There’s nothing like holiday present to remind us of holidays past. With five minutes left to 2009, we tip our hats to the best things we saw, did, and ate this year. May they inspire your holidays future.

Dam, That Was Tasty
Syria was unforgettable, especially Damascus — colorful and chaotic, charming and controversial. And was it ever delicious. Middle Eastern specialties are sublime at Naranj (at the Roman Arch on Straight Street), down the block from our hotel, Talisman Al Ameen. And the pistachio-covered semolina ice cream is hand-pulled (and compulsive) at Bekdach in the Hamidiya Souk. The best way to visit may be on a culinary tour with Anissa Helou, the Lebanese-Syrian food writer and chef who gave us great tips. Her 2010 trips are scheduled for May and sometime in the fall.

the lodge!Sleep like a King
Yeah, it costs more than Angelina makes per movie to stay there, but in a perfect world where fairy godmothers makes dreams come true, who wouldn’t move into the The Prince’s Lodge at The Connaught in London? The furniture was hand-carved in Kabul, the photos are from the 1800s, and the four-poster bed is mighty inspiring.

route 12!Views from the Road
Which is not to underestimate the simple joy of a moving car, a hot playlist, and breathtaking awesomeness outside the window. Our top U.S. road trips took us through Scenic Byway 12, crossing southern Utah’s incredible mountains and state parks, and Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park in Texas.

floating city!Sailing the Southeast Seas
We escaped scorching Hanoi, Vietnam, with an overnight trip to Halong Bay, to explore massive stalagmite caves, sleep on a junk, and swim in the gulf. (We arranged the tour through Kangaroo Cafe on the same day.) And Venice has nothing on the floating city outside Siem Reap, Cambodia — the homes, markets, and even schools are all on stilts. We saw it in a half-day tour.

Get help booking your next trip from DailyCandy’s Travel Desk at blacktomato.co.uk.

Photos: Courtesy of Talisman Hotel; Courtesy of The Connaught