Bunny’s Travel Highlights 2019
The year 2019 was possibly Bunny’s best travel year ever, and that is saying something. Somehow, quite by accident really, she found herself travelling non-stop, visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world and having amazing experiences left and right.
Looking back on 2019, she feels like a very privileged little Bunny indeed. Check out Bunny’s travel highlights for yourself below.
Bunny is an avid hiker, Mr. Bunny not so much. As a compromise, they hike a lot.
In 2019, Bunny realised her long-term dream of hiking in the Utah Mighty Five - 5 amazing national parks in southern Utah, USA:
The hiking was some of the best, and sometimes the scariest (Angel’s Landing, anyone?), Bunny has experienced anywhere in the world.
Hiking in the neighbouring state of Arizona wasn’t too shabby either. Rambling in Sedona, with its gorgeous red rock scenery, was particularly rewarding.
Bunny also managed to do some hiking on the European continent this year. Her day hike in the Pelister National Park in North Macedonia was one of the highlights. Gorgeous weather helped.
Hiking in the UK’s Lake District was another long-term goal finally realised - and loved by both Bunnies. They also managed to squeeze in a day hike to see the famous Durdle Door in Dorset on the UK’s south coast.
This year marked Bunny’s official departure from Vienna, Austria, which has served as her home base for many years. Austria, of course, provides some of the best hiking in the world, so Bunny was happy as always to find time for a brief hiking trip to Flachau in the Salzburg region this summer.
Wildlife encounters are probably one of the most exhilarating things you can experience on your travels, Bunny says.
While Bunny did not specifically seek out wildlife in 2019, she had many memorable meetups. She got up close and personal with crocodiles and humpback whales in the Dominican Republic, interacted with rescued brown bears in Kosovo, stumbled upon (surprisingly scary) coyotes in Arizona, wild pigs in Curacao, manatees in Fort Lauderdale and swam with plenty of tropical fish in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
For future travels, the elusive Bengal tiger and polar bears remain high on Bunny’s bucket list.
Natural wonders are one of the main reasons behind Bunny’s obsession with travel. She just cannot get enough of the spectacular, weird and wonderful types of scenery to be found around the world.
In 2019, most of this eye candy was provided by the USA, where Bunny was lucky to visit the iconic Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Wave (almost), Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon all in the same, albeit long, trip.
All of these were awesome sights, well deserving of their reputations. Blog posts about each destination are coming soon, Bunny says!
Bunny was a bit late to join the universal yoga craze but she has been a devotee ever since she made the leap. She has now made it among her life’s missions to find perfect yoga retreats around the world.
2019 was not a disappointment in this regard because Bunny stumbled on Ki-Ra Holistic Living - a sublime yoga retreat on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. This soon became one of Bunny’s happy places - and not just for the yoga but also for its gorgeous tranquil setting and amazing ayurvedic food. The five days Bunny spent at Ki-Ra were among the best of the whole year.
Bunny is currently in the process of making the small Caribbean island of Carriacou her new home base and is looking forward to having the Caribbean as her playground starting next year.
In 2019, she spent some five weeks exploring the Dominican Republic, and also briefly visited the Bahamas (technically not in the Caribbean), both the US and British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Aruba, Curacao and Puerto Rico.
There is something about tropical islands, their white beaches and turquoise waters that profoundly agree with Bunny’s constitution…
Cruising Galore (Don’t Be So Quick to Scoff)
2019 was a year of cruising for Bunny. While she is not a cruising fanatic per se, she does like the combination of luxury and convenience of travelling by a big ship, particularly across the Atlantic (helped by the fact that she HATES trans-Atlantic flights!).
In 2019, Bunny crossed the Atlantic by cruise ship in both directions. In April, she sailed on the beautiful Celebrity Silhouette from Florida to the UK, stopping along the way in the Bahamas, Bermuda and Lisbon .
In November, she left behind the fast-approaching European winter by boarding the Norwegian Epic, to take a scenic, meandering itinerary all the way to Puerto Rico. And once there, she stayed onboard for another 7-night stint around the southern Caribbean islands. Bunny knows what you are thinking: tough life!
Altogether, Bunny spent about five weeks on cruise ships in 2019 - and gained a further appreciation for this widely misunderstood mode of travel.
Bunny quite likes snorkelling but Mr. Bunny is the real snorkelling maniac in the family. The Bunnies always travel with snorkelling masks in their suitcases and hop at any chance to explore the underwater world.
In 2019, they experienced some excellent snorkelling in St. Lucia (Soufriere), Curacao and the US and British Virgin Islands. While there were no encounters (even with small) sharks this year, there were plenty of colourful fish, interesting coral and even some turtles to marvel at.
Here’s hoping that 2020 will bring plenty more snorkelling their way!
A Taste of City Life
Most of the cities in which Bunny spent longer stretches of time in 2019 are not known for being particularly exciting: Vienna (the most “livable” city in the world), Ottawa, Helsinki… They are solid, safe and slightly boring.
Luckily, Bunny’s two-week stint in Las Vegas in winter was a livelier time, with shows, attractions and entertainment available around every corner and around the clock too, day or night.
A very different but no less interesting trip was another two week stint in the spring that Bunny spent in Bath, England. She enjoyed a good dose of the traditional English charm, went on lovely afternoon tea experiences, and explored the exquisite Roman baths that made the town famous in the first place.
Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and the always buzzing Miami Beach also both served as Bunny’s temporary homes in 2019.
Finding the best beach in the world is another challenge that Bunny has taken on her ever-increasing task list. She is prepared to do a lot of research for this and feels like 2019 produced some workable material in this regard.
Exploring the idyllic Isla Sanoa and the remote and beautiful Bahia de las Aguilas beaches in the Dominican Republic pretty much encapsulated the perfect beach experiences for Bunny in 2019.
The (supposedly) pink Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda was absolutely gorgeous and surprisingly swimmable, even in April which is not exactly high season on the island.
Spending time on Sugar Beach and Anse Chastanet in the shadow of the famous pitons of St. Lucia was another beach highlight for Bunny.
An unexpected addition to Bunny’s beautiful beach list was the wild Playa de Famara in Lanzarote (Canary Islands), while Eagle Beach in Aruba was more of a quintessential Caribbean beach getaway, with long stretches of white sand and warm, turquoise waters.
Bunny loves road trips - but only as a passenger. Mr. Bunny is the designated, and often miserable, driver.
Bunny’s memorable road trips in 2019 included a seven-day stretch from Phoenix to Las Vegas, taking in the Grand Canyon and Sedona on the way. Later in the spring, the Bunnies also tackled South Utah on an epic 2-week driving trip.
In Europe, the Bunnies drove from Brussels to Vienna, with a little detour to check out the blooming tulip fields of Holland. Somehow, Mr. Bunny picked up almost half a dozen radar speeding tickets along the way.
Later in the summer, Bunny’s extended family’s annual road trip took them from Helsinki to Vienna, via Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic. It was Bunny’s first time driving across the famous Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark as well as visiting Dresden.
In September, the Bunnies explored beautiful North Macedonia by driving around the country for a week. The time in North Macedonia probably qualifies as the most pleasant surprise of Bunny’s 2019 travels.
In December, the Bunnies had the pleasure of negotiating near gale force winds in the wake of overnight tornado warnings on the scenic coastal Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. Not exactly enjoyable but definitely an experience…
Favourite Places to Stay
Bunny fancies herself as a bit of a hotel connoisseur (a blog post about her favourite 100 hotels is in the works!) so she was very pleased to stay in a number of excellent establishments in 2019.
It is always difficult for her to pick absolute favourites but here we go:
- Ki-Ra - a sublime yoga retreat in the Dominican Republic
- Casas del XVI - a luxurious oasis in the old town of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic
- Rincon Creek Ranch - a hidden gem in cacti-filled Southern Arizona
- Four Seasons Las Vegas - an elegant choice in Sin City
- Seventy Barcelona - brand new and one to watch in the Catalonian capital
- The Dreamcatcher - a vegetarian haven in Puerto Rico
- Lennox Miami Beach - a great new boutique discovery in the heart of Miami Beach
- Valley of the Gods B&B - a rustic guesthouse under an amazing canopy of stars in Utah’s Valley of the Gods
As a travel junkie, Bunny is always on the lookout for experiences that are a little bit special. In 2018, she went on a semi-exclusive Sunrise Experience of the Empire State Building.
This year, she embarked on a similar visit to a very different place: Stonehenge - the most famous megalithic monument in the world. She managed to grab a place on the coveted Inner Circle Tour of Stonehenge and enjoyed a peaceful sunrise moment at this unique and remarkable place.
Staying in weird places is another one of Bunny’s pet hobbies. In 2019, one of those weird places included a former prison turned into a boutique hotel in Helsinki. It was certainly a pleasant stay but Bunny is not too keen on any extended stays in prisons in the future.
Day tripping is a great way to catch a glimpse of places you don’t have time to explore in full. Because of all the cruising Bunny did in 2019, she had more than her fair share of island day tours during the year. Two of the most enjoyable days were her private tours on the lush, green island of Madeira and the volcanic wonder of Lanzarote.
During her “farewell” time in Vienna, Bunny made day trips to nearby Bratislava in Slovakia and the charming town of Sopron in Hungary. She also tried ticking off the last few remaining items from her “to do in Vienna” list before leaving for good.
She also did a bunch of interesting day trips from Las Vegas, including some surprisingly good hiking a short drive away in the Valley of Fire.
New Countries Visited
If you are a bit travel mad like Bunny, you know how important it is to keep statistics of all your travels. Bunny meticulously counts the countries she has visited in the world.
2019 brought four new additions to her list (now standing at 104): Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and St. Kitts & Nevis. That leaves Romania and San Marino as the only unchartered Bunny territory in Europe…
As you may have noticed reading this post, Bunny visited many more than 4 new locations in 2019. However, Bunny doesn’t cheat when it comes to her “countries visited” tally! Many of the new locations she visited in 2019 are not, technically speaking, “countries” as they are protectorates that are part of other countries. These included Puerto Rico (USA), Bermuda (UK), Aruba (Netherlands), Curacao (Netherlands), etc.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to have family scattered around the world, even family time can count towards one’s travel highlights. In Bunny’s case, this means annual pilgrimages to Finland and Canada.
And since the members of the Bunny family are the most loyal readers (quite possibly the only readers) of Bunny’s blog, let it be stated clearly here: family time is always a highlight! Not least because it means free accommodation (or, as tends to be the case, in exchange for some errands and chores).