My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

10 Places You Must Go in 2008: places I have been

These are the 10 places I think you should experience in 2008, based on places I have been myself, and here are some quick reasons why. I'll give you my own wish list of 'it' destinations for 2008, places I have never been but hope to visit, in the new year.
1. SYRIA: colossal history confronts you at every corner, the world's best archaeological sites, crusader castles, sublime Umayyad Mosque, bustling medieval souqs, the Mid East's tastiest food, beautiful Damascene houses, artisans at work, Euphrates River, Dead Cities, Palmyra, Bosra, and the friendliest people in the world.
2. BUENOS AIRES: because it is as buzzy as they say it is, atmospheric barrios, architectural mishmash of architecture, lively markets and parks, fabulous bars and restaurants, great meat and wine, all-night nightlife, traditional peñas, Feria de Mataderos, gritty backstreets.

3. MOROCCO: do a road trip for moonlike landscapes, sublime desert scenery, abandoned mountain palaces, Berber desert citadels set amid date palm oases, then stay with Maryam in Marrakesh.

4. WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Broome for Australia's best beach and sunsets, Monkey Mia for WA's most tranquil beach and best indigenous walk, spectacular Kimberley & Pilbara regions, Margaret River's wild coast and wonderful wineries.
5. ANTWERP & BRUSSELS: because Antwerp is Europe's most underrated, easygoing city and Brussels isn't boring at all, superb dining scenes, laidback bars, pubs and
atmospheric brown cafes, multicultural neighborhoods, lively jazz scenes, excellent museums, cutting-edge fashion, and those fantastic mussels!
6. THAILAND: road trip it off the beaten track, through lush green landscapes of limestone mountains and impenetrable jungle, eat tasty food in small town markets, meet the world's sweetest people, and well, okay, squeeze in a spa treatment at beach resort if you must.

7. ISTANBUL: after the umissable historical sights, the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia, Grand Bazaar, Topkaki Palace, and whirling dervishes, explore modern Istanbul, its lively backstreets, vibrant restaurants, bars and cafes, and get on the water for a cruise up the Bosphorus.
BALTIC CITIES: TALLINN: beautiful walled old city with perfectly preserved pastel-colored medieval architecture, kitsch experience of trying medieval food, sublime contemporary cuisine; RIGA: elegant art nouveau architecture, great walks, pretty parks and squares, lively pubs; and VILNIUS: laidback vibe, beautiful baroque churches, hearty food, and wild nightlife.
9. DUBAI: for reasons most travel writers won't tell you: Emirati and Bedouin culture and heritage, the courtyard wind-tower architecture in the Persian Bastakiya neighbourhood, gritty backstreets, Deira 'Creek' views from Bur Dubai, hospitable people, superb restaurants, and a lively contemporary art scene.

10. OMAN: majestic forts that make you feel like a kid again set in lush date palm oases, the Musandam peninsula, the Arabian Norway, the pretty waterfront at Muscat with its stunning harbour, and laidback Muttrah souq.


Alexander Santillanes said...

I agree: Syria is one of the most incredible travel destinations on earth. That's exactly the kind of place that SHOULD be on a travel list, especially with the reasons you give. -X

Lara Dunston said...

Xander, I'm pleased you agree. I think Syria is one of the most underrated countries in the world because of the whole 'axis-of-evil' b-shit, and yet it's not even an "axis-of-evil"! As somebody who writes on the destination - and loves it immensely - I find it so frustrating. I don't need to rave anymore about the people, archaeology, history, architecture, shopping, food, etc, but the extraordinary thing is that Syria is such a safe, peaceful and tolerant country - Muslims (of many sects), Christians(of just as man persuasions) and Jews, all living together in harmony - and every single one of them will proudly tell you how secular Syria is - and yet it gets such a bad wrap in the western media and is totally ignored in the travel media. I'm a widely published travel writer and I don't have any trouble selling stories and yet nobody will take up my pitches on Syria - the only publication to publish them has been Garuda in-flight (thank you, Taufik!) and The Independent (next year) - but what is wrong with everyone else? Why don't they see what we see?

I'm so glad you agree, Xander - what a shame we couldn't catch up in Bangkok! Next time - we'll be back around May, I think.

Erica said...

Thanks for the tips! I haven't been to any of these places yet.

Wendy said...

Now this is a list!
Would go back to Morocco, Istanbul, BA and Thailand in a heartbeat and would love to experience the other destinations, in particular Syria.
Thank you for linking me. I am flattered.
I've linked you as well :^)

Lara Dunston said...

Erica - what's on your list for 2008? I challenge you to make my list your own! :)

Wendy, where are you going in 2008?

And Xander, what's on your list? I'd love to get your Top Ten Thailand list - we're definitely heading back next year.

Scribetrotter said...

What a great list! And well done on the Baltic countries - far too few people know these delightful countries. I spent three months backpacking across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and had an extraordinary time.

And well done for adding Belgium, the often neglected little country stuck between Amsterdam and Paris...

I'd like to add Laos to the list, which is getting more popular daily but still has a bit of the laid back country feel of Southeast Asia. And I have a particular soft spot for Penang, just off the Malaysian coast, for its mixture of Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures.

Other faves? Zanzibar, for its crystalline beaches and impossible to navigate Stone Town; Eritrea, for its lack if skyscrapers and untouched coast; Ethiopia, for the most spectacular mountains and gorges; Cuba, for teaching me a thing or two about loving life; and the Bazaruto Islands off Mozambique - just lean over and grab a fish.

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

I would love to go to Syria... that would be amazing... As for WA... my sister lives in Martin/Gosnells (just out of Perth)... I was in Buenos Aires 2 years ago... it was with a group (we had won it) and still, it was amazing... went to a nice restaurant there too... can't think of the name of it off the top of my head...

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that Brussels is exciting! It's one of the richest sources of art and architecture in Europe -- tour Art Nouveau innovator Victor Horta's house; visit the comic strip museum, housed in a lavish fin-de-siecle department store; and wander amongst little-seen Flemish masters at the Royal Beaux Arts.

And as for Oman, it's been added to the Big Life List. Thank you!

Lara Dunston said...

Hello Melanie - yes, Brussels is one of my favorite cities for the reasons you say and more, yet I'm always surprised how many writers simply say "it's boring". Yes, put Oman high on your list for a week or two of travel to the forts, date palm oases, wadis, and wonderful beaches.