Journalism and Feature Writing, Travel

ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE – MY SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD

Bucket List – Top 7 Destinations

Everyone dreams about travelling the world. But when someone asks you where would you like to go and stay, where would be your top destination of choice? The Maldives might be your dream holiday, but I prefer seeing something more unique rather than the usual beach and sand holiday. Although, I wouldn’t complain if I was lying on the beach in the Maldives right now (she dreams), especially with the current Gold Coast weather. I don’t think anyone would! Seriously though, isn’t there somewhere you dream about visiting? A magical place of sorts? Here’s my seven wonders of the world I still aim to tick off my bucket list.

things to doPhoto credit: Suzie Hazelwood

1. ELQUI VALLEY – CHILE

It has always been a dream of mine to visit the Andes before I leave this world in a (hopefully) dignified way. I just wish I was one of those spiritual gurus tough enough to actually do the trek! Yes, I’m laughing here because I doubt I’d even make it half way. The Elqui Valley in Chile lures many travellers to pass its lands who seek an enlightened state. I myself, would simply be happy to walk across 10km of it just to see it. Consisting of some of the most luscious valleys and natural trails in the World, its peaks welcome every adventurer that dares to cross it with open arms. That’s not all this beautiful place on Earth is known for though! With its artificial light, the Eliqui Valley is an eclipse chaser’s dream. Home to over a dozen observatories, it attracts both stargazers and scientists by the truckloads. Have I mentioned the wine lists you can get your hands on in the valley? Probably not the best idea to think of wine while I’m on a heavy detox my end, but it has to be mentioned for the wine connoisseur. The valley’s distilleries have so many world-class wines to sample, including their national drink; Pisco Brandy. If that’s not enough to wet your appetite to visit, this year on July 2, you can witness a rare celestial and historical event in the form of a complete solar eclipse unlike any other. If only I had the money to go this year.

Elqui Valley, ChilePhoto credit: eberhard grossgasteiger

2. THE CHURCH OF BONES – KUTNA HORA, CZECH REPUBLIC

Do you believe in ghosts? I can tell you now that you will definitely feel it here. I’ve visited Kutna Hora many times in my life, but it’s always as magestic and creepy as ever whenever I go, so I had to add it here. If you ever visit Prague, make the effort and take the hour trip outside the city to visit this controversial, yet incredible bone church. You won’t be disappointed. This medievil gothic church is completely decorated inside with more than 40,000 human bones, making you feel like you’re truly walking among the dead. The bone chandelier is one piece of artwork not to be missed, as it’s constructed from every single bone that can be found inside the human body. It hangs above you in the centre, releasing it’s secrets while you stare. The Schwarzenberg Family Coat of Arms, is another incredible piece built soley from human bones. In 1278 the King of Bohemia sent the abbot of the Sedlec Cistercian Monastery to Jerusalem to bring back holy soil to place on the grounds, and people believed that if they were buried there, it would grant them entrance to heaven. After the bubonic plague, known as the Black Death hit Europe hard in the 14th and into the 15th Century, the cemetery was overcrowded with dead bodies and soon they had to dump the dead into a basement ossuary. In 1870 a woodcarver called Frantisek Rint was hired to create a memorial of sorts and it resulted in such an intricate and beautiful, yet shocking church of bones. The Ossuary now serves as the bone church itself. EERY I know. But definitely worth it.

kutna horaPhoto credit: Sarka Hil

3. TERRACE RICE FIELDS – VIETNAM

I have always been fascinated by the Terrace Rice Fields and the women who work them. As a writer, but also as a photographer, I dream of destinations like this to visit and have enough funds to freelance and be able to interview the women about their lives, their hardships and incredible stamina to keep doing what they do. This place is definitely on my bucket list. Rice production and cultivation is Vietnam’s most prized enterprise and it dates back to the 18th Century all the way back to the Khmer Dynasty. The French arrived in the 1800s and helped modernise the country’s rice production, helping them to develop the manufacture of maze through Vietnam’s canal system throughout Mekong Delta. They helped increase rice production, and eventually, Vietnam became one of the greatest rice providers of the world. I better get fitter if I ever want to climb these terraces myself.

