Books can take you to new and exciting places—completely new worlds, even. This World Book Day (23 April 2019), let Lifestyle+Travel and Agoda take you on a literary journey like no other. On your next holiday, trace the roots of some of your favorite authors by stopping by their hometowns—some of which have inspired their most seminal works. Here are some must-visit spots for book-lovers roaming around Asia… Kobe, Japan Literary Hero: Haruki Murakami Notable works: “Kafka on the Shore” and “1Q84” available from Shinchosha Must-see attractions: Ikuta Shrine, Arima Onsen, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge Murakami grew up in Kobe, where a few of his stories, such as his debut novel “Hear the Wind Sing”, are set. Murakami’s works have surrealist elements, often with melancholic themes which in some ways, is reflective of the quiet beauty to be found in the many serene shrines and breathtaking nature scenery in the small seaside city. Internalize the relaxing minimalist side of Kobe when you stay at Arimakoyado Hataya Ryokan. Camarines Norte, Philippines Literary Hero: Ricky Lee Notable works: “Para kay B” available from Philippine Writers' Studio Foundation Must-see attractions: Calaguas Islands, Apuao Grande Island, Bagasbas Beach More than his novel “Para kay B,” Ricky Lee’s body of work encompasses screenwriting and playwriting. He has worked with revered Filipino directors like Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal and has even published a screenplay manual called “Trip to Quiapo” which has since been a staple resource for communication colleges in the Philippines. Visit Lee’s hometown of Camarines Norte in the central Bicol region of the Philippines and enjoy its beautiful beaches like those on Apuao Grande Island and the Calaguas group of islands. Keep comfy by making One Platinum Hotel your home base while in the area. If you’re in the Americas, head to… New York, USA Literary Hero: Jenny Han Notable works: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” available from Simon & Schuster Must-see attractions: Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway Though Han originally came from Virginia, her time in New York shaped her career as a young adult fiction writer. Book the cozy Jun New York Midtown III apartment, and feel right at home when you take a break from all of that sight-seeing. Aracataca, Colombia Literary Hero: Gabriel García Márquez Notable works: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” available from HarperCollins, “Love in the Time of Cholera” available from Penguin Classics Must-see attractions: Casa Museo, Casa del Telegrafista The municipality of Aracataca is built along the river of the same name and boasts Nobel Prize winner for literature Gabriel García Márquez as one of its sons. The village of Macondo in García Márquez's celebrated novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is fashioned after Aracataca. Take a day trip out to explore García Márquez's reconstructed childhood home-turned-museum and the Casa del Telegrafista, then settle down at the charming Agoda Home in Parque Los Novios in the nearby city of Santa Marta, where you can also visit Colombia’s famous Tayrona National Natural Park. If you’re venturing to Europe, then consider visiting… Edinburgh, Scotland Literary Hero: J.K. Rowling Notable works: The “Harry Potter” series available from Bloomsbury Must-see attractions: Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Dynamic Earth, Underground Edinburgh, The Scotch Whisky Experience Potterheads, unite! While Rowling was born in Yates, England, it was during her time in Edinburgh that she
The Lanesborough is offering guests to London the opportunity to enjoy the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show with access to the acclaimed chef Raymond Blanc’s 2019 Jardin Blanc, nestled deep in the grounds of one of the world’s most celebrated horticultural events. This year’s show runs from 21-25 May 2019 and this special experience offers guests the chance to be one of the first to see the show when it opens at 8am on 21 May, plus access to the exclusive members-only days. The timings and what’s included for each daytime and evening Jardin Blanc experience can be viewed in more detail here. The special Lanesborough experiences start from £1,325.00, and include one-night accommodation at The Lanesborough, one-way transfers and ticket entry to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and an incredible dining experience in the beautiful Jardin Blanc, with menus exclusively designed by Raymond Blanc.
