Tag Archives: top100

The World’s Most Beautiful Countries – a Fresh Approach.

And now for something completely different and non-industrial. In fact just the opposite – something about both natural and man-made beauty. Why? Here’s why…

Not long ago, somewhere (I can’t recall where) I came across the phrase ‘the most beautiful country in the world’. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the old unconscious appears to have logged it for a future revisit. Oh that subconscious.

A few weeks later, sure enough, I was compelled to revisit it, and had a look on the Internet about this, and of course I found various lists of things like ‘The Top-10/20 Most Beautiful Countries in the World’. Thing is… most of it seemed to be talking through its hat, seemingly written by folks who’ve never been to Latin America, Central China, Kamchatka or the Kuril islands.

I admit, determining which are the prettiest countries in the world is tricky: beauty is a subjective thing, and that means that the criteria you use will also be subjective. I mean, what criteria should or could you use?

But, well, I’ve got a bit of a head-start on this – with my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World. With this list you (here – I) can calculate levels of beautifulness… but taking into account the sizes of the territories! This is so we get the ‘most beautiful overall’ instead of the ‘quantity of beautiful places in a particular country’.


Read on: and the winner is…

Top-100 Series: The Final Few.

Herewith, my personal ‘Top-100 Amazingly Beautiful Must-See Places in the World Split up Into the Continents Thereof‘ is coming to a close.

To date, I’ve given you Place Nos. 1–90 of my Top-100. There’ll be a further four coming up below (Nos. 97–100). That of course leaves a mysterious gap – from 91 to 96…

Actually, no mystery at all here. It’s just my not being able to nail the nice round figure of 100! I mean, I could fill the gap with some of the bonus tracks, or I could wait until someone – hopefully in the comments (below) – comes up with some must-sees I’ve scandalously not considered for whatever reason. So really it’s a gap that leaves some room for improvement/perfecting, not knowing for sure how exactly to improve and perfect it now.

That potentially awkward caveat out of the way, let’s get those last Tops, er, out of the way…

97. North Pole.

Perhaps you could have guessed this one would be in this post scriptum installment of my Top-100, as it isn’t a part of a continent – ain’t no country even – so it was always going to be tricky ‘fitting it in’.

You can get to it on an icebreaker on a tour (pics only; Russian text), and I’m told it’s a really worthwhile excursion – not to mention an extreme one.

One thing you won’t see here but might have thought you would are… penguins! Nope, they’re on the other side of the world – on Antarctica (and nearby southern extremes of South America and South Africa).

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google

Read on: space…

Top-100 Series: Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.

Strange as it may seem – what with their being so far away – Australia and New Zealand represent the region I’ve explored the most out all regions of the world. I’ve been to many of their Top-100 spots, and those not yet visited I plan on getting to very soon. “What’s the rush?” you may be thinking, since I’ve been saying all along through this here Top-100 series that I “must get there soon” to dozens of the listed places I haven’t been to yet. Well, that’s an easy one: the region is just awesome. The places I’ve visited there already: all OMG. Add to the mix kangaroos, koalas and crocs, and it all adds up to the most interesting continent on the planet! Ok, not quite a full continent, as there’s Australasia, so maybe I should just stick to ‘region’. Oh, and out of Oceania I’ve only been to Hawaii so far. Caveats duly noted, let’s get cracking folks, and head down under!…

83. Kimberley.

Aussies had been telling be all about this lesser-known region of Oz for years. Finally, in the summer of 2015, I got myself there. Now I know what all the fuss was about.

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google flickr

Read on: reefs, mountains, glaciers and islands…

Top-100 Series: Africa.

Africa. Just uttering the word conjures up visions of all things exotic. An exceptional continent, like no other. And with plenty of locations I deem must-see:

73. Sahara desert.

As if you need telling: the world’s largest desert. The mind is blown, gradually but intensely, especially at sunset (I slept through the sunrise). I saw it in Tunisia. Sand, dunes, salt lakes, mirages, oases. Oh yes.

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google flickr

Read on: volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls and ancient …

Top-100 Series: Asia.

What’s interesting and recommendable in my Top-100 in the rest of Asia, apart from China and the Middle East? Here’s what…

62. Taj Mahal, India.

A mighty mausoleum made of white marble – the tomb of the favorite wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. If you look closely on Google Maps, here, on the other side of the river opposite the Taj Mahal you can see traces of the preparations for a second Taj-Mahal. Those traces are as far as plans went for a mirror image of the mausoleum – which was to be made out of black marble instead of white. Legend has it that the Mughal Empire simply didn’t have the funds needed to finance such lavish expenditure on an oversized grave, so its padishah (emperor) was deposed by his attendants, which brought his Taj-2 project to an abrupt halt too.

