Wunderman Ali (12)
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6 BELIZE CITY

Wunderman, Ali FrommerMedia ePub

6

Belize City

Long ago stripped of its status as the country’s capital, Belize City remains Belize’s business, transportation, and cultural hub. Sooner or later you’ll spend at least some time here, unless you do all your in-country traveling by air or have a very precisely planned itinerary. As the country’s most urban area, it can be rough around the edges, and doesn’t offer quite the same draw as destinations along the coast or in the jungle, but there are still treasures all their own to be explored here.

With a population of some 50,000, plus another 20,000 in the surrounding area, Belize City is surrounded on three sides by water, and at high tide it is nearly swamped. It’s a strange, dense warren of narrow streets and canals (the latter being little more than open sewers, and pretty pungent in hot weather), modern stores, dilapidated shacks, and quaint colonial mansions, coexisting in a seemingly chaotic jumble.

The city was originally settled by the ancient Mayans, who lived up and down the coast here. By the mid-1600s, pirates were using the current site of Belize City as a hideout and provisioning spot. Soon after, the British arrived and set up a logging base here, fueled by slave labor. Logs were harvested inland and floated down the Belize River for milling and shipping. This logging base soon became a colonial settlement and the seat of Britain’s colonial empire on the Central American isthmus. Belize City itself is said to sit on a foundation of wood chips, discarded ships’ ballast, and empty rum bottles.

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9 NORTHERN BELIZE

Wunderman, Ali FrommerMedia ePub

9

Northern Belize

With few exceptions, Northern Belize is overlooked by most tourists who fly into the country and head quickly to the cayes, the Cayo District, the southern beaches, or the Mayan Mountains. Even those who enter by land from Mexico frequently make a beeline to Belize City and bypass this region. Still, northern Belize has its charms, not least of which is its undiscovered and undeveloped feel. It’s here that you’ll find some of the country’s larger biological reserves, including the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, the Shipstern Nature Reserve, and the Río Bravo Conservation Area. With more than 430 species of birds and 250 species of orchids, this region should be especially attractive to naturalists.

The region was also an important and strategic part of the Mayan Empire, and ancient ruins abound. Most notably, it is here that you will find the Altun Ha and Lamanai ruins, two of the country’s most popular and important Mayan sites. Lesser sites such as Cuello, Cerros, Santa Rita, and Noh Mul are also possible stops for true aficionados. Finally, northern Belize is home to three unique and isolated lodges: Belize Boutique Resort and Spa, Chan Chich Lodge, and Lamanai Outpost Lodge, all of which are described in detail in this chapter.

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7 THE NORTHERN CAYES & ATOLLS

Wunderman, Ali FrommerMedia ePub

7

The Northern Cayes & Atolls

The cayes (pronounced “keys”) are a series of small islands strung along the length of the Belize Barrier Reef, set amid waters that are at once crystal clear and brilliantly turquoise. Seen firsthand, there’s something truly mesmerizing and almost unbelievable about the clarity and color of this water. But as they say around here: “You betta Belize it.”

With the reef providing protection from the open ocean, and the government providing protection to the reef, the cayes are literally islands of tranquility in a calm blue sea. Aside from sunbathing and slow strolling, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing are the main attractions in the cayes. They are all world-class. From the bustling mini-resorts (and one regular resort) of Ambergris Caye to the funky Rastafarian charm of tiny Caye Caulker to the deserted-isle feel of the Turneffe Islands and Lighthouse Reef atolls , it’s the idyllic combination of sun and sea, as well as adventure and relaxation, that attracts and captivates most visitors to Belize. Most of the cayes are small enough to walk from one end to the other in less than 20 minutes. On others, it won’t take you nearly as long.

