Recently, I have had my mind turn to travel spots that can handle my desire for a bit of adventure. Don't get the impression that I'm always hankering for danger: There are plenty of times that I just want to go to a mellow spot and drink some good wine -- so this craving really got me thinking of the best places to have unique experiences that get the heart racing.
Running with the Bulls
Recently, I went to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona for the first time. The history of this event goes back decades, but for most of us, it was seared into our consciousness when Hemingway wrote about it in The Sun Also Rises.
I was totally taken in by the entire experience.
Now, don't get me wrong. There is a right way and a wrong way to run with the bulls. The wrong way is simple -- down the middle of the road, right in front of the horns. But if you stay off to the side, it is relatively safe and although it is over really, really quickly, it is a blast.
My big advice on doing this is that you should not only run with the bulls one morning (the run starts at 8 a.m. and you need to be there around 7 a.m. to make sure you are in the road before they block it off), but you also should pay you way up to one of the balconies overlooking the route on another day. From up there, you get the overview of all of the action and that is where the great photos are to be found.
I am a recent convert to scuba diving, having only gotten certified in early 2008. One of the conversations that bothers me on this topic is the completely overstated risk of shark attacks while diving. Suffice it to say that the real risk is about zero (though there are certainly risks to diving, if done improperly).
There are hundreds of great dive spots around the world. I have only hit about a dozen of them. That being said, I can fully and completely endorse the Great Barrier Reef, the Bay Islands off Honduras, the Poor Knights in New Zealand, and one of my personal favorite spots, Dahab in Egypt on the Red Sea. There are tons of things to do in Dahab aside from diving, but the relaxed and mellow chill of that spot -- and how cheap the diving is -- really makes it a worthwhile spot, in my opinion.
Wadi Rum, Jordan
If you have seen that movie, you know that the desert is one of the characters. The visuals of the huge landscapes take the movie from "good" to "great" and when you are out in Wadi Rum, either on a camel or in a jeep, you can get that full sense of scope and scale. The day I was there had gentle breezes that whipped through the canyons and ended, of all ways, with a huge rainstorm in the desert at a local Bedoin camp.
It was a glorious day.
So when you are thinking about your next trip, think about taking yourself out of your comfort zone just a bit. Try some activity or location that you wouldn't normally have considered. I think a little risk, or at least a little sense of adventure, makes life a lot more fulfilling.
If you have a chance, come check out my tales of overland travel on Go, See, Write. Follow me on Twitter on the below link and feel free to email me for any travel tips or advice.