Sure, a getaway is a great way for a family to bond while enjoying uninterrupted R&R. Yet, vacations are also a terrific time to broaden your tyke’s mind — he’ll learn something special about another country or pick up a new skill.
So, whether your mini-me opens his eyes to a city’s past, culture or even its cuisine, sit tight as SP takes you on a learning journey around the world…
Street markets in Morocco
What Your teensy globetrotter should love the sights, smells and sounds of the Marrakech Souks right at the city’s centre. These labyrinth-like alleyways offer a feast for the senses, with vendors selling anything from sweets to (magic) carpets and spices. Pick up a spangly belly-dancing outfit for your princess’ next costume party or help her choose a little silver lamp to bring home as a souvenir. Also remember to hold her hand firmly as the alleyways can get really congested, since you’re sharing the space not just with people, but also motorbikes and mules pulling carts.
Jemaa el-Fna, a huge open square, is the epicentre of Marrakech where junior will be thrilled by musicians, snake charmers, and may even catch a street dentist doing an extraction (yikes!). Consider hiring a calèche, or a horse-drawn carriage, so your brood can enjoy a fun ride around the square. Game for even more excitement? Head to La Palmeraie (about a 20-minute taxi ride from the city centre) and hop on a camel for an amble through the palm trees. Practice your haggling skills here.
Getting there Fly to Morocco via Turkish Airlines.
Aboriginal life in Australia
What In-depth info about the aboriginal culture can be accessed at the Australian Museum (6 College Street Sydney, New South Wales 2010, 612-9320-6000, www. australianmuseum.net.au), which boasts more than 40,000 artefacts. For a more interactive experience, book a tour package that showcases didgeridoo performances, plus enlightens you on why the boomerang was their weapon of choice.
If you love the outdoors, you’d want to explore Cairns’ Rainforestation Nature Park (Kennedy Highway, Kuranda, QLD 4881, 07-4093- 9033). Sign up for the Pamagirri Aboriginal for more deets on one of the world’s oldest surviving cultures. You’ll also watch the aboriginal dance show, where the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo and wildlife provide a suitable accompaniment against the rainforest backdrop. Your munchkin will also want to try his hand at throwing a boomerang — he’ll get a kick out of seeing that boomerangs do come back!
Getting there Fly to Sydney or to Cairns via Qantas.
Hawaiian hula dance in the US
What Can’t wait to start swaying those hips? Then sign up for a hula class at the Royal Hawaiian Center (2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu 96815, 80-8922-2299). One of the fiftieth state’s largest shopping malls, it also runs complimentary culture classes on lomi lomi massage, the ukulele and lei-making among others.
Since you can’t visit Hawaii without experiencing this traditional dance form, start your immersion at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu (1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817, 80- 8847-3511). Besides boning up on the history of hula, you’ll learn about the origins and traditions of the Pacific Islanders.
Getting there Fly to Honolulu via United Airlines.
Pizza-making in Italy
What Did you know that the word “pizza” was first documented in 997 AD? Needless to say, with a plethora of pizzerias in this country, you can expect to carb-load, which should thrill your tot!
But ensure you’re getting more bang for your buck by only gunning for raved-about eateries like Naples’ Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba (Via Port'Alba, 18, 80134 Napoli, 39-0-8145-9713), widely believed to be the world’s first pizzeria. They cook the pizzas in ovens lined with volcanic rocks from nearby Mount Vesuvius.
By the way, if you’re in Florence, let your little one make the pie from scratch by signing him up for a pizzamaking class under a chef ’s watchful eyes at MaMa Florence Cooking School (Viale Petrarca 24r, 50122 Florence, 39-0-5522-0101). The best part is, of course, he gets to sample his own crusty treat.
Mums can also attend a three-hour-long adult pizza-making class. Besides prepping the dough, you’ll wise up to the different pizza styles Italy has to offer. While you wait for your pizza to bake, relax on the MaMa patio with some wine. Talk about la dolce vita!
Getting there Fly to Rome via Etihad Airways. Both Florence and Naples are connected to Rome by rail.
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Main photo: INGimages
Dairy farming in New Zealand
What Exploring the land of milk and dairy, where cattle outnumber people. If you’re holidaying in North Island, stay at Shailer’s Bed & Breakfast (1447 Kakaramea Road, RD 10, Hamilton 3290), which has a dairy farm. Book a tour to observe how this homestead — an hour and a half ’s drive from Auckland International Airport — manages some 400 cows.
Over at South Island, visit Greenpark Farm to learn how they ensure that the milk that’s produced by their 250 goats is top-notch. Their diet consists of meadow hay, homemade muesli, plus organic mineral supplements for better immunity. Then pop next door to Gruff Junction’s boutique cheese factory to find out how cheese is made. Visits to Greenpark Farm and Gruff Junction (both located at 220 Wolfes Road, Greenpark RD4, Christchurch 7674, 64-3325- 5066) are currently strictly by appointment.
Getting there Fly to Auckland via Qantas or to Christchurch via Etihad Airways.
Chinese calligraphy in China
What The fascinating world of Chinese calligraphy at the Beijing Capital Museum (16 Fuxingmen Outer Street, Xicheng, Beijing, 86-10-6339-3339). Besides famous calligraphy works, your cherub will get a peek at inscriptions from the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Admission is free.
Later, snap up a fitting reminder of your experience at Liulichang Culture Street. These historical Chinese stone dwellings house shops selling Chinese handicrafts and antiques. Make a trip to Temple of Heaven Park (Dongcheng, Beijing, 86-10-6702-8866) to let your little ones stretch their legs. You’ll marvel at just how much calligraphy is integrated into Chinese culture. Make sure to catch locals using brushes and plain water to write the intricate characters on the concrete pavement. Since these evaporate in no time, whip out your cameras — stat — and start snapping away!
Getting there Fly to Beijing via Cathay Pacific.
Sushi in Japan
What Check out this hands-on museum that will fill you in on the origins of different types of sushi. The Shimizu Sushi Museum at S-Pulse Dream Plaza (13-15 Shizuoka Prefecture, Shizuoka, Shimizu Ward, Irifunecho, 81-5-4354- 3360) has an entrance fee. Hungry bubs (and their parents) can then chow down at the Shimizu Sushi Court.
Diehards will want to plan a “pilgrimage” to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market (5-2-1Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, 81-3-3542- 1111) — the hub of this Japanese delicacy. You’ll probably need to rally the troops super-early as visitors have to arrive by around 4am to catch the good stuff . But you’ll be rewarded with the exciting experience of observing a live tuna auction (entry on a first-come-first served basis, limited to the first 120 people daily). Once the market starts winding down at around 9am, enjoy a delicious sushi breakfast at one of the many counters located within the market.
Getting there Fly to Tokyo via Cathay Pacific. Tokyo and Shizuoka are connected to each other by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen train service.
Chocolate in Switzerland
What If your mini-muncher grins at the mere mention of chocolate, he’ll adore Maison Cailler (Rue Jules Bellet, 1636 Broc, 41-026-921-5960). He’ll discover where the best chocolate comes from and even create his own confectionery, with help from a chocolatier. Or tour the Maison Cailler Swiss Chocolate factory — admission charges for adults apply, although children under 16 years enjoy free entry with their family.
Or head to the mountainous region of Interlaken to view the chocolate show at Grand Café-Restaurant Schuh (Hoheweg 56, Postfach 292, CH-3800, Interlaken, 41-033- 888-8050).
Getting there Fly to Zurich via Air France. Zurich connects by rail to both Broc and Interlaken (see www.raileurope.com.sg).
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