If These 25 Places Aren't On Your Bucket List, They Should Be

If These 25 Places Aren't On Your Bucket List, They Should Be

Everyone has the Eiffel Tower on their Bucket List, but have you seen the Cliffs of Moher?

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The world is made up of some beautiful places. If, like me, you feel a sense of wanderlust, then you need to see the following places.

1. Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

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In Waitomo, New Zealand, thousands of these little bugs light up caves, making for an amazing boat ride for tourists.

2. Tower Bridge, England

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This London landmark helps tourists cross the Thames river. Although the bridge doesn't seem too special in the daytime, it's one of the most popular places to visit in England.

3. Guaita Tower, Italy

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Resting at the top of Monte Titano, the Guaita Fortress is the oldest of three castles overlooking the city of San Marino. Besides its historical value, it looks straight from a Disney movie.

4. Red Beach, China

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Not all beaches are sandy, and the Red Beach in China acts as that exception. Instead of sand, this body of water is surrounded by color-changing seepweed, a plant native to the area, giving it its bright crimson shade.

5. Pulpit Rock, Norway

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Featuring a hiking trail and a beautiful view, Pulpit Rock is a breathtaking place to visit in Norway.

6. Fisherman's Bastion, Hungary

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Built in the late 19th to early 20th century, this ornate castle acted as a landmark created to celebrate Hungary's 1000th birthday.

7. Valley of Lights, Italy

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Val Trompia is a valley in northern Italy extending over 50 km. Besides the captivating lights, this area also holds many fairs and festivals.

8. Albuquerque Balloon Fest, New Mexico

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The annual festival in Albuquerque has events all day long for eight days of fun.

9. Four Corners, New Mexico

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Although small, this brass setting marks a unique landmark in the USA where four states meet.

10. Monti Sibillini National Park, Italy

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Comprised of eighteen towns and beautiful wildlife, the national park provides both the charm of a national park and Italian culture.

11. Thor's Well, Oregon

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This sinkhole on the Oregon coast, although dangerous, is amazing to see, especially during high tide.

12. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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This breathtaking drop is measured at over 700 feet and also features a hiking trail for the full experience.

13. Painted Hills, Oregon

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Another famous Oregon landmark is the Painted Hills. The colors come from the clay that covers this area, which changes colors based on the level of moisture and light on the given day.

14. Toji Temple, Japan

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This temple in Kyoto is still standing from its foundation in the late 700s.

15. Walkaway Above the Trees, South Africa

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The bridge, made of steel and wood, takes tourists on a one-of-a-kind trip through the trees of Cape Town, South Africa.

16. Sunwapta Falls, Canada

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The captivating falls are located in Canada's Jasper National Park. The falls received their name from a native Canadian term for "turbulent water."

17. Rakotzbrucke, Germany

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The German Bridge creates a perfect circle with its reflection in the water. This seemed so spectacular to the people of Germany that they called it the "Devil's Bridge" because something this perfect could have only been made by Satan himself.

18. The Crystal Palace, Spain

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This monument was created out of glass and metal in 1887.

19. The Wisteria Tunnel, Japan

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The purple tunnel of flowers is best to see in April or May while the plants are in full bloom.

20. Vajdahunyad Castle, Hungary

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Besides the building itself, the castle also home to various exhibitions and festivals in Budapest.

21. Lake Hillier, Australia

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Due to the presence of many microorganisms, the lake is permanently pink, but safe to swim in.

22. Floating Latern Festival, Thailand

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The annual festival takes place in November in northern Thailand, and tickets are on sale for about a year ahead of time. If you plan to go, act fast before they are sold out, is this is a popular event.

23. The Glass Beach, Hawaii

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This seaglass covered place is located on the island of Kawaii. Although it is not ideal for swimming, it is beautiful to visit, especially during a sunrise or sunset.

24. Winter Carnival, Canada

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In Quebec, the Carnival d'Hiver is something that can't be missed. From frozen treats to giant castles made of snow and ice, it's a unique tourist experience.

