What’s Hot Abroad

Take a trip away this April. Check out our recommendations for what to do, where to go and what to eat in some of Cayman’s favorite overseas destinations.

Malaga, Spain

CULTURE Thanks to a huge regeneration project and visionary mayor, this Spanish city has cast off its Stella and sunburn image in favor of artier attractions. Visit the Pompidou pop-up gallery on the marina, pay homage to Picasso at his birthplace-turned-museum, and take a street art tour.

SHOPPING Calle Andrés Pérez in the old town has also benefited from a revamp in recent years; now it’s a wonderfully buzzy place to browse independent shops for antiques, handmade jewelry and vintage clothes. Vertical gardens and medieval walls add to the atmosphere along this long narrow lane.

FOOD Join the young local crowd at the covered food market to sample bite-size local specialties offered by the various stalls – from cheese and jamón to croquettes and anchovies. For fresh seafood by the sea, Marichuchi serves mouthwatering platters of prawns and clams.

COCKTAILS Head to the breezy heights of Hotel Molina Lario’s rooftop bar, La Piscina, to sip a refreshing gin and tonic or classic Sangria. Soak up the chilled-out atmosphere, and nibble on some tapas if you’re feeling peckish.

WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH The fiesta spirit is in full swing for Semana Santa (Holy Week). As incense fills the air, robed figures carry thrones, candles and effigies through the streets in an historic Easter celebration unlike anything found elsewhere in Spain.

 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

CULTURE When it comes to museums, you’re spoiled for choice, but the mother of them all is the Rijksmuseum. Essentially a who’s who of art history, it’s crammed with masterpieces. Nor should you miss the Van Gogh gallery’s riotous color, and the heartbreaking Anne Frank House.

SHOPPING Browse for classic novels and art prints in quaint Oudemanhuispoort book market, tucked between two grand university buildings. For music buffs, meanwhile, independent record store Concerto is an institution that’s been around for six decades.

FOOD Set in a renovated 1926 greenhouse, elegant De Kas changes its international menu daily based on whatever goodies have been harvested from its gardens and farmland. Owner Gert Jan Hageman has a Michelin star under his belt and you can even sample local wines (yes, the Dutch make some fine vintages).

COCKTAILS Door 74 ticks all the boxes of a cool Speakeasy – a hidden entrance, tin ceiling, antique barware and decadent ambiance. Select from a list of 12 signature cocktails or allow the expert mixologists to create a bespoke tipple.

WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH Get set to paint the town orange for the annual Konigsdad (King’s Day) festivities on April 27th. The Dutch National Holiday is billed as the world’s largest street party.

 

Fort-de-France, Martinique

CULTURE Think the Schoelcher library doesn’t look like your typical Caribbean building? Well, that would be because the entire thing (a monument to French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher) was constructed in France back in 1889 and then shipped piece-by-piece to the island.

SHOPPING French designer clothes and fragrances can be stocked up on in Fort-de-France department stores Galeries Lafayette and Galerie Saint-Louis. For locally produced souvenirs, meanwhile, La Galeria in Le Lamentin is home to circa 140 boutiques selling beautiful straw weavings, pottery and beaded necklaces.

FOOD French and West Indian cuisine fuse with seriously delicious results: make sure you sample Martinique’s patisserie, mousseline (mashed lentils), Boudin sausage and Christophine au gratin (cheesy squash baked in its shell). Yellow does an excellent line in French and Creole specialties, while the best gelato in town comes from Coco Bello.

COCKTAILS Up on the industrial-looking rooftop bar Le Cloud you’ll rub shoulders with the city’s chicest residents while enjoying creative mixology, live music and sea views.

WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH The jewel in Martinique’s crown reopens this spring: 17th-century Fort St.-Louis, one of the best preserved in the Caribbean and an active military base to this day.

 

Riobamba, Ecuador

CULTURE You’re surrounded by history – not to mention impressive colonial architecture – in the Parque Maldonado. To one side stands the Municipio, where Ecuador’s first constitution was signed in 1830, and the stately City Museum; on the other, the carved stone cathedral that was the sole survivor of the devastating 1797 earthquake.

SHOPPING An array of artesanías (think hand-woven bags, ponchos, shawls and jewelry) is spread before the church in Plaza La Concepción. These are rich pickings for anyone wanting an authentic keepsake from their trip.

FOOD For a wholesome breakfast or light lunch, Colibri is an adorable yet affordable little café. Come evening, the candlelit antique atmosphere makes El Delirio a fine choice and serves sophisticated international dishes.

COCKTAILS Most people come to Riobamba for the rock-climbing and history rather than nightlife, but a cluster of bars and clubs can be found around the eastern end of León Borja. Order a Caipirinha made with the local spirit, Aguardiente.

WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH This year marks 194 years since the Battle of Riobamba, considered by some historians as one of the wildest combats in South America’s fight for freedom from the Spanish. There will be a score of colorful parades and concerts celebrating the anniversary.

 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

CULTURE Temples galore await you in this lush northern state. Take your pick from the teak marvel of Wat Phan Tao, the lavish mosaics and serpent gables of Wat Phra Singh, and mystical Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, said to contain a piece of bone from the shoulder of Buddha.

SHOPPING Central Festival is Chiang Mai’s largest mall, boasting some 250,000 square meters of shop space and international brands like Topshop and H&M. But for atmosphere and unusual finds you can’t beat the Night Bazaar, whether it’s a Thai silk shirt or bag of spices you’re after.

FOOD Laden with fragrant spices and umami soy, northern Thai cuisine is a real treat. Tong Tem Toh, set in an old teak house, is a trendy choice with regional specialties like nám prík ong (chili paste with vegetables for dipping) and gaang hang lay (Burmese-style pork curry with peanut and tamarind) on the menu.

COCKTAILS A vibrant bar scene simmers beneath the city’s sleepy appearance, from fantastic cocktails and live music at the riverside spot Deck 1 to colonial luxury and Cuban cigars at the Antara Resort’s iconic Service 1921 bar.

WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH All the water fights going on in mid-April might look simply loopy, but they are in aid of Thailand’s Lunar New Year. The tradition stems from the custom of bathing Buddha statues in rosewater to mark the occasion, but now the celebration has evolved into an all-out splash-fest.