Celebrate the Second Anniversary of Something In Her Ramblings With My Top 10 Favorite Travel Destinations
At this point of my life I was working in Public Relations in Central Florida. My greatest dream was to see the world and, after a few years of researching job opportunities overseas and saving as much money as I could, I was finally about to fulfill my dream while teaching English in Madrid.
I started this blog as a place to record my travel adventures and keep myself writing while taking a break from the professional world of communications. I found the name for this blog in an email I wrote to an ex-boyfriend. I had spent the evening dining with a talkative journalist in Chicago who, at the end of a very exhausting dinner, surprised me by saying some prolific words that gave me clarity about our relationship. I wrote to my then boyfriend that “something in her ramblings struck a chord with me” and, as brainstorming possible blog names coincided with mourning the loss of that relationship, the sentence stood out.
I decided to call my blog “Something In Her Ramblings,” because while I am aware it is quite improbable that every post I write will be impactful, I hope that at least some of the words I write here strike a chord with someone who reads them somewhere in this vast, beautiful word.
Today this blog not only shares my travel stories, but also those from other female solo travels in the Women Who Travel Solo column published weekly on Fridays. These brave women have inspired me to push myself to travel to more destinations alone and fuel my wanderlust.
Far and away the person this blog has touched the most is myself. Writing a blog aimed at inspiring women and solo travelers has given me a unique lens and journalistic focus through which I can discover the world. It has added depth to my travel experiences by forcing me to not just enjoy a destination but dig for a story and learn as much about history and culture as I can.
Most wonderfully, writing this blog has led to numerous profound interactions with locals where I have been given the invaluable opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes and feel it through someone else’s heartbeat.
My blog has given me a sense of purpose, not only while I travel, but also the lonely, rainy Costa Rica nights — a place I had no idea my life would take me to two years ago when I first started blogging.
My Top 10 Favorite Travel Destinations in the World
And speaking of my top ten lists, this post was inspired with a conversation with Wade, our intern at Outward Bound Costa Rica. One of the most common questions I am asked in my travels is Where is your favorite place in the world . I love so many places on our stunning planet Earth that I can never chose just one as my favorite. Wade suggested that I celebrate the two year anniversary of Something In Her Ramblings with a look at my top ten. (Thank you for the inspiration, Wade!)
So without further adieu I present the list of my top 10 favorite destinations in the world (organized geographically, not in order of preference).
1. Paris, France
Paris is cliche for a reason. I loved the city so much that I managed to sneak in four visits during my year in Europe. A visit to Paris is the best education with so many museums offering insight into art, history, government and architecture. I learned more during a week in Paris than I did in an entire year studying AP European History.
The Eiffel Tower is more beautiful and powerful than any picture and it literally made me gasp to actually see it in real life. Few experiences in life are more romantic than walking along the Seine, even if you are alone.
The entire country of Slovenia makes my list. Prior to visiting I didn’t know much about this country, and to be perfectly honest I only visited in the first place to complete my goal of visiting 25 countries in one year.
What I found, however, was a country that meets everything I am looking for in my wanderings, making it the perfect travel destination. World-class cuisine, architecture and art? Check. Friendly locals? Check. Interesting history and museums that candidly share this history? Check. Breath-taking natural settings? Check. Yes, Slovenia has it all.
Another entire country to make my list is Portugal. I was enchanted by all the places I visited here. In Lisbon, Quiet, meandering streets wind up the hillside past bakeries where sweet smells and the soft sounds of guitar spill out the windows. Oporto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is full of hidden treasures and the birthplace of Port wine.
For relaxation, sunshine and sea, nothing beats the Algarve, a region in the South that is home to stunning beaches and sea cliffs. Portugal is also home to the Pastéis de Belém, an egg tart pastry that tops my list of baked goods in the world!
It may seem strange to you that a concentration camp is on my highlight list of travel destinations, but my visit to Auschwitz was one of the most monumental experiences of my life. Walking the grounds of a place where more than one million people were murdered forever made me more grateful for my life and freedoms.
