Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A girl can dream...

I've been asked a few times what's next on my travel bucket list. That's a tough one, because (at least for me) the more I travel, the more I want to travel. I have so many more ideas and dreams for future travels than I did a few years ago. Thankfully, I still have a long life ahead of me! So who knows... if circumstances allow hopefully I'll check a lot more things off of my list in the future.

This whole post started because I found this 100 travel goals list online, and then I thought... wow! that sounds a lot more fun than homework. Haha.

The places in italics are the ones that I want to/hope to/plan on going to someday. Not that I wouldn't want to go to almost all of them, if given the chance. The ones in orange are the ones I've already made it to. I arbitrarily included pictures for some- as you might guess, if I've been to the place than it's my picture.

1. Alamo - San Antonio, Texas, USA  I'm anti-Texas, but I like history... so I'll probably make it there someday.
2. Alhambra - Granada, Spain  Something I've wanted to see for a while! It's a palace where the Muslim sultans lived. I love the combination of European/Islamic architecture.

3. Andros Island - Bahamas
4. Angel Falls - Venezuela
5. Angkor Wat - Angkor, Cambodia   This place looks really cool, but I just don't see myself going to Cambodia. 
6. Atlantic City Boardwalk - Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
7. Ayers Rock - Australia
8. Big Ben - London, England

9. Bora Bora - Polynesia
10. British Museum - London, England
11. Canals of Amsterdam - Amsterdam, Netherlands Such a beautiful city to walk around, despite the smell of marijuana that actually made me miss the normal cigarette smoke in France. Still worth it.

12. Cathedral of Seville - Seville, Spain  One of the biggest in the world.

13. Cave of Crystals - Mexico
14. Christ the Redeemer - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil    If anyone wants to fund me going to the Olympics next year, I would be up for that :)  Otherwise... not much interest in going anywhere in South America ever.
15. Cinque Terre - Italy  It doesn't even look like a real place!

16. Colosseum - Rome, Italy

17. Crater Lake National Park - Oregon, USA
18. Dead Sea - Israel/Jordan

19. Death Valley National Park - California, USA
20. Devil’s Tower - Wyoming, USA
21. Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem, Israel

22. Easter Island Statues - Polynesia
23. Edinburgh Castle - Edinburgh, Scotland

24. Eiffel Tower - Paris, France    My personal symbol.

25. Empire State Building - New York City, New York, USA

26. Forbidden City - Beijing, China
27. French Quarter - New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
28. Galapagos Islands - Ecuador
29. Gateway Arch - St. Louis, Missouri, USA
30. Gettysburg Battlefield - Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
31. Glacier Bay Basin - Alaska, USA
32. Glacier National Park - Montana, USA
33. Glowworm Cave - New Zealand
34. Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, California, USA
35. Grand Canal - Venice, Italy

36. Grand Canyon - Arizona, USA    Not. in. summer.
37. Grand Mosque in Mecca - Saudi Arabia  I would actually totally go there if they would let me inside (which they wouldn't). And I don't think I'll be going to Saudi Arabia because I don't want to end up in jail for flashing an ankle or being kidnapped for someone's harem.
38. Great Barrier Reef - Queensland, Australia
39. Great Mosque of Córdoba - Córdoba, Spain   They would let me inside this one because it's been turned into a cathedral.

40. Great Wall of China - China  I want to take a selfie here. Is that too much to ask?

41. Hagia Sophia - Istanbul, Turkey

42. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Hawaii, USA
43. Hollywood Boulevard - Hollywood, California, USA
44. Iguazu Falls - Argentina and Brazil
45. Kiyomizu-dera - Kyoto, Japan
46. Kremlin - Moscow, Russia    Kremlin on the left, St. Basil's Cathedral on the right.

