Your verdict of 2019 – the 15 best travel, food and romance stories of the year

From the cruisy coastlines of Cuba to the glamour of the shorelines of Lake Como; from within the walls of ancient cities to distant tropical archipelagos far into the East China Sea; and the most delicious rocky road recipe you’ll ever find. These are our top stories from 2019.

Top posts best stories 2019

And here we are; at the end of another year, the end of another decade. 2019 has been a crazy year for us.

From having very little travel in the first few months, then ending the year barely at home, our suitcases have seen serious action since about April.

Five continents, eight countries, 20 flights and more than 100,000km* over land, air and sea – we’re looking forward to seeing if we can better that in 2020!

*To put that distance in perspective, to fly from the North Pole to the South Pole is about 20,000km.

It’s no wonder that all of the top 15 stories from this year are travel-inspired tales… apart from our most popular one!

We hope you enjoy this compilation. See you next year.

Jim & Christina xx

The best travel, food and romance stories of 2019

1. Sweet eats – the best rocky road recipe

In a way, we’re not really too surprised that this has been the most popular story on Mr & Mrs this year. It’s delicious! But considering we don’t publish that many recipe stories compared to other lifestyle and travel tales, it’s quite funny that this is the one you liked the most.

Rocky Road recipe

Even funnier is the fact that I don’t really like rocky road (Christina has never been able to understand this). Until now. This recipe changed all of that. And here’s how we came by this masterpiece of sweetness.

We’re incredibly lucky in that we have the best neighbours on earth.

It’s a well-known fact that Jack and Denese are the world’s loveliest people, but when we came home to find a brick of this rocky road joy on our doorstep, they were elevated to a whole new level.

Denese even shared her recipe with us (in exchange for our recipe for macadamia shortbread cookies) and that’s how we got to this point. Enjoy!

2. Our ultimate travel guide to Lake Como

Our all-time most popular post is about how to get to Lake Como from Milan by train. It’s a wonderful journey – and surprisingly easy when you know how.

Ultimate Guide to Lake Como, Italy - Church and town of Bellagio, Lake Como from the water

But because we had so many readers asking questions about Lake Como (including a few about the best place for a marriage proposal), and since we recently visited the lake, we thought we’d put this guide together.

It answers all of your most popular questions in depth and is really handy if you’re planning a trip to beautiful Lake Como. Which you should be!

3. 10 towns not to miss in Puglia, Italy

We used to think that Tuscany was the best place in Italy. But then we visited Puglia in Italy’s southeast.

Top 10 towns of Puglia, Italy - feature

Our trip to the heal of Italy was only supposed to be a couple of days long. We ended up changing our plans completely and spent 10 days driving through the region exploring as much as we could.

This post – and its popularity – shows why you really need to get to Puglia asap and which towns to visit. We’ve also put together a short video showing you what you’re missing out on:

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

4. Is a private boat tour on Lake Como really worth it?

Lake Como is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, so it’s no surprise that another of our top five most popular stories focuses on the lake.

Lake Como private boat tour

Hiring a private boat – even for an hour – on Lake Como is perhaps the very best way to see this extraordinary place… though next time we’re there, we’ll be taking a ride on the seaplane that does tours over the lake.

In this story though, we answer all your questions about taking a private boat ride on Lake Como, including tips on which companies to go with and where to go.

5. Where to eat in the South Coast, NSW

Although we love travelling overseas to explore new countries, when Christina and I get the chance to journey through our own back yard, we’re never happier.

Where to eat on the South Coast NSW

The South Coast of New South Wales – just a couple of hours south of Sydney – is packed with destinations people not from this state only dream of having on their doorstep. It’s incredible.

As for the food, well, as many of you have already read, there are some awesome venues offering a bite to eat in this region.

6. How to honeymoon in Cuba – the perfect adventure romance itinerary

Our first trip to Cuba was nothing short of amazing. But that was in 2014 just before Obama visited and changed travel and trade restrictions. Seeing how things had changed (and how some things hadn’t) in just 5 years was very interesting.

We were also focused more on how people might have a honeymoon here this time rather than just travelling here.

Honeymoon itinerary Cuba - Havana

With the help of our friend Johnny from Cuban Adventures we put together a honeymoon itinerary that encompasses everything from adventure, luxury, cities, countryside, history, culture, food and – of course – cigars!

7. Where to eat in Bruges – a local guide

Last year we found our way to Brussels in Belgium. This year, we took our friends Clare and Dave back to this lovely country – but this time to the ancient city of Bruges.

Where to eat in Bruges, Belgium -

While we were there, we discovered so many excellent places to eat, we felt duty-bound to share them with you.

We were helped on our food safari by a local from Bruges and the owner of the B&B we stayed in. His directions and knowledge put us through the doors of some of the best places in town to eat.

8. 12 Belgian beer bars in Bruges

I suppose it makes sense that this story is almost as popular as the one about finding food in Bruges… though I think our priorities when we were there were somewhat the other way round. Eating – as they say – is cheating!

But this list of beer bars around Bruges highlight the best places to find real Belgian beer – a product that is now on the UNESCO heritage list, protected as a cultural icon.

Where to drink in Bruges - Belgian beers

Beer in Belgium is different to beer anywhere else we’ve been. For a start it’s much stronger than other beer. Locals won’t even blink at a 9% ale and anything lower than 5% they don’t even consider beer. It’s also much more flavoursome than almost any other beers I’ve tasted.

9. 7 Romantic city stays for a special Sydney getaway

Travel overseas, interstate and even within New South Wales is what we live for. However, when we get the chance of a staycation, Christina and I jump at it.

