April Is A Great Time To Travel After The Busy School Break Season And Some Of The Best Bargains Are To Had.
Thanks to MARK ELLWOOD CN Traveler
Spend that tax refund on a long-haul trip to Tokyo, where thousands of cherry trees or sakura burst into bloom each spring and mark the end of winter (April 1 is the start of the academic and financial years in Japan). It's so easy to get to from Vancouver, choose either our national carrier, Air Canada or Japan Airlines.
The Japanese cherish this tradition, so symbolic of the fleeting nature of life since each flower lasts for little more than a week. While you're there, make sure to take part in hanami, a ritual which literally translates as ‘looking at flowers'.
To make like a local, pick up a seasonal bento box from a supermarket and head to a park for an al fresco lunch under the branches.
You can track this year’s projected peak blooms by area and, per that forecast, the best places for bloom-spotting this April are north of Tokyo in the Tohoku region.
Try the hipster-heavy city of Onagawa, which has rebounded strongly since it suffered extensive damage in the 2011 earthquake. Later in the month, head to the top of Honshu island to Hirosaki Castle, renowned as one of the best places in the country for hanami: the centuries-old keep sits in a small park that’s crammed with more than 2,500 cherry trees.
Amsterdam is a breeze to get to from Vancouver, flights with the national airline, K.L.M. are so frequent and you can be there in around 9 hours.
Picture a rowdy, raucous mashup of St Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras, and you’re still not close to the annual King’s Day or Koningsdag celebrations that sweep the Netherlands on April 27 each year (or the last Saturday.)
It’s the official, rather than actual, birthday of the monarch—currently, King Willem-Alexander (until he took over from his mother, Queen Beatrix, in 2013, it was long known as Queen’s Day).
Celebrations start the evening before—King’s Night—with street parties across the city, and continue the next day with more partying and huge flea markets selling trinkets and food.
Just make sure to pack some oranje clothes if you want to fit in: the Dutch festoon themselves in their national color for the day. Even better, April marks the peak of Dutch tulip season, so you expect riots of color both across the revelers and in the parks around them.
Visit Keukenhof Gardens, also known as the Garden of Europe, is one of the world's largest flower gardens, situated in Lisse, Netherlands. In 1949 a group of 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters came up with the plan to use the estate to exhibit spring-flowering bulbs, signalling the birth of Keukenhof as a spring park.
The park opened its gates to the public in 1950 and was an instant success, with 236,000 visitors in the first year alone. 2018 will be the 69th edition of Keukenhof, with Romance in Flowers as its theme. During the past 67 years Keukenhof has developed into a world-famous attraction.
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Buenos Aires is a popular winter sunspot for northern hemisphere types, but the muggy Porteño summer can make exploring the city unappealing. Come instead as fall begins in April, with the foliage gently turning and daytime temperatures consistently in the 60s and 70s (bring a light sweater for the cooler evenings).
The city’s annual answer to Tribeca, BAFICI, turns it into a hub of Spanish language indie cinema for ten days, while the Nuestros Caballeros riding showcase offers the chance to experience Argentina’s horse-made culture first-hand.
Hole up in the Faena Hotel + Universe, a sprawling hotel-cum-culture complex that singlehandedly helped revive the historic Puerto Madero neighborhood. And don’t miss a cocktail in the award-winning basement speakeasy, Floreria Atlantico, hidden beneath a chic flower shop.
Back in 1985 and new to the travel industry, my first fam trip was to the Island Of Malta. The rugged beauty of the island gives this place a totally unique feel.
This tiny island nation’s hub, Valletta, snared designation as a European Capital of Culture this year. That honor has helped spotlight a country whose strategic location saw it passed between successive empires, each leaving indelible legacies: north African-influenced architecture, Sicilian-style food and British politeness—not to mention several branches of U.K. department store-slash-national treasure, Marks & Spencer.
This month, the country’s calendar includes the three day-long Fireworks Festival and a chance to gorge for the day on locally produced strawberries, known across the Mediterranean for their sweetness, in the village of Mġarr.
Gozo is known to provide a tranquil haven for a tempo and scene change. The charm of Malta's sister Island is immediately apparent; it's greener, more rural and smaller, with life's rhythms dictated by the seasons, fishing and agriculture.
The Easter weekend was celebrated here with a trip to the sister island, Gozo, where the Christian holy day was splashily marked—even non-believers can try a slice of figolla, the moreish Maltese Easter cake filled with almonds.