My 2016 Top Five Favourite Places
My annual review of the best things I did or saw or tasted last year. I love to travel and got to a few new places in 2016 and revisited a couple of old favourites such as Chicago and San Francisco, but those two didn’t make the list of my Top Five Favourite Places of last year, but these did:
1. North Fork, New York
As the crow flies this little known wine region is 80 miles from Manhattan to North Fork, which stretches beautifully into a narrow peninsular surrounded by water, with the Long Island Sound to the north and the Peconic Bay to the south, creating an ideal climate for growing grapes.
I was smitten by North Fork’s wine country and it’s wonderful rolling farmlands, cutesy hamlets, and its real simpleness. There really are some beautiful and impressive wine producers here working out of some lovely vineyards and wineries. It hasn’t got the scale of Napa or Sonoma, but this was a very explorable secret, and wine area.
2. Rio, Brazil
My first trip to Brazil was for this summer’s Olympics to coincide with my birthday. Rio is a huge sprawling city with natural beauty and ramshackle favelas sat side by side and I had no idea how the numerous favelas dominate the landscape, ramshackle domes piled on top of each other, engraved into the granite mountains that rise around this famous city. It was both fascinating and sad.
However to see the beauty of the Copacabana Beach, and living in Bermuda, it is rare I say that, the cool Botofago neighbourhood, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the majestic Christ the Redeemer with his arms stretched wide purveying over his Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City) was a fortunate experience as was witnessing the free spiritedness and smiles of it’s people.
3. Sarasota, Florida
A mate first introduced me to this Gulf Coast Florida city (right) and I become reacquainted with it 2016. Sarasota is an unusually hip and arty city for Florida with more museums, galleries and top rated restaurants than anywhere else in Florida. It is serenely situated on the gulf coast just south of Tampa and St Petersburg and across the water from Sarasota lie the barrier islands of Siesta Key, Longboat Key and Lido Key with their golden beaches.
And in the future we expect to learn more about Sarasota as last year we bought a house there, which is currently in the early stages of a total gut renovation.
4. Borough Market, London
I stayed here on a work trip in March and although I had often skirted by it and even had dinner there in recent years I had never explored it. The market has been there for ever, 1014 apparently, but in recent years it has been polished like a diamond. There was a real aura to it, and the market is bordered by a whole range of cool cafes, restaurants and the behemoth Shard.
The Borough felt like an undiscovered out of the way place, yet it was right on the river and just across from the City. When did this happen and why didn’t I recognize the potential of this little pocket of London when I would warily hurry by it on the way home from work all those years ago.
5. Baltimore, Maryland
I had been here once before on a work trip but on my last visit I had some time to explore this historic port city and I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Baltimore has had a pockmarked history but it’s industrial waterfront, which is still vitally important, the beautifully restored Inner Harbor and the Federal Hill area now mix in blue collar xx with rejuvenation showing off old red brick houses and cobblestone streets alongside micro breweries, museums, great restaurants and some terrific water views.