National Geographic Traveler recently presented its list of the “20 must-see places for 2014.” The magazine’s lineup “reflects what’s authentic, culturally rich, sustainable-minded, and of course superlative in the world of travel today.”
We were excited that four of the 20 destinations are included in the itineraries that Academic Arrangements Abroad has planned for the coming year. Here’s what Traveler has to say about these places (as well as what we’ll see and do there)!
Sochi, host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, is one of the ports on our April 2014 Black Sea cruise. Passengers on this voyage will have the option of spending a day in Sochi, where they will visit World War II monuments, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Michael, Stalin’s summer villa and the Sochi Art Museum. Alternatively, a day trip is offered into the Caucasus Mountains to the Alpine resort of Krasnaya Polyana, site of some of the Olympic facilities.
In the Traveler article, Bill Fink writes: “Sochi itself (where the Olympic stadium events will be held) looks like Atlantic City as imagined by the tsars, then reinvented by Putin-era developers: boardwalk carnival rides, epic neoclassic buildings, and posh nightclubs. Add to the scene entrepreneurial babushkas selling honey and homemade mead by the roadside and the aroma of Black Sea sturgeon grilling at family restaurants, and you indeed get something found only in Russia.”
Brindisi, on Italy’s Puglia coast, is one of the ports of call on our Venice to Naples cruise aboard the legendary Sea Cloud in October 2014. From Brindisi, travelers will drive past ancient olive groves to Lecce, considered one of Puglia’s most important cities. In Lecce— an unspoiled baroque city— they will visit the restored cathedral and adjoining Archbishop’s Palace, the seminary and the Church of Santa Croce.
“Greeks and Goths, Romans and Normans, Byzantines and Venetians: All put their feet, and flags, in the heel of Italy’s boot. There, the region of Puglia stretches a strategic 250 miles along the Adriatic Sea (and 95 miles on the Ionian), making it a key connection between Italy and Europe’s east,” writes Amanda Ruggeri in the Traveler roundup. “Will Puglia change? Probably, someday. But not yet. For now, Puglia boasts the best of southern Italy: the pace, the traditions, the beauty. Unconquered.”
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
This city, with a unique mix of Oriental and Austro-Hungarian influences, is one of the places Academic Arrangements Abroad will visit during the June 2014 program “Unknown Glories of the Habsburgs.” . During the journey, travelers will see the spot at the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated, setting off a chain of events that would lead to World War I and the end of the Habsburg Empire. They will also learn more about the recent history of the area on visits to the Salvation Tunnel and National Museum.
“Called ‘the world’s most dangerous city’ during the war of the 1990s, Sarajevo is now among Europe’s safest capitals,” writes Alex Crevar. “Visitors—no longer just postwar gawkers—stroll busy avenues to historic sites wedged between Muslim, Jewish, and Christian places of worship. The renowned Sarajevo Film Festival is held every summer. Tourists and locals alike, led by in-the-know guides, are rediscovering pristine hiking trails in the surrounding Dinaric Alps.”
Among the ports on our summer 2014 Baltic voyage is Riga, Latvia, named a 2014 Capital of Culture by the European Union. Those on the cruise will see the city’s superb Art Nouveau architecture and historic old town, dotted with handsome medieval spires and ancient churches. A private backstage tour of the National Opera has been arranged especially for the group. There will also be time to explore Riga independently, and travelers may wish to dine at a restaurant in this charming city.
In the Traveler article, Brandon Presser writes: “Riga’s cobblestoned streets seem lifted from a fairy tale—and perfectly suit the little-known charm of this Baltic capital. The often uneven paths, so easily negotiated by stiletto-heeled locals, twist between medieval timber-frame houses through the city’s old town, ending at the grand but asphalt boulevards, which feel transplanted from Paris or St. Petersburg.”
We hope you’ll join us in 2014 to visit these “must-see places” as well as many other not-to-be-missed destinations.