What are your top Ten Destinations for 2019?

Catching up on emails is a love-hate task. Sometimes you find absolute pearls in your inbox. Sometimes you discover time-wasting garbage but you still plough through it till then end…well I do.

An article published on TRAVELLER by journalist, Ben Groundwater, listed the 10 destinations to avoid in 2019 and where to go instead. Personally I’d still go the places he suggested avoid. Would you?

Ben’s reasoning for places to avoid included cities overrun by tourists, or key attractions unavailable for public viewing due to restoration.

Really? My advice: Avoid peak tourist periods; head there during off-peak times. Don’t avoid a place simply because an attraction is closed to the public. Always do your research first.

Top of Ben’s avoid list is Venice, Italy. Wrong. Go there!

This is one city everyone should experience at least once in their lives. My partner Monty and I spent New Year’s Eve there. The night was cold; the piazza was packed like sardines with revellers from all over the world. As we huddled together with our friends, cheap bottles of Bellini fizz and plastic cups in hand, we laughed as we excitedly counted down the minutes to midnight. Suddenly rainbow-coloured fireworks shot across the blue-black sky lighting up the glistening ink-hued water of Laguna di Venezia. On the stroke of midnight soft flakes of snow drifted down from the sky above. My heart skipped a beat. My tongue caught the flakes. It was pure magic.

And the magic continued over the following days as the crowds dispersed leaving Venice in an almost ghost-like state. We had been warned that most of Venice shut down at this time of year but it was not so. Many restaurants were still open; so too shops. This canal city still carries on but at a slower pace.  Our one week in Venice was sublime. We saw all of the sites we wanted to see including Basilica San Marco, exploring the Doge’s Palace and walking over the Bridge of Sighs (The Secret Itineraries Tour is highly recommended), strolling across the Rialto Bridge, cruising along the Grand Canal, popping into the Peggy Guggenheim modern art gallery, tripping across the lagoon in the comfort of a private water boat, watching glass making on Burano island, and most importantly, embracing the thrill of getting lost in the Venetian labyrinth.

We were there for New Year’s Eve and stayed for just over a week. It was truly brilliant. No crowds. Perfect! We returned a couple of years ago during the Venice Biennale. It was hectic. The city was besieged by throngs of tourists, art lovers and Biennale patrons. Unless you love crowds and have a reason to visit during this time, then choose another time. It’s as simple as that.

Washington DC, USA

This hot spot is known for its monuments and memorials. When we stayed in DC our timing wasn’t ideal. Little did we know the annual graduation ceremonies were taking place. We couldn’t find a hotel and ended up staying in an apartment near Dupont Circle. Hideously expensive, yet keenly priced when booking outside peak season. Lesson learned. The hard way. These days, we always check if there are major events occurring before locking in travel dates.

On the DC tourist trail, a key place of interest is the Smithsonian Institute. If you read that one of the museum’s major attractions is undergoing renovations and is closed to the public, don’t let that dampen your spirits. Do remember spending time in DC isn’t solely to visit the very popular Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  The Smithsonian offers myriad attractions including highly acclaimed galleries. For art lovers like me, The American Art Museum is complete joy – both visually and architecturally.

Oh, and don’t forget the White House! Spectacular! And the Washington Monument. Taking the elevator to the top of it’s pyramid-shaped pinnacle is worth the trip to DC alone.  Add the Lincoln Memorial to your bucket list just for starters and you’ll have to admit that DC is certainly not a place to avoid in 2019.

Barcelona, Spain

Sure you’ll find crowds in Barcelona especially if you’re wandering along Las Ramblas.  The van attack in 2017 didn’t augur well for tourism but locals and travellers still return. And why not! Along Las Ramblas you’ll find one of the best food markets in Barcelona: La Boqueria.

When we stayed in Barcelona during late October. The weather was cool and comfortable. The streets weren’t crowded, and surprisingly, nor was Park Guell. Naturally one architect Gaudi’s most famous masterpieces, La Sagrada Familia, attracts long queues but booking online fixes that headache. The Font Magica Fountain was also on my hit list but the water and light shows held in the winter are limited to Friday and Saturday evenings…we went during the week. Lesson learned. Do your research first.

London, Britain.

First time I travelled to England to visit my cousins I was 16 years old; I loved everything about London. Every return trip equally wondrous. So this year Big Ben is under renovation and covered in scaffolding! So too was the top of the column in Place Vendome in Paris when I was there. Was I disappointed?  No, because I knew there were plenty of other things to see and do. And that we would return again, which we have and will again. As we will with London. A snail’s pace twirl on the London Eye is tops for the most breathtaking 360 degree views of the city; the pageantry of watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace is a sight to behold; immersing yourself in thousands of years of history at the British Museum is a memorable experience.

Cinque Terre, Italy.

The ‘Path of Love’ Riomaggiore to Manarola route is closed until 2021. OK. So? We took a day train trip from Milan but we’ll definitely return and stay for longer. Our train arrived at Levante. From there we trained to Riomaggiore, took a ferry to Manorola, trained to Corniglia (not accessible by sea), trained to Vernazza then sailed by boat to Monterosso al Mare. Experiencing the Cinque Terre by land and sea ticked both boxes. If you are unable to walk the route from Riomaggiore to Manarola go by sea! Don’t be disheartened.  You’ll find a way. You

Ben also lists in his ten destinations to consider avoiding in 2019: Uluru, Australia; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kumamoto, Japan; Koh Phi Phi Le, Thailand. This year, 2019, we’re going to Dubrovnik. Your choice to avoid or not, but I think I’ve put up a reasonable argument on why you should go, don’t you?