I remember someone telling me that she was bored with the idea of returning to Hawaii for a conference – been there, done that, she said. I couldn’t fathom her reaction – who could resist the scenery of those islands no matter how many times they visited them? What she meant, though, was that she wanted something new, something beyond her imagination that would stay in her mind forever.
Traveling is always a journey into the unknown, for even when we plan it out, there can be twists and turns along the way. Finding locations so unusual we feel breathless when we see them is just what some parts of the world have to offer.
These ten destinations can only be called unique, one-of-a-kind experiences that reveal the astonishing diversity and the incredible creativity of places we can find on this earth of ours.
1. Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
In Kleven in the Ukraine there was a tramway that followed the same route over and over for many years. The shape of the rail car “trained” the trees into an arbor that in summer flourishes as a marvelous, wide, and vivid green tunnel.
This is a stunning route to walk, and it is popular with families, but perhaps most of all when used as a romantic setting. People can make wishes and if their love is true, legend says the wishes will come true.
2. Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, Gansu, China
It took twenty-four million years for Nature to create the red sandstone and minerals that make up the Zhangye Danxia hills. The spectacular strata emerged over time as one layer after another was formed. The colorful patterns will take your breath away. It is a region that brings inspiration and awe.
3. Wisteria Flower Tunnel in Japan
Wisteria vines are native to the United States but also to Japan. In Kitakyushu there is a botanical garden – the Kawachi Fuji Garden – and in it there is a tunnel absolutely covered by different species of Wisteria. Walking beneath such a dazzling array of flowers is one of those experiences you don’t want to end – it is completely enchanting. The plants are known to rise over sixty feet!
4. Merry Cemetery of Sapanta
The Merry Cemetery is in Sapanta, Romania. The people creating the tombstones believe that death is not an end but the beginning of a new life. The designs and paintings and sayings written on each headstone are entirely original and are meant to celebrate the immortal nature of the soul. Some of the paintings are drawn from the actual lives and occupations of those who have passed on. It is a tourist destination that leaves the spirit more joyful than sad.
5. Antrim, Northern Ireland
The remarkable Giant’s Causeway is on the coast of Northern Ireland. It is the result of a volcanic eruption an eon ago – well, sixty million years, at least. The over forty thousand columns of stone are made of basalt, which essentially is cooled lava.
The distinctive feature is that the majority of the columns have a hexagonal shape and smooth tops. This allows you to walk on them! They progress down from a cliff and the formation continues into and beneath the sea.
6. Fly Geyser
This strange object is manmade, though inadvertently. An oil well was created in 1916 and abandoned, but the crew had opened up a geyser. Because of the natural fountain of boiling water, minerals developed and eventually surfaced to create a five-foot “volcano.”
Other geysers were spawned near it, so that the whole area has the effect of some alien creature. Now the previous desert floor has small pools and ponds that welcome fish (though no one knows how the fish got there)and even swans.
This white clay region in Naukluft Park in Namibia is more like a Salvador Dali painting than a real-life setting, but real it is, all the same. Its name means “a dead marsh” and it was created when flood waters withdrew, leaving a drought-filled plateau.
The camel thorn trees that had thrived when there was water eventually succumbed to the heat. The few that have remained (for hundreds of years) are burned dry from the sun and appear like sentinels on the landscape.
8. Glen Brittle, Scotland
Here are magical, lilac-covered slopes that exist in a glen on the Isle of Skye. The water flows softly and the stories abound that if you listen carefully, you can hear the voices of fairies in the depths of the flowering shrubs. Such ideas are drawn out of ancient Scottish stories told long before they were written down. This place has been unchanged for just as long.
9. The Wave, Arizona
Arizona has many extraordinary places of natural scenery, but The Wave is an experience like no other. It is a Navajo Sandstone formation shaped along the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.
Believe it or not, you can hike on it and obviously it is a great draw for photographers, as well. There are no tracks to follow to get there – you just walk wherever you want. The effect of the wave patterns when you are in the middle of them can sometimes feel like being at sea!
10. Petra, Jordan
This city of Petra was carved out of the rose stone that has made it one of the wonders of the world. Some have suggested it is the origin of Mount Hor in the Land of Ebon, referenced in the Book of Numbers.
It is situated in the desert with the Dead Sea to the west and the Red Sea to the south. The sandstone foundations are becoming more fragile, but the city still reveals religious and political structures and artifacts.
It also has a fascinating system of reservoirs and strategic pools that were once used to supply much needed irrigation and water. Encountering Petra is like entering another dimension of perception, one that stays with you long after you leave the site. If at all possible, it is not to be missed.
Have you been somewhere that has captured your imagination and spirit in a unique way? Perhaps you have been deep sea diving and viewed coral reefs in their silent but ever-changing environment? There are many possibilities. Is there a unique place you have visited that you would recommend to readers?