Best destination: My 5 favorites - and a disappointment is written by Kristian Bräuner
My best destinations - what should I choose?
The question is difficult to answer, but I am often asked; "What has been your best trip?" I do not have one concrete answer to that. But here in this article I come up with a bid on my 5 best destinations and a country that unfortunately disappointed me a bit.
I have visited many different countries, each of which has vastly different things to offer - both culturally and historically, but also in terms of nature and weather. My luggage is full of great travel experiences, from which I have selected my 5 best destinations.
New Zealand - the first of my 5 best destinations
For me, there is no doubt: The most beautiful nature I have experienced, I experienced in New Zealand. The elongated country on the other side of the earth offers a lot of impressive and beautiful landscapes - but it is not the only thing the country has to offer. If you are into outdoor, adventure and adrenaline rush in beautiful surroundings, New Zealand is your paradise.
The country consists of two large islands; The North Island og The South Island. On the North Island is the largest city, Auckland, where my trip started. Personally, I did not think the cities of New Zealand told me that much.
Queenstown stands out, however, by being "The Adventure Capital of the Wold". I really enjoyed the days I had in Queenstown as there was plenty to indulge in. The city is definitely one must to visit on a trip to New Zealand.
Usually I'm not the big outdoors person who goes on long walks or canoe and kayak trips, but in New Zealand it's just something else. You are completely engrossed in the beautiful nature, which is one of the reasons why they are on my list of my 5 best destinations.
Both the North Island and the South Island have beautiful landscapes. The trip to the North Island that made the biggest impression was the trip to Tongariro National Park. A 20-kilometer hike in the mountains, where there are, among other things, two active volcanoes. On the trip you get through all four seasons, which was an experience in itself. The cold weather at the top of the mountain - close to freezing - while down at the end it was warm and sunny.
The South Island is the island with the most adventure and wild adrenaline-fueled activities. I ran my third bungee-jump just outside Queenstown. Bungee jump originates from New Zealand, so of course I had to jump here too. But the coolest activity on the South Island, I think, was the hike on the glaciers on Mount Cook - New Zealand's highest mountain. The helicopter ride up there alone was fantastic with the great view of the mountain landscape.
Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
The land is located in the middle of the equator - hence the name Ecuador. As soon as you step off the plane at one of the country's airports, you will feel the heat and humidity of the tropical climate. Unless you land in Quito, which is the world's highest capital - here the air is dry.
Ecuador will always stand for me as a unique travel destination. The Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador, and these islands are a chapter in themselves.
We landed in Ecuador's largest city Guayaquil. The city is a bit overlooked among tourists. My impression is that people use it as a transit, when they go on to the Galapagos Islands - and so it was for us.
By plane from Guayaquil, it takes an hour to reach the Galapagos Islands. On the flight you enjoy the view of the sea and suddenly you can spot them; the mythical Galapagos Islands. The islands are known for their unique wildlife and I clearly remember when I spotted the first giant tortoise at the roadside. On the islands there are rare animal species such as giant turtles and the birds with the blue feet, which are only found in the Galapagos Islands. That is why the islands are so unique.
In Quito, the capital of Ecuador, we spent time strolling around the steep streets to look at the many ancient buildings. One of the days we drove 25 km north - here you will find the equator. A fun experience was standing in the middle of the globe with the right foot on the northern hemisphere and the left foot on the southern hemisphere.
Part of the world's largest rainforest, Amazonas, is located in the eastern part of the country. I went on a two-day trip out there, but you can easily spend many more days on such a jungle trip. Here it dawned on me what crazy nature there is in the country, which is why Ecuador is among my 5 best destinations.
So if you love deep jungles, tropical animal species and tropical climates, Ecuador is the perfect choice.
South Africa - the multicultural destination
You will not get further south on the African continent than when you travel to South Africa. Here you will find pretty much everything that Africa holds.
On my trip to South Africa, I experienced both “the real Africa” with safaris and wildlife, the big cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg as well as relaxation on the beaches along the coast. The country gave me many good - but very different - experiences, and therefore South Africa has been added to my list of the 5 best destinations.
South Africa is a multicultural country with an interesting past that still haunts in everyday life. That the country was once racially divided into black and white is part of its history and something that South Africans are very happy to tell about.
My trip started farthest south. In Cape Town. As some of the first we went on a trip to Robben Island. Here you will find the prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years. A very authentic experience, and you get an insight into what South Africa once was and what development has taken place.
