Say hello to Hiroshima

Hiroshima will forever be associated with 6 August 1946 when the US dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city, helping end World War 11. Today, however, Hiroshima has risen from the nuclear ashes into a place that advocates peace and love.

A visit here represents a heart breaking, important history lesson but – thanks to the fabulous food, friendly locals and attractive city itself - it’s not the only memory you’ll leave with.



What to see and do
Hugged by rivers on both sides, Hiroshima Peace Park should top your travel agenda – people travel from all over the world to visit this park, which is dedicated to victims of the bomb. Close by lies the A bomb Dome – arguably the starkest reminder of the tragedy being but a shell of a building. Built by a Czech architect in 1915, it was the Industrial Promotion Hall until the bomb exploded killing everyone inside.
Meanwhile the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is the place to head to see items salvaged from the aftermath of the Atomic bomb. It’s a highly emotional experience – items on display include a child’s melted lunch box   – but an absolute must see.
Next up seek out Shukkei-en (meaning contracted view)- a gorgeous garden modelled after West Lake in Hangzhou, China – that serves as the perfect place to reflect on Hiroshima’s tragic past.



Top shops
If Japan had a national sport, it would be shopping. And, as the saying goes “When in Rome”…. In Hiroshima, Hondori – a covered arcade selling everything under the sun from clothes, shoes and accessories to electronics and traditional goods – think kimonos, scrolls, ceramics etc – has you covered.

Best bites
Ditch the diet, for Hiroshima is food lovers paradise. The city is best known for its oysters and okonomiyaki, a thick savoury pancake full of batter and cabbage with vegetables and seafood that is cooked on a griddle right in front of you.
Whatever you do, save room for Momiji manju –  another local specialty that’s sure to satisfy those with a sweet tooth. Shaped like maple leaves, these little cakes are filled with sweet bean paste and very moreish.
For a post dinner drink, head to the nightlife district of Nagarekawa that’s home to a dizzying array of bars, pubs and clubs.

After dark
If you want to experience Hiroshima like a local, make a beeline for the mammoth Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium to catch a baseball game. Hiroshimans are crazy about the Carp – Hiroshima’s home team. Even if you aren’t a fan of baseball, it’s worth watching a game for the atmosphere alone.

Within easy day tripping distance of Hiroshima, lies the small island of Miyajima. This Unesco World Heritage Site is celebrated for its oft photographed vermilion tore (shrine gate) of Itsukushima-jinja which looks as though it is floating in water. Make sure, when visiting Miyajima, to go during higher tide, to view the Great Torii while it’s surrounded by water. The Great Torii aside, Miyajima is a good spot to hike up Mt. Misen – the island’s tallest mountain – check out some beautiful Buddhist Temples and shop for sweets and souvenirs on Omotesando Street.


For a style on a shoestring, look to Hana Hostel. Located close to the train station, the hostel offers a choice of Western style of Japanese rooms where you’ll sleep on a tatami mat rather than a Western mattress. There’s also several comfortable communal rooms – great for meeting other travellers.



World Travel Awards recognises the best of Latin America tourism

Mexico, 10 September 2017

Riviera Maya has been hailed Mexico & Central America's Leading Beach Destination, while Cancun has been recognised as Mexico & Central America's Leading Meetings & Conference Destination at the World Travel Awards Latin America Ceremony 2017 in Mexico.

Hosted by the glittering, all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, the prestigious event was attended by hundreds of hospitality leaders from across the region.

World Travel Awards Vice President, Sion Rapson, said: "What a fantastic evening it’s been here at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

"It has been an honour to recognise some of the leading hospitality providers from Latin America tonight and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to each and every one of them.

"It is your hard work, dedication, initiative and investment that makes the tourism sector the success it is today."

Rapson continued: “I look forward to seeing many of tonight’s winners later this year at the Grand Final in Vietnam, where they will compete for the global titles."

In the airline categories, Aeroméxico walked away with the titles Mexico & Central America's Leading Airline and Mexico & Central America's Leading Airline Brand while Delta Air Lines was voted United States' Leading Airline to Central America, United States' Leading Airline to Mexico and United States’ Leading Airline to South America. Meanwhile Mariscal Sucre International Airport scooped the trophy for South America's Leading Airport.

