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My Best Travel Experiences Of 2019


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marcella Rosado


Exploring the Temples of Angkor Wat

One of my most unforgettable travel experiences of 2019 was the awe-inspiring journey through the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. As I ventured into this UNESCO World Heritage site, I was immediately struck by the grandeur and mystique of the sprawling complex, which spans over 400 acres and is adorned with intricate carvings and stunning architecture.


Wandering through the labyrinthine corridors and ascending the steep staircases of these centuries-old temples felt like stepping back in time. The iconic silhouette of Angkor Wat against the backdrop of the rising sun was a sight to behold, evoking a sense of wonder and reverence for the Khmer Empire’s architectural prowess.


Exploring the enigmatic faces of Bayon Temple and the overgrown ruins of Ta Prohm, famously featured in the movie “Tomb Raider,” was a surreal experience. The intertwining tree roots and ancient stone structures created a hauntingly beautiful scene, showcasing the harmonious coexistence of nature and history.


As I immersed myself in the rich tapestry of history and spirituality, guided by the gentle whispers of the past, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intricate details etched into every surface. The bas-reliefs depicting Hindu epics and celestial nymphs adorned the walls, offering a glimpse into a bygone era of artistic brilliance and cultural sophistication.


Moreover, interacting with the friendly locals and witnessing their deep connection to these sacred grounds added a profound layer of authenticity to my exploration. Their genuine warmth and hospitality enriched my understanding of the significance of Angkor Wat beyond its architectural magnificence.


From the tranquil beauty of sunrise over Angkor Wat to the mystical allure of the lesser-known temples hidden amidst the dense foliage, every moment spent in this ancient realm left an indelible mark on my soul, igniting a passion for unraveling the mysteries of the past.


Trekking through the Himalayas

Embarking on a breathtaking adventure through the majestic Himalayas stands out as one of the most exhilarating experiences I had in 2019. The towering peaks, pristine glaciers, and vibrant prayer flags created an otherworldly backdrop, captivating my senses and stirring a profound sense of wonder.


As I navigated the rugged terrain and ascended to dizzying heights, the sheer magnitude of the world’s highest mountain range unfolded before me, evoking a sense of insignificance yet profound connectedness to nature’s grandeur. The rhythmic crunch of snow beneath my boots and the invigorating mountain air filled my being with an unparalleled sense of freedom and vitality.


Traversing through remote villages nestled amidst the snow-capped peaks offered a glimpse into the resilient spirit of the local communities. Their warm hospitality and enduring traditions provided a poignant contrast to the harsh yet mesmerizing landscape, leaving an indelible impression of resilience and harmony in the face of nature’s raw power.


Witnessing the ethereal glow of sunrise painting the Himalayan peaks in a symphony of colors was a spiritual experience like no other. The tranquil moments of reflection amidst this awe-inspiring panorama instilled a deep sense of gratitude and reverence for the natural world, igniting a newfound appreciation for the fragile beauty of our planet.


Moreover, encountering the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this extreme environment, from elusive snow leopards to vibrant rhododendron forests, added an element of mystery and enchantment to my Himalayan odyssey. Each step felt like a dance with the elements, a humbling yet empowering communion with the untamed forces of nature.


As I descended from the lofty heights, the memories of my Himalayan trek remained etched in my mind, reminding me of the boundless wonders that await those who dare to venture into the heart of the world’s most formidable mountain range.


Immersing in the Culture of Kyoto, Japan

My journey to Kyoto, Japan in 2019 was a captivating immersion into the rich tapestry of traditional Japanese culture and timeless beauty. As I strolled through the historic streets adorned with elegant wooden machiya townhouses and vibrant cherry blossoms, I was enveloped in an atmosphere of serene charm and ancient allure.


Exploring the iconic temples and shrines, such as the resplendent Fushimi Inari Taisha with its vermillion torii gates and the tranquil Kinkaku-ji, adorned with shimmering gold leaf, offered a profound glimpse into the spiritual heart of Japan. The harmonious blend of architecture and natural landscapes evoked a sense of tranquility and reverence, inviting contemplation and introspection.


Partaking in a traditional tea ceremony, known as chanoyu, was a transformative experience that transcended the mere act of sipping matcha. The meticulous rituals and profound symbolism embedded in every gesture and utensil spoke volumes about the Japanese philosophy of mindfulness and appreciation for the fleeting beauty of life.


