My Travel Bucket List

Ever since I was a child, I have had a fascination with the world. I know this statement seems very general, but I speak the truth.

From the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, to the mysterious prehistoric monument known as the Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the world is an exquisite collection of treasures I have always wished to explore.

Indeed, I am an avid traveler. I love experiencing new cultures, and staying in new places. It sure makes life a hell of a lot more interesting. Traveling is an opportunity to abstract from everyday life, and I consider it the best way to have fun.

Since I am Pakistani, I have been fortunate enough to travel to Asia multiple times. Last Summer, I spent almost two months in blistering heat because my family decided to finally go back to the homeland after being away for almost eight years. Since I was older than the time of my last visit in 2007, last Summer’s experience has been engraved into my mind permanently.

Pakistan is known for its brutal Summers. It’s hot, humid, and dry–all at the same time. Imagine that. This small fact may seem terrifying to some people, but it wasn’t THAT bad. Coming from a girl who despises the Summer, I do admit that it was difficult at first. But, if you have activities/events to look forward to, they will take your mind off of the surplus of sweat slowly dripping down your back.

Now don’t get me wrong, Pakistan is a beautiful country. It is rich in history, and it is the home of the Indus Valley Civilization–one of the earliest ancient human civilizations of the Old World. It took me a long time to realize how incredible the country really is, and this is why I wanted to share my experience with you all.

I took hundreds of pictures while I was visiting the motherland last Summer.

Here are a few of my favorite ones:

My hotel view in Murree, Pakistan

A cute shop I visited near Ayubia, Pakistan
Daman-e-koh, Islamabad, Pakistan
Layyah, Punjab, Pakistan

And here are a few pictures of Pakistan that aren’t mine, but still incredible nonetheless:

Saiful Muluk, Pakistan
Saiful Muluk, Northern Pakistan
Satpara Lake, Pakistan
Satpara Lake, Northern Pakistan
Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan
Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan

Humans of New York, a popular photo blog that was started by Brandon Stanton in 2010, is currently in Pakistan. Click HONY to see the beautiful stories/photographs he has captured recently. 

Snapchat has also put up an Independence Day Pakistan story! So, be sure to check that out if you have Snapchat. It will be up all day today (August 14th).

One of my favorite parts about traveling is the adventure. I love knowing that I have an itinerary to follow, and the horrendous airplane food to look forward to.

SO…

In light of everyone I know going on vacation this month, I thought it’d be a perfect time to share my top 10 travel destinations. These are the countries that I’ve been dying to visit ever since I was a child.

Let’s get started!

PSA: The pictures that y’all are about to see are not mine. I do not take credit for taking any of these photographs. If anyone wants to know the websites that I have gotten these images from, message me. Thanks!

1. France

From the small, enchanting towns bordering Germany to the East, to the romantic capital of Paris, France has always held the #1 spot on my travel bucket list. What’s there not to love about this beautiful country? After studying French in school for years, I fell deeply in love with everything this nation was about. France is a fairytale that I want to live in.

Here are a few towns in particular that have stolen my heart:

Annecy, France
Colmar, France during Christmas time (A.K.A. literal Hogsmeade)
Eguisheim, France *sighs heavily*

2. England

I know the weather sucks, and everything’s super expensive, but really?

I will live in London someday.

And if not in London, then in one of those cute towns near Leeds, or in Brighton where I can run up and down rocky beaches, or even in a supply closet in Buckingham Palace.

Somewhere. I promise you all that I will.

3. Switzerland

The mountains. The natural lakes. All of it is magical. This country is my dream vacation destination, and since I am thinking about becoming an environmental science major, the nature is what drew me into the Swiss Confederation.

4. Italy

Oh, Italy.

From Venice and Rome, to Milan and Pompeii–I would trade anything for a chance to explore this magnificent country.

5. Belgium

BELGIAN WAFFLES. That is all.

(No but seriously, it’s a Francophone country, and their chocolate is bangin’)

The Grand Place, or central square, in Brussels, Belgium
*Drools everywhere*
*drools everywhere*

6. The Netherlands

*Queue TFiOS fans screaming about Amsterdam, and the famous bench where Gus and Hazel kiss*

Honestly, my favorite part of The Netherlands is its name. This country is often referred to Holland, or “The Kingdom of the Netherlands,” which sounds pretty awesome.

Oh, and it’s beautiful too.

AmsterDAMN (get it?)
AmsterDAMN (get it?)

7. Iceland

Here are a few fun facts about this island country:

  • Around 11% of Iceland is covered in glacial ice. So, it’s not really as Antarctica as you thought it was.
  • Iceland became the first country to elect a woman president in 1980. (#YAS)
  • Handball is the main traditional sport of Iceland.
  • During the months of June and July, Iceland has days with a full 24 hours of sunlight. Yeah, no. If I ever end up going to Iceland, I am not traveling during their sunny season.
  • Volcanoes and geysers dominate the entire damn country.
Reykjavik, Iceland (the capital)
Reykjavik, Iceland (the capital)
The Northern Lights in Iceland

8. Germany

All Hitler aside, Germany is filled with charming towns and a ridiculous amount of unforgettable history. Although it will never live down its Nazism affiliation, Germany itself is extraordinary.

Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany

9. Ireland

There are no leprechauns, but there sure are a lot of pretty castles.

Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle

10. United Arab Emirates

The interior of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The interior/hall of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The UAE consists of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi (the capital, and my dream honeymoon location), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain.

Being a Muslim, I have always found the Middle East and its surrounding countries extremely intriguing. The history of Islam exists in and around the UAE, and I would die to pray in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi one day.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
The Domes of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Domes of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Dubai
Dubai, UAE

Well, that’s that. These are the countries that are considered my top priority when it comes to traveling. To those of you who have visited any of these locations, I am glad you got to witness the beauty that exists within our world. I hope some of y’all feel inspired to create your own travel bucket lists!

To end this lengthy post, I will leave you guys with some wise words from the dear Augustine of Hippo:

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 

Where will you travel next?

-Sara

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