2016: Recounting our travels

January 8, 2017 | By | 27 Replies More
Chappaqua Train Station

Chappaqua Train Station

Looking back at our travels in 2016 and hoping for ‘more time to travel’ in 2017!

Even though we‘re both no longer consumed with our once 9-5+ jobs, it doesn’t always feel like we have “more time to travel,” or perhaps, “enough time” to travel.

Our travel style: We tend to plan travel primarily during shoulder seasons, when the weather tends to be better and crowds are fewer. Whenever possible, we extend individual trips (reducing the number) so we can take advantage of having additional time at our destination or nearby, adding more depth to our experience, without incurring additional airfares.

This year, the process of downsizing has made (and is continuing to make) a dent in our travel time. We’re consumed with the emotionally wrenching and time-sapping task of letting go of stuff (and recounting the memories) we’ve collected in a home we’ve lived in for more than 20 years.

We’re finally ready to acknowledge that there are an abundance of possessions in cupboards, closets and the basement we’ll never use, some of which we may have never even needed. Naturally, this exercise has made us take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. As a result, our guest room looks like (and is) an E-Bay distribution center! By the summer of this year, we hope to be nestled in our now-being-built townhouse where we will live a more minimalist life.

Oddly, trying to recount a year of travel is somewhat reminiscent of looking through those personal belongings. We became attached to certain people, places and photographs and it’s tough to distill them into a manageable form but here are some highlights from our year:


Hamilton, Bermuda

The reopening of the historic Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club was a great excuse to visit Bermuda. Like many people, we hadn’t visited the island in many years and forgot how beautiful it is. A development boom is taking place to create more beds and attract more visitors. We enjoyed the beach, aquamarine waters, spotting Moon gates, and meeting Chef Marcus Samuelsson (who has a signature restaurant at the Hamilton Princess) and sipping a Dark “N’ Stormy or two.

Meeting Marcus Samuelsson at the Hamilton Princess in Bermuda

Meeting Marcus Samuelsson at the Hamilton Princess in Bermuda

Hamilton, Bermuda

Hamilton, Bermuda

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Viking River Cruises’ Douro Valley Cruise

We cruised the Douro River on Viking’s River of Gold Voyage. This was our third cruise on the line and each one seems to get better! Perhaps it’s because we feel so at home in the comfortable longship cabins, and relish waking up each morning at a new port waiting to be explored. The river views of the terraced hillsides of the Douro were spectacular.

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We visited wineries and small towns with big personalities in Northern Portugal, including Lamego, Pinhao, Favaios, Vega de Terron, Castelo Rodrigo, Villa Real, Regua, Alheira, Guimaraes and Coimbra.

Along the way, we were fortunate to meet and have dinner with food and travel writer Anita Breland and her husband Tom at Restaurante Ponte de Pedra Torrão on the river.

Meeting Anita and Tom

Meeting Anita and Tom (Photo credit: Anita)


Lisbon, Portugal

Our river cruise began with a land tour and free time in Lisbon. We took long walks on the city’s stunning sidewalks of limestone and basalt, enjoying the city’s food, history and culture, and listening to traditional Fado music at night.

Lisbon from the rooftop of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel

Lisbon from the rooftop of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel

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Charleston, South Carolina 

When Certified Angus Beef invited us to Charleston for the weekend, we couldn’t resist. We took a great cooking class at Le Creuset and had a lot of wonderful beef at some of the city’s finest restaurants. The Bonus: We got to visit our friends who live on nearby Seabrook Island.

A wall mural in Charleston

A wall mural in Charleston

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Miami, Florida

We always associate Miami with sun and sand but on a long weekend visit we didn’t have a moment to dip our toes in the water. We learned that the city is filled with interesting art, architecture and culture. We were wowed by the street art in the Wynwood Art District; impressed by the breadth and quality of performances we took in at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (including a live Flamenco performance); viewed the edgy, contemporary art installations at the Perez Art Museum; and enjoyed a fascinating architectural tour of the downtown Miami historic district (juxtaposed with all the new skyscrapers). 

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Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and Umbria, Italy

We spent several weeks touring some of the larger cities and small towns of three Italian provinces—Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria—with two other couples and also got to visit friends in Castellina in Chianti. We started our road trip in Bologna, a city that has come to feel like our home away from home in Italy. Even the locals have begun to ask us why we visit so frequently. It may be a two-day tourist town to others but to us, it offers endless riches. One of the highlights of our visit was the time we spent in Dozza, the home of the Enoteca Regionale of Emilia Romagna. The town’s murals are breathtaking. 

