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The 2013 Guide to Exceptional Travel Experiences

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The world is wide and full of wonders. Let the 2013 AFAR Guide to Exceptional Travel Experiences lead you through the expected and the unexpected: the drinks, the food, the shops, and the adventures that are inseparable from the locale in which they occur. Be open, be bold, and be inspired!
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140 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036, USA
Jimmy’s Corner is long and narrow, as if some great prophet looked at a hallway and said, I see a dimly lit saloon here, complete with an extended bar and walls plastered with photos of boxers. Opened in 1971 by erstwhile pugilist James Lee Glenn,...
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1439 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226, USA
"Have you heard about d'Mongo's? It is Ryan Gosling's favorite place to visit when he comes to town!" Although I never saw Ryan Gosling, bartender Red knew immediately that I was new in Detroit and that I'd never been in before. She recommended I...
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225 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009, USA
This East Village bar’s menu ranks complex cocktails on a scale from refreshing to spirituous, and comforting to adventurous. It's upstairs from a liquor store on Avenue B, and the atmosphere is understated, keeping the focus on the expert...
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49-50 St John's Square, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4JJ, UK
In many ways, the Zetter Townhouse is the quintessential British hotel: quiet and unobtrusive from the outside, playful and witty within. Its exterior is the picture of buttoned-up gentility, a handsome Georgian townhouse at the far end of St...
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955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
At visionary chef Grant Achatz’s bar, vessels such as “the Porthole” (pictured) are as original as the drinks. The chef-trained bartenders use fresh herbs, small-batch spirits, and hand-carved ice in their cutting-edge libations....
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142 Rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris, France
Past the bouncer and down a black staircase 32 feet below ground is Paris's most buzzed-about semi-private club, Le Silencio. Housed where Molière was allegedly buried and Zola printed "J'accuse", it's of little surprise that the enigmatic...
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355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
If their New American–style brunch and dinner menus don’t tempt you to Bar Agricole, in SOMA, maybe their recent James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Bar Program will. Cocktails run at $11 across the board, and head bartenders Thad Vogler...
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Sacsayhuaman, Peru
Cap your trip to Machu Picchu with a pisco sour on the Orient-Express train ride back to Cuzco. After boarding this luxury train for dinner and the return journey, everyone meets in the bar car for a drink. Live music, the rocking of the train,...
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2525 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761, USA
In an island area of West Maui that draws many transplants and seasonal employees, Dale Simonson’s longevity at 40 years behind a bar is amazing. But top that with his expertise at making tropical drinks and his friendly attitude and the Tiki Bar...
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R. Barão de Capanema, 549 - Jardim Paulista, São Paulo - SP, 01411-001, Brazil
São Paulo’s D.O.M. is currently rated sixth in the World’s 50 Best ranking, but to me it is simply the restaurant where I take every visiting non-Brazilian for a guaranteed reaction: “What just hit us?!” The more confident that chef–owner Alex...
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Patriot Square, London E2 9NF, UK
A meal at Viajante is an edible travelogue by chef Nuno Mendes. Dishes such as chicken confit on coconut tuile are inspired by his trips. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue.
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9-11 Fuk Wing St, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
I've done my share of silly things in the name of good food - some of those exploits documented here on AFAR, I'm sure. Standing on a street corner in the pouring rain at 9am waiting for a lunch restaurant to open with 150 other hungry visitors...
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506, 16 de Septiembre, Centro, 72000 Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla, Mexico
At El Mural de los Poblanos in Puebla, try five kinds of mole poblano in the city where it was created. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image courtesy of El Mural de los Poblanos
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Main St, Grove, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Visiting this cheese shop was like touring Costco during Christmas. Samples, my friends. Samples. I've never tried so many different cheeses in my entire life, and I'm certain I left this little shop lactose intolerant. And I would do it over in a...
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1 Château du Petit Thouars, 37500 Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, 37500 Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, France
It only looks like pita but this round, airy Fouée bread, a traditional specialty of the Touraine province in France, has a distinct story and utility of its own. According to legend, the Fouée emerged when bakers would test their wood ovens by...
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Via Pardo, 29, 95131 Catania CT, Italy
Make a meal of fresh sea urchin at Osteria Antica Marina among the bustle of the fishmongers in Catania. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image courtesy of Osteria Antica Marina
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1 Kadayanallur St, #01-04 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore 069184
Devout foodies flock to the hawker stands in Singapore, one of the world's cleanest cities. Check out the tasty Hainanese Chicken Rice at the famous Maxwell Food Centre; you'll want to find the Tian Tian stall. Explore the other stands and...
