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IntroductionThe World Revisited As I write this introduction, my nieces are in Iceland. I imagine them enjoying a hot soak in the Blue Lagoon under the midnight sun, driving through a vast, empty countryside of stark, otherworldly beauty—slowing down to let wild horses cross the two-lane road and stopping to order lunch from menus in a language they cannot pronounce. They are sending me e-mails (the postcards of today) and posting Facebook updates (how things have changed!), and I can feel their excitement and their sense of wonder. They will return home exhilarated, having felt firsthand how travel opens up your whole world while nurturing a newfound appreciation for everything you’ve left behind. There really is no downside to travel, save a little jet lag and a dented bank account. A small price to pay for a million-dollar experience. Wanderlust—I like to think of it as wanderlove—has always coursed through my veins. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I never felt an hour spent in the seat of an airplane (or bus, tuk-tuk, car, or bullet train) was an hour wasted. As a toddler I realized that a whole big world awaited every time our family locked the front door and piled into the station wagon for the Jersey shore (yes, that one, but before its reputation was compromised). Playing Risk on the living room floor introduced me to places with names like Madagascar and Siam. It wasn’t the game’s promise of world domination that enticed me, but the far reaches of a planet so big and exotic and rich with romance that it felt like make-believe to me. My first true “aha!” moment happened when I was 15 and my parents agreed to let me visit a high school friend who lived with her family in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. I was too naïve at the time to grasp the importance of the beautiful and historically rich “City of Firsts.” (As the first colonial outpost in the Americas, Santo Domingo was the site of the first street, the first cathedral, the first fortress.) But there was no escaping the impact of my personal firsts: my first total immersion in a foreign language and culture, my first brush with salsa and merengue (their vibrant sound was everywhere), my first taste of avocados from the backyard tree, my first guitar lesson. My love and fascination for all things Latino was born during that formative and enlightening stay. I didn’t return to Santo Domingo until this past year, more than 40 years later: It was like running into your first love, with all the dormant memories rushing back. Like me, the city had grown and changed and was almost unrecognizable. But it reminded me of how I had arrived—a wide-eyed innocent abroad—and left with a jolted curiosity that has been stuck in high gear ever since. As Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick, I had “an everlasting itch for things remote.” It is rare that I return to a place where I have already been: There are simply too many places I haven’t yet seen. When asked what my favorite trip was, I used to think it was the most recent, the one still the most vivid in my memory. But now I realize it is my next one. I always have a next one—or four—lined up before my suitcase is unpacked. I have been my own best customer, embracing the carpe-diem see-it-now spirit of 1,000 Places, and have spent the years since the book’s initial release in 2003 gathering more places to fill the pages of this edition. I’m sure I’ll upset a lot of people who found the first list overwhelming. Now here I am, with a revision that I consider an entirely new book. There are 200-some brand-new entries, including 28 countries new to this edition. Some of these nations had simply not been on my radar before (Ghana, Nicaragua, South Korea); others were still reeling from the early days of independence from the Soviet Union (Estonia, Ukraine, Slovakia) when I was writing the original book. At that point, they were poorly equipped to welcome tourism, but today they guarantee visits that are a revelation. And then there are the many destinations that space requirements forced me to leave out of the original book in countries already well represented—I halfjokingly said I would save them for a sequel. Well, here they are: the Mani Peninsula in Greece, Chile’s lake district, India’s Golden Temple of Amritsar, the stuck-in-time Pleasantville Shaker Village in Kentucky, and the Mendoza wine country in Argentina, among others. Arriving at this revision’s final list of places was even more exciting and terrifying than with the original book—I mean, how many more opportunities was I going to have to get my Life List straight? To have carte blanche to compile an eclectic and all-encompassing list of far-flung gems like the man-made wonder of Petra and the overwhelming natural beauty of Patagonia, together with hedonistic beauties such as Brazil’s Trancoso and the inimitable Seychelles island of La Digue? Well, that was a challenge for sure, but a whole lot of fun as well. I followed my heart and my gut, aiming for a glorious compilation of places both grand and humble, iconic and unsung. Drawing from a lifetime of wandering, I had nurtured an internal meter along the way that set off an alert when I was approaching something of particular beauty and awe— sometimes heart-stopping in its impact (think of thundering Victoria Falls of Zambia and Zimbabwe or the remarkable Military Tattoo in the shadow of Edinburgh’s Castle), other times quietly and timelessly standing apart from the ordinary and waiting for our attention (the desolate and windblown Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast or a sunset sail through the Mekong Delta before it empties into the South China Sea). But this list is much more than just my visceral response to the planet and its wonders. The amount of research I do before each trip would surprise those who think that when you book your ticket, your work is done. I read everything I can get my hands on, and have never met a guidebook I didn’t like: There is always some tidbit or trivia that catches my fancy, and I enjoy the sense of excitement in the author’s words when sharing a discovery or secret—I hope you will hear the same in mine. Before you do the math (how did I add 200-some new entries but still keep my original 1,000 favorites?), I should first explain that rethinking and reorganizing the book allowed me to open up new pages to fill with new adventures. I thoroughly deconstructed and then rewrote the wealth of information from the first 1,000 Places, creating a whole new tantalizing homage to the world’s bounty. Instead of featuring single locations as I had in the original, I have now merged two—and sometimes more—destinations into a single, more comprehensive piece, creating an embellished travel experience (in many cases a mini-itinerary). The original entries about gorgeous Shoal Bay Beach and the iconic hotels of Anguilla have become part of one entry that showcases the entire island: It is small enough to drive around in a day, and now you’ll know where to stop along the way. This book is a grab bag of all those wonders, a glorious mix of the unfamiliar and the predictable, a reminder that even in this global age of a homogenizing world, there are still remarkable and wonderful things to behold. In each of these thousand places, I hope I have imbued that same simple sense of wonder—like that of my nieces’ Iceland odyssey or my journey to Santo Domingo when I first understood how far I could reach. Who was it that said “You can’t have a narrow mind if you have a fat passport”? I think travel makes you a better person and a more aware global citizen. I know that I cherish it as a privilege and a gift—it lifts me up, lightens me, expands me. Most important, and most simply, travel brings us joy. So, what are you waiting for? If you’re waiting for a special occasion to make your next trip happen, then consider this: The day you get off the couch and head for the airport, that’s the special occasion. How This Book Is Organized For the purposes of this book, I’ve divided the world into eight regions, which are further subdivided geographically: • Europe: Great Britain and Ireland, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia • Africa: North Africa, West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa, the Islands of the Indian Ocean • The Middle East • Asia: East Asia, South and Central Asia, Southeast Asia • Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands • The United States of America and Canada: Subdivided by state or province • Latin America: Mexico and Central America, South America and Antarctica • The Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Bermuda Within these divisions, entries are further divided by country (see the table of contents for a quick reference), and within each country they’re organized alphabetically by region or town. If you’d like to learn about destinations by type of experience, visit www.1000places.com/indexes, where you’ll find 12 thematic indexes, including Gorgeous Beaches and Getaway Islands, Unrivaled Museums, and Sacred Places. At the end of each entry is practical information that will help you in planning a trip—including telephone numbers, web addresses, and prices of the sites mentioned. But remember: Since travel information is always subject to change, you should confirm by phone or e-mail before you leave home.