New Year, New Destinations

Viaduct at night; photo courtesy of Tourism Auckland

The City Traveler’s far-flung correspondents are already booking their 2011 destinations. Here’s a sneak peak at where they’re headed. What’s on your itinerary for the new year?

Auckland: Easy to Be Green

Why go to Auckland? As the biggest city in very green New Zealand, Auckland is a gateway to the Hauraki Gulf, where you can sail on an America’s Cup yacht; native rainforests  of the Waitakere Ranges that are ideal for trekking; boutique wineries producing Bordeaux-style reds, and wild, black sand beaches. The city’s Maori nickname –– Tamaki Makau Rau or  “the maiden with a 100 suitors” –– is a reminder of its multicultural heritage; Auckland today has the biggest concentration of Polynesian people in the world. –– Beth D’Addono

Cairo: Otherworldly Treasures

As a longtime aficionado of ancient Egyptian art and monuments, I’m finally getting to Cairo, a magical city on the Nile. I find it fascinating that the entire culture was based on the afterlife, rather than our fixation on being “in the moment.” The otherworldly gold and lapis treasures and mummies from royal tombs, the Mosque of Al-Azhar, the neighborhood of the Coptic churches and the Pyramids of Giza and The Sphinx, are all high on my must-see list. –– Emilie Harting

Copenhagen: Foodie’s Delight

I’m tantalized by Copenhagen, its food, design, esprit. I recently met Chef Renee Redzepi when he was on his North American tour and was bowled over by his dizzying creativity –– his restaurant, NOMA, won Restaurant Magazine’s highest accolade: best restaurant in the world. And with 13 Michelin stars in 2010, Copenhagen is Scandinavia’s culinary capital. The food scene isn’t all haute, either: At street level, two- and three-wheelers are now allowed to set up micro-shops selling coffee, soup and pancakes. Design also has a certain casual delight: Architect Bjarke Ingels’ vision includes high rises with green terraces next door to fields where cows graze.  –– Jacqueline Swartz

Lapin Saute in Quebec City; photo by Mike Eklund

Quebec City: Generational Appeal

So many memories: Although we’ve visited the walled City on the Rock in all seasons, we’re returning again to Quebec City in May –– three generations strong. Our three grandchildren, who are ages 5, 9 and 11, especially like that there are kids out in the street in the evening. For the adults, the draws are the history (400 years and counting), the evocative stone buildings, the romantic atmosphere –– all ages stroll about holding hands.  Everyone loves lunch at the festive Lapin Saute restaurant on one of the oldest streets in North America. –– Mary Alice Downie

Rio: Postcard-Perfect

It was a postcard of Rio de Janeiro’s towering Art Deco Christ The Redeemer statue overlooking the city’s sun-drenched beaches of Rio de Janeiro that first got my attention a few years back. I figured if Rio could look that good scaled down to 3 x 5 inches, the city could only get better in real life. I’m intrigued by Rio’s social and physical contradictions: Breezy bossa nova music, Carnival, and famed beaches (with song title-ready names like Copacabana and Ipanema) stand in sharp contrast to its poverty-stricken slums, known as favelas, and headline-making crime rates.  –– Nicole Pensiero

Photo courtesy of Visit Tucson

Tucson: The Un-Phoenix

A 2003 trip to Tucson left me yearning to return to this unpretentious, mountain-edged city. To me, Tucson is the “un-Phoenix,” offering in urban form the full Southwest package –– architecture, Hispanic and Native American history, culture and food, and the landscape –– without being huge, brash and generic.  I plan to revisit the old Presidio precinct and the grand San Xavier del Bac Mission and take in the new (to me) Barrio Historico, University of Arizona, and a peppering of landmarks from Mexican to 20th-century modern. –– Arnold Berke

Valencia: All Fired Up

Valencia beckons as part of an extended, two-month sojourn to Europe. Spain’s third-biggest city appeals on many levels: the food (it’s the birthplace of paella); location (it’s on the Mediterranean coast); and the weather (mid-60s in March, anyone?). I’ve also timed my trip to the mid-March Las Fallas, a five-day festival honoring St. Joseph that culminates in dramatic fashion: At midnight on the final day of the event, hundreds of specially made puppets, or ninots, some several stories-high, are set on fire. –– Robert DiGiacomo

1 comment for “New Year, New Destinations

  1. December 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Happy Holidays!!! What great locations. Rio is one of my favorite cities in the world!

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