A magical place, especially the contrast between it and its somewhat less regal, rural surroundings. I really recommend taking an individual tour with a personal guide and mini-van so as not to be shaken about violently on a regular tour bus. Details here (pics; text in Russian).

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google flickr

Read on: mountains, pagodas and volcanoes…

Top-100 Series: China.

So, why does China (in addition to Russia) get a Top-100 post all of its own? Easy: the quantity of unique natural beauties here is simply off the scale. Curiously though, hardly any of them are known outside the country.

Quite why that’s the case, I’m not fully sure of. What I am sure about is that China appears to do absolutely nothing to attract foreigners to the country. But then they don’t have to. They’ve enough on their plate catering to the hundreds of millions of their own citizens. Accordingly, some places – no matter how ‘wow’ – don’t even have a Wikipedia entry. They only become known about through tales of the odd (odd!) foreign tourist or two who accidentally happen on them during their pioneering travels around the country’s hinterland. And one such odd odd foreign tourist is (to a certain extent, for I still haven’t seen a great deal of the country) me!

But before getting to those ultra-exclusive unknown Chinese locations, let me get a few of the very obvious, very famous Chinese tourist attractions out of the way…

52. Great Wall of China.

I’ve been told that several generations ago folks could trek along the wall for several days on end! Alas, these days there’s no chance of that: self-preservation’s the name of the game today; only a short section is open to visitors. Nevertheless, it’s still totally worth checking out, and not only for the proverbial tick on your ‘been and seens’: there’s no other wall quite like it in the world. Uniformly unique.

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google flickr

Read on: China…

Top-100 Series: The Middle East.

The Middle East is another thoroughly interesting region. Without a doubt its ‘greatest hits’ are of a man-made archaeological-historical nature, comfortably prevailing over its naturally occurring ‘B-sides’. Hardly surprising given that the Middle East is an ancient cradle of civilization (please forgive the banality).

One thing I should mention at the outset here: I only have scant first-hand knowledge of the region; accordingly, there may be a few inaccuracies in this short regional section of my Top-100. If so – help me out! Any mistakes need correcting or additions need making? > the comments section please. I’d be most grateful.

All righty. Off we go…

45. Dead Sea.

An undeniably unique Middle Eastern natural phenomenon. Water so salty… yes, you know, you float in it!… So let me be a little less obvious here: water so salty… just a lick of your wet fingers and you need to down at least two cold beers in one. What better excuse for a little naughtiness? :-) .

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google flickr

Read on: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia…

Top-100 series: Russia.

Hi folks!

On we go with my journey around what are to me the 100 most beautiful places in the world, all of which I reckon need visiting at least once in a lifetime without fail – so as not to live the rest of that lifetime with regret!

Next up, the world’s largest country!

Russia’s East European Plain doesn’t have anything outstandingly must-see when it comes to natural beauty. Of course, there are beautiful places – and many of them, but none quite make their way onto my Top-100. Then, east of the Urals there’s the West Siberian Plain – a rather plain, er, plain, this time all tundra/taiga/steppe (from north to south, respectively), marshes, rivers, lakes, oil extraction and mosquitoes. Things only start getting Top-100-worthy still further east. But I’ll get to that in a bit. For now though…

39. Red Square and the Kremlin.

Many of our foreign friends who come to visit us here in Moscow tell us that Red Square – with St. Basil’s at one end, the Kremlin to one side and GUM on the other – is the most beautiful spot in Europe, especially at night when lit up. And who am I to argue? I too am a big fan.

Note: St. Petersburg was in the Cities section of the Top-100 series.

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google flickr

Read on: Shambala, Kondyor, Pillars …

Top-100 Series: Europe.

You’ll probably already know about a lot of the man-made wonders and beauties on this continent – the cradle of western civilization – for it does have them in spades. However, it also has plenty to see in the natural-historical-phenomena department too, some of which you may not be aware of. Until now!

Curiously, practically all European natural-historical marvels are situated on or by the coast or on islands. Deep into its territory there’s practically no ‘top’-worthy stuff. But that doesn’t matter, for Europe has plenty of both coastline and islands :-). All righty. Off we go!…

Europe.

28. Volcanic Iceland.

One of the most volcanically active places on the planet. Volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, plus the glaciers and harsh northern climate you’d expect from a country with the word ‘ice’ in its title. I was there just this summer. It was out of this world. Even gives Kamchatka a run for its money. Only saw a small part of it though. Must get back and explore the rest…

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info_ru_20 wiki_en map_ru_20 gmaps Photos google flickr

Read on: cliffs, islands, volcanoes, bays …