We consulted with a travel expert regarding up-and-coming worldwide destinations. As founder of We Blog the World, an online luxury lifestyle website dedicated to transformative travel with more than one million followers, Renee Blodgett offered insights into a handful of top picks that touch on adventure, urban art and culture, oceans and islands.
Germany: A Tale Of Two Cities
In 2017, Germany ushers in the next 500 years as it marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation. Music is key as the nation at the heart of Europe looks to tomorrow. If you haven't been to Berlin since the 1989 fall of the wall, the transformation is nothing less than startling to the senses. Mighty cranes dot the Berlin skyline as the city re-builds and re-invents itself as a major cultural center. Eyes and ears are tuned in to Museum Island in the capital city's lively Mitte district where the beloved Berlin State Opera, an 18th century landmark, reopens after a seven-year restoration. Hop on a train for the 90-minute journey to handsome Hamburg, Germany's second-largest city. Wander across bridges over canals, along rows of restored red brick warehouses to reach Elbphilharmonie, the city's striking new concert hall and symbol of the city. Built atop a historic warehouse, it balances elements of design and purpose, with views and programming that have already outpaced visits to the legendary Neuschwanstein Castle. Ease of travel is boosted by Air Berlin's launch of new nonstop routes from San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as increased service from New York and Miami.
Surprisingly, Latin America is often overlooked, considering the advantages of the southern hemisphere's reverse seasonality and nearly zero jet lag for travelers from the USA. Outside of Buenos Aires, less is known about Argentina's diversity, natural beauty and ecotourism. Outdoor enthusiasts will be blown away by majestic Andes skiing in June through October, plus mountain climbing, trekking, kayaking, 4x4 safari and hydro-speed adventure options. Journey to protected areas where you can see wildlife and birdlife in their natural environments. Immerse yourself by learning how to herd cattle and ride across the Argentinian plains, combine BBQ or empanadas cooking classes with Spanish lessons, attend a tango dance class, or go sports fishing in freshwater streams and rivers. Experience a national park, greatly varied in terrain from the north to the south, with jungles, deserts, lakes, and forests. For a detour worth the effort, don't miss Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian border, the world's largest waterfalls system. Argentina offers so many diverse choices, you could take several trips and still be aching for more.
Philippines: Tropical Paradise
Cebu Province is a tropical paradise that combines pristine beaches, cultural attractions, plus the best mangoes in the world. Unlike so many other islands that have become more built up and overcrowded, Cebu Island and its 150-plus surrounding islands haven't lost their magic at all. Pack hiking boots and bathing suits to explore Olango Island's Wildlife Sanctuary and on to the untouched volcanic Camotes with their abundant palm-lined beaches. See the crystal clear turquoise waters of Bantayan and the secluded bays of Malapascua and Mactan, where exquisite diving earns it the nickname "Diving Mecca of the South." There's also a sunken island off the west coast of Cebu, which makes a great bucket list item for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Not a water baby? Cebu has lively markets, bars, and eateries as well as many cultural sites, monuments, basilicas, temples, and museums.
Looking for something more remote? Madagascar is on the tip of everyone's tongue at blogger conventions and travel trade showcases. It's one of those untouched gems, like Mozambique was 15 years ago and Cuba was less than 10 years ago. For travelers who want to experience adventure, take a break from more traditional destinations. And if you feel comfortable with exploring the unknown, Madagascar is a viable off-the-beaten path choice brimming with natural beauty. Situated off the eastern coast of Africa, the island nation is comparable to the size of France but with 3,000 miles of coastline. Imagine: Five percent of all known animal and plant species on earth can only be found on Madagascar. If you're into hiking through astonishing natural environment, you'll find plenty of diverse terrain, taking you from rainforest to desert within 200 miles. See sandstone formations in Isalo National Park, the geysers of Analavory, and rare, ancient trees lining a dirt road known as Avenue of the Baobabs in the Menabe region.
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