17 February, 2017
Travel

Top Travel Destinations: Sassy’s Picks for 2017

17 February, 2017

Start Ticking These Off of Your Bucket Lists…

 

What are your travel plans for the year ahead, girls? With more and more incredible adventures and lesser known destinations surfacing on travel blogs and trusted guides, we’re becoming spoilt for choice and left hungry to visit as many new places as possible.

We’ve always got multiple tabs up on our laptop screens, lusting after starry desert skies and bright bustling cities, so we try to make a note of every bucket-list worthy agenda that we can, just in case we’re able to “set sail.”  And if you’re not sure where to start searching, or even if you’re just keen to absorb a couple of new ideas, check out these top travel picks that team Sassy have embarked upon! We’ve got the inside scoop on off-the-beaten-path itineraries and the best foodie finds...

 

napa valley
Best Time to Go: September – November & March – May
Where to stay: We have stayed at both the Westin and Andaz hotels. The Andaz has more of a boutique feel, which I always prefer, and it is right in town. The Westin was within walking distance of Oxbow Public Market (basically a huge barn filled with an oyster bar, coffee shop, wine & cheese, a bakery and a seasonal farmers market) which is why we ended up there.
Must See: The wineries of course! Rent bicycles and take a spin along the Silverado Trail. Pack a lunch from Oxbow and pick up a bottle of wine at one of your stops for the best picnic ever — just don’t forget that you have to ride back!
Must Try Dish: You will find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to must try dishes. For me, nothing can beat Ad Hoc’s fried chicken. Just up the road from Napa, in Yountville, famed chef Thomas Keller opened Ad Hoc as a casual compliment to his stable of very fancy restaurants. Each night is a different four-course family style menu but every other Monday is fried chicken night and something worth planning your trip around! Confession: I ate more than my fair share of the “family style” serving myself and have never been so happily full in my entire life #worthit.
Bucket List Activity: Take a soaring hot air balloon ride to catch the sun rise over the valley.
Off the Beaten Path: You will most likely be heading up to Napa from San Francisco in a rental car. If this is the case, take the coastal scenic route and stop at Point Reyes. From the national seashore park to Muir Woods to quaint shops, you won’t be disappointed.
Must Take Item: You are going to want to brag to your friends about this trip so make sure you have your phone ready with plenty of memory for photos. Your Instagram followers will thank you!

 

pokhara
Best Time to Go: September – November
Where to stay: There’s a great number of hotel and guest house options available in Pokhara, Nepal, to suit all budgets. Each is within walking distance to bars, restaurants and activity centres, but if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is definitely one to consider!
Must See: The incredible Annapurna Mountain range! Take a boat across Pokhara Lake and hike up to the Peace Pagoda for a view like none other.
Must Try Dish: Momos! Spicy Nepalese dumplings filled with either meat or veg accompanied by a tangy dipping sauce.
Bucket List Activity: Paragliding amongst the Annapurnas. Deemed one of the best paragliding spots in the world, take in the breathtaking views (while also potentially holding your breath) as you soar above villages and seriously lush landscapes. There are hundreds of paragliding companies to choose from, but I couldn’t recommend FRONTIERS highly enough. With over 17 years of experience, they were professional and above all, super patient as I debated whether I could actually bring myself to jump!
Off the Beaten Path: Pokhara is the gateway to the world-famous treks and awesome white water rafting adventures. Check out Lonely Planet for a little inspo.
Must Take Item: Go-Pro and mounts (or a waterproof camera!) to capture all of your adventures.
Sassy Snapshot: Keen to see more? Have a peek at my instagram page!

 

maldives
Best Time to Go: November – April
Where to stay: We stayed at the Dusit Thani which is totally splurge-worthy and we felt spoilt the whole time we were there. We stayed in a beach villa which was steps away from the beach, so throughout our stay there was always easy access to the amazing blue water that surrounds the resort. This resort is high on the pricing scale, so if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to call your home away from home, there are so many other resorts in the Maldives to suit your budget – all with the same jaw-dropping blue water views. It’s hard to be disappointed with that as your backyard!
Must See: I will keep it simple. You must spend lots of time by the water, which is hard to miss as it’s most beautiful and serene shade of blue you will ever see! But in all seriousness, the Maldives is great for scuba diving and snorkelling so you must try one of those during your stay.
Bucket List Activity: You can get to many of the resorts via a sea plane (depending on when you arrive), which is a pretty cool experience to start out your holiday with!
Must Take Item: A swimsuit. This is one that I would pack if I were to go again – it would look awesome amongst the blue backdrop!
Sassy Snapshot: Keen to know more? Have a further read of my stay here!

 

amersterdam
Best Time to Go: Summer or to ring in the New Year (if you can handle the cold!)
Where to stay: The Dutch have got it down in terms of keeping things homey and efficient. Scoping out a cozy Airbnb near the centre of town is super easy on all budgets.
Must See: Originally an old locomotive factory, Roest still has its bare bones but magically transforms. It’s a bar, a restaurant, a food market and sometimes even a club, all in one. In summer you’ll see it turn into a city beach, so depending on the time of year – or time of day – it’s a gamble what you’ll get. But, I guarantee it’ll be something to remember.
Must Try Dish: The national snack of choice is the almighty frikandel*: in short, a magical deep-fried sausage, heavily seasoned, decorated and traditionally served with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and chopped onion.
Bucket List Activity: YOLO it with the populous and popular late-night chain “Febo”: home to a vending machine wall which houses the yummiest, and most Dutch (deep-fried) goodies from top to bottom. Pop in 1.5 euros and out pops a perfect piping hot post-drinking snack. *(Frikandel also located here.)
Must Take Item: A large appetite.
Sassy Snapshot: Keen to see more? Have a peek at my instagram page!

