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FREE INSIDE FAMILY GUIDE

SEPTEMBER 2016 // £3.95 // UK EDITION // NATGEOTRAVELLER.CO.UK

AFRICA Mee the eople L

Share U their assion See the lace TWEED & TRADITION

IN THE OUTER HEBRIDES

Cua!

SADDLE UP WILD WEST STYLE ESCAPE THE OLYMPICS

HEAD FOR BRAZIL’S BOHEMIAN PARATY HOW TO KEEP

VENICE AFLOAT

ALSO: HONG KONG • DUBAI • OSLO • NEVIS • LAS VEGAS • LONDON

NEW LOOK


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I’d already seen so much on this tour of awe-inspiring Ethiopia; I was sure that by now our attentive Tour Manager must have run out of surprises! But as we approached the sunken rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, I realised that we had something pretty special in store… We clambered carefully past moss-covered rocks down uneven paths, and emerged through a narrow, cave-like passage beside the entrance to the first church. Inside it was cool, dark and silent; in almost perfect condition, it felt untouched and pure. I thought of all those who have prayed here over the years and kept these incredible structures safe, and wondered why it had taken me so long to visit this unique destination…


Experience your own adventure with Saga’s incredible portfolio of holidays and cruises to over 150 countries worldwide. From escorted tours of Ethiopia’s antique lands to voyages aboard our own small ships and tented camps in Africa, you’re sure to be surprised by what we have to offer. Saga. Full of surprises.

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This is not a brochure. Saga’s holidays and cruises are exclusively for the over 50s (but a travelling companion can be 40+). Saga Holidays is a trading name of ST&H Ltd (registration no. 2174052). ST&H Ltd and Saga Cruises Ltd (registration no. 3267858) are subsidiaries of ST&H Group Ltd (registration no. 0720588). All three companies are registered in England and Wales. Registered Office: Enbrook Park, Sandgate, Folkestone, Kent CT20 3SE. With respect to general insurance products sold in the UK, ST&H Ltd is an appointed representative of Saga Services Limited, registered in England and Wales (company no. 732602), which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. For more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate, visit www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate. NHA-GH4792.


September 2016

Contents

FEATURES

130 In Pictures: Hong Kong

Beaches to long for and country trails lie just 30 minutes from the hullabaloo of the city centre

76 Cover story: Africa It’s the people of Africa who are the continent’s real highlight. Meet its colourful characters 92 Brazil The colonial town of Paraty has transformed itself into a multicoloured hotbed of creativity

106 Scotland Lewis and Harris — those conjoined Hebridean twins — are home to an unfathomable number of shades of blue

140 City life: Dubai After years of trying to be the biggest and brightest, Dubai is finally prepared to think small and focus on the little things

Issue 48

118 Cuba Saddle up and explore the bucolic, tobacco-rich Pinar del Río Province

148 City life: Oslo Experiencing hygge — the art of embracing life’s simple pleasures — in the Norwegian capital

Fredrick Kerika Ole Sinoni, who works at Angama Mara safari lodge in Kenya. IMAGE: James Walsh

September 2016

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September 2016

Contents

118

22

61

SMART TRAVELLER

36 Family Kids in space and dinosaur-related days out

TRAVEL TALK

17 Snapshot Latin pop star Marlin Limon in Miami 18 Big picture Early morning in Hanoi, Vietnam 21 Editors’ picks These are a few of our favourite things 22 What’s new Brand new beds in Amsterdam 25 Arts & culture Bordeaux’s new La Cité du Vin 27 Going out A space odyssey in Ibiza

39 Stay at home Finding your own corner of South Devon 41 The word Affections, by Rodrigo Hasbún 47 Author series John Ahern in Norway 48 View from the USA Aaron Millar on the right to be weird 50 Online Highlights from natgeotraveller.co.uk

53 Weekender: Spain Granada and the villages of Sierra Nevada

31 Food A taste sensation to Tokyo and beyond

56 Eat: Nevis A taste of the Caribbean with a serious kick

33 On the trail Hitting Georgetown by foot

61 Neighbourhood: London A fresh look at south London

34 Rooms Barges, wooden cabins and B&Bs in Toulouse

66 Sleep: Las Vegas Opulent, ambitious and over the top

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158 Travel Talk Photography tips, how to pack a backpack better, the world’s longest tunnel and more 164 Feature: Pets Handy tips on taking furry friends abroad 168 Feature: Venice Is La Serenissima sinking? GET IN TOUCH

INSIDER

28 Do it now On your (mountain) bike

Competi�ion

156 Q&A Our panel of experts answer your queries on everything from altitude sickness to exploring Prosecco country in Italy

win a luxury seven-night trip to Barbados, p.43

176 Subscriptions Free tickets, great offers and discounts 177 Inbox Your letters, emails and tweets 178 Your pictures This month’s best travel photos

VOTE NOW

43 Reader Awards Cast your vote for the best in travel and the chance of winning one of 25 incredible prizes, including holidays, Kindles and an iPad


A fantastic Cuban adventure with a great group of people. We laughed, walked, danced and drank cocktails from West to East and back. Well-constructed itinerary, plenty of diversity and still time for relaxation. Thanks Exodus for another brilliant trip. Sharon Chollet • April 2016 Trekking Highlights of Cuba

Because 97% of our customers would recommend us to a friend

CULTURE • TREKKING • CYCLING • FAMILY • WINTER ACTIVITIES • WILDLIFE • POLAR • #JOINTHEEXODUS


Contributors Editorial Director: Maria Pieri

Daniel Allen

“I was apprehensive about seeing the Cuban countryside from the saddle. But my fears were misplaced — Cuban saddles are soft and the horses even softer. For those who do get saddle-sore, the Cuban mojito makes an excellent anaesthetic.” CUBA P.118

Julia Buckley

“Sin City isn’t known for its small-town feel, but the Fremont East district is changing that with independent shops, coffee houses and trendy bars. Don’t miss the Neon Boneyard, either — a lot filled with defunct neon casino signs.” LAS VEGAS P.66

Editor: Pat Riddell Deputy Editor: Helen Warwick (maternity leave) Features Editor: Glen Mutel Assistant Editor: Stephanie Cavagnaro Associate Editor: Sarah Barrell Editorial Assistant: Farida Zeynalova Digital Editor: Seamus McDermott Contributing Editors: Amelia Duggan, Jo Fletcher-Cross, Zane Henry, Josephine Price, Joanna Reeves, Tamsin Wressell Sub Editors: Hannah Doherty, Lorraine Griffiths, Chris Horton, Chris Hughes Project Manager: Natalie Jackson

Special Projects Consultant: Matthew Midworth National Geographic Traveller Business Development Team: Adam Blomfield, Bob Jalaf, Dorian Lloyd, Glyn Morgan, Adam Phillips Digital Media Manager: John Stergides Sales and Marketing Manager: Rebecca Fraser APL Business Development Team: Chris Dalton, Adam Fox, Cynthia Lawrence, Mark Salmon Head of National Geographic Traveller — The Collection: Danny Pegg Chief Executive: Anthony Leyens Managing Director: Matthew Jackson

Group Art Editor: Chris Hudson Senior Designer: Lauren Atkinson-Smith Designers: Daniel Almeroth, Gabriella Finney, Philip Lay Production Manager: Daniel Gregory Production Controllers: Maia Abrahams, Joaquim Pereira, Lisa Poston, Joanne Roberts, Anthony Wright

