Monday 20 January 2014

Top 10 Places I've Been

Everyone loves a top ten list. Periodically, I will do a "top ten" list of things that intrigue me.  Travel has been and is still a big part of who I am.  Visiting and experiencing different places helps broaden the scope of my reality and I have gained so much from my voyages abroad.  So without further ado, here is my list of only the TOP TEN PLACES I have visited. 

#10.  TIOMAN ISLAND - A small island off the coast of Malaysia, this dense, rain forest was a welcome retreat after a year of backpacking for me.  The warm waters of the South China Sea surround what is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.  The movie South Pacific was filmed on these beaches and was affectionately called Bali Hai.  Legend has it that the island is refuge of a beautiful dragon princess who was on route from China to visit her prince in Singapore.  Captivated by the beauty of this spot, she decided to end her journey.  She took the form of this island in order to provide comfort and safety to travellers.  I remember the bumpy boat ride from Malaysia to the island, arriving late at night.  The smell of bouganvillias filled the air. All I can say is thank goodness for the full moon, which lit the way to a little hut in a nearby village.  This was the perfect spot to do a little soul searching and reflecting.
Tioman Island
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#9. VENICE - This city was one that took me by surprise.  I hadn't been prepared for the beauty and history here. No wonder Venice has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  The canals and bridges can only be appreciated by boat.  A gondola ride here is a must and if you are as lucky as I was, you may have a gondolier who has navigated these canals for many years.  The stories he shared about the city were wonderfully colourful and, true to the stereotype, he sang for me.  Venice was never on my list of places to visit and is now on my list of places to see again.  There was so much I missed seeing here, like Harry's Bar.  This bar, in and of itself, has a story to tell, from the humble beginnings of its founder to the long list of famous patrons, which include Hemingway, Marconi, Toscanini and Capote.  
Exploring the canals of Venice by gondola
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#8. VANCOUVER - A raw gem in the Canadian landscape.  Vancouver is nature's playground and that is what I love about it.  Mountains to one side and the Pacific to the other.  A few years ago, I was fortunate to be able to take a yacht ride up the coast and was absolutely taken with the beauty of this province.  It was breathtaking.  The people here are friendly, warm and are always smiling.  Although the rain can make this city seems gloomy at times, the green of the evergreens keep spirits alive.
Kitsilano Beach
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#7. SAN FRANCISCO - Another west coast city that I love.  The city is famous for its hills and cable cars.  My favourite spots, of course, are Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39, with all the wonderful seafood available at my fingers!  What I really liked, strangely enough, was the fog that seemed to appear daily during the summer.  Searching  through this fog to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Presidio, made it mysterious and exciting.  I found that this city was happy and filled with people who loved to share their stories.
Golden Gate Bridge
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#6. SYDNEY - Moving to Australia after University was probably one of the most adventurous things I ever did. Sydney, of course, was my first stop and I was ready to take in the Australian way of life.   My first night here, I stayed at a hostel in King's Cross, only later finding out that this was not the best part of the city but that didn't deter me from exploring.  I spent 7 days just walking and observing.  The Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Hyde Park, Sydney Tower, the Chinese Garden of Friendship, all beautiful.  On my 8th day, everything shut down and there was a city wide celebration because Sydney had just won the bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics. This celebration provided me with amazing insight to who the people of Australia were. They were happy, live life to the fullest, you get one crack at this, crazy people who laughed and indulged at every possible moment.
Sydney Opera House
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#5. OLD SAN JUAN - This is another city that took me by surprise and I fell in love with the landscape, the colourful buildings and a little old man rolling cigars by the road. The city is surrounded by huge walls and forts, Il Morro and Castle of San Cristobal.  The narrow streets, rainbow coloured edifices and exquisite doors are a photographers dream.  It was here where my love affair with antique doors began and in all my travels, I am constantly looking for that one door that knocks my socks off. 
View of the barrio from the Tower at the Castle of San Cristobal
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#4. VERONA - Verona is an old city that has charm and then some.  This city is also a World Heritage Site.  What I love about this city is that many of the old buildings have been exquisitely preserved and are not in ruin.  The Verona Arena is one of these and it still used today.  Wandering up and down the streets, I marvelled at some of the places I stumbled upon, like the Piazza dei Signori.  The architecture in Verona was incredible, mixing architecture and art from different periods in history to present day. An interesting, yet fictitious, place to see is Juliet's balcony, straight from Shakespeare's story of star-crossed lovers.  A bronze statue of Juliet sits here and it is said that if a person touches the right breast, they will have good fortune.  
Juliet's Balcony "Romeo, Romeo..."
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#3. KYOTO - Japan was beautiful from start to finish.  The old mixed with the new, so seamlessly.  In the middle of the hustling electronic district, you find parks filled with fountains, deer, temples and lanterns. The tranquility of Kyoto's Philosopher's Walk was wonderful. For me, the best part of visiting Kyoto was taking part in a lovely tea ceremony. A friend of mine lives here and planned a tea ceremony, complete with fabulous red bean desserts and me, donned head to toe in a kimono.  
Japanese lanterns
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#2. FLORENCE - Florence touched my heart this past summer.  This medieval city, the birthplace of the Renaissance, was filled with so much to explore.  Every corner I turned, there was something to take in; a beautiful statue, il Porcellino, an opera singer performing La Donna e Mobile in the middle of the strada, Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi. It was complete sensory overload!  The colours of the city at sunset were unlike anything I have ever seen - a beautiful orange that lit up the horizon.  But the one thing that absolutely, without a doubt, blew me away, was walking into the hall of the Galleria Accademia and seeing the statue of Michaelangelo's David.  It brought tears to my eyes and a shiver sped down my spine. Exquisite doesn't do this piece of art justice. Everyone, in their life, needs to have an experience that does this to them. This is another city on my "must visit often" list.  
Tuscan Sunset in Florence over the Arno
Photo by Audrey Bresar
#1.  PARIS - No surprise here, right?  Paris, the city that touched my soul and never left.  I don't think I need to elaborate anymore here since I wrote all about it in Follow Me to the City of Love

So there you have it, my list of the top ten places I have visited (so far) in my life.  

Next on my list to explore are:
NYC (maybe this spring!)
Almalfi Coast

Talk to me!  What are your top THREE places and what should I add to my list?


  1. Prague. It's similar to, but better than, Endinburgh. Only city that to my mind really rivals Paris (although I've not been to all the ones on your list). Also, some of the cities of southern Germany are very nice if you want to do a "grand tour" of the region, including Munich, Heidelberg, and Rotenburg.

    1. Totally forgot about Prague! I would love to do a tour of Germany, Austria, Czech Rep, Slovenia, Croatia, Istria...if only I had copious of amounts of money and didn't have to work :) Slowly but surely, I will get to all these wonderfully historical and beautiful gems..

  2. What I love about your list is that it has introduced me to some places I hadn't thought of visiting! You must definitely added Istanbul to your list - it's a wonderful city!

    1. Istanbul! Decadent! I hear that it is a beautiful place that is full of excitement! Consider it added to my list! My list is the top ten places I have visited thus far in my life...I am sure that it will constantly evolve as I explore the world! Thanks for the suggestion and comment :)