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Global Travel
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6th Apr, 2009 | Source :

Where to start?

That's the question that besets most travelers, as they decide which part of the world to explore next. With a string of travel programmes (and channels!) on various television networks, an array of guidebooks, and various magazine titles all dedicated to showcasing the worlds most attractive attractions and the destinations you are destined to discover, it's a good thing air travel is getting cheaper!

'Doing Europe' used to be the recourse of the gap-year student, but now, there are so many varieties of seeing this incredible continent. The rail network is a wonderful way of enjoying the view, and they also offer accommodation on 'night-trains' if you are looking to save on hotels, or if you are limited on time, this can solve your scheduling headaches. For travelers on a tighter budget, there are many tour organizers that operate bus trips that cover an array of journeys. Some include entire circuits that take in dozens of countries and offer you the chance to sample the unique flavours, history, and heritage that make these nations and their cities such popular destinations.

No trip to Europe would be complete without seeing Paris. There is just something about the place! Scandinavia is an increasingly popular part of the world, partly due to its friendly people, but also because, due to high tax rates, their public services and quality of living are amongst the best in the world. Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm are well worth adding to the itinerary. At times, walking at night, it's hard to believe so many people really do live there, due to the fairytale architecture and the impressively clean streets.

Tourism is also beginning to boom behind the former Iron Curtain. Places such as Warsaw, Budapest, Krakow, and Ljubjana offer a much more interesting mix than the 'old favourites' to the discerning traveler, and post-wall Berlin is quite probably the most exciting and interesting city on Earth. You havn't truly appreciated or understood the Cold War or the ramifications of partitional living, until you've been on a walking tour of this thriving city. Berlin stands proudly, fighting its way back to international conscious, with its smiling, joyful citizens acting as superb ambassadors, to help them on their way. Then, for sheer splendour, it is difficult to match Vienna, which (like many Central European countries) can surprise you with its hot climate during summer months.

Italy is not the sort of place you should visit, you should 'live it'! Sure, you can join the tour party round the Coliseum in Rome, and with such a stunningly historical place you will need some guidance to bring the city to life. However, the rest of the country is best sampled at an Italians pace. And let's just say that doesn't match a Manhattanites! Sit by the street with a cappucino, watching the fabulously dressed locals walk by. Sorry that should read 'strut by'. And it would be a terrible waste not to rent a Tuscan villa while there, and enjoy the sweet taste of local wine and various delicacies.

And that's not to mention the South of France, Spain, Portugal, or any of the other countries that are benefiting from the ongoing surge in traveling amongst Europeans and non-Europeans alike, such as The Czech Republic and Croatia.

Africa, a much vaster continent with fewer countries, represents an altogether different type of holiday, but with no less attraction. From the fishing villages on the Northern tip of Morocco (including, of course legendary Casablanca), down to the jaw-droppingly incredible Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, there is something for everyone. Although you will need to research and use a trusted tour company, Africa is a beautiful country, which can present you with irresistible foods, unbeatable wildlife and a rich blend of friendly faces. The development of South Africa in particular will be interesting over the next few years as vast investments will be made before the eyes of the world fall on the country as it hosts the next Soccer World Cup in 2010.

When Newsweek, or other magazines run their 'best cities to live in' surveys each year, the same old places always come out on top. And the majority of those same old cities have one thing in common...they are in Australia.

Australia and New Zealand offer the attractive double of relatively (when compared the Western Europe and North America) cheap goods and services, yet incredibly high standard of living. New Zealand has been sold to most of us already with its use in various feature films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Who wouldn't want to explore there? As for Australia, despite well over 95% of the country being un-inhabitable, the remaining few areas more than make up for it, with the likes of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth proving universally attractive. What's the secret to Australia's popularity? The warmth and welcoming nature of the people (Fact: There is not an empty beer fridge in the whole of the country. Well, not in my experience)?; The outdoor lifestyle, epitomized with their impressive sporting record (despite boasting a smaller population than the number of people living in Greater London)?; The influences from such a diverse number of peoples and backgrounds?: Yes, yes and yes. There are plenty more reasons to head Down Under, so, as Aussies will tell you, "Come And Say G'day"!

The biggest growth continent for travel is indisputably Asia. As Beijing warms up for the Olympics in 2008, the skyline there is changing almost as rapidly as the political climate. Visitors are treated not only to the tallest and most modern skyscrapers, but a rich, interesting history, with sights such as The Great Wall and Tianenmen Square. The rest of China is also catching up, with Shanghai being labeled 'the next Hong Kong'. Talking of which, Oasis Air are pioneering the world's first low cost-long haul flights through Hong Kong, which will undoubtedly result in a surge in visitors to the always popular island.

As you travel through the region, the list is impressive. Partake in a Tea Ceremony in Japan, explore the jungles and surprisingly nice beaches in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar as they begin to open to the public, then you have the 'big 4' of South-East Asia: Malaysia, Bali, Singapore, and Thailand. If its beaches you are after, these boast literally hundreds that are amongst the world's best. Plus, with jungles, mountains, rivers and rainforests, between these 4, you can experience a multitude of different, exciting, yet relaxing getaways in places that can only be described as 'paradise'. And if you have the time, then using the likes of Air Asia means you can hop between these countries for peanuts too.

Talking of low cost, high culture destinations, Latin America is another must-see. Whether climbing Machu Pichu, or partying in Rio or Buenos Aires, you know you're in for a good time in the hottest continent (in more ways than one) on Earth. South America promises even mightier rivers, greater rainforests and larger waterfalls than Asia. And the broad smiles on the people, especially in Brazil (another booming destination), are reflected in their 3 biggest passions, all beginning with S: Spicy foods, Samba and Soccer. And for these passions and in fact all aspects of Latin living: the sexier the better.

There is no excuse not to travel anymore. Tourism is not solely for retirees on a cruise or teenagers with back-packs. The treasures of the world are becoming showcased for a wider audience and it would be a crime not to explore newly discovered idyllic paradises or witness the changing historical and political climate in the world's most fascinating cities.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your new suitcase and start packing!



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