Sales Director: Alex Vignali Sales Administrator: Melissa Jurado Executive Assistant: Taylah Brooke Financial Controller: Ryan McShaw Credit Manager: Craig Chappell Accounts Manager: Siobhan Grover Accounts Assistant: Jana Abraham Head of Billings and Revenue: Sarah Robinson

National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published by APL Media Limited, Unit 310, Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL. natgeotraveller.co.uk Editorial T: 020 7253 9906. editorial@natgeotraveller.co.uk Sales/Admin T: 020 7253 9909. F: 020 7253 9907. sales@natgeotraveller.co.uk Subscriptions: T: 01293 312166. natgeotraveller@inter-media.co.uk

Emma Thomson

“The first recipe for a caipirinha cocktail was concocted in Paraty almost 100 years ago and yet locals prefer to drink the main ingredient — locally made cachaça — straight. At a whopping 38-48% proof, it’ll warm the wind pipes!” BRAZIL P.92

Emma Gregg

“The warmth and determination of Africa’s guides, conservationists and cultural custodians always draw me back. It’s easy to strike up lasting friendships — not just in the safari heartlands, but also in the vast landscapes beyond.” AFRICA P.76

Audrey Gillan

“I grew up in Scotland and have travelled across my homeland widely, yet I’ve never been to a place that took my breath away as much as Lewis and Harris did. I found so many stunning scenes, I was lucky my heart didn’t stop.” SCOTLAND P.106

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National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published by APL Media Ltd under license from National Geographic Partners, LLC. Their entire contents are protected by copyright 2016 and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission is forbidden. Every care is taken in compiling the contents of the magazine, but the publishers assume no responsibility in the effect arising therefrom. Readers are advised to seek professional advice before acting on any information which is contained in the magazine. Neither APL Media Ltd or National Geographic Traveller magazine accept any liability for views expressed, pictures used or claims made by advertisers.

National Geographic Traveler (US) Editor-in-Chief, Travel Media: George Stone Publisher & Vice President, Global Media: Kimberly Connaghan Digital Director: Andrea Leitch Design Director: Marianne Seregi Director of Photography: Anne Farrar Senior Editor: Jayne Wise Features Editor: Amy Alipio Associate Editor: Hannah Sheinberg Producers: Megan Heltzel Weiler, Lindsay Smith Associate Producers: Christine Blau, Rebecca Davis Blog Editor/Producer: Leslie Trew Magraw Deputy Art Director: Leigh V. Borghesani Senior Photo Producer: Sarah Polger Associate Photo Producers: Jess Mandia, Tyler Metcalfe Associate Photo Editor: Laura Emmons Chief Researcher: Marilyn Terrell Copy Editor: Judy Burke Production Director: Kathie Gartrell Executive Assistant: Alexandra E. Petri Director of Communications: Heather Wyatt

Market Research Manager: Tracy Hamilton Stone Senior Vice President, International Media: Yulia P. Boyle Director, International Magazine Publishing: Ariel Deiaco-Lohr National Geographic Society President & CEO: Gary E. Knell Board of Trustees Chairman: Jean N. Case Vice Chairman: Tracy R. Wolstencroft National Geographic Partners CEO: Declan Moore Editorial Director: Susan Goldberg Chief Marketing & Brand Officer: Claudia Malley Chief Financial Officer: Marcela Martin Global Networks CEO: Courteney Monroe Chief Communications Officer: Laura Nichols Chief Operating Officer: Ward Platt Legal & Business Affairs: Jeff Schneider Chief Technology Officer: Jonathan Young Board of Directors Chairman: Gary E. Knell

Copyright © 2016 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved. National Geographic Traveler: Registered Trademark. Printed in the UK.


HIGHLIGHTS

Editor’s letter

I

Photography Masterclass

Don’t miss your chance to learn travel photography from the professionals, p.44

t’s been a busy summer. While Brexit was turning politics upside down, we’ve been doing something similar with the magazine. And although we shook it about a lot, we decided against throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So don’t worry, you should be able to find your way around comfortably enough. We’ve just made things cleaner, clearer and brighter — just think of it as a new HD TV. Our destination features still have some of the best travel writing and photography around, our city breaks are still packed full of local knowledge and beyond that you’ll find a revamped Travel Talk and a refreshed Smart Traveller section. This issue we sent Emma Thomson to explore Brazil’s seaside town of Paraty, Audrey Gillan to find the heart of Lewis & Harris and Daniel Allen to discover Cuba’s Pinar del Río on horseback while Emma Gregg traversed Africa to meet people from all walks of life. We hope you like the change in scenery, and that the new-look National Geographic Traveller keeps you better informed about the world around you. Do let us know what you think. About our makeover that is — we’ll save Brexit for another time.

British Travel Awards

We’ve been nominated again and we’d love your vote! ngtr.uk/BTANGT

Photography Magazine

Our new digital-only Photography Magazine is now available for free! Download for iOS, Android and Kindle devices, p.51

PAT RIDDELL, EDITOR @NGTUK_Editor @patriddell

AWARD-WINNING NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER Ecoventura LATA Media Awards 2016: Online Blog Feature of the Year • British Travel Awards 2015: Best Consumer Holiday Magazine • British Society of Magazine Editors Awards 2015: Digital Editor of the Year, Consumer (Shortlisted) • British Annual Canada Travel Awards 2015: Best Canada Media Coverage • Germany Travel Writers’ Awards 2015: First Prize • British Travel Awards 2014: Best Consumer Holiday Magazine • British Society of Magazine Editors Awards 2014: Editor of the Year, Lifestyle (Shortlisted) • British Guild of Travel Writers Awards 2013: Best Overseas Feature • British Travel Press Awards 2012: Young Travel Writer of the Year

SEARCH FOR

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BIRDING & W I L DL I F E

Follow in the footsteps of explorers such as Charles Darwin, Edmund Halley and Captain James Cook in discovering St Helena’s fascinating biodiversity. The island is home to over one thousand species of which more than 400 are endemic, including the Wirebird. Watch our website for details on flights, when St Helena Island will for the very first time be connected to the world by air.

www.sthelenatourism.com


Your vote coun�s!

Our second annual Reader Awards will bring you the best destinations, airlines and more, as voted for by you. With a host of new categories this year, including Rail and Family, you can help your favourite companies win one of the most prestigious awards in travel

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IMAGE: GETTY

SPECIAL PROMOTION


SPECIAL PROMOTION

Vote

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The prizes

NORTHERN ICELAND CRUISE

Be among the first on board Variety Cruises’ new-for-2017 boutique, 17-cabin motor yacht Callisto. Bed down in an outside cabin for two on a full-board basis, including flights and transfers. This seven-night small ship luxury cruise runs between Reykjavik and Akureyri, and will take you to places that bigger ships can’t reach. bit.ly/icelandcruise SKI TRIP TO AUSTRIA

VIP SKI is offering the chance to win a sevennight trip for two to Lech, Austria, including flights and transfers. Staying at Hotel Theodul — the perfect spot to enjoy one of Europe’s finest ski areas — you’ll be a short stroll from the ski lifts and resort centre. After a day on the slopes, unwind at the hotel bar or sweat it out in the sauna and steam room. vip-chalets.com

APPLE IPAD MINI 2

We’re giving away an Apple iPad Mini 2, worth £259, to one lucky winner. As well as 32GB of storage, the device boasts a 7.9-inch screen, Retina display, up to 10 hours of battery life and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. apple.com/uk A YEAR’S MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION

Never miss an issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) again! We’re giving away 20 annual subscriptions to our award-winning travel magazine. natgeotraveller.co.uk AMAZON KINDLES

