The Top 7 Destinations in <em>1,000 Places to See Before You Die</em>
We asked the author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die the impossible: Which seven destinations should be at the top of every Canadian’s bucket list?
1,000 Places to See Before You Die: The Best of the Best
Chances are, if you’ve got a destination on your bucket list, Patricia Schultz has been there. As the author of the best-selling 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and Trafalgar global brand ambassador, Schultz has travelled the world several times over, seeing the sights, sampling the cuisine and soaking up the culture on every continent. But with 1,000 places to see, and so little time (and money!) to check each one off of our lists, which destinations deserve priority status? Here are Schultz’s picks for the seven countries that every Canadian should add to their travel itinerary.
“You can’t miss Portugal,” says Schultz, her eyes lighting up as she describes the allure of its capital city of Lisbon. “It has a beautiful coastline, and ancient traditions that go back to the Moors.” Also in its favour is the fact that until recently, Portugal has been a hidden gem of Europe. “It’s one of those places that’s always been around, but has long existed in the shadow of Spain.”
How would Schultz describe Thailand in just three words? “Exotic, beautiful and fascinating,” she says. Boasting the most visited city in the world, Bangkok (sorry, Seoul!), Thailand offers such a wide variety of experiences that it keeps travellers coming back for more. After you’ve fully enjoyed the splendour of Bangkok—including its top tourist attraction, the Grand Palace—she recommends taking the one-hour flight north to Chiang Mai. It’s there you’ll find the country’s historic heart, with bustling night markets and breathtaking Buddhist temples.
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A perennial favourite for North American travellers, Ireland also receives Schultz’s seal of approval. For a truly unforgettable experience on the Emerald Isle, she recommends booking a stay at the five-star Ashford Castle with Trafalgar, which she refers to as a true “OMG property.” “To me, [Ashford Castle] is the most magnificent place you can stay overnight,” she says. Built in the 13th century, the 350-acre estate in County Mayo was once owned by the legendary Guinness family, and now serves up quintessentially Irish adventures. How does a day of fishing and falconry, followed by a snifter of brandy in front of a roaring fire, sound? We thought so.
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Boasting unparalleled natural beauty, Schultz puts Norway in her top seven must-see destinations. From the breathtaking fjords to the Northern Lights to the famed “Midnight Sun,” there are so many natural wonders at play in this Scandinavian paradise, Schultz says it’s well-worth exploring—despite its relatively high price tag. “It’s not inexpensive, but it’s incredibly safe and English is widely spoken,” she notes. Schultz recommends soaking up the sights in Oslo—“a magnificent capital city”—then venturing on to Bergen, where you can set sail for a cruise along Norway’s spectacular west coast.
Does Machu Picchu live up to the hype? Does it ever, says Schultz. The most-visited site in South America will always have a special place in Schultz’s heart, as it’s where she met Edith—one of the most memorable characters she’s encountered in her extensive travels. “Edith had never been outside of New Jersey before, but decided that, for her 90th birthday, she wanted to go to Machu Picchu—and she did it,” she says. Although Edith proved it’s never be too late to cross a destination off of your bucket list, there may in fact be a deadline looming for the Lost City of the Incas. Due to the amount of foot traffic it’s receiving each year, Schultz says the historic site is in danger of sinking, and may be subject to future caps on visitors.
We may never see manned trips to Jupiter in our lifetime, but the arid landscapes in Turkey’s famed Cappadocia region are the next best thing. For a bird’s-eye view of these out-of-this-world rock formations (charmingly referred to as “chimney fairies”), you can’t beat a hot air balloon ride—a bucket list experience in itself. Afterwards, Schultz recommends continuing on to Istanbul—“one of the world’s most magical cities.” Located at the intersection of the ancient trade routes, “It’s the only place where you can stand with one foot in Asia and one foot in Europe,” she says. It’s richness as a destination, says Schultz, is due to the fact that it represents not only a geographical convergence, but a meeting point of cultures, religions and ideas, as well.
Even though she hails from the United States herself, Schultz still finds herself in awe of Hawaii. “It’s a unique merging of American and Polynesian,” she says. Although English is spoken across all eight major islands, and the currency is the U.S. dollar, the native Polynesian culture is not only alive, but thriving. “It’s truly unlike any of the other 49 states,” she says.