Thursday, 30 August 2012

What's On Your Travel Bucket-List?

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”  Henry Miller

How often do you day-dream about distant lands, cultures and magical unknown landscapes?

Every week I have this little ritual. I visit my local coffee shop and I take a travel magazine with me. I gaze at the photos, transport myself to another land and leave the cafe beaming from ear-to-ear.

It feels a good time to share my bucket-list. I am limiting it to my top 10 destinations otherwise this would make a blog worthy of a book.

I would love to hear your bucket-list, always ready to be inspired by your day-dreams and plans.

1. The Arctic 

Before I travelled for the first time my idea of a trip was always warm, but after returning from my travels and many years later my sense of adventure goes to the wonderful and exciting places across this globe.

Shared via Creative Commons From NASA 

The Arctic is somewhere I want my senses to be wowed! To a different world where the white crisp ice is so bright I need quality sunglasses. How many times could you say you have visited such a place, a place where only a small percentage of humans are able to survive in the harsh climate, and they do so in perfect health, balance and wellbeing? I can't wait to hear the sound of silence or the sound of ice flowing and crunching and moving beneath the ship. Looking on in wonder at the white creatures that live in this sublimely rich natural world.

Shared via Creative Commons taken by Martha de Jong-Lantink

To walk and perhaps sleep out in this richly vibrant place. Something very pure about the colour white and to be surrounded by it sets my heart on fire.

And polar bears and whales simply light me up inside. The real explorers with courage of steel discovered this world for us. Let's take care of it and treat it with gentle hands.

The Aurora Borealis - The Northern Lights
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By The Image Editor

My Top 5 Activities - The Arctic Circle

  1. The Nordic Lights - A must see, the Aurora Borealis otherwise known as the Northern Lights. Stay in the Ice Hotel or a place with a great view.
  2. Husky-sledding adventure through the snow.
  3. Take a tour on an Ice Breaker ship to the North Pole.
  4. Visit Hudson Bay and experience the Polar Bear capital of the world; see Beluga whales and much more.
  5. Take a snowmobile safari with a local Inuit guide and get to know the beautiful culture and activities of the Inuit people.

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” - Freya Stark


Share via Creative commons taken by Deirdre Saoirse Moen

One thing you may notice on my bucket-list is the raw experience of nature in the photos. I love all things that many people would say is the violent way that the earth moves and re-creates itself. I love storms, extreme weather, cold, hot, the oozing curdling way the lava of the Hawaiian islands flows into the sea. I love that the earth is unknown, uncertain and at any time can surprise us with all her spontaneous nature. This photo above is something I saw in a dream one night and ever since I have been itching to see this with my own eyes. Hawaii in all its splendour fills me with a feeling of irrevocable joy and anticipation.

To feel the earth rumble beneath my feet and move; to see nature replenish itself before my very eyes; yes please!

Halemaumau Crater, Volcanoes N.P., Big Island                                           Shared via Creative Commons Taken By Jeremiah Blatz 

Walking the rim of a volcano, experiencing the beautiful scents of these astonishing islands, the people, the food, the dancing, the music, the sacred spirituality. Drop me in the ocean as a wish bottle to paradise.

Kauai Coastline
Shared via Creative Commons taken by Dick Schmitt

Wild dolphins in Lanaii Hawaii 
Share Via Creative Commons taken by Steve Jurvetson

My Top 5 Activities - HAWAII 

A challenge to pick only 5 as there are 100's of things you can do on the Hawaiian Islands.

  1. HAWAII: Swim with dolphins on the BIG ISLAND and have a truly sacred experience with Joan Ocean and stay at one of the attractive dolphin-friendly accomodations of Dolphinville (I have had Joan's leaflet for many years. I am determined to go swim with dolphins with her and stay at one of lovely places on the Dolphinville site).
  2. HAWAII: Take a tour to the Volcano National Park, hike or if you are really, really brave, take a trip on a lava boat tour. Apparently it can be quite scary with rough seas, but if the lava is pouring well, a phenomenal experience. Alternatively take a helicopter ride over the National Park.
  3. MAUI: Experience the sacred Hawaii on the island of Maui. Take a trip or long hike through Lao Valley, a sacred place of Hawaiian ancestors, the burial grounds of powerful warriors of the past and much more. A peaceful, spiritual exploration of one of many beautiful natural paradises of Hawaii.
  4. MAUI: Receive a traditional Lomi Lomi massage on the island of Maui, refresh your spirit and your soul.
  5. KAUAI: Experience major blockbuster movie settings on the unbelievably alluring island of Kauai. The setting of Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, South Pacific and Pirates of the Caribbean.

