My Favorite Places in the World (And Why You Should Visit Them) Part 2/2

 

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Thanks again for clicking on my blog as always! Last week I posted my Top 6-10 places to visit in the world and today I’m going to name my top 5! Let’s get down to business and find out what they are (and why you should go)!


5. Costa Rica

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My home now, this place is amazing for anyone but especially for outdoor enthusiasts. Want to relax on the beach surrounded by palm trees while sipping a margarita in seclusion? It’s easy to do here. Want to venture out into the dangerous rainforest and find some animals you can’t see anywhere else in the world? Want to hike up a volcano, trying to steer clear of boiling sulfur pits? Want to hang out in popular surf towns while catching the waves during the day and dancing salsa at night? Want to go zip-lining at a resort in the wilderness with hot springs and volcanic mud baths? It’s all here in Costa Rica. And don’t forget about the locals. Consistently ranked one of the happiest countries in the world, the Costa Ricans (or Ticos, locally) are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They will more than often go out of their way to help you. And don’t forget about the delicious coffee, produced by internationally known “Britt”. Everything is relaxed here, slow and without stress, all because of the national motto “pura vida”. It means “pure life” in English and guides how Ticos live their lives. Come and enjoy the hot sun from December through May when it’s not raining! It’s a blast!


4. New England, USA

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New England is a group of states in the USA composed of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. They make up much of the Northeastern United States, right next to Canada. The beauty in this region of the world is the change of seasons. Winter is freezing with tons of snow, great for exceptional skiing. Spring is mildly warm, and summer is hot, but the season that sticks out the most is fall.  Famous for its colorful autumns, the entire area is set ablaze by the colors of the leaves. If you decide to take a drive here, plan accordingly, because the leaves will be different depending on when you go. I recommend going in early October to see a true sea of reds, oranges, and yellows. The occasional golden leaf will pop up too, and even though it’s just a leaf, or just a tree, it’s truly a wonder to our eyes. My recommendation is to go for a long, long drive through the New England countryside. You can easily get lost in the wilderness up here, between mountains or beside rivers. There are other options too, of course. Hiking and camping are two of the most popular, and you might even see a bear or a moose! If you manage to go at the right time, you’ll never forget just how relaxing the wilderness can be.


3. Rome, Italy

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It’s called “The Eternal City” for a reason. That, and it was also the capital of the world for centuries. When I travel to a city, I like to be immersed in culture and atmosphere. I like to be inspired by what the city has to offer. Because of that reason, Rome definitely earns its spot in my top 5. Maybe you’d like to appreciate centuries of history and learn about everything Rome has done to effect Western tradition. Maybe you want to see the birthplace of Christianity, or visit the Vatican City. Maybe you’d like to take a day trip to Pompeii, the place where a storm of volcanic ash preserved bodies frozen in time over a multitude of generations. Maybe you just want some really good gelato or spaghetti! Rome is the only place on Earth which offers you these remarkable activities. Stand in awe of the engineering feats which are the Coliseum and Pantheon. Take a trip down to the Trevi Fountain and toss in some Euros for good luck. Get lost in the streets at night and live like an ancient Roman did. Explore some of the finest Italian cuisine! And for the record, out of all the pizza I’ve eaten in my life, I find that no place does it better than Rome.


2. Zion National Park, Utah

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This is, without a doubt, a favorite of mine. This place is on a lot of people’s favorites list. The name alone evokes wonder. Zion. Could it be that this place might stretch to the Heavens? Let’s find out. The adventure starts on the drive there (from Vegas). You’ll see nothing more than a typical desert along with some of Utah’s small towns. Nothing more than rocks, sand, and trucks. Then, in the distance, you’ll see a massive wall of rock and some road signs will hint that Zion is behind that wall. But what will it look like? The road will keep you wondering for a while as you’re driving through, staring and wondering if a pathway to Heaven is really over there. Then, after a few twists and turns, you’ll find yourself on the main pathway to the National Park and it’ll smack you right in the face. As you drive down this road, enormous monoliths will stand like giants, seemingly watching over the visitors and guarding the precious landscape. You might not be able to concentrate on the road because you’ll be looking up for a while. I suggest that you concentrate on where you’re going, because you might get into an accident, and miss out on the adventurous hiking this place can offer. You’ll feel enchanted by the names of the trails: Emerald Pools, The Narrows, and of course, Angel’s Landing. That last one is the most popular, because people will talk about the chains you need to hold onto to stop yourself from falling the 1,500 feet you just hiked. I remember feeling nervous while taking the shuttle bus to the trail entrance at 8 in the morning. “Are you hiking Angel’s Landing, too?” I asked a stranger. “I’m going to try, but I hear the end of the hike could be the end of your life”. I hope he made it! It’s true, people have died on this trail. It’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you must see Zion National Park.


1. Venice, Italy

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I’m really not sure if I can say anything about Venice that hasn’t been said. I’m sure this was predictable. At the same time, this is the most deserving number one I could think of. Venice has been my top destination ever since I stepped off the airplane at the local airport. Before I even landed, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing below me: a network of waterways, composed of little tiny islands, surrounded by a city that seemed to blend in with the landscape. There’s a reason that Venice has inspired so many stories about magic, or fairy tales, or adventures. The atmosphere is truly something to behold. There seems to be an everlasting cloud that hangs over the city, creating a dark and melancholy mood which is tamed by the vibrant and intensely imaginative culture that has inspired generations of artists. It ignited an adventurous spirit in the famous adventurer, Marco Polo. Nearly all I did in my three days in Venice was walk around, get lost, and take pictures. It’s so photogenic that you’ll see a selfie on every street. That brings me to an unfortunate downside of Venice. Believe it or not, Venice has been deemed a dying city. It’s clearly one of the most popular destinations in the world, and that makes it ripe for tourist invasion. I was disappointed in the amount of tourists who were there. Obviously, like everyone else, I wanted the city for myself. I wanted to step back a few centuries, away from tourism, and see what the real Venetian life was like. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist today. Only in your imagination, if you’re lucky enough to see it. You better hurry, too, because Venice is having trouble surviving. Not only is excessive tourism a problem, but Venice is also a sinking city. Being a city on the water, Venice’s greatest ally is the water. Conversely, it’s also its greatest enemy. The water that surrounds it is getting higher with climate change altering the face of the Earth and Venetians are struggling to adapt. There are bold engineering projects designed to combat the water, but it’s never a sure thing. We can only hope that a world treasure like this city isn’t wiped away by tourism or climate change. As for now, go and experience this treasure of western culture!


Wherever you travel, I think it’s important to be respectful as a tourist. Venice is a great example. Every year, it takes in more tourists than it can handle, people who are just there to snap some pictures and leave. Make an effort to know the city and love the city. That goes for anywhere. First, take a lesson from Costa Rica in conservation and then use that knowledge to appreciate what the planet has to offer.

Thanks for reading!! More to come as always.

To see Part 1, click here!

To see more photography and more destinations, click here!

John DeSarno

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