1. Johannesburg, South Africa
Exploring the past with present South Africa is an adventure in greenery, off beaten paths and nature, mixed with modern transport, and improved infrastructure. A trip to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in the warm sunlight will certainly rejuvenate you. Eating some classic Zulu cuisine at the Lesedi Cultural Village while watching traditional dance will engulf you in some of the best entertainment this massive city has to offer. Off the beaten path: Take a trip to Soweto Kliptown Youth Centre. It is a centre run by the youth for the youth of Kliptown.
2. Melbourne, Australia
Sort of lost in the more popular Sydney or Perth, Melbourne is a gem. From the bathing houses at Brighton Beach, to the famous Hosier Lane, Melbourne is a clash of 1850’s architecture and modern urban décor. It isn’t uncommon to see intentional graffiti on old restored buildings. It is the way modern Melbourne is making its mark and standing out. Off the beaten path: The Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne will not disappoint you in a quest for colour if you are fortunate enough to be there in autumn. In addition to being a national park, the area is also dotted with manicured gardens.
3. Lima, Peru
The ancient ruins and culture draw you in. Inca ruins surround a lot of the best hiking trails, and the ancient Chan Chan civilization is a must see. The people are friendly and very talented. Many have never left their villages and live a life of tradition passed on by previous generations. The handicrafts and textiles are world famous (Worry Dolls, anyone?), and by purchasing them you are helping them keep these traditions alive. Bonus? You are also supporting their immediate and extended family. Off the beaten path: Pucusana fishing village. Only 45 minutes from Lima, there is a packed fish market and small boat tours. You may see penguins and sea lions and lots of local birds.
4. Vienna, Austria
Take a trip to the Alps and visit the Imperial Palaces. Austria was once a dynasty, and is proud of its history. Its citizens are cool, educated and sophisticated. And schnitzel? They have the best. Vienna lives up to its romantic image with its Baroque construction. It’s shabby coffee houses offer a chic view into the incorporation of old world and forward-thinking consumerism. It’s a place you can be lazy and one of the few places where book reading is embraced. Off the beaten path: Hundertwasser Haus is a creation that will take you back to Hansel and Gretel. It is a very vibrant apartment building and some residents will gladly allow you in for a sneak peek.
5. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is the business hub of South Korea. Its modern skyscrapers and addiction to neon lights makes it a busy, buzzing place. The Seoul Metro is one of the best subway systems in the world. A visit to Hemlagat will fill your belly and a trip to Bukhansan National Park will allow you to see the whole city. Hongik University Street will suck you in with its young and interesting culture. Hang out in the coffee shops or shop or club hop. It’s all right there. No trip would be complete without a stop at the Olympic Park, where the Summer Olympic Games were held in 1988. It is still amazingly maintained and full of stuff to see and do. A lot sporting events are still held there. Off the beaten path: Nameseong Market is a small market that doesn’t take long to explore, but it is great because of its intimacy and crampedness. It is an excellent place to barter and there is even a little stall that offers live turtles and eels that swim about.
6. London, England
A long time favorite, England merges royal with commoner. A vague sense of snobbery awaits you, but you will soon understand why. Londoners are a proud people. Space is demand. It is crowded and noisy. But so much fun! A trip to see Big Ben and the Royal Palace are typical offerings. A short little walk into any alley and you will find tiny tea houses tucked away, lost among the bustle of the tourist scene. If you want to walk amongst the commoners, hop on any guided tour to see the Natural History Museum or the Palace of Westminster. Be amazed (or horrified) at Madame Tussauds wax museum. Of course the shopping is legendary, the food VERY British and the English Ale is amazing. Off the beaten path: Cutty Sark is a famous British clipper ship meant to transport tea to China. It is right near the Greenwich Market, and you can sample the best tea and biscuits London has to offer.
7. New York City, United States of America
Go to New York and you’ll immediately want to stay. A huge multi-cultural dream, people live in (relative) harmony in the hustle and bustle of this huge city. The taxis are cheap and plentiful, the subway is cheap, plentiful and can get you around very quickly. Listening to the New York accent never gets old. Get lost in Central Park or go see the Manhattan Skyline. Catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. A visit to Grand Central Terminal is always amazing. A walk to the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero Museum workshop really allows you to get personal with the recovery this city has had since the attacks. Catching a Broadway show is always a highlight. Sports buffs have no lack of teams to go see, as the NBA, NFL, NHL, all boast multiple teams here. Off the beaten path: Williamsburg is a small neighbourhood community made up of generations of Italian immigrants from Southern Italy. Sample some fab Italian desserts with a cappuccino. Or snack on some homemade gelato. Cafes galore and lots of food to fill your hungry tummy.
All photos provided by Shutterstock