3. South America

So I am cheating a little with my number 3. So many places in South America that I am going to have to really narrow it down here.

Machu Picchu - Cusco,Peru
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Pedro Szekely

South America for me is all about a spiritual journey combined with the raw passion and vibrancy of the cities. Filled with colour, wonder, connection and a real earth walk.

The ancient remains of a spiritual society is on my list of top places to visit in Peru. Machu Picchu, while a major tourist destination now, is still on my list. Hopefully I will get to visit on a tour that arrives before a lot of the other tour companies arrive. Watch the sun rise or set. I can only imagine what it was like to live this high up in such a heavenly place.

The GALAPAGOS ISLANDS - The Blue-Footed Booby Bird
Shared Via Creative Commons taken by David Govoni

Being a nature lover the Galapagos Islands tick every single box for me, being up close to the only equitorial penguins found in the world. This beautiful collection of islands is often called the 'Laboratory of Evolution' and for good reason.

The RIO CARNVIAL - A kaleidescope of colour, passion, music and dance
Shared Via Creative Commons taken by Fernando Stankuns

The Rio Carnival thrills my soul. Rio really knows how to party and to me looks like the best and hugest party in the world. I love latin rhythms and music to dance to and one of my big joys is to dance freely. This makes me feel truly alive.

Salar de Uyuni (The worlds largest salt flats) - Bolivia)
Shared Via Creative Commons

Igazu Falls On The Border of Argentina and Brazil
Shared Via Creative Commons by Annette Beatriz

My Top 5 Activities - South America

  1. Head to Buenos Aires and learn to Tango. Experience the passionate culture of this city and engage in the colour and vibrant people, food, sound and music.
  2. Visit the world famous Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. One of the world's largest waterfalls. Stunningly intense and tremendously breathtaking.
  3. Attend one of the best festivals of dance music, passion and fun - The Rio Festival.
  4. Hike to Machu Pichu and experience the view of the ancestors. Experience what it felt like to live in the sacred civilisation of the Incas at this deeply religious site.
  5. Visit the lungs of the world, the Amazon rainforest in Peru. The largest rainforest in the world.


So I am cheating again with my number 4. North America is somewhere that makes me giggle inside with excitement. I will attempt to zone in on key areas of my bucket list.

The BIG APPLE - New York City
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Harald Hoyer

I never wanted to go to New York. After travelling around Australia I realised I love nature and countryside and quiet. And more recently I suddenly have this huge urge to visit North America, and New York is top of my list to visit. The noise, the city streets, the yellow cabs and the immense skyscrapers have seduced me in. I guess I am utterly brainwashed by television based in America, and something inside wants to be where the movies are made. I love the sounds of American accents, the idea of a hotdog on the street. Probably a lot of things New Yorkers take for granted would thrill me completely.

The City Of Lights - LAS VEGAS
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Patrick Boury

Cheesy, Elvis, loud, brash, bright, bold and corny. Yes, give me some of that! I am amazed I think that, but I do. Not a long trip but a few days in Vegas sounds a whole lot of fun to me.

The Golden Gate Bridge - SAN FRANCISCO
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Public Domain

I read recently the song 'Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay' was written by Otis Redding while in Sausalito, a San Francisco Bay area city.  I have day-dreams of sitting where he sat, cappuccino in hand (or a glass of wine) gazing over the bay at the bridge, watching the world go by. I love the visual landscape of the city of San Francisco. I love the idea of travelling up those incredibly steep blocks of streets on a cable car, enjoying the music scene and hippy side of San Francisco. It appears from the outside looking in to be a beautiful city. One of the many places on my bucket list as a must see for me.

