As the New Year comes around, we seek adventure and yearn for new experiences and can't help but think: What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What do I want to see? From my recent travels, I have constructed a list of the experiences I still dream of to put on your bucket list!
1. Hike the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Enjoy Tea in a Berber Village
Morocco is unlike any other country that I have travelled to and the High Atlas Mountains proved the highlight of the trip -- deeply beautiful, a gradient of dusky browns and rich reds melting into one another, spotted with dry grasses and gasping plants. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the luxurious Kasbahs (see Richard Branson's exquisite Kasbah Tamadot: here) or a room in one of the Berber villages nestled amidst the hills. From your "base camp," explore the many trails that lead through the mountains on foot, bike, or mule. The vistas are stunning, stretching across the long horizon into the distance behind the peaks. Don't miss the opportunity to visit a Berber Village for tea in a residence. Sip the sweet Moroccan mint tea and enjoy learning about the culture and rich history of Morocco and of the Berber people. Remember your camera and your sunscreen; these sun-drenched mountains prove a stunning memory.
2. Visit La Alhambra in Granada and Eat Fabulous Paella
Built in order to be a "paradise on Earth," La Alhambra proves a gorgeous stronghold of Spain's intricate and complicated history -- from Moorish architectural influence and geometric focal points to Christian Renaissance additions. Built upon over the centuries, La Alhambra watches over Granada, her evolution halted and preserved. This palace is unlike any other in the world. Keep your eyes to the ceiling and note the magnificent geometric intricacies as you pass through the chambers; in addition, take in the fabulous fountains, pools, and water routes -- all of which were feats of their time in a land where water remains sparse. After a trip through La Alhambra, enjoy a delicious, traditional Spanish paella at La Parrala Resto Bar. With paellas for every taste ranging from vegetable to duck to fish, this restaurant is a gem in Granada.
Are you searching for the best meals around the world? Check out my three part article "My Top 30 Meals Around the World" to find more of these gems.
3. Go to the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore and Ride the Singapore Flyer
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city of Singapore, the Gardens by the Bay prove to be an urban oasis. Long promenades stretch along the waterline, fringed with trees and gorgeous blossoms, creating an ideal walking area with dazzling views of the city. The glass domed conservatories reach to either end of the spectrum of plant life -- an arid dome caters to Mediterranean flowers and plants, including an olive tree garden and many cacti, while the "cloud forest" dome strives to replicate mountain-top coolness with dewy green wildlife and a 35 meter tall waterfall falling from the side of a "cloud mountain" that is hiked down by visitors. The final aspect of the gardens is the Supertree Grove, an otherworldly grove of huge metallic "trees" that house plants and offer a stunning, visually powerful light show every night. Near the Gardens by the Bay stands the Singapore Flyer: the world's second tallest observation wheel (it was overtaken by a Vegas wheel in 2014), with 28 cars, each air-conditioned, which offer incredible views of the city of Singapore, the city's surrounding areas, and the marina.
4. Climb the Sydney Bridge and See an Opera in the Sydney Opera House
If you are looking for an inner-city adventure, climbing the Sydney Bridge is the activity for you. The Sydney Bridge Climb company offers a guided hike of the Bridge, each person suited up in a grey and blue jumpsuit and latched on to a wire that traces the bridge. Climb the steep metal stairs and peek straight down at the waters of the Sydney Harbour and the boats that pass underneath you, look across the bay at the classic Opera House, verdant gardens, and modern skyscrapers. Not for the feint of heart, this tour is sure to take your breath away -- and as you reach the peak of the bridge, you'll wish you never had to go back down to earth! The second quintessential Sydney experience is to visit the Sydney Opera House; opened in 1973, the Opera House is recognized as one of the world's premier spots to see a performance. There are several venues within the curved shells of the structure housing performances for every taste.
5. Enjoy the South Island of New Zealand's Sheep, Skiing, and Stunning Sights
I fell in love with New Zealand's South Island three years ago during an all-too short trip to Queenstown. With striking mountains, spectacular glaciers, gorgeous sounds, and exquisite wildlife, the South Island should have a spot on every traveller's itinerary. Queenstown is the perfect place for seeing the southern area of the South Island. From Queenstown, you can venture onto the ski slopes during their winter months with rentals from one of many ski shops. A fantastic day trip is to visit the Milford Sound, a fjord that reaches into the Tasman Sea. This spectacular sound is resplendent with the surrounding sloping green peaks and misty waterfalls dribbling onto mossy stones speckled with playful sea otters. The sound stretches out to the open ocean and is reachable by a long bus route through the countryside or a quick plane ride over the glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Visit the lovely Gibbston Valley to learn about New Zealand wines and sample some of their famous Pinot Noirs with a top-notch dinner. Check out the Walter Peak Farm, located on a lush shoreline, that houses a family-run sheep farm. Learn about the methods of wool production, meet the shaggy sheep, feed the ducks along the shore and deer in the fields, and enjoy a tea at the quaint house on this ferry-hop from Queenstown. Finally, check out the infamous ice bar -- complete with warm coats, sparkling ice sculptures, and a full bar, nestle yourself in one of the icy seats covered with woolen blankets and enjoy!
*Photos courtesy of author