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4 SUGGESTED BELIZE ITINERARIES

Wunderman, Ali FrommerMedia ePub

4

Suggested Belize Itineraries

Don’t be fooled by its size—there’s a lot to see and do in Belize. And the fact that the country is so compact makes it quick to get around and do a lot in a short time. The following itineraries are meant to serve as rough outlines to help you structure your time and get a taste of some of the country’s must-see destinations. Other options include specialized itineraries focused on a particular interest or activity. Bird-watchers could design an itinerary that visits a series of prime bird-watching sites. Cave enthusiasts and spelunkers could design a trip to take in several of Belize’s caves, including both wet and dry cave explorations. In Belize, there’s something for everyone.

The Regions in Brief

Belize City   Belize City is a modest-size coastal port city located at the mouth of the Belize River. It’s Belize’s transportation hub, with the only international airport, an active municipal airport, a cruise-ship dock, and all the major bus-line and water-taxi terminals. Still, Belize City is of limited interest to most visitors, who quickly seek the more beachy and pastoral charms of the country’s various tourist destinations and resorts. Belize City has a reputation as a rough and violent urban center, and visitors should exercise caution and stick to the most popular tourist areas of this small city.

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12 USEFUL TERMS & PHRASES

Wunderman, Ali FrommerMedia ePub

12

Useful Terms & Phrases

English is the official language of Belize, but the country is one of the most polyglot places on the planet. In addition to English, many Belizeans speak Spanish, and among some members of the population, this is the primary language. You will find Spanish prevalent in the northern and western regions, near the borders with Mexico and Guatemala, but given Belize’s long history of immigration, Spanish speakers can be found throughout the country. In fact, conversations among Belizeans are often a mix of English and Spanish (“Spanglish”), with a fair amount of Creole thrown in for good measure.

Creole, or Kriol, is the local patois, a colorful, rhythmic, and often difficult-to-understand dialect. Although based primarily on English, it takes some getting used to before most Westerners can grasp the pronunciations and sentence structures that distinguish Belizean Kriol. While this was originally the language of former black slaves and their descendants, today most Belizeans understand and speak Kriol, and they will often use it among themselves in the presence of foreigners if they don’t want to be understood.

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Tristan Rutherford (14)
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10 CANNES & AROUND

Tristan Rutherford FrommerMedia ePub

10

Cannes & Around

Cannes

905km (561 miles) S of Paris; 163km (101 miles) E of Marseille; 26km (16 miles) SW of Nice

When Coco Chanel came here and got a suntan, returning to Paris bronzed, she shocked the milk-white society ladies—who quickly began to copy her. Today the bronzed bodies, clad in nearly nonexistent swimsuits, line the beaches of this chic resort and continue the late fashion designer’s example. A block back from the famed promenade de la Croisette are the boutiques, bars, and bistros that make Cannes the Riviera’s capital of cool.

Essentials

ArrivingBy train, Cannes is 10 minutes from Antibes, 30 minutes from Nice, and 45 minutes from Monaco. The TGV from Paris reaches Cannes in an incredibly scenic 5 hours. The one-way fare from Paris is 45€ to 129€, although advance purchase bargains can be has for as low as 26€. For rail information and schedules, visit www.voyages-sncf.com or call ✆ 36-35. Lignes d’Azur (www.lignesdazur.com; ✆ 08-10-06-10-06) provides bus service from Cannes’ Gare Routière (place Bernard Cornut Gentille) to Antibes every 20 minutes during the day (trip time: 25 min.). The one-way fare is 1.50€.

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3 SUGGESTED ITINERARIES

Tristan Rutherford FrommerMedia ePub

3

Suggested Itineraries in PROVENCE & THE FRENCH RIVIERA

When the Frommer’s guidebooks were first launched, founder Arthur Frommer cautioned his readers, “You can get lost in France.” It’s still an apt warning—and promise—today.

For those with unlimited time, one of the world’s great pleasures is getting “lost” in France, wandering at random, making new discoveries off the beaten path. Few of us have this luxury, however, and so here we present 1- and 2-week itineraries to help you make the most of your time.

Provence and the French Riviera in particular are so treasure-filled that you may barely do more than skim the surface in a week. So relax and savor Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, St-Tropez, or Cannes—among other alluring destinations—saving the rest for another day. You might also review chapter 1, “The Best of Provence and the French Riviera,” to find out what experiences or sights have special appeal to us and then adjust your itineraries to suit your particular travel plans.

