Listed City Guide - U
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UKRAINE

Kiev Travel Guide

The striking Ukrainian capital of Kiev (or Kyiv) is one of Eastern Europe’s oldest cities and its fortunes have risen and fallen with the tides of history. The city, once capital of Old Rus, is believed to date back to the 5th century and was a key player in the expansion of the medieval East Slavic nation, as well as serving as a major centre for trade between the Mediterranean and the Baltic.

By the 1200s, Kiev was one of the world’s largest cities, but fell foul to invading Mongols in 1240, really only fully recovering in the 19th century during the Russian Revolution. Much of the city and its treasures were again damaged during World War II, but Kiev still boasts a rich cultural heritage and a range of spectacular attractions.

Many interesting museums, theatres, opera houses, historical buildings and gardens wait to be discovered in Kiev, laid out on either side of the picturesque Dnieper River. The western bank is home to the older part of the city and was, pre-urbanisation, characterised by its forested hills, as well as steep ravines and winding rivers, which serve as ice-rinks in winter. Watched over by a statue of the historic protector of Kiev, Michael Archangel, the city also boasts a successful blend of the old and the new. Modern buildings nestle against historical gems and cultural wonders rub shoulders with trendy, buzzing nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

Any visit to the Ukraine is bound to start with an exploration of its capital, and visitors will need to ensure they give themselves ample time to explore all it has to offer. From the Golden Gate of Kiev, built in 1037, to a funicular ride up the steep western bank, Kiev has something for all tastes and certainly will not disappoint.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Abu Dhabi Travel Guide

The brash, bold city of Abu Dhabi is a modern marvel, capital of the wealthy United Arab Emirates and headquarters of the world’s richest oil operating companies. The pulsating city, with futuristic skyscrapers and wide tree-lined boulevards, is capitalising on its sophistication, amazing duty-free shopping zone, its luxury hotels and top class transport and communication infrastructure to attract tourists. They come not only for the ‘retail therapy’ and glitz, but also to explore the fascinating culture of the vast Abu Dhabi Emirate itself (it is the largest of the seven Emirates), with its miles of desert and interesting oases.

The city is almost an island, jutting into the Persian Gulf, with land having been reclaimed from the sea to make way for a long seafront Corniche, lined with lush gardens and gushing fountains. It is a relatively young city, the area having been first settled by nomadic tribesmen in the mid-18th century; it remained little more than a fishing village until oil was discovered in the 1950s, and the financial and trading boom began.

Today the international airport and deep water port bring in visitors from around the world, most clutching credit cards and cash, set on spending as much as possible in the enticing shopping malls and buzzing souk (market). Limousines are a common sight in the congested streets, and restaurants offering the cuisine of many nations do a roaring trade, especially along the waterfront. Shopping fever is at its height during the annual Shopping Festival held in early March. Those taking a break from modern luxury can escape to the desert for a Bedouin feast under the stars, or a camel ride through the dunes.

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Dubai Travel Guide

Originally a small fishing settlement that became a busy port of call on the ancient trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, the emirate was rapidly transformed into an international business centre and modern tourist destination following the discovery of oil in 1966.

Today Dubai ranks as the country’s foremost commercial centre, a city whose skyline is constantly being upgraded with new developments providing the infrastructure and facilities needed for a progressive society, including world-class hotels, shopping plazas and outstanding sports facilities. Dubai Creek divides the city centre into two parts: Deira on the northern side and Bur Dubai to the south and each has its fair share of souks, restaurants, hotels, shopping malls and fine mosques.

From within these high standards of luxury and convenience, visitors can experience exotic Arabia in the bustling souks or a night in a Bedouin tent with belly-dancing under the starlit desert skies, as well as a way of life that is still embedded in the Islamic traditions of an ancient land. Dubai’s attraction lies in the contrast between the ultra modern and the enchantingly traditional, which gives the city a personality like no other and visitors a variety of experiences to choose from. From desert oases and unspoiled beaches, camel races and old wind towers, to top-class shopping opportunities, avant-garde architecture and the finest international cuisine, Dubai has more than enough depth to satisfy even the most seasoned of travellers.

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Utah

Salt Lake City Travel Guide

Situated in a basin between the rugged, snow-covered Wasatch mountain range to the east and the Great Salt Lake to the west, Salt Lake City’s scenic backdrop frames a pleasantly spacious and hassle-free city that is surprisingly sensible and down-to-earth for a growing state capital.

The vast salty wasteland that ultimately became one of America’s prize cities was originally picked out by a band of Mormon pioneers who were searching for a quiet spot where they could follow their faith undisturbed by the world. Led by Brigham Young, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the followers surveyed the desolate-looking valley of the Great Salt Lake basin and declared it to be the peaceful haven they had been seeking for the past five months. ‘This Is The Place’ Heritage Park commemorates the site where they ended their trek, named after the famous words uttered by Young in 1847. To this day the city is dominated by the Mormon influence, with more than 40 percent of the population belonging to the Latter-Day Saints. Visitors come to listen to the singing of the exceptional Mormon Tabernacle Choir and to see the fascinating Temple Square that is the spiritual headquarters of the Mormon faith and the heart of the city.

Despite being steeped in religious tradition, Salt Lake City is rapidly emerging as one of the foremost business locations in the country, attracting large numbers of high-technology firms and software corporations, and a favoured venue for major corporate and professional conferences and conventions. The city is also growing in reputation as an outdoor recreation centre; throngs of outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the nearby mountains where world-class skiing is offered at top resorts, as well as miles of stunning mountain trails for hiking, biking and rock climbing. Salt Lake City is also within a day’s drive of numerous national and state parks, rivers, forests and canyons, offering endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.

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URUGUAY

Montevideo Travel Guide

From the air the city of Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, sprawls as a grey morass across the wide Rio Plata estuary where two vast rivers, the Parana and Uruguay, enter the Atlantic, often churning the sea with coffee-coloured silt. Water is the reason for Montevideo’s existence, and the means of its livelihood, with an extremely busy working harbour where cargo ships constantly come and go and cranes reach into the sky.

The site was originally a native Indian settlement, ‘discovered’ by a Portuguese explorer in 1516. A colony was not established until about a century later, and was eventually taken over by the Spanish who stormed the Portuguese fort in 1724. The Spanish formally founded the city in 1726, and in 1828 Montevideo became the capital of an independent Uruguay. The city’s more recent history has seen it besieged by Argentinean dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas on two occasions, and endure the Battle of the River Plate between German and British naval ships at the start of World War II.

Today Montevideo is one of Latin America’s most vibrant cities, popular with holidaymakers because of its miles of beaches and its shabby sophistication. One traveller has aptly described the city as feeling like ‘Boston with a touch of Lisbon’. Visitors and locals can browse the enticing Mercado de los Artesanos for leather goods, hand-knitted sweaters and other tempting crafts; stroll the Rambla along the waterfront, where there are superb views and there is always a whole lot of activity; dine on mouth-watering grilled steaks or perfect paella in the restaurants of Mercado del Puerto; and end the day with a tantalising tango at one of the numerous night clubs.

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