Why I Loved Yosemite
Sometimes a place is great just because it is great. For countless different reasons, a place is worth visiting, even if opinions on the matter are varying. Let me explain.
I don’t particularly like Paris. I know a lot of people who agree with me, and I know of a lot of people who have a romantic sentiment toward Paris and its history, dim cafes, street lights and cobbled streets, and its endless wine and art. When I think of Paris, I think of rude waitresses, dog shit on the sidewalk and tourists. Still, it’s worth a visit.
There’s Oaxaca, Mexico, a city I visited for a few days when I lived in Mexico in 2008. I instantly fell in love with the city, its friendly streets, its incredibly delicious and cheap restaurants, its markets and its proximity to great places like Monte Alban and Hierve el Agua. I later asked my roommate how he had liked Oaxaca (as he’d been through the city a few days earlier than I had been), and he had found it sad and couldn’t wait to leave. Still, it’s worth a visit, and I would go back in a heartbeat.
What about Werfen, Austria? I visited this tiny little town in order to see a castle in the clouds. Immediately upon stepping off the train in the middle of the night in the sleepy town of Werfen, I knew I was in love. The air was sharp and smelled of mint and pine trees. The night sky was framed by black mountains, and I felt like I had found the coziest nook in the world. When I woke up in the morning, I awoke in the clouds, a daily occurrence as the fog settles in before the sun chases it away. It was a magical place and everything about it felt surreal. And not only is there an amazing castle to visit, there are some sweet ice caves that I also managed to see. Yet, even though I don’t know anyone else who has been to Werfen, it’s a place definitely worth visiting.
I could go on. We all know how I feel about Spain, Ireland, Easter Island, Brasil… I could go on, really. But let’s get to Yosemite.
First, there are the sights of Yosemite. It’s exquisitely beautiful. With every turn of the tightly twisting mountain roads we took I was gasping at what I was seeing, feeling incredibly lucky to be there, and also nervous we’d take a plunge over the edge to a dramatic and untimely end.
Visiting Yosemite, you can’t miss El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, Glacier Summit, Tunnel View, Curry Village, and Mariposa Grove. Driving around, you will see things you also weren’t expecting to see: beautiful lakes and beaches, people taking a dip in a nearby stream, and baby moose dawdling on the side of the road.
At night, just like in Werfen, the imposing mountains frame the cozy valley with big black shoulders, providing visitors (or at least me), with contentment, appreciation for the moment and a true sense of peace. I could have stayed several days and been more than happy to do so.
And there it is, that common thread between the places that have stolen a piece of my heart: the feeling.
It’s the reason some people love Barcelona and feel indifferent towards Madrid. It’s why some people fall in love with New York City and others just find it loud, stinky and obnoxious. It’s for this reason that some people don’t travel at all. For some people, travel invokes no real emotion. For others, it’s their raison d’être, and for the latter, some places just feel… inspiring, cozy, exciting, labyrinthine, relaxing… some places just feel right. It feels right to be there. For me, it felt right to be in Madrid, New York City, and it definitely felt right to be in Yosemite.