NEW LIFE, SPRING BLOSSOMS, SUNNIER DAYS, BEACHES WITHOUT THE SUMMER CROWDS.
Everything about spring travel seems to inspire a renewed spirit of wanderlust, especially if you’ve been through a long cold winter.
Spring has always been my favorite travel season, perhaps because we never get much of in the UAE. I also happen to be a spring child, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than with an open bouquet of flowers somewhere around the world.
Also, seeing that the perfect weather is an essential factor in the success of most of my holidays, I was often keen on avoiding the rainy season in places like SEA, and extreme winters in other destinations, hence Spring travel always sounded like a great idea.
I often catch myself recounting my fondest travel memories in my favorite season, and I wanted to share only the best of them (not all) with you. Hopefully it will inspire your next great Spring holiday.
Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman
Oman is where you can still go to touch with the Arabian Peninsula’s unspoiled soul before it catches the urban development fever. It harbors between its fjords and mountains wanderlustic secrets that has called explorers and solitude seekers, like Lady Diana and Sir Wilfred Thesiger, since the early times.
Spring is a brief but a sweet affair in the country. March through May is the window when Damask roses are in full bloom at the rocky vegetation terraces of the auspiciously named Jabal Al Akhdar region (The Green Mountain). Long before you see them carpeting the slopes, the air heavily pregnant with their vitalizing scent announces their presence. Early in the morning, dew covered pink beauties are picked by the locals, while in best condition for rosewater making. A centuries-old cherished traditional craft in the area. The dried petals are then steamed in special wood fired ovens and the distilled stock is stored in clay pots to be used or sold in the summer. It’s a fairly authentic encounter that is not to be missed.
Spring in Japan is the kind of a travel bucket list item that I probably don’t need to press too hard. Chances are, it is already on your list, and I couldn’t be more supportive of that assessment. The additional advice that I wish to provide is to expand your experience beyond Tokyo. Between March and early April, cherry blossom is flowering across the land of the rising sun. Since you will be one of few millions seeking the same experience in the Japanese capital, you better off escaping to less tourist plagued areas.
We greatly enjoyed coupling our blossom hunt with few amazing cultural encounters in the southern parts of the country. We chased the shadows of the last remaining Geishas in the narrow allies of Gion in Kyoto, remembered the innocent victims of WWII in Hiroshima, slept in a traditional ryokan in Hakone, and devoured a traditional 9 course seasonal meals on Miyajima Island.
Too bad Coachella wasn’t on at the time of our visit, so that’s still on my bucket list!
It was however the perfect time to explore fog city (San Francisco), spend slow sunny days sampling the best of what the wine countryside has to offer, cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway like we’ve got no where else to be, and to give my inner Hollywood diva a chance to live it up in LA.
April sees the best of sunny California weather wise, my husband and I even felt inspired to miss our flight and drove down to Nevada, hiked the Grand Canyon before things ended on a much higher note in Las Vegas.
I say Rome anytime. However, since it has unfortunately become the kind of over dealt place that you need to cleverly sneak into your travel schedule, spring presents higher chances for an enjoyable experience than either summer or winter, in my opinion.
I’ve been there four Aprils so far, and always left feeling so triumphant for having beaten the vicious summer crowds to the Gelato counters. If you’re keen, and you time your visit right, you might even catch the Pope speak during the Easter mass in the Vatican City.
Some of my favorite spring things to do in Rome is picnicking under a perfect blooming tree in the Borghese Gardens, wandering the charismatic side streets of Trestevere, picking out fresh produce at the Campo de Fiori market, and fountain trailing across the city. It never fails to fill my heart with extreme joy.
If you’re not a huge fan of South East Asia’s rainy season, March till early May is your best window to tour the whole country.
We opted for a tour of the south where we spent few days exploring the culture and reminiscing over key historic milestones in Ho Chi Minh City. We then travelled further south to cruise down the maze of the Mekong Delta waterways.