The Grand Canyon - Arizona
Shared Via Creative Commons

My Top 5 Activities - North America

  1. New York: Visit New York, experience the concrete jungle, beautiful parks, delightful cuisine, New York fashion and lifestyle. Take a stroll through Central Park, eat a hot dog from a street vendor.
  2. Los Angeles: Visit Los Angeles, do all the Hollywood experiences, the Walk of Fame, immerse yourself in movieland and follow this by a raw juice drink and a tarot reading at Venice beach.
  3. Las Vegas: Allow yourself the over-the-top experience of Las Vegas, play the slot machines, see a big performer sing, eat lots, visit the Grand Canyon, enjoy the glitz and glamour. Dance the night away.
  4. San Francisco: Take a cable car ride through San Francisco, drink a nice coffee by the bay in Sausilito. Take a drive down the coast. Go wine tasting, enjoy one of the many wonderful Californian wines.
  5. Disneyland Florida: Do Disneyland at least once in your life. Be a child for the whole time. Scream from the top of your lungs and hug Mickey Mouse.


Otherwise known as the Republic of Cuba. Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean and a communist country. The independence of Cuba is what makes it magical to me. A friend told me that even though not everyone in Cuba is wealthy it has such a fabulous wealth of culture. The Lonely Planet says :

Twenty-first century Cuba promises to be like nowhere else you’ve ever visited: economically poor, but culturally rich; visibly mildewed, but architecturally magnificent; infuriating, yet at the same time, strangely uplifting. If the country were a book, it would be James Joyce’s Ulysses; layered, hard to grasp, serially misunderstood, but – above all – a classic.

Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Rob Stradling

Casa de Africa in Havana, Cuba
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By  James Emery

Catedral de San Cristobal  - HAVANA
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By William Nicholas

My Top 5 Activities - Cuba

  1. Experience the wild, vibrant Havana night-life. Drink a Mojito in its birthplace and learn to Salsa.
  2. Take a stroll through old Havana. Enjoy the rich proliferation of Churches and history. Make sure you visit the Catedral de San Cristobal, sit in the square and drink a strong Cuban coffee that is super sweet. If you are wanting a truly relaxing experience take a ride on a horse and carriage around the Old Havana.
  3. Eat at a local Paladeres in Havana, far better than state-run restaurants, full of atmosphere and beautiful cuisine (Lonely Planet has an excellent selection reviewed by travellers here).
  4. Visit Ernest Hemingway's house, Finca la Vigía. This is ten miles east of Havana and worth the trip for the stunning house and surroundings.
  5. Enjoy a Cuban lemonade if you are hot from walking this beautiful city in one of the sidewalk cafes and truly soak up the Cuban culture.

6. British Colombia - Canada

For me Canada is all about the great outdoors. When somebody asks you what would be your perfect peaceful travelling experience I always say sitting outside a log cabin,  gazing at the mountains, while overlooking the lake. This is how I imagine Canada and this is what I want to do. Add to this some phenomenal cuisine, beautiful cities, small towns and maybe a ski resort (yet to try skiing!). British Colombia is strikingly stunning.

Lake Louise - British Colombia
Share Via Creative Commons by 
Vancouver - British Colombia - Canada
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Evan Leeson

Haida Gwaii Cultural Centre & Museum British Columbia
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Michael Rawle

My Top 5 Activities - Canada

  1. Hike and camp in the National Parks (be sure to contact park wardens and let someone know where you are camping).
  2. Gaze at the mountains and lakes - if you are staying by a lake toast with a glass of wine and feel very blessed to be alive.
  3. Eat, wander, explore the beautiful city of Vancouver.
  4. Ski at Whistler and wine, dine, apres-ski, hike, bike.. again lots to do.
  5. Visit Haida Gwaii Islands at the Western Point of Northern British Columbia. Visit cultural sites, drink coffee, be as adventurous or as sedate as you wish. Explore rainforests, hike, fish... if you are an outdoors enthusiast these islands are for you.

7. New Zealand

A couple of years ago I became captivated by New Zealand. So much so that I made a video about New Zealand with inspirational photos to bring the trip into my life. I made a vision board (creating your reality board), I even had New Zealand tourism send me a DVD of New Zealand so needless to say New Zealand is a place that actually brings tears to my eyes when I think about going. When I was travelling around Australia I had a flight to New Zealand booked but I ran out of money so had to get a refund and ever since I have had this longing for New Zealand. The shear magnitude of its beauty, the activities I feel I will do there, the taste of clear clean air. Everything New Zealand is truly beautiful to me.

