Munich, the gateway to the Bavarian Alps, is a city with a great many historical associations—past and present—a city with an atmosphere completely unspoiled by bustling modernity. Lying midway between Strassbourg and Vienna, it is the most important town in southern Germany, also one of the largest European towns to be situated at so high an altitude. Founded in 1158, Munich was for centuries the capital of the independent kingdom of Bavaria, and in more recent times the birthplace of Nazidom. A heavy ring of munitions factories built by the Hitler regime made it an important target for allied bombings in World War II; however its protected location prevented much of the devastation suffered by other large German cities. After the Americans liberated Munich in 1945, the Temple of Honor, a memorial to the 16 Nazis killed in the “beerhall putsch,” as well as other remnants of Nazi rule, were destroyed. Today, Munich has regained much of its former prominence as a cultural center of world fame. This is a city rich in museums, art collections and exhibitions, theaters and concert halls. Especially famous are the Munich Opera, the art treasures of the Old Pinakothek and the Deutsche Museum. Every year the inherent “joie de vivre” of Munich is expressed in three typical festivals—the Munich Carnival, the bock beer festival held each spring and “Oktoberfest” in the fall is one of Germany’s gayest festivals
At first glance, Bangkok seems to be one of the world’s most tumultuous cities, with maddening traffic and crowded sidewalks. But the Thais have mastered the art of creating tranquility in their homes, hotels and restaurants. From a dazzling array of street food to the flower market, royal sites and sophisticated hotels, Bangkok is a dream destination.
Drink With a View
Bangkok is a sprawling city whose main artery is the always-churning Chao Phraya River. The very best way to get a handle on the city is from on high-like 63 stories up, at the world’s highest al fresco restaurant, Sirocco, atop the State Tower downtown. Watch Bangkok’s lights come on at sunset over a signature drink at the adjacent bar. If you suffer from vertigo and find the perch too scary, opt for Breeze, u stories down, where the outdoor seating is more enclosed.
Bangkok by Boat
Inexpensive taxi boats ply the Chao Phraya, but it’s more fun to take a private tour of the klongs, or canals, that branch off from the river by hiring a long-tailed boat at the Oriental Pier, next to the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel. These slim, long boats are driven by entirely-too powerful automotive engines mounted above the water line and wielded by expert drivers who can turn on a dime. You’ll cruise down serene waterways, past homes built on stilts with lush gardens-and get a close-up look at how many of the locals live. Negotiate a price of $15 an hour and refuse a detour to a common ripoff stop, a pathetic snake farm.
Ask any tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi driver to take you to Yaowarat Road in the heart of Chinatown around 8 p.m. and have dinner the Thai way at any of the hundreds of street-food stalls 0. Cleanliness standards are excellent, and the eating is among the best in town. Figure on $6 per person for an enormous fried fresh fish seasoned generously with sublime Thai spices, rice and drinks. Or visit the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, a popular night market where you can walk off your dinner visiting small stores selling stylish household items and clothing.
A rare cultural melting pot, the unique civilization is a product of Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers, with a touch of the local Bushman, Hottentot and Bantu tribes mixed in. This distinct background shapes every aspect of the Cape Town-from its dining scene to the trendy nightlife, immersing the city in a culturally chic atmosphere. When you dine in Cape Town, you’ll find endless choices-from French to African to Middle Eastern fare. A night on the town will complete the Cape Town experience. Famed for its nightlife, the city boasts a diverse array of nightclubs. Swing over to Mink Cocktail Lounge, where the Dl is always spinning and the atmosphere is always vibrant. From the delicious cocktails to the throngs of funky partiers, Mink is sure to please even the most discriminating of club goers. If you crave -something a little more cultural, head to Po Na Na Souk Bar. Hidden in a Mediterranean-style courtyard in the middle of Heritage Square, this lounge mixes Arabian elements with all that is Cape Town for a truly unique experience. Sink into a silky pillow and sip a signature Marrakech Sling. A mix of lounge music and creative world music sets the tune for this North African oasis.