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Travel BOOKS

First published in 2019 by Murray Books (Australia) www.murraybooks.com

Copyright Š 2019 Murray Books (Australia) Copyright Š 2019 Peter Murray ISBN: 978-0-9871281-9-5

All rights reserved. This publication or any part thereof may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Author : Peter Murray : Images: Shutterstock

The author and publisher have made every effort to ensure the information contained in this book was correct at the time of going to press and accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person or organisation using this book.

INTRODUCTION In 1841, Thomas Cook took paying passengers on an advertised eleven-mile railway trip to a temperance meeting for one-shilling each. Included in the price was a midday meal, and that one trip began a revolution - the travel bug started with one man's vision, and it hasn't stopped growing. Today, we can travel to all corners of the globe, and we can do it in a variety of styles and to suit most tastes and budgets - a far cry from a sooty train journey between two English towns. What makes a tourist destination so spectacular that it becomes an entry on person's bucket list, and how did it make the jump from unknown destination to popular dream? Why is it that one person can drool at the thought of a meander through the canals of Venice, but another could think of nothing better than scaling The Matterhorn? The answer is simple - people differ, and so does their taste in travel. Today, we live in a world that offers us a vast choice in travel, and this book celebrates the ultimate must-see destinations. Machu Picchu, the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China stand out as a few of the top ten destinations in the world, and it is little wonder - they offer scenic grandeur, a sense of mystery, and evidence of the most stunning architectural edifices built in antiquity. Likewise, the Angkor Temples, the Taj Mahal, the Forbidden City and the ruins of Pompeii tease us with their untold stories. To be so close to something built centuries before Antarctica, Australia and the Americas were discovered is almost unbelievable, but thanks to tourism, we are privileged to be able to see them first hand. From the Amazon rainforest or the Victoria Falls, we possess the capability to fall in love with a destination - to feel as though we have been transported out of ourselves and into something far greater than life. We flock to Santorini, Dubrovnik and Easter Island to soak up a sense of abandon and forget our homes and our workplaces. For a short, magical time, we reach the peak of our desire to escape and stand in awe before the towering, cliff structures of Petra or the fjords of Norway. Enjoy this pictorial journey into the magical world of travel.

MONT SAINT-MICHEL FRANCE The Normans' Most Impregnable Fortress

Only a kilometre off of the coast of picturesque Normandy, Le Mont Saint-Michel stands as a monument to centuries of

religious and political upheaval within France. It was originally

known as Mont Tombe until the 8th century AD, when St.

Aubert of Avranches was reputedly led by the Archangel Michael to build a church on the rocky island surrounded by

quixotic tides and sand. By the 11th century, Mont SaintMichel was Norman stronghold, having changed function

from abbey to prison, fort and seat of power for William the


Over the ensuing centuries, the island fought off all would-

be invaders, and there are remains of 15th century bombardments still seen there today. The abbey grew into

stupendous proportions and dwarfed the Medieval village below, operating as a jail until 1863. Mont Saint-Michel is now

a destination of significant cultural and architectural beauty - a commune funded by tourism and populated only by

monks and villagers.

PYRAMIDS OF GIZA Mystery and Magnificence on the Outskirts of Cairo

One of the most surprising realisations when visiting the Giza Plateau and its incredible archaeology is that the city of Cairo

virtually butts up against the site. With modern tourism

almost on the doorstep, it is possible to end a day at Giza with

a swim in the Mediterranean and a taste of Egyptian nightlife.

The three major attractions at Giza are the Khafra, Menkhare

and Khufu pyramids, accompanied by satellite pyramids for

the queens of the time. Khufu is also known as the Great Pyramid, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and reputed

to be the largest structure ever built. Accompanying the

pyramids is the nearby Sphinx, which remains mysterious in

its purpose and meaning, and the Khufu Ship - the remains

of a boat that was designed to take Khufu to the afterlife. As the Menkhare pyramid is the only one retaining its polished

limestone exterior, it appears far larger than the others, but it is actually shorter, lighter and smaller. Only one pyramid is

open at a time as a conservation measure, but a trip into the

passageways, descending steps and burial chambers make

the visit a full one and packed with the most incredible glimpse into Egypt's mysterious past.

