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These five travel destinations hold a special place in my heart! What are your favorite places to travel?
Carcasonne, France: This medieval, Carcasonne’s impressive 3 kilometers of defensive walls and its castle have stood solidly protecting the medieval city since the 3rd century. A visit to this fairy tale kingdom will make you feel like a kid again as you wander through its picturesque winding, cobbled streets and explore its extensive ramparts (they even have a moat with a drawbridge!)
For an even more impressive and memorable visit, plan your vacation to coincide with Carcasonne’s annual Bastille Day celebrations! The city shoots off an unforgettable fireworks display each year on Bastille Day (July 14th) to commemorate the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution.
Isle of Skye, Scotland: Three words: simply stunning scenery. The dramatic landscapes of this island off of the coast of Western Scotland have been carved by volcanoes and glaciers over the last 55 million years. The result is a remote island (the tour buses can only access a small part of the island, leaving the rest of the island off the beaten path and discoverable only by car) where you can enjoy hikes with views of blue sky, green grass and other-wordly rock formations.
Other highlights of a visit to the Isle of Skye include the best fish and chips that I have ever eaten (no small commendation, for I have eaten my share of the greasy things!) a great bed and breakfast, and a good dose of Scottish history.
Chiang Dao, Thailand: I cried when we left this beautiful place and the beautiful Thai people that we met there. That is how wonderful our visit was. Our days here were filled with visits to ancient temples, hearing the early morning chanting of monks from the monastery up the road from us, wonderful food, the best Thai massage that I ever had and lots of peaceful relaxation.
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Chiang Dao Nest is the place to stay if you visit this tropical Northern Thailand paradise. There are other resorts in the area that offer similar accommodations, but the staff at Chiang Dao Nest truly went out of their way to make our stay incredible.
A tip if you go; make sure to check out the resort’s barbecue on Thursday nights and enjoy a massage in their open air massage bungalow. The views of the mountains and green forests from our private bungalow were what one would envision a postcard of Thailand to look like.
Chiang Dao is actually pretty easy to get to for being so beautiful and peaceful. A beautiful 90 minute bus ride from Chiang Mai (a major city in Northern Thailand) will put you right in the middle of the small village of Chiang Dao, the gateway to unlocking this Northern Thailand paradise.
Madrid, Spain: Madrid for me brings to mind tapas and sangria and strolling its streets late into the evening, after the intense heat of the day has dissipated. Highlights of a visit to Madrid include a leisurely stroll or picnic in Parque del Retiro, sampling foods from all over the world in the Mercado San Miguel, or sipping cocktails and watching the flow of colorful people through the Plaza Mayor.
If you visit, make sure to try Madrid’s most popular breakfast: Churros and chocolate (Chocolateria San Gines is a popular place to try this unique sweet treat). A free trip up to the top of Madrid’s historic central post office will afford striking views of the city and views of the busy Plaza Cibeles below.
Seoul, South Korea: Seoul really surprised me. Its temples were a delight to visit, and we enjoyed its unique cuisine. One of the best parts about Seoul was its modest prices which were much lower than many of its Asian neighbors. It is an easy city to get around, as it has an extensive subway and bus system, making getting in, out and around a breeze!
If you go, make sure to book an excursion to the nearby DMZ (demilitarized zone) dividing North and South Korea, where you can have the rare opportunity to stand in North Korea!
Check out one of the night markets in Seoul to get a true sense of local culture (Seoul is a late night city…everybody is out after dark!) At night, it is also fun to take the subway to the Yeouinaru stop and walk towards the river. The area has a festive atmosphere, with food stands and street performers to entertain the locals and tourists who flock here at night for the great views of the city or to take one of the many evening ferry cruises which leave from here.
Check out these other great travel blogs for more ideas for great places to go!