Travel Guide 2014

travelguideforweb
Illustration by Flavia Salvadori

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Spring Break approaches and we trek further on to the end of our academic year, the sun rises in places other than La Jolla. Here’s a small taste of where else you could be, leaving the nights at Geisel as a distant memory.

Vietnam By Vincent Pham Lifestyle Editor

Fun Fact: “Ruou ran” (snake wine), a Vietnamese specialty of rice wine with a pickled snake inside, allegedly can cure any sickness.

In Vietnam, the first thing you’ll notice is traffic. It’s hard to accustom yourself, but you’ll have to make do. With motorbikes and Vespas whizzing by, along with a growing number of taxis and Sedans, getting around is an adventure every time you step outside. Vietnam truly shines with its unique culture, developing consumer economy and, of course, undeniably exquisite food. The country varies from patches of urban metropolises with multinational, designer clothes and retail stores to the suburbs, where roads alternate between dirt and paved and rice paddies upon rice paddies are just as common as a neighborhood market. As exciting as visiting the larger cities (Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City) may be, it’s best to go to the towns with the unfamiliar names, to walk along the sidewalk, grab one of those plastic chairs sized for children and sit down for a cup of Vietnamese coffee and appreciate Vietnam and where it is going.

 

Malaysia By Kelvin Noronha Associate Opinion Editor

Fun Fact: The largest cave chamber in the world is the Sarawak Chamber in Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, which can easily accommodate a Boeing 747-200.

After dealing with the wall of heat that envelops you when you step off the plane, drive to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s vibrant capital and one of the most impressive cities ever built up out of a tropical jungle. Although KL, as it’s called, has only a Philadelphia-sized 1.6 million population, it boasts a unique fusion of Malay, Chinese and even British culture. Check out the bold cuisine, which reflects KL’s diverse roots, and pay a visit to the Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s 8th-tallest buildings and a proud symbol of Malaysia’s modernity. Or you could visit the colonial past in the coastal town of Malacca, where you can explore historical holdovers from its Portuguese, Dutch and British ownership. The monkeys and giant lizards frolicking outside will keep you in good company. Although Malaysia is in an obscure part of the globe, its special brand of Malay tradition mixed with Western flavor makes it a memorable destination.

 

Berlin, Germany By Hillary Dakin Senior Staff Writer

Fun Fact: With 175 museums, Berlin is said to have more museums than rainy days.

Berlin is a city steeped in 20th century history, so history buffs, be alert! Fragments of the Berlin Wall are still in place, and in some places, the sidewalk is marked where it once stood. Checkpoint Charlie and its museum, though something of a tourist trap, is another reminder of the Cold War years. The Brandenburg Gate is a good place to begin an investigation of German history from several centuries ago. Beyond the historical landmarks, there is also the multi-story shopping mecca of KaDeWe, a German equivalent to Harrods that offers everything from designer clothes to high-end toys to unique cooking ware. For the nature-minded, the Tiergarten — a huge forested area covering many acres of the city — offers a beautiful place for a stroll, as well as wildlife viewing opportunities. Due to the efficient and affordable metro system, it is extraordinarily easy to get around and experience all of the intriguing history this famous city has to offer.

 

Santorini, Greece By Nichole Perri Senior Staff Writer

Fun Fact: Santorini’s geographical layout, an archipelago, was due to the Minoan volcanic eruption in 1628 B.C.

Most people have an image in their minds of what Santorini looks like: white houses reflecting the hot sun, blue rooftops, houses cascading down a mountainside surrounded by warm, turquoise water. This image comes to life in the coastal village of Oia. Oia is known for being the site of one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. It’s so beautiful that people even clap at the end. Oia is also where you can ride a donkey while drinking some of the sweetest homemade wine you will ever taste.

Although Oia is the gem of Santorini, Fira, a town on the opposite side of the island, boasts its relaxing white, red and black sand beaches. The colors of the sand are results of mineral deposits. The only catch is, like many European beaches, you have to pay, but it is worth it.

Whether you go for the wine, the sun or the beaches, Santorini is the perfect vacationing spot for those looking to truly relax and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

 

Paris, France By Emily Bender A&E Editorial Assistant

Fun Fact: There is a verifiable population of kangaroos living in the wild in the township of Emance, about an hour outside of Paris. The kangaroos are descended from a breeding population that escaped during a failed burglary attempt at an animal park in the 1970s.

Paris is best experienced by foot (stay away from the dark and damp catacombs — no, not the actual Catacombs — more commonly referred to as the metro). Walk past the flower markets and booksellers by the Seine, through Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Stop at the posh Cafe de Flore for coffee (served on a silver tray by a bowtie-wearing waiter) and people-watching. Continue down rue des Canettes and past the Saint Sulpice church. There’s a passageway, la rue Ferou, with a Rimbaud poem written in giant letters on the wall.

