This month at Rough Guides our editors and authors have been investigating everything from Bogotá’s new street-art tours to India's burgeoning microbrew movement. Here's a small selection of their highlights.
Rough Guides travel news: February
Just back from....
Colombia Tourism is gathering momentum in Colombia, one of our top ten countries to visit in 2016. Armed with her backpack and our first ever Colombia guide, editor Olivia Rawes decided to see if the country's experiences live up to all the hype. The verdict? A packed three-week itinerary – cycling through Bogotá’s graffiti-strewn streets, trekking through cloud forests in the coffee-growing region, exploring Medellín’s mix of hedonist nightlife and cruel cartel-centre past, and discovering near-deserted Caribbean beaches – earned Colombia a resounding yes.
Argentina Rough Guides editor, Greg Dickinson, is just back from Argentina after researching Buenos Aires' closed-door restaurants (puerta cerradas) for a newspaper feature. Entrepreneurial chefs started opening these illegal restaurants in their homes following the financial crises in the early noughties. Fifteen years on, puerta cerradas are said to offer some of the most unique dining experiences on the continent. From sit-next-to-a-stranger dinner parties, to bizarre molecular tasting menus (think ceviche in a tumbler), to a meal accompanied by hooded synth musicians, Greg didn't go home disappointed (or hungry).
Where we're off to...
Australia We've just finished commissioning the new edition of The Rough Guide to Australia, due to hit the shops in 2017. With more local authors on board than ever before, we're anticipating that this update will bring a really fresh perspective to one of our best-selling guides, from the best places to eat in Melbourne to the quirkiest Outback towns.
Europe We're busy commissioning The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget's fifth edition, sending writers to all corners of Europe, and even across to Morocco. This time round, we've managed to persuade a couple of in-house editors to embark on their first ever updating trips, to Andalucía and Albania. They've been advised to leave plenty of room in their backpacks for all the tasty treats they'll want to bring back to the office.
What we're working on...
Ecuador Work is underway on the sixth edition of the Rough Guide to Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands (publishing September 2016) and we're keeping a close eye on the status of Volcán Cotopaxi, which started rumbling and belching out fumes in August 2015; it's been out of bounds to climbers since then. This is at the heart of Ecuador's most popular mainland national park, and it is yet to be seen whether activity will soon calm down, or if a major eruption is around the corner. The editors and authors – including our man-on-the-ground in Quito, Stephan Küffner – will be watching this closely over the coming months to make sure the Rough Guide has the most up-to-date information when it hits the shelves.
India While updating the tenth edition of The Rough Guide to India, our authors – strictly in the name of research you understand – have left no stone unturned in checking out the new breed of microbrewery bars getting established in cities across the country. Gurgaon is arguably India's craft-beer capital, with more than a dozen brew-bars – our favourites there include Soi 7 and the Vapour Bar – while we're also big fans of Toit in Bengaluru (Bangalore) and Malt & Co in Chandigarh.
Stories of the month...
Panama hats are actually from Ecuador! Few injustices can be more galling than having your nation’s most famous export attributed to another country, yet this is what Ecuador has suffered with the “Panama hat”. In the mid-nineteenth century, straw hats from Ecuador were traded in Panama along with vast quantities of other goods and quickly became a favourite with gold prospectors and labourers on the Panama Canal. It was precisely the question “where did you get that hat?” that started the association with the country of purchase rather than the country of origin – an error that was cemented when it was introduced to Europe at the 1855 World Fair in Paris as the “Panama hat”.
Jimi Hendrix might have let parakeets loose in London (but probably not). Keep an eye out in Richmond Park for the colony of ring-necked parakeets that are breeding here with great success – there may be up to a hundred pairs. One urban myth suggests that they escaped from a container at Heathrow, another that they were let loose by Jimi Hendrix, though it’s more likely that they are descended from pets who fled the cage and that recent mild winters have allowed their numbers to flourish. The parakeets’ startling lime-green feathers, rosy-red beaks and harsh squawk make them pretty easy to pick out.
In the news...
The world's longest glass-bottom bridge is being built in China. Not one for those without a head for heights, the bridge will span the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in Hunan province at 430m-long sitting 300m above the floor of the canyon.
Brit flies home via Berlin because it's cheaper than getting the train. Meet the British teenager who flew home via Berlin, because it was cheaper than getting the train from Sheffield to Essex.
Wi-fi hotspots revolutionising park life in Havana. Public wi-fi hotspots are revolutionising internet access in Cuba. Photographer captured their effect.
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