47. Lake Titicaca - Peru
48. Las Ramblas - Barcelona, Spain    A wonderful shopping street that if I remember right, had multiple Zaras. #heaven
49. Las Vegas Strip - Las Vegas, Nevada
50. Leaning Tower of Pisa - Pisa, Italy

51. Louvre Museum - Paris, France

52. Macchu Picchu - Peru    I always wanted to go here until I found out that it involved hiking.
53. Matterhorn - Switzerland
54. Mayan Pyramids of Chichen Itza - Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico  Not really at the top of my list, but I would be up for it.
55. Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York City, New York, USA  Gossip Girl steps! And a great museum.

56. Mount Everest - Nepal
57. Mount Fuji - Japan
58. Mount Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
59. Mount Rushmore - Keystone, South Dakota, USA   The only place on this list that I've been to but wish I hadn't...  if you ever want to get me riled up sometime, ask me about South Dakota. I have a lot of feelings.
60. Napa Valley - California, USA
61. Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania
62. Niagara Falls - New York, USA

63. Notre Dame Cathedral - Paris, France

64. Pacific Rim National Park - British Columbia, Canada
65. Pebble Beaches of Nice - Nice, France

66. Petra - Jordan

67. Petronas Twin Towers- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
68. Portland Head Lighthouse - Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA
69. Puerta Del Sol - Madrid, Spain
70. Pyramids of Giza - Egypt   I'm so tantalizingly close in Israel! It's just not safe to go alone so I need someone to go with.
71. Redwood National Park - California, USA
72. Rock of Gibraltar - Gibraltar
73. Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado, USA 
74. Ruins of Athens - Athens, Greece

75. Ruins of Pompeii - Pompei, Italy
76. Sagrada Famila - Barcelona, Spain

77. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) - Chicago, Illinois, USA

78. Sedlec Ossuary - Czech Republic
79. Sistine Chapel - Vatican City, Italy   
80. Smithsonian Institution - Washington, D.C., USA
81. Space Needle - Seattle, Washington, USA
82. St. Peter’s Basilica - Vatican City, Italy    

83. Statue of Liberty - New York City, New York, USA    Clearly it's been a while.

84. Stonehenge - Wiltshire County, England
85. Sydney Opera House - Sydney, Australia
86. Taj Mahal - Agra, India
87. Temple of the Golden Pavilion - Kyoto, Japan
88. Teotihuacan - Mexico
89. Tian Tan Buddha - Hong Kong, China
90. Times Square - New York City, New York, USA

91. Varanasi - Uttar Pradesh, India
92. Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe
93. Wailing Wall - Jerusalem, Israel

94. Walt Disney World Resort - Orlando, Florida 
95. Washington Monument - Washington, D.C., USA
96. White Cliffs of Dover - Dover, England
97. White House - Washington, D.C., USA   I've never been inside, but one time we did see George Bush's helicopter land on the lawn (along with two decoy helicopters that kept flying). Hopefully I can tour the inside someday.

98. Winchester Cathedral - Hampshire, England    Haven't heard of it, but knowing me and European cathedrals, I'd probably want to if I looked it up.
99. Yosemite National Park - California, USA
100. Zion National Park - Utah, USA

If I added them up right... that makes 32 that I've been to... and another 23 I'd like to get to at some point. We'll see! No harm in dreaming, right?

Thursday, September 3, 2015


I was excited when I found out a few months ago that one of my friends from BYU Jerusalem was coming to Israel in August on vacation with her family. Here are a few highlights of being friends with Kaitlyn during the BYU program:
  1. Her enjoying laughing at my unpractical field trip outfits, and me enjoying laughing at her too-practical field trip outfits.
  2. Our friendship surviving the fact that sandwich day was my favorite day of the week and her least favorite.
  3. Kaitlyn giving passionate and detailed tours of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, her favorite place on earth.
  4. Enjoying the secret moment when we realized that we did better than everyone else on the Islam exam, a class I loved so much.
  5. Kaitlyn being one of the few people at the JC that understood sarcasm (see above, about me loving the Islam class).
And the best Kaitlyn moment of all...

