When the light hits the canals of Annecy just right, they gleam startlingly green-blue like sea glass. Visit one of the canal-side restaurants and bars that fill up with locals swapping stories over plates of delicate lake fish and glasses of wine. On a triangular islet in the Thiou River, the Palais de l’Isle has been re-imagined as a residence, a courthouse, a jail and currently, a museum.
This go-go Asian metropolis is all bright lights and flashing signs, catcalling lady boys and honking tuk-tuks, and street vendors slinging pad see ew noodles to locals and backpackers. But sooner or later you will be confronted with a canal scene. Of the many khlong (canals) that looped around the city in the 1800s, only a fraction remain — in the downtown Thonburi neighbourhood and in the outlying Green Lung area, where farmers and fishermen get around via canals and elevated walkways.
The capital of West Flanders is lovely and underrated, and the well-preserved city centre of brick Gothic architecture was once the stomping ground of Flemish old master painters. Tour the canals that seem to make a moat around the old town: Dijver runs between antique shops and the Church of Our Lady; Groene Rei is tree-lined and tranquil; and Spinolarei has stepped gable houses.
Despite its location, El Gouna has more in common with that newish subdivision in your hometown than it does with, say, the pyramids. It is a resort town that began development in the 1990s, and the lagoons, stemming from the Red Sea, create turquoise channels between islands whose ocher-coloured hotels and private villas blend into the arid desert landscape. When the going gets too hot, cool off at one of the nearby beaches.
This small town outside of Amsterdam grew up in swampy marshland, and the solution of 12th century peat farmers was to dig canals to transport their goods. Giethoorn still possesses 6.4km of waterways, crisscrossed by more than 150 wood footbridges, with lush front yards sloping from thatched-roof houses down to the water’s edge. Roads do not extend to the central old town, so 2,500 residents get around mostly by punting.
Take the train from Buenos Aires to Tigre and when you arrive at the waterfront — all tile, iron railings and old-timey street lamps — you will see that life here is oriented around el agua (the water). Instead of museums or libraries, the lovely old buildings are canoe clubs — and that is only the beginning. Tigre, built on the delta of the Paraná River, is a hodgepodge of islets with elegant vacation homes, ramshackle fishing abodes and camp-style resorts. Some waterways are big enough for water taxis and private boats while others, thick with pussy willows and ceibo trees, accommodate only a single skiff.
Pictures via BBC