1. Relax right in Germany’s spa town of Baden-Baden
Nestled at the foothills of the Black Forest, the elegant spa town of Baden-Baden has long exerted its siren call. In the late 19th century, the German town used to attract the European aristocracy, which considered Baden-Baden the “Summer Capital of Europe”. The waters were used for bathing and salutary treatments, transforming the town into a modern health resort. Today, apart from the two world-famous spas, there are theatres, art galleries, cafes, a thriving casino and a vibrant shopping and dining scene to complement the spa infrastructure. With over 1,000 protected heritage buildings in its historic centre, Baden-Baden is today a Unesco World Heritage Site, listed among the Great Spa Towns of Europe. Read more.
2. A night at the London Zoo
An Asiatic Lion at the ZSL London Zoo.
Imagine falling asleep to the chatter of monkeys and waking up to the roar of lions, and the getting a private tour to meet and feed animals. The ZSL London Zoo Lodges offer accommodation for an overnight stay for guests. There are three tours, 45-60 minutes each, offered as part of the package. These take place when the zoo is closed to the public—two at night and one in the morning, before it opens. They allow guests to enjoy a near-private viewing of select animals, guided by enthusiastic zookeepers, aka hosts, who readily share information. You even get to feed some of the animals. Read more.
3. A slow train ride across South-East Asia
A train crossing Tha Chomphu Bridge in Lamphun Province, Thailand.
If you hate airports, the soullessness of air travel, and the chaos of immigration queues, you should consider exploring Thailand and Malaysia by train, watching the landscape change as you converse with fellow travelers. Rail tracks run right from northern Thailand all the way down to Malaysia, and our writer took an overland trip from Chiang Mai to Singapore. The advantage of taking the train is that you can rest, catch up on your reading, enjoy a meal or two, and just generally slow down as you watch watch cities, towns, landscapes, stations whiz by. Read more.
4. Visit a former whaling colony: Hobart, Tasmania
Hobart’s picturesque city center is a reminder of its past as a hub of the whaling trade.
(Michael J. Fromholtz/Wikimedia Commons)
Hobart is Australia’s smallest and second oldest capital city, and was once a penal colony for convicts from Britain and Ireland, thanks to its extreme isolation. Surrounded by river and ocean, Hobart grew because of its significance in the whaling and seal trade of the South Pacific. Today, its Georgian and Victorian buildings are far more peaceful and hark back to its penal history and nautical past. This gateway city offers everything from nightlife and shopping to trekking and city tours to take in its magnificent architecture. In the distance looms Mount Wellington, known as Kunanyi in the aboriginal language. Read more.
5. Forest bathing in Shenandoah National Park, US
Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is a Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature and is known to bring physical and mental health benefits.
(Image via Unsplash)
The Shenandoah National Park’s Stony Man Trail, a short trek that overlaps with the famed Appalachian Trail, comes with a gorgeous surprise. An easy 2.5km trek inside the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, US, the paths are shaded by tall oak and hickory trees, their barks greyish brown, while the floor is lush green, covered with grass, bushes and small plants. If you’re looking to indulge in some shinrin-yoku or forest bathing to restore and rejuvenate yourself, this is a trip you must take. Read more.
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