Ennui: the feeling of dissatisfaction and listlessness arising from lack of opportunities and excitement. It’s the feeling we all know when we’ve been stuck in one place for too long. The pandemic kept a lot of travelers from following through on their planned excursions, myself included. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was supposed to go to Disney: canceled. I was supposed to spend this semester in Milan, Italy — until COVID-19 took that trip away from me too, leaving me stuck on the ground waiting for the next plane to whisk me away somewhere incredible.
I want to preface this list by saying there are far more places in the world that I would like to visit — ask anyone who watched me write this 15 different times. A goal in my life is to step foot on every continent, and visit as many countries as humanly possible. That being said, here are 10 of the top places on my bucket list that I want to see in my lifetime.
10. Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal was built in the seventeenth century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. The name of the palace itself translates to the “crown of palaces.” Another fun fact is that there are no artificial lights on the Taj Mahal because it is made entirely of marble — meaning it can be seen perfectly in the moonlight! As if it weren’t interesting enough, it is also an incredible piece of architecture that I would love to see with my own eyes someday.
9. Palace of Versailles, France
I’m dying to have a main character moment in the hall of mirrors — and don’t get me started on the beauty of the landscaping. The palace was commissioned by Louis XIV as a way to show other countries looking to go to war with France how rich the country was. Louis XIV chose the sun as his emblem to show his diviness, labeling him as the “sun king.” Evidence of this is seen throughout the castle through artwork, sculptures and in the architecture itself. If all the beauty isn’t enough to get you to visit it, you can imagine yourself running through the hall of mirrors as one of the angry women who stormed the palace demanding bread. (Shoutout to Mr. Evans Modern European history class for teaching me all of this and more!)
8. Seljalandsfoss in Iceland
Iceland is one of those countries that I never thought I would want to visit until I started seeing pictures of the landscape. Now, it’s at the top of my list. Seljalandsfoss is a beautiful waterfall in the southern region of Iceland and is a part of the Seljalands river. The images speak for themselves; the waterfall is around 60 meters, or about 197 feet, tall. Visitors can view the falls from in front, or venture behind them into a cave that overlooks the landscape. This is one of those places that you just have to see to believe. Fun fact, the falls were also featured in Justin Beiber’s “I’ll Show You” music video!
7. Athens, Greece
Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities and is filled with Greek and Roman treasures. As someone who grew up reading the “Percy Jackson” series, Greece has always been of interest to me. Visiting the Acropolis is at the top of my list, but I’m also dying to see all the different shrines dedicated to the different gods and goddesses. And if you’re in Greece, you absolutely must visit the islands and have your “Mamma Mia” moment.
6. Maui, Hawai’i (U.S.)
Hawai’i is the ultimate honeymoon destination. Between the Pacific Ocean and the tropical fish, to the fiery volcanoes, Hawai’i has something for everyone. I’m drawn to Hawai’i for all the beautiful sites you can see on a nice, long hike and the water sports. I would love nothing more than to spend the day learning to surf (and being awesome at it), then taking a long shower and curling up and taking that perfect, post-day-in-the-sun nap and waking up right before dinner. Every island that makes up Hawai’i is on my list, but Maui has the hikes and beaches to keep me entertained.
5. Fairbanks, Alaska (U.S.)
Not only is Fairbanks the perfect place to watch the northern lights, it is also renowned for its sunsets and sunrises that last forever because of the midnight sun. Imagine going to bed in the middle of the night and looking at the multi-colored sky… absolutely breathtaking. As if that wasn’t enough to warrant a visit, there are plenty of outdoor sports to keep you entertained (specifically white water rafting, which is also on my bucket list).
4. Plaza De España Seville, Spain
My roommate Julia actually showed me this as I was rewriting my list for the tenth time. At first, I wasn’t sold — Spain is definitely a country on my list, but what’s so cool about one building? Then, she told me what the building is for and showed me what the building looked like. It is stunning. Today, it is used as government offices and meeting places. What struck me most (besides the architecture) was the park in the center of the property: Parque de María Luisa. The park is made of half a mile of tiled fountains, ponds, benches, pavilions and has various different trees and flowers to add to the aura of the park. Overall, this is one of the many places in Spain I would love to visit.
3. Sea of the Stars, Maldives
The Maldives are breathtaking year round. But in the late summer, water by the reef is full of bioluminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum. During this time of year, the plankton moves in the waves, causing it to give off a light glow — giving it the appearance of stars in the sky. Images of this have to be amongst the most stunning images I’ve ever seen. I saw this years ago on Instagram and it has been on my mind ever since. I’m determined to go one night and sit on the beach with friends, talking all night and watching the waves shimmer as they crash.
2. Lake Como, Italy
Ah, Italy. The things I would’ve done to be able to spend this semester in Italy. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be — but I’m determined to get there someday. Lake Como was on my bucket list immediately after I found out that’s where they filmed some of “Star Wars.” The scenery when Anakin and Padme got married — picture perfect. I would love to both relax and observe and explore this lush land. Lake Como is the ideal balance of architecture, waterways and greenery.
1. Phuket, Thailand
Besides the awesome name, Phuket has picture perfect oceans and rainforests. Not to mention the gigantic statue of Buddha and all the animals you can interact with. There are so many different animal sanctuaries — most notably elephant, monkey and dog sanctuaries. If you’re looking to get out of nature and into civilization, there are plenty of street markets, art museums and shows to attend. Phuket is also home to many relatively wallet-friendly places to stay. A win all around!