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4 AVIGNON

Tristan Rutherford FrommerMedia ePub

4

Avignon

Avignon

691km (428 miles) S of Paris; 83km (51 miles) NW of Aix-en-Provence; 98km (61 miles) NW of Marseille

In the 14th century, Avignon was the capital of Christendom. What started as a temporary stay by Pope Clement V in 1309, when Rome was deemed too dangerous even for clergymen, became a 67-year golden age. The cultural and architectural legacy left by the six popes who served during this period makes Avignon one of Europe’s most alluring medieval destinations.

Today this walled city of some 95,000 residents is a major stop on the route from Paris to the Mediterranean. In recent years, it has become known as a cultural center, thanks to its annual international performing-arts festivals and wealth of experimental theaters and art galleries.

Essentials

ArrivingFrequent TGV trains depart from Paris’s Gare de Lyon. The ride takes 2 hours and 40 minutes and arrives at Avignon’s modern TGV station, located 6 minutes from town by a brand-new speedy rail link. The one-way fare is around 80€ depending on the date and time, although it can also be as cheap as 25€ if booked well in advance. Regular trains arrive from Marseille (trip time: 70 min.; 20.80€ one-way) and Arles (trip time: 20 min.; 7.50€ one-way), arriving at either the TGV or Avignon’s central station. Hourly trains from Aix-en-Provence (trip time: 20 min.; 25€ one-way) shuttle exclusively between the two towns’ TGV stations. For rail information, visit www.voyages-sncf.com or call ✆ 36-35. The regional bus routes (www.info-ler.fr; ✆ 08-21-20-22-03) go from Avignon to Arles (trip time: 1 hr., 10 min.; 7.10€ one-way) and Aix-en Provence (trip time: 1 hr., 15 min.; 17.40€ one-way). The bus station at Avignon is the Gare Routière, 5 av. Monclar (✆ 04-90-82-07-35). If you’re driving from Paris, take A6 south to Lyon, and then A7 south to Avignon.

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11 ANTIBES & JUAN-LES-PINS

Tristan Rutherford FrommerMedia ePub

11

Antibes & Juan-les-Pins

Juan-les-Pins

913km (566 miles) S of Paris; 9.5km (6 miles) S of Cannes

Just west of the Cap d’Antibes, this Art Deco resort burst onto the South of France scene during the 1920s, under the auspices of American property developer Frank Jay Gould. A decade later, Juan-les-Pins was already drawing a chic summer crowd, as the Riviera “season” flipped from winter respites to the hedonistic pursuit of summer sun, sea, and sensuality. It has been attracting the young and the young-at-heart from across Europe and the U.S. ever since. F. Scott Fitzgerald decried Juan-les-Pins as a “constant carnival,” no doubt after a sojourn in his seaside villa, which is now the Hôtel Belles-Rives. His words ring true each and every summer’s day.

Juan-les-Pins is famed throughout France for its International Jazz Festival. In 2014, the festival’s alfresco seaside stage hosted George Benson and Stacey Kent. Picasso also adored this most liberal of summer resorts, renting seven different local villas here during his yearly painting vacations during the 1920s and 1930s. He was no doubt spellbound by the Iles de Lérins that bob just offshore: Local ferries zip over to them all summer long.

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5 ARLES & AROUND

Tristan Rutherford FrommerMedia ePub

5

Arles & Around

St-Rémy-de-Provence

710km (440 miles) S of Paris; 24km (15 miles) NE of Arles; 19km (12 miles) S of Avignon; 10km (6¼ miles) N of Les Baux

Though the physician and astrologer Nostradamus was born here in 1503, most associate St-Rémy with Vincent van Gogh, who committed himself to a local asylum in 1889 after cutting off part of his left ear. “Starry Night” was painted during this period, as were many versions of “Olive Trees” and “Cypresses.”

