World Events Worth Travelling to in 2010
Some world events are worth attending - and these destinations are all hosting something special this year - something that might make you move them from your must-see list to your must-see-this-year list.
Vancouver's beauty is legendary. The sleek and shiny skyscrapers of down town's commercial district stand in striking contrast to the sea that hugs the neatly golden beaches and the jutting mountains that lie behind - providing a spectacular, natural backdrop to this cosmopolitan setting – and in 2010 it will also be a backdrop to the games of the XXI Winter Olympiad. And Vancouver is going to SHINE on TV, inspiring many viewers to reach for their laptop and start looking up holidays on WR – it does, after all, frequently hover round the top of those lists of the best places to live, and in 2010 it's going to be hosting all the best winter parties.
If you want to come to take advantage of all the new wintersports facilities do, you'll see them all on TV beforehand, but if you're more into watching than doing spend your time exploring the colourful streets of the West End, Gastown, SoMa and Chinatown, where you can find cool character bars, designer boutiques and the rest.
The Way of St. James, the Camino de Santiago, or Pilgrims Walk to Santiago, are all different names for the same ancient pilgrimage walk through Galicia, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St. James the apostle are buried. Traditionally you're supposed to begin a pilgrimage out of your own front door, but there are a few main routes and these days many walkers opt to formally begin at Ponferrada.
There's never really a day year to embark on a pilgrimage, but 2010 is particularly auspicious because the St. James Feast Day, July the 25th, falls on a Sunday, when ideally you'll reach the end of your journey in Santiago where you'll embrace the statue of St. James.
There's camping all along the route, but there's also the same ancient accommodation provisions that have been in place for hundreds of years. For many people this kind of pilgrimage brings them into better touch with themselves through doing something people have been doing in the same way for generations. Even if you're not a believer.
South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup
Since its return to the international world of sporting in 1994, South Africa has hosted a multitude of major international events, from the Rugby World Cup to the Cricket World Cup, proving to be a congenial host, with world-class transport, telecommunications, tourism and sporting infrastructure. And in 2010 it's got what many would consider to be 'The Big One': The FIFA World Cup.
Football fans will enjoy the benefits of multibillion-rand infrastructure projects which include building and renovating ten stadiums, upgrades to the country's airports, and improvements to the country's road and rail network, including getting a new high speed rail link between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg Airport up and running. But they'll also potentially enjoy some of South Africa's other varied pleasures as well – there's the rough and rugged African landscape, the gleam of the seaside townships and the option to try your hand at every outdoor pursuit under the sun: from diving with sharks, surfing, to astronomy, as well as all the wild animal and wilderness related experiences you're expecting.
Easter Island for the Total Eclipse of the Sun in the 11th of June
Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is exotic enough a destination to attract visitors even without the 4minute 39 solar eclipse that will happen above it on the 11th of July 2010. All those stone moai statues standing solemnly upright, up to 10 meters high were mysteriously erected, probably at the expense of the island's inhabitants, as it's thought they had to cut down all the trees in order to move them, and will make a pretty spectacular foreground to a background of the blotted out sun. But it's not just photographers who will be chasing this experience, it's one of those one off opportunities that could tip you over into making a must-see destination a must-see-this-year destination.
Cruise ships will be offering trips that dock in the area if you're too late to book some of the island's limited accommodation.
Delhi for the Commonwealth Games
Delhi's 2010 Games are only the 19th Commonwealth Games, and will be the largest sporting event Delhi has ever hosted. The popular-with-the-viewing-public Opening Ceremony will be held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, and huge attendance is expected, but tickets to some of the less well known and loved events are still available if you fancy seeing some Badminton, Lawn Bowls, Netball or Squash.
Aside from the sporting camaraderie Delhi is an adventure. An adventure into other people – with their transport, their traffic, their marketplaces, their scents and their busy lives. The extent of the human activity can be overwhelming, but that's part of the adventure, and you need to get beyond the crush to see some of Delhi's treasures: the Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Humayun's Tomb.
Istanbul, 2010 European Capital of Culture
Ancient Istanbul has been the capital of three great empires, but Europe has finally 'recognised the skills' and in 2010 Istanbul is the European Capital of Culture. 2009 was a good year for travelling to Turkey, but it was the relative bargains along the Mediterranean coastline that got most of the attention, and this year Istanbul is on the map as a city break destination. And instead of the organised society of the Romans, the wealth of the Byzantines or the glory of the Ottomans, in 2010 Istanbul will be celebrating its more modern culture – with loads of urban events, art shows, performing arts programs and literary events – and that's before you consider all the treasures that this city has had on display for the last two thousand odd years...
You need a lot more than four days to 'do' any city properly, but this itinerary is a good place to start, for 'doing' Turkey's cultural highlights.
Rio de Janeiro in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics
Rio might seem like it spends all its days lying around on sandy beaches drinking mojitos surrounded by people in skimpy swimming costumes playing beach volleyball before going out dancing 'till dawn, but there's a lot of activity going on in this town at the moment – more than you'd usually get in the lead up to Carnival.
Rio is getting ready to host the 2014 World Cup followed by the 2016 Summer Olympics, so there's a lot of building work and a lot of new accommodation going in that needs to be filled in the lead up to these events... So get in early for some sun, samba, shopping and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Hanoi for its 1000th Birthday celebrations
Hanoi celebrates its 1000th birthday in 2010, and if you're a graceful old French colonial city in Asia then there's nothing at all wrong with looking your age. Its grand and golden pagodas, ancient temples and historic architecture make it a beautiful as well as old city, but it's a living museum still evolving rather than stagnating and there's plenty of life happening amongst the monuments.
The Old Quarter has been the busy commercial district for about a thousand years and is still the best place to shop and go out, the Night Bazaar and Dong Xuan Market are worth checking out as well.
There's extra events going on all year to celebrate the city's birthday. And last year the Dong lost about 5% of its value compared to other countries so it's reasonable value as well.
Shanghai for the World Expo
In 2008 it was Beijing's turn, but in 2010 Shanghai is getting all the attention, as the host of the World Expo. Shanghai used to have a dirty reputation, but while the evocative reputation and many of the winding streets, Chinese gardens and beautiful old buildings of the centre of town remain, these days the money is clean, as is the European style skyline. As a city break Shanghai is far more Hong Kong than Beijing. And in 2010 it's going to be a bit more Tokyo.
Glacier National Park for its 100th Birthday
In 2010 the Glacier National Park is celebrating its 100th birthday. But that's only since it's been formally recognised as a National Park. Before that, in 1850, there were more than 150 glaciers in the region now bounded by the park's borders, but in 2010 only 26 were counted, and those are just chilly shadows of their former selves; and if the world's current patterns of global warming continue it's predicted that by 2020 all of the glaciers will have melted. So it's a good time to visit and, through potentially misty eyes, appreciate how beautiful this dramatically rugged, yet lush, part of Montana is.
Drive into one of two main hubs: the Apgar Transit Centre or the St. Mary Visitor Centre , from which you can hop a free shuttle up to Logan Pass which is at the start of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and one of the highest points in the park. The terrain you'll pass on the way down varies, but mostly between green and verdant or grey stone, interspersed with crystal clear alpine lakes. Cougars, black and grizzly bears, big horn and mountain goats and elk can be spotted, along with many less exotic creatures. For most people the best way to experience the park is treading one of the many short trails – the slightly precarious but breath-catching spectacular Highline Trail is a 7.6 mile favourite.
Services are open between May and September. In 2010 there are lots of additional birthday celebrations going on, but as well as it being a particularly festive time to visit it might be one of your last opportunities to appreciate some of its glaciers.
Is there any event we've missed from the list that you'd recommend as a great reason to visit in 2010?
Comments, questions and reviews by other travellers