By Molly Driscoll
Wondering where to go on your next vacation – or just want to read about breathtaking sights from all over the globe? The updated edition of "1,000 Places To See Before You Die" spans the globe to compile a list of inspired destinations for the diehard traveler.
1. Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, is now a hotel where guests can stay and enjoy views from battlements as well as a good night's sleep in a four-post bed. Non-guests can also participate in activities at the castle or enjoy a bistro lunch. In the 19th century, the castle served as the residence for the Guinness brewing family; more recently, stars John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara stayed there while they filmed the 1952 movie "The Quiet Man."
The Greek island, which is the rim of a volcano, offers breathtakingly blue ocean, beaches with red and black sand, and ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian ruins. Decide for yourself whether or not – as popular theory has it – the island is actually the lost city of Atlantis.
3. Parc de Montjuïc
The park on top of the Montjuïc hill in Barcelona has formal gardens as well as cacti as tall as 20 feet that tower over visitors. Art by 20th-century Catalan surrealist artists is displayed in galleries throughout the park, and there's a theater from the 1920s built as a recreation of a classic Greek performance space.
4. The North Pole and Svalbard
"1,000 Places" urges readers to go see the North Pole sooner rather than later – after all, who knows what will happen with so much ice melting all over the world? The North Pole, with its cycles of daylight and dimness, and Svalbard, with its unimaginably large icebergs and massive mountains, both also offer possible sightings of polar bears and multiple species of Arctic birds.
5. Masoala National Park
Masoala National Park in Madagascar is the largest in the country and has lemurs, including a species not found anywhere else on the globe. Also found in the park are geckos and chameleons, as well as rock carvings left behind by sailors in the 1500s. Spectacular coral reefs can also be seen in nearby Tampolo Marine Park.
6. Royal Wheels of India
India's railway has more than 67,000 miles of track and – despite crowded trains and missed connections – offers the chance for the journey of a lifetime. Visitors can take some of the trains on more leisurely trips that offer daytime activities such as traveling on camels, then bring passengers back onto the trains at night. The locomotives do the bulk of the traveling overnight so passengers can enjoy full days in the cities and at other attractions like the Taj Mahal.
7. Lord Howe Island
The Australian island has volcanic remnants that include Ball's Pyramid – the remains of a shield volcano that shoot out of the water like a spike. Nearby reefs have hundreds of species of fish, birds, and coral. But plan your trip carefully: Only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at one time.
8. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
The plain located in Arizona and Utah has mesas and buttes, with huge finger-shaped structures of red rock looming in the distance. If you keep expecting to see a cowboy ride over the horizon at any moment, you're not alone – John Ford filmed many of his Westerns here, including 1939's "Stagecoach."
9. Carnaval de Québec
The Quebec Winter Carnival, held over 17 days, is headed up by the strange Bonhomme, a figure resembling a snowman who is the face of the festival and lives in the large Ice Palace carved from ice near the Parliament Building for the festival. Music, snow-sculpting, dancing, tobogganing, canoeing (through an ice-covered river), and other activities fill the days of the celebration.
10. Easter Island
The island in Chile is known worldwide for its famous sculpture heads called moai and visitors love to search out clues and consider possible explanations for the existence and purpose of the sculptures. But Easter Island is also offers lovely areas for biking and beaches that include pink-sanded Ovahe.
Source: The CS Monitor
Also see: Barcelona | Costa Rica | Kolkata
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