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Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Best Hidden Travel Gems Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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"We're kind of obsessed with National Geographic's new book, Secret Journeys of a Lifetime. The book, which came out earlier this week, has all sorts of travel tips, from the best ghost towns worth visiting to broader topics like the most idyllic island getaways, spiritual travel tips and even classic road trips worth embarking on." --The Huffington Post
“As is custom in a National Geographic coffee table book, the photos are stunning; the practical information and planning advice are useful; and the small sidebars on other nearby points of interest are fascinating. But most compelling are the star attractions, with vivid descriptions that transport you for a tiny glimpse into an often unseen world. It will leave you wondering what National Geographic will come up with next.” –San Jose Mercury News
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Top Ten Markets & Bazaars
From canaries in Beijing to felt skullcaps in Tunis, relish the sheer variety of the world’s marketplaces and the produce and wares on offer.
1. Sololá Market, Guatemala
Red with white stripes is the dominant fashion among sellers and customers at this weekly market in the Guatemalan highlands. Many women arrive with sacks on their heads filled with goods ranging from tortillas to live chickens as well as the handwoven costumes of the Kaqchikel Indians. There is barely a tourist trinket in sight, and traditional dress is the rule.
2. La Vega Central, Santiago, Chile
The Chilean capital’s joyously chaotic La Vega Central market, beside the Mapocho River, positively drips South American culture. For the less squeamish—and the large stray dog, cat, and fly population—pigs’ heads, tripe, and intestines are a draw. Other delicacies on offer include sopaipillas (fried pumpkin bread), caldo pata (hoof soup), and pastel de choclo (corn pie).
3. Namdaemun Market, Seoul, South Korea
South Korea’s largest traditional market, Namdaemun—“great south gate”—owes its name to its location near a former gate in Seoul’s long gone city wall. More than 1,000 stores and stalls purvey an array of produce, including clothes, flowers, ginseng products, street food, leather goods, toys—and live turtles.
4. Flower, Bird, Fish, and Insect Market, Beijing, China
Chirruping canaries, caterwauling kittens, and chirping crickets create a quintessentially Chinese sound track at Beijing’s Guan Yuan Hua Niao Yu Chong Shi Chang (Flower, Bird, Fish, and Insect Market). Shoes, scorpions, and smoking pipes are among the finds, alongside kites and insects. Much of Beijing may have been sanitized in a frantic rush to modernize, but this old-style market remains refreshingly authentic.
5. Grand Bazaar, Kashgar, China
Two thousand years of history have not dented exotic Kashgar’s importance as a market town on the ancient Silk Road. Its Grand Bazaar has long attracted merchants from throughout Central Asia and western China, trading in livestock, carpets, handicrafts, clothes, and food. Barter remains common.
6. Pak Khlong Talat, Bangkok, Thailand
Head from Memorial Bridge toward Bangkok’s Chinatown and your nose will guide you to the city’s largest wholesale flower, spice, fruit, and vegetable market, open round the clock. Orchids, jasmine, roses, and myriad other eruptions of color and fragrance compete for visual and olfactory attention.
7. Mercato della Pignasecca, Naples, Italy
At its brash best, Naples is one of Italy’s most exuberant cities. A superb place to experience its vibrant soul and top-notch street food is the Pignasecca Market. Culinary favorites include calzone, panzerotti (potato croquettes), taralli (Italian-style pretzels), pizza fritta (deep-fried pizza), and sfogliatelle (filled pastries).
8. Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Provence, France
This island in the fast-flowing Sorgue River was once a water- milling center producing silk, wool, and paper. The traditional industries went into decline in the 1960s, and a new one arose: Antiques-selling. The town now has more than 300 permanent antiques dealers, and its flea market is France’s largest outside Paris. Musicians create a carnival mood on market days, while stalls sell Provençal food and handicrafts.
9. Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal
Founded in 1882 and housed in its current riverside building since 1930, this is Lisbon’s largest food market. On the ground floor, stalls sell everything from fish and seafood to flowers, meat, fruit, and vegetables, while the upper story is a center for local art and gastronomy. Star buys include honey and hand- painted tiles, a Portuguese specialty.
10. Souk des Chéchias, Tunis, Tunisia
Dedicated to the chéchia, a felt skullcap with tassels or a tuft, this suq (market) full of 19th-century shops is perhaps the most interesting—yet endangered—in Tunis. Traditionally associated with Andalusian Moors exiled from Spain between 1609 and 1614, the handmade chéchia became part of the Tunisian national costume. Nowadays, a mere handful of craftsmen remains.
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Top Customer Reviews
The 500 best travel gems each have a page and at least 1 picture, a small location map, some text telling about the site and when to go, how to find it, planning, and websites.
I did find one problem with one of their sites, which hopefully isn't an indication of poor details in the others. It lists St Michaels Maryland as an undiscovered village...anyone who has tried to find a parking place, or a table at a restaurant on a summer Sunday afternoon there would find this hilarious. Strange because if they would have investigated a bit further there are several other small towns on the Eastern shore of Maryland that are perfectly charming and wonderful examples of what they purport St Michaels to be.
All of this information and the pictures combine to make you wish you had unlimited funds and time to start on a journey. If you are lucky, you have been to a few of these places - whether you have or not, you would certainly find this book interesting for its photography and facts about these faraway places.
For the armchair traveller, just browsing through is a very rewarding experience, but for anyone who is prepared to travel to far flung places it is a great source of inspiration. The book is split into nine separate sections eg Spiritual Havens, the Road Less Travelled and City Secrets. Every so often there are useful top ten lists covering various topics such as Roman Sites or Islands Within Cities. Strangely there is no index of these top ten lists which seem to be just scattered throughout the book.
The format is that for each of about 200 of the chosen sites there is a page devoted which includes a picture, some description and a useful summary of when to go, how to find it, planning and websites which can be consulted. The other 300 odd sites are included in the top ten lists and just include a very brief description and a few words on planning.
Since the publishers have chosen to group these places in the way described above, there is, of necessity, no geographic grouping which may have been more useful. However, where, within one of the ten sections, places are geographically close together these are grouped. For example, in Last Wildernesses, there are five sites in the USA and these are described consecutively. If visiting an area, the easiest way to locate places in the book is to look through the index at the back. eg if you look up Wales in the Index, the 11 references to Wales in the book are listed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great pictures as always!!!! National Geographic never disappoints. We gave it to my father-in-law as a birthday gift and he loved it!Published 20 days ago by Sani
As good as it looks/sounds . . . Can't run out of ideas/pictures/places
It's taking a while to get through b/c there's So Much to see . . . Read more
It was a gift to my fiance. He loved it! We are "off the beaten path" travelers and this is a perfect book for us with great ideas. The photography is stunning too! Read morePublished 12 months ago by Ben R.