Elsewhere Mashpi Lodge was awarded South America's Leading Green Hotel, with Hotel del Parque recognised as South America's Leading New Hotel. Paradisus Playa del Carmen was the recipient of Mexico & Central America's Leading Green Hotel award, while UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya was named Mexico & Central America's Leading New Hotel.

Also among the winners was Quito - voted South America's Leading Destination and South America's Leading Meetings & Conference Destination - Bolivia, which was recognised as South America's Leading Cultural Destination, and Cuenca. The UNESCO world heritage site lifted the trophy for South America's Leading City Break Destination.

In a special award decided by the World Travel Awards Academy, Andrew O’Brian - Chief Executive Officer, Corporación Quiport - took home the trophy for Latin America’s Leading Travel Personality 2017.

Partners for the Latin America Ceremony 2017 included TV5Monde, Aeroméxico, Delta Air Lines, Riviera Maya and Travel Times.

World Travel Awards Ceremonies are widely regarded as the best networking opportunities in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries and international print and broadcast media.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Each year World Travel Awards covers the globe with a series of regional ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective successes within each key geographical region.

WTA President & Founder “shocked and saddened” by Hurricane Irma devastation 

7 September 2017

As the Caribbean and Florida coast continues preparing to feel the potential impacts of Hurricane Irma, the World Travel Awards Caribbean & North America Gala Ceremony will not be going ahead on 16th September.

The travel industry’s leading awards programme announced early Thursday afternoon (7 September) that the event had been cancelled due to the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Irma.

World Travel Awards President & Founder, Graham E. Cooke, has sent a message of condolence and support to those affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.

“On behalf of the World Travel Awards team, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to our friends in the Caribbean Islands devastated by Hurricane Irma and those bracing for impact.

“The heart wrenching images of areas that have suffered total destruction are very saddening to all of us at World Travel Awards - and I am sure to the rest of the world.

 ”Our thoughts are with all those adversely affected by this terrible storm. We feel their pain as we are a global family.  We will be assessing what we can provide and how we can best assist the territories affected.

“In the meantime we will continue to pray for those who have been impacted by Hurricane Irma and for those who are still in the path of this powerful storm.”

Hurricane Irma is a category five hurricane. This is the highest possible level for a hurricane, and its winds are travelling at up to 185mph (290km/h). 

World Travel Awards Caribbean & North America Gala Ceremony had been scheduled to take place at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa on Saturday 16th September.

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Postcard from Hull

It’s time to give Hull – crowned 2017’s city of culture - a second chance, says Kaye Holland



Hull often gets a bad rap for being a place where “only salesmen and relations come,” as Philip Larkin once put it. 


The poet had a point. Hull was bombed heavily during the Second World War before becoming one of the most economically deprived areas in the UK following the decline of the fishing and shipping industries in the seventies – a casualty of the Cod wars with Iceland. All of which caused Hull to head the list of crap towns in the 2003 book Crap Towns: the 50 Worst Places to live in the UK.


But just because it was, doesn’t mean it is. After almost 70 years of decline there’s a palpable sense of excitement in the East Riding air, half way through the Victorian whaling town’s City of Culture year.

And for good reason: a cool £25million has been invested into revamping the city centre, in a bid to put the port city back on the travel map.



After checking into the family-run Kingston Theatre Hotel ( that was the former home of Victorian couturier Madame Clapham, my friend Em and I were ready to step out and see what Kingston upon Hull (to use its full name) has to offer in 2017 on a guided walking tour with Paul Schofield ( 


An enthusiastic and externally knowledgable guide, Paul’s affordable (£4) tour takes in the historic old town – that somehow survived the Second World War unscathed – whose atmospheric, cobbled streets are lined with pretty, pastel painted Georgian houses.

Standout streets include the Land of Green Ginger – a wonderfully, if unusually, named thoroughfare- where you’ll find England’s smallest window. Measuring a mere half an inch wide, the slit was used by the gatekeeper of the George Hotel to keep watch.



And everywhere you walk, expect to see a cornucopia of cream coloured telephone boxes. Hull has had its own telephone exchange (KCom) -  the only city in the UK to do so - since 1902 and, as such, all of its phone boxes are cream rather than the red that BT uses. “We’ve always been a little different here” smiles Schofield.  Or as Larkin once wrote, Hull “is a city that is in the world, yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance.”