Come to sleepy St-Rémy not only for its history and sights, but also for an authentic experience of daily Provençal life. The town springs into action on Wednesday mornings, when stalls bursting with the region’s bounty, from wild-boar sausages to olives, and elegant antiques to bolts of French country fabric, huddle between the sidewalk cafes beneath the plane trees.

Essentials

ArrivingA regional bus, the Cartreize, runs four to nine times daily between Avignon’s Gare Routière and St-Rémy’s place de la République (trip time: 45 min.; 3.60€ one-way). For bus information, see www.lepilote.com or call ✆ 08-10-00-13-26. The St-Rémy tourist office also provides links to up-to-date bus schedules on their website (see below). Drivers can head south from Avignon along D571.

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Terry Richardson (12)
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7 The Best Nightlife

Terry Richardson FrommerMedia ePub

Nightlife Best Bets

Best Old City View

AYA Terrace 1 Tevkifhane Sok (p 114)

Best Local Craft Beer

Taps 119 Cevdet Paa Cad (p 116)

Best Leafy Courtyard

Cezayir 16 Hayriye Cad (p 117)

Best for a Wine & Cheese Evening

Corvus Wine & Bite 5 air Nedim Cad (p 114)

Best Long-Standing Gay Nightclub

Tekyön 63 Sıraselviler Cad (p 120)

Best for Electronic Music

Indigo 1–4 Arkasu Sok (p 118)

Best Terrace for Cocktails

360Istanbul 9/F 163 Istiklal Cad (p 119)

Best for High Society

Anjelique 5 Salhane Sok (p 118)

Best Vintage Decor

5.Kat 5/F 7 Soancı Sok (p 115)

Best for a No-Nonsense Beer

Arsen Lüpen 4/F 15 Mis Sok (p 114)

Best for Old City Nargile

Café Meale 45 Arasta Bazaar (p 116)

Best for Hipster Spotting

Unter 4 Kara Ali Kaptan Sok (p 117)

Live gigs at Jolly Joker. Previous page: Night crowds stroll the streets and markets of Istanbul.

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18 Favorite Moments

Terry Richardson FrommerMedia ePub

Galata Tower at dusk.

18 Favorite Moments

Every visitor to this continent-spanning city of over 15 million inhabitants, once home to two of the world’s greatest empires, will take away their own favorite moments. From Byzantine churches to Ottoman mosques, hip clubs and art galleries and thick black Turkish coffee to waterfront fish restaurants, there’s something for everyone in this great world city.

Head out of the Golden Horn and across the Bosphorus to Asia on a vintage ferry. Istanbul is a city both by and of the sea, and there’s no better way to view it than from a boat taking you from Europe to Asia. See p 17.

Wandering down Galip Dede Caddesi and listening to the sounds emerge from music stores—everything from electric guitars and keyboards to cymbals hand-crafted in Istanbul, the lute-like saz to the ney, the long Anatolian pipe. See p 85.

Eating fresh grilled fish by Karaköy Fish Market. It’s a bit rough and ready, but on a warm summer’s evening, with the Old City skyline ahead, it can’t be beaten for price and pure enjoyment. See p 59.

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10 The Best Day Trips & Excursions

Terry Richardson FrommerMedia ePub

Eski Cami, Erdine.

Princes’ Islands

The jewel-like cluster of nine islands off Istanbul has a colorful history: Summer houses for the elite; a haven for Jewish, Greek, and Armenian minorities; and exile for “White Russians”—today, they’re a traffic-free escape for locals. You can’t visit every island in one day, so head to Heybeliada and Büyükada to walk, cycle, or hire a phaeton (horse and carriage). Stick to weekdays to avoid the crowds. START: Heybeliada ferry pier.

Deniz Lisesi (Naval High School). You can’t miss the huge waterfront naval school from the ferry pier on Heybeliada (literally, “Saddlebag Island” due to its shape). Originally, the Naval War Academy was set up in 1852. It’s been a high school since 1985, and the white facade makes a striking sight. It’s closed to the public, and uniformed cadets on patrol will prevent you from taking photographs close up. Heybeliada Iskele.