Delving into the world of geisha and maiko in the historic Gion district was a mesmerizing encounter with the enduring traditions of Kyoto. Witnessing the graceful movements and timeless elegance of these enigmatic figures illuminated the enduring allure of Japan’s cultural heritage, offering a glimpse into a world where art, grace, and tradition intertwine seamlessly.


Furthermore, savoring the exquisite flavors of kaiseki cuisine, a culinary art form that celebrates seasonal ingredients and meticulous presentation, was a feast for the senses. Each dish served as a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship and reverence for nature that permeates every aspect of Japanese culture.


As I bid farewell to Kyoto, the memories of its enchanting gardens, enigmatic Noh performances, and the gentle rustling of bamboo in the Arashiyama forest lingered in my heart, leaving an enduring appreciation for the timeless allure of this cultural gem nestled amidst the serene landscapes of Japan.


Safari Adventure in Serengeti National Park

Embarking on a safari adventure in the iconic Serengeti National Park was a transformative journey into the heart of the African wilderness. The sprawling savannah, teeming with an astonishing array of wildlife, painted a mesmerizing tableau of nature’s raw beauty and untamed splendor.


As our rugged safari vehicle traversed the vast plains, each moment brought new encounters with the denizens of the Serengeti. Witnessing the timeless spectacle of the Great Migration, where countless wildebeest and zebras embarked on their epic odyssey across the plains, was a humbling testament to the enduring cycles of life and the unyielding spirit of survival.


The golden light of the African sunset cast a spellbinding glow over the landscape, infusing the acacia-dotted horizon with an ethereal radiance. The distant silhouettes of giraffes grazing against the fiery sky and the regal presence of a lion surveying its domain evoked a sense of reverence for the untamed majesty of the Serengeti.


Moreover, the immersive experiences of tracking elusive leopards through the tangled thickets and observing elephant herds navigating the rugged terrain provided a profound insight into the intricate web of life that thrives in this untamed realm. Each sighting unfolded like a chapter in a timeless saga, weaving together the narratives of predator and prey, survival and symbiosis.


Interacting with the Maasai tribes, whose deep connection to the land and its inhabitants is woven into the fabric of their culture, offered a poignant glimpse into the harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature. Their ancient wisdom and enduring traditions added a layer of cultural richness to my safari, fostering a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life in the Serengeti.


As the stars adorned the night sky like shimmering diamonds and the distant calls of nocturnal creatures filled the air, the Serengeti revealed its enigmatic allure, leaving an indelible imprint of the untamed spirit of Africa on my soul.


Island Hopping in the Greek Isles

Embarking on a journey through the enchanting Greek Isles in 2019 was a captivating odyssey through a tapestry of azure waters, sun-drenched landscapes, and timeless allure. Each island exuded its own unique charm, weaving together a narrative of ancient mythology, vibrant traditions, and breathtaking natural beauty.


Setting foot on the iconic island of Santorini felt like stepping into a postcard-perfect dreamscape. The whitewashed buildings perched on the cliffside, overlooking the sapphire expanse of the Aegean Sea, created a mesmerizing tableau of serenity and romance. Watching the sun dip below the horizon, casting a kaleidoscope of colors over the caldera, was a moment of unparalleled beauty and tranquility.


Exploring the labyrinthine streets of Mykonos, adorned with cascading bougainvillea and vibrant storefronts, offered a delightful immersion into the island’s effervescent energy and cosmopolitan flair. The pulsating rhythm of life juxtaposed against the timeless windmills and historic churches created a captivating fusion of past and present.


Traversing the unspoiled landscapes of Crete, the largest of the Greek Isles, unveiled a world of rugged gorges, sun-drenched vineyards, and ancient Minoan ruins. The palpable sense of history and the warm embrace of Cretan hospitality added a layer of authenticity to my island-hopping adventure, fostering a deep appreciation for the island’s rich cultural heritage.


Moreover, indulging in the delectable flavors of Greek cuisine, from the succulent grilled seafood to the tantalizing mezes paired with local wines, was a feast for the senses. Each dish served as a testament to the culinary artistry and the bountiful harvest of the Mediterranean, enriching my journey with a symphony of flavors and aromas.


As I bid farewell to the Greek Isles, the memories of vibrant sunsets, the gentle lapping of waves against pristine shores, and the warm embrace of the islanders lingered in my heart, leaving an enduring appreciation for the timeless allure of this Mediterranean paradise.


