The Grand Canyon is a sight to behold.
The Grand Canyon is a sight to behold. RyanKing999

The first time is the best time for travellers

For the experienced traveller there is no thrill greater than seeing a destination or a global icon for the first time.

It's like a first kiss, a first love ... you know what I mean. Some of my first-time experiences are as vivid today as they were the moment I saw them.

Santorini is one that rushes to mind. The soaring cliffs with their tumble of white-washed buildings dipping into the deep blue of the Caldera.

The maze of narrow streets with their blue-domed churches, the long and impossibly romantic sunsets, the smell of chargrilled fish wafting from every taverna.

Nothing could have prepared me for such a bewitching place. Years later when I went back, it was every bit as beguiling, but not as heart-stopping as the first time.

The Grand Canyon is another first experience I relish. Standing on the edge of such a vast and endless chasm took the breath away. How could anything be so enormous? So naturally created?

Not even the gaggle of tourists around me could take away the thrill of being in this spectacular place. I have never been back, never plan to. I want that first-time memory to stay intact.

Bangkok shook and thrilled me like no other city the first time. The absolute tumult of the place, the speeding tuk tuks, the throngs of people in the hot streets, the food vendors selling everything from sweet pineapple and watermelon cut into artistic designs, to quickly made-in-front-of-you pad Thai.

The Great Wall of China is another first-time experience. Although not such a great wall - as opposed to a steeply stepped and sometimes dangerous wall - it was the thrill of a lifetime to be standing there. Despite the many vendors on the wall urging cheap and crappy souvenirs on me, it could not take anything away from the exhilarating experience.


The Great Wall of China.
The Great Wall of China. zhudifeng

The first time I saw the Eiffel Tower I stood with neck craned looking up at the giant structure in disbelief. Could I really be in Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower about to have my picture taken? Sounds naive now, but I remember that is how I felt at the time - long ago now.

A cruise on a wooden boat on the Yangtze River had me standing on deck shivering with excitement shouting, "I am on the Yangtze!" It didn't matter that I could see nothing in front of me for the mist and polluted air, I was on the Yangtze and nothing was going to spoil the occasion. (The mist did clear a little on the third day, and it was everything I could have imagined.)

Rome's Colosseum seen for the first time is a stop-in-your-tracks occasion. The famous building depicted on countless calendars and postcards is awesome, and I mean awesome in that you really do stop in your tracks in awe.


Rome's Colosseum.
Rome's Colosseum. DieterMeyrl

Sailing out of Sydney Harbour past the soaring sails of the Opera House on a cruise ship is one of the world's greatest travelling experiences.

The same goes for taking a water taxi along the Grand Canal in Venice. It is one of those experiences that defies belief. "Am I really here?" every traveller asks herself as she glides past handsome palazzi and luxury hotels.

There are so many more firsts I have experienced here in Australia and much further afield. There are also many I have not. I have a yearning to visit Antarctica: the icebergs, the seals, the penguins. I have yet to go on safari in Africa and see the big five. India and all its colour and chaos awaits me.

If only there was enough time and budget left in my life to enjoy all the first-time experiences waiting out there.

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