I venture to say that most of us have traveled to at least one location where we became emotional and perhaps shed a few tears. A location that touched your heart in a special way. A location whose memory and photographs tugged at your heart and your soul.
I am happy to share my top 7 locations where I shed a few tears…
1 – Honolulu, Oahu in Hawaii. Our entire family spent 10 days in Oahu. We were there for two major events: my first marathon and the renewal of our wedding vows. Even after 17 years, I still think of our special celebration each time I see Diamond Head on television or in photographs.
2 – The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. My visit to the Grand Canyon was an unplanned visit. I happened to be working in Phoenix Arizona for a month, and a coworker offered to drive me to the Canyon. I didn’t know much about this great natural wonder but I was in for an amazing experience. We arrived after a three and a half hour drive, and my friend asked me to close my eyes as he guided me to a lookout. When I opened my eyes, I was immediately overtaken by a flood of emotions. I stood in awe at the size and the beauty that surrounded us. I admit I shed a few tears of total wonder at the sight.
Pictures never really show the awesomeness of such a location, but I still tried to somehow capture some of the canyon’s magic. We spent a good part of the day walking on the various upper trails and headed back that same day. I vowed to return to do the overnight hike from rim to river.
3 – Lourdes, France – Lourdes is s small town located in the foothills of the Pyrenees. In 1898 Lourdes became very well known both in France and abroad due to the many apparitions of Mary to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Today Lourdes is one of the most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism. I visited Lourdes with a friend from France, and I must admit I wasn’t prepared for what I was to see. Our visit was in the summer yet thousands of people could be seen praying at various locations. The most popular site was the actual location where the alleged apparitions took place. What made me most emotional was seeing all the blue wheelchairs lined up as far as the eye could see inside one of the chapels. Knowing that for many of the men and women this pilgrimage was their last, it tore my heart but also made me well aware of the power of belief and prayer. I wasn’t impressed with all the commercialism of the town, but aside from that, the actual site itself was quite an amazing one to see.
4 – The Eiffel Tower in Paris. When I was in grade 2, I remember my teacher stating that the Eiffel Tower was 300 meters high. From that day on I wanted a chance to climb up those 300 meters! Decades went by before I finally set my eyes on that beautiful iconic tower. I spent five days in Paris with a friend from the Camino de Santiago. Our first afternoon was spent in Montmartre and I kept asking when I would get to see the Eiffel Tower. We walked over to a lookout area and there it was – no more than a few inches high, but that didn’t stop my great joy at finally seeing it. We managed to visit the Eiffel Tower a few more times, and I returned with my husband a few years later. Every time I see it, be it in photos, in movies or on television I still get that giddy feeling as if it was the first time I was seeing it. We weren’t able to climb to the top as it was too windy, so I’m leaving that bucket list item for a future visit.
5 – The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This beautiful cathedral is Spain is a very significant cathedral to the millions of pilgrims who completed their pilgrimage. The Camino de Santiago is a network of ways that culminate at the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral. I’ve completed several Camino journeys, and I always get teary-eyed each time I walk through the massive cathedral doors. When I served as hospitalera (volunteer) in Santiago, I would always end my days at the cathedral. I know that for me, no other cathedral will ever hold such a special place in my heart.
6 – The 9/11 memorial in College Square Texas. My husband and I often geocache while we travel. Geocaching is a hobby whereby people input coordinates of hidden objects in their GPS and proceed to find said objects, sign their name on the cache log, and log their finds through the geocaching application. I was stationed in Texas and my husband would often visit. One of our geocaching day trips took us to College Square where one of the caches was at the memorial to the 9/11 tragedy that occurred in New York State. The city of New York gave a piece of the fallen towers to the towns and cities that had sent over firefighters, policemen and volunteers. When I arrived at the memorial site, I gently placed my hand on the twisted metal and shed a few tears. There are many such memorials in hundreds of cities in North America.
7 – The USS Arizona Memorial of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Memorial is built over the wreckage of the USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese Naval Forces on December 7, 1941. The sunken ship is the final resting place of 1,177 crewmen. I didn’t expect the overwhelming sense of sadness that came over me as I stood and read the names of the fallen crewmen. It is a solemn location where many take time to pay their respect to those who perished on that infamous day.
I hope to continue finding sights and locations that move me.
Which are the locations that tug at your heart?