From Cape Town we drove along the coast to the east - a really nice trip. Among other things, there are wild penguins on the beaches. We spent a few days at the coastal towns to eventually drive further inland. Here - in the best 'Lion King' style - we experienced "the real Africa": Safari overlooking the wildlife of Africa. It was not my first time on safari since I have been to Kenya before, but it was still a great experience.
My trip to South Africa ended with a visit to the country's largest city Johannesburg. A city with a lot of crime - so we lived in Sandton, which is a European-inspired district. Expensive shops, delicious restaurants and a lot warmer than down by the coast. Johannesburg can clearly be recommended, but I do not think it has as much to offer as Cape Town has.
California, USA - an extraordinary experience
On a list like this, I can not get around United States. I often hear out in the city that people either love or hate the United States - even without having been there themselves. I love it! The United States is the country I have visited the most times and I especially love California and the west coast of the United States.
I clearly remember my first trip to California. I was on the classic trip; roadtrip from San Francisco in the north to San Diego in the south via Highway 1. The contrast one encounters when crossing the great state was what captured me the most. San Francisco is a big city that is a bit like a European city. The city has an exciting history, and I visited, among other things, the disused prison Alcatraz, which is located on an island off the city coast.
Down the coast we drove along the famous Highway 1. Here you have a view of the Pacific Ocean on the entire route; a really nice trip. We stopped several times to watch sea lions basking in the water's edge. Along the way we visited the Danish town Solvang. As a Dane, it is quite surreal to visit a city that is more “Danish” than Denmark itself…
If you have said California, you have also said Los Angeles. The city has many famous sights, but it's the atmosphere in LA that makes me love the city. A multicultural city with different districts, each with its own charm.
I'm so lucky to have friends living in LA It's given me the opportunity to visit places one would not otherwise come. Especially the smaller, but cozy, suburbs.
In Hollywood, it's always going on. Filled with celebrities. There is always a movie being shot on the street. Sunday dinner there is Sunday Funday at the bars. Really American. You meet and drink Mimosa - a mixture of orange juice and champagne - it must be tried!
The times I have visited LA, I have always taken a trip out to the coast to Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Lovely places to relax in the sun - and here is the opportunity to cycle a ride.
Speaking of sol; in San Diego you will find beautiful beaches as well as a Mexican atmosphere. The last time I was in San Diego, it was hugely hot, so we spent all the time on one of the beaches. The city is located near the border Mexico, and we considered taking a trip across the border. But I still have that experience to my credit.
Paris - one of my top five destinations
In Paris there are a lot of beautiful historic buildings and beautiful architecture. Last time I was in Paris, I spent 3-4 days just walking around and around the big city. The thing about walking and walking and along the way encountering one famous sight after another - that's Paris. The Eiffel Tower is, of course, overriding. I was not there in high season, so I had the opportunity to watch the sunset from the top of the Eiffel Tower without having to stand in line for hours. Lucky!
Getting around Paris is super easy both on foot and by public transport. I was very excited about the big wide and bright streets and especially the Champs-Élysées. The world-famous street with the many famous shops that end at the Arc de Triomphe.
I walked up and down the long street several times. There was simply so much to see, so you have to have it all. Well-known shops, beautiful buildings, good restaurants and not least the many people who are often very stylishly dressed. Paris is the mecca of fashion.
A little further south is the district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is a very nice and cozy district with many good cafes. Here I stayed the last two nights. If there is one thing the French are good at, it is cooking. French food culture is amazing! I like to spend half an hour finding the perfect eatery, because the selection of delicious eateries is huge.
One disappointment: São Paulo, Brazil
“The largest city in the southern hemisphere? There must be a lot to see! ”I thought. On my tour of South America, I started in São Paulo in Brazil and had set three days off here. I remember I was in doubt as to whether that was enough, for the city is gigantic.
With a lot of traffic, unorganized public transport and areas that are not recommended to be in, you have to think carefully when moving out.
I took the first day in to Centro, which is the center of São Paulo. I went to the Piano Bar on top of one of the city's many skyscrapers - and it was actually the best memory I have of São Paulo. The city contains a lot of cathedrals, big shopping malls and some exciting museums, but otherwise I think the city is pretty boring.
As I said, I had set aside three days to experience the city, but after one day I was done. So therefore I have to say that São Paulo is definitely not part of my 5 best destinations. Fortunately, there are so many other places in the world waiting for me.
Have a good trip, and good hunting for your own favorites!