee, and real Moroccan coffee is right up there with some of the best in the world…deep, dark, rich Arabic coffee often lightly spiced.
Best Overall Cultural Experience – Shabat dinner Jerusalem
This experience, having Shabat dinner with a local Jerusalem family, is not only our fondest memory of Israel, but one of fondest memories of all our travels. I am not Jewish but always hope to understand all faiths, particularly when in a country. Warmly welcomed by Osnat and Shaul into their beautiful home with a handful of other visitors as well as students from the local university. This lovely, authentic, delicious and religious experience will live forever in our hearts. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Most Authentic Cultural Experience – Kayar Fishing Village Senegal
As we drove several hours to this unknown destination in terrible Senegalese traffic I began to regret this tour. But in hindsight, it was the most amazing thing we did in the country of Senegal. The thousands of locals processing millions of fish on the beach…men, women and children…was colorful and almost like a festival. Our guide Oumar from Senegal Odyssey Tours was excellent and took exceptional care of us during our two days with him.
Most Amazing Manmade Structure – Masada, Israel
A couple years ago, one of my favorite books of the year was The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman , a fictional book about the factual siege of Masada in Israel. So visiting Masada was a top priority for me, and it did not disappoint. We visited on a scorching hot day but the Masada National Park is truly remarkable, a UNESCO World Heritage site with astonishing history.
Most Unexpected Ancient Ruins – Cyprus
Cyprus is so full of surprises…so much ancient history that rivals some of the best known historic ruins around the world. We really found the UNESCO Paphos Archeological site beautiful and staggering.
Best Garden – Monet’s Giverny
Long on my bucket list, and one of the things we canceled due to the PanDamit, to finally see this astonishing gardens was a dream for me. I loved the raucous and riotous collection of flowers, and of course, the ponds so famously depicted in Monet’s work. This was an easy choice for the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022, Monet’s Giverny and a Wee Bit More.
Best Museum – 911 Museum New York City and Western Wall Tunnel Tours Jerusalem
In our world travels we have had incredible opportunities to visit some of the most amazing museums and historic sites. This year two museums that were at historic sites captivated us; the astonishing 911 Museum in New York City and the unbelievable Western Wall Tunnel Tour and Heritage site in Jerusalem.
Best Walking Tour – 911 Ground Zero Tour New York City
We could have done this walking tour self-guided, but I am so glad we decided to have a guide. Our guide was in the city on September 11th and had so much amazing insight for us to understand about Ground Zero prior to us going into the 911 Museum.
Best Historical Sight – Wailing Wall (Western Wall) Jerusalem
Even after seeing the photos all my life, seeing something as iconic, reverent and symbolic as the Wailing Wall (Western Wall) in Jerusalem was a wonder.
Most Amazing Church – tie The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine and St. John’s Co-Cathedral Valetta in Malta
Giving this award to two this year…the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem for the sheer historical significance to the Christian faith and to St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valetta Malta, for the astonishing 450 year old Baroque architecture and grandeur.
Best Performance – Hamilton on Broadway
I felt like I was the last person on the planet to see this phenomenal play. Seeing it on Broadway was unforgettable. I was so enthralled I saw it again in Seattle with my son. See it if you can.
Best One Day Tour – Michael Tours Palestine
There are many, many options for group tours that take you across the disputed border from Jerusalem to Palestine. But I thought a private tour, for such an important event would be better. I wanted a local who could really guide us expertly through the eyes of a Palestinian. It was a fascinating day. I highly recommend Michael of Michael Tours.
Best Multi Day Tour – Marrakesh Camel Tours Morocco
If you are ever in Morocco, absolutely hire Lhoucine with Marrakesh Camel Tours. Doing this four day tour with our two adult sons was as memorable as it could be, and our tour guide was one of the best we have ever had anywhere in the world.
Unexpectedly Fun Tour – Nicosia Segway Tour Cyprus
We were recommended to this tour by another tour guide who we met two years before in Cyprus. It sounded like a fun way to see the interesting capital of Cyprus, Nicosia. And we had a blast. I highly recommend Nicosia Segway Tours.
Best Sunrise – Moorea
Every morning I had my solitary moment with The Mug and the sunrise.
Best Sunset – Maui
Every night we watched the sun go to bed and it was always an amazing performance.
Best Beach – Moorea
Yes the beaches of Hawaii are amazing, but Moorea really was something special. Our favorite beach was a crystal clear white sand park called Ta’ahiamanu Public Beach.
Best Hike – tie; Washington State, Jersey
Hiking is a big part of our life, and we try to hike once a week no matter where we are. Our home state of Washington is one of the best places in the world to hike and we have half a dozen favorites we go back to over and over. Our time on the tiny island of Jersey in the English Channel also offered us one of our most memorable day hikes in September.
Most Unusual Hike – Guernsey Lihou Causeway Low Tide Crossing
We spent several days on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. Though the weather was wet, we did the low-tide crossing hike from Guernsey to the tiny island of Lihou. This was a very unique experience and worth getting drenched for.
Best Natural Sight – Sahara Desert
Not our first venture into the Sahara, but it still is a mind-boggling sight to see and the overnight camel tour is something everyone should do at least once in their life time.
