I made a personal goal for myself to spread only positive news for an entire month this summer and wow that was much harder than I imagined! We are bombarded with negative information and heart-wrenching stories these days. It is now, more than ever, that we must reflect on our “why” and the memories that bring us joy. For me- most of those memories revolve around travel. And certain places have had more of an impact than others. When I’m seeking a mood-boost (which is often these days) I look back on my travel photos and instantly feel bliss and gratitude. Below are the top 7 most vibrant places I’ve ever visited:
Cinque Terre, Italy
I will never forget when my grandfather put together a puzzle of Cinque Terre and insisted my family go visit (even though he never did!). It had been on my bucket list ever since. After a trip to Croatia with a friend and right before a family getaway to the Amalfi Coast I tacked on a 4-day solo trip to this much beloved coastline.
Cinque Terre lives up to its reputation! What I noticed first is that each town has its own unique personality and style. I stayed in Riomaggiore in a quaint one-bedroom place with glorious views of the sunset. Eager to see all five towns and get some exercise I hopped on the Blue Path Trail and hiked it. The views of both the sea and cliffside villages were mesmerizing! I met a friend while on the trail and we enjoyed jumping in the cool, turquoise water to cool off and taking limoncello shots from an old Italian joyfully selling them via his makeshift bar stand.
My favorite town was Vernazza- full of colorful houses and amazing food! It is also home to the world’s best gelato shop- Gelateria Vernazza. Order hazelnut, it will change your life! Everyone was in a good mood and ready to share advice or join you on part of you adventure. The pizza, pasta and savory wine was the icing on the cake. Please note that when you visit Monterosso arrive early or late so you do not run into the cruise ships arriving/departing. It can get crowded!
I visited Guatape while doing a study trip around Colombia with my partner Big Five Tours. The most colorful town of this unique country exceeds expectations! Once named after a tribe, the town is now a trading hub for farmers. You can spend hours strolling the cobblestone streets and staring in awe at the colorful architecture, savoring award-winning coffee and shopping cute handmade crafts. If you ever get tired of walking, a colorful Tuk Tuk will happily take you around!
We glamped in nearby Bosko in bubble domes overlooking channels of water. The domes are called “mushrooms” and you can get served the most delicious breakfast in bed! While sitting around the fire views of the massive “Rock of Guatape” greet you. A surreal staircase wraps around the side of this ginormous rock- 740 steps to be exact. We climbed up it and savored the 360-degree views! My favorite part however was the outdoor shower and feeling one with nature. This was hands down my most incredible camping experience.
La Boca, Argentina
Home to Argentina’s soccer stadium, La Bocca is the most colorful neighborhood I have ever visited! The buildings are painted bright hues of yellow, orange, green, and red. This quaint town was settled by Italian immigrants and there are often tango shows on the street. A short walk away is the stadium where a full-size Messi and Maradona statue can be found. I developed an infatuation with Messi while interning in Barcelona several years ago and I couldn’t resist eagerly waiting to get a picture with him. It is a very touristy area, but well worth a quick visit!
When people ask me which country has surprised me the most- I always say Morocco. It has everything! From the sea up north, to the mountains in the west and the wild desert to the east no place can offer quite as much diversity. And let’s not forget the eccentric towns of Fez and Marrakesh. All equally worth a visit, but the most vibrant town is Chefchauan known as the “blue city.” Rightfully named as all buildings are brightly colored blue. I fully expected a smurf to pop out while exploring the picturesque and winding streets! In the excitement to get there, don’t forget to savor the drive up through the mountains.
Cape Town, South Africa
While I was a college student on Semester at Sea we had a brief layover in South Africa. There is a lot to love- from scenic Table Mountain to the harbor full of sail boats. The beaches are fabulous, and the rolling vineyards are full of award-winning wine. Believe it or not, you can take a tour around the cape and see penguins! Trendy bars, fine dining and world-class hotels make up downtown.
We did a day trip to Johannesburg and visited a slum. We planted a garden, handed out clothing and stickers to the youth and danced with the locals. You may not think that sounds “vibrant” but honestly, I met some of the happiest and energetic people I have ever met in my life here. And learned a big life lesson- money does not equal happiness. And vibrancy comes in many forms.
Northern Lights, Chena Hot Springs Alaska
You’re never guaranteed to see the Northern Lights so I had no expectations at the conclusion of an Alaskan cruise while trying to catch a glimpse in Fairbanks. I was with a group of girlfriends and we decided to rent a car and drive out to Chena Hot Springs. Soaking in the springs felt glorious after an 8-day adventurous cruise exploring Alaska’s hot spots! We canoed, hiked, zip-lined, chased whales and bears and explored the mystic fjords on a seaplane. But nothing could prepare us for what was to come!
As we strolled back to the car ready to leave- I glanced up as a massive stream of green light shot through the sky. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me! We continued to watch in amazement as streams of green and red light blanketed the sky. The entire drive home we could not stop staring in awe. I had never seen anything like this before and the experience was surreal! My friend pulled over so we could sit on the side of the road and take in this once in a lifetime encounter. A few of the girls cried. We were all so grateful to have the experience of the Northern Lights dancing above us. It is a night I will never forget! And since that day I haven’t stopped telling people seeing the Northern Lights must be on their bucket list.
Gullfoss Waterfall , Iceland
Iceland is magical and it’s hard to choose which place made me feel most alive- the massive and overpowering Gullfoss Waterfall or the infamous Blue Lagoon. Both are masterpieces of nature. Although Gullfoss is not the most powerful waterfall in Iceland, it’s certainly the most scenic. Some even argue it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I don’t disagree with that! I could have stayed there all day listening to the sound of cascading water and taking in the endless surrounding beauty.
Despite staying relatively close to home this summer, I have been fortunate to visit a lot of colorful places that instantly boost my mood when I reflect on them. Do you agree with my list of vibrant places? Where have you visited that you can reflect on with joy and gratitude?