After my bucket list post, I set Tim a challenge to pick his own top ten. The poor guy spent three weeks trying to decide! But what came out on top, and do we share any dream destinations? Read on to find out…
The phrase ‘bucket list’ is used a lot in travel talk. It has always been an excellent bit of marketing, essentially companies telling you “one day you’re going to die, you better buy our products before that happens”. But there’s another thing about the bucket list that I find funny… very few actually exist. I often hear people say things like “Egypt? Oh that’s on my bucket list”. Now it would be very strange to reply “Oh really? Please show me!” but I think their response would be that their bucket list isn’t actually written down anywhere. This was certainly the case for me until I started on this entry, so I had to write my bucket list. I then had a think about why each destination was on there and managed to choose my ten favourites.
10. Northern Lights (Scandinavia) I can already hear my wife saying “Ooo do you want to go to Finland to see the northern lights?” “No” I will reply “Far too cold”. I think a bucket list is the right place for a destination like this. Before I die? Yes. Definitely. In the next 6 months? Probably not. As you’ll see as I count down my top ten, I love a natural wonder. The aurora borealis looks stunning in photos and I want to see it in real life one day, just not yet. A solid number ten.
9. Deep South USA I want to go to the US for the culture. Yes I really did just say that. The country that my friend describes as “a car park” does have a few highlights: the Manhattan skyline is stunning and I’ve always wanted to see the natural sights; the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Everglades, etc. However, this top ten entry is for a trip I’ve always dreamed of: the deep south for New Orleans; tapping my feet to the music, drinking watery lager into the small hours with some chatty locals, eating steak cooked as if it were chicken, renting a V8 and hitting the highway… this is my dream.
8. Turkey An easy and popular choice for northern Europeans, Turkey is a beautiful country with great weather and beaches. But to make my top 10, it needs more than that and the extra points come from its history. Let’s approach this chronologically. Firstly Troy, the fortified city at the centre of events in Homer’s The Iliad, has now been conquered by a fleet of a thousand tourists. Next, Roman history. The jewel in the crown is Ephesus, which was the second city of the Empire for a period, but there is loads more to see from this period. Loads. Then onto the capital. Originally Byzantium, it was rebranded as Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and became the richest and most powerful city in Europe. It later became Istanbul and the architecture shows an amazing mix of cultures. Lastly a mention to Gallipoli, such an important battlefield for Australians and New Zealanders as a representation of the beliefs and commitment of these fledgling nations during World War 1.
7. Egypt I suppose similar to Turkey, with sunshine, beaches and history… but actually it is properly unique. As far as seeing the works of an ancient civilisation go, Egypt wins, hands down. I guess the only turn off is the tens of thousands of other people trying to see the same sights at the same time as you, but it still has to be done.
6. India Hard to sum up in one paragraph but I’ll give it a go. A fascinating culture that has given the world religions, yoga, amazing temples and one particularly beautiful mausoleum. All this is mixed in with huge castles built by feuding warlords and the attractive, if scarring, marks of European colonisation. It’s also big enough to have some amazing natural sights; mountains, rivers, mangrove swamps and a long and varied coastline. Last of all they make the best food in the world. Need I go on?
5. Indonesia A huge diverse country with a rugged coastline, tropical beaches and lots of historic temples. I want to go to Indonesia for all of this, plus the monkeys. Okay, I’ll admit it. The monkeys are the main reason for this bucket list entry.
4. Peru Machu Picchu isn’t the only reason but it’s the biggest one. I want to emerge from the mountains and jungle to the lost city after a 4 day trek like I’m the one who discovered it. (Before taking a train from the nearby station to a luxury hotel for a burger).
3. Costa Rica You may have started to spot some themes appearing in my list; natural sights, wildlife and history. As I get closer to the number 1, spot some of these start to ‘peak’. For Costa Rica, it’s the natural sights, jungle, volcanoes, beaches, mountains. I want to hike across them all and catch some wildlife while I’m at it!
2. Vietnam and Cambodia Vietnam is probably worth a couple of weeks but I’ve tagged Cambodia on because it’s next door and will only take a couple of days. While the combination doesn’t win any of the top three prizes in natural sights, wildlife or history, the colonial history, scars of war and Angkor Wat makes it score very highly in the latter. Plus it has mountains, coastline, jungle and Halong Bay to tick off one of the other boxes.
1. Safari (Kenya and Tanzania) Winner of the wildlife sub-category and the overall prize, this is the place to see big cats, which are up there with monkeys as some of my favourite animals. Plus there’s loads more; giraffes, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, wild dogs etc. all roaming across picturesque landscapes.
So! Overall, we have six matching bucket list destinations – Deep South USA, Egypt, Peru, Costa Rica, Vietnam & Cambodia and African safari. I’m sure it won’t be too long before we’re booking our way to one of these, and I can’t wait!
How does Tim’s list compare to yours?