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Nile Valley: Beni Suef to Qena

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

If you’re in a hurry to reach the treasures and pleasures of the south, it is easy to dismiss this first segment of Upper Egypt between Cairo and Luxor. But the less touristed parts of the country almost always repay the effort of a visit.

Much of this part of the valley is less developed than the other valleys – you will see farmers still working by hand – but people here also have to grapple with the issues of modernity, with water and electricity shortages, and since the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood, with sectarian tension and security issues.

However much a backwater this region might seem, it played a key role in Egypt’s destiny as its many archaeological sites bear witness – from the lavishly painted tombs of the early provincial rulers at Beni Hasan to the remains of the doomed city of Akhetaten, where Tutankhamun was brought up, and the Pharaonic-inspired monasteries of the early Christian period.

AApr Sham el Nessim, the spring festival, is celebrated in style in the region.

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Medium 9781743601181

The Pampas & the Atlantic Coast

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

There's Buenos Aires, and then there's the province of Buenos Aires. Home to more than a third of the country's population, this is the nation's economic powerhouse: these fertile grasslands financed Argentina’s turn-of-the-century golden age and still produce most of the country's famous beef.

While the region isn't exactly packed with tourist attractions, simple pleasures and traditional gaucho culture are waiting to be discovered. Charming San Antonio de Areco offers a glimpse of Argentina's real-life cowboys in action, while the picturesque hills around Tandil are lovely for hiking and feasting on locally produced picadas (shared appetizer plates). Beach towns on the Atlantic coast provide a breezy escape from the summer heat.

If you have a few days to spare, check into one of the region’s historic estancias (ranches), where you can ride a criollo horse under the huge sky – and experience the faded elegance of Argentina’s past for yourself.

AJan–Feb Summer brings sunny weather and big crowds to the beach.

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Medium 9781741795240

Real Cowboys Wear Polka Dots

Simon Winchester Lonely Planet ePub

Judy Tierney took a year-long sabbatical from corporate America to travel through Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Her current work as a freelance consultant allows her the flexibility to continue to explore and write about her adventures. Her work has appeared in Backpacker magazine, the Dallas Morning News, the Denver Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and on www.travelerstales.com. A Texas native, she now resides in San Francisco.

‘I reckon we oughta get a move on’, Jeff said, finishing the last few bites of his three-alarm tacos – a mixture of scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, jalapenos and chipotle sauce wrapped in flour tortillas. Back at home in San Francisco Jeff started the day with sourdough toast and jam, but he casually wiped his eyes and nose with a napkin as if he were used to eating peppers for breakfast. He emptied his glass of water in one big gulp and then reached across the table for mine.

As we left Austin’s Magnolia Café, Jeff waved at our bighaired, blonde waitress.

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Medium 9781743213889

Whitsunday Coast

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

Speckling the calm waters of the Coral Sea, the superlative Whitsunday Islands are one of Australia’s best-known natural attractions. Opal-jade waters and pure-white beaches fringe the forested isles; around them, tropical fish swarm through the world’s largest coral garden in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The best way to visit the islands is by sailing boat; however you visit, this is not a budget destination.. The gateway to the islands, Airlie Beach, is a backpacker hub with a parade of tanned faces zinging between boats, beaches and nightclubs. This is as close to the islands as some budget travellers will get.

South of Airlie, Mackay is a typical coastal Queensland town with palm-lined streets framed by a jumble of art deco buildings. It's a handy base for trips to Eungella National Park – a lush hinterland oasis where platypuses cavort in the wild.

AJun–Oct The perfect time to enjoy sunny skies, calm days, mild weather and stinger-free seas.

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Medium 9781742205755

Bagan & Central Myanmar

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

Bagan & Central Myanmar

This heartland of the Bamar people has been the location of three former Burmese capitals – Bagan, Pyay and Taungoo – as well as the latest surreal one, Nay Pyi Taw. Of this quartet, it’s Bagan with its wondrous vista of pagodas and stupas, many dating back to the 12th century, that’s the star attraction. The tallest and most majestic of Bagan’s temples, built of brick, decorated inside with beautiful frescos and topped with gilded hti pinnacles, mix Hindu and buddhist images with locally brewed nat (spirits) in nooks and crannies.

Most visitors fly directly to Bagan, but central Myanmar also provides scenic rewards for adventurous travellers. It may be known as the ‘dry zone’, but the region is far from a desert. Beside highways and rickety train tracks amble ox carts through rice fields and rolling plains, all rimmed by the Shan Mountains to the east and the snaking Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River to the west, creating scenes that hark back centuries.

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