EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 26, 2013

Destination 2014

(Continued)

The World Cup soccer games, June 12 to July 13, will be held in 12 cities in Brazil: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuaiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo. The most exotic destination, Manaus, a steamy city in the Amazon jungle, may also be the most controversial: England soccer coach Roy Hodgson called it “the place ideally to avoid,” while the London tabloid the Mirror called it a “crime-ridden hell-hole.” But loads of soccer fans are likely to travel there despite the bad press to attend some of the tournament’s top matches, including England-Italy and Portugal-U.S. The city is also a gateway to Amazon tourism, with Manaus-based operators offering boat trips and tours into the jungle.

REMEMBERING WAR

The summer of 2014 marks a century since World War I was triggered by the June 28, 1914 assassination of the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, now the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Events are planned across Europe to commemorate the centenary — http://www.1914.org — and some U.S. tour operators like Road Scholar are offering itineraries visiting places connected to the war. Famous battlefields include Verdun, France; Gallipoli, Turkey, and Western Belgium, where red poppies still bloom in Flanders Fields, a battlefield immortalized in the famous poem: “In Flanders Fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.”

June 6 is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, which marked a turning point in defeating Hitler in World War II. Past milestone anniversaries have drawn veterans of the invasion, but that generation is rapidly dwindling. President Obama, Queen Elizabeth and other heads of state have been invited to mark the solemn day on the Normandy coast.

Nov. 9 will mark 25 years since the Berlin Wall was breached, a powerful moment in ending communism in Eastern Europe and the Cold War. The wall, built in 1961, not only physically cut East Berlin off from the West, but also symbolized the division between Western Europe and communist-controlled Eastern bloc countries. The wall was completely torn down in 1990, but its destruction began in 1989. In the years since, reunified Berlin has become a trendy tourism capital — described as “poor but sexy” by its mayor. Events and exhibits are planned to mark the 25th anniversary, including an installation of illuminated balloons on a 7.5-mile (12-kilometer) path where the city was once divided.

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