Ask anybody to name five places you must visit and you’re sure to get at least 20 answers — probably including Paris, which seems to make every list. But, I’m going to restrain myself here and give you my current top five:
1) Cape Town, South Africa:
When I travel, I try to live like a local. In the future, I may spend time in museums, but now I like to be out on the streets, in the neighborhoods, feeling local. I also love history, and Cape Town is a perfect place to experience South African history. Stop off at the V&A Waterfront, and take a self-guided walking tour of this working waterfront/shopping mall. Two other tours not to miss are Robben Island and the Township Tour. Both can be arranged through African Eagle Day Tours. A weekend in the winelands will cap off your visit.
2) Seoul, South Korea:
I’ve lived here! One of my friends has described Seoul as “Asia Lite.” She was referring to how easy it is to feel at home here. Street and subway signs are written in both Korean (Hangul) and English. The city is incredibly safe. (Big camera? No need to hide it!) And the Koreans are some of the friendliest people on earth. English is required in schools, so you may be stopped by teenagers practicing their language skills. Stay downtown, near the palaces and the Cheonggye Stream. You can explore on foot and see historical and modern sites. When you’re tired, stop off at a coffee shop (they’re on every block!) or go to Insadong and enjoy a traditional tea house.
3) Miyajima, Japan:
An island, this World Heritage site with its famous Otorii Gate, is well worth a visit. Here you can stay at a traditional Japanese inn, a ryokan. Iwaso is pricy but very enjoyable. The island is known for its oysters and for its beautiful views. Be sure to spend the night. Then, hop on a ferry and head to Hiroshima where you’ll want to visit the Peace Memorial Park.
4) Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA:
If you like art, Santa Fe is your town! With over 250 art galleries, there is something for everyone. When you’re finished viewing (or shopping?), stop off at one of the delicious restaurants in town. My favorite season in Santa Fe is autumn. After a hike or drive around the area, it’s wonderful to come back to a crackling pinon pine fire at your inn.
5) Paris, France:
This city is probably on most “must see” lists and for good reason. It has something to offer everyone! When I’m here, I stay near Rue des Ecole, in the Latin Quarter. This is a family neighborhood, near the large universities. Grab a seat at Café St. Victor and enjoy some great food and people watching. It’s also a short walk to the Seine and Notre Dame.