Where to go on holiday in April 2012
iStockphoto / Thinkstock
April is a month of blossoming flowers, occasional rain showers and, of course, Easter chocolate; but it’s also the perfect time for an energising spring trip. Make the most of the holiday vibe by tuning in to music festivals in New Orleans or catching waves on a Costa Rican beach.
FOR THE FOODIE…
Short haul: Northern Spain
Hemera / Thinkstock
Loosen your belt and prepare to feast in Navarre as the region hosts Pincho Week (26-29 April), a chance for locals and tourists to both eat and judge the best pincho – sumptuous tapas-like morsels – in the area.
Northern Spain as a whole is a gourmet’s delight. In the gastronomic hotbed of the Basque Country, pincho platters and hearty fish stews are accompanied by the region’s sparkling Txakoli wines in bustling taverns.
If high-end dining is more your thing, you’ll not be disappointed. The Basque city of San Sebastian is home to two of Spain’s five three-Michelin-starred restaurants, with another just minutes away. Further west, Santiago de Compostela in Galicia boasts many ‘gastro bars’ – including Abastos 2.0, whose exquisite dishes vary daily depending on market-sourced ingredients.
Long haul: Singapore
From Chinese and Indian to Italian foods, your cravings can be fulfilled by the variety of options available in multicultural Singapore. Spice-infused Indian restaurants serving delicacies such as roti prata (fried pancake with savoury or sweet fillings) in Little India are just steps away from establishments engulfed in Chinese- and Malaysian-influenced aromas.
Creative Commons / Fabcan
If you prefer your food on the go, check out the morning ‘wet markets’, where vendors sell exotic fruits and vegetables, meats and fish. KK Market (on the corner of Serangoon and Rochor Roads), is one of the biggest – offering everything from pungent spices to colourful dry fruit – and it has a food court next door.
If the heat, humidity and city air gets a little too much, visit Eski Bar, where you can chill out in the sub-zero ‘freezer’ area or the air-conditioned ‘igloo’ section while sipping on refreshing drinks. Alternatively, for a tipple in more illustrious surrounds, head to the iconic Raffles Hotel, the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail.
FOR THE CULTURE VULTURE…
Short haul: Prague, Czech Republic
Step into what appears to be a cross between a Disney fairytale and a history textbook in handsome Prague, where cobblestone alleyways intersperse elaborate churches and colourful buildings, some of which date back to the 12th century.
iStockphoto / Thinkstock
At the Prague Easter Market (running until 15 April), gawk at the intricate handcrafted wooden toys and puppets, hand-painted Easter eggs and Czech crystal, featured in more than 100 stalls set up all along the Old Town Square. From here, numerous street performers can be found on Charles Bridge, cast in the shadow of Prague Castle – the largest medieval castle complex in Europe – which is well worth the hike up the hill.
Towards the end of the month, join the locals in dressing up like witches and lighting bonfires on Witches’ Night (30 April), an ancient tradition that celebrates the end of winter and helps to keep away witches that bring bad luck to the people.
Long haul: New Orleans, USA
Mardi Gras may be over, but the lively city of New Orleans is still buzzing with food, music and fun-loving locals enjoying the balmy spring air.
During the month, musicians from all over the world gather for the annual New Orleans Jazz Festival (27 April-6 May) – this year, headliners include Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles and The Beach Boys.
If jazz and rock isn’t quite your thing, the city known as the 'Big Easy' also holds the French Quarter Festival (12-15 April), where stages are set up for local artists to perform in the oldest area of the city, which boasts fine examples of 18th- and 19th-century architecture along the banks of the Mississippi River.
If you've still not had enough of New Orleans' thriving cultural scene, the music mania continues every Wednesday in Lafayette Square, with free concerts from April to June.
FOR THE BEACH BUM…
Short haul: Italian Riviera
iStockphoto / Thinkstock
From vineyards and olive groves to windy cobblestone roads that dissect traditional villages, Italy’s rugged coastal region of Cinque Terre (Five Lands), part of the Italian Riviera, is the perfect place to unwind in April.
Soak in the striking coastal views as you hike between the five villages, part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cinque Terre National Park. Alternatively, take to the water on a local fishing boat that will help you discover hidden rocky coves, secluded bays and clifftop waterfalls; in spring, temperatures of around 23°C (74°F) are enough to tempt visitors to take a dip in the turquoise Ligurian Sea.
After swimming, treat yourself to flavoursome focaccia or salty anchovies caught locally by lampare (night trawling using the light of lamps) from one of the many family-run beach-side restaurants.
Long haul: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Escape to paradise in Costa Rica, where the country’s notorious philosophy is pura vida, or pure life. This is no more evident than in Puerto Viejo, where you can truly embrace the laid-back Costa Rican lifestyle.
April is the last month to catch the warm, dry weather before the rainy season begins in May, so make the most of the climate and visit one of the town’s six beaches (including Playa Negra, a black-sand beach known for good surfing). For those looking to head inland, ride on horseback along several different trails or admire the weird and wonderful sloth at the Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary. There’s no need for cabs or public transportation here; just rent a bike and take your time to explore the area.