Travel provides perspective on life, and what better way to get that perspective than to physically rise above it all? Sip a cool one at a rooftop bar in Bangkok, Singapore or Switzerland; swing on ziplines in Colorado and Oregon; drive to the top of a volcano in
How about a serving of spectacular scenery with your cocktail? Sirocco, an al fresco bar and restaurant, is perched more than 650 feet above Bangkok, Thailand. The entrance is on the 63rd floor of the luxury, all-suite hotel Lebua. Sirocco offers a Mediterranean menu, libations and nightly jazz. If it looks familiar, perhaps you caught a glimpse of it in the movie
Monks have lived atop the 1,800-foot-high rocky outcroppings in Meteora, Greece since the ninth century. More than 20 monasteries were built here, but only six remain. Monks originally ascended to their airy outposts via rope ladders. Visitors are now cordially welcome to climb the steep stairs that were carved into the rock in the 1920s. You won’t need to be athletic, but you will need determination. The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron is the oldest and largest monastery and provides a dazzling view of the surrounding plain. Women are encouraged to dress modestly at all six monasteries. Ladies: If you didn’t pack a skirt, one will be supplied at the entrance. You can even wrap it around your blue jeans.
The gondola provides a free, 2.5-mile ride between Telluride, Colo. (8,750 feet), the St. Sophia station (10,535 feet) and Mountain Village (9,545 feet). In winter, it’s a lift for skiers and snowboarders; all year, it’s transportation for local and visiting pedestrians. Ride all the way from Telluride to Mountain Village in 15 minutes, or stop off at St. Sophia station for a hike, a meal at Allred’s restaurant or simply a chance to breathe rarefied air.
Ever wanted to be a monkey for a day? Tree to Tree Aerial Adventure Park recently opened on Hagg Lake near Portland, Oregon and offers the opportunity to dangle as high as 50 feet off the ground. This playground amid Douglas fir trees features aerial ropes courses, ziplines and treetop obstacles. Put on a helmet and harness and move from treetop platform to treetop platform via wobbly bridges, tightropes and ziplines.
Care for an aerial view of Singapore with your Singapore Sling? Ascend to the top of 1 Raffles Place to 1-Altitude, an al fresco bar that towers 925 feet above sea level. It occupies 16,000 square feet across three levels and features a sunken bar and two mixologist capsules where guests can try their hand at concocting their own drinks. And yes, you most definitely can imbibe a Singapore Sling.
AYANA Resort and Spa Bali boasts “Spa on the Rocks,” two spa villas perched on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean in Bali. The spa villas are not accommodations, but they do contain everything you need for a blissful day of spa going: changing room, restroom, bathtub, shower and sofa. Order the “Diamond Miracle” treatment and you’ll get two and a half hours of pampering, including a foot soak, massage, Thermes Marins Crystal Peeling, a bath using petals from 500 red roses, and a facial that uses a formula of sea quartz and diamond dust. When you’re finished, you can crawl off to rest at the 290-room hotel or one of 78 private villas spread out along the coastline.
Get High on Vacation: Hut to Hut Hiking, Via Alpina Trail, Europe
Fasten your boot laces and hike from hut to hut nearly 1,200 miles across Europe. The Via Alpina is a network of five trails that cross the alpine regions of Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, France and Monaco. You’ll see some of the highest peaks of Europe, including Mont Blanc, 15,782 feet, and the Eiger, 13,025 feet. Want to read about it first? Author Brandon Wilson and his wife, Cheryl, trekked for 111 days along the Via Alpina from Trieste, Italy, to Monte Carlo, Monaco. He wrote a book called “Over the Top & Back Again.” The couple climbed and descended nearly 700,000 feet, or the equivalent of 12 Mount Everests. Wilson says the trail “allows you to experience wild nature, cuisine, legends and unique Alpine cultures for a look at Europe off the typical tour-bus circuit.”
Get High on Vacation: Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Leave the climbing gear at home and simply drive to the top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano that towers 13,796 feet over the Big Island of Hawaii. Park the car and you’ll see 13 gleaming telescopes of the Mauna Kea Observatories. If you arrive at sunset, you might even catch a glimpse of the mountain casting a massive shadow on the ocean. It’s surreal, to be sure. Just be careful: The air is thin and you will likely feel faint when you step out of the car.
Get High on Vacation: Bungee Jumping, Glenwood Springs, Colo.
Care to hurl yourself 70 feet off a platform? Colorado’s only bungee jump recently opened at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colo. The park, midway between Aspen and Vail, features a gondola ride, tours of Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves, an alpine coaster, a four-dimensional theater, laser tag, a giant swing, a climbing wall, a simulated Conestoga wagon experience, bungee trampolines and a zip ride.
Get High on Vacation: Piz Gloria, Switzerland
Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant at 9,744 feet on Schilthorn Mountain near Mürren, Switzerland, starred in the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” In the film, Piz Gloria is an allergy clinic where Bond’s enemy Blofeld is hiding out. When Bond’s cover at the clinic is blown, he escapes by skiing down the mountain. You can ski down the mountain, too, but you had better be quite an accomplished skier. Travelers may wish instead to simply ride the cable car to the top and enjoy a quiet meal.
The Yosemite Mountaineering School offers the opportunity to learn climbing skills on the big granite walls of Yosemite National Park. Go Climb a Rock is an introductory course that teaches beginners the basics of climbing and rappelling; other classes include Crack Climbing, Anchoring, Self-Rescue/Aid Climbing and Girls on Granite, a women’s only instructional course for beginner and intermediate climbers.
Lake Titicaca, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, is on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It’s 12,500 feet above sea level. Leave from Puno, Peru, and take a tour boat to the Uro Islands, floating islands made of reeds. You can even stay overnight with the people of the Uro Islands, who predate the Incas and speak the Aymara language.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Durango Mountain Resort are both opening new ziplines this summer. Jump on the Purgatory Plunge zipline, 80 feet off the ground at Purgatory, Durango Mountain Resort, and soar for more than the length of a football field at speeds of up to 35 mph. Two parallel cables allow thrill seekers to race each other.
Get High on Vacation: Gondola, Whistler, British Columbia
The Peak to Peak Gondola in Whistler, British Columbia breaks three world records. It’s the longest unsupported span (9,921 feet), the highest lift of its kind at 1,430 feet above the valley floor, and the longest continuous lift system in the world. The gondola links Whistler Mountain’s Roundhouse Lodge with Blackcomb Mountain’s Rendezvous Restaurant. The gondola not only provides access to 19 hiking trails, but you can use it to tour a black bear habitat, have high tea in an alpine hut or enjoy a wine tasting on a mountaintop patio.
Get High on Vacation: Heli-Hiking on a Via Ferrata, British Columbia
Via ferrata is Italian for “iron way.” More specifically, it’s a mountain route that already has fixed equipment such as cables, ladders and bridges and allows ordinary people to channel their inner mountaineer. Originally built in Italy’s Dolomites, via ferratas have spread across Europe, the United States and Canada. Canadian Mountain Holidays offers two via ferrata expeditions in British Columbia. The first includes a stay at the Bobbie Burns Lodge with a trek to the summit of Mount Nimbus in the Purcell Mountains. The second route is new this year and ventures through the Bugaboo Range.
Get High on Vacation: Mountaintop Yoga, Aspen, Colo.
The Aspen/Snowmass area offers mountaintop yoga. Enjoy an hour of open-air Hatha yoga at the top of Aspen Mountain near Aspen, Colo., followed by an intermediate backcountry hike.