We all have those moments in life where words can’t quite portray what you are feeling or seeing. The same happens when travelling.
I’ve had a lot of ‘wow’ moments when travelling and if I listed them here, the post would be a heck of a lot longer, so instead here are my Top Five Travel Moments – in no particular order (simply because I don’t think I could choose my number one travel moment):
I didn’t love Paris.
I had fallen hard for London; and Paris just seemed a little ‘blah’ for me. Which I know people will be wondering if I need to get my head read by thinking that. But if there is one thing that I have learned over the years is that not everyone is going to love the same things as you.
I know people who don’t like London (clearly they do need to get their heads read).
Having said that, there was definitely one thing that kind of blew my mind in Paris. Seeing the Eiffel Tower in person.
The very first time I saw the iconic tower, it was half covered in fog. But that did not, in any way, diminish my amazement of seeing this incredible structure for the first time. I couldn’t actually get over just how big the tower is.
When I saw her in all her glory, the Eiffel Tower really was everything I had hoped it would be; majestic, powerful, intricate, incredible. And just when I didn’t think she would get any more magnificent.. I saw her at night time!
I love those moments in life when you just have to say ‘wow’… when I saw the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time, I did just that.
Spanning the East River between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, the bridge is an incredible feat of engineering. Completed in 1883, it is the oldest hybrid cable-strayed/suspension bridge in the US. You can even hear my favourite podcasters, The Bowery Boys, podcast about the bridge that they did in 2008.
I didn’t walk over the bridge; I didn’t even step foot onto the bridge. But I did see it from afar; firstly from the Manhattan Bridge as I was on a bus crossing over to Brooklyn and secondly from the Staten Island Ferry as I headed over to the Island on Thanksgiving Day 2012.
I was immediately impressed by this amazing structure; although I am a bit of a sucker for a good bridge (including the stunning Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh) and the Brooklyn Bridge is definitely one of the best out there.
When I went to London for the first time, it coincided with my 38th birthday. It was one thing to be celebrating my birthday in London, but then I found out that the All Blacks were playing England at Twickenham… on my birthday.
It goes without saying that I absolutely had to get tickets to the game. Luckily I managed to get a couple of tickets (not saying how much it cost!!) and my niece, who had been living in London for a few years at that point, and I went to Twickenham to see our national rugby team play England.
Regardless of how you feel about the All Blacks, one of the most amazing thing to witness live is them performing the Haka before a game. I have seen them live a few times and the Haka still gets me every time. However at this game, I really wanted to hear the English fans sing Swing Low Sweet Chariots during the game.. and they did.. and I loved it!
I don’t really remember the game, mostly because my niece spent the majority of the game trying to find & photograph Prince Harry in the stands and I was trying to follow Richie McCaw around the field. Given that we were in the nose-bleed section, it was quite a feat.
After the game, we headed with the other hoards of people to the local train station to head to Waterloo Station. We then went to see the London Eye and Houses of Parliament at night. From there we jumped on the tube to Wembley, where my sister & I were staying.
My sister had prepared an awesome birthday meal, complete with a yummy birthday cake.
Still the best birthday I’ve ever had, although my birthday in Hawaii with another couple of my nieces, in 2012 comes a very close second.
They say that the view of Manhattan from the top of the Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock) is the best one because it has the Empire State Building in it.
Whoever ‘they‘ are, they’re not wrong!
It’s weird how a city so busy and nosy down at street level, can seem so different above all the chaos. But looking out at Manhattan from the Top of the Rock was actually really calming and relaxing. Plus what a view it is!
On one side, you have this amazing view of Central Park; on the other side you have a view of Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. You also get views of Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey. When I was there in 2012, they were still constructing One World Trader Center but even then you could see how big the building was going to be.
You really do feel like you are on top of the world up there.
Years ago I had been inspired by a photo from the TOTR, with the Empire State Building. It inspired me to go there and get my own photo of the same thing. I, however, included one of those viewers in my photo and honestly, I think mine is better!
I took a lot of photos of those viewers when I was up there. I love those viewers!
This was definitely a ‘wow’ moment for me.
I think it’s safe to say that I probably have the most photos of the Old Royal Naval College than anywhere else I’ve visited. Except Christchurch of course.
I am not even sure when the ORNC came onto my radar but I knew when I visited London for the first time in 2010 that it was one place I just HAD to visit.. I’ve been to London 3 times now and each time I’ve gone out to Greenwich and the Royal Naval College.
The very first time I saw the ORNC, I cried. Not like ‘bawled my eyes out’ cried but there were definitely tears.
I’m not sure if it was because my dad, who had passed away a couple years previously, had been in the NZ Navy and I associated the place with him; the dramatic architecture or that the buildings were obviously designed by Christopher Wren, who designed my favourite building, St Paul’s Cathedral.
Whatever it was, this place calls me back every time I’m in London.
Words cannot describe the stunning Painted Hall or the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul. Both interiors are completely stunning and could not be more different. The Painted Hall with it’s amazing paintings depicting moments from around the time it was built, it has been described as the ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’. And it’s not hard to see why.
The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is, quite simply, beautiful. Not only is the chapel an amazing place to visit but it is still a working chapel and hosts regular concerts and Evensong.
There is good reason why the Old Royal Naval College and Greenwich is always on my list of places to visit when I’m in London. It’s because these buildings are classic and stunning in very sense of the word.
So there you have it. My Top Five Travel Moments.
I could have easily added seeing the glaciers in Alaska; going to the Edinburgh Tattoo or visiting St Paul’s Cathedral to this list but then it wouldn’t have been a Top Five list would it.
I’ve had a lot of ‘wow’ moments and I’m sure I will have many more. But I think that since these Top Five moments have all happened years ago and they are still the ones that I go back to as my most amazing moments, that’s what makes them extra special.
It is also not a real surprise that four out of the Top Five feature architecture. Don’t get me wrong, scenery is amazing. Being at the top of Whistler in Canada was incredible and a definite ‘wow’ moment, but I do love architecture. Which is why these five moments are my Top Five.
What are your Top Five moments?