(CNN) — Come on, 2022, give us your best shot. We're bruised and we're battered, but we're looking to brighter days ahead.
Here are the biggest stories from CNN Travel this week.
22 places to go in 2022
These past few years have proved that travel is a privilege, not a right, but we have so much still to be grateful for on our well-connected little planet. We've put together a wish list of 22 dream destinations around the world that inspire us -- everything from national parks to remote islands and other less-visited spots. There's Ollantaytambo in Peru's Sacred Valley, believed to be a refuge for Inca royalty, and the energetic vibes of booming Naples, the Italian birthplace of pizza. Or if you want to get knee-deep in nature, you could try the Congo Basin and Gabon's national parks -- all turning 20 this year -- or Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert National Park in the Australian Outback.
When the Covid Grinch wasn't busy condemning us to eating turkey alone in our bedrooms, it was ripping through airline crews and contributing to thousands of holiday flights being canceled around the world, particularly in the United States. Festive cheer was especially lacking on one Delta flight to Atlanta on December 23 when a woman allegedly punched another passenger, resulting in a federal assault charge.
Big Ben bongs again
New Year's celebrations in London and New York were canceled or scaled back, but at least the cities' iconic attractions got to put on their party sparkle. In the UK capital, where public festivities were called off, Big Ben slipped off its scaffolding and bonged again after a much-needed, four-year repair project. In Manhattan, the Times Square New Year's Eve ball got a fresh covering of Irish Waterford crystals for the city's scaled-back celebration. In good news for Americans at home and abroad, the US National Park Service is waiving entrance fees for five days in 2022 at all national park sites, and the US State Department is now letting some citizens return to the country with expired passports.
The Times Sqare ball measures 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds.
Europe's travel situation hasn't improved
Three new destinations were added to the CDC's highest-risk category for travel: a Mediterranean archipelago, an Eastern European country renowned for its vineyards, plus the largest country in northern Europe. The operators of Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the fixed railway link between Britain and mainland Europe, on December 29 warned British citizens who live in the EU that they can no longer transit through France by road to reach their continental homes.
Livin' La Dolce Vita
Renderings of the new Orient Express La Dolce Vita have been revealed and, as you'd expect from the world's most glamorous train company, they are exquisite.
The Orient Express last rode through Italy in 1977, when the Paris-Istanbul service ended, but from 2023, a deluxe set of new 11-carriage trains will glide through 14 of the country's regions and 131 of its cities, as well as to countries beyond.
The trip that inspired Lonely Planet
It was the 1970s and Tony and Maureen Wheeler had a dream: to travel from London to Sydney by land, or at least as much as they could. They embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime journey that changed global traveling forever.
It was the 1970s, and Tony and Maureen Wheeler had a dream: Travel from London to Sydney by land, or at least as much as they could. They embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime journey that changed global traveling forever.
In case you missed it
A Russian and an American went on a first date on Christmas Day.
Babe, are you OK? You've barely touched your marzipan pigs.
The island where cats outnumber humans six to one.