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This week: Marseille


A Fresh Face for Marseille and Mediterranean History
BY JOHN KEYES Meridian Writers’ GroupMARSEILLE—The European Capital of Culture designation has proven to be a rousing success in reminding travellers that there are fascinating cities beyond the well-trod tourism triumvirate of London, Paris and on...


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Tips from the latest guidebooks



Rough Guide to Brazil, 8th edition





COME FOR THE opera house, stay for the food. That’s the suggestion of the 8th edition of the Rough Guide to Brazil on Manaus, commercial hub of the Amazon region and capital of the tropical forest state of Amazonas.

The opera house (Teatro Amazonas), completed in 1896 in what was then virgin jungle, remains “incongruous, magnificent,” says the guidebook. Virtually all the materials—the Italian crystal chandeliers, the French bronze, the painted curtain, 36,000 tiles—were brought from Europe. It’s still used for performances.

While the Manaus cultural scene dates back to the city’s 19th-century boom days as a rubber-barons’ town, the culinary prowess is new.

Two of the guidebook’s dining recommendations are right by the Opera House:

Peixaria do Largo (Rua 10 de Julho) once housed opera-house employees. The building has been “fully refurbished to re-create the city’s atmosphere at the height of the rubber boom.” “The menu features excellent fish options.”

Tacacá da Gisela (Largo São Sebastião) is a stall that only serves tacacá, “a speciality of the Brazilian Amazon traditionally enjoyed in the late afternoon.” It’s made of boiled manioc, tapioca starch, dried shrimps, hot pepper and jambu, “anaesthetic leaves that will leave your tongue numb for quite some time.”

Also recommended: Banzeiro (“superb”) and Churrascaria Búfalo (“an absolute must for any foodie”).



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Adelaide Festival and Fringe Festival


THE ADELAIDE Festival began in 1960 as a Down Under version of the Edinburgh Festival. Like its northern-hemisphere progenitor, Adelaide’s has also spawned a coincident Fringe Festival. Like Edinburgh’s, Adelaide’s Fringe is now larger than its main Festival.

Until 2012, the Festival ran only in even-numbered years. But the Fringe, which became annual in 2007, has been such a cash and visitor generator (over $27 million, and 1.5 million attendees) that in 2013 the Festival also went yearly. The 2015 Festival is on 27 February-15 March. The Fringe dates are 13 February-15 March.

The Fringe has more than 4,000 performers and 900 events. The Festival is much more limited, but has bigger names and bigger shows. This year’s line-up includes the world premiere of a rethought Tommy, the Who’s 1970s rock opera; a triptych of three rarely seen Samuel Beckett plays (Footfalls, Eh Joe and Krapp’s Last Tape); and selected works by American video artist Bill Viola.

The Festival also has a Writers’ Week. More than 80 speakers are on the programme including Tom Rachman (The Imperfectionists), Nicholas Shakespeare (Bruce Chatwin’s biographer) and former Aussie PM Julia Gillard, who’s written a book about her stormy time in office (My Story).


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