This week I finally received an email I have been anticipating since January. “ANNOUNCING THE BEST DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD…See the Winners,” TripAdvisor blared. I spent the next several minutes comparing its 2016 BEST list to 2015’s.
Four destinations dropped off the list: Zermatt, Switzerland, Goreme, Turkey, Athens, Greece, and Queenstown, New Zealand. They were replaced by Lisbon, Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I was especially delighted to see Lisbon enter the list. This is an underrated city that can certainly use tourist dollars, euros, etc. and has lots to see and do, a distinctive culture, fun trams, and interesting cuisine. That Portugal was once the center of a colonial empire is reflected in its museums. When Ruth & I were planning to visit Tokyo 2 years ago, a Japanese friend told us to go to Kyoto instead. We changed our plans, so I don’t know if Tokyo deserves TripAdvisor’s praise. Amsterdam is definitely a city to visit and repeat. Playa del Carmen? We haven’t been there, but we’re going to Mexico City in May because The New York Times rated it the #1 destination in the world at the end of 2015. Playa del Carmen is south of Cancún on the Riviera Maya.
Marrakech, Morocco, was #1 on TripAdvisor’s 2015 list. 2016’s #1 is London, England, which was #6 last year. Marrakech is now #3. Istanbul still ranks very high despite the fact that it has become a trouble spot. In January a suicide bomber killed 10 people, 8 of them tourists, in the popular Sultanahmet district near the Blue Mosque, and this month another suicide bomber killed 4 more in a busy shopping street frequented by tourists. Of course, this can happen anywhere in the world now. Paris was #9 in 2015 and moved up to #4 in 2016 despite its troubles. Istanbul, a terrific destination, was #3 last year and is #2 on the 2016 list.
Ruth and I have been to 14 of the 25 places on TripAdvisor’s 2016 list. Our favorites are Sydney, Australia, and Budapest, Hungary. And now welcome to Lisbon, where Ruth loved Pastéis de Belém’s pastel de nata, way delicious custard tarts that look like miniature pies.