If anyone ever asks me “What is your favourite destination?” I try not to groan. Not because I don’t like being asked questions, (ask away!) simply because I really don’t have a favourite destination. It is such a hard question to answer. All the countries I have been to, have been unique and wonderful in their own way. Up until recently I didn’t even have a least favourite. See my disconnect with Japan and why it became my least favourite country. My Top 10 list always gets shuffled around and changes on a weekly basis. This was so hard to write because there are so many destinations I would recommend putting on your bucket list.
I finally, after procrastinating the hell out of it, narrowed it down to the 6 countries that I left a little piece of my heart in. This is a list based on where I have been so far. 2016 is a big year for me and I will be travelling to many new countries and places, so I may just have to rewrite this at the end of the year!
Lazying on the beach with a fresh coconut in hand, basking in the sunshine and enjoying the deliciously warm weather, ah yes please! Bali is a small island of Indonesia, located in the Indian Ocean. Bali is the go to for us Aussies and our vacations. From anywhere in Australia it is easy and cheap to get to. It may be a little more pricier from other departing cities around the world, but well worth it once you get there. Be warned though, don’t get trapped in Kuta. Kuta is loud noisy and you will get hassled to buy everything from local shop owners. Head away from this area straight away. If you still want to be close to the action but far enough away to relax head to Sanur, Nusa Dua or the smaller islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. If you want to take in the beautiful rice paddies and lush green rolling hills, head inland to Ubud. By all means though, if you want to party until the sun comes up and lose a little bit of your soul head to Kuta.
The shopping, the culture, great surfing, the beaches, the food, the people and did I mention the shopping!? Are some of the highlights this little island has to offer. Tropical beaches lined with coconut trees for miles, cliffs high above the ocean and rolling hills of rice paddy fields, and beautiful old temples, make this a scenery delight, so don’t forget the camera! Bali is one of the cheapest destinations I have been to and it is extremely easy to live like a king on a small budget. How good does that sound! There’s never a shortage of tours, day activities, art galleries and traditional dancing to watch. Make sure you leave a day or two to relax on the beach with a cocktail, its good for the soul. The laid back nature of this beautiful small island is a must add to your bucket list.
Everyone has seen Braveheart, right? Or any Scottish medieval based movie for that matter. The history of Scotland and these medieval times live on throughout the country. Tall castles make you feel like you are in a Fairytale. The rich history and rolling hills in the Scottish Highlands will take you back long ago when clans still roamed the land. Taking a ferry across Loch Ness will make you believe in Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. The traditional pubs are must for a pint….. or 3, or 4. Once you start chatting to the locals be prepared to stay in that pub for the night.
There are so many options for you in Scotland when you get there, it’s hard to decide what to do. Make a plan or a rough itinerary before you go of the many beautiful sites you would like to see. This classic country boasts six UNESCO World Heritage sites – Edinburgh’s Old and New Town, Orkney’s Prehistoric Sites, Hadrian’s Wall, St. Kilda, New Lanark and new on the list, the Forth Bridge. You are gaurenteed to fall in love with the cobblestone streets, tartan abundant, tea, whiskey and beer drinking, rich cultured country. Scots are proud to be Scots and they aren’t afraid to tell you!
Oh Spain, you sexy beast! This is most certainly one of the most cultural countries I have been to. The way the spaniards delve into an historic event, like the annual La Tomatina and Running with the Bulls, is spectacular to watch. And boy can they party! Long lush beaches is something you can expect on the coast of Spain. If its the Spanish mountains you want to see it doesn’t take a lot of traveling to get there. You shouldn’t just go for the amazing tapas or dangerously good sangria, there’s so much to see and do. With visiting Salvador Dali’s house, taking in the architecture of some of the oldest cathedrals in the world and joining in for a siesta or two is only the start of why it is well worth the visit to sexy Spain.
When you see the sun rising over one of the most gorgeous temples in the world, Angor Wat in Siem Reap, you might start beieving that this country truly is the land of ancient gods. Angor Wat isn’t the only temple you should see when in Siem Reap. Make sure you get to Bayon and Banteay Srei among the many others. There are markets upon markets filled with tradtional food you have to try. Phnom Penh, the countries capital, is a busy bustling city lining the Mekong Kong River. Taking a cruise up the Mekong River is a cultural eye opener. You will see the contrast of this rich/poor country. From the grand houses overlooking the Mekong to the small floating villages of tiny house boats.
The history in Cambodia is a sad and brutal one. Millions of people died of starvation, disease and torture throughout the years under different rulings and governments. Learning the history here, and you should, when visiting The Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is really painful and not for the faint of heart. You will see in the first few hours you are there that Cambodia gives homage to these innocent civilians that lost their lives with peaceful monuments standing in parks and areas around Cambodia.
Romantic Venice, colourful Cinque Terre, Gladiator Rome, cobblestoned Florence, the mouth watering food and ladies the Italian men! Yum! And they know it! The architecture is strong in Italy and you will marvel at how some of these stunning old buildings and churches are still standing. The years old history here pulls you into a time that is ancient, but not by any means forgotten. UNESCO states that 40% of art in the world is found in Italy, which is why it isn’t short of art galleries and museums that will have you walking through for hours, getting you so attached, you start to wonder if you can snatch that priceless renaissance painting off the wall and get away with it, because it would look awesome in your living room! I spent hours staring at the Michelangelo’s David, the work that went into this infamous hand carved statue is incredible.
Oh gosh, then there is the wine. To soak yourself in some of the best wines your taste buds will have the pleasure of tasting, you don’t need to go to a 5 star restaurant. Go to the local wine store and pick up a €4 bottle, about $8, it is just as good. After you hit the wine store, go to the local grocery store grab some cheese and a baguette, head to a local park and live like an Italian. Italy is not somewhere you can only go for a week. I spent 3 weeks there and it wasn’t enough.
Duh! Of course this was going to make this list! Yes I know, I am a little Aussie vegemite and I am being totally biased putting this on my recommendation bucket list, but I really don’t care! I’m going to promote the sh*t out of my country because well, why not? Its a stunningly gorgeous country, friendly locals (if I do say so myself) and the beaches are some of the best I have seen in the world. We love our laid back, slang talking, BBQ grilling lifestyle. You will see this within the first couple of minutes you set foot there.
The Sydney Opera House, culture rich Melbourne, the surfy Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, the sun rising over Ayres Rock, the coast line of Broome in Western Australia, the vineyards in South Australia, ok ok I’ll stop! But seriously this sun drenched, spread out country isn’t short on things to see and do. Take your time here. Better yet higher a camper van and take an extended road trip, you won’t regret it. A little tip before you get there, research and learn some of the Aussie slang before you leave, or you may not no what the heck we are saying half the time!
What destination is on your Bucket List?
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