Little known but fine places

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Here are some small towns that stand out in my mind for their beauty or other unique characteristics.

Jaisalmer, India, located in the far west, is one of this country’s most magical cities. Wandering the streets — seeing women repairing the walls of the fort, and the only transport, animals — one can believe it’s a hundred, even a thousand, years ago (visited in 2001).

Strahan, Tasmania, is located in southwestern Tasmania. Its harborside downtown features one of the most handsome streets in Australia. For a town of fewer than a thousand residents, it is a very active place (2002).

Torajaland, Indonesia, is located in south-central Sulawesi, which is one of the five big islands of this country. Noted for their unique houses located in maybe 30 villages, the Toraja people also conduct elaborate funerals that can last for days and involve large numbers of people, including more and more tourists (2003).

Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia — what a lovely river town! It’s considered by many to be one of the most handsome cities in Asia. The streets are clean and pleasant to walk, particularly the waterfront at dusk (2004).

Honiara, Solomon Islands, began as a U.S. military base in the area where the famed battles of Guadalcanal were fought. It is now a pretty city of tree-lined streets rising up from the waterfront, with unusual hotels and popular seafront cafés (2005).

Yalta, Ukraine, is where the fate of post-WWII Europe was decided. The building where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met still stands, as do dozens of other notable edifices. The setting is spectacular, with the beach and waterfront promenade lying below the town, which in turn hides beneath the surrounding mountains. It was the favorite holiday place for the czar and the Russian aristocracy (2005).

Positano, Italy, located just southwest of Naples, is the most picturesque of the many beautiful towns on the famed Amalfi Coast. It is very much perched on a steep cliff, so if you want to explore the place, bring your hiking boots (2006).

Sighisoara, Romania, called the Pearl of Transylvania, is a nicely preserved medieval town surrounded by its citadel. Set on a steep hill, it has many treasures to explore, including a 15th-century clock tower. Also of note, it is the birthplace of Vlad Dracul (aka Vlad the Impaler), who inspired the character Count Dracula (2006).

Sibiu, Romania — this (saving the best for last) is the neatest of medieval towns. I was enchanted by its large central square, the architecture of its colorful ornate houses, the narrow streets and tiny shops. Truly a magical place (2006)!

KURT SHAFER

Chatsworth, IL

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Here are some small towns that stand out in my mind for their beauty or other unique characteristics.

Jaisalmer, India, located in the far west, is one of this country’s most magical cities. Wandering the streets — seeing women repairing the walls of the fort, and the only transport, animals — one can believe it’s a hundred, even a thousand, years ago (visited in 2001).

Strahan, Tasmania, is located in southwestern Tasmania. Its harborside downtown features one of the most handsome streets in Australia. For a town of fewer than a thousand residents, it is a very active place (2002).

Torajaland, Indonesia, is located in south-central Sulawesi, which is one of the five big islands of this country. Noted for their unique houses located in maybe 30 villages, the Toraja people also conduct elaborate funerals that can last for days and involve large numbers of people, including more and more tourists (2003).

Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia — what a lovely river town! It’s considered by many to be one of the most handsome cities in Asia. The streets are clean and pleasant to walk, particularly the waterfront at dusk (2004).

Honiara, Solomon Islands, began as a U.S. military base in the area where the famed battles of Guadalcanal were fought. It is now a pretty city of tree-lined streets rising up from the waterfront, with unusual hotels and popular seafront cafés (2005).

Yalta, Ukraine, is where the fate of post-WWII Europe was decided. The building where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met still stands, as do dozens of other notable edifices. The setting is spectacular, with the beach and waterfront promenade lying below the town, which in turn hides beneath the surrounding mountains. It was the favorite holiday place for the czar and the Russian aristocracy (2005).

Positano, Italy, located just southwest of Naples, is the most picturesque of the many beautiful towns on the famed Amalfi Coast. It is very much perched on a steep cliff, so if you want to explore the place, bring your hiking boots (2006).

Sighisoara, Romania, called the Pearl of Transylvania, is a nicely preserved medieval town surrounded by its citadel. Set on a steep hill, it has many treasures to explore, including a 15th-century clock tower. Also of note, it is the birthplace of Vlad Dracul (aka Vlad the Impaler), who inspired the character Count Dracula (2006).

Sibiu, Romania — this (saving the best for last) is the neatest of medieval towns. I was enchanted by its large central square, the architecture of its colorful ornate houses, the narrow streets and tiny shops. Truly a magical place (2006)!

KURT SHAFER

Chatsworth, IL