Kaikoura Beach - NEW ZEALAND
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Simon Tong 

On my next travels I intend to travel alone, meeting some people along the way, but really a spiritual journey for me. Like this photo, the idea of sitting on a beach like this looking at the mountains of New Zealand, sigh... heaven to me.

Milford Sound - NEW ZEALAND
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Jessica Eriksson

I love hiking but have never canoed or kayaked anywhere. This is one experience I really want to do and what better place to do this than through the beautiful Milford Sound.

Tongariro Crossing - NEW ZEALAND
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By M&M Photographers

The above walk takes a full day and takes you through emerald lakes, volcanoes and simply stunning scenery. Can you feel how clean the air is simply looking at this?

Waiheke Island - Cuisine & Wine-Tasting - NEW ZEALAND
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Daniel Pietzsch

My Top 5 Activities - New Zealand

  1. Hike (tramping it is called in New Zealand) your socks off! Take one of the many famous walks around New Zealand. Too many to mention but do it! You will meet nature and wonder that will simply take your breath away. Cities are great but to hike is to meet nature away from the bright lights and New Zealand will show you what nature really is all about.
  2. Take a trip to Waiheke Island from Auckland, horse-ride along the beach, wine taste and dine out, relax and thoroughly enjoy this happy island (wine taste a lot in New Zealand - some of the best wines in the world).
  3. Take a trip down Milford Sound, gasp, sigh at its beauty. Kayak if you are feeling adventurous.
  4. Bungee jump, sky dive, white water raft in Queensland. Heli-hike the Fox Glacier, climb into a giant rubber ball and go Zorbing down a hill.
  5. Experience Maori culture at Kaikoura with storytelling, bushwalking and be introduced to New Zealand through the Maori people's eyes.

8. Japan

Japan a place of extraordinary culture. Completely different from Western culture. temples, shrines, sacred beauty and festivals. A place to move out of the comfort zone and explore different cuisine, ways to eat and a different way of relating. Now Japan I want to visit, the food I may need to adapt to, as I do not like Sushi or strongly-tasting fish dishes whatsoever, but I know the cuisine is vaster than just Sushi. I also need to learn to eat with chopsticks of with which I have failed dismally over the years but I am determined to learn.

Todai-ji Temple Daibutsuden Hall, Nara - JAPAN
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By  L'Ubuesque Boite A Savon

Golden Temple - Geisha - Kyoto - JAPAN
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Marc Veraart

Traditional Jizo Statues - JAPAN
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken by Paul Arps

Japanese Tea Ceremony - Happo-en Garden - JAPAN
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Diane Schuth

My Top 5 Activities - Japan

  1. Visit Kyoto and see one of the many beautiful temples and shrines in the area, particularly Fushimi-Inari Taisha.
  2. Experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
  3. Visit Himeji Castle and explore the beautiful countryside throughout Japan. From wild walks to the beaches of Okinawa Island.
  4. Visit the peaceful Zen garden of Kyoto.
  5. If you visit in the Spring make sure you are there for the Spring Cherry Blossom Festival and go see some stunning Geisha dancers.

9. China

One of the most densely populated countries in the world, China is on my bucket-list for a number of reasons. Deep cultural differences, substantially vivid and unique cuisine, sacred landscapes, busy bustling overcrowded cities where the people seem to remain calmer than they would in the West. A culture that seems so very different from my own and a language I feel I would love to learn.

The Great Wall Of China - CHINA
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Radiowood2000

The Forbidden City - Beijing CHINA
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Sam Gao 

Li Jiang River With The Karst Mountains In The Background - CHINA
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Globetrotter Rodigo

Wujiang County On The Outskirts Of Suzhou - CHINA
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Virgil Chang   

My Top 5 Activities - China

  1. Walk part of The Great Wall Of China.
  2. See the breathtaking site of the Terracotta Warriors.
  3. Sit quietly and absorb the outstanding beauty of the Karst Mountains.
  4. Experience Tibetan local culture at the Jiuzhaigou Valley Nature Reserve.
  5. See giant pandas; feel the bustling city of Hong Kong; dine out and try the wide range of food available and tantalise your taste-buds.

