Monthly Archives: March 2018

Trips for All travellers who want to learn something new

Whether it’s perfecting your front crawl in an English lake or getting to grips with your camera on a photography safari, these trips will thrill knowledge lovers as much as pleasure seekers.

Cook up a storm in Chiang Mai

Blessed with some of the world’s best street food, you could be forgiven for coming to Chiang Mai and spending your entire trip indulging in everything from the spiciest tom yum soup to searching for the perfect pad thai. But chances are you’re going to want to learn how to make these delicious dishes yourself. Thankfully, Chiang Mai has several options for curious cooks looking to pick up new culinary skills, with schools dotted through town.

Based on the edge of the city, teachers from Thai Farm Cooking School (thaifarmcooking.net) will collect you from your guest house, take you shopping in local markets and teach you about spices, rice and flavours. You’ll then decamp to its organic farm base, where you’ll learn to cook six dishes. After cooking up a storm, pupils and teachers sit down together to taste everyone’s creations.

Become a gaucho in Argentinian Patagonia

Forget childhood riding classes on sleepy farmsteads. Hopping on a horse in Argentina’s spectacular Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi in Patagonia means scaling mountains and splashing through rivers, all while learning how to round up cattle on vast ranches.

23km north of Bariloche, Cabalgatas Carol Jones (caroljones.com.ar) is the ideal place for first-timers and seasoned riders. The eponymous Carol Jones runs half-day, whole-day and multi-day trips around her ranch and beyond, teaching you how to control your steed and bring cattle to heel as well as giving consummate lessons on the area’s wildlife and history. She’s eminently qualified, too – her grandfather, Jarrod Jones, was a Texan pioneer who came to the area in 1889.

Sharpen your photography on a Kenyan safari

For many people, an African safari is a once-in-a-lifetime trip that’ll see your camera called into service constantly. But those who want to get incredible shots of big game need an expert guide and plenty of time in one of the continent’s richest reserves.

Paul Goldstein, Exodus Travel’s resident safari photographer (exodus.co.uk), leads six-day trips in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, where visitors will learn how to capture leopards, cheetahs, lions and black rhino perfectly. Drives start before daybreak and can last all day, but the rewards are plentiful. Few travel experiences can match standing in the back of an open-sided 4×4 taking pictures as a pride of lion pads across the open plain or a herd of elephants stops for a drink at a waterhole as the sun comes up.

Get to grips with yoga in Bali

Stretching out on a yoga mat is a surefire way to feel healthy and blissed out on your travels. The pretty town of Ubud, deep in the heart of Bali, is arguably the best place on the planet to get your fix and perfect moves you only practise once a month at the local gym.

The Yoga Barn (theyogabarn.com), set on the edge of town and overlooking green paddy fields and swaying palms, has 15 classes a day to choose from, as well as offering regular, multi-day retreats and multi-class passes for those staying longer term. The three large, open-sided studios have views to die for, while the in-house café is the perfect place to prolong that chilled vibe once class is over.

Become a kendo master in Japan

The Japanese martial art of kendo, literally ‘sword way’, sees hardened participants don armour and take each other on using bamboo swords. Its techniques are similar to those used by ancient samurai warriors, making the modern sport a gateway into the history of this fascinating country.

Atlas Japan Tour (atlas-japantour.com) runs a special class for visitors in the northern town of Nonoichi, taught by locals every other Saturday. They’ll give you a crash course in the sport’s past, as well as teaching you how to safely take on and beat your opponents. Fear not, all kit is supplied and you don’t need to be a hardened swordsman to take part either.

Dive into wild swimming in the English Lakes

The mountains of England’s Lake District have long been a magnet for walkers. But there’s a quiet revolution going on, with visitors wading out into the waters of Buttermere, Wast Water and the area’s other stunning lakes for a refreshing dip instead of taking a long hike.

