Which traveler does not have a dream list of places to see before they die? I, of course, have a private bucket list also. It is true that every year it changes as I manage to progress through and cross off its points, but fortunately, I never run out of ideas for new goals. So far, here is my current list for 2017.
A beer at the highest beer garden in Germany
Germany is famous for its beer-drinking culture and not only do they offer high quality beer, they also give you the opportunity to have a drink in the “highest German beer garden” in the south of the country. This unusual place is located at the top of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze. There are two possible paths to this breathtaking tasting. The easier one is a train that goes to the very top of the mountain, the second is a climb on foot, which is a challenge for the brave. It is obvious, however, which way will make the beer taste better afterwards.
Ice skating through the Dutch canals
The lowland landscapes of the Netherlands may not provide the most variety, but this country, with a honecomb of canals, can provide some quite unusual and interesting experiences in the winter. We usually associate Dutch channels with barges moored somewhere in Amsterdam, but if the Dutch winter brings frost, they become multi-kilometer long ice skating routes, which the Dutch are eager to travel on through cities, fields, and meadows. This is a popular way of spending free time, which is definitely worth experiencing.
Usually I encourage you to explore and experience beautiful places, but this time I will make an exception. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster left behind not only the memory of people born in the 80’s drinking Lugoa. Nuclear fallout forced authorities of the USSR to close the nearby Pripyat due to a threat to the health of the inhabitants. As a result of this, today’s Ukraine has a “memorial” of this event in the form of the famous ghost town.
Today, when the threat is not longer so great, you can visit Pripyat along with a tour guide and observe how the buildings and streets left, day by day are gradually taken over by nature and deteriorating, which gives this place a unique, post apocalyptic feel.
Sailing around the islands, Greece
There are not many places in Europe as enchanting as the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea and there is no better way to discover them than a boat trip. The waters surrounding the islands such as Paros, Antiparos or Nanos, have for years been attracting enthusiasts of sailing and the rich history and heritage of Greece. The airy towns, full of authentic taverns and lacking the “all-inclusive” flair straight out of a travel catalog – it’s just one of the many reasons to sail among the less frequented Greek islands. Another, just as important, one is the mesmerizing blue-tinged nature of the sea, hiding caves and wild beaches from the less inquisitive tourists.
Paraglider flight in the Dolomites
A paraglider flight is in itself an amazing experience and everyone should try it, even if it’s just in the role of a “passenger”, and it really doesn’t even matter where. But flying in the Dolomites, which are famous for having the best condition for this sport, is a truly unique experience. The beauty of the Italian mountains is known to everyone, at least from photographs. Observing them with a bird’s eye view, in silence interrupted only by the whistle of the wind playing on the cables connecting the glider with the harness, is a completely different level of connecting with the mountains, the wind, and the wilderness. And when we land, overwhelmed by the experience, we can spend the evening with a glass of Chianti in one of the restaurants among the mountains.
A Parisian tête-à-tête with art
Paris has, for centuries, been attracting artists and patrons of art, collecting an unrivaled number of outstanding works, which in turn, attract crowds of connoisseurs of their work until today. The first and most obvious address for each of them is the Louvre, of course, where, if we are going without a hurry and with the plan to wander through the endless halls and corridors, it is possible to spend a few days there.
The Louvre is just the beginning though – the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Musée d’Orsay, or the Latin Quarter are other addressed that cannot be missed. There is also Montmartre, which became in the mid-nineteenth century a gathering place for Europe’s bohemia and where, today, you can see the presence of, for example: Hector Berlioz, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautreca, czy Amadeo Modigliani.
Rooting for the Tour de France
France is not just about art and Paris. In the summer, the pace of the entire country slows down a bit and for three weeks everyone lives for the Tour de France – the most challenging and most famous cycling race in the world. It is worth experiencing the atmosphere and the emotions of the race at least once, especially on the historic climbs, where legends of this sports fall and new ones are born. The murderous climb up to Mont Ventoux or L’Alpe d’Huez always gathers large crowds, and once the peloton has passed us, we can try to bike at these spots ourselves, while burning some of the calories we gained while drinking wine with the local cheeses…
Another Spanish idea, but this time a little less sporty. The famous battle of the tomatoes in the Spanish city of Buñol dates back to 1945, when a fight broke out between participants of a yearly parade. They very cleverly used the vegetables from a nearby grocery shop. Over time, the illegal annual skirmish, being a continuation of that very first fight, gained the approval of the city authorities and has permanently integrated itself into the most recent traditions of the Valencia region, being one of the most recognizable attractions of the Iberian peninsula. So in August, we can, for a little while, forget that we are adults, and find our inner child along with thirty thousand other people, attacking each other with tomatoes. And when the tomato puree has finally settled, we can explore the rest of the area and try some different tapas 🙂
You do not have to be a football fan – like me – to want to experience the famous Spanish El Clásico live.Every confrontation between Real Madrid and Barcelona attracts the attention of the football world and goes well beyond ordinary sports rivalry. Twice a year, the biggest stars of football, the highest level of play, and extreme emotions attract millions of spectators who want to see another show that will go down in history.
To experience all of this, together with tens of thousands of fans at the Camp Nou or Santiago Bernabeu is yet another level of initiation into Spanish culture and the mysteries of football, because – as Scottish manager Bill Shankly used to say – “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
Observing the Northern Lights in Iceland
My absolute number one… The Northern Lights can be seen from many parts of Northern Europe, and sometimes it is even possible to see in Poland, but it is impossible to experience it anywhere else like in Iceland. The volcanic, sometimes almost unrealistic, landscape of the island is a unique backdrop for this picturesque phenomenon. The mountains, the geysers, and the rough surroundings become the ideal scene for one of the most spectacular shows of nature.