Celebrating Dozza with friends

Celebrating Dozza with friends

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Another special find was the very small and picturesque village of San Gusme in Tuscany. Someone told us there were only 80 full-time residents. We loved walking through the alleys and looking at the views of the valleys below. We returned several times during our stay at a nearby VRBO property in Castelnuovo in Berardenga.

The incredible village of San Gusme in Tuscany

The incredible village of San Gusme in Tuscany

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We also visited Castelfalfi, Mantalone, Panzano (where we met the famous butcher), Colle di Val d’Elsa, Siena, Florence, Gaiole in Chianti, Perugia, San Gimignano, Castelnuevo dei Sabbini, Bucine, and Cervia.


Los Cabos, Mexico

We’ve been visiting Los Cabos, our winter paradise,  for more than a decade. It’s the place where we totally unwind and relax and our #1 son comes to join us. We had owned a fractional property there that we returned to each year but the wrath of Hurricane Odile wrought such terrible damage that we could no longer afford to maintain our share. We’ll miss our spot but always find a new corner of warmth in one of the stunning resorts that dot the resort Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. 

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Viking Star Cruise to Puerto Rico

What fun it was to embark on the Viking Star on its first departure from New York to the Caribbean. It’s a fantastic ship that’s perfect for the over-50 traveler. While we didn’t have the opportunity to experience port stops and shore excursions, we did get a good sense of life onboard during four delightful sea days on the way to San Juan. Hopefully, we’ll be sailing it again, for longer!

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And then there were staycations at home~

We are so fortunate to live in a bedroom community that’s only a short distance from the greatest city in the world. That means we get our share of visitors and also opportunities to explore New York City and the Hudson Valley. When one of my fellow boomer bloggers, Suzanne Stavert, came to visit, I enjoyed sharing stops at Kykuit, the historic Rockefeller residence and Dan Barber’s Blue Hill (which has been called the best restaurant in America), both of which are located practically in our backyard.

Suzanne & Irene

Suzanne & Irene

Thanks to Hampton by Hilton, for which we are brand ambassadors, we also got to spend a Seekender Weekend visiting some of the city sights that locals like us need an excuse to visit. And, of course, whenever we weren’t traveling, we also savored all the other treasures close to home. We are so blessed to have had a wonderful year!

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Thanks for following our travels~

Irene & Jerry

Irene & Jerry

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Category: DESTINATIONS

Comments (27)

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  1. Susan Frost says:

    Irene, thanks so much for the recap of your travels. Inspirational!

  2. Sheryl Kraft says:

    Fantastic recap! Oh, the places you go!! What wonderful memories.

  3. I really enjoyed your 2016 recap!!

  4. Lauren says:

    Wonderful recap of your travels, and great pictures too! Here’s to many great travels and adventures to come. Thanks for the travel inspiration. Happy trails always!

  5. Penny says:

    Thank you for all the fabulous experiences you shared in 2017. Your posts are a joy to read, and always leave me looking forward to your next adventure. As exciting as your year was, I wish you an even more fulfilling travell-filled 2017.

  6. What a great year you had Irene… a mix of very different countries and experiences. Good luck with your downsize. Even though we didn\’t move house, we had a complete clean out before renting out our house and disappearing overseas for 18 months. It was very therapeutic!

  7. Anita says:

    What a year you had Irene! Tom and I were so happy to see you and Jerry here in Portugal, and will hope to re-connect next time we’re in the New York area, if we don’t meet up somewhere else first. Good luck with downsizing and your new home…it’s an adventure well worth undertaking 🙂

  8. Karen Warren says:

    You managed to get to some lovely places in 2016. I’m always looking for new places to visit in Italy so your Bologna trip was interesting to me. Looking forward to seeing where you get to in 2017!

  9. Lauren says:

    Love your travel outfits which look very comfortable and also very casual chic!

  10. Janice Chung says:

    Wow! You HAVE been places and it’s so fun meeting up with other bloggers like you did. We’ll have to figure how we can meet up….somewhere in the world in the next year! Good luck on the downsizing.

  11. You have an enviable travel year, indeed. Congrats!

  12. Your review of 2016 travels includes two places I’ve wanted to go for a long time, including Bermuda and Tuscany. I’d also like to check out the Los Cabos area. I can also relate to your downsizing and sorting through things, as that is what I will be going through later this year. Here’s hoping all goes smoothly with your efforts at minimizing and also taking time to travel!

  13. Sue Reddel says:

    Lots of fun travel in 2016 Irene. Hope 2017 holds many more travel adventures for you.

  14. So happy to follow your travel this year! You have been to some beautiful places. I was able to meet you IRL and spend time at Kykuit and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Lucky Me! I hope we can plan something again this year! I am proud of your downsizing progress. It is not easy! xo Suzanne

  15. Kristin says:

    Your blog is interesting and I love your photos and slide shows.

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