For those who’ve never swum outside the confines of an indoor pool, Swim The Lakes (swimthelakes.co.uk) has a half-day ‘introduction to open water swimming’ course, suitable for complete beginners through to hardened triathletes. Experienced guides will take you into the cooling depths of Windermere and tell you about technique and how to build stamina, all while getting a frog’s eye view of this beautiful corner of the British Isles.

Master painting in Virginia

Carving out time to learn how to draw or paint can be tough when everyday life gets in the way. The glorious Shenandoah Art Destination (shenandoahartdestination.com) in Virginia is the ideal spot for anyone looking to perfect their artistic streak while on holiday. It offers weekend, four-day, six-day and ten-day vacations for artists of all levels.

Printmakers, painters and illustrators are all welcome, with the gorgeous plantation house providing a base for visitors to explore their muse in the surrounding Shenandoah Valley. Jan-Willem and Nancy Boer, the in-house instructors, have decades of experience in creating and selling art, with classes no larger than 10, ensuring you get plenty of time to hone your techniques with expert guidance.

Some culinary adventures in northern Kyūshū

Fukuoka and Saga prefectures, in northern Kyūshū, are accessible places to start a food-inspired tour of the region. From ever-popular ramen to the more nuanced flavours of fermented vinegar, here is a small selection of the many local specialities worth savouring on your trip.

Ramen in Fukuoka

Any conversation about food in this corner of Kyūshū has to begin with ramen (and for some it ends right there, too). The ubiquitous noodles may have their origins in China, but they are hugely popular in Japan, with every region having its particular variations. Fukuoka is the country’s top ramen destination, famous for its signature tonkotsu ramen, also called Hakata or Nagahama ramen: straight, thin noodles in a thick, rich pork-bone-based broth. You can slurp back a bowl at one of the many food stalls around Fukuoka city. There are about 150 of these hawker-style stalls (yatai in Japanese), which typically have a simple counter with a few stools and start service in the evenings. Most stalls set up along the river in the Nakasu area, in the Tenjin area, and in Nagahama near the docks.

Or, for ramen indoors, head to 40-year-old Ichiran, where customers dine in individual cubicles (presumably so one can give the noodles their full deserved attention). Fukuoka city is also home to the now international Ippudo ramen restaurant chain. There are a few Ippudo dotted around the city (the flagship store, established 1985, is at 1-13-14 Daimyo); a collaboration between Ippudo and the Kyushu-based Drum Tao performance group means that the ‘Ippudo Tao’ store at 1-13-13 Tenjin (ippudo.com/store/tao_fukuoka) has taiko drums as decor.

Kudzu in Akizuki castle town

All that remains of the castle in Akizuki is a large gate and some hulking stone-wall ruins, but the 800-year-old village still draws visitors, especially when the laneways flush with pink in cherry-blossom season. Amid the old samurai residences, pretty bridges and temples of the historic centre is the similarly historic store Hirokyu Kuzu Honpo (0946-25-0215; 532 Akizuki), a 9th-generation family business. The speciality here is kudzu (or kuzu), also called Japanese arrowroot, a kind of woody vine whose large roots are processed into a starch powder. Heated with water and set, kudzu forms the basis of Japanese summertime favourites such as kuzu-mochi – a chilled firm jelly-like ‘cake’ sweetened with syrup or topped with nutty-tasting kinako (roasted soybean flour).

Hirokyu uses traditional methods to process the kudzu root at its Akizuki factory, dishing up kudzu-based fare at the attached cafe and store, which is housed in a 260-year-old wooden building. The cafe interior – with its stone floors, low tables, and old scrolls and photos – is worth a look even if you’re not keen on kudzu. Akizuki is about 40km southeast of Fukuoka city.

Fermented vinegar in Ōkawa

Shoubun Vinegar (shoubun.jp; 0944-88-1535; 548 Enokizu, Ōkawa), run by the Takahashi family in the small riverside town of Ōkawa, has been a purveyor of rice vinegar for some 300 years. In a world of short cuts and mass production, Shoubun has kept true to handed-down techniques, fermenting organic brown rice in half-buried earthenware pots and allowing it to mature in wooden vats (kept warm in the winter months with a snug layer of straw matting).

While the original vinegar recipe may have been passed down from the ancestors, the modern-day Takahashi clan have developed a wide range of vinegar products, which you can peruse in the 250-year-old townhouse that fronts the factory. The yuzu-flavoured drinking vinegar (you mix it with water like a cordial) makes a great souvenir for that foodie friend who has tried everything. Upstairs from the shop is the small, low-ceilinged Ristorante Shoubun. In former times this would have been a storage area, but now visitors can dine under the dark-wood beams on a multicourse lunch in which every item features vinegar as an ingredient – from the soup and salad to the fish and even the (surprisingly tasty!) dessert. Ōkawa is about 60km south of Fukuoka city, and 12km southeast of Saga city.

Beef in Saga

If you’re more a meat-and-potatoes kind of eater, never fear, this part of Kyūshū also has some of the best wagyū (Japanese beef) in the business. Saga beef, of Saga Prefecture, is on par with Kōbe and Matsusaka beef when it comes to fine marbling and melt-in-the-mouth tenderness: a result of farmers paying careful attention to quality feed, clean air and water, a long fattening period, and providing their prized bovines with a relatively stress-free life. Not just any beef raised in Saga can be officially labelled ‘Saga beef’. It must meet strict certification standards (the right kind of cow, the right farm environment), and score above seven (out of 12) on the ‘beef marbling standard’ scale. If it doesn’t meet those standards then it’s just wagyū.

Kira (kira.saga-ja.jp; 0952-28-4132; 3-9-16 Otakara, Saga city), not far from Saga Station, specialises in serving both official Saga beef and other wagyū in various styles – try it as a chef-prepared steak, grill your own thin slices at your table, have it in a shabu-shabu or sukiyaki hotpot, or steamed. There is also a Kira in central Fukuoka city.

Tea in Yame

After all that eating, a nice cup of tea might go down well. The forested, mountainous Yame region of Fukuoka Prefecture has been producing tea for centuries. The story goes that Buddhist monk Eirin Shuzui brought tea seeds and growing methods here from China in the early 1400s. A bronze statue of Shuzui (with tea seed in hand) stands outside Reigan-ji, the temple he founded in the area around the same time. Yame is particularly renowned for its gyokuro tea (translated as ‘jade dew’ or ‘pearl dew’), one of the highest grades of tea in Japan. Gyokuro has a slightly sweet taste – in part a result of the plants being shaded for a few weeks prior to harvesting.

Among the most well-established local tea merchants, Konomien (konomien.jp; 0120-72-0201; 126 Moto-machi, Yame city) got into the tea wholesaling business in 1865 and runs a small store for the public selling packets of tea leaves, tea bags, and tea-flavoured sweets and biscuits. At Konomien, the gyokuro leaves are dried using an old-school method: the leaves are scattered and gently swirled around by hand on a sheet of heavy paper, which is fixed atop a wooden box over a charcoal fire. (You’ll know if this process is happening by the earthy aroma wafting from behind the store.) Konomien also has a 120-year-old tearoom where you can sample the lauded gyokuro, a sencha or matcha, with a side of wagashi (Japanese sweet). Reservations to partake in tea should be made by noon of the day prior to arrival (reservation form online: konomien.jp/contents/about/kissa).

Make it happen

Getting there Fukuoka city is the main gateway to Kyūshū and is on the shinkansen (bullet train) line, about 2.5 hours from Kyoto and Osaka. There are also direct flights to Fukuoka from Tokyo and other major cities in Japan.

Getting around Local train lines and buses connect the main towns but a rental car is much more convenient for exploring this region. Large agencies such as Toyota Rent-a-Car and Nippon Rent-a-Car are at Fukuoka’s airport and main rail station (Hakata Station). Tip: Japanese addresses can be confusing; the best way to set your destination in the satellite navigation system is by inputting the phone number.

