World tour: A global itinerary for falling in love with our planet
It only takes a moment to fall in love with the world. For some it hits immediately with the feeling of lift on that first flight. For others, it’s an otherwise meaningless moment: crossing that thousand-year-old bridge, sipping that teeny cup of espresso. Others demand a more hard-earned memory: the first few seconds on the summit of that faraway mountain, perhaps. It can happen whenever, wherever, however — the moment of coup de foudre, of falling in love with the world.
There’s no one, two, or three ways to do it, but the below itinerary will make any traveler’s heart pound in near-romantic anticipation. The exciting, nerve-wracking rush that takes weeks to fully subside — you know the feeling. And even if you’ve fallen in love before, why not one more time?
The experience: Table Mountain’s biodiversity is off the charts. Take it all in by chilling right on its slopes in the Kirstenbosch Gardens, or view it from above on the canopy walkway that seems to float above the trees.
The taste: The Gatsby. It’s essentially a sub/hoagie/deli sandwich with French fries and fixings like steak, cheese, and sometimes egg. Another local sandwich twist is bunny chow, a loaf of white bread hollowed out and stuffed to the brim with curry.
The snapshot: Catch Table Mountain from Blouberg’s Big Bay at sunset (the kite fliers only make it better). Otherwise, Cape Point is widely regarded as one of the most scenic promontories (that’s fancy talk for “big jutting rock”) in the world — and there’s a funicular to the top.
The experience: After you’ve scouted out the Duomo, felt the old medieval city walls, and crossed the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), head to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see the giant Statue of David in person.
The taste: Chianti originated just south of here, meaning you should get your taste buds around a glass of Sassicaia or Ornellaia, Chiantis of the “Super Tuscan” red variety.
The snapshot: If you’re looking at a postcard panorama over the city, it was probably taken from Piazzale Michelangelo. Judging by the crowds here, that’s hardly a secret — if the swarm gets too much, head over to San Miniato al Monte instead. It’s a five-minute walk and has a similarly awesome vista.
The experience: You could see Hoàn Kiếm Lake or the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, but really, you’ll get just as good a taste of the country if you find a buzzing cafe early in the morning, grab a small plastic stool, and sidle up to a cà phê sữa đá. Bonus points if you ask a local to play the winner of their chess game.
The taste: You’re probably familiar with phở, and the next natural upgrade is bún chả. It was good enough for Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain on their coordinated visit, for whatever that’s worth (we’d say plenty).
The snapshot: A couple hours east of Hanoi lies Halong Bay, the stuff of your Avatar dreams. To get that drone-level shot, head to Mount Pho Tsi and then make the trek up Poem Mountain.
The experience: Find somewhere to practice your tango. Locals call these places milongas, and they run into the wee hours of the morning.
The taste: Meat. You’ll run across parrillas — steakhouses — on every corner. Once you’re here (don’t show up before 10pm), you can’t mess it up. Get whatever you want (fear not the organ meats!), and pair it with a glass of Malbec.
The snapshot: The 14th floor of the Galería Güemes Lookout Tower gets you 360-degree views above the city. On a clear day, you’ll see all the way to Uruguay.
The experience: The Speicherstadt is one of few areas that escaped the dozens of air raids on Hamburg during WWII, making it one of the oldest parts of the city. It’s the old Warehouse District and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, in addition to a hub of museums, shops, and restaurants.
The taste: Franzbrötchen. It’s basically North Germany’s take on the croissant, and you won’t find it anywhere else but around Hamburg.
The snapshot: Rote Flora, a graffiti-covered theatre in the neighborhood of Sternschanze, makes a killer backdrop. Sternschanze is the hip, leftwing-activist side of the city (which, lest we forget, is Germany’s second-largest), full of music venues, flea markets, eclectic food stalls, and damn good coffee.
The experience: Amman’s highest hill, Jebel al-Qala’a, has Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad ruins. Get up here, stroll around, and then book it down to the King Hussein Mosque and the next-door Souk Al-Sukar. This is literally a sugar market, and the smells, people-watching, and backdrops are suh-weet.
The taste: Falafel. Fattet hummus. Moutabel. Lahmacun. Manakish. Maqluba. Whether you’ve had none or all of these dishes, if you haven’t tried them in Amman, you haven’t tried them.
The snapshot: Make the short drive north of the city to the Greco-Roman ruins of Jerash, and get a shot of yourself walking the column-lined thoroughfare.
The experience: The Shitennoji Temple is one of the oldest in the country. Established in 593, it’s been rebuilt several times over the centuries, but records were meticulous and the current details match the originals. You can wander the grounds (and the gardens!) for free.
The taste: Osaka is the “nation’s kitchen.” Everything Japanese will be primo here, but definitely try yakiniku and horumon — Japanese barbecue — while you’re in the city. You’ll likely get whatever you ordered (go for the Matsusaka beef) over actual charcoals.
The snapshot: Japan sure does love its Ferris wheels. There are several in Osaka, but the best known is arguably the Hep Five wheel. Go at night if you can!
The experience: Definitely spend some time in the city (catching Bryggen at night — the old merchant houses along the water — is spectacular), but then get out into the fjords. There’s a ferry that runs from Bergen to Flåm all along the Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest.
The taste: Head to the Fisketorget mathallen, the fish market and food hall, in the city center. Gape at the glass cases, ask the vendors questions, and then sit down at one of the restaurants and expect an extraordinary seafood experience.
The snapshot: Barely five minutes from the harbor — and therefore the heart of the city — you can start the climb up to Mt. Fløyen. You’ll wind up and down the partly residential switchbacks until you come out on top, overlooking the city and the water. It’s downright stunning.
The experience: Marrakesh’s medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city has the largest souk, or market, in Morocco. You won’t know how much you need a Berber rug until you get there.
The taste: If you’re jonesing for an experience, sit down to a bowl of snail soup (we’re told it’s quite healthy and delicious). Otherwise, grab a flaky slice of b’stilla — the savory, paper-thin pie is traditionally made with pigeon, but nowadays you’ll find varieties featuring chicken and fish.
The snapshot: The souks, mosques, and medinas (and, honestly, just about any building) make for great photo opps, but a particularly beautiful scene can be found at Ben Youssef Madrasa, once a place for learning Islamic scripture and law, now open to the public.
The experience: Spend time in Old Quebec, riding the funicular to and from Lower Town and Quartier Petit Champlain, the continent’s oldest shopping district. Here lies the ultimate match-up: willpower vs. souvenir.
The taste: Make a reservation for tea or breakfast at Château Frontenac, which is essentially Quebec’s castle. Chefs at the Chateau source some ingredients as locally as you can get — 18 floors up in their rooftop garden. Try the honey!
The snapshot: For that Old Europe street feel, head to Rue du Sault-au-Matelot, Rue du Petit-Champlain, or Rue Couillard, and get to snapping.
The experience: There are a million things to do in Sydney, but locals often go to the super-nearby Blue Mountains National Park to get their greenery fix.
The taste: Pie. Not fruit pie — the kind with mash and mushy peas. It’s a local icon, and a good place to set the GPS to is Harry’s Cafe de Wheels (the one in Woolloomooloo is the original).
The snapshot: Get just about anywhere on the Sydney Harbour, and set your camera somewhere between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. There’s no bad angle with a skyline like this.