Travel is all about experience through learning. And sometimes, oftentimes actually, learning takes more than one go-around. Whether this means revisiting a destination to do something you haven’t done before, or embarking on a journey that many people have already taken before you, this installment of the Urchin Travel Wish List is dedicated to the notion that you are charge of your own personal learning curve.
It’s one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, but, really, how can you go to Peru without going to Machu Picchu? After visiting countless 15th century (and older) citites throughout Europe, I find exploring the ancient Incan city a fascinating insight into our collective history.
Machu Picchu was built around the time Columbus (theoretically) discovered America. At 7,970 ft. above sea level, Machu Picchu was a palace for Incan rulers but was abandoned as such only 100 years later during the Spanish Conquest. Though there is so much more to explore in Peru, Machu Picchu is an inescapable destination.
When I visited Hong Kong this past February, the warm, humid weather was a welcome departure from the biting cold of Tokyo and Shanghai, but clouds still hung low over the city’s famed skyline. They provided great insulation but caused me to miss out on the supposedly spectacular views from Victoria Peak. The next time I’m lucky enough to find myself in Hong Kong, catching those views will be at the top of my list.
Undecided, however, is what mode of transport I’ll use to get to the top of the peak. The 125-year-old Peak Tram is renowned to be the most scenic option but, at $28 one-way, is almost unconscionably expensive. A bus climbs the peak from just under $10, but I think I might go with the old Urchin standby of my own two feet.
Hiking the peak would not only be free, but it will allow me to explore even more of Hong Kong, including the world’s longest outdoor escalator (!). Climbing from central Hong Kong to the Mid-levels, the escalator is far more Urchin-friendly, with machines along the way even providing free top-up travel card credits for people who chose to walk up the peak. Get paid for walking? Don’t mind if we do!
Due to its geography as a European thoroughfare and the cosmic pull of its beer and pommes frites, I’ve managed to visit the Belgian capital, Brussels, three times. Its compact size, in comparison to London and Paris, has led me to believe that I’ve walked through the entire city on more than one occasion. Whether that’s true or not is anyone’s guess, but I do know for certain that there is still one thing I haven’t visited in Brussels: The Belgian Comic Strip Center.
The last time I walked the Belgian cobblestones, I stayed with a relative who called the city home and thus knew its streets well. He advised me to visit the Comic Strip Center, but at that time I hadn’t read a comic book in about fifteen years, and so the desire to go was squashed under the weight of my beer pint.
Since then, I have dived eyes-first into the wonderful world of graphic illustration, reading wonderful stories from renowned illustrators who hail from all over the world. Belgium, of course, is no small player to the comics world, and so the Belgian Comic Strip Center, which proudly chronicles the history of Belgian comics, is now a must-see for my eventual revisit to Brussels.