SEEING as it’s a horrible rainy day, I’m feeling a bit of wanderlust. I’m sure most of us would rather be exploring somewhere else than going to work or surviving soft play – I’m not alone, am I?
Lonely Planet has released its ultimate bucket list – 500 places to see before you die – so I thought I’d see how many of the top 20 we’ve seen. Me and Stew are fairly well travelled I’d say – we took a year out after uni and did the typical backpacker route of America, South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia – and we’re doing our best to make sure Santi sees a lot of the world. So I would have thought we’d have this list under control … but it turns out we haven’t made a dent in it!
Here we go…
1. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
Nope, but I’d love to go there. We nearly visited Cambodia while we were in Thailand, but decided to go island hopping instead. This is definitely on my list.
2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia:
Yep! This is one we can tick off. While we were in Australia my parents came to visit and we did a bit of a road trip up the east coast. We went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, and I fulfilled one of my goals of scuba diving there too. It was absolutely beautiful, and we could hear whales calling to each other under the water. Typically though, Stew decided to just snorkel, and which of us managed to spot a sea turtle? Not the one who paid to go diving … obviously.
3. Machu Picchu, Peru; 4. Great Wall of China; 5. Taj Mahal, India; 6. Grand Canyon National Park, USA:
Neither of us have been to any of these, but I’d like to visit them all.
7. Colosseum, Italy:
Rome is one of my all-time favourite cities, and we’ve been to the Colosseum a few times. I first went when I was living in Italy as part of my degree, and we had a girly trip. This resulted in buying designer shoes and sunglasses I really couldn’t afford on a student budget, but when in Rome! Me and Stew have visited twice – once that year – and once during our capital city challenge for Stew’s 30th birthday. Stew is quite into history so we went into the Colosseum that time for a wander around – it’s worth a look inside if you have the time.
8. Iguazu Falls, Brazil-Argentina:
I’ve never actually heard of this one … ooops!
9. Alhambra, Spain:
I have vague memories of visiting Alhambra on a family holiday when I was quite young – all I remember really is a lot of tiles. The holiday itself was great though – we stayed in Nerja in a random little hotel where the entertainment consisted of the same woman singing every night. Guantanamera and Una Paloma Blanca were her particular favourites. I do have a photo somewhere, but nobody needs to see me with giant glasses, a peaked hat and dolphin t-shirt.
10. Aya Sofya, Turkey:
This looks beautiful, but I’ve never been to Turkey.
11. Fez Medina, Morocco:
I’ve been to Marrakech and really enjoyed a weekend there, but I’d be wary of taking Santi to Morocco – there’s just too much hustle and bustle, especially in the medinas.
12. Twelve Apostles, Australia:
Again, this is one me and Stew visited on our year away. We went on a trip from Darwin through the centre of Australia to see Ayers Rock, and then hired a car in Melbourne to travel along the coast. It was a beautiful sunny day, and perfect for stopping off along the way.
13. Petra, Jordan; 14. Tikal, Guatemala; 15. British Museum, England
16. Sagrada Familia, Spain:
Stew hasn’t been here, but I have on another girly weekend, which involved being ripped off for a mega expensive bottle of “house” wine, my purse being stolen and a hunt around the whole city for churros (which turned out to be the greasiest, most disgusting churros you could imagine), but it’s all about the company and we always have a great time wherever we go.
On to the Sagrada Familia .. I was a bit disappointed by it, to be honest, because there was so much scaffolding over the front … maybe we should have gone inside! If you’re going to Barcelona, I’d recommend going to Park Guell, which is stunning. We’re thinking of a mini break in December, so we’ll be able to tick this off Stew and Santi’s list then.
17. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand:
We risked our lives getting to Milford Sound, which is part of the national park (well, not really, but what’s a bit of exaggerated drama between friends?). Being young and carefree, we bought a camper van in New Zealand to travel around the country – don’t get excited at visions of a huge motorhome, it was a camoflage painted converted builder’s van with a fold-down bed in the back. But that was all we needed – we had a toaster, Scrabble and head torches to get us through! We’d been warned not to venture to Milford Sound without snowchains as it was the middle of winter, but when you’re the other side of the world and have no idea when or if you’ll ever return, you’ll take the risk. The road was a bit precarious and there was a tunnel that was absolutely pitch black and I couldn’t see anything coming towards us – I then realised I had sunglasses on (massive fail), so it was a bit of a relief to take them off!
The sound itself was pretty, but unknown to us it is tidal and there wasn’t much water when we got there, so we didn’t get a dramatic photo to take home with us … more like a few rocks and puddles! New Zealand is such a beautiful country though, I’m sure there are many other sights that could replace Milford Sound in the top 20.
18. Santorini, Greece; 19. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; 20. Museum of Old & New Art, Australia
So, out of the top 20, here are our results…
Santi: 0/20 (eek, we need to work on this!)
The full list won’t be released until October, but as a sneaky peak, here are the Welsh entries that we have made it to…
St Fagans National History Museum (we’ve both been loads on school trips, but no pics, sadly)
Brecon Beacons National Park
Snowdonia National Park:
And at last, one for Santi!
St David’s Cathedral: