Let the games begin: Best of the week’s travel blogs

Filip Gierlinski

Hmong girls. Photo: Filip Gierlinski

By Holly Cave

Spring is here, April showers and all. Since I’ve been admiring the cherry blossoms at the end of my street for a couple of weeks now, Foottracker’s photos essay on the Celebration of the Blossoms in San Francisco’s Japantown caught my eye. As Annie points out, Japan is famous for its blossoms, but who would have thought that you would get such an impressive display on the West Coast of the States? The festival turns out to be a grand affair, celebrating not only the coming of the beautiful pink blooms, but Japanese culture in general, from tea ceremonies to embroidery, the art of the Samurai, taiko drum music and food. Sounds like a great weekend. You can follow Foottracker on Twitter.

With less than 100 days until the London Olympics, photographer Filip Gierlinski turned his camera on a more unusual sports event – The Ta Phin Games 2012 – held in a mountain village in Northern Vietnam. Featuring a push of war, bamboo climbing, goat chasing and a stilt race, this free-for-all event sounds like a lot more fun (with a lot less bureaucracy than the Olympic Games). Luckily, Flip’s evocative photos transport you there for five minutes. Follow Filip on Twitter.

There’s nothing quite like finding something totally unexpected, something you might not necessarily find in your guidebook. Dave and Deb at The Planet D described an experience such as this during their visit to Rome. The Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners turns out to hold the graves of a tragically young Keats and Shelley, and a strange stone pyramid, Egyptian-style. Accompanied by some atmospheric photos of the various tombs, this is an inspiring article about one of Rome’s lesser visited sites. Follow The Planet D on Twitter.

Where do you visit in Belgium? Brussels or Bruges, right? Until I’d read Travelated’s Top five places to visit in Belgium by train, I’m not sure I could have named another destination in this little country. From the seaside town of Ostend, just 12 minutes from Bruges, to the thermal spring waters of Spa and the bicycle-friendly Antwerp, this is a great review of places in Belgium that can be visited cheap and easily by rail from the UK. Follow Travelated on Twitter.

Fairly new to travel blogging, Travelling Gem put together a lovely article this week about seeking adventures within adventures – The Best Exotic Mindset. Having visited India myself, I know how hard it can be to trust your own judgement and go with the flow sometimes in this chaotic and often contrary culture. But Gem did, and although this post isn’t peppered with pictures, it’s a tribute to her writing that the Diwali street scene comes alive.

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