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Make the Most of Your Time On Earth


Good Morning!! Today's post is going to be a sort of round up. I took out a book from my local public library called Make the Most of Your Time on Earth by Rough Guides and as I was reading it decided that I was going to share the experiences that jumped out at me, basically the ones that I would really want to do. I will also be including the introduction from the book itself and I will have a link to the book on Amazon if you want to have a look at it.

 

Introduction; from the book

Experiences have always been at the heart of the Rough Guide concept. When we started writing Rough Guides we wanted to share the kind of travel that we had been doing ourselves. Our aim was to put a destination's culture at center stage: to highlight the clubs and bars where you could hear local music, the places where you could eat and drink with people you hadn't come on holiday with and the festivals that could show you unique traditions as well as a good time. We wanted to push travel a bit further, inspiring our readers to get away from the established routes, even if that meant getting lost occasionally, and seek something that little bit more special and authentic - in short, to settle for nothing less than an ultimate travel experience.

What makes the best kind of travel experience> Well, it should be something you would recommend to others, something you would want to tell your friends or family about: an experience that you'll always remember. It could be about the sense of awe you felt the first time you set eyes on an iconic building or looked out across a stunning landscape; it might be the camaraderie of joining the locals at a football match, or the epic train ride you took to get there; it might be rainforest zip-wiring, or soaring over the desert in a hot-air balloon; or even just enjoying a simple meal with new people in a perfect setting.

It's possible to have some of the best travel experiences without going far at all. Travel isn't only about distance and long-haul flights. But the most meaningful moments often take place when we move away from the familiar, where even the most run-of-the-mill situations and events take on a exotic quality. It's no coincidence that so many of the experiences we feature in this book have some degree of cultural engagement. They're driven by taste, but also opportunity: some are very easy to do; others less so, they can be seasonal events that happen once a year; they can almost be wilfully remote. What they have in common is that they are all Rough Guide writers' personal recommendations, accumulated over the thirty years of our existence. For this second edition, we've added over two hundred new experiences from around the world. They are intended to evoke the same excitement in you that they did in us.

James Smart

Editor

 

Book Information

Title: Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth: 1000 Ultimate Travel Experiences

Available on:

Rough Guides online shop: roughguides.com

There are four editions of this book, I had the second edition.

 

So for this next section I was going to list off the experiences that jumped out at me but decided that the list was too long. I have 35 that jumped out at me so what I am going to do is list my Top 5 and give a little explanation as to what they are and thats it. So let's get started. I will have them numbered at 1-5 but I will also include the number from in the book as well. These will have the excerpts from the book as well.

 

1) #015 Rambling on Dartmoor

England In the middle of that most genteel of counties, Devon, it comes as something of a shock to encounter the 365 square miles of raw granite, barren bogland and rippling seas of heather that make up Dartmoor. The feeling of space is intimidating. If you want to declutter your mind and energize your body, the recipe is simple: invest in a pair of hiking boots, switch off your mobile and set out on a adventure into the primitive heart of Britain. The briefest of journeys onto the moor is enough to take in the dusky umbers of the landscape, flecked by yellow gorse and purple heather and threaded by flashes of moorland stream, all washed in a moist and misty light. Even the gathering under the haze that precedes rain appears otherworldly, while the moor under a mantle of snow and illuminated by a crisp wintry light is spellbinding.

Your walk will take you from picturesque, hideaway hamlets such as Holne and Buckland-in-the-Moor to bare wilderness and blasted crag within a few strides. There are some surprising examples of architecture, too, including the authentically Norman Okehampton Castle and the wholly fake Castle Drogo, built by Lutyens in the early 20th century in the style of a medieval fortress. But by far the most stirring man-made relics to be found are the Bronze and Iron Age remains, a surprising testimony to the fact that this desolate expanse once hummed with activity: easily accessible are the grand hut circles of Grimspound, where Conan Doyle set a scene from his Sherlock Holmes yarn, The Hound of Baskervilles.

The best way to explore is on an organized was led by a knowledgeable guide, often focusing on a theme, from birdwatching to orienteering, to painting. It's a first-rate way to get to grips with the terrain and discover facets of this vast landscape the you'd never encounter on your own. Alternatively, equip yourself with a decent map and seek out your own piece of Dartmoor. You may not see another soul for miles, but you'll soon absorb its slow soothing rhythm.

You can watch this episode of Rick Steves Europe if you want to learn more about the area, as well as Dartmoor. (which is close to the end of the episode)

 

2) #076 Climbing Mont-St-Michel

France Wondrously unique yet as recognizable as the Eiffel Tower, Mont-St-Michel and its harmonious blend of natural and man-made beauty has been drawing tourists and pilgrims alike to the Normandy coast for centuries. Rising some eighty metres (roughly 263 feet) from the waters of the bay that bears it's name, this glowering granite outcrop has an entire commune clinging improbably to its steep boulders, it's tiers of buildings topped by a magnificent Benedictine Abbey.

From a few kilometres away, the sheer scale of the Mont provides an almost surreal backdrop to the rural tranquility of Normandy- a startling welcome for the first time visitor. And as you approach along the causeway that connects the Mont to the rest of France, the grandeur of this World Heritage Site becomes all the more apparent. Up close, the narrow, steepening streets offer an architectural history lesson, with Romanesque and Gothic buildings seemingly built on top of the other.

