How much of a globetrotter are you? Guess this city? Hint: This city is an eclectic mix of old and new, East and West. It is a bustling metropolis and an epicurean paradise. Formerly, Constantinople, it is the only city in the world that bridges two continents, Asia and Europe. It is the largest city in the predominantly Islamic country of Turkey. Answer: Istanbul.

There is nothing like discovering or learning about a city and losing yourself in its irresistible pull. There is thrill in connecting with different cities and in the process having a better grasp of humanity, history, culture, geography of the world. We are on the threshold of a new millennium. With it comes globalization- a world without borders. This reality plus hunger for knowledge has served as a catalyst for people to venture forth and acquaint themselves with the cities of the world. Come let’s take a sneak peek at some of these great cities. Let’s discover diverse worlds as we tread from one city (familiar or newfound) to the next and be entranced.

Few places in the world have a bigger number of familiar landmarks than London. Whether it is Big Ben, the Tower of London, Buckingham palace, #10 Downing Street, or Harrods, the sights of London are legendary. London thrives as a collection of vibrant and distinct communities. There is West Hampstead, Kilburn with its Irish heritage, Hampstead Heath (a vast park in North London), and Soho Square. Take a virtual tour of London canals and discover a floating community of houseboats.

Paris is the City of Romance. Meander through the cloistered streets of Montmartre. Be awed by modern art and ‘hi-tech’ architecture such as the Beaubourg Centre, the cultural heart of Modern Paris. This blending of old and new architectural styles adds up to the many reasons why most everyone ultimately falls in love with Paris.

New York is a city that never sleeps. Climb up the Empire State Building. Pass by the Chelsea galleries. Experience the sights and sounds of Brooklyn nightclubs. Take your fill of Broadway shows. Immerse yourself in the museums of New York. Truly, it is a 21st-century city.

Reach for the sky. Hongkong’s skyline is one of the most famous in the world. Take a tram ride up to Victoria Peak and get a glimpse of the spectacular view of the territory. Savor culinary delights honed to perfection. And take out your credit cards and splurge. Hongkong is a shopping paradise.

Chiang Mai is paradise revisited. Just an hour’s ride from Bangkok, Chiang Mai has charm, mountains, and greenery. Join in the festival of Songkran (New Year water festival) and the Loi Kratong (candle festival). Along with the showers of water and the twinkling kites that light the night sky, the city comes alive and molds the old with the new, eliciting a sense of nostalgia. Finally, pay homage in the temples in Chiang Mai. Bask in the cooler climes of Chiang Mai. It can’t get any better.

Dubai is a world on its own. It is a giant-sized playground for the whole family. It is the second-largest of the seven states making up the United Arab Emirates. Luxury villas, theme parks, and skyscrapers dot the desert and the coast. However, Dubai is not all glitz and glamour. For a glimpse of its past, visit Deira district narrow alleyways, nondescript buildings, jewelry shops, and spice souk and breathe in a variety of aromatic spices. Try skiing at Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. Dubailand is set to open. Suffice to say Dubai is giving Las Vegas a run for its money.

And the list goes on. Unraveling the myriad cities of the world may take a lifetime but take the first step, you’ll never regret it. Travel, read or surf, take your pick. Keep discovering, keep learning.

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