Stay Fukuoka city has a range of accommodation across all budgets and styles. For a ryokan (traditional inn) experience further afield, try Ohana (ohana.co.jp) in pretty canalside Yanagawa, just south of Ōkawa; or Akebono (akebono-saga.jp), in central Saga.

Info Shipwrecks, tin mines and smugglers’ coves In Cornwall

There are many things for which Cornwall is famous: wind-blown cliff-tops, white sandy bays, crumbling tin mines, the Cornish pasty. But a new spotlight is shining on this ancient Celtic kingdom thanks to the smash-hit BBC series Poldark, which is set and filmed here, and has transmitted the county’s charms to a global audience.

Based on Cornish author Winston Graham’s historical novels, written between 1945 and 2002, the story traces the fortunes of the Poldark dynasty during Cornwall’s 18th and 19th century mining boom (tin and copper, as well as tungsten, arsenic and silver, were all extracted) with a particular focus on the brooding, troubled Ross Poldark.

First adapted for television in the 1970s, Poldark’s recent big-budget makeover has proved a massive hit thanks to its rollicking plots, cracking cinematography and the smouldering good looks of its cast, particularly Aiden Turner, who plays Ross and is now notorious thanks to his shirtless scythe-wielding in season one.

But the cast are mere understudies to the series’ real star – the spectacular Cornish scenery that’s on display in almost every frame. With the series now in its third season, here’s a run-down of some of its most memorable locations, from golden bays to smugglers’ coves and wild headlands to windswept moor.

Charlestown

This small granite port a couple of miles from St Austell has provided a ready-built backdrop for several harbour scenes. Originally built to serve Cornwall’s china clay industry, which was based around St Austell and Fowey, the port has now found a new lease of life as a filming location. It’s been used in countless films and costume dramas, including Poldark – admittedly with a bit of help from set-dressers and CGI to add period detail. While you’re here, drop into the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre (shipwreckcharlestown.com), which traces the harbour’s maritime history and also displays lots of flotsam and jetsam collected from nearby shipwrecks.

Porthcurno

You don’t need to be a cinematographer to spot the photogenic qualities of Porthcurno, a couple of miles south of Land’s End. A deep, sloping wedge of white sand framed by granite cliffs and the blue Atlantic, the beach is one of the most beautiful in Cornwall. It provided the location for a memorable Demelza Carne dream sequence in season one. It also happens to be home to Cornwall’s most stunning theatre, the Minack – an Ancient Greek-inspired amphitheatre carved into the clifftops by a redoubtable theatre enthusiast called Rowena Cade. It’s still regularly used for summer performances.

St Agnes

Nowadays it’s mainly frequented by surfers and second-homers, but a hundred years ago the coastal village of St Agnes was one of the epicentres of Cornish mining, and the countryside is littered with abandoned stacks and rocky mining valleys cloaked with heather and gorse.

Various sites around the village and nearby St Agnes Head have been used to represent the Nampara Valley, a key part of the Poldark family’s estate – notably the iconic cliff-top mine at Wheal Coates above Chapel Porth, now owned by the National Trust. The Chapel Porth Café is a lovely spot for lunch, too.

Porthgwarra

This tiny, cliff-backed cove looks so picture-perfect you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a studio set. It was used for a risqué scene in which Ross goes for an impromptu dip while his future wife Demelza spies on him from the cliff-tops. You can swim here too, but be careful of swells and currents – and afterwards, don’t miss warming up with a mug of hot chocolate at the cute Porthgwarra Cove Cafe, where cast and crew refueled during filming.

Botallack to Levant

Another area rich with mining heritage and littered with photogenic mining ruins – including the cliffside, sea-sprayed workings of Botallack and the 19th-century Levant Beam Engine, believed to be the only one of its kind still working in the world. Unsurprisingly, it’s cropped up regularly in the series, largely since Levant Mine doubles as Poldark’s fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill. From Levant, you can hike along the coast path to Botallack and the ruined mine at Wheal Crowns, or if you prefer to dig deeper, you can also take an underground tour of an actual tin mine – it only closed in 1990 – nearby at Geevor. For lunch, drop in to the excellent Gurnard’s Head (gurnardshead.co.uk) near Zennor for some hearty grub and local ale.