I firmly believe everyone who has the means to travel to a concentration camp should, at least once in their life time. It is so important not to forget about the atrocities of the world, and to feel them as deeply as possible.
5. Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech is another world — one that is full of bustling streets, hidden wonders, delicious cuisines, and culture. The people are warm and the colors are bright.
Known as “the red city,” this formal imperial city is famous for its medina, an ancient walled-in town. Exploring the medina truly felt like being transported back in time to a world I’d only read about in storybooks. While at first I felt a little wary here as it looked so different from anywhere else I’d visited, my interactions with the friendly locals soon left me enchanted.
6. Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne may not carry the same cache as its Northern neighbor Sydney, but in my opinion it is a far superior location to see the “real Australia.” True there’s no grand Opera House and the weather isn’t quite as warm, but there are fewer tourists, meaning more Australians and opportunities for cultural exchanges.
Melbourne used to be the capital of Australia and it is packed with historic sights and museums that will deepen your understanding of Aussie culture. Its dining scene is also innovative and diverse at any budget, and the bar scene here is one of the best in the world.
7. Uluru, Australia
Sometimes if I am forced to pick an actual favorite place I’ve been to I chose Uluru, known more commonly as Ayers Rock. The largest rock in the world is found in the middle of Australia’s Outback, a six hour drive from the nearest city.
Uluru is a sacred site for the local aboriginal people. It has since been closed to climbers, but when I visited five years ago I chose to climb. Being on top of Uluru was an incredibly moving experience for me and, while looking out at the endless desert sands I felt a connection to nature, deeper than I ever had before.
8. Antigua, Guatemala
As of last week with my visit to Nicaragua, I have now been to every country in Central America! My experience in Guatemala was by far the richest, and Antigua, the country’s former colonial capital, is a stunning jewel of a city.
Guatemala’s history has been far from easy. A civil war in the country spanned three decades and the country’s vice president was recently forced to resign following a multi-million dollar corruption scandal that weakened the health care system. Yet the people I interacted with here had an optimistic, resilient spirit that touched and inspired me. Guatemala is an incredible place to learn about social issues in Latin America, Mayan culture and natural wonders like volcanoes. Antigua is a charming and peaceful base to explore many popular sights while immersing yourself in one of the finest preserved colonial cities in the Americas.
The United States
9. Lake Tahoe, California
No matter how far I ramble, I’m fairly certain that Lake Tahoe, my childhood vacation spot in my home state of California, will always remain on my top ten list. Most of my travels tend to be packed with non-stop action, but Lake Tahoe is one of the few places where I find myself truly able to do what most people do when they head on a vacation — relax.
I’ve spent 18 of my 26 summers on the shores of this deep blue lake in Northern California, but it’s not just nostalgia that earns it such a fond place in my heart. Natural beauty and hidden hideaways abound here along the lake’s shores and in the surrounding mountain region. People are friendly, the air is fresh and all is right with the world.
Come on, you didn’t think I would make a top ten list without including Disney, did you? One of my uncles has nicknamed me “the Disney freak” after all. I may have started my career at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, but Disneyland in Southern California does it better. Way better.
Disneyland is the place where Walt Disney himself dreamed, planned and set foot. Attention to detail is of the utmost importance at the original theme park. If meeting Mickey Mouse, screaming on Splash Mountain and spinning on the teacups doesn’t flood you an intense wave of happiness and optimism, I don’t think we could be friends.
Walt perhaps said it best:
“To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America… with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Thank You For Your Readership!
And there you have it, my top 10 favorite travel destinations in the world. Well, at least in the 39 countries I have set foot in. To all who read this blog, thank you for your invaluable support. Without you I would have no one to write for and this blog brings me so much joy. It’s been an unbelievable, travel-packed two years and I can’t wait to see where in the world I will explore next. Country number 40 has to be a special place!