Hagios Nikolaos Church. Dominating the village’s main square, this Greek Orthodox church, dedicated to St. Nikolaos, patron saint of mariners, celebrated 150 years in 2007. It’s usually locked except during Sunday services, attended by around 30 locals. The interior is adorned with gold, chandeliers, and frescoes. Opposite, in the square, are several bicycle hire shops. If you prefer to travel by phaeton, head back to rent one by the ferry pier. Belediye Meydanı, Ayyıldız Cad. Service: Sun 9–11am.

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6 The Best Dining

Terry Richardson FrommerMedia ePub

The terrace at Mikla is one of Istanbul’s most romantic settings.

Dining Best Bets

The upscale Agatha restaurant.

Best Contemporary Turkish

Yeni Lokanta 66 Kumbaracı Yokuu (p 109)

Best Asian-Side Dining

Çiya 43, 44, and 48B Günelibahçe Sok (p 102)

Best for a Taste of the Caucasus

Fıccın 13/1 Kallavi Sok (p 103)

Best Homely Atmosphere

Datlı Maya 59/A Türkgücü Cad (p 102)

Best Old City View

Surplus 54 Ragıp Gümü Pala Cad (p 108)

Best Family-Run Meyhane

Sofyalı 9 9 Sofyalı Sok (p 107)

Best Cozy Home-Cooking

Hala 26 Çukurlu Çeme Sok (p 103)

Best Sultanahmet Seafood

Balıkçı Sabahattin 1 Cankurtaran Cad (p 101)

Best Value Tünel Meal

Lokanta Helvetia 12 General Yazgan Sok (p 104)

Best Dramatic Views

Topaz 50 Inönü Cad (p 108)

Best for Liver Lovers

Canım Cierim 162 Istiklal Cad (p 102)

Best Istanbul Photographs

Kafe Ara 8 Tosbaa Sok, off Yeniçarı Cad (p 104)

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5 The Best of the Outdoors

Terry Richardson FrommerMedia ePub

Escape city bustle in peaceful Gülhane Park.

Gülhane Park

Nestled in the original first courtyard of Topkapı Palace, Istanbul’s oldest park is also, at 66 hectares (163 acres), the city center’s largest. Used in Byzantine times as a barracks and a military warehouse, it became the sultans’ imperial garden and an important public meeting place. Today it’s a respite from the city, a locals’ favorite for weekend strolls and picnics. START: Tram to Gülhane.

Istanbul Islam Bilim ve Teknoloji Tarihi Müzesi (Istanbul Museum of the History of Science & Technology in Islam). This fascinating museum is located in the northwest corner of the park, right up against the late-15th-century crenellated walls that ringed the Topkapı Palace complex. Housed in former Ottoman imperial stable buildings, it was opened in 2008 by Turkish historian Fuat Sezgin. The museum tells the story of Islamic scientists and astrologers from the 9th to 16th centuries. With instruments and other objects recreated by a German university, it demonstrates how these great men were at the forefront of early intellectual discoveries. Exhibits cover the first astrological instruments in the Islamic world, dating back to the 9th century, and include spherical astrolabes, the precursors to the sextants that were used to measure celestial bodies and as navigation aids. At the main entrance, don’t miss the re-creation of a globe made by 14th-century Caliph al-Ma’mun, with Baghdad at the center of the known world. Learn about the first pioneers of calculus (perhaps bringing back memories of school math exams) and even the math of music, where the 13th century saw divisions of the octave into 17 unequal degrees. There’s even a 14th-century distillation apparatus for making rose-petal extract.  1 hr. Gülhane Park.  0212/528-8065. www.ibttm.org/ENG. Admission 10 TL, free for kids 6 and under. Wed–Mon, 9am–5pm. Tram: Gülhane.

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Stephen Keeling (19)
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7 side trips from savannah

Stephen Keeling FrommerMedia ePub

7

side trips from savannah

Savannah makes an excellent base for journeys further along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, returning to your lodging after local excursions, or transferring from the city to nearby points of interest.