Predannack Wollas

The rugged cliffs, wheeling gulls and booming surf of the Lizard peninsula are a favourite for hikers, bird-watchers and photographers, and they’ve barely changed since the era in which Poldark is set.

They’re also a natural fit for big-sky scenes, and Ross Poldark is often glimpsed riding along the clifftops around Predannack Wollas during seasons one and two. The nearby National Trust-owned Kynance Cove was used as a double for Nampara Cove, and it’s a glorious spot for a picnic lunch – or you can drop by the eco-friendly Kynance Cove Cafe for a crab sandwich and some homemade cake.

Church Cove

Also on the Lizard, near the village of Gunwalloe, this quiet beach is home to a medieval church dedicated to St Winwalloe. Once a hideout used by smugglers and free-traders, the beach’s past was brought back to life when it was used for a memorable sequence in season one, in which a shipwreck is plundered by locals for booty. At the nearby beach of Dollar Cove, legend has it that there’s treasure to be found from a shipwrecked Spanish galleon – so definitely a place to bring along your metal detector.

Bodmin Moor

Stark and wild, and spotted with granite rock-stacks known as tors, Cornwall’s ‘roof’ is a landscape that radiates natural drama – something the makers of Poldark exploited by using Bodmin Moor as the location for Ross’s lonely cottage at Nampara, not to mention numerous scenes of the lovelorn hero galloping against suitably moody skies. Equestrian activities notwithstanding, the main reason to visit is the chance to hike to the top of Cornwall’s highest hill, Brown Willy.

Perranporth

A location of a different kind: this popular beachfront town on the north coast was Poldark author Winston Graham’s home for more than four decades, and he wrote most of the novels here. A memorial seat on the cliffs above Perranporth Beach commemorates the writer’s literary achievements – it’s on the coast path near Droskyn Point, but it’s a bit tricky to find, so you may have to ask a local or consult a map. It’s also a fitting spot to conclude your Poldark tour: staring down over golden sands framed by craggy cliffs and white-horse surf, it’s not hard to see where Winston Graham found his inspiration.

This A walk through Kyiv’s Soviet past

Ukraine has been a proudly independent nation since 1991, but for decades before that it formed part of the Soviet Union. Many elements of that era – and of the Russian empire before it – remain in the heart of Kyiv, intertwined with remembrances of the city’s medieval glory. It’s a fascinating array of clues from the past, within strolling distance.

As I step out of Kyiv’s Khreshchatyk metro station, the Ukrainian capital’s tumultuous postwar history is laid out before me – in concrete and steel. The busiest, grandest boulevard of downtown Kyiv, Khreshchatyk street is lined by buildings of communist-era vintage. Some are highly decorated, others bear plain facades; but all are lofty, intimidating structures.

There are hints, however, of post-Soviet adjustments. Down the street I spot a large star surmounting an imposing apartment building. When Ukraine was part of the USSR, it must have been painted revolutionary red; now it’s a striking blue over yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. And the metro station houses a branch of an American fast-food chain, sandwiched between Stalinist facades.

It’s outside this eatery I meet Anna, the guide who’ll be taking me on a walking tour of communist Kyiv. As I grew up in Australia during the Cold War years, I’m keen to learn what those times were like in the former USSR. Anna says I’ve come to the right place: after Moscow and Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Kyiv was the third most important Soviet city. That’s one reason nuclear power plants were situated in the region, with catastrophic results in 1986 at nearby Chornobyl (commemorated in Kyiv at the sombre but interesting Chornobyl Museum).

The modern-day appearance of Khreshchatyk, however, was a consequence of the arrival of the German military. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the retreating Red Army had time to booby-trap and detonate its grand 19th-century buildings. With the additional destruction caused by aerial bombing of industrial areas, Kyiv was a mess by the end of WWII. Its makeover after the conflict was extreme.

