Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 18, 2017

© Mike Cohen / Shutterstock.com

Bookmark and Share

Where to go next

Been there, done that? Here are five new destinations that should be on your list for 2012

Emilia-Romagna

Luckily, there isn't one region of Italy that has a monopoly on beauty, which means you don't have to fight the crowds in its classic destinations to be wooed by Bella Italia. Case in point: the medieval towns of Emilia-Romagna, just a stone's throw from Florence. Spread between green plains and the slopes of the Apennines, the region's ancient towns pride themselves on some of the country's best food and enough UNESCO World Heritage Sites to fill their own guidebook.

At the region's heart is Bologna, one of Europe's oldest university towns, and a lively down-to-earth metropolis with a gastronomic heritage that goes well beyond the eponymous cold cut. Walk the city's miles of covered porticos and drop into unique specialty food stores and hole-in-the-wall eateries around the famed Mercato di Mezzo. You'll also find products from nearby towns like Modena and Parma which, in addition to being known for balsamic vinegar and ham, are also Renaissance jewels.

An hour's drive away is Ferrara, home to one of the five international outposts of Russia's prestigious Hermitage Museum. Meanwhile Ravenna, once the capital of the Byzantine empire, boasts stunning mosaics and sits on a lovely spot on the Adriatic. If automotive arts are more your speed, you're in luck: this is also the home of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati. emiliaromagnaturismo.it.

Guatemala

It may not have the buzz of Costa Rica or Belize, but this Central American country has some of the region's best preserved Maya ruins and loveliest colonial cities. Nestled between three volcanoes, the old capital of Antigua was once the pearl of the Spanish empire overseas. Its cobblestone streets are now buzzing with boutique hotels and inventive eateries in restored colonial buildings. It's also popular with budget travellers who come to live with the locals while learning Spanish.

One of the largest classic Maya cities, Tikal is also one of the best preserved and most complete sites in the Americas. Its towering temples poke through dense rainforest, while toucans and parrots dot the branches of the surrounding jungle. And Maya culture is not just a thing of the past: Guatemala is home to a large number of ethnic Maya who still speak the language and keep up ancestral traditions, particularly in villages tucked into the Western Highlands.

And that's part of the reason to visit high-altitude Lake Atitlán. Surrounded on all sides by steep green hills and volcanoes, the lake is ringed by Maya towns, many only accessible by water taxi, and known for the country's best dining — so much so that posh resorts are popping up on the shores of this dream-inducing lake.

Unfortunately, like other Central American countries on the rise, some remote regions still experience high crime; adventurous travellers should check Voyage.gc.ca for advisories. visitguatemala.com.

Malaysia

For Westerners, Malaysia remains the forgotten corner of Southeast Asia. Set on the peninsula south of Thailand, its varied landscapes and great beaches have long been the go-to vacation spot for Asian travellers who wanted fewer crowds and better prices.

Kuala Lumpur, its lush futuristic capital, has towering glass highrises, glitzy shopping malls and hip restaurants on streets lined with palm trees. The sleepy island of Penang is home to colourfully crumbling Georgetown — a colonial port city with a mix of European, Chinese and Hindu architecture and some eye-popping temples. This charming small city has also been rated a foodie haven and ranked as one of Asia's top 10 cities to live in.

Serious divers head to Sipadan Island, where the crystalline seas are home to thousands of turtles, sharks and barracuda as well as an awe-inspiring coral wall. And those searching for exotic beach resorts hit pay dirt in Langkawi, an archipelago on the Andaman Sea that houses exclusive villas on stilts as well as budget beach huts.

For a dose of cooler weather, head to the network of jungle trails, waterfalls and mountains in the Cameron Highlands, which are also blanketed with the dazzling green of tea plantations where visitors can stop in for a cuppa. tourism.gov.my.

Tasmania

Australia has so many natural wonders, but it suffers from the same problem that Canada does: too much space between points of interest. Nature lovers who want to pack a lot into a short stay head to Tasmania, an island south of Melbourne that's about the size of New Brunswick.

It offers stunning seascapes, sculptured dolorite cliffs and cool dripping rainforests. Nearly a third of this Edenic landscape is protected in national parks, and over 20 percent has been declared a World Heritage area. Hikers hit the Overland, a world-famous coastal track that takes in the varied scenery on a multi-day hike. Others head to picturesque Freycinet, a 30-kilometre-long peninsula home to Tasmania's most famous vista, Wineglass Bay, though you'll have to tackle a three-hour hike through craggy mountains to get to it.

The island's foodie hub is Hobart, Australia's second-oldest city and a gem of Georgian architecture backed against the foothills of Mt. Wellington. This laidback centre is big on contemporary arts, festivals, hip cafés and great restaurants.

The island has also developed a Cowichan Valley-style reputation for producing some of Australia's best food — milk-fed lamb, wild duck and game, artisanal goat cheese, and the world's largest supply of wild abalone. You can even take in one of its four distinct wine regions as you drive through alpine meadows, eucalyptus stands and fertile farmland. discovertasmania.com.

Ukraine

Europe may seem like terra cognita, but venture outside the European Union and you can be pretty far off the beaten track. Take the Ukraine: following a peaceful revolution to overturn a rigged election in 2004, the country has been evolving. It's still one of the poorest in Europe, but for the more adventurous that also means it has a gritty, authentic appeal.

You'll find remnants of its Soviet past along with a patchwork of Cossack, Tartar and Turkish influences. Leafy Kiev has a split personality: modern skyscrapers and Soviet-era architecture stand across the river from the hilly old town which is filled with gold onion-domed churches and crayon-coloured buildings. In the south, the cerulean waters of the Crimean are ringed with Belle Époque beach towns and cliff-top castles and temples.

And the rolling foothills of the Carpathian Mountains are home to unique wooden churches, their idiosyncratic shapes and dragon-scale exteriors hidden in fir-draped forests. Some date back to the 15th century and many are in danger of disappearing. The roads around these parts may be seriously potholed, but that's all part of the adventure. Best of all, Canadians no longer need visas to visit. traveltoukraine.org.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

Comments

Post a comment