Everyone has in their mind’s eye, one heck of a lot of pretty destination pictures. White sandy beaches, panoramic mountain vistas, sunsets and sunrises galore, even a pretty girl strolling down a shopping street, these are but a few variations on a theme. Today we would like to add to your mental (maybe even Pinterest) collections of picture perfect places.
Let’s begin with my choices.
I was on Google Plus a few moments ago when someone posted about “the world’s most beautiful Island paradise”, or something to that effect. Their pick was Bali, the Indonesian gem that became a part of all our contemporary culture. Bali is, truly beautiful.
But there is another Island paradise that comes to mind when I think of secluded wonders. Bora Bora, the most famous of French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands, is a place of almost unimaginable beauty. While there are thousands of fantastic photos of this place, the one below from none other than The Four Seasons Hotel there, caters to my sense of staying on Bora Bora. Can you feel the sand between your toes? I can.
What place could be more suited to such a list as this than the “Garden of Europe” Keukenhof Gardens? The Netherlands hold many picture perfect travel treasures for you and I to explore, but none more striking than these wonderful gardens. I insert several images here simply because the people who run Keukenhof’s social media aspect, they know how to enthrall people with images. Check out this fun and beautiful place surrounding Castle Keukenhof.
Artful, pristine, inspirational, the explication for such places is endless. I like the dragon art above, obviously. If there is a more majestic collection of flowers and landscaped magic anywhere in the world, I want to see that too. The kids’ faces below, tell the tale of joy these gardens hold. The seven million bulbs that are tenderly cared for, they tell the rest. The small town of Lisse, South of Amsterdam, is put on every photographer’s map by Keukenhof Gardens. Surprise you with this one, didn’t I?
Some of you may be familiar with Europe’s second largest mountain range, the Carpathians, from Brahm Stoker’s Dracula. Vlad Tepes, as it turns out, did have a lair in the Carpathians. But these mountains hide more than the shadowy lore of vampires and werewolves, a place in what is now Slovakia, High Tastras, is a Winter wonderland you have to visit one day.
Across the pond, in good old New Hampshire, there is a place of equal Winter majesty though. A pass through the mountains there at Crawford Notch State Park rivals any Rocky Mountain ski paradise for sheer beauty. The image below is taken from the New Hampshire State Parks Facebook, showing the cover of a page from Patagonia’s Facebook site.
Without a doubt, one of the top five most wondrous and photogenic spots on Earth, Iguaçu Falls sits on the border between Brazil and Argentina. While many people consider Victoria Falls, or even Niagra, humongous water miracles, this lesser publicized natural wonder drains the entire Amazon basin. If you can visualize for a moment, the amount of water (sometimes twice that of Niagra or Victoria) plummeting down this cataract.
On seeing these falls for the first time, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed; “poor Niagra”. However, it’s not just the magnitude of these falls that is so striking, but the legend and the backdrop. The name of the falls in Tupi means “big water”, and how. While the language of the indigenous Tupi is long since dead, the legend of Iguaçu lives still. Accordingly, a god had intended to marry a beautiful mortal girl named Naipí, but had other ideas. Running away with her mortal lover Tarobá, the couple fled in his canoe. Angered, the god split the river to try and stop the couple fleeing.
Since I was a kid of about 12, after having taken an interest in all things ancient civilizations, the legend and mystique of Machu Picchu has haunted me. For most people this high Andes photo op is a novelty, one of those places you go because travel agents and National Geographic Explorer showed it to you. Without the full history lesson, let me introduce you to the Temple of the Sun.
Unknown to the outside world until explorer Hiram Bingham discovered the place in 1911, this was an estate of the Inca Pachacutec, ruler of all the Andres empire named for those gods in human form. Various legends and theories exist to this day about the purposes and legacy of this magical place.
While Machu Picchu was indeed the “Lost City of the Inca”, it was not however the fabled Vilcabamba. But now we are too far into a Pre-Columbian excursion, what should interest travelers most can be shown in a few photos and the video below.
Stay tuned next week for more of the world’s most photogenic destinations.
Photo credits: Bali – courtesy Ubud Hanging Gardens Hotel, Bora Bora – courtesy Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Keukenhof images – courtesy Keukenhof Gardens Facebook, High Tatras images – courtesy Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras Facebook, New Hampshire – courtesy Patagonia, Iguaçu Falls – courtesy Wikipedia and © urosr – Fotolia.com, Machu Picchu – courtesy © Jgz – Fotolia.com.