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 Empire State Building (ESB) today announced that it will utilize two EarthCam video cameras to give fans around the world 24/7 access to footage of ESB and of the views from ESB via a livestream on www.empirestatebuilding.com . One camera is installed on the rooftop of One Grand Central Place, a property in the portfolio of Empire State Realty Trust, the company that owns and manages the Empire State Building. The EarthCam footage allows fans all over the world to view in real time the beloved ESB tower lightings, New York City sunsets, and the signature hourly sparkle effect that occurs daily for five minutes every hour between sunset and 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The second camera is installed on the south corner of ESB's 103rd floor and will capture the stunning views of New York City and beyond. Users will have the opportunity to view extreme weather conditions and even watch the sunrise from the heart of New York City. The two different viewpoints allow visitors to witness the World's Most Famous Building 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and to enjoy a preview of the ESB Observatories' 360-degree panoramic views. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the screenshot function provided by EarthCam and to share images on social media by tagging the Empire State Building in their posts.
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