Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Claims to fame

A little while back, I read an article about Abu Dhabi that called the capital of the United Arab Emirates "the richest city in the world." I spent several days of R&R in that city back in 1991, after serving in the first Gulf War onboard the USS Ranger. My chief memories of that visit are the difficulty of finding a place to serve us alcohol (it was Ramadan), and spending a day snorkeling around an offshore island.

When I read that I'd been to "the richest city in the world," it got me wondering... What are some of the other claims to fame of places that I've visited? Thanks to Google, it wasn't hard to find some answers.

World's Most Expensive City: Tokyo (CNN)
Admittedly, this claim is several years old; the latest surveys name Moscow as the priciest city in the world. But having lived south of Tokyo for two years, trying to make a sailor's meager salary stretch beyond its capacity, I felt this outdated claim deserved mention. (London is the current #2 on this list, another claim my wallet is painfully acquainted with.)

World's Densest City: Manila (
I didn't spend any significant amount of time in Manila, but what I saw when passing through on my way to Pagsanjan Falls (where part of "Apocalypse Now" was filmed) makes this claim easy to believe. That was a long time ago, but I remember it seeming to take forever to get through the city.

World's Most Courteous Big City: New York (Reader's Digest)
While I've only lived here in the Big Apple since last summer, I find this one hard to believe. By no means does New York City deserve its historic reputation for rudeness, but I wouldn't say the pendulum has swung all the way over to the other side.

World's Most Popular City for Tourists: Paris (Ask Yahoo)
Based on my own personal experience with Paris, I'd venture to say you could award many other titles to the City of Light. Most Romantic, Most Beautiful, Most Sophisticated, to name a few. The sci-fi nerd in me has always thought that if Planet Earth ever becomes part of a greater galactic civilization, necessitating the need for a "planetary capital city," I think Paris would deserve to be that capital.

World's Longest Cave System: Mammoth Cave National Park (NPS)
Mammoth Cave is largely a "dry cave"—it was created by underground rivers, not by the percolation of water through strata. So it lacks many of the dramatic mineral formations of places like Carlsbad Caverns. Nevertheless, its sheer size and depth inspired awe, and it deserves its claim as the world's longest cave system.

Best City Skyline in the World: Hong Kong (
I had the fortune to enter Hong Kong by water, rather than by air, so I had an excellent vantage point from which to see that amazing skyline for the first time. The contrast of the endless skyscrapers against the green hills beyond, with the boat-filled harbor in the foreground, was simply stunning. Of all the places I visited in Asia, this was my favorite.

World's Smallest Country: Vatican City (
When I visited the Vatican (in the heart of Rome), I followed the advice of my guidebook and sent a postcard home from the Vatican Post Office. My father received it within a week. About the same time, I sent another postcard home from a Roman post office. That one didn't make it to its addressee for another nine months. So, if nothing else, the world's smallest country has a very efficient postal service.

What are some of the claims to fame of places you've visited?

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