Paris is a perfect idea in the summer – when the seasonal Asian heat becomes a boring routine, Europe’s pleasant summers look like great opportunities to trot around the French capital, taking in the breathtaking sights, one at a time.
Getting around in Paris is very easy because the city’s transport system is well organized. The Métro (Paris’ rapid transit line) will effortlessly take you where you want to go but it’s always a good idea to take a city map along, as a first-time traveler, because they are really good guides. But where to go?
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is perhaps the most well-recognized piece of architecture in Paris. It is almost as if the Tower is a globally recognized symbol of France, and it’s no wonder why because the Eiffel Tower’s overwhelming wrought iron structure is a memorable piece of living history from the late 19th Century. An elevator (or the stairs, if you are in the mood for a slow-climb) will take you to the second floor, and this is the tallest building in Paris, so expect a great look into the French capital, when you get to the top of the Tower; there’s also an evening light show, which happens at the Tower, and it’s a magnificent vision of golden lights for five minutes.
Sainte-Chapelle is a French cathedral, done up in Gothic design, and up until the 14th Century, French kings used to call it home. Imposing and beautifully French, the cathedral is a must-see because of its medieval style and its enormous stained glass collection from the 13th century. Sainte-Chapelle is such a story of survival, as well – the French Revolution had damaged the cathedral, and it was later, very finely restored in the 19th Century.
Place de la République
Place de la République sits right atop République’s Métro station and after busy times of taking in sights (and too much to walk around to see during your holiday), it provides a calmer alternative for travelers to enjoy Paris, on a quiet stroll. The square gets its name from the French Republic and since its inception in the 19th Century, Place de la République, overwhelmingly breathes just the same.
Boracay is a tiny island in the Philippines.
Apart from the usual things you can expect to find in an island town, such as
dancing in the sand, barefoot (as part of the nightlife) or its own airport to
make travel a whole lot simpler, and the ballooning tourist population, there
are isolated spaces when you need them. White Beach, is one of the most popular
beaches in the island, and it has plain white sand for kilometres to tread
upon. Close to it, lies the Punta Bunga Beach, the Puka Shell Beach and both
luxurious and boutique hotels are springing up in the landscape like mushrooms.
The place is, on any average day, filled with surfers on the waves of Bulabog
beach, coconut water cocktail-drinkers inside of bamboo huts, and sampling
innovative use of fruits and vegetables in practically each and every dish.
Ireland seems to have been
restored through a miracle-cure. Rising from a national recession, Ireland is
now one of the most rapidly-growing countries in the EU. Dublin, the capital of
Ireland, has grown into a perpetual province of celebration, and next month is
set to be the ‘centenary of the Irish Republic’. The Irish are flocking to the
pubs again, after a period of downturn in business, and now the place has also
began to be looked upon as a young, technological marvel, sporting clear-blue
skies, and swathes of intelligence, previously recognized in the fun-loving
groups off Silicon Valley, and the local food haunts are getting scrumptious,
by the minute. The country is also home to the Wild Atlantic Way, a favourite
with people who love to go on road-trips, in their car. The entire 2,500km of
it is country lane, highway, and it goes from the West Coast to Derry and
Kinsale, taking in the beautiful rocky coastline scenes. Amidst this a cycle
route is set to open, the east is working on celebrating it’s 5,000 year-old
past and Northern Ireland just declared 2016 to be a year of its food and drink
– as a Brit, my favourites include:shepherd’s pie and irish stew. For all of
this, Ireland has been especially super busy getting ready to welcome tourists
in a traditional Irish avatar: regal trains, ancient and titanic, are dressed up
in shiny wood and tartan,; this is the Orient Express, the Irish edition.
4. Quito, Ecuador
Ecuador, as a country in South
America, is growing. Having prehistoric roots in the mystical Inca kingdom, and
adopting the Spanish language as a native language aside, the country has a lot
to offer. One of the most interesting sides to Latin America has been its
shared use of European languages, from French to the Portuguese, and it is an
idea that is new in the developed world because countries at-large do not
exhibit this cultural trait. The capital of the country, Quito, is situated atop
mountains, and is a grand 16th century town, littered with colonial
buildings from Spain. Nowadays, backpackers aren’t the only one interested in
this rugged landscape because the more intelligent crowd is increasingly
finding new ways to engage with this Latin American crowd to learn more about
its colourful and ancient landscape. The capital, for a start, is both
contemporary and medieval, as nouveau oil money is being poured into
developments in the town, and breathe in a whole new avatar, to it, in keeping
with local customs. A new airport and an underground system are in the opening
pipeline this year, amongst all the widespread “industrial blooming”, inclusive
of boutique hotels, restaurants, bars and galleries, housed in simply marvellous
Cuba has surprisingly, been on
the rise. There was this great fear in the West about it: that before Great
Britain truly discovered Cuba it would become a scarred land. But good for everybody,
that that is never going to be the case at all. The country sports a sun-faded
colour, and there is a lot of dancing, music and poetry about it, from every
window imaginable. The country is still reeling from a 54-year trade embargo,
and the American Embassy has opened once more there; as relations with the
United States goes on the mend, Americans are flocking to the place out of
natural curiosity in throngs. There are thoughts about how it might sprout into
a spoilt beauty within a decade, so most tourists are trying to make the best
out of a ‘sooner, rather than later’ visit to Cuba. Havana, the capital, seems
like magic and it would for a city filled with baroque architecture and
neoclassism. Cuba is a country with a deep agricultural tradition, unlike a
majority of its Latin American contemporaries and a part of that can be found
it’s food that is a blend of Native American, Spanish, African and Caribbean
cuisines; local favourites:rice and
beans, and seafood.
6. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon has been a demure city for decades but nowadays it has become a magnetic place in Europe. It is where everything happening happens in the arts scene, or for the startups, as a whole host of creative minds get caught up in the excitement of their native city and whittle their time away with expressive ways to contribute to the Lisbon culture of today. The Lisbon population do not have to worry about frugal spending on living, or a standard of life that is in decline, what it does have to worry about is how it is so shiny and new, when Europe is so grand and regal. Sunshine populates the town ,and there is the brilliant sea, so don’t be put off by the presence of far too many artists, graffiti (supported by the government), architects and designers and dime-a-dozen contemporary art galleries residing inside of magnificent and old European houses in the town, because there is so much to Lisbon than all of that: the old streets are filled with history (and crooked), there are vintage and junk shops in neighbourhoods, and a vibrant emerging food culture.
Iran is one of the coolest places to be in this year. Although, the thought is tough to grasp because it was never imagine before, it is where you should be to even remotely feel-in-the-moment: the British Embassy opened once more in Tehran, the people are amicable/sociable, there is a lot of scope to get lost in adventure, and there is no end in sight for Muslim culture, pioneered by the Persian Empire in Tehran, Shiraz, Persepolis, Yazd and Isfahan. Places to go: Mount Damavand, for it’s blue skies and yellow/green sceneries, Namarestagh for high-octane dusty (and brown) adventures, and the brilliant (and grand) Lut Desert; when you are there, remember to visit, the ancient Persian leopard – it’s deadly fast and sleepily-observant.