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In the Footsteps of Francis Drake

Francis Drake was the first English explorer to circumnavigate the globe. He was a feared naval commander and privateer, and was hated by the Spanish for his decisive role in crushing the Spanish Armada. For his accomplishments, Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I.

Drake was given a mission by the queen to seek more sea routes and unexplored land. In reality, the mission was an ambitious raiding voyage to disrupt Spanish naval holdings in the New World. The queen and members of her court invested heavily in Drake’s journey and secretly supported the privateer. Drake became a national hero for his exploits. Here are some of the places Sir Francis Drake visited during his voyage of discovery...

Valparaíso, Chile

This Unesco World Heritage site of rolling hills, steep maze-like roads, faded mansions, and colorful rooftops will have visitors taking every opportunity to snap a photograph. The stunning vistas of the naval harbor invite more phot ops and you find that this spontaneous, bohemian port city is indeed Chile’s best-kept secret. Nicknamed La Perla dela Pacifico (Pearl of the Pacific), visitors will enjoy wandering the streets of this Old World place, enjoying late nights at the pubs, and staying at fabulous hospedajes (budget accommodations), and for its chaotically beautiful hillsides.

Puerto San Julian, Argentina

This Patagonian port city is a relaxing and popular stopover for visitors wanting to relax at the beaches Tumba Sholl and Cabo Curioso in the north end of the bay. Nature lovers will also discover the unique local wildlife at the Natural Provincial Reservation Ría San Julián, where the islands Banco Cormoran and Banco Justicia or ‘De los Pájaros are sanctuaries for Magellan’s penguins, black cormorans, real cormorans, gulls, sea swallows and antarctic doves. Fishing is extremely popular and the whole coast of San Julian’s bay is available for the sport—you’ll catch palometa, bass, pejerrey, spider crabs, octopi, squids, and mussels.

Lima, Peru

From fading pre-Inca pyramids and classic Spanish colonial architecture to sprawling, ultramodern shopping malls and unique museums, Lima is an inviting South American metropolis that has more than the usual attractions for visitors. The Historical Center of Lima is a World Heritage Site because of the invaluable Spanish monuments and architecture here. At the district of Barranco, poets, artists and bohemians congregate, there are big cultural and amusement shows at night to entertain everyone. At San Isidro and Miraflores, modern Lima shows its face—the best hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, and events centers are jammed together here. You can enjoy exotic seafood near the coast, go paraglding off cliffs or paint the town red at the local bars and clubs.

San Francisco, USA

Visit Fisherman’s Wharf, a waterfront community that extends from Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square and the ferry launch to Alcatraz Island. Enjoy lavish seafood dinners at any of the trendy seafood restaurants or shop for unusual trinkets at the souvenir stores. Don’t be a stranger in San Francisco, outrageous is not unusual in this city of free thinkers, crafty inventors and closet weirdoes. Visit Chinatown—the largest Chinese immigrant community outside of Asia and have dimsum or hotpot at any of the local restaurants. When you do visit, enjoy a trip around the city riding the classic cable cars and see as much of this great melting pot as you can.

Vancouver, Canada

The Olympic Winter Games are up on 2010 and everyone will be discovering why Vancouver always tops the list of the world’s greatest places to live. Scenes like towering snowy mountains, city-hugging beaches and sprawling waterfront forests all invite visitors to enjoy this relatively young metropolis that was first set up 150 years ago by a ‘gassy’ Englishman who put up a makeshift pub. Take time to enjoy the coffee shops at Commercial Drive, the trendy watering holes of SoMa, the ever-lively Chinatown and the historic, revitalized streets of Gastown. There are always festivals and markets in the metropolis to entertain you and provide you with unique souvenirs to treasure. Or go on a nature trip to the haunting beauty of the Gulf Islands.

Maluku (Moluccas), Indonesia

The former Moluccas islands were the so called ‘Spice Islands’ discovered by the Europeans and other traders; where cloves and nutmeg were once worth their weight in gold. Today Maluku is a paradise of white-sand beaches offering superb snorkeling and hospitable yet inexpensive accommodations. Life moves at a turtle’s pace in these remote islands. You can lazily stroll the beach strewn Kei Islands, snorkel the Bandas, trek nearNorth Maluku’s exotic volcano-islands and explore the ruins of old Dutch fortresses all within the limits of a one-month visa. Maluku is a popular tropical getaway that is an uncrowded alternative to tourist traps like Bali.

Plymouth, Britain

The port city of Plymouth is a proud British heritage of seafaring exploits made during the Age of Discovery. Here is where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World, and where Sir Francis Drake planned the battle with the Spanish Armada while bowling. Today, Plymouth offers a marina to park upmarket yachts, go fishing, or have a grand time at the growing throng of bars and restaurants around the Barbican, a much-restored area. Other attractions at the Barbican are the 16th century Merchant’s House Museum, the Barbican Glassworks, and the Elizabethan House. At Sutton Harbour Lock Gates, the National Marine Aquarium is a wonderful place to take the family.

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