What’s your favorite color?
In this week’s 123RF World Travel Guide, we’re celebrating colors. From the simmering golden dome of India’s divine Golden Temple to the ultraviolet skies of Indonesia’s Gili Islands.
Next, we witness the kaleidoscope of colors in Iran’s Pink Mosque and grey basalt columns in Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway. Finally, we travel to tangerine sands of Israel’s Dead Sea, before ending our odyssey in Italy’s rainbow hills of Cinque Terre.
How does one resist the charm of Amritsar’s Golden Temple?
In India, it’s all about the colors. The big, bright and bold colors that leap right towards you. And Punjab is India’s rainbow city. Here, feast your eyes to the royal blue costumes of the Nihang (Sikh warriors). The fiery red Punjabi suits and dazzling pink turbans worn throughout the city. The bright green paddy fields and vivid yellow mustard flowers as far as the eye can see.
Additionally, teat yourself to the deep, dark green platters of melt-in-your mouth saag (a spinach based dish). Topped with rich, yellow spoonfuls of smooth ghee (clarified butter). Finally, the irresistible deep fried orange jalebi (mini Indian pretzel-like sweets). In Punjab, witness the colors that celebrate life, like there is no tomorrow.
For a dose of the extraordinary, we head to Amritsar. The sacred city is home to the Golden Temple. From afar, the golden dome simmers away under the sunlight. Next, make your way to the massive 24/7 operated community kitchen. Each bite of a meal pays tribute to the sheer will of thousands of volunteers who sacrifice everything in the name of feeding a stranger. No matter your skin color, this Sikh home of worship promises a humbling experience. Here, the only currency that matters is one’s humanity.
Ultraviolet skies at the Gili Trawangan Island.
Our World Travel Guide picks Indonesia as our favorite spread of buffet. This sprawling country offers a treat for every traveler. Volcanic mountains meet lush rainforests. Bustling streets meet idyllic beaches. And amusing orangutans meet fearsome Komodo dragons. Here, begin your journey in the spectacular Borobudur. This massive temple resembles the Buddhist version of the universe. Borobudur’s mandala inspired design is believed to enable pilgrims to connect their daily lives with nirvana. The building’s stupa is at the heart of this prophecy. Likewise, Borobudur is at the center of Indonesia’s history and culture.
Additionally, no trip to Indonesia would be complete without visiting its beautiful beaches. For those looking to stay away from Bali’s crowd, head to the Gili Islands. Situated just off the coast of Lombok, three gorgeous islands make up one of the world’s best dive sites. Gili Trawangan is the most urban of its siblings, with plenty of high end resorts. Meanwhile, Gili Meno is the ultimate paradise. Gili Air though does well to combine the best of both worlds. Additionally, visit the Komodo National Park for a truly unique experience. This UNESCO World Heritage Centre enables you to walk alongside dragons in some of Indonesia’s most breathtaking natural settings.
The Pink Mosque is famous for its winter prayer hall. Image via levegenii Fesenko@123RF.
Iran is the jewel of the Middle East. The country is embellished with some of the finest architecture that the world has ever laid eyes on. Yet, Iran remains overlooked and under appreciated. It’s time to change that. Esfahan is at the heart of Iran’s stunning beauty. The city is home to gorgeous Persian gardens, tree-lined boulevards and the iconic Shah Mosque. This elegant mosque forms a sight to behold with its famed blue tiled mosaics. This masterpiece is also angles towards Mecca. Thus, only adding to the significance of this religious landmark.
Eshafan’s allure continues with its Bazar-e Bozorg. Despite not being as popular as Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, this market certainly never fails to captivate its visitors. Here, our World Travel Guide recommends giving in to your senses. Let the aroma of freshly brewed tea guide you through winding alleys and arched passageways. For Harry Potter buffs, this is your gateway to Iran’s own fascinating Diagon Alley. Next, make your way to the ancient city of Persepolis. This hidden gem never reached the heights of other capitals like Babylon and Susa. However, the city still remains to be an integral part of the forgotten world.
The sky blue dome stands out in Baghdad’s aerial cityscape.
Iraq has been battered and bruised. However, the country still manages to retain some of its charm, if you look in the right places. Erdil is the capital city of this faded powerhouse. The Citadel is an ancient fortified mound that represents one of the most iconic landmarks of the country’s past glory. Meanwhile, for a dose of the present, check out the Kurdish Textile Museum.