25. Ronda, Spain

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With a bridge joining two sides of town, Ronda is visually stunning.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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Costa Rica Is My Home Away From Home

This ecological wonderland has carved a special place in my heart.

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In January, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go on a study abroad research trip to Costa Rica. Costa Rica in Spanish is literally "rich coast," and that name is so fitting. The vast amount of diversity and culture I was able to experience while abroad was simply flabbergasting. It was truly an amazing and rewarding experience.

Map of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country in Central America, nestled between Panama and Nicaragua. Its capital and largest city is San Jose, with a population of a whopping 333,000. Costa Rica is known for being both the happiest and greenest country on Earth.

My trip was associated with a Biology course that included field research as a component. Over the course of our trip, we stayed at four places: The Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station in Playa Grande, Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in San Gerardo, Poor Man's Paradise on the Osa Peninsula, and Heredia, right outside of San Jose.

Journey to Costa Rica

On a frigid January morning, my family and I began the 2 1/2 hour drive to Louisville's airport. Though this would be one of the shorter flights I've been on, I was still filled with apprehension. After a quick flight to Atlanta, my classmates and I soon were off on our journey to Liberia. The highlight of the flight was an extremely drunk man whose repetition of the phrase, "We're going Costa, we're going Rica," only served to increase my excitement for the new place I was about to explore.

Upon landing, I was struck by how rural and undeveloped the airport and surrounding area were. Our first destination, Playa Grande, was nearly an hour away by bus, and that ride gave me my first glimpse into the lives of rural Costa Ricans. Each town we passed through began very spread out and gradually centralized as we reached the town center. These communities were very obviously centered on education and religion, as almost every town had each in the middle.

Olivia Hawkins A church in a Costa Rican Village

Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station

Goldring-Gund is a small block building nestled right on the beachfront of Playa Grande in Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas. The station itself is dedicated to the research and conservation of sea turtles. Because of drastically declining numbers, sea turtles are a precious commodity that needs protection. We didn't arrive until late that afternoon, but as soon as we arrived, we were assigned teams to patrol with later that night. I was assigned a beach patrol team. Our goal was to search for nesting sea turtles and fresh nests across local beaches to collect data or move the nest if it is uninhabitable.

Olivia Hawkins Sea Turtle Hatchlings

That night, in spite of the sheer exhaustion we all suffered from, we trekked out to the beach. Our bags arrived later than we did, so I was stuck traversing the beach in clunky hiking boots (to the dismay of my ankles). The stars were brighter than I had ever seen, and a cool breeze left us all at a comfortable temperature. My team leader, Jose, a local, was friendly and happy to teach us about the area. For hours, we walked miles up and down the beaches, nothing of note having happened.

We were walking along, talking and laughing under the skies of Playa Ventanas when suddenly Jose shushed us. He pointed excitedly at what looked like tire tracks. I followed the line of the tracks up until I laid my eyes on a massive creature—a leatherback sea turtle.

Jackson Chumbler Nesting Leatherback Sea Turtle

Suddenly, we were all set into motion. We recorded specifics, such as time and location. These were pretty hands off. However, when a sea turtle is found about to nest, close-up and personal measurements are needed. Jose tasked me with counting the eggs. To do this, I laid down on the sand at the back of the turtle, holding one flipper back, and placed a thermometer prior to the laying of the eggs. As the egg laying began, I had to get pretty close into the nest to count every egg that was laid. After what seemed like forever, the turtle stopped laying eggs, and I was able to get up from the ground. I was covered in sand and cloacal fluid, but I was exhilarated.

Afterward, physical measurements were taken, as well as observation of any markings of scars and whether or not it had been tagged. I was awestruck by the sheer mass of this creature. Though I had cared about ocean conservation before, getting to see this majestic animal right before my eyes gave me a brand new perspective.

Wendy Cecil My friend Alexa and I on the beach of Playa Grande

The rest of the days at Playa Grande were far less eventful and more laidback. My friends and I got to fully take in the beauty of Playa Grande and Playa Ventanas, as well as explore the local community a bit.

Olivia Hawkins Playa Ventanas

My experience in Playa Grande was a magical start to a trip of a lifetime.

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