Travel Writer's Wish List for Popular Destinations to
As a travel writer, I explore the globe on somebody else’s dollar -
lucky, I know. But there are a few special places in the world where I’d willingly pay to return to … places not
yet spoiled by the madding crowds … where you can still feel like a traveler, not a tourist.
So where should you consider visiting this year? Well, if my
editor’s paying attention, the following eight travel destinations are at the top of my wish list, spread over
three different continents. Holiday Velvet apartments have a great
selection of holiday rentals in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona and other great world travel destinations. So, no
matter where you go in the world, you will find a holiday apartment waiting for you.
Central America travel destinations
Mexico’s Colonial Heartland
Visiting Mexico’s colonial cities is like falling through a crack
in time, back to the 16th century--the heyday of the Spanish Conquistadores. Don’t miss the creepy mummies of
Guanajuato, the opal sellers of Queretero, or Zacatecas and its silver mines. (When I was in Zacatecas, you could
go dancing in one of the mines, and stay in a bullring that’s now a hotel.) There’s also the quaint art-and-crafts
town of San Miguel de Allende; Dolores Hidalgo, birthplace of Mexican independence; and Morelia, home of the
Museo del Dulce. This candy museum
showcases over 300 varieties, many the original recipes of nuns. Here, Mexican food is aimed at Mexicans, not
gringos--as well as sampling the restaurants, you can take a short cookery course. Plus, you can relax in spas, go
horse-riding, and shop for great buys in leather.
Martinique and Guadeloupe, French West Indies
The city of Buenos Aires in Argentina
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and one of the most desired South America
travel destinations. It's also one of the world's best value popular destinations.
Combining small island charm with Caribbean chic, Martinique and
Guadeloupe are the two main islands of the French West Indies. Odd though it seems, these two islands are as French
as Provence. Islanders carry French identity cards, use euros, and fly tricolors from town halls. Although you’ll
come across beach shacks, free-ranging hens, and throbbing zouk music, you’ll also encounter six-lane highways,
nudist beaches, manicured golf courses, and stylish marinas. Fishing, sailing, and diving opportunities are
incredible: Off Guadeloupe’s western coast is the Jacques Cousteau Marine Reserve, an underwater realm of corals,
sea sponges, and tropical fish.
South America travel destinations
Buenos Aires, Argentina
One of the world’s best-value travel destinations right now, Buenos
Aires is South America’s most sophisticated city. Take a tango lesson...explore the colorful port quarter of La
Boca...see who else besides Evita is buried in Recoleta cemetery...check out the San Telmo antiques market...hunt
down the perfect steak...go clubbing in Palermo...join the café society...experience a local soccer match...kayak
the waterways of the Rio del Plata. Short side trips could include a visit to a ranch or the beaches of Mar del
Plata. For a longer add-on, you could tour the Mendoza vineyards, head south into the wilds of Patagonia, or visit
the colonial northwest around Salta.
Asia travel destinations
Shared with the independent sultanate of Brunei, northern Borneo
encompasses the Malaysian states of Sarawak (“Land of the Hornbill”) and Sabah (“Land Below the Wind”). The island
is home to southeast Asia’s highest peaks, oldest jungles, and the white-sand beaches of the South China Sea. To
get the most from this trip, spend time in both Sabah and Sarawak. For me, Sabah was characterized by mountains,
snorkeling adventures, and the “People of the Forest:” silky-haired orangutans. Sarawak has more in the way of
jungle, longhouse settlements, and Iban warriors. Look out for the blue tattoos on the fingers of Iban village
elders--these indicate your hosts enjoyed a spot of head-hunting in their youth. (And I don’t mean the kind of
head-hunting that goes on in corporate circles!) If you are staying in Borneo, don’t forget to book your travel
accommodation through Expedia to get the best deals.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Silk-making, silverware, hand-painted parasols... Teak furniture,
celadon pottery, even elephant-dung paper... The center of Thailand’s crafts industry, Chiang Mai offers boundless
opportunities to shop. The city’s mammoth Night Market is but one outlet--delve into the bustling bylanes, and
you’ll find plenty more artisans practicing traditional crafts. What else can you do? Well, how about sampling Thai
food (both eating and cookery courses)...or encounters with hill tribes...or elephant conservation...or traditional
Thai massage...or whitewater river rafting...or jungle-trekking...or a side trip to the notorious Golden Triangle.
And that’s just for starters…
Europe travel destinations
Bullfights, flamenco, and ice-cold gazpacho. Free bar snacks called
tapas--how many different ones can you sample? Sugar-cube houses with courtyard patios and terraces hung with
vines, honeysuckle, and jasmine. Although Cordoba, Seville, and Granada are the stars of the Andalucian show,
numerous small towns and villages throughout this region also invoke the glory days of Moorish Spain. Set aside
some time to hike the Alpujarras, the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains...then head down to the
coast to see why the Costa del Sol is one of northern Europe’s favorite vacation destinations. But avoid mass
tourism destinations such as Torremolinos--Europe’s glitterati hang out in Marbella and the yachting center of
Can’t decide whether the charms of la belle France outweigh those
of bella Italia? Then visit Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon. Although this little-known island belongs to France,
its nearest neighbor is Italy. You get the best of both worlds: excellent food and wine, great summer weather,
hiking trails with mesmerizing scenery, and towns steeped in vendetta history. Plus, a sea that shimmers peacock
blue. If I had to pick a favorite place in the Mediterranean, Corsica would be it. Ajaccio, Bonifaccio, and Calvi
make three interesting bases to discover the island--if you’re looking for an entanglement with a handsome brute
wearing a kepi, Calvi is still
home to an outpost of the French Foreign Legion.
In toytown harbors, weather-beaten fishermen repair bright yellow
nets. Donkeys clop down steep alleyways and wayward goats try to scrabble up into olive trees. White houses cascade
with jasmine, cats doze away on terraces and ya-yas (wizened old ladies) sit in doorways shelling peas and
exchanging gossip. The Aegean Sea is as idyllic as in Homer’s day: mother-of-pearl at dawn...deep blue at
midday...shot-silk at twilight. Of Greece’s hundreds of islands and islets, 166 are
inhabited. If forced to choose a single destination, I’d go for Crete, the largest island. You can wander the ruins
of Knossos (home of the legendary Minotaur), hike the Samaria Gorge, and visit Spinalonga (Europe’s last leper
colony). Best places to base yourself? The pretty-as-a-postcard village of Elounda in the east and the old Venetian
town of Chania in the west.
Roving Editor, International Living
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