Monday, October 15, 2007

Totally awe-some

The other night as I was waiting for Opie to fall asleep (or at least settle down enough so that I could safely exit the room), I started thinking* about places I've been that were truly awe-inspiring. Places that really stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I saw them. At first, I only came up with two. I later thought of a bunch more, when I pushed myself to think beyond the borders of Western Europe (and the Catholic church, I guess), and out into the natural world. But the very first two that popped into my head were Ste.-Chappelle, in Paris, and St. Peter's Basilica.

I'm curious to know what would be on your list. Tell me a few and then I'll share the others that I came up with after more thought.

*And then maybe in a future post I'll explain the train of thought that got me to this particular station because it brings up another topic worth discussing -- can kids be spoiled by experiences (as well as material goods)?


Pendullum said...

A sunset on the cliffs of Santorini, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, The clock at Versailles that has only been repaired four times in its time and keeps the date, the path of the solar planets and the time,The Alambra in Spain and the Gaudi's Sagrada Familia...

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Hagia Sophia cathedral in Istanbul. Also in Turkey there's a place whose name I can't remember -- it was a pre-Roman site in the mountains not too far from the coast, held the remains of a stone stadium.

The summit of Mt. Washington in Oregon was pretty amazing, too, but that may have been because I was afraid I'd fall off.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Oh, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on spoiling kids with experiences. My dad sometimes jokes, "What will your son do when he's six?" Because at 5 he has already travelled a lot, for one; but also he has already skiied, mtn biked, etc.

Lara said...

i was driving to vegas really early one morning, and i saw the sun rise in the middle of the desert. the beauty of it literally brought me to tears.

ewe are here said...

Sunrise on a boat off of Molokai (Hawaiian island) on a weekend fishing trip with my friends. Stunning. Just stunning.

Suz said...

1) Natural - We hiked out on the Ahwahwapui trail in Kuaui to stare down at the ocean from these truly high and majestic cliffs. I've never seen anything like it.

2) Man-Made - This is actually harder, because like you, I go straight to the chapels and cathedrals. And it's just so hard to choose. I think probably Canterbury because it was my first cathedral and after that, Chartres.

3) Also Man-Man - Ann Frank's house. But an entirely different sense of awe. For an entirely different reason than the above.

Becky said...

Flying into Norway for the first time, the mountains and fjords took my breath away. Climbing to the top of one of those mountains literally took my breath away. Pant, pant, wheeze. But the view was worth it.

Karianna said...

I witnessed a sunset on the top of Mount Warning in Eastern Australia. The way the mountains met the beach met the ocean met the sky was spectacular. In many ways it is glad that I forgot my camera at the bottom of the mountain: my memory is so much more beautiful than a photograph would have been.

And then driving to the East Bay from San Francisco one night the moon was poised in the perfect way to frame the already-lit bridge. Add a little fog and you've got a perfect postcard moment.

I had a gasp-worthy view of NYC from a boat on the Hudson, too, but that may have been alcohol-induced. Still, city lights take my breath away.

zellmer said...

The Taj Mahal. It was so magical, it seemed to be levitating.

The White Sands, New Mexico.

The view from the Gondola in Telluride, CO.


Suebob said...

One sunset when I was flying below the clouds and above the rockies, and everything turned the pinkest glowy pink...

And the 7th photo down in this post - Hierve el Agua

Nancy said...

The view of Vancouver, BC from Stanley Park.

A ruined castle near Marmorera, Switzerland.

Westminster Abbey.

The Cathedral in St. Paul, MN (there was something electric about this place).

Views in Lugano, Switzerland.

Good topic! Can't wait for the follow-on. :-)

Magpie said...

The Pueblo missions in New Mexico:

The ocean - nearly every time.

TB said...

The cliffs above the Atlantic ocean on the east coast of Ireland, sunset over the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Keys, any time I go diving, Mayan ruins in Belze.

And about your question, I don't think we can spoil our kids with experiences if we teach them how sacred they are. Just as we teach them to value their belongings.

Summer said...

Waking up at dawn in the Valley of the Gods in southern Utah, after a chilly night sleeping in the back of our rented SUV. It's near Monument Valley, same kind of formations, but instead of being a National Park it's just open, common land, empty but for a few cattle grazing through. The sight of the fresh-risen sun hitting the red rock formations... it was just the most majestic morning piss I've ever taken.

The most awed I've been in a manmade environment is in my own home town, the first time I stepped into the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in DC. Stunning Byzantine-style mosaics, gold everywhere. Breathtakingly beautiful. We Catholics do over-the-top so well.

Patois said...

A sunset in Mexico, which my (now) husband and I had raced to catch at the ocean's edge.

A church in the Cayman Islands.

Mrs. Wheezer said...

The Berlin Wall during the time it was coming down. Barbed wire, slabs of concrete concrete and makeshirt memorials to those who had died in that area.

The top of a mountain in Switzerland (can't remember the name) looking down on the glaciers.

Diane said...

Hmm. That's kinda easy for me. Bucharest, Romania, 1993. Shortly after the Revolution, the city was rather raw looking, shall we say, and it was after dark. There weren't many street lights at all, and I'd just set foot in my first place abroad. It shook me, and it still does, to think of the surroundings that were so different from my tidy little suburb existence. I'll never forget that. Maybe not the pretty sights one might grab from their memory, but I love that city, grime and all!

movin'mom said...

I almost have to chuckle at how well traveled your readers are.
I grew up going on a summer vacation every year but every one was by car. My father was born in Mexico so many of the trips were there.
In Monterry Mexico a water fall called Cola De Caballo (horses tail) was the absolute most beautiful site I saw as a child.
I name only sites by beauty not experience. That would be another list.
As an adult I would have to say St Patricks in New York runs a close tie with San Juan de Los lagos in Mexico where people not only go to pray while on their knees from the street to the altar but the real beauty are the trinkets that people have brought once their prayers are answered. There are very old photos of soldiers, casts, canes, crutches, some really really old some from now.

Lisa said...

I'd go with seeing the Palace of Versailles (did I just misspell that?). The gardens were amazing. And the opulence of the palace was something I'd never even imagined before. Also, the Roman aquaducts.

On the "homefront": When I went to New York for the first time... Watching the people and feeling the vibe of the city. And seeing the vineyards in Napa Valley was really amazing too.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Well I feel like a giant loser reading these comments. I've never been anywhere as wonderful or as exotic.

I guess the most in awe I've ever been was on a cruise ship, looking out into water and seeing just that, water. No land. It was beautiful and frightening all at the same time.

Bon said...

also adding the Hagia Sofia in Instanbul...and i think the other place that Jennifer/Ponderosa may have meant could be Ephesus? though i'd add the fairy castles of Cappadocia.

Prague at 4 am in the old town...a monument to beauty and bohemian magic.

Bangkok at 4 am from a balcony above the bustle...a different magic.

the Gobi desert from the air.

cool question. and i suppose, yes, in a way kids can be spoiled by too much experience, but i'm not sure it's the same type of spoiled. i dunno. it depends on whether they lose the appreciation and the wonder of travel.

nonlineargirl said...

New Mexico - the outskirts of Santa Fe after a snowstorm.

The red rock formations in southern Utah - Bryce and Zion.