Recently I read an article listing a hundred paces to visit before you die and inviting you to tick off the ones you’ve visited. No doubt you’ve come across this kind of list in the past.
While reading it, I found that I agreed with some choices and completely disagreed with others. Ultimately, I was left dissatisfied with the list. Their experiences at some of these destinations clearly differed from mine.
This got me thinking about the basic flaw in these lists, which is simply, they are all biased! What could be more subjective than our own impressions of a travel destination?
So I’ve decided to write my own list. How will I get around the problem of my own biases you ask? Simple. I’m not going to try to.
In fact, I’m going to create a totally biased list of destinations with no attempt to be even handed. Each destination has been picked for what it means to me.
Why not create your own top 10 destinations list and add it in the comments section at the end of this article?
In the meantime, here are my top 10 favorite destinations.
#10. The Sacré-Coeur Paris, France
For those of you about to throw your arms up in disgust, exclaiming that the Sacre’-Coeur is the “ugliest building in Paris,” wait just one moment. I agree with you completely, but you have overlooked the fact that this is the one vantage point in Paris where you can look out across the city and not have the Sacre’-Coeur offend your eye line.
It is also where I took my girlfriend on our first New Year’s Eve together. We stood balanced on a wall drinking red wine and watching the fireworks go off across Paris.
# 9. Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
I have to be honest. Until recently, this wouldn’t have been on my list. There are certainly more spectacular beaches in Australia, many of them less crowded. However, once you have spent Christmas day on Bondi Beach in 30 degrees weather, wasting the day away sunbathing, surfing the perfect waves and picnicking on the beach, your impression of the place changes forever.
#8 Abou Simbel, Egypt
If you want to visit a place where even the toes of the giant stone statues carved into the rock are too tall reach up and touch, this is the place. The giant pharaohs carved thousands of years ago can’t help but make you feel small as you enter the ancient temple. Regardless of your age, you’ll feel like Indiana Jones in Abou Simbel.
#7 Temple Bar, Dublin Ireland
Yes, Temple Bar in Dublin is a cliché, and to the Irish, it has undoubtedly lost all authenticity and become commercial and overpriced. But to an Englishman like me, it is everything that is magical about the Emerald Isle.
This is where I found myself with ten or so of my friends from sixth form on my first holiday free from parents and school. We danced and drank the black stuff all night –and I have never enjoyed a night out more.
#6 The Empire State Building, NYC, USA
It needs no introduction from me. The Empire State Building in New York City is as iconic a building as any on the planet. If you haven’t been yet, go! Take your girl or your guy, take a coat, take the lift, take the audio tour and enjoy the view.
#5 The Franz Jozeph Glacier, New Zealand
Climbing the Franz Jozeph Glacier is something I just found recently. For those of you who don’t know it, Franz Jozeph Glacier is the glacier directly beneath one of the beacons they light in The Lord of Rings film “The Return of the King.” But even your new HD flat screen at home can’t do justice to how spectacular it really is in person.
#4 The Lebeau State Tower, Bangkok, Thailand
The Lebeau State Tower offers one of the highest roof top bars in the world – and it certainly provides the best possible view of one of the great cities of Asia. My girlfriend and I spent more on cocktails at the bar than we did on food and drink in Bangkok for the rest of the week. The bar is featured in the film, “The Hangover Part Two.”
#3 The Albert Dock, Liverpool, England
Yes, I did go to university in Liverpool, and yes, I moved back there after university. I love Liverpool. But I still believe that the docks here could make it onto any unbiased top destinations list. It is, after all, a world heritage site. It’s home to not only some of Liverpool’s best bars and restaurants, but also museum exhibits, the Beatles’ tour, and of course, the smaller Tate Gallery.
#2 The Pitons, St Lucia
The Pitons in St Lucia is quite simply the most beautiful landscape on the plant – period. If you disagree then I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Before you come up with all sorts of good arguments for why you’re not, remember that this is my list and it is completely biased.
And of course, you couldn’t have known that my mother was born on that tiny island in the Caribbean.
#1 The Shropshire Hills, England
If I walk up a certain hill in Shropshire, I will eventually find myself at a house, the second to last before the dirty track they call a road runs out. The house is surrounded by leafy green trees and hedges on all sides but one. That side offers a view across the Shropshire Hills and over the Welsh border. Gently rolling hills are broken up by small fields, short hedge rows and great oak trees. It’s a beautiful sight.
When I arrive here I am at that singular place in space and time different for each of us, but universally referred to as home. You’ll find more striking views, of course, but none more soothing and beautiful than the place we call home.