This month at Rough Guides our editors and authors have been chasing the spring sun in Rome and Mallorca, visiting the UK's most remote spots in Scotland and discovering Argentina's quirkiest sights. Here’s a small selection of their highlights.
Inside Rough Guides: March team news
Just back from...
Mallorca Ahead of the publication of the Rough Guide to Mallorca and Menorca's seventh edition next month, our editor Neil McQuillian whiled away a long weekend based in pretty Valldemossa. He spent a long, sunburnt afternoon hiking in Mallorca's Tramuntana mountains and says it's rightly one of our guide's "Things not to miss", while a day-trip to the capital Palma saw him gorge on delicious, sugar-dusted ensaïmada and splash out on beautiful blue-and-white Mallorcan ceramics.
Rome Our senior editor Natasha Foges headed off to sunnier climes to research the new edition of Pocket Rough Guide Rome. While in town she checked out Rome's flourishing street-art scene – formerly drab working-class neighbourhoods throughout town are being transformed with colourful murals by international artists, with the blessing of the city council. She also found time for her favourite Roman pursuits of eating crispy, thin-crust pizza and drinking ice-cold coffee.
Image by Natasha Foges
Heading off to...
Skye and the north Highlands Greg Dickinson has been assigned the glamorous task of travelling to the most blustery, remote reaches of Scotland for the forthcoming Rough Guide to Scotland and Rough Guide to the Scottish Highlands & Islands. Starting in Glenfinnan (of Hogwarts Express viaduct fame), he will be sampling a wee dram of whisky at Talisker Distillery in Skye, wild camping (well, wild campervanning) beside the deep lochs of Wester Ross, and visiting the country's last true wilderness, only accessible by foot or boat – the Knoydart Peninsula. He'll be tweeting on the road @greg_dickinson.
Taiwan A new wave of Taiwanese artists and designers have earned Taipei this year’s title of World Design Capital, and Colt St. George from Rough Guides' online team is off to dig the city’s creative scene. From late nights in derelict industrial spaces turned culture hubs, to offbeat cafes putting an eccentric spin on coffee culture, there’s no telling where this island’s thriving underground will take him. But when it’s time to recharge, Taiwan’s mountain villages, ancient temple towns and steaming jungle hot springs lay in wait.
Taipei via Pixabay/CC0
What we're working on...
Kerala Editor Rachel Mills has finally dotted all the 'i's and crossed all the 't's and handed in her Rough Guide to India update. She had her fortune told at a theyyem in a shrine near Kannur, taste-tested masala dosas, set veg "meals" and steamed idli, hiked misty mountains in the Western Ghats – and had a well earned cuppa in the highest tea estate in the world. One highlight that will stay with her was gliding across the Kumarakom backwaters in a hand-punted canoe as the sun set behind the chugging kettu vallum. You can hear more about her trip in this interview.
Rough Guides writing competition On March 21st we launched our annual writing competition, offering the chance to win a £2000 voucher to spend on GapYear.com. We're on the lookout for new talent, so the winner will be published on RoughGuides.com and could continue to be one of our regular contributors. Last year's winner, Steph Dyson, has been writing for us since and said this about her experience: “Having the chance to write for such a globally-renowned publication and work with the Rough Guides web editors has been invaluable: the feedback and guidance I’ve been given has really helped me to develop as a writer.” You can find out more on how to enter here.
Kerala via Pixabay/CC0
Did you know...
You can go and see a tree in Argentina older than Confucius. Heading out to a remote Argentine national park just to see one tree might sound a bit extreme, but El Abuelo ("The Grandfather") rewards the effort. At 2600 years old, this old hunk of wood was already going strong when Confucius and Pythagoras were born, but was nearly unceremoniously chopped down for building materials in the nineteenth century. Thankfully the settlers decided it was probably rotten inside and left it be, so visitors to the Parque Nacional Los Alerces in Chubut Province can still go and be awed by it today.
The Dead Sea is dying. Since 1950, the surface area of the salty Dead Sea – technically a lake – bordering Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, has gone from a thousand square kilometres to less than seven hundred and still falling. Shockingly, the water level has fallen by 30m and continues to drop by a metre a year, due to the damming of the River Jordan, which used to flow into the lake. Some depressing estimates put the Dead Sea's lifespan at no more than 50 years from now. A plan is in place to pipe water in from the Red Sea, but it's unclear how this will affect the lake's delicate ecological balance; to make matter worse, the plan is nowhere near implementation, and the Dead Sea needs action urgently.
In the news...
Flights to get cheaper... and more expensive. Just when we started getting excited about cheaper flights (thanks to low oil prices) it was reported in February that increased jet stream winds are causing transatlantic flights to take longer, boosting emissions and fuel costs.
The opening of an airport on St Helena has been delayed. The opening date for this landmark airport has been delayed from February to May, but when it arrives, there's no doubt that it will open this ridiculously remote British Overseas Territory to tourism in due course – a story to keep an eye on.
Plane via Pixabay/CC0
Pic of the month...
Top image © vulcano/Shutterstock