With spring around the corner, it means cherry blossom season is coming. Take this chance to spend some quality time with your loved ones beneath the beautifulsakura trees. While Japan and Washington, D.C. are the most famous places to enjoy cherry blossoms, it is possible to see these trademark pink flowers in other locales around the globe. Lifestyle+Travel and Agoda.com share some of the best across Asia, America and Europe to enjoy the age-old tradition of hanami, or “flower viewing” in Japanese. Jinhae, Changwon, South Korea The Jinhae Gunhangie Festival attracts roughly two million visitors a year. Historically a memorial service to commemorate Admiral Yi Sun-sin, it is now South Korea’s biggest spring festival. Enjoy the festival by taking a stroll down the picturesque Romance Bridge, where cherry blossoms canopy the Yeojwacheon Stream, and along Gyeonghwa Station where the trees line the railway track. The best time to visit is late March to April. Conveniently located within reach of the city’s must-see destinations, M-Stay Hotel Changwon is the ideal accommodation for travelers looking to stay busy throughout their trip. Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam It’s a little-known fact that Vietnam’s Hoa Island, located east of Dien Bien Phu in the middle of Pa Khoang Lake, is a goldmine for those seeking cherry blossoms. Did you know that Vietnamese scientist Dr Tran Le wandered up and down the country for the perfect place to plant the seeds, a gift from a Japanese friend? Stay with the family at the Hoang Anh Villa which features an outdoor pool and sun terrace for some quality hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, time. Washington D.C., America The three-week-long National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the dawn of spring while honoring both American and Japanese cultures. The 3,000 trees that can be seen here are a symbol of friendship between the two countries and were gifted by Tokyo’s then Mayor, Yukio Ozaki in 1912. Take in the sights of a sea of stunning cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin, and stay at The Wink Hotel Washington D.C. Located at the heart of the city, this hotel is perfect for travelers who want to make the most of all that the lively city has to offer. Edinburgh, Scotland Pack a picnic and head to The Meadows in Edinburgh. Once you’ve laid claim to one of the benches along the tree-lined paths, you can take a breather and soak in the pink-hued scenery outdoors. Plan to spend the day outdoors by taking along a blanket and your favorite novel. Stay at the Radisson Blu Edinburgh on the historic Royal Mile in the heart of Edinburgh. Recently renovated in 2015, the hotel is within walking distance to top tourist attractions, shopping areas and The Meadows. Paris, France Few places on earth are as romantic and picturesque as the beloved City of Lights. Every spring, neighborhoods and parks in the French capital are dotted with mesmerizing cherry blossoms. For prime viewing, take a stroll through Parc du Champ de Mars, set in the shadows of the world-renowned Eiffel Tower. Stay in ultimate luxury at the Park Hyatt Vendome Hotel located in the heart of Paris on the prestigious Rue de
Whether you're a fan of butt-kicking blockbusters, love a good thriller or you're obsessed with romantic flicks, these 6 ‘reel’ travel locations will make you a superstar in a movie. Lifestyle+Travel, together with Agoda share the list of holiday ideas inspired by the past year’s blockbuster hits and award winners. Mission Impossible: Fallout Queenstown, New Zealand If you fancy playing action hero for a day or two, head to Queenstown, New Zealand, where Mission Impossible: Fallout filmed its helicopter action sequence. Take your own helicopter ride and indulge in New Zealand’s other extreme sports, from bungee jumping to heli-skiing. Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom Oahu, Hawaii If Sci Fi and the chance to run into dinosaurs in the modern world is more your thing, head to Oahu, Hawaii, the setting for Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom. Not only is it an excellent backdrop for extinct creatures, but also for travelers looking for a holiday full of sea, volcanoes, outdoor sports and lush nature. Crazy Rich Asians Singapore Crazy Rich Asians, the rom-com of the year, has travelers going crazy for Singapore. The film captured multiple locations across Singapore, from the famous Gardens by the Bay to the food hawker stalls at Newton Food Centre, which lends itself to a pretty full itinerary for travelers keen to explore the Lion City. Black Panther Busan, Korea Black Panther had its epic casino fight and car-chase scenes take place in Busan, Korea, a city that’s arguably more beautiful at night than during the day. Though the glamourous underground casino doesn’t exist in real life, you can pretend otherwise at one of Busan’s swanky cocktail lounges or nightclubs. During the day, check out Busan’s beaches, hot springs, temples, and shrines – local gems that didn’t make the cut for the film. A Star is Born Los Angeles, California