At the other end is the le Jardin du Luxembourg where chestnut trees grow and children play with wooden boats on the ponds. The subtle echo of jazz guitars will follow you along the cobblestone streets past the art museums (For Impressionism, go to Musee d’Orsay; for the famous Monet waterlilies, go to l’Orangerie) and bakeries where the smell of buttery croissants permeates the air.

End the evening with copious amounts of Beaujolais and friends, and dance the night away at one of the indie clubs on Rue Oberkampf — don’t miss the live band playing in the basement.

 

Prague, Czech Republic By Avi Salem Staff Writer

 

Fun Fact: The Czechs drink more beer per capita than other country in the world. Each head will sink about 43 gallons a year on average.

Much of Prague’s appeal comes from its medieval charm — its windy, cobbled roads, array of Gothic structures and dark and mysterious vibe make it feel like the city that a modern-day Dracula would live in. Sights to see include Prague’s Old Town district and its astronomical clock tower, which has been in continuous operation since 1410; the world’s biggest castle, the Prague Castle; and the Charles Bridge, the main connection between Old Town and Lesser Town. After the sun goes down, be sure to visit one of the many famous underground bars in Prague. Reminiscent of old wine cellars, most of these bars contain many separate rooms within one establishment, each with its own bar. Beer is plentiful and cheap in these bars: Try Pilsner Urquell, a Czech beer its people are very proud of. These dimly lit bars are just one of the many aspects that help give Prague the spooky feel it represents so well.

 

India By Kelvin Noronha Associate Opinion Editor

Fun Fact: The most popular sport in India is cricket, with the Indian team being the first to win the Cricket World Cup on home soil when they were victorious in 2011.

A natural marvel in their own right, a staggering, 1.24 billion people call India home. They fill the streets of India’s sprawling metropolises like Bombay, Calcutta and New Delhi with their colorful dress and energetic music and inhabit the distant corners of a country known as one of the “cradles of civilization.” With over 120 different languages and over four indigenous religions, India is a veritable, cultural hotbed with a diverse population. But if the Taj Mahal and the various medieval castles dotting the land don’t catch your fancy, city life holds plenty in store. Sample the best renditions of the chicken tikka and samosas so loved across the West for an amazing price at a street vendor, or chat with the literal millions of friendly metropolitan citizens. And if an escape to nature is more your style, venture into the Himalayan Mountains, stalk Bengal tigers in the Bandhavgarh jungle or kick back on the idyllic beaches in coastal Goa. In India, there is always something you haven’t done before.

 

Portland, Oregon By Teddi Faller Staff Writer

Fun Fact: Portland was named by the flip of a coin. If it had landed on the other side, Portland would be known as Boston, Ore.

Wherever you are in Portland, there’s always a hole in the wall with something to offer. It’s home to Powells, the self-described “City of Books” and largest independent bookstore in the world. It has nine separate rooms, and you can even print your own out-of-print titles in their rare books room. Cross the Burnside Bridge to the Industrial District and grab a bite at a food cart — the Big-Ass Sandwiches stand will stuff your sandwich with French fries. On Saturday, visit the Portland Saturday Market, an artisan souvenir haven — you’ll find handcrafted, vegan soaps by Dirtyface, tattoos by Blue Lotus Henna and wooden toys by Kobayashi. And once you’ve finished walking the waterfront, cut back across the bridge to Third for a famous Voodoo Doughnut — which come in every flavor and shape from Fruit Loop to Bacon Maple Bar. Before you jet off, just remember to grab your galoshes and get ready for the rain.

 

Stockholm, Sweden By Emily Bender A&E Editorial Assistant

Fun Fact: The city’s subway is also known as the world’s longest art gallery, with the majority of its stations being adorned with paintings, sculptures and mosaics.

The elusive Swedish capital, known as “Venice of the North,” is a collection of islands where old and modern meet. Perched upon the hills of the southern part of town, Sodermalm, are picturesque 17th century houses (still inhabited!) overlooking the rest of the city, whereas down by the river alongside Tantolunden are food trucks serving street food ranging from tacos to crepes, to hipsters traversing the open-air markets and the vintage boutiques.

Summertime is the best time to visit. Because of its northern location, the Swedish summers are infinite — in June, the sun barely sets at all. Watch the sky shift pastels from a hill on Skinnarviksberget — bring friends and food.

For what the Swedes refers to as “fika” — a midday coffee break paired with sweets — Saturnus serves the best cinnamon rolls in town, whereas the best lattes (and people-watching) can be found at the hip Mellkvist coffee shop on Hornsgatan. To get the evening off to a great start, get drinks at Marie Laveau. (The espresso martini is highly recommended.) For dinner, word of mouth says Flippin’ Burgers is the place to be. Later, gather a big group of friends and go to Tradgarden, an outdoor club located underneath a bridge.