THE AMALFI COAST, ITALY Secret Coves, Pristine Beaches & Crystalline Water

Southern Italy, basking in a warm, Mediterranean climate, has

many tourist attractions, but none like the coastline on the

shores of the Sorrentine Peninsula - the Amalfi Coast. There

is little agriculture along the coast due to the terrain, leaving it virtually pristine in places, although there are pockets of

lemon orchards in terraced gardens that provide the base for

the area's famous Limoncello liqueur and lemon ices.

The houses of Atrani cling to steep hillsides, while the Emerald Cave of Conca dei Marini continues to attract with

its incredible natural colours. Further along, the tiny town of Furore offers virtual paradise, and the food, pristine beach

and caves of Maiori leave tourists torn between adventure,

relaxation or gastronomic delight. All along the magical

coastline, Roman villas and beautiful churches peer down

over crystalline water that laps at places of cottage industry

and mysterious history. At Revello, echoes of a strong maritime ancestry shoulder those of the famous artists who

once visited and painted the stunning scenery before them.

Today, the Amalfi Coast is one of the most photographed

regions in the world, and a single visit is all it takes to understand why.

ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND Perfection in the Shadow of The Matterhorn

At the foot of The Matterhorn, one of Switzerland's most beautiful ski resorts sits in the Valais Canton near the Italian

border. Once a centre of farming, the first public ascent of The Matterhorn resulted in a rush of tourists to the area and

the rebirth of Zermatt. Today, it is not only the enormous

pyramid of rock above that draws visitors, because Zermatt is a gateway to summer hikers and winter skiers intent upon enjoying the best the country has to offer.

The Cervinia cable car takes travellers into Italy, while

Europe's highest open air railway, the Gornergratbahn, travels

to the summit of its namesake 3,000 metres above sea level

and the MGB ferries visitors to and from St. Moritz. Zermatt

is a car free town, allowing only whisper-quiet, battery

powered vehicles within its confines. Above all else, skiing is

king in Zermatt all year round, with four resorts operating

continually. Regardless of recreational pursuits, electric cars

and trains or hiking in the direction of the stratosphere, the view from the cable car up to the Klein Matterhorn is all the

reason in the world to visit Zermatt - the rest just makes it worth staying longer.

PARIS, FRANCE The 120-Year-Old Temporary Tower

The Eiffel Tower was only ever meant to be a temporary

entrance to the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, but 120 years later, it remains one of the world's most iconic structures and draws

millions of visitors annually. At over 1,000 feet high and 400

feet wide on each side, it has three visitor levels, including

restaurants on the first two levels and a 900 foot high

observatory platform on the third. While stairs are available

for those with enough energy to scale 300 steps from the

ground to the first floor, most tourists take elevators to enjoy a bird's eye view of the City of Light - and what a view it is.

From the Eiffel Tower, Paris and its Quarters become far

clearer than on the ground or when looking at a map.

Because the city is significantly landmarked with structures such as the Arc de Triomphe, Montparnasse, the top of

Montmartre, the Seine and the Louvre Pyramid, it is easy to

understand the city of romance and bohemian history from

above. The imagination runs wild when seeing Paris from

above, and it is often only time that sends the visitor away, ready to return and experience it all over again.


For over 1,800 years there has been a church on the site of

the Hagia Sophia, and the current structure has been present there for 1,300 years. Built to replicate Constantinople's own

Hagia Sophia, now in Istanbul, it became Thessaloniki's

cathedral at the hands of 11th century Crusaders and a mosque around 200 years later when the country changed

hands. In 1912, when Thessaloniki was liberated, it again became a Christian church.

While the exterior of Hagia Sophia cannot rival its Istanbul based namesake, it is the interior that takes the breath away.

The ceiling of the dome alone is possibly one of the most aweinspiring sights in iconic painting, painstakingly restored in

1980 to wipe away the ravages of the great fires of 1890 and

1917. The Byzantine Era has never seemed so close as when

inside Thessaloniki's iconic masterpiece of architecture, and

the mosaics alone can set the imagination to almost seeing the original artisans reverently crafting, painting and placing their tiles.

