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Three Destinations You May Have Missed

Do the two of you have a case of “been there, done that”? If so, we want to spotlight three romantic destinations that you very well might have missed in your travels.

Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Overlooking the Straits of Malacca, Penang’s prime location has made it a major trade destination. Nicknamed “The Pearl of the Orient,” the island of Penang is connected to Georgetown on the mainland by Penang Bridge. Opened in 1985, the bridge is one of the world’s longest.

Georgetown’s city center is an attraction in itself thanks to one of the Southeast Asia’s largest collections of 19th and early 20th century historic buildings. Streets are lined with 19th century Chinese shophouses, colonial buildings, Chinese and Indian temples, and mosques. Guided walking tours take travelers through the streets while other visitors opt to explore on their own or aboard a trishaw.

Georgetown is home to many historic temples and sacred sites; the most unique is the Snake Temple (Bayan Lepas), where serpents, including poisonous vipers, are spotted coiling in corners and draped from the ceiling trusses. Chinese priests at the temple believe that the smoke from the incense makes the snakes sleepy and docile. Other historic places of worship include the yellow-domed Kapitan Keling Mosque built in the 18th century and the 1818 St. George’s Church, which contains a monument to Captain Francis Light.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Tucked between the Mediterranean and the Maritime Alps, Monte Carlo may be small in population but it’s a giant in terms of glamour.

This home to 3,000 residents once counted among them Grace Kelly; as Princess Grace, she brought global attention to this favorite hideaway for the rich and royal. Today Monte Carlo remains one of Europe’s most alluring getaways thanks in part to its Monte Carlo Casino, designed in Baroque style by the same architect who created the Paris Opéra, and its Monaco Grand Prix, one of the world’s top races, held on the streets of the city.

The grand Monte Carlo Casino presents an atmosphere of opulence and refinement to a well-dressed crowd drawn to games of chance and skill including roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Poker, Baccarat and Trente et Quarante. The famous casino was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s first James Bond adventure, Casino Royale.

Iquique, Chile

Although its name may not be as familiar as Santiago or Valparaiso, Iquique ranks as one of Chile’s most visited cities. This northern Chilean city serves as the capital of the country’s Region I, an area composed of the provinces of Arica, Parinacota and Iquiquem. Along with its governmental role, Iquique has an important role as one of South America’s busiest duty free ports and a gateway to the Atacama Desert.

The city boasts numerous flower-filled squares including the Plaza Arturo Prat. This main square is lined with palm trees, a clock tower, and the Centro Español, inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.

History buffs enjoy the Museo Naval de Iquique, a naval museum that describes the 1879 battle. Another favorite historic stop is the Palacio Astoreca en Iquique, one of the many mansions built by nitrate fortunes; today it serves as a cultural center housing exhibits of furniture from the boom period at the turn of the 20th century.

Iquique serves as a portal to the surrounding Atacama Desert, a region stretching 70,000 square miles between the Andes and the sea. A favorite spot with ecotourists, hikers and photographers, the dramatic desert landscape is the driest non-Arctic destination on earth, receiving just over one millimeter of rain annually.

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