Best USA National Park/National Monument – Mount St Helens
Again, gratitude to the beauty of my home state and all its national sites, including the National Monument of Mount Saint Helens. We hadn’t visited Mt. St. Helens in many years and thoroughly enjoyed our day hiking in this national monument. Fascinating.
Best Wildlife Viewing – Maui
From whales to sharks, turtles to wild pigs, tropical fish to deer and the omnipresent chickens, Maui is a surprising place for wildlife viewing.
Best Bird-Watching – Antigua
As we travel we have become amateur birdwatchers and really enjoy it. We were very surprised by the variety of beautiful birds we found on the island of Antigua.
Best City Park – Central Park NYC
We plan to return to NYC next spring, and staying near Central Park is a high priority. New Yorkers cherish this park and it really is the heart of the city. I love it too for morning runs, afternoon strolls, people (and dog) watching, live entertainment and bird watching just to name a few reasons.
Best Snorkeling – Moorea
We LOVED our little bungalow on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia for many reasons…including access to snorkeling. Stepping right outside our door we could swim out about 60 yards to a remarkable reef with some of the most astonishing coral I have seen anywhere in the world.
Best Golf – Maui
Our home course of Maui Nui in Kihei is where we golf every time we visit this island and I had my best score ever this year!
Best Place to Run – Maui
I trained for and ran a half marathon (again) while on the island of Maui. Sidewalks, street lights, safe and beautiful, Kihei is my favorite place in the world to be a runner.
Hottest Day – Palestine
Our day trip from Jerusalem to Palestine was one of the hottest days of our year with temperatures well over 100F. The desert was still and treeless and we swooned.
Coldest Day – Maine and Washington
Just days before departing for two months in tropical French Polynesia we had a giant snowstorm at our home in Washington State. And when we arrived in Maine in September for a college reunion/camping trip, Hurricane Fiona off the coast pounded Maine with rain, wind and very chilly temperatures. My body responded with one of the worst colds I’d had in years – made a pilgrimage to Walmart to get some warm clothes!
Wettest Day – Moorea
Arriving in Moorea mid January to monsoon conditions our first week created a lake in our front yard, massive mosquitos and cool temperatures. Luckily it cleared and we loved our time in Moorea.
Windiest Day – Maui
Thanksgiving Day was one of the windiest Maui had seen in a long time with gusts blowing everything around including people. The only time in our two months on the island we ate our meal indoors with the doors closed.
Longest Travel Day – Cyprus to Seattle
Returning to Seattle from Larnaca Cyprus involved two flights and a stop in London for a total of 6840 miles.
Shortest Flight – Guernsey to Jersey
Originally we were going to take a 3 hour ferry from Guernsey to Jersey, but when we realized the flight was only slightly more expensive we booked it. Total flight time take off to touch down: 10 minutes 30 seconds.
Craziest Travel Day – Morocco
We flew to Dulles Airport from Turks and Caicos where we met up with our two sons who flew in from Seattle. We should have only had a three hour layover but due to a terrible storm we ended up being delayed for another 5 hours. Amazingly when we finally arrived in Casablanca our driver was still waiting for us. What a sight for sore eyes that was.
Weirdest Event – Shark Attack
A very sad and scary event while we were on the island of Maui was the death of a snorkeler who was attacked by a Tiger Shark. We felt so bad for her husband and family.
Strangest Experience – Disputed Border Crossings
This year we crossed two disputed borders; Israel to Palestine where Israelis soldiers were heavily armed and a bit rude as they guarded a 40 foot wall; and Cyprus to Northern Cyprus where UN forces keep the peace between Greek Cyprus and the disputed occupied Turkish Northern Cyprus.
Bucket list – Palestine and Israel
Since I was 12 years old I had wanted to go to Israel and Palestine. I feel very blessed to have visited.
Best Celebration – 40th Anniversary
While in Maui we had a wonderful 40th wedding anniversary celebration, in fact two. The first with our friends from home who were on the island as well as our friends from Molokai who came to join us at Mama’s Fish House. The second, just Arne and I, at the incomparable Merriman’s at Kapalua. I hope to do that again on our 80th anniversary.
Favorite Photo – Senegal
I take thousands of photos…I mean it – thousands. So choosing a favorite is hard. This year I choose this one. The color. The culture. The authentic feel of hard work and community. And that baby.
Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022
There you have it. The best of the best of My Fab Fifties Life travel of 2022. Amazing, memorable and unique experiences with new cultures and experiences around the world. What a grand adventure it is. We sure hope you will consider visiting some of these places and enjoying some of these unique experiences too.
As I post this annual awards I am in the country of Honduras…my 123rd country. Our travels in 2023 currently are planned for us to visit at least a dozen and maybe more as we explore and find the rich and rewarding destinations, people, experiences, foods and beauty of this amazing planet we call home.
I hope you have enjoyed the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022. We hope you will continue to follow us around the globe, comment, pin and share this post so others can follow as well. Thank you and be fabulous. Our blog is nearly ten years old…it wouldn’t be possible without all of you.
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