Nearly every time we get together with friends, someone will ask “what’s your favorite place?” We always struggle to answer. Given the variety of places we visited and the experiences we have had in our roving retirement, it is difficult to come up with a top selection. That is especially true when you consider that we actually visited 20 countries this year. In an effort to find a happy medium, we are presenting our choices for The 2022 Living Chapter 2 “Roamie Awards”, our top experiences for the year.
To help with the selections, I’ve mixed a handful of awards from sports. Sorry if the metaphor gets a bit bent out of shape.
Offensive Player Of The Year – Rome
This “Roamie” goes to the place where we scored big. A place where there was a lot to do and we had the time to take advantage of.
Rome had a fantastic variety of history, food, and culture. The museums and archeological sites told great stories. Diana fell in love with Cacio e Pepe pasta. The public transit was easy to navigate and we even got to see an opera in a famous opera house.
Defensive Player Of The Year – Puerto Vallarta
Defense in this context is about catching up with life and preparing for the next adventure. A winner is a place where we had the time and space to chill and work on some of the more mundane things in life, in a comforting setting.
Puerto Vallarta takes this year’s Defensive “Roamie”. We had a spacious, beachfront condo. The gym and the pool allowed us to work out and wind down at will. The downtown area provided excitement when we wanted it. We got caught up on dental, vision, and prescription needs and enjoyed great Mexican food. All of this without breaking the bank.
6th Man Award – Berlin
I borrowed this idea from the NBA. The 6th man is a player who is not in the starting lineup, but comes in during the games and contributes points to the team effort. In our case, a place where we had a better time than expected.
Berlin really came through for us this year. Again, the culture, sites, and museums provided a lot of entertainment. Our hotel was an easy walk to the subway, which cost us 9E each for a month of unlimited rides. I loved the food and beer. With over 100 museums, we weren’t able to see most of them so, we can see coming back another time.
Most Improved – Bangkok
This “Roamie Award” goes to a place we have been before, but we had a better experience this year than on our previous visit. This experience was so recent, we haven’t had a chance to write it up yet.
Our first visit to Bangkok was fun, but not so much that we felt a return was in order. This year, flight schedules made it advantageous to hang out in Bangkok again for a few days, and it surprised us a bit. I won’t spoil the future post, but I will say the fun and food we had on this visit were worth the pit stop.
Rookie of the Year – Bologna
By definition, this is a place we had not been before but really enjoyed. It’s also a place we expect to enjoy visiting again. Frankly, many places could make a claim on this Roamie, but we managed to whittle it down to a winner.
Bologna wasn’t even in our plans when the year began. As we traveled, however, we heard from many people that Bologna is the food capital of Italy. How do you pass up on that? Further, its proximity to Parma (cheese and ham), Modena (cars and balsamic), Florence, Ferrara, and Ravenna promised other experiences worth considering. Unfortunately, our stay was cut short, but Bologna will stay on the radar for another time.
King of The Mountains – Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy
This award reference comes from the Tour de France. For us, given our love of skiing, the King of The Mountains is the place we most enjoyed our time visiting while skiing.
The considerations for this award go beyond just skiing. We also look at the vibe and accommodations. This year, Madonna Di Campiglio in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy was the winner. The views are stunning. The runs are long and the resort spans several mountains. The food is a mix of Italian and Alpine styles. Our hotel provided a comfy environment and a relaxing spa with unbelievable views. It also provided free shuttle service to a number of ski lifts to access the hill. All around a great place to enjoy winter fun.
Play of The Year – The Amsterdam Tulip Festival
This Roamie goes to our favorite singular experience. Again, there were many contenders for this prize, but there can be only one winner.
Running from late March to mid-May, the Amsterdam Tulip Festival presents a stunning array of blooms just outside of Amsterdam. Even though we could only go on the final day, there were still plenty of flowers and displays to enjoy. A direct bus from the main train station made it easy to visit. Definitely an E-ticket experience.
Honorable Mention – Sorrento
This is kind of a catch-all award. A place we enjoyed but not quite enough to win a category outright.
Honorable Mention for 2022 goes to Sorrento, Italy. The town was close to the traditional Amalfi Coast without the crazy crowds. Our little farmhouse high above the town and the sea provided us with great views and an expansive kitchen with included wine, olive oil, and fresh fruit from the garden. We easily toured Vesuvius, Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Amalfi coast, and the island of Capri. All in all, a pleasant stay.
Coach of The Year – GuruWalk
To us, Coach of The Year goes to a product or service that delivered the greatest value to us.
Guruwalk came through for us on more than one occasion this year. The Guruwalk website allows you to book free walking tours in major cities around the world. Almost every town in Europe seems to have entries. The idea is that a guide provides a 1-2 hour tour, talking about the history and culture of the area. In turn, if you enjoyed the tour, you are expected to tip the guide $10-15 per person. If you don’t like the tour, you can leave anytime and pay nothing. This year, we enjoyed free tours in Prague, Split, Zagreb, Ljubljana, and Bologna.
Fan of the Year – Joe
There is really an NFL award for Fan of The Year. I don’t know what their criteria are, but it wasn’t hard for us to pick one: Joe.
This is a bit awkward because I try not to use real names in this blog, I usually use “Joe” and “Jane” instead. That said, this year’s Joe comments prolifically on our posts and often provides additional insights and tips. His effort deserves some love in return. Thanks, Joe! You know who you are.
Most Valuable Player – Bali
I saved the best award for last: Most Valuable Player. This Roamie is easy to describe. The MVP is place the that delivered our top experience of the year, arguably our “favorite place”.
We haven’t yet posted on our recent time in Bali, but it was a great all-around experience. At different times, it was relaxing, exciting, engaging, and regenerative. Most of all, it was cheap. I only wish it was closer to the US. I hope you get a chance to read our upcoming posts about Bali.
Rounding it all up
Clearly, we had a pretty good year. Places in Italy took a lot of awards, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. First, it’s Italy. Second, we spent 8 weeks there over the course of the year. We only have a brief stop in Italy planned for 2023, so we can expect some new winners next year. We can’t wait!
Which of these places sound like winners to you?
Thanks for the fun post. Not that your other posts aren’t fun :-). How can travel not be fun? Even when things go wrong you sometimes stumble into something awesome you would have otherwise missed.
Some new category suggestions for 2023’s awards:
– Best halftime show: the side trip that shone brighter than your home base
– Best team player: the location where the locals were friendly and had your back
– Best fumble recovery: when something went wrong but was quickly fixed. (This year mine was failing to book the sold out fast train, only to find taking local trains got us to the destination more directly and faster. (and was covered by the DB EUR 9 pass as well !))