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Boggy Sand Rd, West Bay, Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman is not all offshore banks and transplanted NYC fund managers in Teva sandals and bad Reyn Spooner shirts. Nor is it purely the monolithic mega-resorts dotting the well known Seven Mile Beach. Fortunately for the experiential traveler,...
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Bangkok, Thailand
I had already begged a woman to write down the name of her ground—what, pork?—dish that first melted my brain. She scratched a couple Thai words on my notepad. Later, I learned she’d written “lunch.” Bangkok’s...
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Jl. Raya Candidasa, Sengkidu, Manggis, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80871, Indonesia
Visit this quiet village in eastern Bali for hand-loomed geringsing ikat weavings. Protected from outside development, the village still operates according to ancient traditions, and the residents are descended from one of the oldest Balinese...
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Nirona, Gujarat 370001, India
Driving through Kutch in rural India, we turned into the town of Nirona on a whisper that there were some interesting crafts created there. We asked some locals who directed us to just keep walking along the dusty track. On what seemed like a road...
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969 01 Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia
An amazing store of wood-carved toys and novelties, but it's highlight is the massive animated landscape.
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Müze Cad. No:32 Göreme, 50180 Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey
One of my favorite shops in Kapadokya is Sultan's Carpets located in Goreme. If you happen to be in the area, say hi to my friend, the modern day Suffi, Shemsettin Kantar, or Semse as he likes to be called. International interior designer obsessed...
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7-3 Saiwaichō, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama-ken 350-0063, Japan
The historic kurazukuri district of Kawagoe, a short train ride north of Tokyo, is home to dozens of artisan shops, including Machikan, which has been making and selling knives and swords for generations. While in town, try the famous sweet-potato...
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84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW, UK
Daunt Books really is special. Even if you are not a big reader, it is well worth a visit because the space is so beautiful and filled with exceptionally well-chosen books. Daunt is the ultimate antidote to the Amazon generation and connects you...
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6 Liberty Street, Savannah, GA 31401, USA
Nothing makes me happier than stumbling upon a really great bookstore, and this one in Savannah takes the cake! While strolling down East Liberty Street in gorgeous Savannah—my favorite of all the beautiful Southern cities—my husband...
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3885 Cesar Chavez, San Francisco, CA 94131, USA
Celia Sack’s store devoted to food- and drink-related books also serves as a gathering place for San Francisco chefs, foodies, and visiting authors. For anyone who collects cookbooks or rare first editions, it’s a worthy stop. The staff is...
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37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Located at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, a stone’s throw from the Seine and draped in the shadow of Notre Dame, is what should be proclaimed one of France’s national treasures: the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. This is...
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1/46 Hall St, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Stacked between an internet café and a grocer stands this little gem of a book shop and café. I came here after a windy day at the beach, had a cup of tea and perused the endless lists, not to mention brilliant layout, of their book collection....
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9 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168645
I fell in love with this independent bookshop in Singapore. Browse hard-to-find magazines, art books, and novels plus vintage sunglasses and Pez dispensers at this independent shop. You’ll also find handbound notebooks and letterpress postcards...
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173 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France
Astier de Villatte is well known for its light weight white porcelain plates and dishes, all shown in a big wooden closet at the entrance hall of the store, alongside home perfumes, candles and other colored decorative dishes. It serves as a...
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Quartier Ain Noqbi, Fès, Morocco
Some travelers are exhausted by the haggling in the souks of Morocco, by the barely-organized chaos of the medinas. In Fes, the stunning mosaic tile creations that are so typical all over the country can be bought directly from the artisans who...
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1112 k, Pilestræde 29, 1112 København, Denmark
This is my favorite design shop in Copenhagen. Dedicated to contemporary Danish design, Hay occupies a historic building overlooking the car-free Strøget district. You’ll find furniture and accessories inspired by midcentury design and pieces by...
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1 Zubir Said Drive #02-01, Singapore 227968
This tiny little shop shares a space with an awesome pastry shop, and is filled with the cutest little odds and ends, specializing in items with very strong nostalgia of Singapore back in the '80s. It's a more personal and hipster version of...
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6 Fangyuan W Rd, Chaoyang Qu, China, 100096
This is the best place in Beijing to buy contemporary Chinese ceramics. Spin works with artists in Jingdezhen, China’s porcelain capital, and the pieces here are original, limited-edition works of art at competitive prices. Attractive vases,...