‘We lost the opportunity to live in a fun city, because the architecture was gone,’ says Anna. The authorities saw the devastation as an opportunity to create a new Soviet-style city, rather than to re-create its old look. To my eye, it doesn’t seem that bad: on one side of the metro station, for example, an apartment building contains a surprising amount of detail in its tiles and pillars. On the other side, a slightly later building has a flatter, plainer facade. Even Soviet architects went through decorative phases, it seems.

Strolling along Khreshchatyk, we also see recent additions. One is a striking bust of the national poet Taras Shevchenko, mounted on a zig-zag frame of girders. A 19th-century nationalist who wrote in the Ukrainian language, Shevchenko is often compared to Shakespeare. Anna prefers to liken him to Robbie Burns, as she feels his role in sustaining Ukrainian identity mirrors that of the Scottish poet in regard to the Scots.

We turn onto Khelmnitsky Street (formerly Lenin Street), which housed many bookshops in Soviet times, then descend into the Teatralna metro station – one of the great legacies of that era. Moscow is famous for its elaborately decorated underground railway stations, and Kyiv has its own version of this splendour. Past huge recessed barriers designed to be lowered in the event of a nuclear war, we admire a concourse decorated with detailed bas-reliefs. One has the word ‘peace’ in various languages including English, beneath doves flying across the wall. Further below, the brown marble pillars between platforms were constructed of the same stone used for Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow.

The most lavish decor is yet to come, however, as we stroll through a passage connecting to Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) station. The arches leading to its platforms are decorated with mosaics of kings and saints, underlining the connection between Ukraine’s modern history and that of the medieval state of Kyivan Rus. As we inspect the art, a sea of commuters flows around us, passing beneath chandeliers. Kyiv’s metro has some of the world’s deepest stations, serving over a million daily passengers.

Outside the station is the Zoloti Vorota itself: a massive brick gate, a replica of fortifications which stood here during the city’s glory days as a trading hub. ‘In the 12th century, Kyiv was bigger than London, Paris and Rome combined,’ says my guide. Its only rival was Constantinople (now Istanbul), from where Kyiv drew its architectural and spiritual inspiration.

But this tour is about the more recent past, so we pass by a statue of 11th-century Prince Yaroslav the Wise to pause in front of an imposing grey building. This was once the local headquarters of the feared KGB, also used by the Gestapo during the German occupation. This sinister place is surrounded by an eclectic mix of architecture, including a pretty yellow commercial building from the 19th century, and a grim apartment block of crumbling concrete from the 20th. ‘If you see an ugly building, it was definitely built during the Soviet times,’ says Anna. She goes on to describe her mother’s life in one of these apartments with their shared facilities. Incredibly, each family would own its own toilet seat for use with the communal facilities.

We also encounter sites of religious significance on our route: the beautiful St Sophia’s Cathedral which became a museum under the communists, and St Michael’s Monastery with its memorial to those who died in the horrific 1930s famine caused by Stalin’s agricultural policies. Next to the monastery is a vast, overbearing structure featuring enormous grey pillars. Now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was intended as the first building block of a vast modern square which never came to fruition.

A more welcoming plaza, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) is a long open space, with solid Soviet-era buildings at one end and the elegant 60m-high Independence Monument at the other. There are other Soviet-era relics worth seeing farther afield in the city, particularly the soaring Rodina Mat memorial and the adjacent Museum of the Great Patriotic War. However, bustling as it is with visitors and locals enjoying a sunny day, the Maidan seems the perfect place to end this initial walk through Kyiv’s complicated past.

Here Many Amazing Spots in Goa You Never Want to Miss

Goa is not the place you visit once and tick down from your checklist. The western state of India is one of the most scenic places to visit. Right from the spice gardens, to sand and from adrenaline pumping water sports to hotels in Goa; everything presents you with something or the other.

