As the CEO of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, I am surrounded by travel temptations on a daily basis. Last year I managed to tick off a few experiences on my TTC 2019 bucket list. I headed to the incredible Ashford Castle in Ireland with Luxury Gold, accompanied by my two young sons and husband. We still can’t decide what the best part was – staying in an 800-year old castle, the falconry experience, walking in the woods with giant Irish wolf hounds or the incredible service from the wonderful team – we truly loved it all.
We also traveled to Croatia and Montenegro in the autumn and were blessed with blue skies and a warm 26 degrees every day. We found the gems of Kotor and Dubrovnik to be much quieter than during the summer months. There is a lot to be said about traveling in the secret season.
I’m no less excited to plan my 2020 trips. From Seville to Japan, my inner wanderlust is keen to explore in the new year. Below are my top 10 experiences I am adding to my list.
1. Luxury Gold – Cook an authentic Italian Meal in a Tuscan Villa
What better way to indulge in Italian cuisine than with an authentic culinary masterclass? In Tuscany you have the opportunity to join a professional chef, who will divulge his Tuscan cooking secrets, before you savor the fruits of your labour with a rustic lunch.
2. Luxury Gold –Meet the niece of Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One of the literary experiences I am most excited about in 2020 is meeting Gabriela Garcia, the niece of the esteemed writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in Cartagena. You get to learn about his international fame, his award-winning novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, and more about why he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.
3. Luxury Gold – Taste Delhi’s famous street food
Traveling through India is about the sights and sounds. It is about taking in the smells and tastes and experiencing the emotions. India is about the people, the warmth of Indian hospitality and the genuine friendliness to guests. Vibrant and colorful, I truly love Delhi. On a local walk, taste the flavors of the city, as you meet a well-known chef and witness (and taste) the creation of Delhi’s famous street food snacks.
4. Meet a survivor of the 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb
Japan has been popular travel destination this year and I can see why. With its neon-lit high streets, delicious cuisine and impressive bullet trains, it knows how to stand out. In Hiroshima you have the opportunity to learn more about the country’s history and its poignant past as you meet the survivor of the 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb and hear his story.
5. Meet esteemed author Trevor White
On a rare, after-hours visit to the The Little Museum of Dublin, meet its founder Trevor White. Trevor is also an esteemed author and wrote the book ‘Alfie’, based on the life of Alfie Byrne, who served as the beloved Lord Mayor of Dublin between 1930 and 1939, and again from 1954–1955. You’ll receive a signed copy of the book before hearing more about Trevor’s work and his life as a Dubliner.
6. Join a Military Expert in Lucerne
I currently live in Switzerland and love nothing more than exploring during my time off. In Lucerne, discover the historic munitions halls, galleries and armament of Vitznau Artillery Fortress. The fortress is carved into the side of a mountain and much of it dates back to World War II.
7. Uncover the secrets of Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
A stately affair, explore the exquisite grounds of Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Designed in 1653 by the King’s principle architect, Louis Le Vau, I’m keen to visit the estate. You will be accompanied by the estate’s lead gardener, who will show you its vast lands, decorated fountains, statues and flower beds.
8. Meet Bob Nadkarni, owner of The Maze
Among many other of its cultural treasures, Rio de Janeiro is known for its vibrant music scene. With Luxury Gold you get to meet Bob Nadkarni, a local club owner, and hear how he created one of the most famous jazz clubs in all of South America, The Maze.
9. Explore Graceland, the VIP way
Another musical experience I’m keen to tick off is an after-hours tour of Elvis’ Graceland. You get to explore this modern museum with a Local Expert, before sitting down to dinner with wine at the Presley Motors Automobile Museum. Learn more about the effect Elvis had on popular American culture.
10. Visit the iconic Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan
For a truly interactive, historic experience, join the likes of Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie before you, with a colonial-style high tea on the terrace of the Old Cataract Hotel. Christie supposedly wrote her iconic novel, “Death on the Nile” here.