Thessaloniki's Hagia Sophia is a must-see destination for

tourists who love history, regardless of its more imposing, golden inspiration in Istanbul.

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE, INDIA Holiness and Grandeur in Gold

Over a century before Christopher Columbus mistook America for an extension of India, the city of Amritsar was

founded by Sikh gurus and the Harmandir Sahib started life

as the holiest of temples or Gurdwaras. The home of Sikhism's holiest relics, the Golden Temple was built to welcome visitors

from all walks of life and religions. The body of water surrounding the temple (The Holy Pool of Nectar) was dug

out in 1578 and the temple was built in the middle of it. The

architecture of the temple is very specific - designed to

represent the cornerstones of Sikh faith. Details such as the

water surrounding the structure and the act of descending to

worship reflect this.

Today's Golden Temple is far more ornate than it originally

was, with most of the gilding and the marblework having been installed in the early 19th century. The Maharajah Ranjit

Singh was the temple's most devoted benefactor in the early 1800s and was the chief donor of the gold plating that

remains today, The combination of his largesse and that of

his forebears has resulted in possibly the most breathtaking and awe inspiring site of religious pilgrimage in the world today.

MILAN, ITALY Fashion, Opera and Wow Factor

Who doesn't want to visit Milan? As Italy's premier commercial, financial and industrial centre and the world

capital of fashion and opera, the city is a magnet to those wanting to soak up culture by the bucketful.

Fashion is king in Milan, with Gucci, Valentino, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace dominating the shopping experience. Industrial design also features strongly, with

Europe's most prestigious design fair, the Salon Internazionale

del Mobile, a permanent fixture on the world's furniture

design calendar. The city's architecture is a stunning array of

modern and Medieval, with La Scala, Milan's famous opera

house, oozing class and inviting all to steep themselves in the musical experience of a lifetime. Most importantly, it isn't

possible to visit Milan without shopping, and the Quadrilatero

Della Moda, the fashion district, is the only place to start. A stroll down Via Monte Napoleone, Via Manzoni or Corso

Venezia equates to a canal ride along the main artery of world

fashion shopping, and a visit to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an absolute must before anybody can state categorically

that they have shopped in Milan.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA A Waltz Through European Culture

Home of the waltz and known as the City of Music, Vienna

resounds with echoes of Baroque life, evident in its castles,

grand buildings, parks and monuments. Culture and Vienna are synonymous with each other, and central Vienna has been

home to some of the world's most notable people - including

composers Brahms and Strauss, socialists Trotsky and Tito, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Loos and the philosopher Ludwig

Wittgenstein. Mozart, Haydyn, and Beethoven all spent time

working in Vienna, sealing the city's status and the world's culture capital.

Today, Vienna is as cultured as it ever was, and visitors are spoiled for choice. Grand opera houses and theatres host

opera, operetta and the city's trademark New Year's Day

Concert, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

On Vienna's to-do list is a visit to the Schรถnbrunn Palace or

the Tiergarten Schรถnbrunn, the oldest public zoo in the world.

The Weiner Riesenrad's ferris wheel in Prater is probably the

most recognisable of all Viennese landmarks and attracts over

600,000 visitors every year. Over half that number visit the Donauturm observation desk to see Vienna from above, while

visitors looking to soak up historic Vienna with a difference

head for the Spanish Riding School, which is an absolute must.

CHICHEN ITZA, MEXICO An Educated but Brutal Civilisation

One of Mexico's most visited archaeological sites, Chichen

Itza is recognised the world over as the heart of the

mysterious Mayan civilisation. Built in pre-Columbian times,

the city was the largest of the Mayan settlements, and its

origins are still steeped in mystery. On the day of the Spring

Equinox thousands make a pilgrimage to witness the shadow

of the feathered serpent-god crawl down the wall of the Temple of Kukulcan.