We’re got two of these brilliant touchscreen e-readers up for grabs. The travel musthave is lighter than a paperback and can download books in under 60 seconds. amazon.co.uk

The results

Winners will be announced in November at Le Méridien Piccadilly and in our Jan/Feb 2017 issue. lemeridienpiccadilly.co.uk

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natgeotraveller.co.uk/readerawards Cast your vote and find out more about the prizes that are up for grabs. Winners to be announced in November. Voting is now open

September 2016

15


SMART TRAVELLER What's new // Do it now // Food // On the trail // Rooms // Family // Stay at home // The word

SNAPSHOT

Marlin Limon, Miami

“I love this part of Miami!” says Latin pop star Marlin Limon as she cools off at Jugofresh, a juice bar in Wynward Walls. Its iconic interior — brilliant green and decorated with wall fans — was the work of local designers Shulman + Associates. Eager for lunch at nearby Coyo Taco, Limon tells me she loves the range of the food in Wynwood, claiming it's as diverse and vibrant as the famous walls. Created in 2009 by the late Tony Goldman in an effort to develop the area's pedestrian potential, Wynwood Walls now pulls in the crowds, with people flocking to see the ephemeral art. It's a surreal place: it's like experiencing an overactive imagination or sensory overdrive. KRIS DAVIDSON // PHOTOGRAPHER

@marlinlimon @hellokrisdavidson krisdavidson.com

September 2016

17


SMART TRAVELLER

BIG PICTURE

Hanoi, Vietnam

Pictured here in early morning, Hoàn Kiem Lake is located in the historical centre of Hanoi and acts as a focal point for people of all ages. In the middle is an island with a small stone pagoda that can only be reached by boat. “As a morning runner, the lake was a great location where I came across all kinds of Hanoi residents: elderly doing tai chi, or kids running to school,” says photographer Sivan Askayo. “I was actually focusing on the old couple looking at the lake, when these two soldiers passed by on a bike, which really brought the picture to life.” sivanaskayo.com

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SMART TRAVELLER

September 2016

19


your family fairy tale awaits Luxurious new rooms and Suites, the award-winning Kulm Spa, exquisite cuisine and pristine slopes - create your own winter wonderland in the cradle of winter tourism.

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SMART TRAVELLER

SLOW FOOD

This month Italy celebrates

20 ears 30 ears (22-26 Sept)

since the first Slow Food festival took place in Turin, and

since the movement was founded. This year the festival

will be held across the city. salonedelgusto.com slowfood.org.uk

CONFLICT CAFÉ Inject peace into your life with a visit to London’s Confl ict Café, which helps break down barriers with refugees. Open in September and October. talkingpeacefestival.org JOSEPHINE PRICE // CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

SARAH BARRELL // ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Editors' icks We've been here and weʼve been there and our team have found a few things we thought weʼd share

THIS MONTH I LEARNED 1

More people are killed each year by falling coconuts than by shark attacks. 2

ROALD DAHL

Sharks have six senses. Their sixth sense is an electro-receptive sense.

Cardiff is going Roald Dahl-crazy on September 17 and 18 with City of the Unexpected, a magical weekend involving epic spectacles and intimate performances. cityoftheunexpected.wales

Dolphins sleep with one half of the brain at a time, and one eye open. Three of 50 fun facts at Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium. Find out more ‘Sleeping with the Sharks’. national-aquarium.co.uk

JO FLETCHER-CROSS // CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO; CONFLICT CAFE

We're listening to...

3

MARIA PIERI // EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

SNEAKAIRS

Want to find that tucked-away trattoria in Rome but afraid of being pegged as a lost tourist? No problem. EasyJet are developing trainers — dubbed ‘Sneakairs’ — that use Bluetooth tech and vibrate to indicate direction. They’re controlled by an app, allowing you to follow your feet. easyjet.com STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO // ASSISTANT EDITOR

THE AVALANCHES

Wildflower DIGITALISM

Mirage

NEW ORDER

Complete Music PAT RIDDELL // EDITOR

September 2016

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SMART TRAVELLER

W H AT ' S

Sleep easy NEW

AMSTERDAM

Discover the ever-changing Dutch capital for yourself

Cobbled lanes and canals meander between squares and 18th-century gabled houses. But Amsterdam is no museum piece — street food, vintage shops and now a crop of new hotels are providing an upmarket counterpart to the city’s red-light district and coffee shops. The Hoxton kicked things off last year in a series of canal houses — Shoreditchcool distressed sofas, exposed brick, cocktail den — followed by W Amsterdam in a historic telephone exchange building; just steps from Dam Square and topped by the city’s first rooftop pool. And the new openings continue throughout 2016. April saw Generator Amsterdam turn an old brick university into a ‘poshtel’ complete with speakeasy, library and views of leafy Oosterpark. In May, Zoku emerged as a home-office hybrid with long-stay lofts and Scandistyle communal spaces. Meanwhile, ewchewing the traditional canal house, the Sir Adam took to the skies this summer in the A’DAM Toren tower with rooms brimming with vinyl, local artwork and concrete columns. STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO

THE HOXTON

IMAGE: EWOUT HUIBERS FOR ZOKU AND CONCRETE

This month, time your stay with 24H Zuid Showcasing the south of the city, this 24-hour event packs in activities like a goat’s cheese workshop, a craft tour, 3am boat ride on Amsterdamse Bos, and more (24-25 September)

ZOKU SIR ADAM 22

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DO DIFFERENT

WWW.COLDERCLIMATES.IS

COLDER CLIMATES ICELAND


SMART TRAVELLER

'Guggenwine' ARTS & CULTURE

MEET ME AT THE

Bordeaux’s new La Cité du Vin is a £70m riverfront museum entirely dedicated to the art of viticulture. What better excuse to visit the French wine capital?

LONDON

A towering Tate

A twisting, pyramid-shaped pile of latticed brickwork and oblique angles, the much-anticipated £260m Tate Modern tower opened in June. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron — and costing almost double the amount of the original conversion of Bankside power station — the 200ft Switch House includes three new gallery levels providing 60% more display space. Come for Picasso's masterpieces, a room full of human hair by Sheela Gowda and a roof terrace with panoramic views of the Big Smoke. tate.org.uk

A VINTAGE BORE? Banish all thoughts of dusty old grape presses and tastings hosted by farmers who are too tanked to pour straight. This is like no other wine museum: a curvaceous aluminium-and-glass theme park of viticulture that looks like it’s designed by Frank Gehry (it’s not), packed with more shiny state-of-the-art interactive gadgetry than every other science museum in France put together. It’s telling that director Philippe Massol has been poached not from a leading wine estate but from the Futuroscope theme park in Poitiers. Even if you’re not a booze hound, this is worth a visit.

IMAGE: ALAMY

SIP IT & SEE There are 20 different themed areas within a massive permanent exhibition space, exploring the history, culture and impact of wine, with what’s pegged as ‘immersive and sensory’ experiences. In short: this is a museum that you don’t need to dutifully rush around before earning time at the bar. The shop alone, a vast, barrel-shaped space, houses 800 wines (200 of them from France), and three tasting rooms offer the chance to indulge all five senses. As yet, however, that doesn’t include the chance to bathe in the stuff. Surely a Spa is to come? laciteduvin.com SARAH BARRELL

LEFT OR RIGHT?

