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The insiders' scoop on five cities you should visit

A Paris streetscape

alexis duclos The Globe and Mail


Rana Florida

CEO, Creative Class Group, urban theorist at Richard Florida's think tank,

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What I wish you knew: Miami, where Richard and I spend winters, isn't just fun and sun. It has a great quality of life, with green spaces, walkability, diversity and a burgeoning arts scene. Anyone can take in a performance at the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, home of the New World Symphony – just lie in the grass in its amazingly designed public park and watch the wallcast. Or check out the Rubell Family Collection, one of the world's largest privately owned contemporary art collections – it includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol – housed in an old Drug Enforcement Administration warehouse.

Where I'd take you: I like to take friends and family to Wynwood, a neighbourhood in midtown Miami, on the second Saturday of every month. They have art walks where the galleries stay open late, and the streets come alive and food trucks take over. Wynwood Kitchen and Bar serves great dinner outside in a courtyard filled with vibrant murals by famous graffiti artists such as Kenny Scharf. And a Miami Heat basketball game is not to be missed – the arena is alive with electric energy, and it's also a fun place to check out the extreme urban fashions.


Taras Grescoe

Author of Straphanger, a journey through public transit around the world,

What I wish you knew: Most people associate Tokyo with the main centres, such as Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi – they imagine it's a hectic, ultramodern Blade Runner-esque metropolis. But it's really a city of small neighbourhoods, as I've discovered over four or five trips in the last 10 years. The best way to see it is by buying a Japan Rail Pass and visiting some of Tokyo's train stations. I love the Toden Arakawa tram line, which takes you from Waseda University to the terminus near the old red-light district, where there's a covered shopping street with food stands. It's a slow-paced way to see what Tokyo used to be like.

Where I'd take you: The Golden Gai in Shinjuku is a place that time forgot. Hundreds of tiny bars – eight or 10 seats each – are stacked on top of each other in this big postwar complex. Each has one bartender and specialty, whether it's trains or old jazz. I remember this one place where a one-armed bartender was putting on Coltrane and Miles Davis records while everyone was drinking Suntory whisky and smoking. For movie lovers, I recommend La Jetée, which specializes in French cinema.

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Shimokitazawa in western Tokyo is great low-rise neighbourhood – it reminds me of Mile End in Montreal or Kensington Market in Toronto. I like to wander around looking at the shops, where you can find vintage Godzilla and Astro Boy toys, and visit street stands that sell fried octopus balls with mayo and sweet sauce.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Naomi Duguid

Food writer and author of the upcoming Burma: Rivers of Flavor,

What I wish you knew: Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, where I keep an apartment after years of travelling to Asia, is a busy place.

But it's surprisingly easy to walk or bicycle around, which I do all the time. It's very cosmopolitan. The side streets and

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alleys are full of hidden gems – I recommend buying one of Nancy Chandler's hand-drawn maps of the city, which are unbelievably dense.

You'll discover things you never would have otherwise.

Where I'd take you: The city is known for its temples, but the markets are truly extraordinary. Warorot, the all-day market by the river, is dizzying and full of wonderful things to try.

In the evenings, it's known for its street food. I take my food-immersion tour groups there for some Khanom Jiin noodle soup by candlelight. It's a simple, traditional dish, and you really feel like you've arrived.

A lot of people – even some locals – don't know about the Haw market on Friday mornings, across from the oldest mosque in the city. It's where the outsiders – Chinese Muslims, hill tribes and Shan people – gather to sell produce and street food.

The vegetables look so fresh, they could leap off the display, and I love the pickles and the wonderful smooth soup over noodles.


Rad Hourani

Fashion designer,

What I wish you knew: Paris is a city full of illusions. The city has a dreamy and romantic side to it when you are a visitor, but it's not the same when you live here; I moved here in 2005. But it's a city of learning, for sure. You can't cheat in terms of originality – there's a huge history here in art, fashion, design, music, culture. You cannot create just to be a designer; you have to bring something new.

Where I'd take you:To art and design bookstore Ofr or to lunch at Rose Bakery, where I love the salads and the fresh juices with ginger. The Centre Pompidou: Every time I'm there, I learn something new. Near the Palais-Royal, I love to walk in Le Jardin des Tuileries. I always feel at peace and protected there; it has a cozy side to it that I like.


Jaspreet Singh

Novelist and author of the upcoming Helium,

What I wish you knew: Delhi, or Dilli, is a city of power, jazz-age wealth, glittery malls, gated communities, BMWs and sports cars. It's hard to walk like a flâneur in Delhi. But the best way to explore the city is through its trees – I can't stop recommending Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide by Pradip Krishen. Gulmohar, jacaranda, jamun, sheesham, tamarind – how beautiful the names. The book really is the history of the modern city of Delhi through its botanical monuments.

Where I'd take you: I'd spend time in front of the great poet Ghalib's tombstone and the Sufi shrine in Nizamuddin. My favourite architectural wonder is the 18th-century observatory, Jantar Mantar: giant stone machines built to accurately forecast eclipses. When I go there, I sit by the sundial and watch the city spin around. Allow yourself to get lost in the maze of Jawaharlal Nehru University campus. What most people don't know is that you can go ice-skating in Delhi at the indoor rink in Gurgaon, the high-tech Millennium City suburb.

These interviews have been condensed and edited.

Where to find it all


New World Symphony, 500 17th St., Miami Beach;

Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th St., Miami;

Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, 2550 NW 2nd Ave., Miami;

American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami;


Minowabashi Station, Toden Arakawa Line, Taito Ward

La Jetée, 1-1-8 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku,

Shimokitazawa Station, Odakyu Line, Setagaya Ward

Chiang Mai

Warorot Market (also called Kad Luang), Vichayanon Road, near Ping Riverside

Muang Mai Market, Wang Sing Kham Road, near Ping Riverside

Haw Market, across from Baan Haw Mosque, 58 Chang Khlan Road


0FR, 20 Rue Dupetit-Thouars, 3rd arrondissement,

Rose Bakery, 46 Rue des Martyrs, 9th arrondissement

Centre Pompidou, 19 Rue Beaubourg, 4th arrondissement,

Le Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, 1er arrondissement


Ghalib's tomb and Nizamuddin Dargah (shrine), Lodhi Road, west of Mathura Road

Jantar Mantar, Sansad Marg, Connaught Place

iSkate, 6th floor, Ambience Mall, Gurgaon,

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