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Medium 9781742204420

Central Highlands

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

Central Highlands

Even diehard beach fanatics will eventually overdose on sun and sand. When you do, the cool mountainous playground of the central highlands is the place to come; where else can you sit at dusk, huddled in a sweater, watching the mist descend into the valley as the sun sets behind the mountains? Popular retreats, roaring rivers, soaring peaks and the only white-water rafting in the Caribbean beckon. Below, on the plains in the Valle del Cibao, is where merengue spontan­eously erupted onto the musical landscape, and where you’ll find some of the best Carnival celebrations in the country. Economic life in the central highlands revolves around Santiago, the DR’s second-largest city and the capital of a vast tobacco- and sugarcane-growing region.

» February to March Some of the most raucous Carnival celebrations in all the DR are in Santiago and La Vega.

» January to March & June to August It tends to be dry during these times in the area around Santiago. Rains can be torrential in May and again September to November.

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Medium 9781743607138

Hondarribia and Pasajes

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

With its walled casco histórico (historic centre), buzzing beach scene and fabulous eateries, Hondarribia makes for a wonderful day trip. The town, 20km from San Sebastián on the French border, lies to the east of Pasajes, a historic port with a charming inner core. Interest here is focused on the fascinating whaling museum and the many excellent seafood restaurants.

MPasajes and Hondarribia in a day is a big ask without your own wheels, but it's not impossible. Start in Pasajes San Pedro, where you can visit the wonderful Albaola Foundation and see a 16th-century whaling galleon being built. Next, take the boat over to San Juan to visit the Casa Museo Victor Hugo and enjoy a slap-up seafood lunch at Casa Cámara.

RAfter lunch, push on to Hondarribia – ideally by car or taxi (approximately €25 to €30). Otherwise, you'll have to take bus E20 from Escalerillas, a road that's about 15 minutes' walk from San Pedro. In Hondarribia, check out the Casco Histórico, home to the Castillo de Carlos V and Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción, and lap up the vibe on the seafront promenade.

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Medium 9781743210017

Holland Village, Dempsey Hill & the Botanic Gardens

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

1Taking deep, blissful breaths in Singapore's lush and velvety Botanic Gardens. Picnicing on the lawns, slipping into ancient rainforest and exploring a string of tranquil themed gardens.

2Marveling at the beauty, diversity and sheer quantity of orchids on display at the National Orchid Garden, set snugly in the Botanic Gardens.

3Shopping for unique homewares in the relaxed antique shops and galleries of Dempsey Hill.

4Escaping to Ubud without ever leaving town at intoxicating Balinese restaurant Blue Bali.

5Channelling your past colonial life with elegant dim sum and cocktails at fan-swirling, jungle-fringed Chopsuey.

The must-see sight here is the Botanic Gardens and you'd do well to set aside half a day to fully soak up its charms.

Making a picnic out of your visit can be fun, especially if you have kids in tow. Stock up on picnic goodies at the gourmet delis in upmarket Holland Village or leafy Dempsey Hill. Alternatively, browse for antiques in Dempsey Hill and lunch there as well, at either Chopsuey or PS Cafe, before heading across to the Botanic Gardens. For a dirt-cheap hawker feed by the gardens, make a beeline for leafy Food Canopy.

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Medium 9781742207339

Volga Region

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

The Volga (Волга), one of Europe’s great rivers, winds for some 3530km through Russia’s heartland and has been a part of the continent’s longest ‘highway’ since time immemorial. The stretch of the Volga between Nizhny Novgorod and the Caspian Sea forms a rich and fascinating cultural region with over a dozen different ethnic groups, most notably the Volga Tatars. Travelling along or alongside the river you encounter spectacular hilltop kremlins in Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Astrakhan, bombastic architecture in Volgograd, numerous lively provincial capitals and picturesque stretches such as the Samara Bend. This natural beauty culminates in the magnificent Volga Delta south of Astrakhan, a vast region of reeds and waterways. West of the Volga River, Kalmykia takes in a windswept area of steppe that is home to the Buddhist Kalmyks, who originate from western Mongolia.

AFeb Much of the Volga River is frozen over and draped in a winter landscape.

ALate Apr–late May Spring sun warms the air and accommodation is plentiful.

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Medium 9781742207452

British Columbia

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

British Columbia

British Columbia visitors need a long list of superlatives when describing their trips – the words spectacular, breathtaking and jaw-dropping only go so far. But it’s hard not to be moved by towering mountains, wildlife-packed forests and dramatic coastlines that slow your heart like sigh-­triggering spa treatments. Canada’s westernmost province is more than just nature-hugging dioramas, though.

Cosmopolitan Vancouver fuses cuisines and cultures from Asia and beyond, while vibrant smaller cities like Victoria and Kelowna are increasingly creating their own intriguing scenes. For sheer character, it’s hard to beat the kaleidoscope of quirky little communities from rustic northern BC to the ever laid-back Southern Gulf Islands.

Wherever you head, the great outdoors will always call. Don’t just point your camera at it. BC is unbeatable for the kind of life-enhancing skiing, kayaking and hiking that can easily make this the trip of a lifetime.

Dec–Mar Best powder action on the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains

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