17 pretty cool places

Theseus Temple, Volksgarten, Vienna
Theseus Temple, Volksgarten, Vienna

for the first time in about 5 years, i am not traveling. i am in my hometown, walking the same streets and visiting the same cafes that i came of age in. i’m letting my wonderful husband have his day exploring my exotic home, as i did his, the past year and a half in dublin.

this lack of travel, however, leads me to a very sentimental state about all of the amazing places i’ve been the past few years. and this has led me to writing this post – a reliving, if you will, of some of those fantastic places (17 to be exact), some of which i’ve never blogged about.[tweetmeme]

the first on the list (in no particular order) is vienna, where the above photo of me, on the steps of the theseus temple in volksgarten, was snapped.  november 2007: i went to vienna with my austrian friend, claudia, who showed me the sights.

10 Thousand Buddhas
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

october 2006: climbed what felt like billions of stairs, carefully avoiding wild and dangerous monkeys, to this, the ten thousand buddhas monastery in hong kong. there are, literally, 10,000 golden buddhas that line the stairway and the inside of the main monastery building at the top. there’s also an amazing view.

Hungarian Parliament
Hungarian Parliament Building, as seen from Buda

november 2007: the hungarian national parliament building is easily one of the most beautiful buildings i’ve ever laid eyes on. i snapped this photo of myself on the buda side of the danube river, looking across to the parliament in pest.

Moeraki Boulders
Atop one of the Moeraki Boulders

july 2007: while visiting my dad, who lives in dunedin, new zealand, i got the chance to see these crazy beach boulders, the moeraki boulders, along the east coast of the south island of new zealand. although they looked like lava bubbles to me, they are actually concretions, or mud that has filled the pores of sediment rock, which have been exposed by erosion.

Golden Gate
An apt view of the Golden Gate Bridge

july 2007: my first visit to san francisco, and i never got a view of the golden gate bridge because of the fog. you know all those photos you see of the golden gate bridge basked in sunlight and rays of beautiful california sunshine reflecting off the waters of the bay? yeah, not so much. that bridge is covered in fog 90% of the time.

Tiananmen Sq.
Standing in Tiananmen Square

august 2006: not my first visit to tiananmen square, but my first solo adventure in beijing and the chance to really stand in tiananmen square and take it in. it is truly an overwhelming place to be – a concrete slab so vast that you can hardly see from one end to the other, flanked by imposing communist government buildings.

Killary
Walking the Western Way at Killary Fjord

march 2006: when i think of the most beautiful places i’ve ever been, killary fjord in ireland’s western connemara region always comes to mind. in march, it was extremely cold as i took this, one of my favorite self-portraits, while walking the western way.

In Bruges
In Bruges

october 2008: a city break to brussels with bill led us to day trip to bruges, a place i’d planned to go during my 2005 trip to europe (and never did because i was falling down drunk the night before). bruges, we decided, is idyllic but touristy and way too expensive. nonetheless, you can see the true happiness of that trip written all over my face.

Mingsha Dune
Made it to the top of the Mingsha Dune!

august 2005: after 3 weeks teaching english with the american chinese civic exchange‘s summer camp in zhejiang province, i took my baby chinese for a spin on a weeklong trip down the silk road. this photo was taken at the top of the mingsha dunes in the town of dunhuang, on the border of the taklamakan desert in gansu province.

Park Güell
Me, my Cons and Gaudí in Park Güell

march 2008: in barcelona, i got to know antoni gaudí, a catalan architect who stole my heart with his mad mud arches and colorful tiles. park güell overlooks barcelona with a stunning view.

Rural Austria
Exploring rural Austria

november 2007: the same trip to austria that took me to vienna also took me on a backwoods road trip down the danube river valley looking for wine. this shot was taken in a small village i can’t remember the name of, where we stopped at a heuriger, or a wine tavern, for some seriously local vino.

Wolf Creek
Skiing Wolf Creek in Colorado

december 2005: this photo was taken at wolf creek ski area near pagosa springs, colorado on what has widely come to be known in my circle of friends as the worst new year’s trip of all time. foiled by a terrible new year’s eve blizzard and a bad combination of people, our cozy cabin new year’s ski trip went totally awry. but the skiing was still excellent.

Tian Shan Lake
Overlooking the heavenly Tian Shan Lake

august 2005: the tian shan, or celestial mountain, range runs down western china, eventually meeting up with the himalayas. i once saw a picture of this lake and vowed to go there. it is situated up in the mountains above urumqi, in china’s far northwestern xinjiang province.

Petronas Skybridge
The world's highest skybridge

february 2007: my winter holidays from chinese teaching took me to singapore, malaysia and thailand. an amazing trip, which included the chance to stand in the world’s highest skybridge, which connects the petronas towers in kuala lumpur.

Victoria Peak
Overlooking Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

january 2007: the view of hong kong from victoria peak is unlike any other. the reams of skyscrapers look like tiny lego blocks and all that separates you from a swift fall is a pane of thick glass which, thankfully, gives way for a stellar view. on this particular trip, i stayed from late afternoon into evening so as to watch the sun set and the skyline light up.

The White House
There's the White House!

september 2007: on my way from albuquerque to ireland, i had an overnight layover in washington d.c., a city i’d never visited, where my friend kelly-renae carted me around to all of the monuments. although i thought the library of congress was easily the most beautiful place i went there, this iconic photo in front of the white house couldn’t be passed up.

Thai train
Madness ensues in a Thai train

february 2007: the easiest way to get yourself invited into the staff car of a thai train is to bribe one of the attendants with beer. that’s what i did and unwittingly got myself an invite into this mad situation. try to disregard the fact that i look like a rabid maniac – the windows were open and the wooden train was rattling through the night air.

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