To the north lies the quaint Southern town of Beaufort and Hilton Head Island, both part of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, where much of the romance, beauty, and graciousness of the Old South survives. Broad white-sand beaches are warmed by the Gulf Stream and fringed with palm trees and rolling dunes. Graceful sea oats, anchoring the beaches, wave in the wind. The subtropical climate makes all this beauty the ideal setting for golf and for some of the Southeast’s finest saltwater fishing.

To the south, Georgia’s barrier islands extend along the Atlantic coast from Ossabaw Island near Savannah all the way down to Cumberland Island, near Florida. Although some have been developed, others, such as Cumberland and Little St. Simons, still linger in the 19th century. Some are accessible only by boat. This 150-mile-long stretch of coast is semitropical and richly historic. The scenic Georgia portion of U.S. 17 goes past broad sandy beaches, creeks and rivers, and the ruins of antebellum plantations. The major highlights are the “Golden Isles”—principally Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and St. Simons Island.

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2 Suggested Itineraries

Stephen Keeling FrommerMedia ePub

2

Suggested Itineraries

The itineraries that follow take you to some of our favorite places along the enticing coastline between Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine. The pace may be a bit breathless for some visitors, so skip a stop occasionally to have some chill-out time—after all, you’re on vacation. Of course, you can also use any of these itineraries as a jumping-off point to develop your own custom-made adventure.

If your time is limited, you may want to concentrate on the main attractions, described in “Charleston, Savannah & St. Augustine in 1 Week” tour. If you’ve been to these cities before, and you have more time, the 2-week itinerary takes in more of the surrounding coastline, often equally fascinating, and littered with old plantations, fine beaches, and historic towns. Families might want to consider the “Charleston, Savannah & St. Augustine for Families” tour.

Charleston, Savannah & St. Augustine in 1 Week

Though you could spend months here and still not absorb everything the region has to offer, 1 week of very focused travel will give you a decent taster of the historic and culinary charms of Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine. Only 275 miles separate Charleston in South Carolina with St. Augustine in Florida, a distance covered efficiently and relatively quickly by car thanks to I-95 (an interstate that conveniently skirts Savannah about half way along). This weeklong itinerary treads a mix of familiar and less-visited highlights.

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4 ROME

Stephen Keeling FrommerMedia ePub

4

Rome

By Melanie Renzulli

Once it ruled the Western World, and even the partial, scattered ruins of that awesome empire are today among the most overpowering sights on earth. To walk the Roman Forum, to view the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Appian Way—these are among the most memorable, instructive, and humbling experiences in all of travel.

Equally thrilling are the sights of Christian Rome, which speak to the long and complex domination by this city of one of the world’s major religions. Yet it’s important to remember that Rome is not just a place of the past, but one that lives and breathes and buzzes with Vespas in the here and now.

As a visitor to Rome, you will be constantly reminded of this extraordinary history. Take the time to get away from the tourist masses to explore the intimate piazzas and lesser basilicas in the backstreets of Trastevere and the centro storico. Indulge in gastronomic pursuits and stuff your days with caffès, pizza, wine, and gelato. Have a picnic in Villa Borghese, take a vigorous walk along the Gianicolo, or nap in the grass against a fallen granite column at the Baths of Caracalla. Rome is so compact that without even planning too much, you’ll end up enjoying both its monuments and its simpler pleasures.

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10 MILAN, PIEDMONT & THE LAKES

Stephen Brewer FrommerMedia ePub

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

Lombardy and Piedmont are the powerhouses of northern Italy, thanks to the sprawling but charming cities of Milan and Turin, thriving on the industries that drive these regions forward. Agriculture plays its part here, from the rice fields of the eastern Lombardy plains to the hilly vineyards and hazelnut groves of Piedmont. Then there’s the beauty of the lakes between Milan and the Alps, a source of inspiration for writers and artists over the centuries. Many of the lakes are within an hour or so of the city, making them a favorite destination for Milanese and tourists alike.

