Are you planning on going to Japan for the first time? Being all excited? Wondering what to expect? Having a million questions? Well, I recently came back from my first big Japan-adventure and let me tell you: It was just overwhelming; in a good way!
As I had the chance to travel for three weeks, I know that not everybody has the opportunity to leave for so long. Therefore, based on my itinerary, I put together a travel guide that can be individually adjusted to your personal trip – for one, two, or three weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Ready for a trip back in time? For narrow alleys lined with old wooden merchants’ houses dating to the Edo Period? For a dozen fascinating museums? For platters of Hida Beef that just melts in your mouth? If so, Takayama, nestled between the mountains of the Gifu prefecture, is the perfect place for you.
And although it might be already challenging enough to fit all the landmarks downtown Takayama into your itinerary, you should, nonetheless, by no means miss a little side trip to Shirakawago village – which even made it to the World Heritage Site list in 1995.
Osaka has always been Japan’s economic hub – and keeps its status as the country’s major commercial center to this date: Major players like Sharp, Sanyo, and Panasonic have their headquarters in Osaka.
This busy metropole was not only briefly the imperial capital in the 7th and 8th centuries, it even outnumbered Tokyo in being Japan’s largest city in the 1930s.
Therefore, a visit to Osaka is rather about the cool’n’contemporary than the ancient’n’inherited and pulls its visitors into a whirlwind of skyscrapers, shopping malls, art exhibitions, and food….lots of food.
Hiroshima – one of the names inextricably connected to the first atomic attack in human history.
Visiting Hiroshima, I wasn’t able to imagine an average Japanese city with a little over a million inhabitants plying their trades as if their city never had been practically erased and went down in history as one of the biggest humanitarian disasters.
What I found was a charming city – risen up from the atomic ashes of 1945.
“…now you can go where people are one Now you can go where they get things done What you need my son: Is a holiday in Cambodia Where people dress in black A holiday in Cambodia Where you’ll kiss ass or crack…”
This is an excerpt from the song “Holiday in Cambodia” by the US band “The Dead Kennedys”. Being a punk band, the lyrics are meant to grate on you in their very cynical way; and as a matter of fact, Cambodia has always been a synonym for murder and destruction and by no means a holiday destination; apart from Angkor, Asia’s most important sanctuary, that has been a World Heritage Cultural site since 1992.
Only when my friend Philippe told me about his plans of travelling to Cambodia, I took into consideration that it might be an interesting destination and a country worth exploring. I decided following his example.
I get asked quite often which was my best trip and which has been my favorite country so far. How can I possibly answer such a question? How can I compare let’s say Italy to Viet Nam?
Well, the pizza is tastier and the language is prettier in Italy.
Then again the Buddhist temples are bigger and the variety at farmers’ markets is more abundant in Viet Nam.
Got the point? How could I ever compare?
Fortunately, I don’t have to.
Fishermen bringing in a boat at Tarrafal in the north of Cape Verde’s main island Santiago
But if someone pointed a gun to my head and made me choose, I would say Cape Verde. Cape Verde with its beauty, charm, and incredible variety is the secret star on my personal globe.
So let me guide you to five of the atoll’s nine amazing islands.
They say that Brava is the most beautiful of the Cape Verde islands.
A very rewarding hike.
Actually, it’s a cute, small jewel in the middle of the ocean – encircled by tiny isles – that can easily be hiked in just a couple of hours. There are colorfully painted buildings, surrounded by pretty flowers….and pure serenity.
Which island was my favorite? Argh, do you really make me choose again? I dislike comparing: I detest better or poorer. I like different! I like the beauty and the excitement that comes with diversity.
On the way to São Jorge.
This said, if again, you point a gun to my head, I’ll say Fogo was my favorite. Fogo, because it is the most varied – it has beaches and greeneries, but also rocks and lava. It is lovely and bizarre. Full of stories and history – a true inspiration.
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