In over fifteen years of traveling together, we have greeted the New Year in lots of different places. Some New Year’s Eves we’ve rung in the new year with a bang, and others we barely noticed as we tucked ourselves in on a sleeper train. Making your own plans for ringing in the New Year? Here are some of our favorite places to say good bye to the past year and hello to the new!
1) The Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, Egypt. This is one of the world’s top tourist draws. Thousands and thousands throng to this area every year. So how is it that there is no one to be seen in this picture? Easy – we were there on the morning of New Year’s Day! Celebrate the new by revisiting the distant past – without the hordes of tour groups!
It was amazing to stand, alone, inside the tombs and really be able to soak in the beauty of the paintings – 3500 years old and still bright and vibrant. With no one around, no one’s head to get in the way, no tour groups streaming by, it was easy to really appreciate the experience.
2) Overlooking the Lake Palace, Udaipur, India. There are lots of beautiful palaces in the world, but how many of them are sitting smack dab in the middle of a lake? No wonder they chose this as a filming location for the James Bond classic “Octopussy”! Of course, actually eating at the Lake Palace on New Year’s Eve will set you back quite a bit. Since our pockets weren’t deep enough for that, we chose to eat dinner at Ambrai Restaurant. They had a beautiful outdoor seating area set up where we were literally feet from the lake, with a stunning view of the Lake Palace. At midnight, the fireworks reflecting off the lake and lighting up the sky above the palace were the perfect place to ring in the New Year – without breaking the bank!
So, after dining in that magical setting, what do you do for an encore? Why, dine in a palace, of course! It turned out that simply waiting a day meant the price of eating dinner at the Lake Palace fell dramatically. Ok, it still set us back about 4 times the price of our hotel for the night, but hey – how often do you dine in a palace? (And yes, they even let us in dressed in our grubby travel clothes!) It’s not every night you get to take a boat out to a palace to eat dinner – what a great way to kick off the New Year!
3) Picard Beach, Dominica. Sometimes travel leads to strange experiences you never planned or even imagined. That is how we wound up crashing a wedding one New Year’s Eve. We were staying at a lovely hotel on Picard Beach, Dominica. We had a bungalow right on on the beach, which was long and sandy and quiet. There really isn’t much in the way of a town, or restaurants, and what there was had closed for the holiday. No problem, right? We figured we’d eat at the hotel restaurant. The only thing was, it was reserved. Reserved? Yes – for a wedding! The restaurant staff tried to accommodate us with a small table in an out of the way spot, but the bridal party soon found out what was going on and before we knew it the bride and groom had invited us to join them! We met lots of lovely people, toasted the happy couple and rang in the New Year in a way we’ll never forget!
The next morning we started off the New Year with a lovely stroll down gorgeous Picard Beach. The feel is decidedly low-key with very few tourists, even less development and miles of sandy beach to wander along. The spectacular, lush mountains make a perfect backdrop – you can see why they filmed some of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies here! What a fabulous way to start the New Year!