K IS FOR KRAKOW
Not many corners of the world have experienced as much rapid change in the past 20 years as Eastern Europe.
What you’ll find is far from the Borat-esque villages and decrepit Commie cities where you fear your jeans might be ripped from your backside and sold on the black market, scenarios often imagined by our parents’ generation (or by that God-awful American film, Euro Trip).
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the younger generations have embraced Western culture and, in this century, all the so-called economic perks of being part of the European Union. And in the past decade it’s lost a lot of its mystery.
J IS FOR JODHPUR
No, not the pants. Before it became synonymous with horse-riding trousers, Jodhpur was a historically significant city in the Indian state of Rajasthan – you know, the one Warnie played for in the Indian Premier League.
Considered the “second city” of Rajasthan after capital Jaipur, Jodhpur’s origins stretch back to 1100AD; although the city’s founding is credited to Rao Jodha in 1459.
As you’d expect of a city that has survived for centuries in a feudal society, a big part of the attraction of Jodhpur are the very things that were built to keep people out – namely the impressive fortifications.
I IS FOR THE ISLE OF CAPRI
Aaah, Italia. Words cannot express how much I heart thee.
If you’re after views and food, Italy is king. And the delectable Isle of Capri, a little hot spot in the Bay of Naples, has both in buckets. Rugged cliffs, ridiculously blue water, Roman ruins, villas, piazzas and cafes. Capri has it all.
H IS FOR HARAJUKU
In the hyper-metropolis that is Tokyo, there is no shortage of things that will amaze – from the hustle of Tsukiji fish market to the department stores of Shinjuku – but few are cooler than Harajuku.
This J-pop culture nexus lies east of Central Tokyo and is a world away from pretty much anywhere else in the world.
G IS FOR GEORGETOWN
These days travelling to South East Asia is often cheaper than a holiday at home (thank you Air Asia. As for Tiger Airways – we’ll have to work on our trust issues…).
Although some may consider this part of the world a bit same-same and a little on the humid side, it’s as cheap as chips and, if you venture out of the resorts and make the extra effort, there are plenty of cultural discoveries to be made. Take Georgetown, the capital of the state of Penang in Malaysia.
F IS FOR FERNANDO DE NORONHA
When Peter Allen’s baby smiled at him he went to Rio but when the strain of shaking those maracas got too much, we’d like to think he would have yearned for somewhere like Fernando de Noronha.
Located 350km off the coast of Brazil, this archipelago of 21 islands appears on the “best beaches” lists of only the most discerning travel guides, which is probably how it has managed to retain its hidden gem status.
E IS FOR EL CHALTEN
Yes, we’re taking you to South America! El Chalten is the trekking capital of Argentina and it’s not hard to see why the place is a magnet for travellers. While the town is used mainly as a base camp, it’s what it’s base camp to that’s the impressive part.
Now we’re not talking a “cocktails by the pool” type holiday here, so if you’re after a relaxing spa-resort trip, this isn’t for you. Right now, we’re talking to the adventurer’s among you – those who get lost in the idea of packing a backpack, hitting the road less travelled and seeing where you end up.
D IS FOR DUBROVNIK
Founded in the 7th Century, Dubrovnik was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. OK, now we’ve got those boring facts out of the way we can get down to business - Dubrovnik is kick-ass.
This heart-wrenchingly beautiful Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea is the sort of place you may only visit once but the memories will resonate for a lifetime.
C IS FOR CAPE TOWN
Last week, TripAdvisor unveiled the winners of its 2011 Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards, and Cape Town came out on top. South Africa’s tourist hotspot has taken the accolade of worlds’ best destination. Enough said, right? In case you’re a bit of a sceptic and we haven’t got you convinced in two sentences, let us continue…
B IS FOR BAWAKA
Cultural tourism is a concept that strikes fear into the hearts of many an intrepid traveller; too often a bogus gimmick for gouging cash from tourists. “So, let me get this straight, if I put on these lederhosen, drink this stein of Lowenbrau and pose for a photo holding a giant bratwurst I’ll get a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of Munich?”
A IS FOR ARENA MEXICO
Rather unsurprisingly situated in Mexico City, Mexico, this iconic stadium is known as the cathedral of lucha libre and, until you’ve been there, you really don’t know what you’re missing.