It's 2012 travel list time & Lonely Planet goes goofy ... Also Berlin/Vienna news
There's frost on the pumpkin here in Toronto and that can only mean we're getting close to the year-end. And that can only mean it's time for more travel lists.
I like Lonely Planet a lot. I know they've kinda taken over the world, but you can't fault them for putting out good guides.
I do, however, have to wonder about their latest group of lists. They sent me an item today to say that their top 10 cities for 2012 travel are London, Muscat (Oman), Bengaluru (India), Cadiz (Spain), Stockholm, Guimaraes (Portugal), Santiago (Chile), Hong Kong, Orlando and Darwin.
You can always argue with things like that. I don't know where Bengaluru came from and I don't know Guimaraes at all. I kinda like that they chose Orlando, which is featured in Star Travel this Saturday and has a lot more going for it than the Mouse.
But the Lonely Planet folks also sent me their list of best-value destinations for 2012, and it's quite, well, stupid. They have a heading on the press release that says the following: "If past years (or recessions) have sucked up your travel budget, plan smart and get more bang for your buck in 2012)."
They then go on to list, in the number one spot for VALUE, the NorthEast USA. Yep, the home of New York City and Boston, two of the pricier cities on the continent.
Number two is more like it: Tajikistan, followed by Lesotho (see photo below) and the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Number five? SAN FRANCISCO!!!!
I guess you could argue that any city that great is worth the price, so it's a good deal. San Francisco has tons to offer and you CAN find cheap places to eat and great places to wander for free. Ditto for New York. But hotels in both cities are pricey, and neither is a destination most folks would consider as "great value," at least not in the traditional way of thinking of the phrase.
I mean, if you put Lesotho in there and Tajikistan, you clearly don't mean high-end, popular destinations that cost a fair bit but still deliver a strong punch.
The six through 10 spots in the value destination are Japan (usually expensive but probably a better deal since the horrible tsunami they had), Ohrid in Macedonia, Merida in Mexico, Iquitos in Peru and Porto, Portugal.
I understand maybe they wanted some American destinations, but value destinations in the U.S. would, I think, be someplace like Las Vegas or maybe Austin, Texas or Myrtle Beach or Milwaukee, which, incidentally, is a pretty good town. Definitely NOT the Northeast USA or San Francisco.
While we're on the subject of lists, here's what the folks at Frommers have said about top destinations for 2012: Curacao, Chongqing (China), Fukuoka (Japan), Beirut, Ghana, London's Greenwich neighbourhood, Girona (Spain), Kansas City (not a bad town, either), the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and, finally, The Bay of Fundy. They listed the Bay of Fundy as being in Nova Scotia, which is partly correct, and say they choose it because it's a "quiet, charming area; perfect for recharging your batteries."
BERLIN AND VIENNA JOIN FORCES
One is known as an edgy city with plenty of history. The other is known as a quiet, historic city with more energy than you might expect.
"In Europe we're competitors but not here," Burkhard Kieker, CEO of Visit Berlin, told me over breakfast the other day. "Vienna has old style from the empire but also a great savoir vivre. Berline is edgy but it's the focal point of a lot of history with a young and vibrant crowd."
"Our cities are similar enough and different enough to make the perfect match," said Norbert Kettner, managing director of the Vienna Tourism Board.
Kieker said the two cities are only an hour apart by plane and flights cost as little as 29 Euros.
There are no direct flights from Toronto to Berlin right now, Kieker said, but Berlin will open a new airport next June and he hopes to have service restored and that Berlin will turn into a major European airport hub.
"We're old-school but not old-fashioned."
Kieker said world war sites are popular in Berlin but the city is trying to be careful.
"We don't want to do a Nazi Disneyland," he said.
Kieker said Jewish life is increasingly vibrant in Berlin and that his city is the number one foreign destination for Israelis.
The two cities began their joint marketing in Brazil earlier this year and continued it this week in Toronto with a couple media events.