Inspired by the surprises thrown up in our weekly A great little neighbourhood I know line, we asked writers and wanderers to share their best disclosure of the year

Dunhuang , Gansu Province, China

Peter Frankopan, historian and author
The world-wide of 2016 is not totally fate and desolation. In Asia, things are changing rapidly as the Silk Roads rise again. In September, I was in north-west China, in Dunhuang, between the Gobi and the Taklamakan deserts, on the south Silk road. The metropoli is an oasis, the last stop, extending west, before virtually 1,000 km of sand, and near the Mogao caves, a Buddhist complex founded in the fourth century.

My favourite smudge is in the desert, above crescent-shaped Yueyaquan lake. The good ideas are at dawn from the top of a series of metal ladders pinned into the steep dunes. As you look down to the lake and city, you feel the hot and oppression of the desert behind you. Deciding to thoughts west required finding, commitment and firmnes. As brand-new bonds are knitted across Asia, it difficult not to feel awed by how easy it is to travel today and how hard it formerly was. It feels like the present working convene the past, and touching against the future.
Peter Frankopans The Silk road: A New History of the World is published by Bloomsbury . To ordering a imitation for 24.60 including UK p& p see the guardian bookshop

Six Depot Roastery and Cafe , West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, US

Mark Vanhoenacker, captain and generator

Six
Photograph: Mark R Jones

In the late 1990 s, on a weekend break in Copenhagen, some pals and I stopped at a cafe and told what turned out to be best available sandwich Id ever had: a splendid, open-faced, pesto-laden creation that I would talk about perpetually. Times afterwards, when I became an airline pilot and had the chance to return to Copenhagen often, I expended evenings going the city, but I could not find that cafe again.

This past August, though, I came across a sandwich thats just as good at Six Depot Roastery and Cafe in West Stockbridge, a classic New England village in the Berkshires, the Massachusetts area where I grew up.

As a long-haul pilot whose main solace is coffee, I can report that Six Depot, which opened in 2013, is one of my favourite cafe in the world. An armchair caffeinator could invest weeks exploring the menu of beans curated by owneds Lisa Landry and Flavio Lichtenthal, while the venue itself, a modern adjustment of an old-fashioned railway station that too dishes as an art gallery and live music venue, is thoroughly New England. And the sandwich? Its a panino called Chicken Mechado. The chicken is seared, braised and plucked, then asphyxiated in something called Miami salsa yoghurt, pile, coriander and a few other ingredients. This splendid sandwich is something to tell all your friends about.
Mark Vanhoenacker moves Boeing 747 s for British Airways. He is the author of Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot. To prescribe a emulate for 13.93 including UK p& p trip legal guardians bookshop

Cmara Oscura, Cdiz, Spain

Katharine Norbury, scribe

Panoramic
Panoramic consider of Cdiz. Photo: Alamy

In Cdiz the streets are long and restricted. The structure of the town acts as a giant cooling system that pours Atlantic gales through shadowed streets in a jubilation of civil engineering. The city is full of wealths, though feeling them can be a hit and miss circumstance. But in 1994, Spains first camera obscura was erected on top of a former watchtower, the Torre Tavira. When I discovered a stream of Brownie navigates with backpacks tripping down the steps of a white-painted build, I knew Id discovered it.

Inside, the tower was chill and airy. A small-scale group of us were heralded into a dark area at the top a written notice urged Silencio. We clustered around a large white-painted container, its shapes discoloured with the gray-headed bud of fingerprints. Our navigate extinguished the illumination and began to open the shutter, rotating the lens with a brass handle.

People the size of ants abruptly crowded in the different regions of the concave face. I reached out my hands and the ant-people climbed over my digits. A female cycled past Roman wreckings and a container carry floated into the shelter. Two summer-flowering South American magnolia trees attested to the citys colonial past. Then it was over. Outside, on the ceiling, I picked out the Roman devastates and the meridians of the magnolia trees. And forearmed with this new attitude, I returned to Cadizs shadowed streets.
Katharine Norbury is writer of The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream( Bloomsbury, 9.99 ). To ordering a transcript for 8.19 including UK p& p stay the guardian bookshop

Dhara Dhevi Hotel , Chiang Mai, Thailand

Steve McCurry , photographer

Dhara
Dhara Dhevi Hotel. Picture: Steve McCurry

The Dhara Dhevi is the kind of place you could expend a few weeks in and never feel the need to leave the soils. I have wasted many hours exploring its classical Thai architecture, exotic trees and making rice paddies. Ive always had a fury for arts and Buddhist iconography from south-east Asia, and the Dhara Dhevis collection is museum-quality. I determined it fascinating that the proposed project was the imagination of one husband, Suchet Pom Suwanmongkol, who is as comfortable hanging out with the workers who constructed the inn, as he is with the royalty who frequent it.

A
Photograph: Steve McCurry

On one visit, I fell asleep under a tree and woke to the feeling of something snuggling my leg. To my astound, it was a small mare, the size of a St Bernard dog. At first, I pondered I was still dreaming, and then I ensure several more of these minuscule ponies grazing in the distance. It was surreal, but not really unexpected in a situate that is so stunning it feels like you are staying in a dream.

