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Making the most of every minute

Lifestyle — Posted 11/06/14

Not enough time to make a day of it but too long to wait in the lobby? These activities maximise and reward your transit travel time.

It so often happens that you wind up with four or five hours left before leaving a city. Whether you’re waiting for an afternoon flight or taking an overnight train, there is a collective desire to wrap it up with something memorable. But what to do?

Here are a handful of hot summer destinations to travel to this winter and some great ideas for making the most of your last few hours.

Los Angeles

Ahh the golden warmth of a Californian summer – there’s nothing quite like it. Whether you’re down for a spot of surfing in Malibu, hiking in Runyon canyon or revelling in the yoga-obsessed, macrobiotic-infused world of healthy LA, there’s plenty to float your boat in the city of dreams. So once you’ve covered all that and are on the way out, what’s a good way to go in style?

A tour of Stahl House

One of the most celebrated homes in America, Stahl House is a midcentury modern masterpiece that is a world away from the sprawling celebrity homes you might see splashed over the pages of NW. Completed in 1959 by Pierre Koenig for graphic designer Buck Stahl and his wife Carlotta, it was part of a Case Study Program aimed at introducing modernist principles into residential architecture. A night shot of the home captured by architectural photographer Julius Shulman drew the world’s eye to this progressive design of glass and steel, and its iconic status was cast.

The Stahl family runs regular afternoon and evening tours of this spectacular property tucked high in the Hollywood Hills, and to visit is to get a taste of California’s modernist history. The sweeping views across the city from the living room make you feel as though you can reach out and take LA by the hand. 

Hong Kong

Summer in Hong Kong is a dazzling destination of festivals, concerts, shopping and eating. With so much to see and do while in town, a short cooking class is a great way to squeeze out the last of your time in the city and learn something delicious to take home with you.

A Chinese cooking class

Sampling the local fare from the bustling restaurants and street vendors in Hong Kong will leave you itching to discover how to take some of that away. Steaming dim sum, thick congees and luscious egg tarts, your travels in the city can easily and delightfully revolve entirely around meals.

Continuing the gastronomic adventure, a half-day cooking class is a wonderful way to see out your trip and Martha Sherpa’s North Point cookery school is the place to do it. Half-day classes run mornings or afternoons and you’ll master two dishes while visiting a local market. Take home the secrets of Shui Jiao, boiled pork and vegetable dumplings, perfect the art of sticky rice and learn what fires up a real deal Kung Pao chicken. 

San Sebástian

Long days, deliciously warm nights and that feeling of absolute relaxation that radiates through the cities… Europe in summer is a beautiful place to be. Nowhere is this more apparent than the coastal Spanish city of San Sebástian, where the sun shines day after day on its perfect beaches buzzing with a fiesta atmosphere. While parting is the sweetest sorrow, make it a little easier by warming into it over the French border.

Skip over the border

While it’s hard to tear yourself away from this Spanish paradise, holidays do have to come to an end and starting the process with a scoot over to Biarritz, France can help you get used to the idea. Only a 45-minute drive from San Sebástian, it makes for an easy day trip that will see you back in town a few hours later.

While in Biarritz, stick to the seaside and walk along the magnificent coast, passing the Casino Barriere, Museum of the Sea and Rock of the Virgin. Wander through the main street, past artisan cheese shops, grocers and confectionary stores and if time permits, pop into the town’s chocolate museum. Take a slice of the local Basque Cake, filled with sweet black cherries, to enjoy on the trip back.

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