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Oranienstraße 24, 10999 Berlin, Germany
In Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, here you’ll find racks constantly restocked with coveted labels (Wood Wood, Acne, Kenzo, Opening Ceremony) and supersmall brands such as Stutterheim, a Swedish design house that handsews raincoats. In addition you...
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Calz. Gral. Mariano Escobedo No. 700, Anzures, 11590 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
The creative team behind the edgy cultural magazine Celeste sells clothes and accessories by up-and-coming designers, as well as hats, lingerie, orchids, cigars, antique furniture, and, as one might expect, solid silver lizards and taxidermied...
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Plz.3, Future Park, 94 Phahonyothin Rd, Tambon Prachathipat, Amphoe Thanyaburi, Chang Wat Pathum Thani 12130, Thailand
In a city full of tailors, a tiny shop in the Oriental Place shopping center stands out for its quality, especially for its custom-made women’s clothing. Mrs. Reed provides unique interpretations of trendy or traditional designers—your version of...
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Get a handmade leather wallet, purse, or passport holder—without breaking the bank. Since 1949, local secret Armando Rioda (hidden on the 2nd floor of a building near the Spanish Steps) has been turning out top-notch, handcrafted leather goods....
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8425 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069, USA
This high-end boutique is all about living with beautiful things. The white-walled space displays art along with a wide selection of limited-edition shoes, handbags, jewelry, and vintage men’s neckties from brands such as Clare Vivier, Rachel...
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Rua Principal, 25, Trancoso, Porto Seguro - BA, 45818-000, Brazil
The owners of Brazil’s Etnia Club de Mar and Etnia Pousada hotels run this shop. Recreate the look of the beach town’s boho-chic crowd with bikinis from Brazilian brand Osklen, funky rubber-rimmed sunglasses, and dresses by the Rio-based label...
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Old Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
You know a carousel must be quite special if it is the first to make the National Register of Historic Places. Jane's Carousel, located in Brooklyn Bridge Park in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, is truly unique. The fully-restored antique carousel...
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Equinox Travel leads custom 4x4 tours that cross rivers, scale the Taurus Mountains, and lead to rarely visited archaeological sites. We took a dirt road through nomadic villages and incredibly scenic terrain, stopping for a barbecue lunch that...
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Makuleke Contract Park Northern Kruger National Park, Pafuri, 0973, South Africa
Changing location every evening means waking up to a different but equally spectacular view. The ‘eco-loos’ are a bit questionable and the hot bucket showers take some getting used to, but you can sleep happy knowing your presence will go...
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Manly NSW 2095, Australia
From Shelly Beach in Manly, the path climbs a flight of stairs surrounded by jungle foliage before alternating between idyllic neighborhoods, clifftop bushland, secluded beaches, and more rainforest. Along the way, you’ll see tropical...
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Simonsgatan 7, 00100 Helsingfors, Finland
Feeling overwhelmed? Kampin Kappeli (Chapel of Silence) is the perfect place to relax and reflect. If you visit Helsinki when the temperatures are still chilly like I did, it's also the perfect place to warm up before venturing back out into the...
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Fjærland, Norway
The Flatbreen hike in Norway is officially in the running for "Best Day Hike in the World," in my book. You'll gain 3,100 feet in elevation on the way up these stunning, glaciated valleys and mountain passes. Depending on your pace and the...
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Megalochori 847 00, Greece
If you want to get away from the crowds in Santorini, try Megalochori - one of the prettiest, quietest little villages on the island. The town's location further inland, away from the caldera cliffs, removes it from the typical tourist itinerary....
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Franceville, Gabon
During a trip to West Africa, my wife, daughter, and I arranged to visit to a rather unknown gem in Gabon called Lekedi Park. Lekedi Park is a relatively new animal reserve on the eastern side of the country near the Republic of Congo. The park...
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Derrybawn, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Glendalough, or Gleann Dá Loch in Irish (which means “valley of two lakes”), is a quiet, picturesque valley near the Wicklow Mountains. Its 6th-century monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin is one of the most...
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Calle Panaderos, 32, 18010 Granada, Spain
There are plenty of flamenco places in Granada, from the 35 euro tourist cave to the 6 euro wine cellar. My love for flamenco has drawn me to each one. I think the best deal especially if you are only in Granada for a week or a weekend is to...
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NE Entrance Rd, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, USA
When snow blankets the meadows and outlines the spewing hot pots of Yellowstone National Park in winter, bison and elk head to lower ground where grasses can still be reached beneath the powdery forest floor. Wolves follow, primarily to the Lamar...