Friday, November 9, 2012

My 15 Favorite World Destinations

I just got finished re-reading Bucket List Publications’ blog on the Top 10 Most-visited Tourist Attractions in the world.  A fascinating read, and some really neat places, although, I was a bit dismayed that most of them are in the U.S. Not, mind you that I think the places on the list don’t deserve mention, but they’re there because of the number of people who go and see them.

I’ve been bumming around the world for more than 50 years; and during my sojourns have seen some of the most beautiful and exotic places on the planet.  So, reading this blog got me to thinking; what kind of list would I construct if I were asked to list my favorite places.

I started thinking back over the past half century.  The problem I immediately encountered was the difficulty in ranking the places I’ve seen.  My list of places that have made an indelible impression quickly surpassed ten, you see.  So, I decided to just list the places that have left the most lasting memories.  Some of them I have photos of; many black and white and color prints from the days before digital cameras, and more recently, thousands of digital photos.  After a lot of listing, crossing off, and listing again, I came up with 15 places that seemed to come up again and again, and I share them here.  You might not agree with my list, in fact, I would surmise that anyone making a list would come up with many differences, but these are the places I’ve visited, and wouldn’t hesitate to visit again.

The Taj Mahal:  This monument to love in Agra, India is an engineering marvel.  Gleaming white and majestic, it has stood the test of time.

Stonehenge:  The image of Stonehenge, a cairn of stones on a plain in England, has been with me since I first saw pictures of it in an encyclopedia in my step-aunt’s library.  I was only mildly disappointed when I visited at how small it actually is, but then, when I think about when it was built, the magic returns.

Angkor Wat:  It this complex of temples had been built in Europe, Angkor Wat would be one of the wonders of the world.  Built without nails or cement, these towering temples are a must-see for anyone traveling to Southeast Asia.

Great Zimbabwe:  Most Americans probably have never heard of Great Zimbabwe, a stone complex built by the Shona people of southern Africa in the 13th century.  Commanding a view of the surrounding valley, this structure debunks many popular myths about civilization in Africa.

Table Mountain:  Overlooking Capetown, South Africa, Table Mountain is just a fun place to go.  One of the few places in the world where you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean from the same spot.

Kalahari Desert:  For wildlife lovers, this is the place to go.  This desert, that in places doesn’t look like a desert, stretches from South Africa north through Botswana.  It is a haven for hundreds of species of African wildlife and thousands of its flora.

The Outer Banks: Where flight was born, North Carolina’s Outer Banks is the home of Kitty Hawk.  Windswept beaches and old lighthouses offer great opportunities for the avid shutterbug.

Victoria Falls:  One of the world’s largest waterfalls, this World Heritage Site on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia is a magnificent place to visit year round.

Great Wall:  A man-made structure that can be seen from the Moon, the Great Wall stands guard over China’s ancient history. 

Jerusalem:  Home to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the walled city of Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall, and the Temple on the Mount make going through security at Tel Aviv’s airport worth it.

The Grand Canyon:  I still get weak-kneed just thinking about standing on the rim of the canyon, peering into the depths that seemed a million miles away.

Niagara Falls:  Great to look at, but my favorite activity was riding the Boat of the Mists under the falls.

Copenhagen:  Not just a city, the home of the Brothers Grimm is a state of mind, and a great place to visit winter, summer, spring, or fall.

Monterrey Peninsula:  I lived on Monterrey Peninsula for a year back in the 1980s, and never got tired of walking on the beach, visiting Cannery Row, hiking on Jack’s Peak, or exploring the small farming towns in the area.

Oberammergau:  Fantastic views of the Alps, hiking through the towering pines of the forests, or just enjoying a German beer at one of the many outdoor bierstube, this is one of my favorite places in Germany to visit.

There you have it; fifteen places that I list as my top places to visit.  In no particular order, mind you. It all depends on my mood.