9. EUROPE (YES! It is a big place!)

Quite excited about travelling more through Europe. I have been to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy but primarily when I was younger and it was either package holiday with family or a University field trip. To explore the hidden lanes of old baroque style streets, the history, the fairytale castles and the culture feels exciting to me. Especially doing it alone. Because admittedly I have not been to many foreign-speaking countries on my own and I would like the challenge of feeling a little lost - but in a good way. Places like Prague, Hungary, Vienna, mountainous regions of Switzerland, drinking coffee on a beautiful square or a Belgian beer. Taking in some classical music in a building made for Royalty, yes Europe beautiful!

My bucket-list does not have Paris on it as I have been in my past but it is a definite must experience for anyone travelling through Europe. The Eiffel tower, Champs Elysée, fine dining and I have to say rude people. We were spoken to very rudely by most in Paris and even when my friend spoke fluent French they became even ruder.. strange city but beautiful place to see if you can accept the attitude of some of the Parisians.

So my European bucket-list:


Venice - ITALY
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Giorgos

Italy is to be devoured by the traveller, tasted, touched, felt. The passion of the people, the strength of character, the architecture, the vivid expression of life. A trip in a Gondola, wine tasting in a Tuscan village, pizza and pasta always, but most of all an intense appetite for the cultural flamboyance and beauty.

Siena - Tuscany - ITALY
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Any Colour You Like

A Richly Decorated Church In Vienna - AUSTRIA
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By VSZ

Austria and Switzerland not only have 'Sound Of Music' hills that come alive as you hike them, they also have a history and wealth of richly decorated churches and castles, halls and homes. I was brought up by parents that loved to explore churches and cathedrals. We were not particularly religious in any way but my mother really loves how hypnotic and serene these places can be. So I carry that same desire to see places like the Church in Vienna above and the Abbey below.

Abbey Of St Florian - Vienna - AUSTRIA
Taken Via Creative Commons Taken By Renate Dodell

I would like to visit Croatia and to explore the cities, and the coastal landscapes, mountains and valleys. I love the Roman architecture, the walled city of Dubrovnik and the idea of sitting in a restaurant while the food is home cooked in that slow Croatian way, whiling away the hours. In the UK a lot of people from Croatia have moved to the area I live and I also love the language.

Plitvicka Lakes - CROATIA
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Alexander Shchukin 

My Top 5 Activities - Europe

It is almost impossible to round down Europe into 5 places or activities as there are so many things to see and do but I will give a wee taster.

  1. Venice: Take a ride on a Gondola in the City on water.Venice, a place of romance, yet I feel also a place not to be missed by solo travellers. Nothing wrong at all enjoying the city on a Gondola on your own. 
  2. Tuscany: Take a break in Tuscany, while away your day, eating delectable Italian food, drinking wine, devouring every morsel of sensuous delicacies you can try, people watch, drive around the countryside, walk down hidden streets of ancient cities and towns.
  3. Vienna: Take in a classical concert in Vienna, underneath a ceiling of immense artistic beauty. Dress up, settle in and let your spirit be soothed.
  4. Switzerland: Hike the hills of Switzerland and Austria, recreate your own 'Sound Of Music' experience, drink beer, dance, laugh and smile.
  5. Barcelona: Visit Barcelona, take a wander down La Rambla, enjoy Catalan cooking, see the sexy and passionate Flamenco dance, enjoy the Gothic architecture of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.

And so here ends my top 10 bucket-list destinations. A small drop in the ocean of places I want to see and experience. I would love to read about your own travel dreams and bucket-lists. 

Please inspire me, where does your heart long to go?

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  1. Wow Kelly, this IS a book! Certainly a booklet! Fab, and your photos are beautiful. A lot of love has gone into this post.

    1. Thanks Claire, it was a trip around the world for me in writing it. It is amazing how much research takes place in writing blogs, I also had some good geography lessons in the process. Glad you like, where would you love to visit?

  2. Hello Kelly, I saw your website on the 21 days meditation challenge of Deepak Chopra and i was very curious what for kind of website it would be! I would also like to travel a lot! Here are a few that are on my bucket list; the Trans Siberian Express, Amritsar(Golden Temple) and the Taj Mahal in India, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and Angkor Wat.
    Plus almost everything on your list!

    1. They are fabulous places to have a bucket list I will have to go investigate them for myself, thanks for dropping by, hope you are enjoying the meditation challenge.

  3. I have been looking for travel blog website, I’m glad I stumbled over this.


Thanks for checking out my blog I look forward to hearing your travelling experiences and any tips you have to share.

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