Europe

Round The World #1: Catch Me If You Can!

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You’ve made it. You’ve saved, you’ve scrimped, you’ve abandoned all hope of owning a house in Auckland, but you got your hands on something better – a round-the-world ticket to a few of the most central destinations you could think of. This ticket is your gateway to the rest of the world, with stopovers in the Middle East, Europe and the US. Leave your options wide open to explore neighbouring states, cities and countries all in your own time, and get a taste of the travel bug that will keep you coming back for more!

Famous for its booming economy and its love of plenty, Dubai is becoming the economic centre of the Middle East. It is a city known for pushing the boundaries of architecture and culture with its man-made sand islands, the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – and its endless array of street food, music and shopping alleys. While things aren’t inherently cheap in Dubai – it’s been named the most expensive city in the Middle East – there’s no reason you can’t make the most of your time here and still have a bit left over for the rest of your trip!

A few classic must-dos are of course the Burj Khalifa and the Mall of Emirates. Tickets for the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa start at around $50NZD, which works out generally cheaper than New York’s Empire State Building, and you go higher, too – more bang for your buck! The Mall of Emirates doesn’t charge entry, and you don’t even need to spend any money to marvel at this amazing feat of consumerism. Over 700 stores PLUS an indoor ski field, each floor is an attraction all on its own.

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If indoors aren’t so much your thing, Dubai also boasts a number of historical quarters and outdoor pulls for those who would rather explore the city from within. The Al Fahidi Historic District is a maze of narrow alleys and winding lanes, saved from demolition in the 1980s. Parts of the town have been around since the 1800s, and guided tours give you the chance to go deeper into the city and its rich, eclectic history.

A stone’s throw from Dubai are a handful of other cultural centres which, given you’re already in that corner of the world, we’d certainly recommend you stop by. Cairo, Egypt is the junction between Africa and the Middle East, and steeped in historical significance and a thirst for adventure. Right around the corner, Israel offers party-central Tel Aviv, or a peek into Jerusalem, a city thousands of years old and inhabited by people of all race, religion and conviction. All of these intrepid destinations have a booming tourism industry – if you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track and a few stories to tell your friends back home, Dubai is the place to start.

Next stop on your round-the-world expedition is Amsterdam, a step back from the upbeat pace of commercial conquests in the Middle East. Where else can you find a more quaint city with a more laid-back air than Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Known for its elaborate canal system and friendly locals, the best way to explore the city is by bike, alongside rivers and through parks built specifically for this popular mode of transport.

Part of Amsterdam’s charm is the allure of its outdoor scene. Take a river-boat tour or stroll through Vondelpark, and Jordaan. Squeeze into a cosy, 350-year old bar or marvel at the leaning riverside houses, before stopping off at the Tulip Museum, a homage to the country’s favourite floral icon. By night, follow the masses to the Red Light District, where risqué is the mode de jour, or spend your evening sampling award winning strains at Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops.

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Once you’ve had your fill of tulip fields, Amsterdam is even closer to its neighbours than Dubai is, and with some of the most efficient overland travel in the world, what better way to make it to your next destination than with a Eurail Pass? The next leg of your journey leaves from Paris, but there’s absolutely no rush when making your way across the continent. If you’re really looking to make the most of your time away, why not take it slow, with a detour through the rest of Europe? Hit the slopes in Switzerland, discover Germany’s underground party scene, take a while to live life like a local in Italy, and hit the sand and surf on the Spanish coast.

La Ville Lumiere, Paris has all the romantic jaunts and tourist hotspots a traveller could hope for, but the real treasures can be found away from the cities and away from the crowds. Kick back on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world in Cannes or the Mediterranean, or grab a glass of red with the girls in Bordeaux.

When you’ve finished taking Europe for a spin, your round-the-world ticket takes you to Los Angeles, home to the sights and the stars, and your gateway to the rest of America. Tick Hollywood Boulevard off your bucket list, but don’t forget to stop by Venice Beach, where the city’s most eccentric and eclectic collection of artists come together to build the beach’s culture. Stroll through craft markets and street performers before kicking off your shoes and plopping yourself down in the sand to plan the rest of your American road trip.

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Beyond the city of Los Angeles, California has plenty more to offer. If you’re like us and need to balance the city with the scenery, we’d highly recommend renting a car or joining a tour up to Yosemite or Sequoia National Park. These wonders of the natural world are easily accessible, and anyone could spend days in these parks covering the hiking trails over valleys and rivers, breathing in the fresh mountain air. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, don’t look past the area’s camping sites, and if you’re looking to really push the boundaries, sign up for a rock-climbing class and tackle the park’s crevasses and sheer cliff faces.

Tackle your round-the-world adventure head on with this back-to-basics itinerary. With a stopover at major junctions around every corner, the world is at your feet and ready for the taking. Check out more round-the-world itineraries here, or click here to start booking your trip!