Road Trip through the American Southwest

Embarking on an unforgettable road trip through the American Southwest in 2019 was a journey through a kaleidoscope of natural wonders, rugged landscapes, and the timeless spirit of the frontier. As I navigated the open roads that cut through the heart of this iconic region, I was captivated by the ever-changing panorama of desert vistas, towering rock formations, and expansive skies that stretched to the horizon.


Exploring the otherworldly terrain of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley felt like stepping into a living canvas painted by the hands of nature. The sinuous sandstone walls, sculpted by centuries of wind and water, created an ethereal labyrinth of light and shadow, evoking a sense of wonder and reverence for the forces that shaped this surreal landscape.


Traversing the historic Route 66, with its quirky roadside attractions and time-honored diners, offered a nostalgic glimpse into America’s storied past. The iconic neon signs, rusted gas stations, and the enduring spirit of the Mother Road stirred a deep appreciation for the indomitable pioneer ethos that shaped the American Southwest.


Moreover, the grandeur of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks, from the towering spires of Bryce Canyon to the sprawling arches of Arches National Park, painted a vivid tapestry of geological marvels. Each hike through the labyrinthine slot canyons and the panoramic overlooks offered a profound communion with the raw, untamed beauty of the Southwest’s natural wonders.


Interacting with the indigenous communities and learning about their enduring traditions and deep connection to the land added a poignant layer of cultural richness to my journey. The vibrant artistry, ancient petroglyphs, and the warmth of the Navajo and Hopi people infused my road trip with a profound sense of heritage and respect for the Southwest’s diverse tapestry of cultures.


As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the crimson mesas and the silhouetted cacti, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the timeless landscapes and the enduring spirit of adventure that defines the American Southwest.


Relaxing on the Beaches of Bali

Indulging in the tranquil beauty of Bali’s pristine beaches in 2019 was a rejuvenating escape into a world of sun-kissed shores, swaying palms, and the gentle rhythm of the ocean. Each moment spent on the fabled island of the gods felt like a blissful retreat, where time seemed to slow down, and the worries of the world melted away amidst the idyllic coastal landscapes.


As I reclined on the powdery sands of Kuta Beach, the vibrant energy of Bali’s most famous shoreline infused my spirit with a sense of vitality and warmth. The kaleidoscope of surfers riding the waves, vibrant beach vendors, and the kaleidoscopic sunsets painted a lively tableau of tropical splendor, inviting me to immerse myself in the island’s effervescent charm.


Exploring the hidden coves and pristine bays of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida offered a serene respite from the bustling energy of the mainland. The crystalline waters, teeming with vibrant marine life, beckoned me to dive into a world of kaleidoscopic coral reefs and tranquil seascapes, unveiling the underwater wonders that lie just beyond the shore.


Moreover, the tranquil enclave of Sanur Beach, with its laid-back ambiance and the gentle lapping of the waves, provided a serene backdrop for moments of introspection and relaxation. The unhurried pace of life and the timeless allure of the Balinese coastline offered a sanctuary for rejuvenation and contemplation.


Partaking in traditional Balinese spa rituals, such as the soothing Balinese massages and rejuvenating flower baths, was a transformative experience that harmonized body, mind, and spirit. The ancient healing traditions and the aromatic scents of tropical blooms enveloped me in a cocoon of tranquility, fostering a deep sense of renewal and well-being.


As I bid farewell to the sun-drenched shores of Bali, the memories of serene sunrises, the gentle rustling of palm fronds, and the warm embrace of the island’s hospitality lingered in my heart, leaving an enduring appreciation for the restorative power of Bali’s coastal paradise.


Discovering the History of Rome, Italy

My sojourn to Rome in 2019 was an immersive journey through the annals of history, where each cobblestone street and ancient monument resonated with the echoes of a bygone era. As I wandered through the timeless streets of the Eternal City, I was enveloped in a tapestry of grandeur, artistry, and the enduring legacy of one of the world’s most influential civilizations.


Exploring the majestic Colosseum, where gladiators once clashed and the spectacles of ancient Rome unfolded, offered a poignant glimpse into the city’s storied past. The towering arches and weathered stone whispered tales of triumph and tragedy, evoking a profound sense of awe and reverence for the enduring spirit of the Roman Empire.


Traversing the hallowed grounds of the Roman Forum, with its towering columns and scattered ruins, felt like stepping into a living museum of antiquity. Each step brought me closer to the heart of ancient Rome, where the voices of statesmen, philosophers, and poets seemed to echo through the remnants of temples and civic buildings, offering a vivid tableau of the city’s illustrious past.


