I have had many amazing experiences, all for a variety of reasons. Even something as simple as trying a strange new food or writing a letter to my future self has positive memories for me. So, when I was recently asked by Glenfiddich Explorers to narrow it down to my favorite ten it took some hardcore racking the brain.
Exploring a cave was a goal added to my bucket list meant to conquer the fear of claustrophobia and though, spelunking is the most common way to accomplish this, cave tubing is truly unique. Seeping rainwater and underground rivers form the exquisite cave systems in the rain forest of Belize and in 1995, cave tubing was introduced. This was a thrilling excursion where we witnessed exquisite geological formations, Mayan historical relics, mica-studded stalactites and live bats overhead. Not only am I one step closer to ridding my claustrophobia, but lunging bats are not quite as alarming.
Swimming with Stingrays has gotten a bad rap ever since the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, was killed by being pierced in the chest by the tail of this amazing creature. But, that is when I decided not to let one frightening instance keep me from having a potentially amazing experience. Stingray City in Grand Cayman not only boasts the most gorgeous blue waters, but it is home to dozens of stingray who were just waiting for my arrival. I was taken aback by their size, surprised by their soft skin and in awe by their gentle nature. This was one of the most memorable bucket list goals that would have never been possible if I had not broken through my fear.
The need to fly from tree to tree like a monkey led me to a zip lining experience to remember. Arenal, Costa Rica boasts an eleven-cable ride high in the sky of the rain forest. With a mere fifteen minutes of instruction I was ready to climb to the strongest tree platforms and have the most exhilarating adrenaline rush. We skimmed the treetops, hit speeds of 35 mph and witnessed a jaw dropping panoramic view of the rain forest. I am no longer jealous of the chimps ability to zoom through the forest, because I have been one of them.
4. Give Blood
The possibility of saving three lives was reason enough to set aside my needle-phobia and give blood. Most towns, in many countries all over the world, have a donor agency where you are able to participate in a donation, but I chose the Blood Bank of the Redwoods in Sonoma County, California. The withdrawal process, which I feared the most, was virtually painless, much like a simple blood test. After the eight minutes it took to collect one pint of blood, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for conquering a fear in order to help others.
I have always had a secret fantasy about reliving the lifestyle of royalty and, since I don’t plan on marrying a prince, visiting a castle was option two. Monteriggioni, Italy is in the heart of Tuscany and home to the stunning Monteriggioni Castle which was built in 1213. The Castle is surrounded by a thick boundary wall with fifteen impressive towers. Inside the walls we found a roomy Piazza, homes once owned by nobles and a Romanesque church that would make any girl feel like a princess, including myself.
After experiencing the adrenaline rush that most bucket list goals provide, I was on the hunt for the most relaxing experience I could find and not many can compete with the relaxation that I felt from lounging in a natural hot spring. They exist all over the world and are defined as sites where groundwater is discharged at a particular location. I was lucky enough to go to one of the most amazing springs, found at the Tabacon Resort in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, located at the base of the Arenal Volcano. It features five thermal pools for your loafing pleasure, along with several other scattered pools on the lush grounds. This eco-friendly resorts water flows naturally by gravity and ranges in temperature from 77 to 122 degrees.
I have watched as hundreds of people walk and bicycle across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, I wanted to be one of them. The bridge, which was opened in 1937, has been called the “modern wonder” due to its impressive engineering. With a length of 1.7 miles, it took me approximately 20 minutes to strategically maneuver my bike through the sea of pedestrians. Though the ride itself was invigorating, it didn’t compare to the stunning views of Alcatraz, Angel Island and Sausalito along the way.
I have always had a not-so-secret obsession with monkeys. Unfortunately, due to the risk involved, not many places feature holding a monkey on their excursion lists. But, at Gumbalimba Park in Roatan, Honduras they thrive off of these hairy creatures. On our tour we were taken through the lush botanical gardens, parrot sanctuary and over a suspension bridge on the way to the monkey preserve. Here we all had the opportunity to experience monkeys first hand as they climbed up on each of us in search of cashew treats. My obsession for “holding a monkey” has now evolved into “owning a monkey”.
Since the first time I had experienced The Big Top, I have wanted to join the circus and fly with the greatest of ease on a Trapeze. The Trapeze Arts School in Oakland, California sponsors a half-day class where learning the challenging art of trapeze is the priority. By the end of the lesson I had mastered climbing the incredibly steep ladder up onto the tiniest platform and swinging like a monkey into the arms of my trusty teacher. Afterwards, I could not stretch my arms for two weeks and decided that being a circus clown might be more a more fitting career for me.
Rock climbing has always interested me, but the fear factor of rappelling back down the mountain is what made me want to accomplish this goal. The Moaning Cavern in Murphys, California gave me the opportunity to descend 165 feet, with an exhilarating free-fall portion and without actually having to climb up anything. We dropped into the main chamber of the cave where we witnessed an array of stalactites and stalagmites. You can stop there or, for the ultimate thrill, continue on to daringly spelunk through the mostly undeveloped caverns. Next time, spelunking, a faster free-fall and longer drop is on the agenda.