After traveling to over 100 countries I am often asked, “Where is your favorite place to travel?” My answer depends on what you searching for. I have favorite places to go SCUBA diving, skiing, to get away from technology and places I cannot wait to explore.
I want to share six places that when I went to these locations, I felt moved and I wanted to sit in silence and soak in the spirit.
I wanted to see Borobudur in Indonesia for a dozen years before I finally made it there. I highly recommend many UNESCO sites and this one does not disappoint! It is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia and the world’s largest Buddhist temple. When you walk up the nine stacked platforms, you may notice that six are square and three are round. The central dome at the top level is named Nirvana and has 72 Buddha statues each seated inside a stupa. I loved reaching nirvana. I will never forget the day I spent at this temple complex. With 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, it is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage.
While working for Renaissance Cruises, Myanmar was on our Asian itinerary. I had not researched what we would see and was mesmerized by my day at the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is truly one of the most memorable days of my life. Sunset across the golden stupas was magical and listening to the sounds of prayer at this active site was captivating. Located in Yangon, it is 99 metres (325 ft) tall and contains relics from the four previous Buddhas including the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama. It is considered the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar and the most impressive one I have been to after three visits including one for 27 days of traveling around the country.
One year I spent my birthday in New Mexico and visited Bandelier National Monument. It was my first visit to the state and I loved seeing where Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted. Being in a place that was built from 1150 to 1600 CE reminded me that I am not old. I was a bit scared to climb up the ladders of the Ancient Puebloans but I did it and standing in the space was breathtaking. President Woodrow Wilson designated Bandelier as a National Monument on February 11, 1916, and it was named for Adolph Bandelier, a Swiss-American anthropologist who researched the cultures of the area and supported preservation of the sites. Just knowing that it was added to the National Park list in 1916 made me feel younger! Many things in life are about perspective!
During an eleven month trip in South East Asia, I chose not to travel in Nepal because I was worried that I was not capable of trekking. On an 18-month journey several years later, I was ready to conquer my fears. I accomplished two eight-day treks and loved the experience. On the journey from Pokhara to the foothills of Annapurna, I walked to Ghorepani. This location is famous for its incredible view of the Annapurna range at 3,210m above sea level. I highly recommend trekking. I also trekked in the Langtang Valley. The ten-hour bus ride to Syabrubesi was harrowing however, I loved meeting the Tibetan people living along the trail and staying in guest houses making an effort to speak my few Nepalese words.
In 2016, I was invited on a trip to Italy with Insight Vacations Luxury Gold. One of the main reasons I accepted was because of the VIP Exclusive early access to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. While I had sailed to Italy many times, I had never been to Vatican City. Sitting in the Sistine Chapel, staring at the ceiling was amazing for me. I recently completed a year of vision therapy for an eye issue that was not correctly diagnosed when I was a child. Being able to really see the depth in the art and what Michelangelo had accomplished reminded me that whatever your task, you must keep going. Whether it is to fix your eyes or your soul, travel allows you to find new paths. I am so glad that I was at this location at a time when I could finally truly appreciate what I was seeing.
I have been fortunate to travel to Israel many times from when I was eleven with my family on a cruise, at sixteen for nine weeks with Los Angeles Ulpan, for a semester abroad in college and on several other incredible journeys. Being in Israel is truly life changing. Last year, I was at the Western Wall as the sun was setting on the day before my birthday. It had been a year of great transitions and I felt so peaceful to stand at the wall with my hands on the stones and think about all of the challenges and new beginnings. Walking in the tunnels under the wall and thinking of all the warriors and philosophers who talked and worked here over hundreds and thousands of years makes me feel part of a continuum. Our human family is resilient and ready to welcome you to any of these spiritual spaces where you can re-meet yourself and engage in your next steps. I wonder where you will wander. I hope to meet you on a journey and learn about the places that make you ponder. Happy and Safe Travels.
Want to Experience Any of Lisa Niver’s Top 6 Destinations, Next Year?
Recruiting for Good is a social staffing company, based in Santa Monica, CA rewarding referrals with travel. We work collaboratively to help women fund travel. Choose one destination you like to experience, gift, or share, then email Carlos to learn how to qualify for our personal funding travel savings service and see the world for good.