Deciding what has been our best in almost every category involved a lot of discussion with a few notable exceptions: one was “favorite places to stay” and another “cities for good food”. We knew exactly what those would be, no discussion required.
Our best place for cheap eats: Hoi An, Vietnam. We stayed in Hoi An for two weeks and ate very, very well. What a surprise! For the amazing low prices we paid, and the great food we dined on, we’ll always remember Hoi An as our favorite town for dining well – and best of all, on a budget.
Our best city for mid-priced dining: When we went to Paris, we had high expectations. Same for Rome, Tokyo, and San Francisco… But our best so far is Lima, Peru. We read that Lima had many great restaurants and couldn’t wait to try a few. We stayed in the Miraflores district and walked a short distance to a highly rated place for our first meal in a city famous for good food. It turned out to be one of the worst of the trip! But after that, we discovered one gem after another, and right in our neighborhood.
We read that Lima has 3 restaurants in the top 50 restaurants in the WORLD. Maido ranks #13. When we discovered this, we emailed a request to Maido for a table the next week, knowing that it usually takes many weeks, if not months, to get a reservation. A few days later we got a call saying that if we could come on Monday at 1pm, they had an opening. Yes! And how was it? Superb!
Our best places to stay: La Paloma Lodge in Costa Rica and 2 lodges in Tanzania
For us, best places to stay have to be in great places to visit. Ten years ago (too many years ago to have good digital photos), we visited La Paloma Lodge on Drake Bay in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Our 5-day stay was perfection and will always be the benchmark to judge all others. So far, nothing has come close.
The lodge could only be reached by small plane, which landed on a grass airstrip. Staff in a jeep met us for a brief rough ride through a stream before we reached the water’s edge. We boarded a small boat for the trip down the river to the La Paloma Lodge, perched on a hill over the Pacific Ocean. A true get away! Days were spent with guides at Corcovado National Park or snorkeling in the Pacific. The food was healthy and wonderful and the staff pampered all their guests. Our stay could not have been better.
We usually stay in budget or moderately priced lodgings so were astounded with some of the lovely, luxurious, and amazing places we stayed on our Tanzania trip, arranged by Mark Thornton Safaris in Tanzania. The lodges were set in the most scenic of places, where we felt transported to another place and time.
Another lodge where we stayed in Tanzania, Lemala Tented Lodge, was inside the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is 2,000’ deep with an area of 100 sq mi. It’s like a virtual zoo for animals with about 25,000 large animals living there.
Let us know what your own “best of the best” are so it’s our turn to get inspired!
To be continued…with best destinations for food and places to stay. Our previous post covered…. best wildlife, beaches, and snorkeling.