Saturday, May 19, 2012

Top Ten Villages

Here’s a list of those small, small towns that are worth a visit. Towns of this nature usually require a great location and scenic view, because there is not much in a village of a mere few thousands. The other stand-out thing about villages like these is that they have remained so small in spite of such great appeal.

10. Hierapolis-Pamukkale, Turkey

Thanks to some really unusual hot springs, this resort town looks a bit like a frozen waterfall in the middle of a dry steppe region.

9. Virginia City, Nevada, USA

This is about as close as you can get to a real, functional old west town. This may be the best place on Earth to drink a sarsaparilla in a honky-tonk saloon.

8. Durnstein, Niederösterreich, Austria

A pretty little town on the Danube with some cool castle ruins where Richard I the Lionheart was held for ransom in the 3rd Crusade.

7. Hohnstein, Saxony, Germany

This village in the heart of the Saxon Switzerland looks exactly like something out of a fairy-tale, perched atop a little hill jutting up out of the surrounding farmland. Unfortunately, the castle complex was used in a way that makes it most likely to have been the home of that fairy-tale’s villain back in the days of World War II.

6. Grundlsee, Styria, Austria

This area of Styria is home to some of the coolest lakes in the world. Toplitzsee is one of the deepest, and the location of that ever popular legend involving Nazi gold. (See “Goldfinger”) Kammersee might have been the inspiration and model for the makers of “How to Train Your Dragon.”

5. Mittersill, Salzburg, Austria

Just another town in one of the many alpine valleys of central Austria. This one just happens to have a really cool castle run as a Christian retreat center where the likes of Steven R. Lawhead have written some really great books.

4. Aspen, Colorado, USA

Even for someone who is not a skier, Aspen is a great little city. Perhaps it is even better in the off season, but not as great as…

3. Estes Park, Colorado, USA

Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. I’m not sure how things are these days, but 30 years ago this was a natural wonderland. My greatest memories (stories for another time) involve the bear that wasn’t and the chipmunk who LOVED potato chips.

2. Ramsau, Bavaria, Germany

The area known as Berchtesgaden in Germany is nearly the most beautiful place I have been on this earth. (Just behind Torres.) In particular, the forest around the little lake near Ramsau, known as the Zauberwald (the magic forest) is surely where fairytales were born.

1. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto, Italy

Just another mountain town, only this one is in the area known as the South Tyrol, the place people love because it is so reminiscent of Torres del Paine, even if they have never heard of Torres. It is really a bit too commercial and trendy, but it was the location of the first of the Pink Panther movies, which makes it cooler than it deserves to be.

(Pictures via Wikipedia)

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Jason, take a look at this Welsh village … It makes me want to check them out.
    Also, you need to visit some villages on the coast of Spain. I bet they'd make your top ten!


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