Romantic Sydney hotels - x Mr & Mrs Romance

There’s nothing like playing tourist in your own city – especially when that city is Sydney. And making it a romantic trip is even better.

We’ve put together seven hotels that offer maximum romance for locals and visitors alike in this wonderful harbour city.

10. Where to eat in Maitland – 7 top spots

We didn’t know what to expect when we travelled the three hours north from Sydney to Maitland. Sandwiched between Newcastle and the Hunter Valley’s wine regions, half an hour out from both, Maitland often gets overlooked.

It turns out that we’ve been missing out on something very special.

Where to eat in Maitland

For a start, the food on offer here is of such outstanding quality, you’d be pushed to find its equal in most big cities.

Maitland or Melbourne? The restaurant that connects the dots

One particular stand-out restaurant also made it into our top 20 most popular stories.

The Rigby in Maitland serves up such sophisticated dishes and has the kind of feel to it seeing this place in the cool suburbs of Melbourne wouldn’t be out of place at all.

Where to eat in Maitland, NSW - The Rigby

Country uncovered – Morpeth, NSW

Also in our top 20 was our exposé on Morpeth, a little town just outside Maitland.

Once a hub for the colony and one of the most important locations in the country, you could get a steamer from Morpeth direct back to London!

Morpeth, NSW

Statistically, it’s unusual to find stories published in the fourth quarter of the year in the top ten most popular articles of the year.

They haven’t had the chance to gather the momentum of older stories. But all of these pieces about the Maitland area went live in October and November.

11. 10 things you should know about the Amalfi Coast before you go

Everyone’s heard of the Amalfi Coast and the well-founded fables of its beauty, but there are practical elements of this gorgeous coastline of southern Italy that people often overlook.

Positano Amalfi Coast

We visited the Amalfi Coast last year and from our experiences we thought it would be helpful to put together some tips for future travellers. Don’t worry, it’s not all bad, and if you’ve booked a holiday here, we’re very jealous.

Here’s a video of our time in this stunning part of Italy that goes with our article.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast to see the real Amalfi

Another story you might like – just out of the top 20 most popular stories of 2019 – is on where to stay in the Amalfi Coast.

There are lots of little towns burrowed into the cliffs surrounding this striking destination. Some are better than others… and some are just more famous than others.

The real Amalfi Coast travel tips

12. How to get to Okinawa and why it’s worth the effort

Far from the most southern tip of ‘mainland’ Japan, in fact closer the Taiwan than its motherland, the prefecture of Okinawa is unique.

Tokyo to Okinawa travel tips

A cross between the wonderful culture the Japanese are known for, a sense of tropical paradise you usually save for Hawaii or the Caribbean, and a history and heritage so peculiar to Okinawa and the Ryukyu – this is a very special place.

It’s also a tad hard to get to; you have to really mean it.

From Australia – and in fact from almost all other countries, it’s a change of plane and probably a change of airport. But my goodness is it worth it.

13. How to travel around Puglia, Italy – trains, planes and automobiles

Taking up all of the stiletto of the boot of Italy, the region of Puglia has had the travel spotlight move over its lands in recent years. We’re not surprised it’s become so popular – in fact we’re more surprised it’s taken this long.

How to travel around Puglia

This beautiful part of the country is still relatively untouched by tourism – many Italians haven’t even been here. Because of that, information on travelling around Puglia is limited.

Thankfully it’s not too hard to get around Puglia, but there are a few tricks to it. That’s where this story comes in – and why it’s the 13th most popular article for us in 2019.

There’s a little poetry to a story about Italy being number 13: against common superstition, the Italians don’t think 13 is unlucky. Rather they count it as a lucky number.

14. Where to stay on the South Coast of NSW – Bannisters by the Sea hotel review

Along the rugged shores of Australia’s South Coast – about 3 hours south of Sydney – the little town of Mollymook is home to an extraordinary hotel retreat.

Bannisters by the Sea Mollymook review

Perhaps the first of its kind Bannisters by the Sea transformed itself from an old ‘50s style motel perched on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific into a cool, luxe retreat that many have since copied.

Think the Ace Motel in Palm Springs or closer to home Halcyon House in northern NSW.

Bannisters is now the refuge of discerning travellers exploring the South Coast looking for luxury and spectacular views.

Here’s a video walkthrough of the hotel:

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

What’s so good about Rick Stein at Bannisters?

Helping put Bannisters on the map, famed chef Rick Stein chose this venue as the first venture outside the UK to put his name to. During our stay at Bannisters, we were lucky enough to Dine here.

We answer the question – what’s so good about this place?

Rick Stein at Bannisters Mollymook, NSW

15. 7 Honeymoon destinations you haven’t thought of

Any of us who’ve had to do it knows how hard it is to choose a honeymoon destination. There are so many options. And the pressure to find somewhere that’ll meet expectations is sometimes out of proportion to what’s really possible.

However, sometimes a destination hotel or experience can deliver all of that and more.

We’ve spoken to a few experts in the hospitality and tourism industry who have come up with several options that would not only fit an incredible honeymoon, but any trip of a lifetime.

Honeymoon destinations you haven't thought of - Mr & Mrs Romance

We hope you’ve enjoyed working your way through our greatest hits of 2019. We’ve certainly had fun bringing them to you!

Here’s to another year of amazing experiences, fascinating destinations, beautiful images, entertaining and informative stories, and of course, more delicious recipes.

Here’s to 2020. Cheers!

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