Beppu: an illustrated guide to Japan’s spa city

As we stepped out of the ticket gates at Beppu station, a family was waving enthusiastically at us. We had never met our hosts, but they seemed to recognise us straight away. Japanese hospitality was already impressing us – they instantly welcomed us as part of the family.

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Why Vilankulos is the most relaxing place in Mozambique

We entered Vilankulos around midday, one of the more popular tourist beach towns on the Mozambican coast. It was sunny and sandy, with lots of cars, lots of roundabouts and busy roadside markets. Vilankulos was bigger and more bohemian than Inhassaro, reminding me of a Mozambican Byron Bay. 

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Buying fish in Africa without using language

Skeletal fishing boat shells were marooned on the sand, desiccating under the sun on the Mozambican coast. I took photos of them as they lay, serene and beautiful. The coast of Mozambique was a gorgeous aqua blue, the beach was perfect. Completely unexpected for a country I usually just associated with war. 

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My least favourite beach in Africa, and why

I wore my sunglasses as I drove. Zalala Beach wasn’t far. The last light of the day was filtering through the coconut plantation in flickers of soft orange. With the sun setting, we were driving hard to find a place to sleep. The road through the palms was long, narrow, and straight as an arrow, beautifully framed on both sides by soaring palm trees.

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Paris Plages, the artificial beaches on the Seine

Stuck in old land-locked Paris during the summer? Worry no more! For Parisians who can’t make it to a beach in August, the beach comes to them. A lot of locals leave the city on holidays around that time, and the tourists flood in. But there’s a treat for those left behind – the city sets up the Paris Plages, artificial beaches along the banks of its famous arterial river, the Seine.

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A first time visitor’s guide to Biarritz

France is a lot more than just long leafy boulevards and cafés on the terrace. For a long time, i’d only know Paris – but there were beaches out there, as well as villages, farms, canyons, and mountains, and many kinds of cheese. So, with a few friends, we road tripped for the weekend to see the south Atlantic coast of France.

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Why I hated Kuta… (but Seminyak was OK)

A man with a bow and arrow was stalking the beach. He had a backpack full of other weapons, like blowpipes. He probably didn’t manage to sell many. Nor the salesman sailing a pirate ship-shaped kite through the air. Who needs that crap? Suddenly we spotted a hawker that was selling something useful. A pineapple, expertly sliced by machete for us. Meanwhile, we were crackling in the supercharged Bali sun, on rented beanbags, with iced tea. As the sun burned across the sky, we constantly re-positioned under the umbrella’s shade like some kind of human sundial. When the heat faded from the afternoon, the staff set up vast fields of coloured beanbags. They looked like giant jelly beans on the beach. I was enjoying Seminyak.

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