EDGE’s Top 5 Travel Stories From 2013

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Dec 31, 2013

We made a list and checked it twice, and although we can't take responsibility for whatever did (or didn't) end up in your stack of holiday gifts, EDGE can offer up five of our most popular travel stories from 2013.

From an all-nighter in Berlin to feasting on fried food in Puerto Rico, the year proved to be an eclectic discovery of both familiar as well as unexpected (Little Rock?) destinations.

As the momentum of LGBT rights continued across the country and around the world, EDGE explored locales that appealed to every type of traveler and always managed to unearth a bit of the unexpected.

48 Hours in Berlin

"Divine decadence darling!" exclaims Sally Bowles in "Cabaret," the film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s book "The Berlin Stories," that recounts the city’s libertine debauchery between the world wars. Before the depression, the super-inflation, and constant street battles between Communists and Nationalists that led to the rise of Hitler and the country’s eventual bifurcation, Berlin reigned supreme as the world’s most wicked major city. ??

Today, the spirit of Sally Bowles is alive and kicking. Whether you’re stumbling upon a hidden lounge behind an unmarked door on a loading dock or gaping at acres of custom-designed fetish wear available in shop after shop, Berlin is guaranteed to bring out the naughty in you. This historic metropolis of 3.5 million also supplies plenty that you can relate to the family back home. ??

But it’s the dark past colliding with unbridled freedom of expression that has resulted in Berlin’s post-unification creative burst, as EDGE’s travel editor Matthew Wexler discovered on his trip to Berlin this year. Art galleries, pop-up shops, independent bookstores and coffeehouses seem to be everywhere - because they are. Museums and memorials offering vivid reminders of the atrocities of the war, as well as stories of survival, offer opportunities for reflection. ??

The reinvention of a city where, until barely more than two decades ago, citizens could be shot simply for crossing a street from one sector to another, has resulted in a youthful metropolis that is throbbing and vital, and a nightlife scene that makes New York or Los Angeles look like religious boarding schools. ??

EDGE tackled Berlin in two days - a city that has seen thousands of years of history; been the center of empires; fostered some of the world’s greatest artists, scientists, philosophers and politicians; and boasts spectacular monumental architecture. But even spending a mere 48 hours in the capital will give you a taste of its art and history, and of Sally’s "divine decadence."

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Helsinki By Design

It’s not always winter in Helsinki. In fact, summers are downright glorious, with longer warm sunny days than you’ll find almost anywhere, and ubiquitous happy Finns gleefully shedding most (if not all) of their clothing to soak up as much brightness as they can.

??But when it snows, it snows. And though writer Dan Allen had experienced his fair share of Finnish winters, he’d never seen it come down quite as intensely as it did during his visit to Helsinki, just as the city was excitedly preparing for its role as World Design Capital 2012.??

And so it was that his design walk became more of a blizzard-like design trek, one he quickly subtitled "Arctic Artek" in honor of his first stop. But it was somehow fitting, because there’s undeniably something about the soft edges and beautiful stillness of winter that finds its way into much of Finnish design.

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Toronto: Fashion, Food and Fun in the Gay White North

Imagine a land where the streets are filled with people who don’t honk horns in traffic and everyone knows your name. Toronto might be that land.

??Toronto is known as New York City’s softer, greener sister to the north, and was recently named the fourth-largest city in North America, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada and the U.S. Census Bureau. (Sorry, Chicago; you got bumped.) The city’s so picturesque and idyllic that many TV shows, movies and commercials are filmed here. The sense of local pride in Toronto never seems to run out. And it manifests itself in a myriad of ways.

EDGE’s fashion writer Mac Smith headed north to explore Toronto’s fashion scene and unearthed brands such as Fresh, Holt Renfrew and the Bata Shoe Museum. The city prepares to host World Pride in June 2014 and we’re confident the revelers will be well-dressed.

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Next page for Little Rock and Puerto Rico!

Little Rock: An Improbable Oasis

Little Rock, Arkansas may not show up on most LGBT travelers’ domestic bucket list, but maybe it’s time that bucket got bigger. Located in the heart of a very conservative state in the deep red South (a state where, in 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman and employment discrimination against the LGBT community is still legal) Little Rock is a surprisingly sophisticated and seductive city. ?

?Named in September by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance as the country’s best moderately sized metropolis, the city heartily embraces gay residents and visitors. With a wealth of LGBT-friendly bars, restaurants and shops, a booming drag scene and a smorgasbord of special queer events, writer Jill Gleeson discovered that Little Rock, Arkansas just might be the South’s next great gay destination.

CLICK HERE for full story.

The Many Flavors of Puerto Rico

There may be no better way to understand a region’s history than through its food. EDGE travel editor Matthew Wexler’s visit to San Juan revealed a penchant for anything fried and nary a vegetable in sight - truly, comfort food for a people that spent 400 years under Spanish rule and withstood takeover attempts by the Dutch, French and British before we finally got there. What better way to soothe political oppression than with a bacalaito and fresh coconut milk?

?The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has been under the United States’ watchful eye since 1898, when Spain ceded the archipelago as a result of the Spanish-American War. Since Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, the lines have continued to blur.

??According to the New York City Department of City Planning, there are more Puerto Ricans living in New York City than any other city in the world - including San Juan, the island’s capital. It’s that blend of Uncle Sam and salsa that gave his recent experience in San Juan a feeling very much American while also retaining a rich past through a handful of historical sites, crispy bites of this and that, and more than his fair share of tropical rum-based drinks.

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Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


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