Have you ever read a quote that stopped you in your tracks and had a big impact on your life? Many years ago I read a quote recited by Mark Twain that made me reflect. This quote had a profound effect on me. I felt it in my bones, in my heart, in my soul.
This quote would revisit me from time to time, infiltrate my thoughts and inspire me to set some goals. I’ve always had a sense of adventure and a deep desire to travel so I started jotting down places I so desperately wanted to see and experience. I didn’t want to feel regret or remorse for not following my passion or heart’s desires before I die. Some places I can check off, other’s are still on my travel list and waiting for my discovery. Maybe they’re places you’d love to see to. Here are a few of my favorites.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is a very popular holiday destination that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Its balmy and beautiful turquoise coastline travels tranquilly in the southern Italian Province of Salerno for approximately 50 kilometers. It’s graced with breathtaking landscape, sunny beaches, charming and colorful villages and clifftop villas, vineyards, and groves. Take in Naples and visit nearby Mount Vesuvius, or visit Pompei, a Roman town frozen in time.
Pomorie is a cozy seaside town of 14,000 that’s nestled in the southern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It’s located some 400 km away from Sofia and 22 km away from Burgas, allowing you to take in many excursions. With 18 kilometers of coastline, it has become a popular summer destination for locals and tourists worldwide. The region has been famous for the healing powers of its mineral water and medicinal qualities of the mud. Its five sunny beaches – including a nudist beach, have crystal clear water that beckons you to descend slowly and feel its healing sand. Great for a clandestine getaway.
Matterhorn, Zermatt, Switzerland
The Matterhorn is one of Switzerland’s most famous landmarks and tourist attractions. It stands alone up in the clouds and along the horizon as an imposing pyramid mountain, a breathtaking vantage point and a true emblem of the country. Located about a 45-minute train ride from the mountain resort Zermatt, it’s a sight worth seeing. Regardless of your mode of transportation to Zermatt, you will need to leave your car in Täsch and continue by train for another 12 minutes. Zermatt is a car-free zone and they have electric buses to transport guests where needed. Ascend hight into the Swiss Alps and experience the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise via cablecar and soak in the panoramic views. Check out the viewing deck which allows you to see across 38 alpine peaks. Zermatt is loaded with shops, boutiques, hotels, restaurants and an abundance of fresh air.
Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
The Vatican City located just 7 kilometers from Rome, is home to the world-renowned Sistine Chapel. The highlight for most visitors is viewing its ceiling which was lovingly painted by Italian sculptor, architect, poet and painter Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. It’s deemed a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art. Michelangelo was also one of the architects who helped build St. Peter’s Basilica. As a last hurrah, he painted himself in his last painting, The Crucifixion of Saint Peter – see if you can spot him in one of the after hour private tours.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is an abandoned Inca city situated high in the Andes Mountains above the Sacred Valley in Peru. Known as the Lost City of the Inca’s, it’s here that they once called this 15th-century citadel home. Tourism has made a negative impact on the area, so you’ll need to check out the restricted Peruvian government rules before setting off. There are several ways to reach this historic site, the most popular is the 43 km Inca Trail, but you will need to book ahead of time. You can also take a train ride, or if you’re adventurous take the Inca Jungle Trek.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
I’ve had the ultimate pleasure of going inside this magical castle. Neuschwanstein Castle is a stunning 19th-century cliffside castle that was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria — also known as the Fairytale King. Surrounded by the Bavarian Alps, it’s perched regally on a rugged hill above the small but very quaint village of Schwangau near the town of Füssen. Neuschwanstein — (New Swan Castle) was built in honor of King Ludwig’s admiration for composer Richard Wagner. Many of the rooms were inspired by some of Wagner’s characters including the name of the castle itself. You can book tours of the castle or stand in line like we did. We also went inside its sister castle Hohenschwangau, both are well worth seeing. There are also 20 very beautiful hiking trails in the region – we explored several of them and met lots of people from all over the world. It was awesome.
Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como is located in Italy’s Lombardi region and is boasted as one of the most picturesque and seductively beautiful lakes in Europe. It’s jewel tones, warm temperatures along with a backdrop of elegant 19th-century villas and snow-capped mountains, make this lake an ideal location to unwind, relax and enjoy the hazy lazy ambience. Bellagio offers old world charm with convenient and modern facilities. Wind your way through harbor front shops and charming neighborhoods. Or hop on a ferry and do some village hopping and visit Varenna. Its romantic promenade, enchanting harbor, and characteristic quaint narrow lanes will feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Giverny is home to France’s most celebrated garden. It was here that impressionist painter Monet spent his last 40 years painting the famous Water Lily Pond series in 1899. He diverted a stream, created an enchanting pond, lavished it with water lilies, built a footbridge and called it home. Visitors can tour through Monet’s home, grounds and garden for a fee.
Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Navagio Beach or Shipwreck Beach is hidden in a secret cove – often referred to as Smuggler’s cove – on the resort island of Zakynthos, Greece in the Ionian Sea. A pirates map will take you to this secluded sandy little strip where the crumbling remains of MV Panagiotis, a smuggler’s shipwreck lies. Pristine beach, clear water, warm sand, and seclusion make this hideaway a must experience. Stroll around Zakynthos cobbled streets and harbor and enjoy breathtaking views. Visiting the Blue Caves and taking a glass bottom boat tour will make this trip memorable.
Just 30 minutes from Lisbon is the Moorish town of Sintra. Built into the mountains, this picturesque Portugues town is embraced by the pine-covered hills of the Serra de Sintra. With historic buildings, spectacular scenery, decorative gardens and balmy beaches, Sintra has established itself as a popular tourist destination.
Travel changes you. You meet, explore and experience people, places, events and more that are outside your realm of normal. I think we become more human, more compassionate and more open-minded. Happy travels.