Perched at the summit is the abbey itself, gushingly described by Guy de Maupassant as "the most wonderful Gothic building ever made for God on this earth". Although the first church was founded here in 709, today's abbey was constructed between the eleventh ad thirteenth centuries, under Norman and subsequently French patronage. And as much as it's an aesthetic delight, the abbey is also a place of serenity: less than a third of the 3.5 million tourists that flock here each year actually climb all the way up to see it, and it remains a perfect place to be still and contemplate the Mont's glorious isolation.

Looking out from Mont-St-Michel, as you watch the tides rolling in around its base- "like a galloping horse", said Victor Hugo- you can understand why medieval pilgrims would risk drowning to reach it, and why no invading force has ever succeeded in capturing the rock. It's a panorama to be savoured- as fine a sight as that of the Mont itself, and one that'll stay with you for a long time.

You can watch this episode of Rick Steves Europe if you want to learn more about the area and of the Mont itself.

 

3) #283 Wooden Churches: "Mass" tourism with a twist

Slovakia You have to see the task of finding the all-important kľúč (key) as part of the experience when visiting the wooden churches of Slovakia's Carpathian foothills. Sure enough, there's nearly always a little sign (in Slovak) pinned to the wooden door, telling you which house harbours it, but finding the right one in a village without street names and only fairly random house numbers is a feat itself. It's a sure way to get to meet the local head-scarved babičky (grannies), but don't expect to get to see too many churches in one day.

The churches look like something straight out of an East European fairytale, or a Chagall painting: perched on a slight hillocks by the edge of the woods, looking down on their villages, their dark-brown shingled exterior sprouting a trio of onion domes. Most were built in the eighteenth century when the influence of Baroque was making itself felt even among the carpenter architects of the Carpathians. Once inside, you can't help but be struck by the musty murkiness of the dark wooden interiors. At one end a vast and vibrantly decorated iconostasis reaches from the floor to the ceiling, its niches filled with saints. Elsewhere, a local folk artist allows his imagination to go wild in a gory depiction of the Last Judgment, with the damned being burned, boiled and decapitated with macabre abandon.

Despite the fact that the churches are often locked, they're still very much in use, mostly by the Greek Catholic Church/ Should you happen upon one when there's a service, note that Mass is celebrated in Old Slavonic.

This video give a more in-depth look at the various types of wooden churches. Very interesting.

 

4) #289 The Pyramids of Giza

Egypt The Pyramids at Giza were built at the very beginning of recorded human history, and for nearly five millennia they have stood on the edge of the desert plateau in magnificent communion with the sky.

Today they sit on the edge of the city, and it must be a strange experience indeed to look out of the windows of the nearby tower blocks to a view like this. The closest, The Great Pyramid, contains the tomb of Cheops, the fourth dynasty pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the Old Kingdom. This is the oldest of the group, built around 2570 BC, and the largest - in fact it's the most massive single monument on the face of the earth today . The others, built by Cheops' son Chephren and his grandson Mycerinus, stand in order of age and size along a southwest axis; when built they were probably aligned precisely with the North Star, with their entrance corridors pointing straight at it.

You enter the Great Pyramid through a hole hacked into it's north face in the ninth century AD by the caliph Mamun who was hunting for buried treasure. Crouching along narrow passages you arrive at the Great Gallery, which ascends through the heart of the pyramid to Cheop's burial chamber. Chances are you'll have the chamber to yourself, as claustrophobia and inadequate oxygen mean that few people venture this far. Occasionally visitors are accidentally locked in overnight.

The overwhelming impression made by the pyramids is due not only to the magnitude of their age and size but also to their elemental form, their simple but compelling triangular silhouettes against the sky. The best way to enjoy this is to hire a horse or camel and ride about the desert, observing them from different angles, close up and looming, or far off and standing lonely but defiantly on the open stands. Seen at prime times - dawn, sunset and night- they form as much a part of the natural order as the sun, the moon and the stars.

I follow this couple from Australia who travel extensively and this is their video about the pyramids.

 

5) #670 The Road to Ruins: Machu Picchu

Peru There's a point on the Inca Trail when you suddenly forget the accumulated aches and pains of four days' hard slog across the Andes. Your standing at Inti Punku, the Sun Gate, the first golden rays of dawn slowly bringing the jungle to life. Down below, revealing itself in tantalizing glimpse as the early-morning mist burns gradually away, are the distinctive ruins of Machu Picchu, looking every bit the lost Inca citadel it was until a century ago.

The hordes of visitors that will arrive by mid-morning are still tucked up in bed; for the next couple of hours or so, it's just you, your group and a small herd of llamas, grazing indifferently on the terraced slopes. That first unforgettable sunrise view from Inti Punku is just the start thanks to its remote location- hugging peaks at 2500m and hidden in the mountains so 120 km from Cusco- Machu Picchu escapes the ravages of the Spanish conquistadors and remained semi-buried in the Peruvian jungle until Hiram Bingham, an American explorer, "rediscovered" them in 1911. Which means that, descending onto the terraces and working your way through the stonework labyrinth, you'll discover some of the best preserved Inca remains in the world.

Sites such at the Temple of the Sun and Intihuatana appear exactly as they did some 600 years ago. The insight they give us into the cultures and customs of the Inca is still as rewarding - the former's window frames the constellation of Pleiades, an important symbol of crop fertility- and their structural design, pieces together like an ancient architectural jigsaw, is just as incredible.

National Geographic Video on Machu Picchu.

 

I hope you enjoyed today's post. I had a lot of fun doing it, and I learned some new things along the way.

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