 

stockholm
Best Time to Go: February for snow or June/July for beautiful blue skies and virtually endless hours of sunshine.
Where to Stay: I was lucky enough to stay in a friend’s apartment, which was within walking distance of the centre of the city (in the Värtavägen district). Although there are loads of great Air bnb’s around, or splash out on the gorgeous Radisson Blu Hotel, right on the waterfront.
Must See: When I visit a new place, especially a city, I like to discover it just by walking around and filling my stomach along the way. So, a must see for me was the Östermalm Food Hall, a great old building filled with a huge variety of food stalls and restaurants!
Must Try Dish: Meatballs! I still dream of the meatballs; cream sauce, potato purée and lingonberries (served with an ice-cold jug of beer) from Meatballs for the People! One of my all-time favourite dishes, as it’s full of flavour, and devouring it is a super warm and comforting way to escape the snow. Or, for breakfast, definitely try some traditional Swedish Semla – a cardamom-spiced pastry, filled with a mix of sweet almond paste and whipped cream. Alongside a coffee, it’s the best start to the day! Our favourite place was the Valhallabageriet AB bakery, which we walked to every morning to enjoy their delicious fresh pastries and bread.
Bucket List Activity: Eating the meatballs!
Must Take Item: Lots of warm clothing if you going in the colder months.
Sassy Snapshot: See more on my Instagram page here!

 

bolivia
Best Time to Go: September – November
Where to stay: There are a number of tours with different itineraries, most of which offer the option to stay overnight in a salt hotel – which is a must!
Must See: Visit the train cemetery, take in the incredible landscapes, get creative and take some of obligatory funny photos where things are way out of proportion, hang out with some alpacas, check out the flamingos and watch the sun set over the multi-coloured and quite magical lagoons.
Must Try Dish: Your tour guide will prepare your food throughout the tour so you will have the chance to try out some homemade local cuisine. This is where the bulk of Bolivia’s quinoa is made, so stock up on the superfood here.
Bucket List Activity: Wish upon a shooting star (The Atacama Desert is one of the best places in the world to stargaze)
Off the beaten track: Take a dip in the hot springs – Termas de Polques, and walk amongst the sulphuric geysers (just don’t get too close!)
Must Take Item: A camera, as it will be hard to describe how beautiful this place really is! Sunglasses – The salt flats are blinding!
Sassy Snapshot: Keen to see more? Have a peek at my Instagram page.

 

boston
Best Time to Go: Go in Autumn and watch the leaves turn colour as the seasons change!
Where to stay: If you’re looking to stay in the middle of all the action, find accommodation in the city centre itself, but I would definitely recommend finding an Airbnb or hotel in Somerville or Cambridge for a quieter, small-town feel.
Must See: Quincy Market is a perfect place to spend a sunny morning and early afternoon, wandering through the shops and little cafes, and then head to catch the last of the afternoon rays at the Boston Common. I could spend hours wandering through the autumn leaves. Of course, you can’t go to Boston without venturing to see Harvard Square and the Harvard University campus – it’s just like the movies!
Must Try Dish: Hot Buttered Lobster Roll from Luke’s Lobster. Melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I dreamt about it for days after!
Bucket List Activity: I know I keep going on about the food, but have you even had a lobster roll if you haven’t had it right by the Boston Harbour? The blue skies and sailboats are picture perfect, but don’t forget your scarf as it does actually get quite cold by the water!
Off the Beaten Path: Trek a teeny bit out of Boston and wander the streets of Cambridge, home of MIT and Harvard – I found some of my favourite coffee shops on those blocks! Pro tip: Head to Loyal Nine in Cambridge for a heady cup of coffee, delicious baked goods and a vibe straight out of hipster heaven – all while sitting next to train tracks!
Must Take Item: Your polaroid camera and a good book (in case you find your own favourite hipster coffee shop while wandering around).
Sassy Snapshot: Hot. Buttered. Lobster. Roll. ‘Nuff said.

 

camel fair india
Best Time to Go: Check yearly dates, typically in November, but sometimes falls in late October.
Where to stay: As there are no hotels nearby, several companies set up tented tourist camps. We opted to stay at a permanent tent resort called Orchard Tents & Tranquility, which was, to our surprise, an incredible experience! The tents were beautiful (yes they had bathrooms and hot water!), the food was delicious, and with only 15 tents in the whole camp, the hospitality was second to none! And my favourite parts: an after dinner tea around the fire pit with other guests, followed by snuggling into a cozy bed with a pre-heated mattress. Believe it or not the desert gets pretty chilly at night, and this made all the difference! Talk about tranquility.
Must See: Brahma Temple, Pushkar Lake, and festival festivities like moustache competition and camel races!
Must Try Dish: Traditional masala chai tea and channa masala with naan. Note: Pushkar is a considered an ancient holy town for Hindus, so it’s a dry town (no alcohol) and the food served is strictly vegetarian.
Bucket List Activity: While this entire trip felt like a bucket list experience (riding camels, check!), our sunrise hot air balloon ride over the fairgrounds, town, and desert was absolutely magical.
Off the Beaten Path: Trust me when I say this entire trip is definitely off the beaten path, but it will certainly be one you never forget! Take part in a water blessing at one of the surrounding temples of Pushkar Lake or tour the surrounding villages by camel cart for a more local experience.
Must Take Item: Adventurous spirit and a good camera!
Sassy Snapshot: Keen to see more? Have a peek at my instagram page!

Featured image sourced via Pexels, image #1, #2, #3#4, #5, #6, #7, #8 sourced via Dreamstime

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