Star Alliance picks 21 inspiring experiences around the world

Andrew Munro 9 October 2017 NEWS
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Taipei from above

Find the everyday extraordinary around the world.

Star Alliance is the world's largest airline association, with over 20 participating frequent flyer programs and even more member airlines. To celebrate its 20th anniversary in operation, the network brought together all 21 of its frequent flyer programs in worldwide competition.

Afterwards 21 winners, one for each program, were named around the world.

The competition called for submissions of a photo of a "cultural experience" and a description of what it meant. The photos and descriptions were judged together, and each winner receives a million frequent flyer miles (or equivalent).

The final list was heavily populated with world renowned attractions and hidden gems. In no particular order other than East to West, from the USA to New Zealand, here they are.

  • The Grand Canyon: Chrysoula Marouda came to the canyon from Greece and was immediately struck by its size and untouched nature. Being within an easy day trip from Vegas and home to a range of nearby hotels and motels, it's not exactly pristine, but nature definitely has the upper hand yet. The canyon's sheer size means it can't really get overdeveloped. It's been around for millenia and won't be going anywhere.
  • Antigua, Guatemala: Samanta Elizabeth Villegas found herself in Guatemala on a business trip, among the two million tourists fielded by the country each year, where a small village in the heart of Mayan country captured her with its friendliness.
  • Urumamba, Peru: Sarah Eggert came from Denmark to the Sacred Valley in Peru, and was lucky enough to take in a traditional competition between local women, seeing who could make the longest thread out of Alpaca wool in five minutes.
  • Unnamed road, Brazil: Henderlins Mendoza travelled among indiginous peoples near the Araguaia River in Brazil, and was surprised to find an outstanding culinary experience among everything else.
  • Lisbon, Portugal: Flávia Domingues: "Dais Para uma rua inacessível a todos os pensamentos, Real, impossivelmente real, certa, desconhecidamente certa. Com o mistério das coisas por baixo das pedras e dos seres." One traveller found poetry, and a million frequent flyer points, among the streets of her home town.
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The old town, Lisbon

  • Unnamed road, Morocco: Raphael Rosado Sousa Santos came from Brazil, and found out that the Sahara isn't just in Egypt. His best experiences were at sunrise, on a camel train near the Algerian border.
  • Pitlochery, Scotland: On his visit to Scotland, Chao Wan was spontaneously taken by the scenery on a road in Pitlochery, on the banks of Lock Eicht. There and then, he dubbed it Scotland's most beautiful spot.
  • The Louvre, France: After spending hours taking the works at the Louvre, and honing his French, Si Hung Tong was suddenly struck by the soft light and deliberate artistry of the building itself. A good home for so much fine art, he reckoned.
  • Leiden, Netherlands: Joogang Cha went almost to the other side of the world, from Korea to Holland. After all that time, the most unforgettable moment of his trip was the sunset over a canal in Leiden. The locals get to see it every day, but to him it was something entirely new.
  • Istanbul, Turkey: Jessica May stopped and listened to the sounds of Istanbul on the bank of the Bosphorus. A quiet reminder that there are new things to hear wherever you go, even as you're seeing the sights.
  • Unnamed road, Uganda: Sheng-Chun Wen travelled up to Uganda from South Africa, and headed into the mountains in search of the gorillas. He wasn't disappointed.
  • Afar Zone, Ethiopia: Nebiyu Sultan-Mohammed found inspiration closer to home than most. Travelling with a salt miner on the way to market yielded him an unforgettable experience.
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Ethiopia's Afar region might be better known for its unnaturally vivid volcanic sulfur lakes.

  • Diego Suarez, Madagascar: Evripdou Evripidis made his way from Cyprus to Madagascar. He was astounded to find a home away from home on the other side of Africa, where the colonial past and pristine weather of Diego Suarez felt like home.
  • Agra, India: Bradley Robinson visited Agra for the Holi festival of colour. A participator rather than observer, he had a (no longer) white button-down shirt created specially for the occasion.
  • Varanasi, India: Karan Kutur has "always been close to an Indian culture as it's diversely beautiful." A ritual on the banks of the Ganges led to a surprising million-point photo op on her visit to nearby Varanasi.
  • Taunggyi, Myanmar: Frederic Bardin went from one tropical destination to another, departing his home of New Caledonia and visiting Myanmar. He made a special visit to the banks of Inle Lake, after hearing about the unique fishing techniques practised there. It was well worth the trip.
  • Kabupaten, Indonesia: As his son learned the traditional way of fishing from villagers, Zhi Lhiang Huang watches and learned alongside. At the end of the day, it ended up being more than just another vacation for both of them.
  • Taipei, Taiwan: Robert Christopher Pauley felt grateful after a business trip to Taipei, for having the opportunity to travel so widely and see so much. The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in particular stood out to him.
  • Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan: There's nothing like local knowledge. Yoshizumi Irei thought he knew the background, but a visit to the Torii of Toriyoshiin Ibaraki Prefecture had him leave knowing more than when he entered.
  • Peka Peka Road, New Zealand: Brendan Doran reached one conclusion while lying on a beach in New Zealand and looking at the stars. That more people should be able to do it, and that light pollution is a real problem. New Zealand is home to more than its fair share of dark sky reserves, so he's clearly not alone.

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