The main highlight of our trip was all the delectable Vietnamese food we ate in these parts of the country. Especially that Robusta drip coffee which kept us going strong the whole time.
Now that I am living in Switzerland, I was in for a great surprise after my first gloomy and tough winter. Little did I know that Spring is such an exciting event here. Come March, cultural festivities such as Fasnacht in Lucerne and Basel took place to shoo away winter demons and make way for Spring. In Zurich the Böögg – a snowman effigy is burned in early April to celebrate Spring’s arrival and predict the status of summer.
Not sure it all works perfectly to be honest, as we did get some surprise snow in April this year. When Spring finally arrived, the county’s landscape completely transformed into a blooming wonderland. For me living in Zug – Switzerland Cherry countryside – has been such a visual treat. Cherry blossom trails opened, and spring hiking become my favorite thing to do. For the sweat tooted a slice of Kirschtorte (Zug cherry liqueur cake) is said to be the one thing to try.
We even have our own cherry blossom hotline here, how awesome is that?
Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Lugano, Aargau, and Basel are all great options to witness the best manifestations of Spring in Switzerland.
Besides the unbearable charm of that cute little row of quintessentially Italian coastal villages, the Amalfi Coast is Italy’s sun worshipers’ paradise. Summer should be the best time to enjoy a dream beach holiday there, but how would you do that when the beaches are covered with toasting tourists?
Your other option is to show up a little earlier, like we did in April, to find a much calmer version of the place. The area is southern enough to get ample sunshine at this time of year, so its not impossible to got for few refreshing dips.
Prices weren’t that noticeably different, but we did have a chance to pick and choose when it came to dining and activity options.
If you want to indulge in layers of rich history while soaking up the sun in royal palace gardens, learn stories of ultimate national triumph while devouring the most delectable cuisine, ogle at rows of beautiful architecture while falling in love with the blooming nature of both the land and the people, Prague is the place for you.
After merely a decade and a half of rightly earned freedom, the Czech capital is steadily gaining traction as a popular tourism destination. Many go for a big swig of authentic culture; others are blindly lured in by the raving night life – you know who you are!
What I didn’t expect to find (but certainly did) is gorgeous green spaces, rolling hills, and airy parks where you can just get away from it all and enjoy the gorgeous spring blooms.
On top of that, it is one of few European cities where you can still get tremendous value, and a modest holiday budget would take you quite a long way.
Also, if you are a big fan of classical music, keep in mind that the Spring Music Festival takes place in May here every year.
Did you know that tulips originated in Turkey, not in Holland? I know that now precisely because I totally missed the International Tulip Festival, which takes place in Istanbul in April each year.
I got there in May when the flower beds where completely empty. You don’t want to do that, you want to get there on time to enjoy the sight of millions of tulips planted in parks, roundabouts, squares, by traffic lights, basically everywhere your feet can take you.
That’s alright thought, before I realized it, I was completely and positively distracted by the European-Asian-Middle Eastern mish-mash of the place. Who needs all shades of gorgeous tulips when you have buzzing bazaars run by haggling hawkers, a mesmerizing skyline peppered with stunning Ottoman minarets and domes, and all you can eat Kebab?
If that doesn’t float your boat, you can always float down the Bosphorus to the sound of electric music beaming from boat nightclubs.
You would specially appreciate getting better acquainted with multifaced Istanbul during the cooler Spring days.
One of Cambodia’s most popular cities, considering it position as the gateway to the world’s largest religious building and temples complex – Angkor Wat. March was a great time to visit, before the debilitating humidity and sweltering heat sets in a couple of months later. Also, I don’t imagine our two days of exploring the temples would have been as peaceful and pleasant have we come in during high season. The city is also a great base to explore the Cambodian countryside.
I hope this gives you some great ideas, and helps you plan your next Spring escape. I will try to update this list as future Spring travels unfold, so keep an eye on this space.
What is your favorite Spring Travel experience?