Most Bordeaux reds are blended — wines from the Gironde’s left bank focus on Cabernet; the right bank favours Merlot

Bordeaux’s best-known and most expensive wine estates include Châteaux Lafite, Mouton Rothschild and Latour September 2016

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SMART TRAVELLER

G O I N G

A SPACE ODYSSEY

OUT

IMAGE: MANEL GIMENO

Ibiza clubbing institution closes its doors for the last time this month

�rink up

There was a time when it was only Gordon’s or Beefeater. Gin’s come a long way since then…

The best garnish A slice of mango and a grind of black pepper complement the flavours, says drinks scientist Stuart Bale Stirred not shaken The perfect gin martini should be stirred and garnished with a strawberry. Layers of botanicals in gin help balance the vermouth

Anyone with even the vaguest familiarity with the White Isle will shed a tear in September when, after 27 years, Space — the Playa d’en Bossa club that has made daytime partying so popular — will close its doors. Founded in 1989 by Pepe Rosello, the club became the island’s official after-hours spot when he realised he could circumvent the law which stipulated when clubs must close (6am) — but not when they could open. “So at 6am we closed and by 8am we had a big queue — the crowd that didn’t want to finish at night and the crowd that wanted to begin the day,” he told the 2016 International Music Summit. The club also pioneered the terrace party scene in the 1990s. Dancing under the flight path of planes landing at the island’s airport, revellers could sometimes be seen pointing and cheering that they had partied for so long — 22 hours non-stop — they’d missed their own flight. Space currently attracts more than 600,000 visitors each summer who come for its legendary sound system and parties with live acts, dancers and over 650 DJs. Carl Cox’s Tuesday residency (closing 20 Sept) and Sundays at Space (closing 25 Sept) are two of the biggest. Don't miss a part of clubbing history before the 80-yearold Rosello calls it a day. spaceibiza.com SAM LEWIS

Hotel

London’s Portobello Road Gin is set to open a new distillery in November which will also include boutique guest rooms, a gin museum, blending rooms, bar and gin shop. portobelloroadgin.com

Bar

The Old Bell Inn in Oldham broke its own 2014 Guinness World Record last year, and now offers 600 different varieties — up from 404. Take a gin masterclass from £20 per person. theoldbellinn.co.uk

�istillery

Orkney Distilling Ltd began production of its artisan Kirkjuvagr Gin this summer, ahead of a move to Kirkwall next year, when a visitor centre and shop will open. orkneydistilling.com

Four still going strong PACHA

Now 43 years old, this Ibiza Town club (pictured) still pulls a heaving queue, with five rooms including a chill-out terrace. pachaibiza.com

PRIVILEGE

With a capacity of 10,000, this bar and open-air pool hosts some of the island’s biggest parties and DJs. privilegeibiza.com

ES PARADIS

Founded in 1975, the San Antonio venue is famed for its ornate white décor, plush gardens and water parties. esparadis.com

AMNESIA

Located on the road between Ibiza Town and San Antonio, Amnesia opened in 1976 and can hold 5,000 on its main dancefloor. amnesia.es

September 2016

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SMART TRAVELLER

DO IT NOW

ON YOUR (mountain) BIKE Forget faddish fit camps or pedal pushing on the road, the trend for two-wheelers has moved into your leisure time, so lose the Lycra in favour of baggy shorts and a brush with mud Switzerland’s new mountain bike website features details of endurance trails, scenic tours and all-mountain rides, from epic single-track trails through the Alps to long-distance trips from Basel to Lake Geneva. myswitzerland.com

�TB

Why not try...

ENDURO

An off-road bike

Wipeout Endo

MEGAVALANCHE, ALPE D’HUEZ, FRANCE: The most famous enduro race (which combines timed downhill sections with untimed uphills) takes place every July with a mass start on a glacier at an elevation of 10,892ft. The 18-mile track, with its 8,530ft of vertical descent, typically takes around an hour but for a more gentle introduction, the Forest of Dean holds a mini enduro every autumn.

You guessed it... a crash

A wipeout where you go over the handlebars

Booter Bonk A big jump

DIP YOUR TOE?

Newbie or veteran, there’s a bespoke package for you

To run out of energy (I bonked so early it’s embarrassing)

Grunt Grinder

A hard, steep climb

No, not the dating app but a long, arduous uphill climb

Dope

Good (really it is!)

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BEGINNER ITALY

Head to Tuscany in November to train with Dario Cioni, director of Team Sky, where he oversees Tour de France winner Chris Froome. Prices from €618 (£519). adler-thermae.com

INTERMEDIATE THAILAND

Up your bike game on a Fusion Fitness holiday at Thanyapura, a specialist retreat in Phuket, the training ground for racers such as Tour de France star Nick Gates. Prices from £1,485. healthandfitnesstravel.com

ADVANCED COLOMBIA

Covering 62 miles a day, this 13-day ride from Bogota to Cartagena, with a 49-mile climb up Alto de Letras, is doable for regular cyclists. Prices from £2,095. skedaddle.co.uk

Swap it out // Your mountain bike for an e-bike: half the excursion for twice the appeal? Ideal for tackling some of Austria’s tougher climbs, for example — Mayrhofen and Tirol both now offer e-bike tours. inghams.co.uk

WORDS: SAM LEWIS. IMAGE: ALAMY

The lingo


Who says great holidays have to be expensive?

Fr o m

Where perfect snow creates priceless memories

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You will always ski with Sunweb’s unique Snow Guarantee Largest selection

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SMART TRAVELLER

THE T A

ADAM BYATT

Chef's TA

has been cooking professionally since he was 16. A veteran of the kitchens at Claridge's, The Berkeley and the Hospital Club, he is currently chef patron of Trinity and Bistro Union in Clapham, London. adambyatt.co.uk

BLE

On a trip to Tokyo and beyond, Adam Byatt shares his favourite food finds

What's the story, yakitori?

The yakitori at Hachibei in the Roppongi Hills is so simple in approach, yet so amazing in execution. Gorge yourself on these incredible meat skewers, grilled over a fi rst-rate charcoal stove and cooked by a chef who was clearly at one with his grill.

IMAGES: ALAMY; GETTY

For the sake of it

Get your octopops! Nishiki, a 400-year-old market housed in a Kyoto alleyway, is teeming with amazing pickles, including nuka-fermented veg and katsuobushi. But the real highlights were the octopops (grilled octopus on skewers), as well as the chance to buy clams and see the sashimi prepared in front of you.

Sake has a fantastic heritage and, like wine, an incredible array of varieties to choose from, although, unlike wine, vintage doesn’t actually play a part in its improvement. Take a tour of Hakusen Shuzo, a 400-year-old sake factory near Nagoya, which practises a traditional method of manufacturing mirin (fortified sweet sake), and you’ll also be treated to tastings.

Hot right now

Shinsekai, an old neighbourhood near downtown Osaka, is full of kiosks and street vendors selling takoyaki — hot snacks full of soft, sweet octopus and coated in katsuobushi (cured bonito flakes). I fi rst tasted katsuobushi in a marketplace in Kyoto, and couldn’t help thinking it would be a great ingredient to try back home with eggs and asparagus, a dish that has since become a fi rm favourite of mine.

Make it at home

POACHED EGG, ASPARAGUS & KATSUOBUSHI (SERVES 4) INGREDIENTS:

· 16 spears thick seasonal English asparagus · 4 Clarence Court Legbar eggs · 100g shaved katsuobushi · White wine vinegar · Salt and pepper METHOD:

1 Peel the asparagus and

remove the woody stems, which are about the last 3cm of the asparagus. 2 Blanch the asparagus for three minutes in wellseasoned boiling water, before removing and refreshing in ice water.