High on the list of Chichen Itza's amazing buildings is the

Temple of Warriors, the exposed columns of which once

supported a massive roof. Carved Mayan soldiers appear

along the walls, and at the top of the stairs, a reclining figure

lies with a bowl on its stomach. The ancient Mayan

observatory of El Caracol is also a fascinating insight into the

ingenuity and intelligence of the city's past inhabitants, while

the enormous ball court reveals the brutality of the civilisation, with depictions of players losing heads and

severing arteries. It is only when visiting the Temple of Skulls

that the true horror of Mayan life becomes apparent, with

the walls of the temple having served as a point of display for the severed heads of ball game losers!

THE LOUVRE MUSEUM, FRANCE The World's Most Visited Museum

The Right Bank of Paris' Seine is rich with things to do and

see, but none is as exciting as The Louvre Museum, easily identified by the enormous glass pyramid that greets visitors.

The world's most visited museum holds a collection of over

30,000 objects dating from pre-history, and nearly ten million visitors pass through every year to view them.

The home of the museum is the 12th century Louvre Palace, which is an artefact in itself. Louis XIV once lived there before

moving to the Palace of Versailles and leaving the Royal Collection behind. Opening its doors as a museum for the first

time in 1793, The Louvre's holdings have increased to have eight main departments - Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints &

Drawings; Sculpture; Greek, Roman and Etruscan Antiquities;

Near Eastern Antiquities; and Egyptian Antiquities. The latter

is the inspiration for the glass pyramid that dominates the

courtyard and fascinates. For those contemplating a day trip

to the museum, careful planning is the key because there is

far too much to squeeze into eight hours. Travel websites are

a great resource for this and are highly recommended before a first visit.

FLORENCE, ITALY Birthplace of the Renaissance

Florence, or Firenze as the locals know it, heads up the

Tuscany region of Italy and is often referred to as the

Birthplace of the Renaissance or the Athens of the Middle Ages. Once ruled by the Medici family, notorious for their

Machiavellian politics, turbulence and strife reigned supreme

for centuries. Of course, while this was all going on, Florence

managed to become the home of Italy's finest Renaissance architecture and a repository for art and culture without peer.

Visiting Florence today requires at least one foray out into the

beautiful Tuscan countryside to sample wine and local produce, and many visitors use the city as a base to do just

that. Others visit for the fashion shopping, but most come to

gape at the beauty of Italian city life at its finest. Plazas, cathedrals, statues and bridges feature highly in Florence's

architecture, with such landmarks as the Cupola del Brunelleschi, the Piazza del Duomo, Giotti's Bell Tower and

the Ponte Vecchio just some of the reasons that student

architects flock to Florence for study and mind-boggling

inspiration. A day in Florence dips the toe, a week tantalises

the mind and a month becomes the beginning of a lifelong

love affair.


In Ancient Greek, Athens' Acropolis is literally a city on the extremity - not just of the early settlement of Athens, but of

the collective knowledge of mankind. The most famous of

Greece's many so-named structures, building of the city on a

hill began back in the fifth century, when England was still under Roman rule and much of the world was yet to be


Athens' holy rock sits above the city and can be seen from

most vantage points below, even at night when it is lit up.

Approaching the hill from Monastiraki, the first surprise is the view of Athens below and the second is in safely traversing

slippery, stone steps - but the climb is well worth the effort.

There is also a lift available, but regardless of how it is reached, the view from Areios Pagos is sensational - as is

sunset from the Acropolis' peak. The sensation of seeing

firsthand such iconic structures as the Temple of Athena Nike,

the Propylaean, the Parthenon and others is awe inspiring, as

is the ability to walk among iconic buildings once graced by the founders of democracy.


Neuschwanstein Castle is less than 200 years old, but it was

built to resemble Romanesque architecture by King Ludwig II

of Bavaria in the 19th century. Little did His Majesty know that

within less than a century of his death, the castle would

become the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, beamed into the living rooms of millions worldwide on a

weekly basis. Built on a steep hill overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein was Ludwig's personal retreat, dedicated to the musical genius of Richard

Wagner - of The Ring fame.

Immediately following Ludwig's death, the castle was opened

to the public - a practise occasionally halted by war but which

continues today in the form of over one million visitors every

year. Once through the tower-flanked gatehouse entrance,

visitors arrive in the palace courtyard, which has two levels.

