Many of you asked us what are favorite places from around the world were. That’s obviously a difficult question to answer because each place was entirely different. Although Dumpty’s list slightly differs from mine, here are my ratings after traveling for 7 months to 8 countries. Let us know if you have any questions or would like to learn more about a particular place.
My favorite country ranking:
The unreliable electricity and air conditioning in 90+ degree weather and the sad plight of people struggling with a worsening economy made Pakistan a somewhat depressing place. Plus staying with family for four weeks straight wore me down. However, we both agree that Pakistan had the best cuisine hands down. I’m salivating just thinking about the meal we had in Sewan.
We spent only 4 days in Sydney, the most expensive city I had ever been to, and we didn’t get to see the rest of the country due to budget and time constraints. I’m sure Australia would have been much higher on the list if we had actually spent more time there.
Switzerland was so refreshing after being in the scorching hot weather of Turkey. We had such a great time playing board games, going on long walks, eating delicious home-made food, and talking to random strangers. It’s one of those countries we would consider moving to one day. Alas, we were only there for a week.
In 42 days we saw Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Patagonia, Iguazu Falls, Mendoza, and Salta. However 42 days was also a bit too long for Argentina, but at least we properly saw the whole country. We got tired of the food served at hotels and restaurants (breakfast: croissants, caramel sauce, coffee and dinner: steak, pasta, potatoes) and were beginning to crave some routine and normalcy in our lives. That being said, Patagonia (Chile and Argentina side) and Salta were spectacular. Patagonia in particular is easily one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
4. New Zealand
Sigh. Another country I would move to in a heart beat if it weren’t so far away. New Zealand is what I imagine paradise to look like. Plus they’ve Hobbits there!! We were quite impressed with how quickly and easily you could see the whole country. I can see myself going back there again….perhaps to Queenstown.
Turkey is really tied with New Zealand–it’s hard deciding! I felt so at home in Turkey. With its delicious food, passionate people, and rich history, it’s hard not to fall in love with Turkey. The caves of Cappadocia, the chill atmosphere of Antalya and the cool beaches of Fethiye were especially memorable. Turkey also had our second most favorite cuisine. There is no beating the amazing brunch we had in the mountains of Antalya and the lunch at the Old Greek House in Cappadocia.
Perhaps we should have started or ended our trip here. Thailand changed us. It opened our eyes to meditation and learning the art of being. The lesson we learned will always stay with us; we might even go back to the same ashram. The meditation experience and just the culture as a whole taught me humbleness (something we don’t learn enough in the States), to believe and trust in myself, and, perhaps most importantly, to not sweat the big or small mishaps in life. Beyond the meditation, we absolutely loved the beaches, the snorkeling and doing yoga at sunrise. Oh, and how can I forget the on- hour $6 massages and the food?! Sigh.
1. South Africa
I think anyone who has been to this country can understand why South Africa would be favorite country to have visited. South Africa was….magical. The history was primal and raw; not all of it was pretty. The wines were fabulous, the people were friendly and the city was spotless. Every turn revealed yet another breathtaking view of the ocean and the exotic flora. Here I saw wild ostriches and monkeys not in zoos but on the streets and beaches. Where else can you see cheetah eating her kill right before your eyes and see two hyenas caring for their cubs on the same day? I loved every second I spent there. Again, I would move here in a heartbeat if it weren’t so far from family.
Top 5 Beaches
The clear turquoise water was heavenly to swim in after spending a hot afternoon walking around. The rock filled beaches was the only major negative; sandy beaches are rare in the south east region of Turkey.
This picture is from another site:
How many big cities can boast to have an expansive, beautiful and clean beach within city limits? The beach was peppered with people surfing, working out, napping, sun bathing and people watching. There was something for everyone.
Here is where I saw the wild ostriches roaming at the (almost) most southern tip of Africa. The angry waves punching the cliffs and beaches kept us at bay, but the tranquility lifted my spirits tremendously. I was expecting the beach to be over-run by tourists, but it wasn’t. I could easily have spent an entire day just studying the waves and the wildlife.
Similar to the Cape of Good Hope, the waves here were wild and menacing, and that’s what why I love oceans– they’re untamed, mysterious, and simmering with life. From the cliffs we saw whales playfully jumping in and out of the fiery ocean lit up by the deep orange sunset. Unforgettable.
We went hiking for almost four hours without water on Robberg Beach. My deliriousness, however, wasn’t due to dehydration but to how spectacular and secluded the beach was. We didn’t run into a single soul during the hike–it was just us, the seals, the birds, and the ocean. God, I wish I was there now.
Koh Mun Nork was a paradise island. Imagine laying on warm soft sand sandwiched between clear waters on both sides! This tiny island was only accessible via a private boat (we took one from Koh Samui) and was the only beach in Thailand that felt private and off-the beaten path. When we weren’t sun bathing, we were chasing rainbow colored fish with our snorkels. Honestly, all the beaches in Thailand were stunning, but this one stands out in my memory.
None of our photographs do justice to this beach, so I found one from this blog site:
Top 5 Scariest or Bizarre Moments
5. Getting attacked by a swarm of bats in Turkey. Well, maybe we weren’t exactly attacked, but the bats were really darn close!
4. Getting hijama (Chinese cupping) done in Karachi, Pakistan was certainly the most weird thing I’ve ever done to my body. Hands down.
3. Feeling trapped in a cage with a great white shark swimming inches away from my head in South Africa.
2. Watching people getting possessed by jinn at the dhamaal in Sewan Pakistan. I am bringing an exorcist specialist next time I go. Oh yes, there will be a next time. Fascinating.
1. Accidentally startling the most poisonous snake in Africa, the black mamba, while on safari–thanks to Dumpty. At least we had a 4 hour window to get the anti venom versus zero time if we were attacked by a leopard.
Top beautiful views from around the world
I couldn’t rank these view; they were all just so stunning and special in their unique way but you’ll notice most of the images are from New Zealand and Argentina. The pictures speak for themselves.
Torres Del Paine & El Chalten, Chile/Argentina
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Perito Morena Glacier, El Calafate, Argentina
Top man-made wonders from around the world
Statues of Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The underground and above ground caves of Cappadocia Caves, Turkey
The Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand
The White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Buenos Aires Graffiti, Argentina
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
What place do you consider to be the most beautiful?