Partaking in a captivating journey through the Vatican City, with its opulent basilicas and the resplendent Sistine Chapel, was a transformative encounter with the artistic and spiritual treasures of the Renaissance. The masterpieces of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini spoke volumes about the enduring power of creativity and faith, igniting a sense of wonder and introspection.


Moreover, savoring the culinary delights of Rome, from the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked pizza in a traditional trattoria to the velvety richness of artisanal gelato, offered a delightful immersion into the flavors of Italian gastronomy. Each dish served as a testament to the culinary artistry and the rich tapestry of flavors that define the essence of Roman cuisine.


As I bid farewell to the storied streets of Rome, the memories of ancient cobblestones, the timeless allure of the Pantheon, and the warm embrace of the city’s inhabitants lingered in my heart, leaving an enduring appreciation for the indelible mark that Rome has left on the canvas of human history.


Cruising the Fjords of Norway

Embarking on a mesmerizing journey through the majestic fjords of Norway in 2019 was a transcendent odyssey through a world of ethereal beauty, where nature’s grandeur unfolded in a symphony of towering cliffs, crystalline waters, and verdant valleys. As the ship glided through the labyrinthine waterways, I was captivated by the breathtaking panoramas that unfolded at every turn, painting a picture of sublime serenity and untamed splendor.


Exploring the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord, with its cascading waterfalls and sheer rock walls that soared to dizzying heights, was a surreal encounter with the raw power of nature. The mist-shrouded cliffs and the thundering roar of the waterfalls created an otherworldly ambiance, evoking a sense of wonder and reverence for the forces that shaped this pristine landscape.


Traversing the serene waters of the Nærøyfjord, flanked by lush forests and dramatic peaks that seemed to pierce the sky, offered a glimpse into a world untouched by time. The tranquil beauty of this narrow fjord, where the reflections of emerald green waters mirrored the surrounding wilderness, instilled a deep sense of tranquility and harmony with nature.


Moreover, immersing myself in the vibrant culture of the coastal towns nestled amidst the fjords added a layer of authenticity to my journey. Interacting with the warm-hearted locals and learning about their enduring connection to the sea and the land enriched my understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the people and the breathtaking natural surroundings.


As the midnight sun bathed the fjords in a soft, golden glow and the distant call of seabirds filled the air, I felt a profound sense of gratitude for the timeless landscapes and the enduring spirit of adventure that defines the Norwegian fjords. The memories of this transcendent voyage remained etched in my heart, leaving an indelible appreciation for the untamed beauty of Norway’s coastal marvels.


Exploring the Markets of Marrakech

My expedition through the bustling markets of Marrakech in 2019 was a sensory immersion into a world of vibrant colors, exotic aromas, and the rhythmic cadence of daily life. As I meandered through the labyrinthine alleyways of the medina, I was enveloped in a tapestry of cultural richness, where the age-old traditions of North Africa came to life amidst the bustling souks and bustling squares.


Wandering through the iconic Jemaa el-Fnaa square, where storytellers, musicians, and street performers converged against the backdrop of the setting sun, offered a captivating glimpse into the vivacious spirit of Marrakech. The pulsating energy of the square, with its aromatic clouds of spices and the vibrant hues of traditional textiles, painted a lively tableau of Moroccan hospitality and conviviality.


Exploring the souks, with their labyrinthine passages adorned with intricate handicrafts, vibrant ceramics, and the tantalizing scent of exotic spices, was a feast for the senses. Each stall beckoned with an array of treasures, from handwoven carpets to gleaming lanterns, offering a glimpse into the artisanal heritage and the timeless artistry that defines the markets of Marrakech.


Partaking in the time-honored ritual of haggling with the local merchants, known as the dance of negotiations, added an element of excitement and camaraderie to my market exploration. The friendly banter and the shared laughter with the vendors created a sense of connection and mutual respect, fostering a deeper appreciation for the conviviality and warmth of the Moroccan people.


Moreover, savoring the tantalizing flavors of traditional Moroccan cuisine, from the aromatic tagines to the delicate pastries infused with honey and nuts, offered a delightful immersion into the culinary tapestry of the region. Each dish served as a testament to the rich fusion of flavors and the art of slow-cooked indulgence that defines the essence of Moroccan gastronomy.


As I bid farewell to the vibrant markets of Marrakech, the memories of bustling souks, the enchanting melodies of local musicians, and the warm embrace of the city’s inhabitants lingered in my heart, leaving an enduring appreciation for the timeless allure of this cultural gem nestled amidst the vibrant landscapes of Morocco.