The building holds beautiful collections of the finest Iraqi textile, while also offering a glimmer of hope to the nation’s progress if peace is successfully maintained. Additionally, for our World Travel Guide, Shanadar Park also offers a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. This patch of greenery is a good place to enjoy a brisk walk or to simply sit and take in the picturesque views.
Natural hexagon basalt stones of the Giant’s Causeway.
Ireland is nothing short of magical. This enchanting country has enough in its locker to entice many travelers from far and wide. Our World Travel Guide picks Belfast as the starting point. The architecture here takes center stage. The town’s Cathedral Quarter is home to a series of high end restaurants and exciting pubs. However, the City Hall is by far the biggest attraction in Belfast. Next, make your way to the epic Giant’s Causeway. Here, 40 000 basalt columns make up one of the most intriguing structures you’ll ever see.
Then, head to the Dark Hedges and fulfill your Game of Thrones fantasy as you walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters and wonder what will you do your city was ever to be attacked by a set of ice monsters. Ireland’s natural beauty is also second to none and the Wild Atlantic Way offers the best views of the country. Donegal’s north accommodates rugged rocky outputs, beautiful patches of greenery and an abundance of fresh seafood. So go crazy over delightful Atlantic salmon and crabs. If that fails to fire up your appetite, then teleport to Dublin and swing by one of its pubs. Here, lend your ears to legendary tales of Irish folklore while you down a pint or two of Guinness.
No trip to Israel is complete without a dip into the Dead Sea.
Israel is like a rough diamond waiting to be polished. Plunging valleys, beautiful gardens and fascinating ruins form the best sights in this often overlooked Gulf destination. Begin your journey in the famed Dead Sea. Here, immerse yourself in fine natural beauty of the blue waters, jagged khaki canyons and tangerine desert. The Masada National Park offers travelers the best views of Israel. This sprawling park homes spectacular ruins amid a gorgeous desert setting, perched above the Dead Sea. For a quick route to the top, opt for the cable car. Alternatively, if you’re up for the hike, then make your way to the Snake Path.
For travelers looking to take a dip in the calming waters, Ein Boke is your best bet. Most popular of all beaches, a visit here enables travelers to kick back and enjoy the extra salty waters. Furthermore, Israel’s allure is also highly evident in the beautiful Baha’i Gardens. Situated in Haifa, this magnificent garden features 19 terraces and a wonderful shrine at the heart of it. With history flowing from each of its fountains and blooming flower beds, it’s little surprise why this hanging garden has gained the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Status. Finally, no trip to Israel is complete without a visit to the spectacular Jerusalem. For our World Travel Guide, words fail to do justice to Jerusalem’s charm. So, are your bags packed?
The rainbow hills of the stunning Cinque Terre.
For our 123RF World Travel Guide, it’s crime to visit Italy and only spend a few days in a handful of cities. Such is the Italian charm. For art enthusiasts, Florence is an open museum. Its ancient buildings, amazing museums and winding streets are perfect for you to wander away, while devouring a tub of the best gelato. For history buffs, nothing beats the city of Rome. The world’s capital during the golden age, Rome mimics the relationship of a grandfather and a grandchild. The city holds your tender hands and walks you down the many plazas while reciting tales of its glorious past. Like your old man, Rome too wears the scars of battle. Bruised but not battered, proud yet warm and welcoming, Rome sheds a tear when reconnecting with its faded past.
Meanwhile, for the fashion police, there’s no other place than Milan. Get ready to swipe the credit cards as you shop your way to the crazy glamour and splendor in the world’s fashion capital. For lovebirds, hop on a gondola and make the most of your Venice getaway. Just remember to order a delightful pasta for the chance to chew on the same strand until your soft lips interlock. For seasoned Italian travelers, head over to the hills of Cinque Terre. Here, lend your eyes to the azure blue waters, your nose to the basil, your skin to the melted mozzarella, your ears to the crunch of the pizza and finally, your tastebuds to sips of the finest wine.
Next up on our 123RF World Travel Guide, join us as we dive into Jamaica’s intoxicating adventure pool and explore the wonders of Kuwait’s deserts. Also, catch up on our previous series which uncovered medieval and modern in Hungary and extraordinary Iceland, where we paddled alongside massive glaciers.