INSPIRATION • March 2023
To many, spring is the loveliest season of them all – the perfect time to shake off the cobwebs of a long winter and begin the year’s jet-setting (if you haven’t already). Trying to decide which trip to take as the days get longer? Five seasoned travel writers share their favourite springtime escapes to inspire us
By Ally Wybrew
If you’re a winter-weary traveller seeking the perfect pick-me-up, look no further than Bordeaux – wine capital of the world. Replete with grand buildings topped by Gothic spires, chic residents and infectious joie de vivre, it’s an invigorating locale year-round, but especially in April, when festivals fill the Aquitaine city’s streets. Books take over the Place Pierre Renaudel for the L’Escale du Livre, while the Tauzia Fête les Plantes & les Jardins fills the Château du Tauzia with blooms from more than 1,000 plants. Elsewhere, residents and tourists alike flock to the Foire à la Brocante des Quinconces flea market, where delicious food, flowers and antique trinkets sprawl across Europe’s largest square. Be sure to carve out ample croissant and coffee time among the long days of walking, shopping and soaking up that springtime air, which always smells sweeter in this part of France. And book flights as early as possible to grab a bargain Reward Flight Saver seat (from 18,500 Avios plus £1*).
By Monica Meade
It’s easy to lose yourself in the cobbled streets of Verona. Surrounded as you are by the warmth of the blush-pink limestone façades, historic squares emerge as surprises and the sound of clattering plates herald an admirable alfresco dining scene. Easter weekend is marked around the city by Catholic celebrations that culminate with Pasquetta – a time when communities gather to share a feast, traditionally with eggs and bread. For the locals, this is the true beginning of spring as the city blooms into its full beauty. You can use a Reward Flight Saver (24,500 Avios and £1*) to tick off the city’s must-see attractions (Juliet’s Balcony, Ponte Pietra, Giusti Garden, the Roman Verona Arena, et al) but don’t miss the chance to explore further afield: the nearby Madonna della Corona shrine sits on the edge of a 2,000ft cliff and is gorgeous in spring.
By Richard MacKichan
If the Dutch Masters were to paint the city of Amsterdam today, I suspect those Golden Age greats would choose to do so in the perfect light of spring. Those first few post-winter rays on those first ditch-the-big-jacket days bathe this already preternaturally pretty city in the kind of glow Instagram filter developers dream of. If you ever need a reminder of its muse-worthy magic, head to the Rijksmuseum – it’s all right there in iridescent detail on the canvas and streaming through its ornate stained-glass windows. Outside, canals glisten and pavements are the preserve of people eating and drinking (you’ll find me on the sun-trap terrace at buzzy Café Van Zuylen, spanning the city’s oldest bridge). Bikes go at a more leisurely pace round the Vondelpark, where those famous flowers are at their show-offy best. Spring is, quite simply, perfect strolling season in the perfect strolling city.
By Hannah Ralph
As a fiery devotee of New York between October and Christmas, I could go into raptures over its pumpkin-spiced autumnal charms, but I could never call it an underrated time to visit. There is, however, a slice of early spring – just as winter’s bite has thawed into a nibble – that is. Here, New York’s sidewalks begin to tease their cherry blossoms (viewed best at Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and picnickers emerge at Prospect and Washington Square Park without their scarves. Book your city break in the January flight sale and spend the pennies saved on an Easter feast: breakfast at movie-star Jewish diner Veselka in the East Village, fluffy Japanese pancakes and katsu sandwiches at Hi-Collar café (go just after the lunchtime rush, when queues are at their shortest), and, finally, to the fantastically ‘New York’ West Village streets, where Petit Boucherie has a candlelit supper waiting.
By Sean Newsom
Desert heat? What desert heat? When I was in Los Angeles last March, and the spring rains began to clear, the city felt as clean and fresh as a newly laundered sheet. Conditions were perfect for just about everything. A giant e-bike tour from Beverly Hills to Venice Beach, evening walks to buzzing restaurants, surfing at El Segundo. Beneath a flawless blue sky, I tried them all, while hummingbirds fluttered in West Hollywood gardens and the Pacific breathed its cooling ocean air through the streets. I even went skiing at Mammoth Mountain. Yes, there was still plenty of snow. But, even here, the new season was making its presence felt. At the resort’s epic après-ski parties, some of the revellers were dancing in their swimwear.
*Reward Flights are available to any Executive Club Members with an Avios balance. In addition to your Avios, the only cash amount required for Reward Flights is to cover the taxes, fees and carrier charges. Your chosen date of travel will determine whether you pay a peak or off-peak Avios amount. When booking Reward Flights, you can choose all peak dates, all off-peak dates or a mixture of the two. Reward Flights are subject to availability. To find out more about Reward Flight Saver, click here.
Prices referenced are for Reward Flight Saver fares and based on an off-peak, return fare for one passenger travelling in Euro Traveller (Economy), from London. All prices and Avios amounts quoted are correct as of February 2023.