As an avid traveler, I am always after the real “gems” of the world. Most often, I try to discover places few who came before me have. I’m searching for the real memorable, the spiritual, the heavy impact landmarks. I avoid sticking to the mainstream, overhyped, crowded travel destinations. But sometimes, these places actually live up to their reputations, leaving me absolutely wowed. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy My first reaction was that it was much smaller than I had expected. The thing I adored about The Tower of Pisa was its setting. It is open, not fenced, behind walls or hidden behind modern turnstiles, like the Taj Mahal. Despite the number of tourists that see it each year, I recommend you pack a lunch, spread your blanket and have a picnic lunch on the open grass field at the foot of The Tower. I felt so welcomed there like a local enjoying a favourite hangout. There is a fee to go inside and it’s worth it. As soon as you step inside your whole world tilts!
Golden Temple in Amritsar, India Happiness. Equality. Humbleness. Generosity. All of these qualities washed over me as I entered The Golden Temple. A truly relaxing, peaceful and as close to pure love, possibly the closest to emotional heaven I’ve ever experienced. All humankind is welcomed and made valued here by the Sikhs. It is their Mecca.
The Palais Garnier, Paris Opera House, France Another “must see to believe” building. Standing in the middle of this nearly 150-year-old, gaudy, deeply fabulous architecture I rotated around and I was overwhelmed by the French ability to amaze me and the world. Walk, train, bus or drive…get there!
Petra, Jordan Dated to as early as 312 BC the archaeological, magical city of Petra, in the south of Jordan is in my top 20 world treasure. Time races backwards, to nearly 2,500 years ago when thousands of man designed and crafted this carved city into the pink stone with no assistance from modern technology. Despite the fame surrounding this unique edifice, it was easy to escape the bustling crowds, as Petra is a whopping 60 square miles (264 square kilometres). The vastness and the never-ending barren, shades of pink landscape of desert beauty will stun you and leave you feeling tiny and honored.
Machu Picchu, Peru An absolute wow to the millionth power, I guess you can tell that all you’ve heard about Machu Picchu is true. You can allow yourself to get lost in the ancient Incan ruins, trek into the mountains like the Incas did on a daily basis, any way you traverse it, Peru’s lost city with its 7972,41ft (2,430 m) altitude will literally leave you breathless.
Great Wall of China, China At 14 years old, I started my world tour climbing the massive, crumbling brick steps of The Great Wall of China. It will be life altering for you walking 10km along the ancient brick roadway, painstakingly built 2,000 years ago by millions of Chinese men, more than a million losing their lives. At the end of the day I leapt off the ancient landmark by zipline creating my own one-of-a-kind experience that I’ll never forget. It snakes over the mountains into the distance, disappearing while it doesn’t disappoint.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia The mist sprayed over me leaving droplets on my eyelashes. In front of me, a rainbow emerged out of the frothy falls. I felt the thundering colossus descending to the rocks below. On your way through Zambia or Zimbabwe, this is a priceless “don’t miss”.
Moai Statues on Easter Island, Chile Although it is a long and expensive journey to reach Easter Island, off the coast of Chile, once there, you’ll know you’ve left modern civilization way behind. Rented motorcycles provide the perfect exploration vehicle to discover the Moai Statues, map in hand. These mysterious 500-700 year old carvings are spread over 63 sq miles (163.6 km²) and you’ll feel like the original explores that found them in 1877 as you rediscover them around every bend. No fences, no guards, no entry fees, no signage….It is a world-class piece of historic paradise, unspoiled.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal What can I say about the “on top of the world” Everest Base Camp? You’ve seen the pictures, watched the documentaries, it is emotionally difficult for me to accurately describe the attainment, of Base Camp and further up Kala Patthar It’s likely the closest I will ever come to touching heaven. This landmark is so significant that inhaling at 18,505 ft (5,640m) brought me to tears. I’m searching for a word that encompasses stunningly, unbelievably beautiful. It doesn’t exist.
Chateau de Versailles, France I visited Versailles in the off-season at it was delightful. No massive crowds and no one in front of me while I soaked up the mass scale and walls dripping with wealth. There really are no words to describe this landmark. You have to see this with your own eyes. It will take all day at minimum, so wear comfortable shoes. Read up on the history prior to going. You’ll have an understanding that enhances the entire visit.
Vatican St Peter’s Basilica, Italy Entering the St. Peter’s Basilica you will see the light streaking through the rooftop panes and it takes your breath away. More powerful than any pictures is the spirituality in this special cathedral. It’s another place where boning up on your history prior to going will reward you with a deeper, more powerful experience as you tour the cathedral, stroll through the gardens and soak up the history that is there for the taking.
JOIN US today on “The Road Less Travelled” Twitter for a conversation about Landmarks at 1pmNYC/6pmUK. Share your best Landmark photos, stories and experiences. Search the hashtag #TRLT to find us and don’t forget to include the hashtag in your tweets to participate with your fellow travellers! We’ll take turns inspiring each other. You can find me each and every week hosting alongside my fellow travellers Shane Dallas (public speaker, visited 100+ countries), Jessica Lipowski (accomplished author and “foodie”) and Anton Magnin (specialist in family travel). Happy Travels Savannah Grace
Categories: Savannah Grace