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If you’re a regular monocle reader there’s a high probability (I reckon about 85 per cent) that you spend a disproportionate amount of your holiday time devouring local media (even if you don’t read Thai or Portuguese) trying to get a fix on retail streets that are on the up, entrepreneurs who are reshaping derelict districts and the currents that are defining the local political scene. As tempting as it is to stay poolside or on the sun-lounger, you’re itching to go back and find that shady laneway you sped past on your way in from the airport or track down what looked like an interesting flea market as you flew in over a smart-looking suburb. It’s also quite likely that you have a nagging list of cities that you’ve never managed to get to – all oddly alluring due to their complicated histories, air of danger or remote geography; all somewhat removed from your regular travel pattern.

For this debut edition of the escapist we’ve dispatched our editors, correspondents and favourite contributors to a group of cities from where we might have filed the odd report over the years but have never spent enough time on the ground to form a proper opinion or get a real fix on what makes them so appealing. Bangor, Maine, is a perfect example. It’s a city that many of us fly over when crossing the Atlantic, we know it from news reports about intercepted private aircraft or diverted airliners. but what actually happens in this urban outcropping in the wilderness of the extreme US northeast p204?

Ditto Trieste, in Italy’s extreme northeast. We’re familiar with its Austro-Hungarian heritage, its Cold War strategic importance and its coffee companies (Illy and Hausbrandt). But what’s become of it as the EU has expanded eastward and its maritime status has been usurped by a new generation of seafaring nations p149? Or what about Sapporo in northern Japan? What’s the metabolism of a city that feels every bit like modern Japan but is a few degrees more chilled, moves a couple of beats slower and has kindred associations with Scandinavia and the US Pacific northwest p52?

All in we’ve gone to 10 cities (on all continents save for Antarctica) to deliver a series of urban portraits. Along the way we’ve jumped on the overnight train from Milan to Palermo p139, spent time with the forces deployed to Djibouti p67, toured the best beach clubs north and south of Beirut p259, pulled into some superior highway service centres p251, lined up the best bike brands for cycling around town p254 and shot the best clothes and accessories to ease you from summer into autumn p211. All thoughts, story tips and suggestions are welcome at tb@monocle.com.

Thank you for your support.

Tyler Brûlé
Editor in Chief
Monocle

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