Drain and reserve on a piece of kitchen towel. 3 Poach the eggs by boiling unsalted water with 10% white wine vinegar. Swirl the water and crack each egg into a cup. Pour each egg into the moving water and allow to simmer for three minutes. 4 Remove the eggs, trim off any excess white and season well with salt and pepper. 5 Divide the asparagus on to four plates, place an egg on top and sprinkle over the katsoubushi shavings. Serve immediately.

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SMART TRAVELLER

Georgetown ON THE TRAIL

2 // TUDOR PLACE

3 // ST JOHN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Once of such standing that in 1811 it was described as ‘thronged to an overflow with all who were most elevated in station and in wealth’ and pews were rented to the most respected churchgoers. stjohnsgeorgetown.org

Loop down on 31st St NW and swing by the neoclassical corner for a tour of where Martha Washington's descendants lived for six generations. tudorplace.org

Washington DC’s historic neighbourhood is best explored on foot. Josephine Price leads the way 1 // DUMBARTON OAKS PARK

On R St NW, a 27-acre park was part of the Dumbarton Oaks Estate where the United Nations was envisaged in 1944. Veer off down pretty Lovers Lane. doaks.org/gardens

4 // COX’S ROW

This stretch of N Street features five, red-brick, Federal-period homes designed by Georgetown’s first elected mayor, Colonel John Cox in 1817. They're not open to the public but worth passing by.

8 // WASHINGTON HARBOUR

Head south towards the Potomac River and Washington Harbour. Cafes encircle a terraced plaza that overlooks the river, Roosevelt Island and the Kennedy Center. From here, set sail on a monument tour for a last view of Georgetown. thewashingtonharbour.com

ILLUSTRATION: TILLY RUNNINGFORCRAYONS.CO.UK

5 // GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Turn right and make your way west across O St NW to Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic higher ed institution in the US, with its melange of piercing Gothic spires, federal-style colonnades and Brutalist concrete. georgetown.edu

6 // THE OLD STONE HOUSE

Dip back down the hill and hit Georgetown’s main thoroughfare: M Street. Sitting among the big brands, hipster coffee shops and independent boutiques is the oldest unchanged building in the city: the charming preRevolutionary Old Stone House. nps.org/places/ the-old-stone-house

7 // C&O CANAL TOWPATH

Drop down a block from M Street to the C&O canal towpath lined with pastel-coloured houses. The historic waterway was the city’s primary shipping route in the 19th century. Flour mills, warehouses and iron bridges recall its industrial past. nps.gov/choh

Inspired by National Geographic Traveler (US). See more: natgeotravel.com

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SMART TRAVELLER

Toulouse ROOMS

Eschew the conventional options and stay in a barge, wooden cabin, farmhouse or even an ‘urban B&B’ in the capital of France’s southern Midi-Pyrénées region 1 LA FONDERIE URBAN B&B

An 18th-century foundry in the Saint Cyprien district has been transformed into an ‘urban B&B’ — or, rather, a stylish duplex apartment within the owners’ house. Exposed brick walls and a floating staircase make this a chic option in this boho neighbourhood. Apartment from £87. lafonderie-urbanbnb.fr 2 GÎTE VUE DES MONTAGNES

An hour south of Toulouse, in full view of the Pyrenees, lies this three-bedroom gîte, meticulously designed by its British owners. The style is rustic chic, and with a pool, trampoline and swings, it’s a safe bet for families. Gîte from £500 per week (one week minimum stay). ariegegite.moonfruit.com

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3 GARONNELLA

Just two miles but a world away from central Toulouse, this wooden cabin on the bank of the Garonne is set at the bottom of the owners’ garden. The stunning location makes up for the small space, as does the owners’ pool, which guests can use. Cabin from £67. garonnella.fr 4 PÉNICHE AMBOISE

It doesn’t get much more gloriously Gallic than this, a barge moored on the Canal du Midi, converted into a B&B of four pretty little rooms. The deck, equipped with tables, chairs and even a hot tub, is perfect for watching towpath life. Rooms from £70. peniche-amboise.com JULIA BUCKLEY


Your romantic journey we care about

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SMART TRAVELLER

Kids

FAMILY

IN SPACE

A spaceman solves it: Are your kids at one of the 10,000 schools taking part in Tim Peake’s Rocket Science experiment? Pupils have been given rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds, and have to assess which were grown on the International Space Station, and which weren’t. NASA spaceman Tom Jones recommends looking for runts. Microgravity and radiation, he says, might stunt their growth.

We tried

The number of dimensions you can explore space in at Bristol’s new digital planetarium, with shows that probe the edges of our Solar System. at-bristol.org.uk

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

Orlando, Florida

The number of miles above the earth you can virtually travel in the Space Elevator, one of the interactive exhibits at the National Maritime Museum’s new Above and Beyond exhibition. rmg.co.uk

The number of years since Star Trek began. Celebrate by becoming a Star Fleet cadet at New York’s Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum and learn all about 26th-century tech. intrepidmuseum.org

IMAGES: GETTY

We’re talking poo with a NASA astronaut. This is not a euphemism. The spaceman we’re having lunch with has opened his address not with an inspirational speech about the mission to Mars or the historical significance of the space race, but about what happens to food when it goes in one end of an astronaut and comes out of the other. Of course, the kids, who are taking part in Kennedy Space Center’s new Lunch With An Astronaut event, are loving it. And, as it turns out, the biological path that food takes in space is pretty similar to that on earth. This is a nift y device to get kids engaged rather than intimidated by the science of space, while our astronaut, who goes by the suitably starry name of Tom Jones, cleverly weaves in some mind-blowing stories and statistics. Next there’s a behind-the-scenes bus tour to visit the vast launch pads from which the Apollo moon missions took off, and the lab where the Mars SLS (Space Launch System) shuttle is being built. Suddenly, the Kennedy Space Center stacks up pretty well against Florida’s more frivolous theme-park fun. And that’s before we’ve got to the rockets on show, including Saturn V, the 363ft beast that fi red 21 brave astronauts towards the moon. Gazing up, you feel as small as an ant under a juggernaut. This is rocket science but here, at least, it’s child’s play. kennedyspacecenter.com SARAH BARRELL

THREE NEW DINOSAUR DAYS OUT Where your little explorers can meet some big prehistoric creatures

DINOSAUR FOREST

Over 40 species of dinosaurs can now be found in a Kent forest. Explore the natural world as it was millions of years ago, guided by Dinosaur Rangers, an interactive app and 103 life-size models of T-Rex and the rest. aspinallfoundation.org/ port-lympne

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DINOSAUR UPRISING

Come face-to-scaly-face with a pack of life-size moving dinosaurs at the Eden Project’s most monstrous summer holidays show yet. Dinosaur Uprising: Land, Sea and Air uncovers fearful facts about land-roaming giants, creatures from the deep and ancient beasties of the skies. edenproject.com

SEATON JURASSIC

The 95-mile stretch of coast between East Devon and Dorset is the world’s most complete geological record of the Mesozoic era. Now the Jurassic Coast has a fossil-focused interactive centre geared to small visitors. Dress up, travel in time and get shrunk to the size of a shrimp. seatonjurassic.org


Tuerredda for more information http://goo.gl/oeBpld


SMART TRAVELLER

Where to eat // The Gastrobus (gastrobus.co.uk) and Sloop Inn (thesloop.co.uk) in Bantham are both recommended, as is the Oyster Shack (oystershack.co.uk) in Bigbury. Just round the coast, on the National Trust’s South Milton Sands, is the Beach House (beachhousedevon. com), one of the best spots for brunch.

