Visions of Sugar Plums: 15 Delectable Destinations for the New Year


We wish you all a Very Merry Christmas! May your days be filled with endless Christmas cookies, and your nights replete with visions of sugar plums. Thanks so much for all the joy you’ve brought us this year. We’ll leave you with our favorite sign, spotted at a bakery in Hoorn, Netherlands. It’s perfect for the holidays … or any time, really.

Peace and Joy,
Terri & James

Last updated December 24, 2019



We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

53 thoughts

  1. Some of the names may be tongue-trippers but there’s no doubt that you’ve found some sugarplums indeed! We have storks nests up and down the Algarve Region of Portugal and it still fills me with wonder to see the fledglings in the spring or one of these great giant birds flying across the sky. Happy Holidays to both of you! Anita

    1. Anita, we’ve seen nests in a number of places, and we saw storks actively nesting in Segovia, Spain. They’re a interesting to watch, and for a large, relatively ungainly bird, they’re lovely in flight. They’re not that common in the US though.

      We had a good travel year, but we always make it a point to be off the road for Christmas. I see all the travel hassles on the news (e.g. Gatwick’s drone problems – that’s a new one, and we just came through LGW!), and am glad we’re snuggled in at home for the holidays. I hope that you and Richard are well and wish you both a Happy Holiday and a Great New Year. ~James

  2. Sounds like you had wonderful, exciting travels. Can’t wait to read all about it in the coming months. I’m hoping we will have a chance to explore Kentucky a bit this coming year. We visited a Shaker village in NH several years ago. It was fascinating! Love the bakery sign! Eat cake and have a Merry Christmas!

    1. Laura, I can’t say that I agree with many of the Shakers’ religious views, but I certainly respect them for what they accomplished. I had no idea, but apparently there were 20 farms scattered around the country. The amazing thing to me was how clever their designs were for accomplishing everyday chores. I hope things are going well for you and Steve way down south. This is the time of year when Floridians get to be smug about where they live. Have a great holiday and Happy New Year. ~James

  3. We can’t wait for future posts and the chance to see so many destinations through your eyes. Thanks for the details you include in your posts and your most-welcom humor! Wushing you both good health and happiness and the joy of wonder all through the new year!

    Rusha and Bert

    1. Thanks Rusha. We discovered some great new places this year, and revisited some old favorites we hadn’t seen in years. There’s lot of grist for the ol’ blogging mill – which is a good thing. All the best to you and Bert for a fun holiday and a Happy and Healthy New Year. ~James

    1. Beth, we haven’t firmed up any travel plans for the new year but we always have few things on the list. In the meantime, we’re glad to be home for Christmas. All the best to you for a Happy Christmas and fun and successful New Year. ~James

    1. Thanks Darlene. We had a busy travel year, and it zipped by faster than usual. But you know how it goes – Carpe Diem. All the best for a fun and relaxing holiday and a successful New Year. ~James

  4. Best wishes for Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Glad to read that you got a lot of travel in this year! I only managed the UK, and next year doesn’t look promising right now – travel while you can!

    Have been to numbers 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, 11 and 14 and agree with you, so will consider the others. (Although Luang Prabang was so, so much more touristy on my third visit I won’t go back.) BTW, Arundel castle is a good side trip from Gatwick (I have a favorite B&B in Horsley if I’m flying out of Gatwick). Entirely agree about avoiding holiday travel!

    1. Kathy, we love London and if we have a few days we go into town. But if we have a short connection we’ve started staying out at the airport. We’ve stayed at both Heathrow and Gatwick (our preference) and it’s so convenient. LGW is especially convenient for accessing sights in the south of England. Last trip through we visited Chichester and the Fisbourne Palace Roman Ruins. If you haven’t been it’s very low key and super neat. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. ~James

      1. I once lived near Chichester, but I didn’t visit Fishbourne until I recently spent a few days in Portsmouth. Enjoyed visiting the ships there. Another place nearby I’d like to revisit is the Weald and Downland Living Museum – but so many places!

      2. Thanks for that recommendation Kathy. We love these living museums and will put this one the list for our next LGW stop. BTW, we visited one of these open-air museums outside Sibiu, Romania that was huge and excellent. ~James

    1. Thanks Sylvia. It’s funny you mention photos because one project we hope to make some headway on this holiday season is getting a totally out-of-control photo library better organized. We wish you the best of holidays and a very Happy and Healthy New Year. ~James

  5. James and Terri – What a list! I am so happy to see out-of-way (well, not really, more like less-visited) places. It gives a traveler a real appreciation for what’s out there, and a better moment to connect with the world. Happy travels – and the very best of holidays

    1. Hi Susan, If anyone can appreciate a great walk it’s you! We gave our Fitbits fits on all these fun walks, whether we were hiking up castle walls or strolling along Irish beaches. As you so beautifully point out – It’s all about the walk. We wish you a wonderful holiday! ~Terri

    1. It’s the kind of good old fashioned fun that Sport and Bean would love … and you two, as well. Although it harkens to a simpler time, their inventions and designs could be straight out of an Ikea catalog! Happy Holidays to you and your family, Terri
      P.S. I’ve really been enjoying your posts on Ireland. 🙂

  6. Lovely photos as always. I have been to 5,6 and 7. I am glad you got home for Christmas. I am sure that is another sugar plum.

