It’s spring in most of the Northern Hemisphere. It is during this time, when the flowers bloom and the world is green and pretty with the promise of pleasures to come, that the travel bug bites.
Here are some exciting isango! picks of places to be this month.
Los Angeles, Southern California
The Oscar season is over but the stars will always shine in Los Angeles, the Entertainment Capital of the World. Visit Mann’s Chinese Theatre’s to see nearly 200 Hollywood celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs embedded in the concrete of the forecourt. Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame where some 2,500 celebrities are immortalised by stars on the sidewalk. Take a tour of the incredible mansions of Hollywood’s superstars in the famous Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills districts and you will realise that the movies are really the biggest thing in this town.
Glamour and beauty is all around whether you are relaxing at the Venice Beach or are window shopping at Rodeo Drive. There is also charm and quaintness to be found in the small shops, stalls and cafés in the narrow passages of the Farmers’ Market.
‘I love Paris in the springtime,’ sang the poet and he had every reason to do so. It is a magical time to be in Paris. The Paulownia trees and lavender are among a myriad flowers breaking out, in all their glory, in every garden and park. This is especially so of the Tuileries Garden and the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Spring also brings out the locals and kick starts the café culture. The alluring aroma of coffee and hot croissants is simply irresistible. The Paris springtime nights are magical and dinner in one of the many restaurants or cruise ships on the Seine will be etched long in the memory.
At this time of the year, the countryside around Paris is absolutely gorgeous. Take a day trip to the Champagne region of France. The geometrically ordered rows of grape vines marching across hillsides and encircling tiny picturesque French villages are the stuff of picture postcards.
The month of April is the best time to visit Japan. The country will be blanketed by the beautiful, delicate pink cherry blossoms (sakura). This collection of islands is absolutely packed with natural beauty and a gracious people who have created a unique and amazing cuisine. Japan has 16 World Heritage Sites reflecting an ancient history and a rich culture.
Among its countless splendours are the centuries old shrines and temples of Kyoto, which are national treasures and the finest symbols of Japanese heritage. A trip on the legendary Nozomi Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto is an enthralling journey that goes past the iconic Mt. Fuji and scenic countryside. Tokyo is an eclectic mix of the old and the futuristic, best exemplified by wild street fashions, inspired by (and often outdoing) anime comics, and the wonderfully sedate ancient Geisha traditions.
Istanbul mirrors its vibrant history. Straddling the Bosphorus Strait, it links Asia with Europe. The city has evolved into a multi-cultural melting pot and the financial hub of the country. The minarets of the Blue Mosque and St. Sophia Church easily rub shoulders with modern skyscrapers and look down upon bustling shopping malls and restaurants.
The old city of Istanbul (once Constantinople) is where most of the famous historical sites of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods are located. The new city is epitomised by the upmarket and trendy Taksim Square and Beyoglu in the Galata district (once home to Istanbul’s Jews), which are a hive of flourishing art galleries, museums, bars, nightclubs, entertainment centres and restaurants. The action in Istanbul never stops and is in perpetual high-gear.