Our Best of the Best #3: great ruins, discoveries, and places to hike

In four years of nonstop traveling – and many trips before that – we definitely have some favorites, and, now, we’re ready to share a few of those.

Our favorite ancient ruins: Angkor Wat in Cambodia; Ephesus and Afrodiasas in Turkey; and Machu Picchu in Peru

Preah Khan Huntington Gardens

The Angkor Wat Archaeological Park is a much larger complex than we had imagined. Time and patience reward those who search out the truly meaningful and beautiful spaces.

Huntington Gardens

We’d never heard of Aphrodisias until we arrived in Pamukkale, Turkey. Visiting the ruins at Aphrodisias and Ephesus gave us a better understanding of the people who lived there over 2,000 years ago.


No matter how many ruins we’d already seen, Machu Picchu was breathtaking and a tribute to the short, but impressive rule of the Inca people, whose mastery of planning, architecture, and agriculture is still relevant today.


Our best travel discoveries: cave paintings near Ronda, Spain; a visit to a great craftsman near Otavalo, Ecuador; and using taxis to transport our baggage

On a trip long ago to Spain – when travel books were still the best source for planning a trip – we discovered an obscure passage in a book with reference to ancient cave paintings outside Ronda. When we arrived in Ronda, we got directions and made our way by car through winding mountain roads to the cave, set in a hillside above a farm. The farmer saw us, waved, and made his way up with a huge set of keys. He handed our son a lantern, unlocked the door, and we got a one-hour tour of the amazing paintings. We read later that some of the paintings in the cave are 20,000 years old.


Our friends and we wanted to see the craft markets in Otavalo, Ecuador and, if possible, visit a craft studio in a nearby town. We got our wish when our hotel made arrangements for us to visit Miguel Andrango at his home workshop. Miguel generously took the time to explain how he does what he does, and we were enthralled.

The last best discovery solved a travel dilemma we faced years ago in planning our 7-day trips hiking from inn-to-inn with our friends in the most scenic places with great food. We wanted to plan the trip ourselves, and none of us wanted to carry full packs. We struggled with that dilemma of what to do with the suitcases or packs while we hiked until we figured it out.

We arranged for a local taxi to transport our bags each day. The driver picked them up in the morning and drove them to our next hotel. After a long day of hiking, we arrived at our new hotel and discovered our suitcases already in our rooms awaiting us. The cost was ridiculously low, since the cost was split between all of us.


Our favorite places for hiking: Zermatt, Switzerland; Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, Iceland; Lake District, England; and the Dolomite Mountains, Italy

Long ago we started planning and taking trips with friends to great hiking destinations. We’re still at it. One of our earlier trips was memorable: a week staying in a hotel in Zermatt, Switzerland with a view of the Matterhorn from our window. Every day we hiked a different trail with our friends – down the mountains, by glaciers, and through lovely forests.


We did the 4-day, 53 km hike through rugged Iceland from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. We’d read this is supposed to be one of the most beautiful hikes in Iceland. And now it’s a one of our best, too.

We traveled to the UK years ago to do a 5-day walk on the Coast-to-Coast trail from St. Bees, on the Irish Sea, into the Lake District. The scenery was grand, the accommodations and food were rustic. We met fellow hikers and walked together for some way, making it a truly memorable experience.

Huntington Gardens

Our 7 days of hiking into the Dolomite Mountains from Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy had us hiking up to mountain rifugios where we dined and spent the nights. Our cousins, Susie and Tom, agree that this was one of the best hiking destinations of all the places we’ve been to.

Let us know what your own “best of the best” are so it’s our turn to get inspired!

Our previous posts covered our other travel best of the best…. best wildlife, beaches, and snorkeling – and best destinations for food and places to stay.


October 2016

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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6 Responses to Our Best of the Best #3: great ruins, discoveries, and places to hike

  1. cengizselcuk00 says:

    I love it.. congrats.

  2. plaidcamper says:

    The Lake District is a great place to hike. I also love hiking coastal pathways in Cornwall. Mountains always get my vote in any season, snowshoes or hiking boots!
    Enjoyed this post, and the others highlighting your “best ofs” – lots of places are being added to future plans as a result!

  3. I have to agree with you. Walking in the Lake District is fabulous.

  4. Cliff Mail says:

    One of the best places I enjoyed was “the Old Man of Stor on island of Skye. Breathtaking. Ruth

  5. Cliff Mail says:

    We alway have our bags transported whether hiking or biking, it makes the trip more enjoyable. Best hike was 10 days through the Cotswolds in England, more so because it was different to any other we had done. Best bike ride was along the Saar snd Mosel rivers in Germany. Angkor was certainly the most impressive ruins, especially the amazing detail of the carved stone and the sheer scale of the complexes, especially Angkor Thom. Most inspiring ruin was Olympia in Greece, especially if you let your imagination loose.

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