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The great escapes

Are you desperate to avoid the World Cup? Kipp has had a look around for some iconic destinations where you could get away from it all.

June 7, 2010 4:34 by

  • Home to the famed cedars mentioned of the Old Testament, the ruins of Baalbek, and the ancient city of Byblos, millions of tourists count Lebanon among their favorite holiday destinations. Where else in the Middle East can you enjoy a tour of rustic vineyards, a mountain hike through towering cedars, followed by an afternoon at the sun-drenched sea-side? This tiny Mediterranean country hosts millions of tourists and returning expats yearly, as they come to bask in the heritage, the culture, and the nightlife. Home to World Heritage sites like the ruins of Baalbek and Tyre, the country packs a lot of breathtaking photo opps into a very concentrated land mass.  Not to be missed are the grottos of Jeita, the hip entertainment district of Gemmayze, and the vineyards of the Bekaa.

  • You won’t get much more isolated from the World Cup than this. Alaska has captivated the imaginations of explorers, novelists, and adventurers for centuries. The vast, unspoiled wilderness of America’s forty-ninth state is home to endless attractions, including glaciers of breathtaking scale, famed Mt. McKinley, the fjords of the Southeastern islands, and the diverse tribal cultures of the Alaska native peoples. From the virgin rainforests of its southeastern islands, to the polar wildlife of the Alaskan arctic slope, a holiday in this rugged territory makes for an unforgettable adventure.

  • The islands of the Maldives are not so far-flung for UAE residents – they’re located off the Sri Lankan coast in the Laccadive Sea of the Indian Ocean. Visitors go to explore the living coral reefs and the rich marine habitat, abundant in rare and commercially important species of  aquatic wildlife. Various shark species may be found there, along with rays, eels, schools of tuna (it’s an important commercial fishery). Coconut palms dot the landscape. Go for the warm ambient temperatures and the abundant sunshine, moderated by cool sea breezes; if you go now you’ll also be sure to avoid storm season (October and November) when gusty winds can contribute to the formation of monsoons.

  • Mexico: it’s a hard destination to beat for variety. The sun-drenched beaches, thriving indigenous culture and ancient ruins make it a rich land for holiday exploration. Mexican people are renowned for their hospitality and their deep spirituality and there is much to enjoy here. Don’t miss the sophisticated museums and dining of the capital city, the popular resorts of Cozumel and Cancun, and the Aztec and Mayan ruins. The thriving Indian cultures support traditions of native artistry, handicrafts, and cuisine that make a Mexican holiday a cultural event, as well. They’re mad about football, unfortunately, but we’re confident you can avoid it.

  • Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is a favorite destination of sports enthusiasts from around the world, but it’s for those who enjoy partaking, rather than spectating. This “rich coast” welcomes visitors to an unspoiled tropical climate, dotted with white sand beaches, lush protected rain forests, and vibrant coral reefs. Tourists from around the world come for the snorkeling, adventures in the rainforest canopy, unrivaled views of exotic wildlife, and a sophisticated international ambience.

  • Said to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, pre-biblical references date Syria’s capital city Damascus to at least the third millennium BC. The ancient walls surrounding the city date from the Roman era, and within them, a tangled maze of ancient streets holds the key to the city’s treasures. Here, visitors will find some of Syria's most fascinating attractions – including the Umayyad mosque, St. Paul’s church, and the ancient Suq al-Hamaidiye. Just a two hour drive from Beirut, it makes a refreshing contrast to the cosmopolitan modernity of the Lebanese capital. Plus, of course, Syria’s not in the World Cup, so you may find some degree of peace.

  • Scandinavian hospitality may be the perfect respite from the Mideast heat this summer. Tourists love Sweden for its picturesque windmills, friendly locals, well-organized and immaculate infrastructure, and the sheer variety of outdoor activities. An inviting summer climate encourages visitors to get outside and hike, cycle, swim, boat, or sunbathe. For added escapism, four miles off the country’s east coast is the Baltic island of Oland – one of the country’s best kept vacation secrets. Go for the great swimming and biking, but don’t miss the cultural venues. The island is home to the 12th century castle of Borgholm, the immense and mysterious limestone outcropping known as Stora Alvaret, and the fruit orchards of Villa Sol.

  • A mélange of Arab, French and Berber culture, this budget friendly destination is synonymous with maze-like souqs, cous-cous, and expat beatniks. Cultural and linguistic diversity is ever present in Morocco and continues to inspire play writes, poets, and explorers. Morocco boasts something for every traveler and every sized budget. Visitors love Morocco and Marrakesh for the labyrinth-like maze of winding streets, where you can find everything from ancient Berber cures to traditionally crafted carpets, and hopefully get away from all talk of soccer. The medieval Arab city of Fes is the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities, and a cultural and religious center, and iconic Casablanca is home to the famed whitewashed architecture, immortalized in American cinema by Humphrey Bogart.

    For the athletic, the rugged trails of the Atlas mountains invite you hike, and they’re just a day trip from Marrakesh.

  • The Republic of the Fiji in the tropical South Pacific unites 333 islands and hundreds of smaller islets, mostly uninhabited. And where island’s are inhabited, they tend to be more interested in rugby than football. For many of us, Fiji is synonymous with notions of tropical paradise and island living. It’s diverse terrain includes expanses of rain forests, towering forested mountains and an ambient climate of tropical, marine warmth. Diverse rainforest habitat invites hiking and backpacking, while the vast expanse of coastline offers abundant water sports, like rafting, diving, kayaking surfing. Fiji’s unique cultural history unites different indigenous peoples and offers ample opportunities to experience cultural dance and performance.


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