Besides the Keukenhof Gardens, featuring its famous tulips and lilies, the canals of Amsterdam blossom with life in the spring. The outdoor patios fill up, music starts floating down from the terraces, and the city parks get busy. Much like other Northern Hemisphere cities, residents break out of their winter shell to enjoy the first real breaths of warm sunshine. Attractions, prices and accommodations get tougher with each passing week, until summer kicks in and the Spring Traveller must move on.
The weather’s always great in Cuba. A little hot perhaps, but there’s always a beach nearby. With direct flights from Toronto to Havana, Canada is the number one tourist market with the largest island in the Caribbean, with over a million Canadians landing every year. Many of us are happy to laze away in an all-inclusive bubble, but popping it for a couple days will reveal a country in transition with itself and its history. Old Havana is being restored, excellent musicians seem to never stop playing Guantanamera, the rum is first rate, and the food is improving. Cuba is on the verge of a complete transformation, and if you've never been, now's the time to go. Cigar in hand, of course.
Paris in Spring Time. Three words, and you can smell the warm baguette, taste the Bordeaux, see a mime’s heartbreak on the banks of the Seine. Cole Porter and Nina Hagen musical tributes notwithstanding, the Capital of Romance is most alive in spring, when new relationships find their mark and old passions are reawakened. Unfortunately, spring is such a popular time of year, it signals the start of high season, and all the costs that come with it. The Spring Traveller never puts a price on love. But the Spring Traveller doesn’t have to stick around too long to get his or her fix either.
What I love most about Yosemite National Park is that there are geologists who believe the oldest national park in the United States is in fact a super volcano getting ready to explode and obliterate half the country with it. So the Spring Traveller best strap on the hiking boots and get a move on, while the waterfalls are at their finest and the summer crowds are still at bay. With ice and snow melting, the rivers and creeks are flush as the forest reawakens. There’s magic to see at Yosemite Falls and Cook’s Meadow, but if it’s still a little too chilly, the Spring Traveller can always head south for warmer climes. Who knows, one day the super volcano might blow. But rest assured, the Spring Traveller will be well out of harms way.
Our national capital flaunts the gifts of a Dutch princess each spring with its own world renowned Tulip Festival. 600,000 visitors swing by the “Tulip Capital of North America”, as the Big Freeze relinquishes its hold on a grateful population. The best places to see the tulips each year are from Parliament Hill, Commissioners Park or along the paths of the Rideau Canal. In early spring Ottawa also hosts a Maple Sugar Festival, for those who like their spring sweet. While the Spring Traveller is not averse to chasing beaver tail, the next destination looks even further to towards the north.
The Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are sweet discoveries for the Spring Traveller. The capital cities of Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn have medieval old towns to rival any in Western Europe, and beautiful countryside to explore too. Shops and boutiques sell fantastic art, clothing and unique knick-knacks, while each country boasts a nightlife with everything from old school drinking holes to the latest in club warfare. The Spring Traveller is not afraid to trip off the beaten path, for true beauty and adventure has a habit of showing itself in the unlikeliest of places.
Victorians are very proud of their Butchart Gardens, as well they should be. Gardening is a tasteful affair, and spring is the ticket. With summer crowds yet to arrive, the Spring Traveller can enjoy the best of the gardens, followed by high tea in one of the city’s excellent teahouses. Keeping within the genteel nature of the visit, roam amongst the Butterfly Gardens, or wander down Antique Row or Mile Zero. The Spring Traveller enjoys distinctive elegance, and the allure of old world charm. As for the not too distant cousin Spring Breaker, well, he’s chugging buckets of beer with the rest of the kids in Cancun.