Zadar has often been outshone by its popular siblings — the charming city of Dubrovnik and party animals Split and Hvar. But those who have visited the port city of Zadar, will vouch that this is where you get gorgeous sunsets. Alfred Hitchcock was amazed by them.
At the promenade, hear the lilting tunes from the Sea Organ. Steps lead into the water and those underwater have pipes that create music when waves snuggle up to them. These tunes and the cool breeze make you feel warm, fuzzy and melancholic, all at once. Then there is the installation by architect Nikola Bašić, called Greeting to the Sun. This 22-metre circular disc works on solar energy and emits dazzling lights in the evening. Some use it as a dance floor, others just laze on it, do yoga there or even use it as a romantic prop for proposals.
Zadar also hosts music festivals and is a great base from where you can set off to explore national parks and islands. It is teeming with historical monuments such as Fosa, Rector’s Palace, Five Wells, Forum, etc. And you can let you hair down at Varos, a hip neighbourhood brimming with quirky bars. Don’t forget to try their maraschino, local cherry liqueur along with fresh catch from the sea.
Flamingo kitsch has been ruling the fashion world for almost two years now. If these winged wonders look so cool on clothes and accessories, imagine how awesome they’ll look in your holiday pictures. “Flamingos have become insanely popular in the last few years here in Aruba,” says Marcella Janczewski from the Visit Aruba team. They roost on Renaissance Island that has a huge fan following worldwide, thanks to selfies with the pretty pink birds that abound on social media. It is a private island and one needs to buy a day pass in advance. Recently, flamingos have also been introduced to De Palm Island. A day ticket is required here as well. This Dutch island in the Caribbean Sea is also known for its crystal-clear waters, where you can snorkel, sail, scuba dive, kite surf and be a beach bum. It’s sunny, windy and always warm here. “Don’t forget your sunscreen as we are close to the Equator and the sun is strong,” advises Marcella. In addition, she recommends visiting Arikok National Park, the Natural Pool, Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, Alto Vista Chapel… “There is a party any day or night of the week here. Wednesday to Sunday are the most popular nights for going out. Clubs, bars and lounges are all closely located (you can find many in the Palm Beach area) so it is easy to hop around. Some hotspots include Gusto Night Club, MooMba Beach Bar and Sand Bar,” says Marcella. Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba and the island nation is small enough to be covered in a day.
The colourful wooden houses of Kalamaja look as if they have stepped out of Noddy land. An area populated by fishermen since the 14th Century, this is now one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Tallinn. While the Old Town is always the most visited, areas such as Kalamaja and Rotermann, with avant garde architecture, are where the trendy, creative set can be spotted. The Telliskivi Creative City — located in a reclaimed factory area — with its eatery, boutiques, an antique book store, theatre and weekly dance nights and flea markets, is sought after. In addition, the city also has a growing number of spas.
“Many cruise ships dock in Tallinn. In fact, that’s what brought in tourists around a decade ago,” says Thea Sepp, Information Specialist at the Tallinn Tourist Information Centre. “This year, we have received more than 300 cruise ships with about 6,00,000 tourists,” she adds. The Kohtuotsa viewing platform, Town Hall Square, St Olav’s church, St Catherine’s Passage, Seaplane Harbour and Town Wall find themselves on most sightseeing lists. The Song Festival Grounds is another favourite and the venue for the Estonian Song and Dance Festival that happens once in every five years. Luckily, it will take place this year in July and will feature thousands of dancers and choir performers.
Toompea hill with tower Pikk Hermann and Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, view from the tower of St. Olaf church, Tallinn, Estonia
This is one city where you may not feel broke. Don’t forget to get a relaxing massage or a hair spa treatment or even fake eyelashes here. It costs way less than India and the quality is commendable too.
Hanoi sits by the Red River, embracing its age-old colonial monuments, temples, museum and mausoleum. It is also proud of its modern Lotte Tower, glitzy hotels and Nhat Tan Bridge. In the heart of the bustling city lies the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, one of the most photographed spots in the city. This is also where the Old Quarter is; a commercial area bustling with shops and nightlife. There are specific streets that sell kitchen ware, herbs, cotton, and so on. The tailors in Vietnam are known for their craft. Get a few outfits tailored while there, especially the Ao Dai, the local dress. Try the egg coffee, or the traditional coffee that comes with a generous serving of condensed milk. The variety of street food is mind-boggling. From banh mi to bun cha, it’ll make sure you never go hungry. You can discover Hanoi by foot, or choose from limos, regular cabs, three-wheeled cycle rickshaws or even motorcycle taxis.
Find your kind of place These cities offer a range of activities for every kind of traveller
Everything in the Plaza de Espana in Seville has the power to make even the most mediocre photograph look exceptional. There is something magical about the architecture of this city, from the Gothic cathedral, the Giralda, the Alcazar with its Mudejar work, to the narrow lanes that cradle old-world bars and restaurants. It’s where ‘Despacito’ and ‘Chantaje’ are punctuated by the gallop of horses pulling carriages that look straight out of a fairy tale. The recent hot spot is the Metropol Parasol, a 26-metre-high wooden structure that resembles a giant waffle or a mushroom. Flamenco bars thrive in the neighbourhood of Triana that’s across the Guadalquivir river. The bars have more locals than tourists, and matching steps with them is nearly impossible. The dancing starts late by 10 pm and doesn’t stop till the wee hours of the morning. Local singers put up impromptu performances as people show off their Flamenco steps. This is way more fun than just sitting through a serious Flamenco performance.