Oh yes, please. Next month, the airline Lufthansa will begin offering three direct flights per week from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Frankfurt, Germany. It marks the first time in almost 20 years that St. Louis travelers will be able to catch a nonstop flight to continental Europe. According to Greater St. Louis Inc., the new flights should drum up $50 million–$100 million per year for the region’s economy and will allow employees of companies with Frankfurt ties, such as Bayer and Merck, to travel a little easier (and maybe attract a few more outposts?). Still, with the airline receiving $5 million in incentives over two years for offering the flights, some naysayers question whether it’s worth the subsidies when people could instead connect through JFK or LaGuardia in New York City. Grants or not, this is happening, so consider booking a trip to one of these locales—now just a hop, skip, and jump away from St. Louis, starting with Frankfurt.
FRA / 01 † FRANKFURT, GERMANY
Known as Germany’s most international city and a European economic powerhouse, Frankfurt is a place full of contradictions. It’s a large metropolis where stores still close on Sundays and public transportation doesn’t run all night. If you’re there for business, you don’t want to miss the Römerberg district, with its timber-framed houses; the Old Opera House, which was reconstructed after the original was destroyed in World War II; and the Historisches Museum, where you can learn about the city’s past, including how its center was flattened during the war.
ORGANIC / 02 † BILBAO, SPAIN
You’re likely familiar with this northern Spanish city because of its Guggenheim Museum, which put Bilbao on the map in 1997. Since then, the museum has attracted more than 23 million people to view the art housed in Frank Gehry’s architectural marvel, with titanium curves that seem to dance under the sun’s rays. The museum’s role in transforming the city into a tourist hotspot has been coined the “Bilbao effect.” Come for the art but stay for the pintxos (Basque Country’s version of tapas), the beaches, the mountains, and the city’s modern architecture.
JTR / 03 † SANTORINI, GREECE
The juxtaposition of the smooth white buildings against the rugged terrain has made Santorini the most famous (and most photographed) Greek island. The caldera, the site of one of the largest recorded volcano eruptions in history, gives the island its dramatic views. Before you find the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the caldera, make sure to do a wine tasting at Santo Wines; hike to the top of the Santorini volcano; and swim at Perissa, the island’s black sand beach.
PRG / 04 † PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Prague’s historic center is one of Europe’s best preserved, with examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. Walking is the best way to explore the city—just make sure to include stops for a beer and sausage. Other highlights include watching the medieval astronomical clock at the top of the hour; walking across the stone arches of the Charles Bridge; touring the Prague Castle; and posing for pictures in front of the Lennon Wall, which is filled with Beatles-inspired graffiti.
SJJ / 05 † SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is located on the Miljacka River in the Dinaric Alps. The city’s Ottoman architecture stands against a lush green mountainous backdrop and includes Gazi Husrev Bey, the largest mosque in the country; the Latin Bridge, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in 1914; and the stunning Sacred Heart Cathedral. It would be shortsighted to visit Sarajevo without paying respects at Kovači Memorial Cemetery to the thousands of Bosnians who were killed during the civil war that ended in 1995.
VCE / 06 † VENICE, ITALY
Gondolas glide down blue canals, transporting tourists through the 118 small islands that make up Venice, but walking the city by foot—and there are more than 400 bridges—is the best way to explore the city’s intricate alleys, where numerous surprises await. Put these on your must-see list: St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Square, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal. For art lovers, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is considered one of the best private art collections in the world.
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