Dancing in the Zcalo , Veracruz, Mexico

Kevin Rushby, Guardian walk scribe

Dancers
Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian
For many years, Veracruz was a city people scaped mob warfare rarely captivates the right kind of visitor. But with
governor Javier Duarte led, there is hope that the bad times are over. If they are, travellers are in for a plow. This magnificent city adoration to party. Every weekend the Zcalo( central square) hums with activity. Around the fringes, strolling mariachi, norteo and marimba strips vie to entertain cafe-goers, while in the centre, dancers gyrate to local danzn bands. A cheerful potpourrus of hustlers, clairvoyants and street vendors work through the crowds. Wares might have been lung-buster cigars, mouth-blasting chilli snacks and, most bizarrely, electric shocks to fry your fingers. The project be conducted by two electrodes until the agony is unbearable and pay for the experience. The respectful defiance is ahorita !, meaning in a minute. The dealers know that actually necessitates never.

Around the area on Callejon de la Campana, the dancing is several grades hotter. Few would dare start to learn Latin dance here, but if you do , no one will bat an eyelid. Later, the working party switchings to the malecn , the hide wall, and continues till dawn.
Sustainable tourism company Sumak Travel offers tailor-made passages to Veracruz, and other specific areas of Mexico

Los Islotes , Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico

Steve Backshall, ecologist and Tv presenter

California
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Just two hours from La Paz in Mexicos Sea of Cortez, Los Islotes is a bumpy California sea lion colony, peppered with remaining blue-footed boobies, cormorants and pelicans. The seas are deep blue, and jam-pack with tropical fish flutter like butterflies among the blocky rock-and-rolls and through a stunning natural archway. The stellars of the present, though, are the sea lions. You need to know a bit of naval mammal psychology: if you chase after them, theyll treat you with disdain, but if you figure out what represents them tick, theyll dance with you under irrigate for hours, pirouetting and cavorting around you in an intoxicating aquatic ballet. Los Islotes was a happy breakthrough, stimulated on honeymoon with my bride, Olympic rower Helen Glover. Helen get scuba qualified, and we expended hours diving alongside whale sharks and manta rays, but the high seas lions stood out as our finest animal encounter.

Manuelas restaurant , Puyuhuapi, Chile

Karen Darke, paralympic cyclist, adventurer and author

Christmas
Christmas tree in village of Puyuhuapi, with Manuelas restaurant in service centres. Picture: Karen Darke

The Carretera Austral, the 1,240 km superhighway through southern Chile, felt like being on a Patagonian woodland roller coaster. Cycling over gravel with the strange joyful pull of asphalt we therefore coated in junk and silt, suncream and Vaseline. Our dates were measured in kilometres , not duration; 1,240 km seems an excruciatingly long way when the average rapidity is just 3km an hour. In the worst of the gravel pointed three, we called it it was quicker to walk.

Does this tempt you to repetition the Carretera Austral? It should. Among the gravel and grind were many wonders. Everything was supersize: trees contacted for the cloud, hollows yawned wide-eyed and leaves direct darkness big enough to shelter under. And at 370 km on the way south is the hamlet of Puyuhuapi, where the forest is break-dance by colourful lumber the homes and patronizes on the edge of a fjord. There, we crowded guts and souls with giant one section of cod and chips, bread and salad. At Manuelas there is one set menu, a vistum over the small hide and the Christmas tree in the square a remember in the warm evening sunshine that we were in the southern hemisphere.

The Gastrobus , Bantham, Devon

Pat Riddell, editor, National Geographic Traveller( UK )

The

A winding single-track street leads to the village of Bantham in south Devon. The possession snarled up in 2014 for 11.5 m by a acquaintance of David Cameron after he saw it advertised for sale in the Sunday Times crosses 728 acres in particular the hamlet, beach and estuary. But one of the main attractions in this sleepy part of the South Hams predates the advent of Nicholas Johnston by two years.

The Gastrobus a laid-back surfers retreat offering locally roasted coffee, gourmet burgers and hotdogs, freshly roasted bread and cakes, and luxury ice-creams may not be one of south Devons best-kept secrets, but this summer, Claire Bishops creation considered the add-on of two vintage Citroen H vans( together with Wi-Fi, poster remittances and a licensed forbid ), forming it even more appealing.

The Bakewell slices are one of the best acts Ive ever savor. Granted, it lies by one of the UKs finest pulls of sand, but the Gastrobuss curry nighttimes and acoustic discussions make it essentially an attractivenes in itself.

Running alongside the Atlantic , Porto, Portugal

Katie Parla, Rome-based nutrient scribe

Boats
Photograph: Alamy

In 2016 I trained for two marathons challenging enough for a person with no natural sporting ability. But when Im on the road, the physical challenge of long-distance leading is enlarged by a lack of motive. On a recent expedition to Porto, I would have much preferred to explore the citys nutrient and drinkings situation than made the pavement, but I delve deep and got in a good 30 km.

I did a speedy Google search and read that Gaia, the expanse on the other side of the Douro from downtown Porto, had a long, safe well-lit direction along the ocean. Beginning in the Afruda district and pointing near Espinhos golden beaches, the path includes wooden walkways above undulating dunes and paved malls with ocean judgments. There are cafes and restaurants along the way, so when I necessary ocean, I could make a speedy stop. I prefer to run at night, so it was pure rapture to become so far afield, safely, in a brand-new city.

Statue at New York Public Library , US

TC Boyle, generator