After months of travel I find it wise enough not to name favorites. Take for a minute the food and wines of France, the everyday Confucianism of China, the coffee of Ethiopia, the palm trees of California, the eleven time zones of Russia, the melody of India or the harmony of Japan, just to name a very small few, and yes, one can put to bed the notion of favorite and happily switch to the handful of different.
In the words of a Mexican anthropologist I met in la ciudad, we’re though living the times of synthesis. You know, the often-basic three (3) tips for a happy life, the four (4) top skills for decisive leadership, the undisputable five (5) tips for a healthy life alongside the six (6) secrets to grow physically younger or, for example, the seven (7) witty tips for a SPECIAL travel! There are all kinds of lists trying to reduce the complexity of every system to a tangible solution. (recommend TEDxter Tim Harford on trial and error and the god complex)
Hence, against all odds and logic, here my top 10 landscapes of today:
1. Orthodox church complex, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Ethiopia is an astonishing surprise to the amateur traveler. It comes in all forms and formats, yet this fingerprint of devoted Christianity is surprisingly overwhelming even for a devoted atheist. Under the tyranny of the African sun, many images you’ll never forget.
2. Marine Drive, Mumbai, India
India is probably the most intense love-or-hate syndrome I know of. There is not half-way through India, in every aspect to it. And, the endless sea!
3. Volga view, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Russia is the whole notion of prejudice. The opportunity to bump into the harshest behavior or the nicest welcoming regards of all makes you a pendulum wanting to know more. The cult of individuals, in this case Gorky’s, in a land of lost collectivism is, at the very least, intriguing.
4. 21.000KM by train, Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia, China
Arriving at Ekateringburg, the monotonously relaxing view from the last carriage of a long distance train. There aren’t many chances in one’s life to run through this sort of mileage by train, one of this typical occasions where the power of dis-connectivity meets joy. Recommended.
5. Lake Baikal, Irkutsk, Russia
Russia, really?, you’ll ask! Isn’t surprising the 30-million years old lake was home to many landlords amongst the Russians, Buryats and Mongols. It will feel like yours too. If you take your notebook, regardless of what you write, it will sound inspiring.
6. Terelj, Ulanbaataar, Mongolia
Reach true Mongolia within a marathon-running distance from Ulanbaattar. Terelj natural park gives you the opportunity to joyfully unplug, galloping the never-ending mountain landscape many have imagined and written about, ‘disconnect to connect’ as I’ve recently heard someone very intelligently put it. It is by far the place where disconnected felt the most in touch.
7. Great wall, Beijing, China
A remarkable handful of civilization. I wonder why this feeling! When put side-by-side with so many other noble military and fortress engineering (each with it’s spectacularity, and many portuguese-inspired :) it is not, after all, an one-of-a-kind architectural doing of all times. Still, you’re likely to be blown away by the feeling that it actually is. Funny enough, I still don’t know why, and that I believe is what makes it to the list.
8. Li River, Yangshuo, China
Crusing the Li River is one of the many ‘hidden’ treasures of mainland China. I could pick 100 plus other spots that are breath-taking and most-likely unknown to conventional tourist routes, moreso than the obvious acknowledgment that millions of those will come here in the very foreseeable future for a myriad of rmb exagerated smiles.
9. Longji, Guilin, China
Rice fields. Nothing compares to agricultural serenity. Combine it with truly secular practices and habits. Add an astonishing landscape and cap it with yummy gastronomy. You’ve just arrived to Longji.
10. Divisadero, San Francisco, USA
San Francisco. Lovely, the urbanity, cosmopolitism and relative well-being of an American city. The US is lagging behind every day, not as much as the EU, but at an incredibly fast pace. The reminiscence or, better said, the sparkling presence of a creative magic, birthplace to world changing ideas, makes this an awesome place in shaky America.