6. When we decided not to sit with the group in the hot sun outside of the Garden of Gethsemane, but instead to SCALE A WALL (by the way, with me wearing a skirt and heels, see above about my unpractical field trip outfits) and hike down the Mount of Olives to go sit inside the Church of All Nations instead. That was also the historic day we took a selfie.

After my German final exam on Sunday, I took the bus to Jerusalem to meet up with Kaitlyn and her parents. I wasn’t planning on commemorating this short outing to Jerusalem in blog form... not because it wasn’t fun, but because it was so short and sweet. However, as I was saying goodbye to Kaitlyn... she said she looked forward to reading this, so I really had no choice.

We met up in the Jewish Quarter to do a tour of the Temple Institute. But wait, first I saw these Matrix priests.

So, the Temple Institute. It’s an interesting place. Basically, it’s run by a group of Jews who are very very passionate about getting ready to build the Third Temple (the former temples: Temple of Solomon, Temple of Herod). 

The people at the institute are working on recreating the things that used to be used in the temple- the clothes the priests wore, the golden menorah, and lots of other things.  Here’s 2 years-ago-Marissa with the 2 million dollar menorah. It’s currently covered up for maintenance.

If you do a tour at the Temple Institute, they’ve recreated what the layout was in the original temples was like with pictures, models, and the things that they’ve been making.

The cool part about the tour is that it helps you visualize all of those long descriptions in the Old Testament of how the temple should be built. You know those long chapters that put you to sleep because they keep talking about cubits? I’m guessing now they would make more sense to me. 

The awkward part about the tour is that there have been other (Muslim) buildings on the Temple Mount for centuries. And I’m pretty sure it would start WWIII if for some reason the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque were demolished. Arabs are already pretty paranoid about that happening. In 2000, the Second Intifada (the Arab uprising, the suicide bomber-palooza where thousands of people died) began when Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon decided to visit the Temple Mount. That might have just been an excuse people were waiting for to start the violence, but still.

The last part of the tour is a video that says “DARE TO DREAM, DARE TO BUILD.” So they are very excited about the potential next Jewish temple. Not that they're actively advocating to destroy anything, but t’s a little ominous. Fingers crossed that I’m not in Israel if these people ever “dare to build.” 

The tour we did on this day was less controversial than the ones me and Kaitlyn did during our BYU days. On mine, the tour guide told us that the Arabs had the Ark of the Covenant and were hiding it underneath the Dome of the Rock. On Kaitlyn’s, the guide said that the Vatican was hiding it in their archives (who would dare insult the Vatican in front of their loyal ambassador Kaitlyn Ayers??). On this day, the tour guide took no position on who was hiding the Ark of the Covenant from the Jews haha.

Pictures aren’t allowed inside, but here’s a glimpse of the clothes that the temple priests wore/ will wear.

The Old City streets are slightly (really) confusing, so I helped navigate to stop at Shabban’s (a favorite BYU Jerusalem shop), back out through Jaffa Gate, and to Ben-Yehuda St. in West Jerusalem to walk around a little.

I should document that while walking down Christian Quarter Rd., some weird man asked me he could keep my hair flower “as a memory” of having seen me. #oldcityprobs

Unfortunately, Kaitlyn’s family had already done the official Kaitlyn tour of the Holy Sepulchre, so I didn’t have the opportunity to be enlightened again. Whenever I’ve given someone a tour of that church this year, I’ve used the information that she taught me.

We took a picture as we were leaving the Old City (unfortunately not a selfie, but this will have to do), and also watched her parents ride a camel. I’m a little jealous, I wish that I’d gotten a picture of my parents on a camel when they were here.

So anyways, it was fun to get to hang out in Jerusalem and relive our study abroad days. Thanks for letting me crash your family vacation!

Oh, and one more thing... I’m back in America! I’m writing this now on the couch with Daisy at 5 in the morning. Because jet lag. But it’s so good to be home! I’ll be here for about 6 weeks. And don't worry, I've already had a pumpkin shake from Culver's.