Valencia's fiery Fallas celebrates spring with a bang

Valencia, Spain  - Of the many spring fiestas in Spain, the loudest, most colourful and fiery is Valencia's Las Fallas ("The Fires"), which captivates the Mediterranean city for five days every March.

The locals parade proudly through the streets in splendid costumes. Outsiders flock to the city to see the paella contests, folk dances, processions, fireworks displays and "fallas" - gigantic papier-maché sculptures. Last year, 1.2 million tourists jammed Valencia during the festivities.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Amsterdam "Bed-In" suite to open doors

John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Amsterdam "Bed-In" suite to open doorsAmsterdam - Until now only well-off Beatles fans could afford to spend a night in the hotel suite used by John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their honeymoon.

But management at the Amsterdam Hilton are to allow members of the public to catch a glimpse of the famous suite where the newly-wed couple spent a week 40 years ago.

Beatles fans can visit the suite from March 21 to 29 when a number of events will be taking place including a photo exhibition about the "Bed-In for Peace."

New station and museum give Belgium's Liege a face-lift

New station and museum give Belgium's Liege a face-liftLiege, Belgium - An old industrial centre in a former coal-mining area, Liege is giving itself a bit of a face-lift these days. Its new Grand Curtius museum complex opens on March 6, and it plans to inaugurate an ultramodern train station this summer.

The first special exhibition at the Grand Curtius, from March 22 to June 28, will be dedicated to Belgian surrealist painter Paul Delvaux (1897-1994). Apart from female nudes, a favourite motif of his, fittingly enough, was trains and train stations.

Try a riverboat cruise from the Danube delta to Budapest

Constanta/Belgrade - The lady in orange lowered her camera - "We've come too late," she sighed.

It was 8.30 am on a bright morning in the Danube delta, the sunshine already so hot that the birds - pelicans, great white egrets and spoonbills - crouched in the shade and were hard to photograph. They took flight only when the wash from the boat threatened to swamp their resting places.

Before emptying into the Black Sea, the Danube River branches into an enchanting wetland of lakes, streams and channels where reed belts, water-lily ponds and sand dunes alternate with woods. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, the Danube delta has been declared a "biosphere reservation" by the United Nations' cultural body.

China tourists "ripped off" over exchange rates

Hong Kong - Chinese tourist Li Xiabo sits down to a lunch of pork and rice at an outdoor cafe in Hong Kong's Ocean Park theme park. A customer on the next table eats an identical meal. The only difference, in fact, is the price.

While the Hong Kong customer paid 45 Hong Kong dollars (5.8 US dollars) for his lunch, Li paid the equivalent of 51.7 Hong Kong dollars.

And whether he knows it or not, Li will pay a hefty surcharge of 13 per cent upwards for everything he buys inside the park compared to the man at the next table.

The reason for the disparity is simple: Li - like hundreds of thousands of Chinese visitors - paid for his meal in his home currency, the yuan.

Singapore's iconic merlion statue damaged by lightning bolt

Singapore's iconic merlion statue damaged by lightning bolt Singapore  - Singapore's iconic merlion statue, one of the island state's popular tourist attractions, was hit by a lightning bolt during a thunderstorm and slightly damaged, media reports said Sunday.

The statue, which has the body of a fish and a head of a lion, lost some parts at the top when lightning struck on Saturday, radio station 938Live reported. Nobody was hurt.