With spectacular mountain views dominating the southern

courtyard end, the sense of enclosure pervades with the

Knight's House, the Bower and the Gallery accentuating the stronghold feel of the place. The Hall makes up the bulk of

the castle, containing staterooms and servants' quarters in

five incredible floors. Richly decorated, impossibly ornate and

surrounded by a fairytale landscape, nobody leaves

Neuschwanstein without at least one new interior decorating idea!

DUBAI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES High Rise, High Cost & High on the Bucket List

Dubai is the United Arab Emirates' most populated city and

an icon of what progress and innovation can bring to a desert

region. The hub of Middle East commerce, Dubai began life

as a small city funded by oil revenue in the 1960s. Today, oil

contributes to only 5% of the economy, with tourism, financial

services, real estate and aviation dominating. Dubai's skyline

is a symbolic one, packed with shiny new skyscrapers and high-rises built by a burgeoning international workforce.

As one of the world's most expensive cities, Dubai is nevertheless well worth visiting for those who can afford it.

The Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest building with the fastest

lift on the planet, and is the most popular of the city's tourist

spots. A trip to Jumeirah Beach, once a site for abandoned oil

drums, takes visitors into the world of opulent excess and the

world's only 7-star hotel - the Burj Al Arab. Nearby, a shopping mall landscaped with ski slopes defies desert logic, especially

with desert safaris on offer just outside of the city. In the midst of such excess, a trip across the water to Deira takes visitors back to the pre-sixties, with the sights, smells and

sounds of colourful markets, exotic spices and the evening call to prayer.

SANTORINI, GREECE Fabled Site of Atlantis

When it comes to the colours of the Mediterranean, nothing

can compare to the islands of Santorini. Made up of two inhabited islands, Therasia and Santorini and six uninhabited

ones, the area was formed by a volcanic eruption and

exemplifies the beauty of the Aegean Sea. On Santorini, the largest and most popular island, lagoons and cliffs dominate

the landscape. Santorini's capital, Fira, seems to cling to the top of the cliffs, resplendent in white from the sea and almost

golden at sunset when seen from above.

The best of Greece and the Aegean is on show in the islands,

from untamed wilderness to the cosmopolitan. Beaches and

sunset cruises are a must-do, and the elephant in the room -

the lost City of Atlantis, is discussed at length for those who

ask. Cuisine, scenery, art, history and some of the world's

most wonderful resorts are there for the taking on Santorini, with the sea at sunset one of the most memorable sights a

visitor can take in. The pace is relaxed, the menu is crammed

with activities and the people are welcoming - what else is there?

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA Four Centuries of Russian Culture

Saint Petersburg sits on the Baltic Sea in the Gulf of Finland

and throughout history, has also been known as Petrograd

and Leningrad. The second largest of the Russian cities, it was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and was Imperial Russia's

capital. Following the Russian Revolution, Moscow became the nation's capital, but Saint Petersburg retained its position

as the most dominant of Baltic ports. As the world's

northernmost city, it managed to escape some, but not all,

war damage sustained by European cities over the past

century. While WW2 bombing decimated some city areas, others remained virtually unscathed, and Saint Petersburg has thus retained much of its Russian culture and heritage.

A trip to Saint Petersburg is a walk through four centuries of

Russia's turbulent and fascinating history. With Moscow

receiving the bulk of post-revolution modernisation, Saint

Petersburg retained its beauty, and thousands of buildings, monuments and complexes remain - accompanied by thousands of museums, libraries, cinemas, exhibition halls

and galleries. From the magnificent waterside Winter Palace, the best of Russian culture fans out through the city and

across the water, with ballet, art, music and everything in between just waiting to be discovered.

THE PEAK, HONG KONG Essential for First Time Visitors

The Peak, or officially Victoria Peak, is the summit of Hong Kong's Mount Austin, the island's highest mountain at over

1,800 feet. Overlooking the city and its beautiful harbour, the actual summit is a closed area, but the surrounding area is

filled with parks and gardens, as well as some of Hong Kong's priciest real estate - a recent house sale topped $1.8 billion

US! Originally the domain of the Governor's summer house, The Peak is accessible to everybody in Hong Kong, and on

summer evenings, it seems as though most of Hong Kong is there.