Hull’s shopping scene is another symbol of it’s uniqueness, of its determination to be different from other British cities. There are no cookie clutter shopping centres- the likes of whichplague everywhere from Harrow to Hartlepool - here.  



Rather you’ll find the locally loved Grade 11 listed Victorian Hepworth Arcade -  home to Fanthorpes ( which has been servingmusic lovers since 1946 and Dinsdale’s Joke Shop (01482 223622). One of the country’s oldest joke shops, Dinsdale’s opened in 1833 and is something of a local landmark that’s hardly changed in years: it still sells whoopee cushions, rubber cushions and stink bombs by the bucket load.



Meanwhile the disused warehouses and cobbled streets of Hull’s historic fruit market have been transformed into independent shops, galleries, restaurants and boutiques that have become the heartbeat of Hull’s 2017 cultural events.



Museums more your bag? Don’t miss Hull’s museums quarter. Most major cities have museums but Hull’s are not only free, they are exceptionally good.  I’m not the only one to think so: they were named in the UK’s Top 10 free attractions by Guardian readers.


The lions share lie within the Old Town on the High Street. I loved the Streetlife Museum of Transport ( where you can walk down a 1940s high street, as well as the Hull and East Riding Museum  - the place to marvel at majestic Roman ruins.

The Maritime Museum in Queen Victoria Square is another must visit so as to discover more about Hull’s intimate relationship with the sea (something that was also acknowledged by 2016’s Sea of Hull art installation, that saw crowds of naked volunteers painted blue and green).

And art aficionados will want to make a pilgrimage to the award winning Ferens Art Gallery ( which reopened at the beginning of the year following a multi million pound refurbishment. From September, Ferens will host one of the art world’s most prestigious awards: take a bow the Turner Prize ( For now, seek out Pitero Lorenzetti’s 700 year old masterpiece Christ Between Saint Paul and Saint Peter.



Hull is also the birthplace of William Wilberforce. The world’s most famous freedom fighter, Wilberforce dedicated his life to many causes - most famously his 20 year campaign to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade that resulted in the passage of the Abolition of the Slave Trade 1807, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.

Head to the Wilberforce House Museum - a pretty Grade 1 listed building - to learn a little more about the fight for abolition through campaign, resistance and rebellion of Hull’s most celebrated son.

However Hull’s most famous adopted son is, of course, Philip Larkin - a statue of whom greets visitors at the railway station, which lies at the end of the line. “When your train comes to rest in Paragon Station against a row of docile buffers, you alight with an end-of-the-line sense of freedom,” wrote Larkin, who made Hull his home for over three decades.



For the full low-down on Larkin, look to Larkin: New Eyes Each Year ( This biographic exhibition at the University of Hull (, where Larkin spent three decades as librarian, lifts the lid on the life of one of Hull’s most influential creatives…



And don’t leave town without dropping into The Deep ( - Hull’s Lottery funded flagship millennium project, home to over 3,500 fish, sharks, rays and penguins- before gawping at Humber Bridge (, one of the engineering wonders of the UK and the seventh longest suspension bridge in the UK.

Fed your mind? Now feed your stomach… The local specialty is the patty – aka deep fried cakes of mashed potato, onion and sage – served with chips. These cholesterol heart attacks waiting to happen were invented for those who couldn’t afford fish with their fries, and are a great source of local pride.

But if you’re not a fan of grease, tuck into upscale Indian fare at Tapasya & Marina ( against a backdrop of the Marina, that’s packed full of gleaming boats. Or for burgers, sharingboards and live music in a shabby chic setting, settle in for an evening at Furley & Co (18 Princes Dock).

Then pop in for a pint (and still have change from £3!) at one of the city’s characterful pubs - there’s no bland high street chains here - like Ye Olde White Hart ( Built way back in 1550, this historic watering hole has a mysterious skull housed behind the bar, which was found after a fire there in the 19th century. The pub also has ‘plotting rooms’ upstairs where talks that triggered the Civil War are said to have taken place. 



After a few drinks with friendly locals who are only to happy to share their world with you - it’s never dull in Hull - I found my turning to Em and slurring “I heart Hull”, only to hear her hollering down the phone to her other half: “You have to come to Hull.”

It seems Hull is no longer just “a place for salesmen and relations.”



* Hull is home to England’s smallest window

* The Civil War is said to have started in Hull

* There are life size sculptures of fish in the pavements

* That the HMS Bounty was built in Hull

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