Top 5 favourite destinations

I was recently invited to share my list of top 5 favourite destinations by “Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There“.

This is one of the more difficult posts I’ve written… because there are just sooo many places which I’ve visited, that I would like to go back to. The world is a large and wonderful place, and five is just too small a number.

Anyhow, as tough as it was, I’ve managed to whittle down the list. And not just a cop-out by picking countries in general… but specific cities/ regions. (How’s that for rising up to a challenge?!)

Join me, will you, as I zigzag across the globe and reminisce about my favourite travel destinations.

Rome, Italy

With a history spanning over two and a half thousand years, the “Eternal City”, is full of awe-inspiring wonders at every corner. The Pantheon, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Navona, and the masterpieces of Caravaggio, Bernini, Da Vinci, Raphael, Canova; to name a few.

But for me, the allure of the city lies beyond these, as well. Starting the day with a decadently creamy gelato. Turning a corner and gasping at the magnificent architecture of a seemingly regular building. A mid-day snack of gelato. Marvelling at the centuries of history that we are walking amongst. Another gelato, while gazing at the splendid sunset. And finally, spending a relaxed evening, people-watching at the Spanish Steps.

I could never have enough of that.

Island of Hawai’i (Big Island), USA

Having 4 of the 5 major climate zones, and 8 of the 13 sub-zones, ensures that the Big Island offers ample dozes of the one attribute I crave for in my travels (or life, in general) – variety.

From witnessing molten lava emanating from the depths of the earth, to beholding a sublime sunset from a peak which, when measured from its oceanic base, is twice the height of Mount Everest. From swimming with the manta rays in the dark, to peeking at Jupiter’s moons from above the clouds. And scenic drives spanning from rolling hills of dry brush to gorgeous valleys and stunning coast lines.

The Big Island in Hawai’i has it all.

San Sebastian, Spain

The “culinary capital of Europe” is a well-deserved moniker, as this small city with a population of less than 200,000 punches way above its weight – having the distinction of being home to 3 restaurants named in the World’s 50 Best List and having the highest number of Michelin stars per capita. But the rich gastronomic tradition is not restricted to wallet-lightening fine dining. It also flows through the streets, proudly celebrated in the innumerable pintxo bars spread across the city, accessible to everyone.

Add to that the charming streets of the old town, the sprawling Conxa beach, and the incredible views from Monte Urgull and Monte Igueldo.

San Sebastian left me utterly and incurably besotted.

Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

Haunting beauty. That’s the only way to describe the dramatic scenery of Scotland. The undulating lush-green mountains, the sparkling-blue lochs and the multiple centuries-old castles, are best experienced by driving. And then there are the Single malt whiskeys, which (if you win the draw of being the designated passenger), you can stop and sample plenty of, along the way.

For its spectacular vistas, the Isle of Skye was my favourite. The drive to (along Lochalsh) and the looping drive around the misty island (Quiraing, Dunvegan, Glendale, etc.) was full of stop-and-hold-your-breath moments.

Beguiling, to say the least.

Paro, Bhutan

In the Kingdom of Bhutan, life is simple. The government devises its plans keeping Gross National Happiness in mind. The air is fresh and clean. The people are warm, friendly, hospitable and ever-smiling. The towering snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas are soothing and relaxing.

Stepping into the country, was like stepping into a different era – older, and yet in many ways, much more evolved. Everything just seemed better (Even when our muscles were screaming after an extremely tiring hike to Taktsang Monastery).

If happiness was a place, it would be Bhutan.

I’m pinging some fellow travel and photo bloggers, whom I religiously follow, to participate in this challenge and share their picks – The Urge To Wander, Never Clip My Wings, Flights Camera Satisfaction, Travelling Sales Girl and Life is a Vacation.

And what about you? What places would you pick?

(UPDATED: I forgot to mention that there’s an iPhone 6 to be won, and anyone can participate. Details can be found at “Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There