The City of Angels was the backdrop for many of the scenes in this year’s remake of A Star is Born, the romantic drama about a seasoned country musician eclipsed by his rising star of a partner. Throughout the movie, many of its noteworthy concert scenes were shot across a number of Los Angeles venues, including the 5,870-seat music venue Greek Theatre, the cozy Regent Theatre, and the Shrine Auditorium, a landmark venue where multiple film and music award events have been held. Bohemian Rhapsody London, UK If your taste in music is more classic rock than country, this award-winning biographical film about one of the greatest rock bands of all time should be on your must-watch list. Bohemian Rhapsody is framed around the band’s Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium. Home to England’s football, Wembley is also still one of the most popular venues for major artists to perform. Source: Agoda
Copenhagen is illuminating the city towers, facades, squares, metro stations and water front with its annual light festival until the end of February. Copenhagen Light Festival 2019 is the second edition of light designs, consisting of over 40 light installations, special light events and permanent art works from Danish and international artists, running from 1-24 February 2019. As the sun always shows up late at 8am, while the light is taken by the darkness in the winter by the afternoon around 5pm, people embrace the lighting festival as a head start of Spring and Summer, making February the perfect month for it. I've compiled a list of tricks and tips that will help ensure you're getting the ultimate pleasure of hunting these glooming works of light in this 2019 Copenhagen Light Festival. Where to find them? Most lighting installations cluster in the city centre, but the specific locations of some installations are hidden in cornersand some are hidden in plain sight. The official website of CPH Light Festival provides all needed information, and also the 2019 festival map. This year map categorises the glooming designs by using colour: light works are pink, special light events are purple and permanent light decorations are green and blue, pinning down the locations with the name of the works and further explanations. Either choose the arts by preference or your nearby location; it is at your fingertips. When to enjoy them? Most of the light installations will be lit from 6pm until 10pm, however some will continue till dawn. Moreover, some artworks will be closed due to rain and heavy snow, so please keep your weather forecast updated before going. How to enjoy them? There are plenty of guide partners offering the ways to experience the city and harbour by night. Taking a tour on foot, kayak or bicycle depends on your favourite way of appreciating art, and the official website also offers the direct links to book. You can take a 45-minute canal light tour from STROMMA in English and Danish along the light route by the water to learn more about the artists and their artworks at 125 DK per person. But remember the map I mentioned earlier? I also used it with my Google Maps, starting from my current location to see the nearest artworks where I could enjoy them on my own. After having dinner at Vestrebro, I walked along the Tivoli garden, crossing the road to take a look at STROM20, walking straight to the end of the alley at BLOX to visit the Pyramid Construction. During my tour, the tower of Christianborg Palace was beaming from afar alongside the green laser light of the Laser Beam from Tivoli. I ended my journey to meet the Light Garden by Han E Madden at Havnegade 21, where it is incidentally located across the neon literary You Are Still Here of Anita Jørgensen before taking the nearest metro back to my hotel. Killing two birds with one stone, I guess! The highlights? During the festival, there are special light events, parties and workshops around the city. Some events have a fee and the tickets should be purchased in advance, but some are free of charge. The special events will not be lit every day, so preparation is key. Here are some that you might want to check in: The Ice is Melting at the Pøules by Martin Ersted at North Atlantic House reflects the 150 years of the
Castile is the heart of Spain, surrounding the capital city of Madrid with fine historic cities and castles dramatically poised on hilltops. Set on a plateau, Castile offers unique luxury choices for touring visitors in former castles, palaces and monasteries. In days of old when knights were bold, many of them rode across the high plain of old Castile. Today, this richly historic region of central Spain is threaded with fine highways rather than riding trails for men in armour, and it makes a great touring destination. Elevated at an average of 660 metres, Castile occupies most of the central meseta of Spain. Divided into the region of Castilla y Leòn to the north and west of Madrid, and Castilla-La Mancha to the south and east, this plateau is sparsely populated compared to the coastal regions. Ideal for a driving tour, the wide open road beckons, with a