After your first visit it turns into an inclination and after the second, a custom! This Portuguese Shangri-la on Indian soil has such a large number of beguiling universes that even the most prepared explorers can’t make the best of their Goan occasion. However, as the saying goes, when in Goa, do as the Goans do.

Here are some amazing spots in Goa that you can explore as a traveler.

Excellence and the Beach – An immaculate day at the shoreline…

It needs to begin with beaches! While coastlines in North Goa take the spotlight, South Goa shorelines are less swarmed. We choose Arossim Beach and Utorda Beach close to the town of Majorda for the best South Goa shoreline grant. For North, Baga, Calangute and Anjunapack the people’s choice award for favorite beach! Water sports on these seashores incorporate jet skiing, parasailing (the view from the top is justified, despite all the trouble), scuba dives (the glimmering undersea life adjusts for the missing corals) and tumbling from a banana boat (most exciting of the lot). To make the best of your shoreline encounter, book yourself a hotel in Goa which is located near the Northern beaches.

Spice Plantations are Serene

No, it’s not what you thought truly! I’m talking about the Spice Plantation in the Ponda region called Sahakarispice gardens and your nostrils will remind you why Europeans came to India! This biggest spice plantation of the locale gives you a chance to cull and taste pepper, nibble a Peri (most hotchillies of the world), bathe through an ‘elephant shower’ and devour a customary Goan lunch cooked with farm spices. While not many people are aware of these world class spice gardens in Goa, but who do are all praises for them.

Old Goa is Gold Goa!

Popular for the design, Goan houses of worship are justified regardless of a visit. In Panjim, history is still alive.This is Old Goa, the state capital for most of three centuries and known as the ‘Rome of the East’. The processions of churches, chapels, cloisters, museum halls, art displays, government structures, cottages and bakeries together make it intense to propose what to not find in Goa.

However, Basilica of Bom Jesus (for its architectural greatness) and Sé de Santa Catarina (biggest church in Old Goa) are the most visited ones. Not to overlook, Old Goa is right now an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

So, if you are in the mood to beat the summer heat this year, do yourself favor by booking hotels in Goa through online websites (as they present you the most affordable rates), and relive the serenity of Goa, with spice gardens, churches, and yes, some heart pumping water sports.

Here amazing cities for street art

Adorning urban spaces across the globe, this form of art is often deeply interwoven with the culture and history of a place and offers an eye-opening way to explore a destination. Here are eight amazing cities, straight from the pages of our new Street Art book, where you can see some of the best of these metropolitan masterpieces.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a rich hub of street art. Post-reunification, an abundance of large, empty buildings, a relatively cheap cost of living and a thriving counterculture have combined to bring an influx of artists and musicians to the city. Berlin was prominent during the early street art boom, and has become an essential pilgrimage site for visiting artists – it’s now known ironically as ‘the most bombed city in the world’. This time, though, the bombing is with spray paint, paste-ups and stickers, as well as alternative mediums like Lego (as seen in Jan Vormann’s colourful creations) and even yarn.

During the Cold War, the Berlin Wall was a symbolic target for politically motivated art, though only the west side was covered in graffiti – it was impossible for residents on the east side to get close enough. A section of the original wall, replete with contemporary graffiti, can still be seen on Mühlenstrasse.

New York, USA

As the birthplace of modern graffiti, it’s no surprise that New York and its artists played a starring role in the global growth of street art. Despite the increasingly frequent appearance of commissioned murals, New York’s scene retains a rawness. Each area has a distinct vibe, despite sometimes being separated by only a few blocks.

Visitors should gravitate to Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn – home to many of the city’s best-known artists – as well as the Lower East Side, SoHo, NoLita and Harlem. Away from the streets, the new One World Trade Center lobby houses a 27m mural from Brooklyn-based artist José Parlá, who has successfully blurred the line between street and gallery.

