PAPER
on the front lines of cultural chaos since 1984.

Here at Paper, our first stop before heading to the Barnes & Noble travelsection is always Gary Pini's desk. After giving Gary the basic parameters ofyour trip (seven days, southern Spain, July), you'll be met the next day withhalf a dozen dog-eared magazine articles, a ferry schedule and a hand-drawn mapwith directions to some obscure dilapidated castle that Gary swears is thecoolest thing in Cadiz. In other words, Gary is probably the best-traveledperson we know and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of all thingsoff-the-beaten-path. Which is why we asked him to compile the Seven Wonders ofGary Pini's World.

1. [Top] When you're in Barcelona at sunset, look off to the west and you can see whatlooks like the Land of Oz on a mountaintop. The mountain is called Tibidabo andthe main buildings visible from downtown are a catholic church and a TV towerdesigned by Norman Foster. The real gem up there, however, is the TibidaboAmusement Park, built at the turn of the last century. The rides are a littleprimitive, but when you're spinning around on the ferris wheel, the view isgreat. Be sure to take the long way up via an old cable car and a funicularrailroad for the full experience.

2. [Bottom left] Everyone in the art world knows that the Venice Biennale happens every twoyears and Documenta in Kassel, Germany, every five. For the truly patienttourist, there's Floriade, a massive world horticulture expo that takes placeevery ten years in the Netherlands. The 2002 edition included hundreds of tackyVenus de Milo garden statues, an exhibit of cemetery plots designed by artistsand the world's largest collection of water lilies. Floriade 2012 takes place inVenlo, a city in the southeastern Netherlands, and the theme is: "Be part ofthe theater in nature; get closer to the quality of life." Start packing.

3. At one time Gormaz, Spain, was the largest citadel in Europe. Built around756 AD, this Moorish stronghold guarded the trade routes through the Pyrenees,and it's the perfect spot to read the Spanish classic, The Poem of El Cid. Standon the ramparts and look out over the vast plains of Soria and the valley of theDuero River. You'll probably be the only one there since there's no ticketbooth, snack bar or postcard shop in sight and castles are a dime a dozen to thelocals.

Photo credits: (top) Oscar Alarcon Lopez; (bottom left to right) Theo Kelderman, César Carazo.

[Clockwise from top left]

4. Feel like going to the beach? How about the largest sand dune in Europe? The Dune du Pilat, located about a half-hour outside of Bordeaux on thesouthwestern coast of France in a town called Arcachon, is almost two miles longand over 300 feet high. Climb the 200 stairs to the top where you can take inthe view of the Atlantic Ocean, the Bassin d'Arcachon, acres of pine forests offto the east -- and then roll down.

5. The Ronald McDonald House in Essen, Germany, is one of the best buildingsdesigned by the eccentric painter and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It's actually a reproduction of something he worked on just before he died in2000, and all the more special since so few of his designs were ever built (hethought straight lines were "the devil's tools"). The Ronald McDonald Housemakes Gaudi look conservative. It's located in Gruga Park and hard to find -- butworth the hunt.

6. Volcanoes have attracted tourists for years, and two of the best -- andsafest -- are in Sicily: Stromboli and Mount Etna. Stromboli looks like a locationstraight out of the '50s film Lost Continent as it rises out of theMediterranean, spouting smoke and gurgling. Walk up to the top at night andlook over the rim if you dare. As long as you're in the 'hood, take your yachta few miles over to Taormina, grab a cocktail and gaze at Etna. No, you won'tbe the first tourist to visit Etna -- images of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton linethe walls of the local watering hole, Wunderbar -- but no photo can capture thespectacle.

7. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, and still has one of the best exchangerates for the dollar in the world. Strangely, two of the biggest touristattractions are a cemetery (Recoleta) and a flea market (San Telmo), but if youventure a little north of downtown, there's a municipality called Tigre thatalso shouldn't be missed. On the delta of the Rio de la Plata, Tigre is ariver-boater's dream with several rowing and yacht clubs, a nautical museum andlots of old wooden water taxis that carry locals to various destinations alongthe river islands. You can hop on, ride around all day and check out thevacation homes, and you might even see a water-skier coasting along the muddywater.

Photo credits clockwise from top left: José Luis Muñoz Criado, Hans van der Boom, Mike Blanchette,sergioacevedovalencia.com

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