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Estonia´s second city Tartu is a 2024 European Capital of Culture

  RAndreyEstonia´s second largest city (a bit over 97,000), astride the Emajõgi River a bit over two hours south of Tallinn by car or train, was founded in the 5th century and has long been known as an intellectual/cultural powerhouse (and home to the country´s national university, established in 1632). Much of Its center was destroyed in World War II, but there’s still a good deal of neoclassical architecture, and top attractions/landmarks include the old Lutheran Jaani Kirik (St. John's…

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7 of the best things to see and do in Baltimore

  "Charm City" (population around 586,000), the state of Maryland´s biggest, hasn´t always has such a charming reputation in recent years, but urban renewal has made a huge difference, and crime is limited to neighborhoods well away from areas most visitors are interested in. Art lovers, history buffs, and foodies will have a field day in Baltimore´s museums, landmarks/historic sites, and a flourishing restaurant scene which ranges from seafooders specializing in the iconic local blue…

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Doing Dublin on St. Patrick´s Day

  MediaProductions Every March 17th, the 5th-century Romano-British missionary who converted the Celts to Christianity, then became a bishop and eventually Irland´s patron saint is celebrated in more countries than any other national holiday, and of course it has special weight and significance here, where it´s a public holiday as well as a cultural and religious one. And if you happen to be visiting on this special day, you´re in for a treat, with various forms of festivities shamrocking the…

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The Soul of Rio de Janeiro: its ´Little Africa´ neighbourhoods

 Sarah BrownThough most famous for Carnival, golden beaches, and world-famous landmarks, the real heart of Rio de Janeiro, for those in the know, lies in its downtown, most notably in Saúde, Gamboa, and the surrounding neighbourhoods hard by the port. For it’s this area that’s steeped in a complex history that dates back half a millennium to the Portuguese colonisers’ founding of Rio and the centuries of brutal slavery which followed.A good place to start is Praça Mauá, a once rundown square…

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  • Much of the Caribbean is still mildly to virulently homophobic, but there are a handful of cities which are an exception: 

  • Everyone´s favorite international cities-oriented publication Time Out recently came out with its list of the world´s "coolest" neighborhoods for 2023, and apart from the fact that they choose for the top spot the Laureles neighborhood of Laureles in Medellín, Colombia (I guess I´ll just have to take their word for it), I was interested to see that coming in at number 3 is Carabanchel, an outlying area of my own new home town Madrid. I´ve been meaning to get out there one of these days, and now I´m especially curious! I´ll let you know my opinion once I do.

    It’s official: this is the world’s coolest neighbourhood right now
    Did your area make the cut?
  • The Hong Kong tourism folks have come out with a flurry of initiatives in a pricey "Hello Hong Kong" campaign aiming to promote post-pandemic travel - including a widely covered giveaway of a half million free airline tickets (though this is not open to non-Asians till May 1). But as this opinion piece in the Washington Post points out, "the city remains one of the last places on earth where everyone is required to wear a face mask, even outdoors, despite the advice of health experts that the mask mandate is no longer needed," and all the happy talk papers over its descent into authoritarianism and oppression:

    Opinion | What Hong Kong’s spiffy marketing campaign for tourists can’t disguise
    No amount of spin or rebranding can conceal how this once free and vibrant city has become irreversibly less open.
  • I've visited Berlin several times but never noticed this. Interesting, though - the local dialect is often used in a way that can come across as rude but one speaker describes as meaning "being uncomfortably direct, brutally honest and free." Check it out:

    Berlin's beloved (and loathed) local dialect
    Berliners have a reputation for being generally cold, outspoken and rude. It's lovingly called the "Berliner Schnauze", and how you feel about it dep…
  • I last visited Antwerp several years ago so this Guardian piece with insider tips and suggestions brought back memories - plus I learned a few new things, too! Time for a return visit in 2023?

    A local’s guide to Antwerp, Belgium: high art, gritty graffiti and great coffee | Antwerp holidays…
    From Rubens and van Eyck to cutting edge street murals and fashion, art is at the heart of the Flemish city, says local guide Tim Marschan<em>g. </em…
  • Having greatly enjoyed my first visit to Leipzig a few years ago, I found this insider's guide from The Guardian interesting indeed:

    A local’s guide to Leipzig: dumplings, diversity and delightful G&Ts | Leipzig holidays | The Guard…
    With glorious boat trips on its canals and sumptuous food, from traditional Saxon to Vietnamese, this is a destination ripe for a city break, says re…
  • Here are some cool insider tips from Seattle locals:

    10 Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Seattle
    Emerald City locals share the faux pas they often see visitors committing.
  • The Guardian looks at how mass tourism to Barcelona is expected to come roaring back this summer, bringing many of the same ills that have divided locals in recent years:

    ‘Summer will be monstrous’: Barcelona wrestles with revival of mass tourism | Barcelona | The Guard…
    As visitors return after easing of Covid curbs, talk of diversification of Spanish city has been drowned out by sound of ringing tills
  • I've been intrigued by Paraguay ever since a good high school friend of mine spent a year there as an exchange student a loooong time ago - plus other reasons like a curiosity for off-the-beaten-path spots and the fact that Paraguay is the only Latin American country where most people speak a language other than the one (Spanish, Portuguese, etc.) left by its colonizers. So I really enjoyed this account of a month living in its capital Asunción from a blogger for the site
  • I went to college in Washington DC many years ago, and have been back a number of times since, but lately it's been quite a while. So just this week I was interested to catch this very recently in the Huffington Post. I'll be going back in exactly one month, so am taking note!
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