Overlooking the harbour, the view from The Peak is nothing short of stupendous, and tourists numbers were such that

shopping centres, towers and galleries were built to cater to

the numbers arriving daily on the famous Peak Tram. Leaving from Hong Kong's Central District, the tram climbs directly up

the side of the mountain, while buses and cars take the more circuitous route along Peak Road. The braver and fitter set

out on foot up the Old Peak Road, enjoying the atmosphere of the city's Zoological and Botanical Gardens. The Peak is synonymous everything that makes Hong Kong unique, and essential to visiting the city for the first time.

BAALBEK, LEBANON Colossal History - Incredible Lebanese Desserts

Once known as Heliopolis by the Romans, Baalbek is the site of an enormous Phoenician and Roman ruin a couple of hours

from Beirut - and possibly the finest archaeological site in the

world. Colossal is word used often by those visiting Baalbek's ruins, which are the reason most tourists take the bus trip

from Lebanon's capital. Centuries ago, the temples of

Bacchus, Jupiter and Venus were the centre of life in Baalbek, celebrating fertility, wisdom, athleticism and autocratic rule of the region.

Today, the Phoenicians and Romans have long gone, leaving

in their wake an almighty ruin that appears almost too big

upon first visiting the site. Highlights are the Great Court, the

Temple of Venus, the Hexagonal Forecourt and the Temple of Bacchus, and summer in Lebanon brings local and

international artists to the area to add even more excitement

to the experience. Also essential to the allure of Baalbek are the vendors of obviously fake antiquities, which when taken

with a pinch of salt, are as much a part of the landscape as

the outdoor shesha bars and the traditional sweet desserts

that Lebanon is famous for. Baalbek showcases Lebanon of old and is a must-see destination in the Middle East.


The ninth century fortress of Alhambra in Spain first came into

its own when a Moorish Emir rebuilt it two-hundred years

later. Its existence as a castle and the royal palace of the Sultan of Granada began in the 14th century, when Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar built the walled structure seen above Granada today. Described at the time as a pearl set in

emeralds, Alhambra is today one of the most popular attractions in Spain, showcasing the beauty and ingenuity of

Islamic architecture at its best. The harmony of the castle and

its surrounding landscape is evident to all who visit, from its

myrtles, oranges and roses to the wildflowers and latterly introduced English elms. Water also features heavily, with

fountains and small waterfalls fed by a source higher up the


When entering through the Gate of the Pomegranates, a

magnificent, tree-lined avenue takes visitors to the castle

ramparts and the Charles V Pillar, one of the impressive fountains within the complex. Visiting Alhambra is a delight of colour and natural sound. Arabic inscriptions blend

perfectly with geometrically patterned arabesques and the

castle's painted tile wall panels are exquisite examples of clever craftsmanship and artistic vision.

GIANT'S CAUSEWAY, IRELAND Ireland's Volcanic Legacy

In County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 40,000 interlocking columns of red basalt formed as a result of ancient volcanic activity, created a natural feature that looks exactly like a

causeway for giants. Most of the columns, the tallest reaching

40 feet high, are shaped hexagonally and have the

appearance an enormous stair from the cliff tops to the sea, where they disappear under water. First revealed to the

greater world in the late 17th century, paintings of the site began circulating within 50 years and captured the

imagination of those exposed to the arts. By the 19th century, the greater population knew about the causeway, and a

narrow-gauge, electric tramway was built to ferry day trippers to and fro.

Today, the tramway is a steam railway that carries tourists from the nearby town of Portrush, terminating at Giant's

Causeway and offloading its human cargo to the recently built

visitor's centre that sits across the descent. Inside, the

exhibition both educates and intrigues, revealing more about

such geological formations as the Giant's Eyes, the Camel's Hump and such like. Most importantly, visitors can walk on

the causeway, experiencing first hand the wonder of nature and man's constant quest to understand the very beginnings of life on earth.

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