Milan (Milano)

552km (342 miles) NW of Rome, 288km (179 miles) NW of Florence, 257km (159 miles W of Venice) 140km (87 miles) NE of Turin, 142km (88 miles) N of Genoa

Milan—or Milano, as the Italians say it—is elegant, chaotic, and utterly beguiling. Traffic chokes the streets, and it can be bitterly cold in winter and stiflingly hot in summer, yet its architecture is majestic and the robust Northern Italian cuisine warming. It’s a world-class stop on the international fashion stage, the banking capital of Italy, and a wealthy city of glamorous people and stylish shopping streets.

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14 THE BEST OF BASILICATA & PUGLIA

Stephen Brewer FrommerMedia ePub

Puglia is known for its coned-roofed houses, called trulli.

South of Naples, the Mezzogiorno begins in earnest. The name literally means “midday” and evokes images of rugged, sun-baked landscapes. But that doesn’t begin to describe the riches you’ll discover down here in the instep and heel of the Italian boot, or, officially, Basilicata and Puglia. Two of Italy’s great architectural marvels are down here, the sassi cave dwellings in Matera and the trulli, those fairy-tale stone houses with cone-shaped roofs that only exist in Alberobello and the surrounding Valle d’Itria. Lecce, meanwhile, is city of honey colored stone, chiseled into intricate baroque facades.

Outside these towns and cities, the landscapes are a sweep of groves, orchards, vineyards, and fields, often edged by beaches. It’s estimated that more than six million olive trees carpet the southeast, yielding almost half the country’s oil production, and almost any view is likely to take in gnarled trunks growing out of red earth. Where there’s good olive oil, there’s good wine and good food. The region’s simple but delicious cucina povera (peasant cooking) will nicely fuel your explorations—and you’ll never think of a fava bean with indifference again.

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Stephen Brewer (100)
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Medium 9781628870640

2. GERMANY ITINERARIES

Donald Olson FrommerMedia ePub

2

GERMANY ITINERARIES

Wondering where to go in Germany? That, of course, depends on what you want to see and do. But here are some ideas—some show off the highlights, others focus on a few regions, others cater to some special interests, whether that’s tasting wine or showing the kids medieval castles.

GERMAN HIGHLIGHTS IN 1 WEEK

This 7-day tour begins in Munich and ends in Berlin, showing off the best of southern and northern Germany and introducing the country’s two greatest cities, two of King Ludwig II’s castles, and a mighty river, the Rhine, as it flows past the lively city of Cologne. Our preferred mode of transport is train, a comfortable and efficient way to get anywhere you want to go in Germany.

Day 1: Munich

        Spend your first day in marvelous Munich (see chapter 6). Head first for Marienplatz, the city’s main square. You can go up to the top of the Rathaus tower for a bird’s-eye view, watch the Glockenspiel, and visit the nearby Frauenkirche, Munich’s largest church. Then walk over to the adjacent Viktualienmarkt, one of the greatest food markets in Europe. Browse around and find a place for lunch from among the dozens of possibilities in the area. Afterward, make your way to the Asamkirche for a glimpse of the rococo ornamentation for which southern Germany is famous. In the afternoon, choose a museum: If you’re an art lover, you may want to see the priceless collection of old masters at the Alte Pinakothek; if you’re interested in science and technology, make your way to the famous Deutsches Museum. If you’re in the mood for oom-pah-pah, have dinner at the fun-loving Hofbräuhaus am Platzl. Munich is one of Germany’s top cultural capitals, so you may want to end your evening at a concert or the opera.

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11 Spain

Arthur Frommer FrommerMedia ePub

Cafes in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor.

I t’s an awkward adage, but it’s often said that Europe brings to you only what you bring to it. If you arrive in Spain without some prior knowledge of its turbulent history—in other words, if you have failed first to read deeply about its unusual past, you will fail to enjoy the best rewards of travel. You will not thrill to the Spanish experience.