Stay a� home SOUTH DEVON

Head for South Devon and revel in its rolling green countryside, stunning beaches and irrepressible charm. From the dramatic beauty of Dartmouth to the pretty harbour of Brixham, itʼs easy to find a corner to suit your personality

The Grade II-listed Boat Float at Dart Harbour, Dartmouth

What to do

IMAGES: ALAMY; VISITBRITAIN; VISITENGLAND; OYSTER SHACK

Swim, surf, sail, mooch, eat… Coastal hikes are pretty much compulsory — you can’t come this far and miss out. Kids will love the rock pools, farm parks and steam trains while Dartmouth and Salcombe are salubrious seaside retreats.

Why go // Simple answer, really: it’s impossibly beautiful, rain or shine. There’s something highly satisfying about its unspoilt countryside, breathtaking coastline, pretty fishing villages and hidden coves.

DON'T MISS

Dartmouth. One of the most picturesque settings in the UK, it lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. East Portlemouth Beach, Salcombe

We like

Bantham is a quiet village, but it’s home to sand dunes, vast expanses of beach (at low tide), a thriving surf community and a couple of excellent places to eat. On the other side of the estuary, Bigbury-on-Sea offers a five-star hotel (burghisland.com) and a 14th-century pub, the Pilchard Inn.

Where to stay

The self-catering cottages at Dartmouth Golf & Country Club (thedartmouthhotel.co.uk) are ideal, while boutique hotels such as Soar Mill Cove (soarmillcove.co.uk), Dart Marina Hotel (dartmarina.com) and South Sands Hotel (southsands.com) are popular. PAT RIDDELL

September 2016

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For more information +44 (0) 1481 822333 info@visitalderney.com www.visitalderney.com


SMART TRAVELLER

WISE WORDS

The paper

Word

Want to know what’s going on in Bristol? Get The Cable, a media co-op (print and online) run by 1,200 local members and counting. It’s a Bristol thing. thebristolcable.org

The

The podcast

The Stockholmer is a sharp, savvy series by BBC radio presenter Maddy Savage. It's something of a style barometer, even if you’re not going to the Swedish capital. acast.com/thestockholmer

The blog

AFFECTIONS BY RODRIGO HASBÚN

IMAGES: GETTY

The first work by feted Latin American writer Rodrigo Hasbún to be translated into English is a strange tale of family and guerilla war

The long-held gripe about (and often from) Latin American writers is that they are haunted by the magic realist ghosts of their literary forefathers; heavyweights of the genre such as Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. But a new era of realist writers is upon us — or at least it would be if their books were translated into English. Among these, Rodrigo Hasbún’s work has been noted in literary lists by Granta, the Hay Festival and by barometerof-cool novelist, Jonathan Safran Foer, yet has only this year made it into English. This is in the shape of his novel, Affections, a tale of a German family exiled in Bolivia after the Second World War. Opening with a pretty rollicking account of an Amazonian expedition led by patriarch Hans, a former leading light of the German fi lm scene, the story quickly fragments. Accompanied by the favoured two of his three daughters, Hans sets off to fi nd and document the mythical lost Inca city of Paitití. Suffice to say they don’t fi nd it. His close family unit starts to unravel, sending each of them off on solitary life paths, each chapter told from their different perspectives. This gritty tale — loosely tied together by the Bolivian guerrilla war — may have little

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in common with traditional Latin American writing but like a good Márquez novel, there’s a cast of many characters. Its narrative voice-throwing can, at times, make the story a little murky but at just 130-odd pages, this tale is short if not sweet, its intense atmosphere driving things fatefully forward. The bleakest of the narrative voices shines a path: that of Hans’s eldest daughter Monika, whose mission to become a revolutionary fighter for Che Guevara leaves her damaged, paranoid and on the run. Dodging the FBI, mercenaries and more, she never manages to return to those she loves. A coming-of-age story with a hand grenade at its heart. SARAH BARRELL

Three books to read if you’re going to… Brazil MAKTUB PAULO COELHO

Brazil’s best-known writer is beloved of backpackers, but you don’t have to succumb to the populist charms of The Alchemist to sample his spiritual work. This less obvious choice is a collection of stories first written for Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

DONA FLÔR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS JORGE AMADA

If Coelho is Brazil’s best-known writer, then Amado is its best loved. This tale of a woman who lives in bigamy with the ghost of her dead husband, is a poetic joy, while its setting of Bahia is as colourful as the characters.

FUTEBOL: THE BRAZILIAN WAY OF LIFE ALEX BELLOS

As the Olympics wraps up, explore the country’s real sporting passion, with this seminal book by a nimble writer who deftly extends a football metaphor to explain life, love and national identity in Brazil.

September 2016

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National Geographic Traveller (UK) has teamed up with Elegant Hotels Group to offer the chance to win a seven-night trip for two to Barbados. Located on the platinum west coast, The House by Elegant Hotels Group is a chic retreat where holidaymakers can unwind and reconnect in understated elegance. The adults-only property features 34 suites and is an intimate haven offering relaxation and romance overlooking the Caribbean Sea. With stunning sunsets and cooling sea breezes, plus a home-away-from-home atmosphere, this is the ultimate in luxury. Upon arrival, ambassadors at The House serve up refreshing signature cocktails before guests are rejuvenated with a luxurious jet-lag revival massage in the outside cabanas. The House offers daily Champagne breakfasts, available in the open-air lounge. While relaxing on the beach, guests can tuck

into fresh fruit and sorbets served by the resident ambassadors, and complimentary afternoon tea and evening canapés can be enjoyed on the outside deck. Guests can also take advantage of Daphne’s Restaurant next door or take a ride on a water taxi to The House's sister properties along the west coast. thehousebarbados.com visitbarbados.org

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Seven-night stay on a B&B basis for two to The House by Elegant Hotels Group. In addition to the private white sand beach and two pools, the winner will have complimentary instruction at the Yoga Zen Garden, wi-fi and access to water sports (water-skiing, Hobie Cat sailing and snorkelling with turtles). The prize also includes return economy flights courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

The competition closes on 30 September at 23.59 GMT. The winner must be over 18 and the trip is subject to availability. Full T&Cs: natgeotraveller.co.uk/competitions

September 2016

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SMART TRAVELLER

E V E N T S

2016/17

natgeotraveller.co.uk/events

TRAVEL GEEKS: RUSH HOUR 4 OCTOBER

Adventure travel

24

SEPTEMBER

MASTERCLASS

Photography in partnership with Nikon

SPEAKERS INCLUDE

COMING SOON 6 SEPTEMBER

Travel Geeks: Food tours

Wallace Space, Covent Garden, London 6 DECEMBER

Travel Geeks: Rail travel

Wallace Space, Covent Garden, London 12 JANUARY 2017

Travel writing Masterclass

NEIL FREEDMAN

MARK HIGGINS

CHRIS HUDSON

Having run his own photography business for 10 years prior to joining Nikon, Neil is now keen to share his expertise

Mark has been with Nikon UK for eight years, working with professional photographers as a product specialist

Chris heads up the National Geographic Traveller (UK) art department, having worked on the title since its first issue

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natgeotraveller.co.uk

IMAGES: GETTY; ISTOCKPHOTO

Keen to improve your street photography skills? National Geographic Traveller (UK) has teamed up with experts at Nikon for its next Photography Masterclass. Learn about the best settings and lens combinations from the professionals, with topics including exposure triangle, how to visualise your images, and which composition guidelines work well in different locations. Put the theory to practise on location in Soho and the West End before reviewing images back at Nikon School. The National Geographic Traveller (UK) art editor and design team will be on hand for a Q&A session, offering a behind-the-scenes look at how photographs are selected for the magazine. The session is aimed at those with an understanding of ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings. WHERE: Nikon School, 63-64 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SW TIME: 10.30–16.30 PRICE: £150

How much adventure can you really squeeze into a few days? And how can you fit a micro-adventure into your travel plans? Our guests can answer all your questions on accessible adventures, so come armed with a curious mind and any ideas you’d like to discuss. The panel will include adventure travel writer Sam Lewis; adventurer and entrepreneur Neil Laughton; Carl Larkin from G Adventures; and a kit specialist. WHERE: Wallace Space, Covent Garden, London TIME: 18.00–19.00 PRICE: £10 (includes nibbles and a drink).

