Patricia Schultz’s list of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die features an intoxicating mix of destinations from Australia to Zimbabwe. “Narrowing it down has always been impossible for me,” she admits, “but of the countless adventures that fill those pages—since the first day I grabbed my passport and locked the front door behind me—these are just a few that will always stand out in my mind.”
Bhutan is a special place: a country that prides itself on its absence of traffic lights and uses a yardstick of Gross National Happiness to measure its people’s well-being. Commonly voted one of Asia’s friendliest countries, it is little-visited and sparsely populated—barely the size of Switzerland, it is one of the most remote and protected places in the world. Tourism is being carefully and slowly developed, Bhutan should be visited now as modernization accelerates and the country slowly evolves to accommodate the world’s fascination. The intrepid visitor can come experience the gracious hospitality of its people, as well as to see its glorious Himalayan landscape (some peaks exceed 23,000 feet) and ancient Buddhist monasteries, where masked festivals go on for days.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast
“You may have the universe,” wrote the great composer Giuseppe Verdi, “if I may have Italy.” There is no country that I have returned to so frequently and so willingly—except during the summer months when heat and crowds can easily diminish one’s enjoyment. So imagine my surprise when a recent August trip to the incomparably beautiful Amalfi Coast turned out to be deliciously blissful: Every last hotel was brimming with Italian families and friends who uphold their summertime holidays al mare as a kind of uncontested birthright. Lazy beach days gave way to long al fresco dinners of fresh seafood from the morning market, enjoyed under the stars. And everywhere you look, a terribly fashionable and tanned bel mondo crowd is living la dolce vita as if in a Zefferelli film. It all conspired to make me feel—for just a moment—like I had been invited to the party.
I am admittedly enthralled by all things Africa (a safari is something you simply must do before you die). But Ethiopia, Africa’s oldest independent country, boasts a unique culture and heritage, not to mention its place as one of the oldest locations of human life known to scientists. Once the home of Emperor Haile Selassie, it now has the world’s best coffee and some of the loveliest women anywhere (after all, the biblical Queen of Sheba was said to have hailed from northern Ethiopia). On my first trip here, I visited the holy cities of the north, such as Axum—the presumed site of the Ark of the Covenant—and Lalibela, with its 11 magnificent subterranean churches carved from bedrock in the 12th and 13th centuries. In scale, number, detail, and sophistication there is nothing like them anywhere else on earth. I have since returned to Ethiopia to make sure I had not been dreaming the first time. I wasn’t.
One of the highlights of any trip to Scotland is the people. Another is the fact that you can begin and end your stay in the wonderful city of Edinburgh. It is compact and chockablock with sights such as the Royal Mile, a walkable stretch of streets bookended by Holyrood Palace (the Queen’s Scottish home) at one end and the brooding hilltop Edinburgh Castle at the other. But getting out of town is paramount, and renting a car to drive through the green and dramatic Highlands with its myriad lochs promises the ultimate road trip. For an easy detour to the Hebrides Islands off Scotland’s crenellated western coast, we headed to Skye, one of the largest of the hundred-plus islands, conveniently connected to the mainland by a once-controversial bridge. To reach other ports the efficient ferry system is efficient, fun and allows you to bring your car.
Papua New Guinea
If you feel like the world is shrinking and there are few places left where tourism has yet to leave its imprint, then head to the island nation of Papua New Guinea—and time your arrival for one of the annual Sing-Sing Festivals. We attended the event in Mt. Hagen, where drums thundered as nearly 80 tribes came from all over the highlands to participate in a timeless spectacle of song, dance, and costume. We visited the Huli tribesmen who wear human-hair wigs ornamented with bird-of-paradise feathers, and explored time-stuck settlements along the Sepik River, one of the world’s last unspoiled reservoirs of nature, culture, and—who knew there’d be shopping?—tribal art that can be bought for a song. All those intense faces painted in bright primary colors with noses pierced by pig tusks? Show them their photos on your iPhone and watch how all the world smiles in the same language.
And don’t forget to check out the book!
About the Book:
The world’s bestselling travel book is back in a more informative, more experiential, more budget-friendly full-color edition. A #1 New York Times bestseller, 1,000 Places reinvented the idea of travel book as both wish list and practical guide. As Newsweek wrote, it “tells you what’s beautiful, what’s fun, and what’s just unforgettable—everywhere on earth.” And now the best is better. There are 600 full-color photographs. Over 200 entirely new entries, including visits to 28 countries like Lebanon, Croatia, Estonia, and Nicaragua, that were not in the original edition. There is an emphasis on experiences: an entry covers not just Positano or Ravello, but the full 30-mile stretch along the Amalfi Coast.
Every entry from the original edition has been readdressed, rewritten, and made fuller, with more suggestions for places to stay, restaurants to visit, and festivals to check out. And throughout, the book is more budget-conscious, with starred restaurants and historic hotels such as the Ritz, but also moderately priced gems that don’t compromise on atmosphere or charm.
The world is calling. Time to answer.