Along with Suzhou, Hangzhou was extolled by ancient Chinese as "Paradise on Earth" - a metaphor that Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler, eagerly echoed, going as far as to pronounce Hangzhou the "finest, most splendid city in the world". Although today such grand claims to greatness may be contested by other worthy contenders, Hangzhou truly is a beautiful corner of the world. Stunningly set by the West Lake with its weeping willows, Hangzhou is a favourite subject in many watercolour paintings by Chinese artists - its temples, bridges and causeways make for some incredibly serene, inspiring landscapes. Hangzhou is very foreigner-friendly, with an ever-growing community of expats calling the city home. The east bank of the West Lake is crowded with eateries and bars frequented by locals and visitors alike; the west side is known as a quieter area where one can explore some of Hangzhou's unspoiled nature. Hangzhou is also known for its rather vibrant music scene - lots of local clubs regularly host live music shows, and music festival season comes twice a year - in spring and autumn.