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The biggest resort town on what's called the "Russian Riviera," Sochi is preparing to step onto the world stage as the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Somewhat ironically, Sochi is really quite temperate for most of the year, with its Black Sea waters warm and swimmable well into October. The Arboretum and Riviera Park are among the city’s most popular destinations. Serving as a beautiful backdrop for Sochi are the Caucasus Mountains, home to the nearby snow skiing resort of Krasnaya Polyana.
Tallinn's atmospheric Old Town is an enthralling hodgepodge of medieval streets and spires. It's a small city, and the tourist areas are safe and easily explored on foot. Buy a Tallinn Card if intending to use buses, trolleys or trams. For a look into Tallinn's past, visit Rocca-al-Mare Open Air Museum's typical rural Estonian taverns, windmills and watermills, see the onion-domed 1900 cathedral or join the bustle in historic Town Hall Square. St. Olav's spire was once the tallest in the world.
In Saalbach-Hinterglemm, the hills are alive with the sound of happy travelers. Nestled in the Austrian Alps, it’s a skier’s dream, featuring a network of pistes and perfect powder. There’s plenty to do in the summer months, like hiking, mountain biking, geocaching or exploring the mountain forest from above, via a “treetop path” that’s a series of bridges, platforms and towers.
On the banks of the lovely Elbe River, the German city of Dresden is lush and green, filled with forests and gardens and parks. The city is rich with cultural and artistic history; the great operatic composer Wilhelm Wagner debuted a number of works here in the 1800s and, today, an independent light opera company keeps the classical art form modern and fresh. Culture vultures will love the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister and Grünes Gewölbe museums, and architecture buffs will salivate over the mélange of styles reflected in the cityscape.
Although originally known as a summer destination, when the first snowflakes land in St. Moritz, so do the international scenesters, bundled up in the latest "Must Have" accessories. During winter, catch a ride on the Glacier Express from Zermatt to arrive in style. Cable cars ascend to three nearby mountaintops. Hundreds of miles of ski trails and a frozen lake comprise the area's most popular sports venues. Follow the Romans example and try one of the city's mineral springs, such as St. Moritz Bader.
In the center of the French Alps, Courchevel has well more than 100 ski runs for visitors to choose from. Some courses are dotted with moguls, so snowboarding and snowmobiling are popular here, and skiers of all levels of experience will find a slope that's just right.
Pondicherry’s bougainvilleas, crumbling cathedrals and leafy boulevards might occasionally make you wonder if you’re in the south of France instead of a former French colony. But it's also unmistakably Indian, with colorful festivals, the famous monument of Aayi Mandapam, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Quiet beaches stretch north and south from town, good for swimming and sunrise strolls.
The livable, lovable city of Xiamen teems with university students buzzing amid Buddhist temples, art galleries and beautiful parks. The city is actually comprised of islands; one of which, Gulangyu, is a peaceful bohemian oasis that's completely vehicle-free. Nibble on some glass noodles or juicy dumplings while perusing shops stuffed with antiques, delicate beads or ceramics.