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Sapphire Seven: Around the world travel guide
Learn what destinations Sapphire cardmembers recommended for James Corden
Our Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers love travel, and among their friends and family, they're a go-to resource for recommendations about where to go, what to see and do, and, of course, the best places to eat and shop. And sometimes, they're even a go-to resource for globetrotters like late-night TV personality James Corden. Here are seven places—off-the-beaten-path discoveries—that our cardmembers were happy to share with Corden as he heads off on his next big trip.
Off-the-Beaten Path in Rome
Rome may be the Eternal City, but Italy's capital is always evolving. After you've seen the Colosseum and tossed a coin in the Trevi Fountain to assure that one day you will return, escape the touristy neighborhoods and head to Testaccio, on the southern edge of Rome's historic heart. On the banks of the Tiber, this neighborhood's most famous landmark was, for centuries, a hill formed from discarded pottery shards.
Today, travelers come to see MACRO, a museum of contemporary art located in a former slaughterhouse. It's the best-known stop in an area filled with galleries, clubs, designer boutiques, and new restaurants. Testaccio's appeal is also that it's still a true working neighborhood. While tourists head to the market at Campo de' Fiori, Testaccio's market is where locals come to shop, and you can search for the best Italian prosciutto and Pecorino alongside them. If you want to leave the cooking to someone else, however, stop at Flavio al Velavevodetto for pasta and Dess'Art for a cannoli for dessert.
Think of an African safari and what will likely come to mind first are the great game reserves where you can see elephants, lions, and giraffes on the dry plains of the savannah. An entirely different experience awaits in Uganda at the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The "impenetrable" part of its name refers to dense stands of bamboo and countless vines and trees that make exploring the park impossible without an experienced guide armed with a machete.
Bwindi's most famous residents are its mountain gorillas—almost half of the world's gorilla population lives here. The chance to observe a family of the majestic animals is the highlight of a visit, though the park is also home to more than 200 species of butterflies and 347 bird species. The Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge sits on the edge of the park, and gorillas occasionally come to rest within sight of its eight guest villas.
Take on Tokyo
Tokyo is one of the world's most populous cities, with almost 38 million people in its metropolitan area. It can sound like a daunting place to visit, but the crowded subways at rush hour and the bustle of Shibuya Crossing are only part of the picture. Tokyo is a city of smaller neighborhoods, with their own temples, green spaces, and an intimacy that may come as a surprise.
Nakameguro sits between Shibuya and the Imperial Palace, but it retains a low-key charm. Its canal draws visitors when the cherry trees are in bloom; the rest of the year, its cafés and boutiques are the main attractions. Hatos Bar is popular spot to enjoy a pint of draft beer—either Japanese or imported—accompanied by barbecued brisket.
Tsukishima is its own island right off of Tokyo. A visit here allows a chance to see traditional houses in the shadow of new developments and sample monjayaki, finely chopped vegetables and fish (or fish roe) pan-fried in batter. The oldest monjayaki restaurant in Tsukishima, and all of Tokyo for that matter, is Kondo Honten, known for serving both traditional renditions of the dish as well as innovative updates of it.
Bunkyō is a middle-class neighborhood where the Koishikawa-Kōrakuen, a 17th century garden next to the Tokyo Dome, and the Nezu and Yushima Tenman-gū shrines provide glimpses of old Japan.
Australia's Lord Howe Island should be at the top of the list for anyone who wants to escape the tourist crowds. Many destinations claim to be pristine and untouched, but the lush, subtropical Lord Howe Island assures that remains true by capping the number of daily visitors to 400.
Located 370 miles to the east of Australia in the Tasman Sea, it's a two-hour flight from Brisbane or Sydney to this remote outpost. The island is less than six square miles in total, with a protected coral reef lagoon along the northwest coast. The Capella Lodge is the island's most luxurious hotel; villa rentals are popular, too. Days here are for the birds—and bird-spotters. There are more than 200 bird species, while divers and snorkelers can search for over 500 different fish species in the island's waters. When you want to hang out with some of the island's human residents, the Anchorage Restaurant is a local favorite all day long, serving homemade pastries and muffins in the morning and grilled fish, practically straight from the sea, in the evening.
Chile's Atacama Desert dazzles by both day and night. Located in the far north of the country, the Moon and Mars Valleys are appropriately named—the desert landscapes here are truly otherworldly. The Atacama is larger than the entire state of Mississippi, to give a sense of its scale, and vast salt flats stretch to the horizon, some of them dotted with pink flamingoes. At night, the sky is filled with a stellar display of stars.
Not only is this the world's driest desert, it is also a remarkably high one, sitting at an elevation of 7,900 feet. The altitude may take your breath away, but if not, the views of the constellations of the southern night sky definitely will. San Pedro de Atacama is the area's principal town, and the home of two resorts whose contemporary architecture is almost as stunning as the desert itself: Explora Atacama and Tierra Atacama.
"Antarctica has this mythic weight," author Jon Krakauer wrote, "It resides in the collective unconscious of so many people, and it makes this huge impact." At the southern end of the world, it was long the last frontier—a frozen continent so harsh that it claimed fearless explorers, including Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton.
Krakauer was entranced by the light and purity of the air. For others, the draw is the haunting silence of a place where human presence is limited to international research stations. Here, the sounds of a distant glacier calving into the sea and the calls of birds can be heard for miles. It is some of these birds, namely penguins, that are Antarctica's most famous residents. Seals and whales can also be found along its shores. The only way to visit the continent, short of becoming a scientific researcher, is aboard a small-ship expedition cruise that departs from southern Chile and travels across the Drake Passage. National Geographic's expeditions have long been popular choices, as are those of Silversea, which add a touch of luxury to adventures at the edge of the world.
Beyond the Glitz
Hollywood with all its razzle-dazzle is doubtless much of what draws travelers, as well as those who hope to find fame, to Los Angeles. That is, however, only one aspect of this huge city. The City of Angels is one of the country's most ethnically diverse metropolises, embodied in sights like the Korean Friendship Bell, the Suiho-En Japanese Garden, and Olvera Street, one of the city's oldest streets and still the center of Mexican-American life.
For urban archaeologists, Los Angeles has a number of 20th century sites waiting to be explored: the futuristic Cinerama Dome (a dome-shaped movie theater that's still in operation), the Old Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park (don't look for animals in enclosures—the zoo is abandoned), and the Velaslavasay Panorama which continues the 19th century tradition of panoramic paintings.
Finally, forget any clichés about L.A. being a cultural wasteland. Institutions like the Broad Museum, LACMA, and the Disney Concert Hall by architect Frank Gehry have put the city on the map as a cultural capital—and not just for its movies. As downtown has boomed, the restaurant scene has, too. Among the popular new additions are Otium (right next to the Broad Museum), from French Laundry alum Timothy Hollingsworth; Rossoblu, specializing in pastas and grilled meat dishes from the Italian region Emilia-Romagna; and The Exchange Restaurant, serving Middle Eastern dishes at its location in the Freehand Hotel.
John Newton is a Chase News contributor. His stories have appeared in AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel+Leisure, among other media outlets.