São Paulo, Brazil

Prior to experiencing the São Paulo street art scene for the first time, it’s worth educating yourself about the history behind the visual onslaught of tagging that seemingly adorns every surface in this sprawling urban metropolis. Pichação (‘writing in tar’) began as political graffiti during the Brazilian dictatorship, with its distinct calligraphic font inspired by the heavy metal album covers that dominated the São Paulo airwaves during the 1980s. Today, however, the ‘Pichadores’ are mostly interested in extreme tagging, with success measured in volume and height – the latter gained through use of modified fire extinguishers, roller extensions and life-or-death free climbing.

London, UK

From the late ’90s to mid 2000s, London was pivotal in the explosive growth of the street art scene, centred on the back streets, alternative galleries and underground drinking dens of the post-industrial East End. This trend peaked around 2008, when the Tate Modern staged a groundbreaking street art exhibition on the banks of the Thames and Banksy pioneered his ‘Cans Festival’ in the Leake Street tunnel – still a graffiti hotspot today.

The scene remains fairly focused on the East End – particularly the now ultra-trendy Shoreditch, and neighbouring Brick Lane and Hackney areas, where cobbled roads and streets of painted and pasted walls exist side-by-side with members’ clubs, Michelin-starred restaurants and high-end boutiques.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is arguably Australia’s cultural (and countercultural!) capital, and is regularly voted one of the world’s most liveable cities. One of the reasons for its distinction can be traced to its streets. Thanks to the vision of its founders, the city centre has a uniquely navigable combination of wide, sweeping avenues and characterful, bluestone-cobbled lanes, making it something of a joy to explore. It’s a safe, clean, vibrant metropolis brimming with residents who love to meet, eat, drink and create.

Although graffiti is still technically illegal in the city, the public and private response to street art is generally positive – when Banksy first painted here, the council even tried (unsuccessfully) to preserve his work behind perspex panels. Today, Melburnians tend to embrace the ephemeral nature of public art, although work has been undertaken to restore a rare Keith Haring mural in the city.

Lisbon, Portugal

The first half of the 20th century saw Portugal stifled by a right-wing dictatorship, but the 1974 revolution resulted in an upsurge in politically motivated public art. By the time this trend had abated in the early ’90s, the arrival of traditional graffiti artists had taken up their forebears’ mantle. In recent years, Lisbon city council has actively supported street artists, and the advent of organised efforts such as ‘Underdogs’ and the CRONO Project – as well as the emergence of homegrown artists like Vhils – has attracted a high-profile roster of international names to the city. Today, Lisbon is one of the best locations in the world to experience street art in all its forms.

Many of the city’s street art gems can be found in and around the Bairro Alto area, with key hotspots including a series of legal walls along the Calçada da Glória, as well as along the river to the south.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The fourth most populous city in the Americas, Buenos Aires shares a very active contemporary street art scene with its table-topping cousins. The European-influenced architecture of the city provides a great backdrop for street art, reminiscent of cities such as Valencia, Barcelona and Lisbon. Unlike in those cities, however, there is no need to obtain permission from local authorities to create new murals in Buenos Aires – you simply need permission from the property owner. This legal and logistical freedom has led to an active and innovative street art scene, built on the city’s historical legacy of stencil-based political protest art.

Street art flourishes throughout the city, but areas particularly worthy of attention include Coghlan and Villa Urquiza. Here, a now-abandoned plan for a new motorway led to the demolition of many buildings and the creation of scores of giant murals, including one by famed local artist Martin Ron.

Los Angeles, USA

Famed for its calligraphic ‘cholo’ graffiti style, which evolved from Latino gang graffiti, the Los Angeles street art scene developed in a noticeably different way to other places in North America, helped by the fact that artists could sometimes take days to paint one piece thanks to the gigantic spread of the city.

LA has a typically laid-back attitude to the crossover between traditional graffiti and street art, with many artists blurring the boundaries. Most notably, Retna – a member of the renowned MSK crew along with the likes of Saber, Revok and Risk – is now just as likely to be found on the cover of a Justin Bieber album or Louis Vuitton storefront as on the streets. His unique script, developed from a combination of gothic, Egyptian, Hebrew and Arabic calligraphy, can be seen in several high-profile locations across the city.