Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tangier is a different world, yet barely a stone’s throw from Europe. Year’s end is the ideal time to explore the city, an evocative place full of faded glories and devoid of tourist gloss. After the oven-heat of summer, the North African climate reaches the perfect balance in autumn. There’s guaranteed warmth without having to change time zones, and the city positively invites languorous basking outside cafés and sun-splashed ambles along the beach.
Time a trip here for September, when the 12th Tanjazz festival sees the city fill with international and local musicians, providing the ideal soundtrack to a visit. There will be ballroom dancing classes, free concerts at the port and gigs in cafés, restaurants and hotels.
Wandering through Lucca in Tuscany is like stepping into an illuminated manuscript. The town’s red-orange roofs and spires thrust out of a landscape of deepest green, with cypress-tree brushstrokes and a backdrop of mountains. Author Hilaire Belloc’s 1902 description holds true: ‘The neatest, the regularest, the exactest, the most fly-in-amber town in the world, with its uncrowded streets, its absurd fortifications… everything in Lucca is good.
Best city for summer 2011
Often overlooked in favour of Barcelona, Valencia is a rich cocktail of impressive architecture, lively streets and nightlife, with a refreshing lack of tourists. The labyrinthine historic centre is a great place to drink horchata (a traditional drink made from tiger nuts, sugar and crushed ice) and eat paella – Valencia is Spain’s rice-growing centre, and paella was invented here.