    1. Anne, I’m surprised that you’ve been to Dalkey Anne. There are a lot of celebrities that live around there, and as far as I know, we saw absolutely none of them. But, we did have a really nice walk and saw lots of “lifestyles of the rich and famous” houses. Have a great holiday and all the best for a wonderful New Year. ~James

  7. You two certainly don’t let any grass grow under your feet! Thanks for all the many travel tips over the years. Sintra, Portugal is on our list for 2019. Merry Christmas and a new year filled with wonderful adventures!

    1. LuAnn, you guys will enjoy Sintra. We took the train from Lisbon and it was the perfect day trip. I’ve always thought that most castles and palaces were overpriced and overrated, but the National Palace in Sintra has lots of variety with original appointments, so it was very cool and worth the time. BTW, the village itself is compact and it’s a bus tour stop, so plan accordingly. Have a great trip, Happy Holiday and a fun New Year. ~James

    1. Alison, as most travelers, we visit big cities by default as transit hubs and by choice for national museums etc., but we find ourselves drawn to the smaller, less crowded and less obvious places. All the best to you both for a Happy Holiday and a Fun and Healthy New Year. ~James

  8. You guys have had quite the travel “agenda” in 2018. I loved the snippets of new-to-me places (except for Bruges, of course – glad you made it back there and still enjoyed it), Some quite a bit off the beaten track. I see that you managed to take a photo of a big “hoorn” in Hoorn as well. 🙂 Happy holidays to you both and may 2019 bring you many more adventures and meaningful trips and blogs!

    1. I’m glad you noticed the hoorn in Hoorn Liesbet. I had another idea for a caption on this photo, but it didn’t make editorial review. 🙂 We squeezed in a fair amount of travel this year, and that’s always a good thing. As for Bruges, it has gotten pretty wacky with tourists, but for the things we enjoy, it’s really has only gotten better over the years. We love the medieval architecture and as more and more of the buildings get renovated, it just improves. Also, with a bit of timing and wandering, it’s not too tough to escape ther tourists. All the best for a wonderful New Year. ~James

  9. What a wonderful full year of travel you have had (we have too actually, as we are realizing while we work on our year in retrospective post). Many of these places are obviously off the beaten track and I think that often that is where the hidden treasures are. Lovely post.

    Happy new year to you both.


    1. Peta, when we were putting together our year-end wrapup we had a similar experience as you. We hadn’t thought much about the amount we’d traveled, but when we reviewed it was quit a lot. And that’s always a good thing. We don’t start the year with a plan for travel. Normally, it just evolves as we go along, and luckily, we usually have the flexibility to be able to travel when we want – something we never take for granted. All the best for a happy and mobile New Year, and hopefuly the political troubles in Sri Lanka will settle down soon. ~James

    1. Thanks Curt. We never take our ability to travel for granted, and another year on the move is always a good thing. All the best to you and Peggy for a happy and healthy 2019. And Happy Blogging. ~James

  10. Some very “plummy” destinations here. I have only been to Bruges. It is great to see a list that is a little more unusual, places that are not often on the main tourist trail. Have a fantastic 2019 filled with great moments and health 🙂

    1. Gilda, we find ourselves drawn more and more to smaller, lesser-known places. Big, popular cities are good for national museums, but sometimes you can see the same sorts of things much more easily in small towns. Have a wonderful New Year and Happy Blogging. ~James

  11. Holy Moly that was some year! How wonderful to visit so many countries and to find so many ‘sugar plums’. The only one we have visited is Sintra which made me feel as though I was in the land of Dr Seuss. Looking forward to the stories of your adventures in the months ahead.

    1. Yes, it was a busy travel year Sue, and there was great variety to boot. We moved around more than normal on all our trips, but you know, if you travel lean n’ mean it’s easier to do that – that and a detailed plan for transport that gets us from place to place as conveniently as possible. ~James

    1. Thanks Jane. It was a good travel year, with no destination disappointments. For travelers, it doesn’t get much better than that. All the best to you for a happy, healthy, and fun 2019. ~James

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