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DON’T MISS: 8-9 OCTOBER BEAR GRYLLS FESTIVAL TRENT PARK, LONDON

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SMART TRAVELLER

NOTES FROM AN AUTHOR // JOHN AHERN

LOFOTEN, NORWAY Travelling the world in a camper van with your family for a year demands military planning and, if you won’t backtrack, the iron guts of a Viking sailor

ILLUSTRATION: JACQUI OAKLEY

I

hate backtracking. It’s a travel obsession of mine. The mere thought of returning the way I’ve come makes me sweat and twitch. It offers no new adventure and promises no surprises. In Norway, my wife and two kids quickly learnt that I would do anything to avoid it. We were driving north towards the Arctic Circle’s Lofoten Islands, a 60-mile long archipelago that stretches out into the Norwegian Sea. After some research, however, it became apparent that to get to the island chain’s southernmost tip required a 750-mile round trip; a serious backtrack. Insisting there had to be another way, I started scanning maps and brochures with fervour, eventually declaring, “I found a short cut!” — a seagoing ferry from mainland Bodo. My wife Mandy was worried about a storm warning, but with no intention of letting poor weather create days of backtracking, I calmed her. “They’d cancel the boat if it was too rough,” I said, as though I had an intimate knowledge of Norwegian ferry policies. That afternoon, as we drove on to the ferry, I noticed the staff running steel cables through all the vehicle’s wheels and bolting them to the floor. It was a huge vessel, filled with salt-rusted fishing trucks and their brawny unshaven owners, and I’d never before seen this tie-down precaution. A woolly mammoth of a man growled, “Storm coming. Could be a bit rough.” There was something about the understated way he said “a bit rough” that filled me with dread. I decided not to share this with my family. Within minutes of the boat entering the unprotected waters of the Vestfjorden my suspicions were confirmed. The craft started bobbing like a toy in a bathtub, swooping up and down over one giant wave after another. People stumbled and fell across the deck, and for the duration of the 55-mile pounding cruise, my wife joined a dozen other spew kinsmen at the back of the boat. When the ferry eventually entered calmer waters, Mandy returned to her seat, but her ready acceptance of my ‘no-backtracking’ mantra had weakened: “I hate your shortcuts!” Finally, the island emerged as a massive silhouette through the blanket of misty rain. It was volcanic, dark and foreboding, as though we were arriving at a dastardly

Over the next 12 months, we travelled through 30 countries. We did eight ferry crossings, bribed Bulgarian border guards, were attacked by apes and entered one country illegally. But we rarely backtracked. I’d do anything to avoid that

criminal’s secret island lair. Towering up out of the sea, thousand-foot, sheer-faced cliffs soared and disappeared into the low clouds. The hulking shadow was sprinkled with the white dots of seagulls squawking and diving. Disembarking, we drove through engulfing fog to the Lofoten’s southernmost village of Å, a cluster of red cabins cantilevered on stilts out over its small harbour, backdropped by mountainous glacier-carved walls. Off season, it was an eerie scene, almost skeletal with a network of timber poles — for drying 16 million cod each year — crisscrossing the landscape. Nothing moved, but the post office was open, renting out rorbeurs, the old red huts that were first built by the Viking kings for fishermen, to tourists. My family were cold, tired, smelly and sad, and that was before the boat vomitathon. So when the shopkeeper drawled, “The hot showers will blast your skin like a fire hose,” I immediately booked one. Our rorbeur jutted out over the harbour’s lapping water. The odd boat chugged past, gulls screeched and shower water blasted. Being our first ‘day off’ in many, I started scratching a letter home to my mum, one of my favourite travel activities. She would later read these longhand-scrawled diatribes, sharing my sometimes too personal brain-dumps with her friends. In the past I wrote to her of train derailments, being locked in an African jail, and being a stowaway on a cargo plane over the Amazon. But sharing a camper with two small kids under five was a scarier challenge than those. Written in the now, raw and unedited, these letters would become the backbone of my memoir about my family’s life-changing gap year. Over the next 12 months, we travelled through 30 countries, from the Arctic Circle, through Europe to Morocco, Turkey and back. We did seven more ferry crossings, bribed Bulgarian border guards, were attacked by apes and entered only one country illegally. But we rarely backtracked. I’d do anything to avoid that. John Ahern is the author of On The Road With Kids, published by Summersdale (RRP £8.99). johnahern.co @johnahernoz

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SMART TRAVELLER

VIEW FROM THE USA // AARON MILLAR

KEEP IT WEIRD

N

o one does weird with the gusto of Americans. Take Austin, Texas for example. Most cities build tributes to statesmen and politicians; Austin gives centre stage to a statue of a notorious pothead, Willie Nelson, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a guitarist most people have never heard of. This is the capital city of the most conservative state in the union, but Austin is a flower among the Stetsons. All that matters here is that, damn, those boys could play. Perhaps that’s not surprising. This city’s slogan is ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and they take it seriously. Head down to the southern districts and Christmas decorations adorn public trees year round, while shiny airstream trailers serve up homemade cupcakes by the side of the road. “This is the last enclave of freakdom,” local music star Alejandro Escovedo told me when I visited. “The rest of the world is so uptight.” But weird here doesn’t just mean googly eyes and talking to yourself. It’s about being a free thinker. And that’s what the United States all about. They say this is the land of opportunity — actually, it’s not. It’s the land of social creativity. I have a theory why. As a country, the US is at the tweeny stage — less than 250 years old. Compare that to the more than 1,000 years us Brits have been kicking about. In nationhood terms, we’re wearing khaki slacks; they’re in hip-hop trousers. If our countries were rock bands, we’d have a collection of critically acclaimed albums and a comeback tour scheduled in the distant future; they’d still be jamming out in a garage. That’s why being in the US is so exciting. It’s a social blank canvas; anything goes. In my hometown of Boulder, Colorado alone there’s an annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, which pays homage to an actual dead guy who was discovered cryogenically stored in the back of someone’s shed and still resides on ice today, plus a weekly fancy dress bike ride and a Halloween sprint through the town wearing nothing but your birthday suit and a carved pumpkin on your head (yes, the naked pumpkin race is an actual thing). But, however peculiar my little enclave of the Rocky Mountains is, nothing represents North America’s capacity for oddness better

