Here’s the final 10 places in my #whenthisallover take my mind off coronavirus bucket list. Europe, the Americas and south-east Asia have dominated the list so far – see the last four blog posts – so I’m devoting my final 10 choices to the rest of the world. Here goes..
Great Barrier Reef, Australia – I’ve only had one go at diving and didn’t like it much but this shouldn’t put me off visiting this natural wonder that stretches for more than 3000km along the northeastern coast of Australia. It’s the world’s largest network of coral reefs with 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish.
Taj Mahal, India – I spent a memorable couple of weeks in Kerala, the south of India, two years ago and after the most appalling attack of Delhi belly vowed never to return! I’d make an exception for this building with its acres of shimmering white marble, thousands of semi-precious stones, the mausoleum’s perfect symmetry and sublime setting next to a sacred river.
Uluru, Australia – I’d love to do the four hour drive from Alice Springs and see it leap up from the otherwise feature-free horizon. I’d visit early morning to get the full effect when the sun rises from behind the dunes when a brief lightshow begins. A revolving palette of earthy tones washes across it. an autumnal spectrum that rushes from red to gold. Close up it features pools, waterfalls, sacred sites and an ancient indigenous classroom, complete with old lessons painted on the walls.
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa – I’d take the cable car up and enjoy the panorama before spending time in the country’s most vibrant city.
Hiroshima Peace National Park, Japan– what was once ground zero for the world’s first nuclear attack is now a green expanse, home to numerous memorials and a peaceful place to wander and reflect. The ruins of the only structure to survive the bombing, Genbaku Dome, still stand as a blunt reminder of the devastation. The Pond of Peace is the park’s central feature and leads to the cenotaph, a curved monument displaying all the names of the known victims.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania – the rim is one of the world’s largest intact volcanic hollow. The fertile floor below, hemmed in by dramatic escarpments hundreds of metres tall is decorated with swamps, forests, Lake Magadi and swathes of savannah grasses. While in the neighbourhood I would also, of course, pay a visit to the world famous Serengeti National Park.
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, Israel – one of the most photographed buildings on earth, its gold top shimmers above a turquoise-hued octagonal base. As the name suggests, the dome covers a slab of stone that is sacred to both Muslim and Jewish faiths. Islamic tradition has the Prophet Mohammed ascending to heaven from this spot.
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto, Japan – one of the truly great sights of Japan. Wrapped in gold leaf and shimmering in the pond below it, the Zen Buddhist temple is beautiful whether you see it in autumn to a backdrop of red maple leaves – the time of year I’d choose – in winter covered in snow or on a shining summer day.
Island of Goree, Senegal – an eerie calm shrouds this sand-swept, carless island’s bougainvillea-flushed lanes and bright-colonial buildings. Its structures bear witness to the slave trade including the House of Slave where the door of no return opens to the sea.
Bacuit Archipelago, Philippines – the perfect mix of sand, palms and coral and just one of the country’s 7,107 islands. From the laid-back dive resort of El Nido you can roam around limestone wonderland of jungle-capped islets in a perfect turquoise bay. You can also take an island hopping cruise including a stay on an uninhabited island.
So that’s my final 10. I’m giving China a wide berth at the moment, am struggling to forgive it for its role in unleashing this awful virus on the world.
I’ve got no idea how I’ll fit in all of the destinations on this 50-place bucket list that I’ve been researching over the last five days but it’s whetted my appetite again for travel. As soon as the travel lockdown’s lifted I’m going to start planning some journeys.