A Few Of My Favorite Things From Around The World

Heather Markel, Author, Photographer, Speaker, World Traveler

Inspired by my recent article on Travel Awaits, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorites from around the world. 

Favorite Foods

 I think “weird and different” got my attention as I’ve traveled. A few of my favorites have been:

  • llama in Argentina, especially the stew. They even give us unique Wheat Straws to drink from
  • alpaca in Peru, most noteably at Soncollay
  • black scabbardfish with banana in Madeira, Portugal
  • lamb chops in Uruguay
  • ostrich and kudu steak in South Africa

Though it looks like a simple dish, it was one of the most delicious fish I’ve ever tasted!

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020

Favorite Scenery

This is a tough one because I have seen some beautiful places in the past few years. Here’s a list of some of  my favorites:

The Highlands, Scotland. This truly is countryside that looks like it was painted by God. Rolling hills, Highland cows, some of the most picturesque and wholesome scenery I ever saw.

La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Though very touristy, the nature around the town is worth the trip. From hanging gardens to the Arenal volcano and waterfalls, and just plain nature, I loved living among it all.

Cali, Colombia. Here, again, there are rolling hills that take the breath away, but now you have the Andes in the background and it’s spectacular. From remote farms to driving between them, my mouth hung open, a lot.

Patagonia, Argentina. Another region with beautiful scenery, I was most drawn to the glaciers in El Calafate and the beautiful blue lakes in Bariloche.

Atacama Desert, Chile. The combination of high altitude, blue skies, and desert colors make this one of the most impossible looking places in the world. It’s desolate and beautiful all at the same time.

Namibia, Africa. Gazing upon acre after acre of uninhabited land where animals roam freely was unlike anything I ever saw. From the dead acacia tree forest to the sand dunes near Swapkupmond to the nothingness along the road, one of the most fascinating places I ever saw.

Cape Town, South Africa. I loved the blend of mountains and sea, of cliffs to penguins to colorful houses. This city has some of the biggest diversity I’ve ever experienced.

Most Interesting Things I Saw So Far

Moai, Easter Island, Chile. What makes them fascinating is imagining how on earth they are possible. By today’s technology, they would be difficult to build, and nearly impossible to drag to their resting places. All the debate and questions around their origins and existence make them one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen.

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The entire city of Rio de Janeiro, to be honest, is probably the most fascinating place I’ve ever seen. It seems impossible – I don’t know who ever thought of turning mountains into a city, but it’s amazing. The beaches give a view onto those mountains, and when I looked out to where Christ the Redeemer is, I thought, “how on earth are we getting up there?” When we did, I couldn’t believe it and though the weather can become cloudy very quickly, it’s an amazing experience to be in the presence of this particular Christ. I’m not religious, but you can feel the love, and it’s quite amazing that the creators not only found their way up to that spot, but that they built it, as well.

Machu Pichu, Peru. Peru actually scared me for a variety of reasons, so I almost didn’t go at all. What a mistake that would have been! While Machu Pichu has way too many tourists, it’s still astounding to see this and wonder how the Incas had so much wisdom so long ago and that so much remains standing today. In fact, tourists threaten the future of Machu Pichu more than weather and time! If you go, there’s a bus up and down, or, you might want to walk at least one way which will allow you some time in nature.

Favorite Wildlife

Guanaco, Argentina and Chile. I’d never heard of this animal, and seeing them roam some of the most beautiful places in the world, I can tell you, they have good taste! And, they’re not bad looking, either.

Sloths, Costa Rica. These guys captured my heart. They have an eternal smile plastered on their face and move faster than I had imagined. Add to that the female decides when she’s having sex, and who with, and after copulation, moves on, gives birth, and then chooses another partner when she’s ready. Few species that I know of operate that way.

Leopards and Rhinos, Africa. Leopards are one of the most elegant creatures I ever saw. They may be killing machines, but they are also beautiful and blend right in with the straw colored grass. Rhinos, perhaps because they are endangered, captured my heart, especially the tiny babies. I had no idea they could start so tiny! They are powerful and yet also curious.

Favorite Wine

Malbec, Argentina and Tannat, Uruguay. I’ll be honest, I tasted a LOT of great wine while traveling!  It was hard to come up with favorites, because I liked them all, including Pinotage in South Africa. But, my two favorites by far were the Malbec from Argentina, especially the Uco region, and the surprising winner was Tannat, in Uruguay. This is a grape I had never heard of and, unfortunately, with Uruguay being such a small country, one that is not exported in large batches. Too bad, because it may be the best wine I ever tasted! (Coming from someone that has loved French wines for her entire life.)

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020

Favorite Activities

Game Drives, South Africa. I’d say this was my absolute favorite. For the first time in my life, I was out in the wild and saw some of the most amazing wildlife ever. And we drove so close at times I thought we would be stomped on by an elephant or leaped on by a lion! I could spend hours and hours (and did) looking for wild animals.


Sea Turtle Watching, Easter Island, Chile. In the center of town on Easter Island is a small boat harbor. If you spend some time sitting by the water you are almost guaranteed a view of these beautiful creatures enjoying themselves in the outdoors.


Wine Tastings, Everywhere. Wine, pisco, whisky, you name it, I’ve gone to the tasting. One of my favorite activities!
The world is truly an amazing place. After two years of travel, I’m looking forward to discovering more this year, so stay tuned for more favorites! 🙂

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