In central France, the world famous and highly recognizable manor house Château de Chambord has just had a bit of an upgrade. The château’s gardens have recently been renovated and reopened to the public. This impressive home is certainly worth a visit — dare I say, the latest Must See feature? — if only to stroll through the manicured gardens and around the massive building.
Imagine a 79-acre park with more than 7 million flower bulbs. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! That park is Keukenhof in the Netherlands and it is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Every year, the park opens in late March for two months. Visitors flock to see these spectacular flowers. As a tulip lover, a visit to Keukenhof is undoubtedly on my travel bucket list.
Last spring, my husband and I started watching the Grand Sumo Tournament Highlights that NHK World aired. It’s a roughly 25 minute recap of the best matches of the day. We were hooked. As with so many things in life where you make assumptions without knowing all the facts, sumo wasn’t quite as straightforward. I can only speak for myself, but what I felt had always been depicted as two very overweight men pushing each other actually had a lot more nuance. Since then we haven’t dared miss a day of highlights. That’s why attending a sumo tournament is on My Must See List.
Each month I try to highlight a Must See. Usually this means a city, location or museum that I have on my own travel bucket-list. This month I want to do things a little different. Visiting a true European Christmas Market is undeniably on my Must See list. But there’s so many! To select just one would be too difficult and not fair to all of the other wonderful ones. So instead this month’s Must See pulls together five Christmas Markets to put on your own Must See list.
For the United States, and perhaps much of the Western world, Times Square is our central reference point when we refer to a large, busy, crowded intersection. It’s a site that draws people together, whether it be to watch the infamous crystallized ball “drop” on New Year’s Eve or simply to gawk at the larger than life signs that made the otherwise normal street into an animated zone. In reality, however, Japan’s Shibuya Crossing is the “real” Must See that I aspire to visit.
If you think you aren’t already familiar with Shibuya Crossing, you’re almost certainly wrong. The multi-directional crossing is a common go-to in any movie set in Tokyo or Japan. When those traffic lights change, masses of people swarm the streets to cross.
If it weren’t for those famous scenes in the movie Rocky of Sylvester Stallone running up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the world might never have known about this fantastic landmark. Not really. But for some smaller towns and sights this is definitely the case. Take for example Görlitz, Germany. After seeing the town used as the filming location for Wes Anderson’s whimsical The Grand Budapest Hotel and doing some research into the town’s beautiful architecture, Görlitz has been on my Must See list.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, it might be difficult to convince the Austrian lake town of Hallstatt. A Chinese mining company built an exact copy of the town in Guangdong. But you really can’t blame the Chinese. Many consider the village to be the most beautiful town in the world. It’s easy to see why Hallstatt, Austria is this month’s featured location on My Must See List.
A church built on a rock surrounded by the sea and only easily accessible only at low tide. Prehistoric pile-dwellings on a lake in the Alps. A tea plantation not in India, China or elsewhere in Asia but the continental United States. So many of My Must See highlights are man-made.
But how incredible are the naturally occurring phenomenon that surround us? This month’s featured Must See is located in Ireland. Giant’s Causeway is a unique stone formation along the Irish coast made by volcanic eruptions. But what is amazing is that the formation is roughly 40,000 basalt columns. It might look like a pathway carefully crafted by human hands. But it’s not! It is just Nature doing its thing.
Paris has temporary ferris wheels like the Roue de Paris and the Big Wheel on Place de la Concorde. The English capital has the London Eye, a fancy wheel that serves more as a moving observation tower than as a ride in an amusement park. But before either of these major cities had their ferris wheels, Vienna had theirs. The Austrian capital’s Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese ferris wheel, stands as the star attraction of the Wurstelprater, a permanent amusement park that is a part of the Wiener Prater park. In fact, you will be very familiar with this particular ferris wheel if you’ve seen the 1949 film The Third Man with Orson Welles, as it serves as a particularly important location.
The ferris wheel is one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions. The Wurstelprater is a combination of history, whimsy and fun. The Wiener Riesenrad and the rest of the amusement attractions at Wurstelprater are this month’s addition to My Must See List.
There are certain landmarks that we take for granted. They’re simply there. But in reality they’re works of art. One of these landmarks is the instantly recognizable Christ the Redeemer (or Cristo Redentor in Portuguese) statue in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. With the Olympics in Rio fast approaching, this seemed like a great time to highlight this incredible landmark slash work of art on My Must See List.
I was recently reading an article about Euro 2016, the upcoming European soccer championship. There was a complaint from a government group within Iceland regarding the use of the players’ last names on their jerseys. Traditionally in sports, athletes have their last name on their backs. But in Iceland, last names aren’t quite the same as they are in most Western countries. Where we traditionally adopt the last name of our father at birth, in Iceland people take their father’s first name and add a suffix — -sson for males, -dottir for females — as their last name.
It made me wonder about this almost mythically beautiful country that really isn’t all that far away. In the last couple of years, Iceland has become one of the world’s hot, trendy tourist destinations. And I, too, have been drawn and intrigued by its siren call. Which is why Reykjavík is on My Must See List.
A friend of mine always teases me that St. Bartholomew’s Church in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria on the Königssee is merely a figment of my imagination. He attributes it to the pilgrimage church’s onion-shaped domes and picturesque location nestled on the lake and surrounded by the Alps. It is easy to understand where his joke is coming from. Others surely would identify King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein as a fantasy castle. Even Disney is said to have borrowed the castle as inspiration. And with its opera-themed rooms, it is a living, breathing poem to dreamers.
For me, however, the island Mont Saint-Michel earns the labels of fantastical and incredible. Located just over a third of a mile (only 600 meters) from land in Normandy, France, Mont Saint-Michel is cut off, part of the time, due to tide waters. It is like a castle rising from the water.