In a culture filled with Instagram and selfies, and vanishing vacation time, traveling for leisure can easily become rushed and hectic. There is so much to see in the world, and so little time to do it in. All too often, we take a picture, post it on Facebook, and move on to the next big attraction. “Look at me – I was here!” But where you? There are many places in the world that demand more of your time if you hope to capture even a piece of their essence. They are filled with rich histories, natural beauty, and wonder. They are places to sit back, reflect, and observe. Sure, take your picture, but then put the camera, phone, and iPod away. Listen. Watch. Think. Enjoy. Experience. If given enough time, these places will touch your soul, allowing you to close your eyes no matter where you are in the world or in life and be transported back to that brief moment in time.
10) Sistine Chapel – Vatican City
As the saying goes, Michelangelo did not paint the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel in a day, nor should you walk through this amazing feat of artistic work in a few minutes. If you’re not careful you will get caught up in the ever moving flow of people and be back out the door in five minutes. Instead, take a step back and join the people on the edge of the crowd. Don’t only immerse yourself in the ceiling and artwork, also consider the room itself and the purpose it serves in the Vatican. Imagine the Cardinals sealing themselves in the room, conversing, voting, and selecting the next Pope, one of the holiest figures recognizable around the world. Move slowly around the room and take it all in before embarking on your next adventure.
9) Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand is a land of smiles, mindfulness and meditation; with a Buddhist culture that thrives on living in balance and awareness of your inner being. While visiting the large, bustling city of Bangkok and the Grand Place at the center of the metropolis it is easy to get lost in the commotion and forget to take a moment to pause. There is a lot to take in at the Grand Palace, from the beautiful architecture, covered top to bottom in millions of decretive glass tiles and mirrors to the lush, landscaped lawns. Take your time in each building. Study the patterns, colors, and their interconnectedness. Be aware of your feelings, thoughts, and emotions as you stroll through taking it all in. Ladies, please be mindful when visiting by covering your shoulders and wearing long pants or a long skirt.
8) La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain
This amazing, uncompleted cathedral located in Barcelona has two reasons to take pause and linger, rather than rushing through. First, take the architecture in. Designed by artistic architect Antoni Gaudi, every square foot of this incredible structure is donned with elaborate, gothic sculpture and art. Revel in the grandness and time it has taken to create each and every element of the structure. When you are ready, make your way up to the top of one of the spires. Find an alcove that overlooks the city and sit. Drink in the beautiful views of Barcelona while enjoying the Mediterranean sunshine.
7) Chimney Top Trail – Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee
Proceed on this hike with caution, it is a strenuous four mile hike with a fairly dangerous climb at the end up a rock face. It is not for the weak of heart, especially if you have issues with heights. If this sounds appealing to you, however, when you make it to the end of the trail the views of the Appalachian Mountains are incredible. Take a packed lunch with you and once your adrenaline simmers down, find a place to relax, enjoy lunch, and take in the vast beauty of the landscape around you.
6) Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
A trip to Edinburgh would not be complete without a taking time to sit upon Arthur’s Seat. Located about a mile from Edinburgh Castle and rumored to be the location of Camelot, this site offers amazing views of the city and surrounding Scottish countryside. It is easily accessible to the public and is generally an easy hike to the top. Lose yourself in the beauty of the land and don’t worry if you find yourself daydream about sitting at the Round Table.