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Time travel around the world

Published January 21st, 2015

If you’re reading this hoping that a time machine has finally been invented, we’re sorry to disappoint. But unless Doc has got the DeLorean working again, we’re probably not going “Back to the Future” anytime soon (Fun fact: It’s the 30th anniversary of the first Back to the Future flick this year with a parade in Las Vegas on May 15). If you do want to step back in time or get a glimpse of the future (Hover boards! Light-up Nikes!), here’s where to time travel around the world.



Ancient Rome

Dating back to the 8th century BC, Rome is basically a living museum, and while you won’t find re-enactments of gladiator battles, checking out sights like the Colosseum (especially the after-dark tour!), Palatine Hill, Roman Forum and Pantheon will give you an idea of some 3,000-odd years of empire building – take that Mark Zuckerberg!


The historic city of Spilt in Croatia is also rich in Ancient Roman artifacts. The Diocletian Palace is the only one of its kind built outside Rome, you can walk on Ancient Roman roads, complete with equally ancient sewage covers, and see the aqueduct.



For an idea of the scope of the Roman Empire, you’ll also find historic spots dotted all over the UK from Hadrian’s Wall along northern England to the Roman Baths in, well, Bath. In Cirencester, England, you’ll find the mother lode – a Roman amphitheatre and the Corinium Museum with a great collection of mosaics.



The Vikings

The pillaging and plundering Vikings also carved out quite the empire across Scandinavia and even into Scotland and Ireland during the 8th to 11th centuries. Visit the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, England to step back in time with excavated Viking Age houses under your feet, recontructed scenes and even authentic smells from the Viking era (yes, really!) piped in to really transport you there.


Lofotr Vikingmuseum, located on Borg in the Lofoten Islands of Norway, is a living museum where you can smell, taste (try lamb soup and honey wine) and feel the history. There’s a five-day Viking Festival here during August, but you can see the reconstructed longhouse, boathouse and  three ships at any time.



In Denmark, Ribe VikingeCenter will take you back a thousand years with a longhouse, sacrificial spot, archery range, a town, marketplace and Viking boat are all lovingly reconstructed in an open museum where you can wander and soak up the ye olde ambience.


Likewise, Skåne in Sweden will transport you to the Viking era through the Foteviken Museum with its recreated Viking village, the archaeological theme park of Löddeköpinge (The Viking Times) and Viking stronghold in Trelleborg.




The Middle Ages

The birthplace of Vlad Tepes a.k.a Dracula in Transylvania, Romania, Sighişoara is an amazing example of a fortified medieval town and a UNESCO World Historic Centre where you can get a feel of the conditions of the Middle Ages in the numerous buildings (including Vlad Tepes’ childhood home) and on the cobblestone streets.



Another town virtually untouched since medieval times is Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany. Like something straight out of a Grimm’s fairytale, the Bavarian town is a perfectly preserved walled town that was reconstructed after its World War II bombing. See the cute citadel from the vantage point of the Town Hall tower or the wall around the old town to avoid the tourists crowding the cobblestone paths.



The Wild West

If you’ve ever wanted to swagger through the swing doors of a 19th-century saloon, travel on a stagecoach or challenge your nemesis to a shootout at noon or even just be Will Smith in Wild Wild West, you can live out your frontier fantasy at a number of old USA boomtowns. In Tombstone, Arizona, the site of the O.K. Corral, you can check out the Bird Cage Theatre drinking den and Crystal Palace Saloon, tour the Good Enough Mine and courthouse and even sleep at the Tombstone Bordello B&B – prostitutes with a heart of gold not included.


You know the expression: “Get the hell out of Dodge”? Straight from the fictional TV westerns you can learn all about frontier justice at the real Dodge City, Kansas. The hard-partying Wild West town contains the Boot Hill Museum, which recreates cowboy gunfights twice daily on Front Street.



Or head to Deadwood, South Dakota (of Deadwood fame) where the gold rush brought a bevy of prospectors and legendary characters to the town close to Mount Rushmore. Pay your respects to Wild Bill and Calamity Jane at the cemetery, pan for the shiny stuff at the Lost Boot Mine and check out the Old Style Saloon #10 bar and museum for a side of history with your brew.



The Future

Get a glimpse of the future at the boundary-busting emirate of Dubai. Manmade islands, sky-piercing buildings, and ice-skating rinks in the desert prove anything can be engineered to be (in the words of Daft Punk) harder, better, faster, stronger.


Of course, Brazil’s capital Brasilía was already pushing the envelope way back in the 1950s. Built from scratch in 1956, the planned city is the futuristic vision of architect Oscar Niemeyer, landscape designer Robert Burle Marx and urban planner Lúcio Costa who shaped the city with the Monumental Axis, resembling a giant airplane, through the city centre and furnished the capital with awe-inspiring architecture and shapely structures like the Cathedral of Brasilía.



Hollywood’s idea of the neon-lit metropolis is already here in the form of Tokyo. Robot restaurants? Check. Space-age toilets? Done. Outlandish theme parks? Yep, all here. Cosplay aficionados dressed like anime characters in Akihabara? You betcha. Wandering around Tokyo at night can make you feel like an extra in a sci-fi film – or is that the sake? The future is now.


Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.