I am very lucky to have traveled to a great number of countries in my 21 years of life, but I also know I need to see so much more of the spectacular world we live in. From the beautifully archaic streets that wind around countless cities in Europe and the blistering sun warming the stunning waterfront territories of South America, to the dense and humid rainforests teaming with wildlife in various parts of the globe, I can safely say there is more I need to see.
Here are three brag-worthy places I have had the pleasure of exploring myself, along with three of my next travel destinations:
1. Old Town Prague, Czech Republic
If you want to see a city rich in historical architecture, as well as a culture that has survived two World Wars, this should be at the top of your bucket list. I have had the opportunity to travel to Prague in the spring of 2012, coincidentally lining up my visit with the Orthodox Easter weekend celebrations in Eastern Europe. Because of this, the town square was bustling with an Easter market that was overflowing with delicious foods, countless trinkets and multiple street performers.
Upon exploring the outskirts of the main square, I found myself pushing past throngs of people on the Charles Bridge and heading toward the narrow streets of Old Town, in the hopes of making it up the steep hillside to the castle resting at the mountain's peak. The whole journey was breathtaking with regard to the visual beauty I slowly digested, as well as for the experience of being immersed in a place so vibrant with life (despite its antiquity).
Be prepared to spend a bit of money, though. It's hard to resist buying the hand-painted nesting dolls, Austrian crystal jewelry and (little did I know until I tried it) mouthwatering milk chocolate found in some of the shops.
2. Carpathian Mountains, Slovakia
I spent hours driving through the Carpathian Mountains, utilizing this scenic route to travel from Poland to Hungary on a trip through Europe. Greenery predominantly engulfs the view, you can spot the snow-capped mountain peaks in some spots and seeing an 11th-century, abandoned castle overlooking a small lake is not uncommon. Although I stopped at a relatively random (but yummy) restaurant tucked away between the sloping beauties of the terrain, the truly rewarding part of this place was simply seeing it all.
I have never really felt small in this world, but one has a way of experiencing just this with the vast mountains surrounding him or her. The fresh air is so different from the stifling, polluted oxygen of downtown Toronto (where I live). You begin to feel sleepy and trance-like while exposed to such an environment.
I promise you that if you visit this place, you will not be disappointed.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
It's easy to get lost in this welcoming city, with the many bridged canals and narrow connected buildings lining the water appearing quite similar. The Dutch street names can be difficult to pronounce and decipher, but any wrong turn leads you to some new discovery. This could be a unique shop, an intriguing restaurant or even an interesting monument.
With regard to my own adventures in this lovely city, I would suggest checking out the shopping in Dam Square, trying oliebollen desserts and, of course, the sobering experience of walking through the Anne Frank Huis.
A word of warning, however: People are racing around on bicycles on every narrow, cobblestoned street. So be careful not to be clipped (or totally run over, to be honest) by one of these hurried cyclists.
4. Yaxchilan, Mexico
This is the next destination on my travel bucket list, with my goal being to visit this location in the next few months. Yaxchilan is an ancient Mayan city situated along the Usumacinta River in Mexico, and it possesses multiple intact Mayan edifices.
I am fascinated by the ancient Mayans, and there is no doubt that seeing the historical structures will shed more light on these ancient people and their interesting culture. Certainly, visiting such historical sites makes elements of the past seem like they have occurred simply recently.
5. Blue Grotto, Malta
Throughout my childhood, I recall flipping through my grandmother's book of photographs of the beautiful island of Malta: her homeland. I was always captivated the most by photos of Blue Grotto, which is a series of caverns lining the blue-green waters off the south coast of the tiny island country.
Though the boating excursions that are available in order to cavort through the sparkling and clear waters seem like a wonderful option, I would love to go swimming within them, in order to feel the warm seawater envelop me while I explore the spectacular caves stretched overhead.
6. Stairway To Heaven, United Arab Emirates
I actually came across an image of this spot the other day, on one of the many travel accounts I follow on Instagram. It doesn't seem like it would be an easy feat to ascend or descend the cliff's side, so I know I would have to dedicate some time to train my body to achieve such a physical feat.
However, from the pictures I have seen of this place, I know I have to make the trip to this hiking spot when I have the opportunity to travel to Dubai. There is no way one can travel across to globe to visit the city without taking the time to view such a magnificent accomplishment in nature.
Without a doubt, these are six places you must add to your travel bucket list. These stunning destinations will not only satisfy your desire for diverse culture, but you will also be able to immerse yourself in an adequate amount of history.
With every new city one visits, I have found that one constantly has to learn new ways of life, comprehend a wide scope of interesting people and elicit a greater understanding of rich cultures. I encourage you to push yourself to travel, not just to these places listed above, but also to as many different locations as you can manage.
These are the experiences you will draw from in the various parts of your life in the years to come. Happy travels.