network of excellent two-lane blacktops built in recent decades. As every Spanish schoolchild knows, in the 15th century, the “Catholic Kings” – King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel – unified Spain and set it on the path to being Europe’s greatest power in the next century. A royal couple like no other in European history, their transformative reign saw the rise of a string of great cities. Amongst these cities of old Castile, four stand out for their beauty and lasting power: Segovia, Avila, Salamanca and Toledo. Though all of them have Roman or even earlier origins, they had their great moments in the 16th and 17th centuries – and walking their streets today, visiting their monuments, imbibing their atmosphere, you thrill to the sense of being in a bygone world of immense richness and power. And what is even more special about visiting Castile is that you can stay in outstanding historical properties throughout the region – castles, palaces, convents and monasteries turned into hotels by the Spanish government’s unique Parador chain – and so get truly inside the atmosphere of Spain’s amazing olden days – but with modern luxury facilities. Full details on this come later in the story. THE CITY LIKE A SHIP For a grand tour of old Castile, first head north from Madrid, across the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, to Segovia. As you motor down onto the plateau, Segovia appears unmistakably, crowning a long hilltop above the rolling fields, like a ship upon the waves, its cathedral the mast, its castle the prow, and its Roman aqueduct the rudder. The aqueduct is the symbol of Segovia, the best-preserved engineering project of the Romans in all their former empire, a magnificent collection of arches which now also acts as the gate into the old city. A narrow street rises steeply though the tightly pressed huddle of buildings, winding this way and that, passing a wonderful array of shops, until it reaches the main square, a rectangle of fine old buildings dominated by a Gothic cathedral. Turning down a side street, leaning into the stiff wind which habitually blows up this way, you eventually come to the far end of town and
Venice has always attracted tourists across the world to experience its signature lagoon city, however; approximately 70 percent of city is now engulfed with the water due to the storm, leading to the temporary close of the major tourist attractions, including St. Mark’s square. Last Sunday, I took an express train from Milano Centrale, the railway station, to experience the Canal City, Venice, with a slight hope of sun as rain had been falling throughout the whole country, coloring the sky with the low cloud. It had been raining the whole night before our departure, yet we didn’t cancel Venice from our itinerary. I had a rough morning getting to the Centrale station, which we should have noticed that it could foreshadow something even worse, however we precede according to our plan. For two hours, we had arrived, yet Venice seemed to be quite grumpy. Even though the whole city was covered in rain to the point where the sky looked the same as the water, the storm couldn’t stop the excess amounts of tourists from visiting. It was crowded as we expected, and most tourists were spotted wearing the colorful high boots. When we arrived at San Marco boat station, we realized that having a pair of that bright rubber boots was a right decision as 3/4 of Piazza of San Marco was then submerged. The boots might be designed to be unstylish but durable enough to make us waddling from alley to alley. Did I mention that Venice Marathon was held on the same day we visited? It was such a stunning scenes that the runners were racing through flooded streets, while most tourists had to walk on the provided wooden walkways. Be Careful, it’s slippery!, shouted the Gondola workers whose works seemed to be suspended in the rain. Some tourists tripped over, some accidentally dropped their items in the water, or even worse, their newly purchased bags. We had watched the forecast prior our trip, yet this was beyond our expectation. The rain soaked into my outer and newsboy hat, however the atmosphere was still filled with laughter and joys of visitors who seemed to accept this incident gracefully. The flooded water offered the extraordinary experiences as tourists tried to embrace themselves in this unfortunate event, and the city tried to be functional. The water was knee-high when I was there, flooding into shops and restaurants where diner can enjoy their pizza with their feet in the water. The shopkeepers also used the bucket to remove water from their shops. Venice is accustomed with the high water situation, as known as aqua alta, occurring when the winds push water from the lagoon into the canals. The water normally recede within few hours, however; not for this time.The water was knee-deep last sunday but now the flood has been described as the worst hit in a past decade. Fear is rising according to the official statement of the Venice city that salt water may cause damage to the historic sites. While