This is the seventh post in the "My 5 Favorite" series: My 5 Favorite Experiences Around the World.
Hmm... So, how does one begin to pick their five favorite experiences around the world when travel in itself is one big unbelievable, unforgettable, incredible experience? I have no idea, and I'm not sure why I gave myself this assignment. I'm sitting here writing and thinking, What? My five favorite experiences ever? EVER?
The truth is, I have a favorite experience almost every time I travel. This year alone, I had so many (more to come on that in a later post). But, I guess what I can do is share the experiences that still resonate with me and make me shake my head in amazement every time I think of them. That sounds like a good way to think about it, right?
So, here they are, my five favorite experiences around the world:
CELEBRATING THE WORLD CUP IN PARIS
Why I Love It: Do I even need to say why I loved celebrating the World Cup in France? The thought alone is amazing, so as you can imagine the actual experience was unbelievable. The year was 2006, and I was a student studying abroad in Paris for the summer. Anyone who remembers the World Cup that year knows that France ultimately lost to Italy, but I was fortunate enough to be there during many of the wins, including when France beat Brazil. It was the first time I was in a place so truly passionate about soccer/futbol (sorry, America) and it heightened my enjoyment of the game to a fervor. Now, not a World Cup goes by where I'm not cheering like a maniac. And it all started in Paris.
Why It's Worth Doing: I would say it's worth watching the World Cup in any country that gets really into it, but at least in Paris you can celebrate the wins or mourn the losses with bottles of French wine.
GOING ON SAFARI IN SOUTH AFRICA
Why I Love It: If you have been following this blog for even a day, you probably know that I love South Africa (and you're probably sick of hearing it). One of my favorite experiences of the trip was getting the opportunity to go on safari in Kruger National Park. It was incredible. Coming from one of the busiest cities in the world, I felt such immense calm and fascination with being in the bush and watching animals in their natural habitat. It's something I will always remember and hope to do again, and again, and again.
Why It's Worth Doing: It just is. Earlier this year I wrote about the life lessons I learned from my first safari. It's one of those experiences that is well worth the money spent and will give you stories for years to come.
SLEEPING IN THE SAHARA DESERT
Why I Love It: Confession — I used to think the saying, "From here to Timbuktu" was a phrase involving an imaginary place. But then I went to Timbuktu (it's in Mali) and rode a camel into the Sahara desert, where I spent the night at a Tuareg family's home. I wish I had the words to truly capture what a fascinating and beautiful experience it was to learn about a family's culture and way of living while staring up at what felt like an infinite number of stars in the middle of the desert. It's something I'll never forget.
Why It's Worth Doing: Unfortunately, Timbuktu is not a place that's safe to visit these days, but it is possible to sleep in the Sahara via Morocco. I have friends who have done it and loved the experience.
GOING TO A WEDDING IN INDIA
Why I Love It: Coming from a big Jamaican family, we have had our fair share of blow out celebrations, but none that can top an Indian wedding in India. From the beautiful ceremonies to the colorful outfits to the large elephant making its way through the streets of Jaipur, the experience was one that I will remember as one of my most amazing trips. The fact that most of my family was there with me made the entire experience even better.
Why It's Worth Doing: Because it's like My Big Fat Greek Wedding except 20 times better. And with amazing Indian food. And an elephant.
ATTENDING THE INAUGURATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Why I Love It: I attended both of President Barack Obama's inaugurations and I think, whatever your political preferences, it's an unbelievable time to be in Washington D.C. Though there are tons of road closures and security everywhere, there is also an undeniable energy that permeates the atmosphere wherever you go. Just be prepared to be patient and dress warm. I don't have fond memories of sitting outside for hours in freezing temperatures.
Why It's Worth Doing: It's a chance to see history in the making and feel as though you're part of something bigger taking place (especially if the person you voted for is the one being inaugurated).
So many great experiences that came close to making this list. One that comes to mind is watching the royal wedding in London, which was just a phenomenal experience. My friends and I decided to go to a royal wedding party rather than fight our way over to where the Will and Kate crowds were, and we had an amazing time. Another great experience: attending the International Jazz Festival in Montreal. In particular, my last visit to the jazz festival was a favorite. I got to see one of my all-time favorite artists Joss Stone perform for a small yet energetic crowd (my kind of concert) and listen to some interesting new artists. Always fun times at this festival.
With a new year starting soon, I will be kicking off a brand new series. Stay tuned for more in 2016!