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A Look Back at Grueninger's 2020 Travels

Advisor Spotlight

December 15, 2020

2020 was full of memorable trips for our travel advisors. We reminisce on our favorite destinations of the year, from Michigan to Mexico and several beaches and cities in between. Though 2020 wasn't what we expected, we're thankful for a year of travel both near and far. The one thing in common for our 2021 plans? We're all ready to get out of the country!


In February 2020, I was fortunate to cruise on the beautiful Norwegian Cruise Lines Encore in the Caribbean. It had been a while since I last visited the port of San Juan. I meandered the beautiful cobblestone streets making my way to El Morro, San Felipe Castle while enjoying the vibrant colors, architecture, music, people and some local food.

In 2021, I’m booked on a river cruise with UNIWORLD Cruises aboard the S.S. Beatrice from Budapest to Bucharest. The trip has been re-booked 3 times due to Covid. I’m tenacious if nothing else! Looking forward to visiting some of the quaint coastal towns of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and the east coast of Croatia. The cruise starts in Budapest which is a lovely city I’ve visited before and look forward to exploring again with my husband. At the end of the cruise, I’m planning a 3-day extension.  Originally, I planned to visit Bruges, Belgium to see tulips in the spring, but now I’m thinking Barcelona or Athens.    

Debbie and her son exploring the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico


I traveled to Puerto Vallarta in February of this year. I had always wanted to visit the Pacific side of Mexico because of the mountains behind ocean views. It WOWED me! The beaches, food, laid back atmosphere and Riu Palace Pacifico resort, all were awesome. I would go back in a heartbeat.

For my next trip, I would love to visit Ireland again. This time, the Northern part of the island to see how it differs from the southern. The food, dance, music and history, like going back in time. I learned so much.  

Also on my bucket list is a Greek Island cruise.  The stunning island pictures are so beautiful and enticing.  

Barb living large in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


My husband and I had planned a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, to visit friends this year, but when the pandemic hit we decided to just stay home.  Luckily, we had a pool to enjoy with our close friends, so that's what we did!  We are planning to use our unused air tickets to make that trip to Scottsdale this spring.

But our big trip for 2021 is our third trip to Cabo San Lucas this coming January!  We love the vibe of Cabo--the weather, the people, the atmosphere of the town, the marina (and my husband loves the fishing)!  We took our family in 2019 and are planning a trip all our own this time during my husband's birthday!  It will be here before we know it, and we are so excited to see the ocean again!

Christie and her husband fishing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where they'll be visiting for the third time in January.


2020 was a year of several new destinations for me – from Puerto Rico to Sonoma, Lake Tahoe, and Scottsdale. But my favorite place I visited this year was the one I had almost no expectation of: Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

In February of this year, I cruised on NCL’s Encore and Tortola was one of the ports. My husband and I rented a jeep (driving on the wrong side of the road was only a little bit terrifying – and I was the passenger!) and had a perfect day on the island. We started by driving down dirt roads to hang out at a hidden beach, then drove up the mountains to go hiking, and finished the day at the Mountain View Restaurant where the owner cooked us a meal and told us stories of his mountain bike racing adventures on the island. Tortola was so beautiful, and the friendly locals made it really special.

France is the darling of my 2021 travel plans. At this point I’m ready to board the first flight to Europe that they’ll let me on, but for now the plan is to wait until summer and then consume my weight in croissants, cheese and wine.

Julia looking over Tortola's beaches after white knuckling the car ride up the mountain side



By the end of August, I couldn't stand it (not having a real vacation-as in getting out of town for more than 2 nights) and easily wrangled my sister into going with me somewhere somewhat midpoint between where she lives and I live, and finding a place that we could do things together that we each thoroughly enjoy. I suggested New Buffalo, Michigan and she was all in :)

New Buffalo is on the western side of Michigan and Lake Michigan's eastern shore laps onto the public beach in New Buffalo. We traveled mid-September and checked in on a Sunday. A perfect combo for fewer tourists and more locals.

Our vacation was pretty simple-she and I had planned to walk the beach every morning with a "cuppa Joe" in her hand and some tea kind of drink in mine. Then we would do something "fun" in the early afternoon and dinner out in the evening.

We both love wine-I lean heavily towards the white and sweet, she loves red semi-sweet to semi dry. We pulled out the Michigan wine trail map www.swmichigan.org/map and spent a day or two stopping, sipping, stopping and sipping. Our most favorite stop was at Dablon Vineyards & Winery outside of Bridgman, Michigan. Very European in almost every way. From the winding drive off a low traffic county road up to the newly built buildings. And then the wine. As a white and sweet wine gal I didn't find anything exciting but my sister just about bought the place out. The reds are Dablon's forte!

After another day of grabbing a "cuppa Joe" on the way to our beach walk, we made plans to drive to Three Oaks and do the tour of Journeyman Distillery. My first ever spirits tour (drinking, not deceased) and I was wowed! The tour of the distillery was interesting but my most favorite part was the very generous amount of tastings afterwards accompanied by the engaging stories of how the Featherbone Factory came about in Three Oaks and is now the home of Staymaker Restaurant, Journeyman Distillery, and the Acorn Theatre. Once the blood alcohol level dropped in our systems we drove back into New Buffalo and stopped at the "what made New Buffalo famous" Redamack's restaurant for a Redamack burger of course.

As with all vacations and time spent with my sister, it seemed like we had barely started and it was time to say good bye to each other. We decided that we had such a good time together that we are going to have an annual vacation together from here on out.

Future hopeful plans is a 7 day cruise to the Greek Island with my daughter in May, including a few days before the cruise so I can visit the Acropolis museum.

Mona and her sister enjoying Michigan's wine country

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