25 Great Travel Memories

Last month’s blog post, One Sentence on Each Country, received higher-than-normal readership. Thank you for checking it out, Loyal Readers. I wanted to expand upon that (don’t worry, just a short post this time) by sharing some of my favorite travel memories over the years. A few of these fall into the “profound” category. I am referring to things like seeing the mo’ai heads of Easter Island, or of gazing upon 8,000 Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors in Xi’an.

On the other hand, many of these memories are simple recollections of the little things that make travel so rewarding. For this, I am referring to failed, but somehow amusing, attempts at communication with Russian cabin mates on a train from St. Petersburg to Moscow, or of the literal hole-in-the-wall pizzeria that I stumbled upon in Salzburg, a place that somehow crisped my pepperoni pizza just right.

In no particular order, here are 25 Great Travel Memories:

  1. Taking in the majesty of the Grand Canyon from above and the intimacy of it from below.
  2. Listening to nuns sing Latin religious chorales at Stift Nonnberg, Salzburg.
  3. Deep diving and night diving in Australia –awesome and terrifying.
  4. Drinking liter steins of bier with perfect strangers at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Prost!
  5. Skydiving over Lake Taupo, New Zealand.
  6. Getting wonderfully lost in the mazes of alleyways and canals in Venice.
  7. Gazing down upon Machu Picchu from the Inka Gate after a four-day trek through the Peruvian Andes.
  8. Sampling gløgg and interacting with bright-eyed locals at the Christmas markets of Stockholm.
  9. Absorbing several centuries of art at the Musée du Louvre, Paris.
  10. Catching the sun rise above the clouds while trying to catch my breath en route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
  11. Volunteering with Antigua, Guatemala locals to build their elaborate alfombras (floral carpets) for Semana Santa (holy week) processions.
  12. Dodging waves, amorous lovers, and fishermen casting their lines while the sun slowly sets over the malecóin Havana.
  13. Waiting for Cairo to fall asleep for the night…and then taking a Nile River cruise, our felucca powered only by the breeze.
  14. Gorilla trekking at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.
  15. Scaling the pyramidal steps of Tikal’s impossibly-steep Mayan temples for a peek at the jungle panorama from above treeline, aka Endor from “Return of the Jedi.”
  16. Walking among the lodgepole pines, coast redwoods (Endor again), and giant sequoias of California’s majestic national parks.
  17. Getting up close and (almost) personal with Isla Magdalena penguins, Chilean Patagonia. Dress warm!
  18. Michigan Avenue Christmas shopping, with a side trip to State Street and the Christkindlmarket. Dress warm!
  19. Gazing upon the end of the earth in Barrow, Alaska. (Talk about dressing warm!)
  20. Experiencing the quirkiness of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Commonwealth majesty of its Military Tattoo.
  21. Eating disgusting food, watching cormorants dive for fish, and gazing upon Southern China’s romantic karst hills during my Li River Cruise.
  22. Taking in the dazzling spirituality of Varanasi, which is simultaneously the most peaceful and chaotic city I have ever visited.
  23. Several days spent exploring the iconic National Mall of Washington, DC.
  24. Traversing Mexico City’s Zócalo over Thanksgiving weekend, 2002. While not my first international trip, that was really the one that began my love affair with travel.
  25. Flying trans-oceanic first class, with lie-flat seats, embroidered pajamas, and endless foodstuffs. Everyone should experience this at least once.

It was hard to stop at just 25. That didn’t leave room for me to include memories like taking in sunset from atop the Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro, or exploring the 9,999 rooms of the Forbidden City in Beijing, or watching millions upon millions of wildebeests migrate across the Serengeti. (Okay, now I’m cheating.) Perhaps I’ll continue this this transcontinental list in a future post, but in the meantime, what are your favorite travel memories? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Author: gringopotpourri

Gringo - aka Scott - was born outside of Chicago and has lived most of his life in or around big cities. He spent two years of his adult life in Mexico City (talk about big cities!) and fell in love with Mexican food and culture all while weathering the challenges of life in a city with over 20 million people. Life's unpredictable journey has since brought him to Tennessee, where he is close to family and to the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Scott also enjoys movies, hiking, top ten lists, and travel in general.

8 thoughts on “25 Great Travel Memories”

  1. You have had some incredible experiences. How fortunate you are to have traveled so widely. My travels pale in comparison.
    Two of my most memorable experiences were at Machu Picchu. After an afternoon of sightseeing at the ruins it began to rain, so I returned to my hotel (back then, the ONLY hotel there), and took a short nap. When I woke up I went outside to find a double rainbow arcing across the granite cliffs of the Andes. The next morning I awoke early so that I could see sunrise at the ruins. Unfortunately Machu Picchu was shrouded in fog. But when I climbed the small hill with the so-called “Hitching Post of the Sun”, there was a patch of clear sky to the west where the snow-covered peaks reflected the light of the morning sun. I stood there transfixed as the clouds gradually evaporated revealing the landscape in sunlight. Breathtakingly beautiful!

    1. Machu Picchu is still one of the only ancient sites that was completely devoid of touts, hawkers, and other photographic distractions, unless you count the llamas, which I personally thought only made the place *more* “lost in time.”

      But the bucket list grows ever-longer. Where to next?

      1. Many moons ago when I was at Machu Picchu, I remember taking photos of “Pancho”, the resident llama at that time.
        There are archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza that have been ruined by commercialization, but there are still quite a few sites in Mexico that have no vendors within the gates, such as Uxmal, Edzna, Ek Balam and Xochicalco, to name a few.

  2. I love this. Such amazing experiences, every single one. I have to say it made me feel proud Mexico City sparked your love affair for travel :). Which is a weird thing. While I am from there, I had nothing to do with the building of the city in any way ha.
    Embroidered pijamas?! Never heard of that one. I’ve flown Business class transatlantic due to a lucky upgrade many years ago and it certainly was the best thing ever. This post makes me want to think about my own list.

    1. Mani, you should definitely make your own list. I imagine that you can make a list just from India alone; I know you spent quite a bit of time there….

      William, you’re right that some ruins are pristine. You mentioned Xochicalco, and that one definitely comes to mind. Such a cool place!

      1. Ooh I like that idea for India as well! I have indeed spend significant time there but I always go to the same places. I haven’t covered much territory but India is such an interesting place that I’m sure I’d be able to make a list just from that. (And I might!)

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