Top 10 Destinations Part 1
It’s been fifteen years of travelling since we caught “The Travel Bug”. Countless kilometres travelled via planes, trains, buses, cars, ships, ferries and good old fashion foot power. For this reason, I have put together my top 10 destinations to date. Having seen a plethora of incredible destinations it will be hard to narrow it down to just 10. However, a few stand out ahead of the pack. We have travelled to four continents and 17 countries. So, the diversity of cultures, scenery and foods has been wide. In contrast, some locations we have visited we have been glad to move on from. Overall, this world has stunning vistas, fantastic people and tasty cuisine. So, my top 10 destinations incorporate one or more of these qualities.
Let’s Get Started!!!
My Top 10 Destinations, starting at number 10
10. Great Wall of China
One of the New 7 Wonders of the World “The Great Wall of China” is a marvel to the architectural brilliance of the Chinese builders. The wall was built as a fortification system to protect the northern borders of Chinese States against several nomadic groups. Several walls were being constructed as early as the 7th century BC. Due to the wall being built in different sections, successive rulers and dynasties have joined and maintained selective sections of the wall. The most well-known of the current wall was built by the Ming Dynasty. During our visit to the Great Wall back in 2014 we had the pleasure of viewing this amazing structure at Juyongguan. Situated approximately 65 kilometres north west of Beijing. Lucky for us we were on a bus tour as the traffic was horrendous on this day.
The wall itself was amazing to see. I had heard about it throughout my life and it was exciting to finally see it in person. Having been allotted a certain amount of time we started our ascent of a section of the wall. The day was warmish and the climb was very physical and demanded caution. The steps were very irregular in shape and height, so it took a toll on my old legs and tested my lung function. However, after navigating several sections of this marvel the view was remarkable. Taking in the construction of the wall was fascinating and the sheer size mind blowing. Standing before us was the descend, ironically turned out to be harder than the ascent. My knees and ankles felt every step. Overall, it was worth the pain, a very enjoyable visit.
9. Madrid Spain
Madrid lies on the river Manzanares, and is the capital of Spain and is situated roughly in the middle of the country. Surprisingly, it is the third largest city in the Europe Union behind London and Berlin. It has a population in the city of approximately 3.3 million. Founded in the 9th century, it houses landmarks such as the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Royal Theatre and Casa de Campo to name a few. Temperatures during our visit were fairly cool, needing to rug up because of the chilly wind and rain. However, this didn’t detract from our amazing experience in Madrid. While, we were unsure of what Madrid had in store for us it blew us away with its beauty and charm. Our accommodation was located approximately 14 kilometres north east of Madrid at Hotel NH Madrid Barajas Airport.
What impressed us straight away was the metro service, it made navigating around Madrid very easy and affordable. Reaching street level from the metro we are greeted by lovely architecturally designed buildings, a vibrant feel even though it was Good Friday with less people in the city. Strolling through the city street overlooked by small balconies certainly felt like we had travelled back in time. As we walked through century old Puerta de Sol and Plaza Mayor I picture what it would have been like 200 years ago. Other notable sights were the Royal Palace, Catedral de la Almudena, Templo de Debod and Casa de Campo was one of the highlights. Overall, Madrid has far exceeded my expectations and delivered, in bucket loads and is worthy of making number 9 on my top 10 destinations.
8. Niagara Falls Niagara USA
When one thinks of waterfalls, Niagara Falls would be one of the first mentioned if not the first. Located on the US Canadian Border in the states of Ontario and New York. Niagara Falls is fed by the Niagara River that drains Lake Erie. It is comprised of three waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls is the largest followed by the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls are about 57 metres high and roughly 790 metres wide. While the falls have come close to being completely frozen in the last 100 odd years, it has only happened once in 1848.
Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel in 1901 surviving the fall. Niagara Falls was once regarded as the honeymoon capital of the world. I can see why as it is majestic and beautiful.
Our first experience of the falls came via the epic sound we hear as we head towards the river. We knew we were in for something spectacular. The thundering of rushing water grew louder the closer we came to the falls where it turned into a roar. To say my breath was taken away is an understatement, at the sight of Horseshoe Falls. Then to see the three falls together was just superb a dream come true. Great locations to view the different angles of the falls are the observation tower, Rainbow Bridge, Goat Island and the Welcome Centre on the Canadian side. However, the crème de la crème was taking The Maid of the Mist cruise. This is a must when visiting Niagara Falls as you get to experience the full force of the water falling over the falls.
7. Athabasca Falls Alberta Canada
To date this would have to be my favourite waterfall I have been lucky enough to see. Having heard about this waterfall many times I was eager to finally see it. My top 10 destinations were always going to contain Athabasca Falls, just where it placed was the ultimate question. When you get goose bumps and the hair on the back of your neck stand up you know that you have been touched. Arriving in the car park we head towards the falls where you are greeted by the fast flowing turquoise coloured Athabasca River with a backdrop of Mount Kerkeslin. The falls are stunning, as the river funnels the water into the narrow gorge creating an incredible force. Together, with the power of the water moving through the gorge the noise generated is remarkable. One that will not be forgotten.
Athabasca Falls is located in Alberta Canada approximately 30 kilometres south of Jasper. It sits within the Jasper National Park just off the Icefields Parkway. Entrance into the national park cost us $116 CAD but that will vary on how you enter into the park. Full entrance fees can be found here. The drive from Jasper is scenic and leisurely with the chance to see some wildlife. We saw a black bear on the way back to Jasper playing on the side of the road. Always remember any animals you see are wild so don’t approach them and stay at a safe distant. Athabasca Falls is only one of the amazing sights that can be viewed on the Icefields Parkway. Make sure to add this to your bucket list, you won’t be disappointed. A worthy inclusion at number 7 on my top 10 destinations.
6. Montreux Switzerland
When one mentions the Swiss Alps, it conjures up pictures of massive snow-capped mountains surround by quaint villages. Well, Montreux Switzerland definitely fits into that description. A picturesque lake side village surrounded by white peaked mountains. Walking through the Christmas markets along the foreshore of Lake Geneva has been one of the highlights of our time in Switzerland. The sounds of Christmas carols floating in the air. Wonderful aromas of freshly cooked food tantalising one’s olfactory senses and the joy on peoples faces as you stroll pass them on the promenade. It truly reminds me that Christmas time is here. Looking out across Lake Geneva you get mesmerised by the scenery. On one side the French Alps on the other the Swiss Alps, truly delightful. In the distance Chillon Castle can be seen perched along the lakeside. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to visit.
Montreux is also the point from which you can catch the cog train up to the top of Rochers de Naye which is well worth the trip. For Queen fans there is a museum and a statue of Freddy Mercury along the boardwalk. Montreux sits on Lake Geneva’s north shore at the eastern end. We arrived via train from Geneva which took about 1 ½ hours and was a lovely relaxing ride. Montreux is 396 metres above sea level and has a population of approximately 26000. One interesting fact I didn’t know until we arrived in Switzerland is there is no Swiss language. They commonly use the language of the closest country. However, we did find many Swiss spoke multiple languages. Montreux will be remembered with fondness and is well established in my top 10 destinations.
My Top 10 Destinations Continues
Having completed numbers 10 through to 6 of my Top 10 Destinations take a moment to enjoy some extra pictures from these wonderful places. Coming soon Top 10 Destinations Part 2, countdown my top 5.
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