Why is that history so unusual, requiring study? Well, would you believe that for seven hundred years, Spain was a Muslim nation occupied by Moorish armies who left distinctive structures in their wake? Would you ever have understood that Spain’s awesome power permitted it, in the 1500s, to subjugate such faraway nations as Belgium, The Netherlands and the Philippines? Would you have fully understood how the people of Spain so colonized vast areas of the world that today some 500 million people around the world speak Spanish (the world’s second most common language)? Would you have understood how Spain was a violent testing ground for the later military conquests of Adolf Hitler, leaving such relics as a cathedral in honor of Fascist soldiers and Picasso’s searing mural of Guernica, both on display at locations outside of and within Madrid?

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8 Austria

Arthur Frommer FrommerMedia ePub

The Salzburg skyline with Hohensalzburg fortress.

A considerable part of my Army service was spent in a mountain village of Bavaria, just a half-hour by car from the Austrian border. And though I spent the weekdays teaching covert intelligence at a secretive military school, I devoted many weekends to forays into the picturesque and nearby Austrian city of Innsbruck, which resembled—to an uncanny extent—the Sound of Music town of Salzburg. I was constantly surrounded by mountains, and it was thrilling to be there.

In fact, nearly three-quarters of the terrain of Austria consists of mountains—it lies squarely in the Alps. As you travel through it, you are only occasionally in flat lands less than 500 meters high. And although those infrequent “plateaus” are occasionally devoted to industries and commerce, the general picture you receive is that of a tourist’s paradise. Your memories are of villages occupied by country folk wearing dirndls if they are women and lederhosen (short pants) if they are men, all of them living in the most picturesque, decorated, and colorfully painted alpine-style buildings clustered around the high and narrow pointed spire of a church. Tourism is immensely important in Austria, second only to more general forms of commerce. A huge number of Europeans come here for skiing in the winter and mountain hiking in the warmer months.

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9 THE SPORADES

Stephen Brewer FrommerMedia ePub

9

The Sporades

As everyone knows, this archipelago of 24 islands came to be when a god threw stones randomly in the sea. (You did know that, didn’t you?) True or not, it’s a poetical way to describe these widely scattered little outcroppings across the Aegean Sea, off the northeast coast of the mainland. While most of the islets are uninhabited, four islands have captured attention since ancient times: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, and Skyros. Skiathos has the bounty of beaches—among them Lalaria, where sea cliffs amplify a soft incessant rumble of white marble stones rolling in the surf, and Koukounaries, where a perfect crescent is backed by sandy-floored pine groves. Skopelos has so many churches it’s said that islanders count churches, not sheep, to induce sleep, and its capital, Skopelos Town, is one of the most appealing towns in Greece. You’ll want to wake up early to explore its rugged coastline and mountainous interior. Forested Alonissos, surrounded by pristine waters, is not only a pleasant place to get away from it all but is also the gateway to the National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades. On Skyros, hilltop Hora, clinging to a rock high above the coastal plain, is so spectacular that it alone makes the effort to reach the remote island worthwhile. Indeed, all of this rugged island seems like something out of this world, adrift on its own away from the other Sporades and the rest of Greece.

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1 THE BEST OF ATHENS & THE GREEK ISLANDS

Stephen Brewer FrommerMedia ePub

1

The Best of Athens & the Greek Islands

The Acropolis, the theater at Epidaurus, the palace at Knossos—Greece’s ancient wonders are legendary, enough in themselves to lure you to Athens and environs. Equally compelling is all that blue sky, that warm blue sea, and natural beauty that at times can seem almost mystical, as it does when looking into Santorini’s caldera. But there’s also so much else: The beaches, some of the world’s most hedonistic places to stay, simple tavernas where a meal on the terrace can seem like the feast of a lifetime. Just the experience of sitting, watching, and taking it all in can be profound. To help you enjoy your time in Greece to the fullest, here’s what we consider to be the best of the best.

The best greek travel experiences

Enjoy a taverna meal under the stars: You can experience this pleasure anywhere in Greece, of course—maybe on an island with the sea in view, or in the countryside, with the scent of pine in the air, or even in busy, noisy Athens. The food is usually simple but fresh and delicious, the pace is almost always easygoing, and the spectacle of life buzzing around you is endlessly entertaining, like being in the theater. See “Where to Eat” sections throughout chapters 4 through 9.

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