Rice Fields of VietnamPhoto credit: thanhhoa tran

4. SANTORINI WINE CAVES – SANTORINI, GREECE

I find Greece such a romantic city and the Santorini Wine Caves that have been transformed into a hotel with a gothic, yet Mediterranean theme, is the perfect getaway in my eyes. I don’t know, there’s something about a cave. Maybe it’s because it’s where our ancestors began. Gothic structures are very romantic to me and I love everything medieval too, so I guess when you can stay in something so fascinating like a cave that’s been remodelled into a luxury hotel, you just want to try the experience. The Canaves Oia Suites are in the North West of the Island and were established in 1985 by a Greek couple; Anna and Yiannis Chaidemenos. The pair were responsible for introducing the tourist market to Oia’s fishing village located in Santorini and reconstructed the 17th Century wine cellars into a stunning, luxury hotel. The hotel’s rooms provide an intricate and unique accommodation option to the thousands of tourists who visit each year. Yiannis and Anna first renovated 2 caves which they began renting to the public. With those funds, they continued their expansion, resulting in 18 luxurious hotel rooms. There are other hotels in the area, but the Oia Suites are my favourite. What a wonderful romantic getaway!

Santorini Wine Caves Photo credit: Christos Drazos

5. TREEHOUSE UTOPIA – TEXAS COUNTRY RETREAT, USA

The Treehouse Utopia located in Texas is something I’ve wanted to visit and holiday in for quite some time. Guess it’s the whimsical fairy in me, but I find a home in a tree so mind blowing. It takes me back to the original Swiss Family Robinson movie, because I have wanted to live in a treehouse since I saw that film in my childhood. The owners currently have two treehouse accommodations available, but plan to create four in total for holiday stayers and it’s going to be a real treat. The Chateau as they call the second treehouse, is a two person accommodation stay and will be the biggest of the four. They recently constructed it between three spiralling cypresses, and it sits among delicate moss, ancient layers of limestone and a cliff covered over with leafy ferns. You get to enjoy over 580 square feet of space, with a deck that provides an additional 440 square feet of walkway among the tree canopy. The owners call it ‘a caste in the trees’. Just beautiful!

Treehouse Utopia lighted upPhoto credit: Treehouse Utopia

6. JULES UNDERSEA LODGE – KEY LARGO, USA

I’d like to be, under the sea. Remember Octopus’s Garden by the Beatles? I used to sing it with my father as a child. The Jules Undersea Lodge reminds me of that song. How incredible is it that you can actually stay in a room under the sea! This hotel is one that definitely doesn’t disappoint! It’s a gorgeous underwater hideout that has been visited by stars like Tim Allen and Steve Tyler and some very famous politicians too. And did you know that it was the first of its kind? There are now over 10 Underwater Hotels in the world, but I like this one because you’re completely submerged with a bird’s eye view. There’s scuba diving available throughout the day, but the best part is the romance side of it. I don’t think you could find any other place in the world that is more private than this underwater hotel, if you don’t mind sharing the bedroom with the fish.

jules-undersea-lodge_1Photo credit: Orangesmile.com

7. KAKSLAUTTANEN ARCTIC RESORT – FINLAND

You may have heard of this place before, but I bet you’ve never been there. If you have, you are one of the lucky people to see such a beautiful holiday destination. It’s not your usual place to visit because it’s so damn cold, so rug up if you plan to go in peak season, but I would take the cold any day just to stay and see it. The Kakslauttanen Arictic Resort in Finland is a place where you can literally sleep in your own igloo while you watch the Northern Lights from your bed. This resort offers 8 months of incredible Northern Light viewing, but the best time to visit is in the Autumn season. Finland has a handful of resorts and accommodation similar to this one available for the Northern Light viewing, and they’re all miraculous and completely majestic. It just depends on your budget. I for one, am completely happy with a simple glass igloo to stare at the sky all night long through.

kakslauttanen_glass_igloo_insidePhoto credit: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

If you have a special recommendation of somewhere unique in the world that you’ve visited, get in touch below.

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