The physical strains of travel; running to catch your train, enduring the stomach cramps of last night’s culinary experiment or sightseeing through a sleep deprived haze, all wash away in that one ‘Wohhh’ moment that leaves you awestruck. Not every trip has a ‘Wohhh’ moment but finding them keeps me travelling, these are my top five awestruck travel experiences:
Great Wall of China I stumbled up the last few steps, leg muscles aching as the stone wall gave way to the blue sky and I straightened my back feeling the cool breeze for the first time. Turning to look back at my route, I took an involuntary breath as I saw the structure snaking through the hills. The Great Wall gave me the first ‘Wohhh’ moment of my travels and is still in my top five experiences.
Michelangelo’s David A face calm in the knowledge of ultimate triumph but a body tensed for battle against insurmountable odds, so powerful I stepped back at first sight to gather my wits. His body hardened by life, chiselled by the mastery of his maker whose bidding he stands ready to perform, a resolute figure pitted against the greatness of time. As I circle his perfect form, the hands appear to twitch as the lean muscles contract to bring his weapon to bear.
Beneath his marble white skin I can see the blood coursing through his body, a body filled with life yet as cold as stone to my touch. As cold as the Carrara marble he emerged from under the frenetic genius of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Created in cloud of marble dust with only his God to guide his hand, Michelangelo created a sculpture so magnificent that had it been his only achievement we would still regard him as a Master Sculptor.
Colditz Castle I peered into the tunnel chipped through the stone walls by desperate young men intent on escaping their captors. As a kid their escape stories fuelled my imagination, and powered a life long interest in their exploits, separating fact from fiction to understand the unarmed war of deception and subterfuge they fought.
Their ingenuity is legendary but I’m gob smacked looking at the radio room that remained hidden for fifty years along with numerous other artefacts discovered during renovations in 1993. After the tour, I wandered the grounds imagining their lives; recalling the escape stories but also the boredom and despair of imprisonment.
Yankee Stadium Sixty thousand cheering fans, passionate lovers of baseball filled the stands that Ruth built, Yankee Stadium boasts the most dedicated and unforgiving fans in baseball. Today their chants rocked the walls, and reverberated through the stairwells as they cheered their beloved team to victory.
‘Let’s go Red Sox,’ they roared as the shaggy idiots from Boston took the field to play the clean-cut Bronx Bombers. The New Englanders overwhelmed the Yankee faithful turning Ruth’s house into a small piece of Massachusetts.
Venice The passengers surged off the carriages into the humid oil stained air of the station, nondescript and unremarkable in a country that brought forth the modern world. We stumbled along with them, contemplating sightseeing and lunch before emerging into the sunshine of Renaissance Venezia.
Turquoise blue water lapped against the decaying stucco and marble, and for a moment, we stood in the Doge‘s powerful city-state before the roar of a motorboat returned us to the present. Its formidable navy transformed into vaporetto and water taxis, Venice emerged from darkness to embrace tourism and regain its power.