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than Austin’s Cathedral of Junk. Standing 30ft tall, in the back garden of an ordinary suburban house, and created over 25 years using discarded pieces of household scrap, this walk-in, two-storey, multi-room monument is, perhaps, the world’s greatest example of taking a weird obsession way too far: bath duck tables, CD disco balls, spiral stairs made entirely of bicycle tyres. There are doorways constructed from unstrung tennis rackets and vaulted ceilings moulded together with tape decks and baby doll heads. Everywhere glistens like a kaleidoscope. Every piece of useless crap has had its former glorious life restored. It’s the architectural equivalent of taking magic mushrooms. I loved it. And that’s the point. Weird is the squeezed fruit of our creative juices. Without weird, art would be reduced to advertising. Weird’s fun too. Blasé won’t get you a cup of tea, but you’ll be dining out on the truly bizarre for years. Especially if you go to Austin. In a single night out, I watched a ballet dancer in full snorkelling gear, a man on stilts pretending to be a duck and a naked — and apparently very cold — man playing the banjo. And then, to cap it all off, I finished in a honky-tonk joint drinking beer next to a cowboy on an actual horse. In the bar. For real. Dallas had the series, Houston had the problem, but Austin keeps it weird. And thank God, they do. That night, on my way home, I bumped into a young poet wearing an ushanka hat, mirrored sunglasses, Bermuda shorts, loafers and a Superman backpack. It was as if every part of his body had been dressed for a different occasion. “Life is just a popsicle under the sun,” he said. “You got to be who you are.” Perhaps that’s the USA’s big secret. Individuality trumps social grace. Weird is the new frontier. Free yourself and your smile will follow. Like Austin’s statues of Willie and Stevie Ray, perhaps all that matters in life is how hard you’re prepared to play. Take a lead from the US: do it with gusto.

British travel writer Aaron Millar ran away from London in 2013 and has been hiding out in the Rocky Mountains of Boulder, Colorado since. @AaronMWriter

ILLUSTRATION: JACQUI OAKLEY

Our new column from ‘across the pond’ reflects on one of the United States’ lesser-known freedoms — the right to be weird


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ONLINE

Visit us online at natgeotraveller.co.uk

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THE BLOG: BERLIN

Twenty-nine years after its fall, the Berlin Wall is a palpable presence in the city. Plus it can be experienced in a surprising number of ways, writes Andy Jarosz An impenetrable wall, looming watchtowers, eerie no-man’s land; Trabi-Safari, Curry at the Wall, Charlie’s Beach: 29 years doesn’t half make a big difference. My only previous visit to Berlin had been to experience a divided city; two days in West Berlin and one on the other side of the Wall (I still remember the effort involved in spending the 30 East German marks I’d had to convert at the border). If I’d had an inkling in 1987 that the wall would be dismantled so dramatically only two years later I’d have spent longer in the city and used up dozens of rolls of film. Berlin in 2016 is one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities and its citizens are rightly proud of its culinary and cultural scenes. The Berlin Wall, however, although long gone, remains one of the city’s main

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tourist attractions. And the ways LIKE THIS? READ MORE Russian soldier are pinned high in which the Cold War years are ABOUT BERLIN ONLINE... above the old checkpoint. Both now remembered range from the are models; I’m reliably informed CITY LIFE sombre to the outright tacky. that the Russian guy is actually Our guide to one of I remember visiting Dutch. Is the commercialisation Europe’s coolest and Checkpoint Charlie and what of this site — where, only a most cosmopolitan was then a humble museum generation ago, people were destinations telling the stories of the daring shot and killed for trying to escape attempts, many of pass — a step too far? Or is this EAT which had taken place just a just another way in which to say Home of the currywurst few steps away. Now the former ‘never again’ to the idea of setting and the doner kebab, Berlin is undergoing a border crossing point has been up such barbaric divisions? transformed beyond recognition; culinary renaissance For a more sombre look at so much so that some locals the Wall, I head up to Berlin LIKE A LOCAL refer to it as ‘Checkpoint Disney’. Nordbahnhof. Back in the From pop-ups and The museum remains, although day, this was one of the ‘ghost start-ups to ravers and it’s now a much larger affair stations’ — located in the East renegades — the city on with prices to match. Think of side of the city on a line that ran everyone's lips any Wall-related memorabilia, from one part of West Berlin however tasteless, and you’ll to another. The East German find it in the nearby souvenir shops. In place regime allowed the trains to pass (there of the deadly no-man’s land there’s now an was no goodwill involved, it was a lucrative outdoor beach bar. A picture of a US and a money maker), but they weren’t allowed to stop and armed guards kept watch on the platforms at all times. There’s a small exhibition in the station, and above ground there’s the most complete section of the original Wall, where it once bisected the residential Gartenstrasse. Here you can get the most accurate impression of just how much thought and precision went into building this lethal frontier. It’s easy to look on the Berlin Wall as merely a historic landmark, but it was the most visible symbol of a regime that exercised a terrifying level of control over its citizens. Nowhere is this clearer than at the Stasi Museum in the east of the city, housed in the former Stasi headquarters. The former office of the Minister of State Security has been preserved almost untouched from the day he walked away for the last time in 1989. There’s nothing interactive to play with and no effort has been made to ‘entertain’ visitors. But for those wanting to dig beneath the warm nostalgia that’s increasingly being applied over the grim reality of the communist years, a visit here will provide a sharp and uncomfortable contrast to the gaiety and frivolity at Checkpoint Disney.

IMAGE: GETTY

CHECKPOINT DISNEY & BEYOND


ONLINE

Most Read

ONLINE THIS MONTH

Our new Photography Magazine takes centre stage this month among the most popular online reads

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO

Q&A with the photographer: Ewen Bell

We chat to the photographer of our New Zealand feature about his experience shooting in Nelson

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO

National Geographic Traveller (UK) Photography Magazine

The new National Geographic Traveller (UK) Photography Magazine is available now for download on iPhone, Android and Kindle devices

SOUTH AFRICA

Eat: Stellenbosch

From Xhosa fatcake and biltong to worldfamous wines, there are endless ways to please your palate amid the vineyards and townships of Stellenbosch in South Africa’s Western Cape province, writes Audrey Gillan

Find us FACEBOOK TWITTER GOOGLE+ FLICKR PINTEREST INSTAGRAM

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO

How to shoot a cityscape at night

Duncan Longden, the photographer of our Singapore feature for the June issue, explains how he got this shot of the skyline at night

MADAGASCAR

A world apart

Madagascar’s otherworldly spiny forest is home to natural curios found nowhere else — from lemurs to giraffe weevils. But it’s an endangered habitat that needs eco-tourism to take root if it’s to survive, writes Emma Gregg

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NEVER STOP DREAMING ABOUT SUMMER TAKE A FLIGHT TO IBIZA THIS WINTER

Direct flights Geneva-Ibiza and Ibiza-Geneva available every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the entire autumn and winter season.

Book your flight ticket for Ibiza now www.etihadregional.com


WEEKENDER

GRANADA A road trip in the Southern Spanish province reveals all its Moorish glory Words: Pól Ó Conghaile

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View from Granada

IMAGES: GETTY

Granada is my springboard for a driving tour of the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) of Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountains; the Las Alpujarras region passing through the Costa del Sol into a Moorish mountain landscape. In the Capilla Real, I visit the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Spanish monarchs who conquered the Moorish city. But the heart of Granada is the Albaicín, the city’s old Moorish quarter. As the sun sets, I step into its cobblestoned laneways, passing shops strewn with lanterns and leather goods. Colourful doors hide Carmen houses, but almost everything else is white as ivory. All roads, of course, lead to the Alhambra. More people visit the sprawling palacecum-fortress of the Nasrid sultans than Madrid’s Prado. I score a night-visit ticket to the Nasrid Palace, an electrifying mix of Andalucía and Arabian Nights.

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WEEKENDER

T H E

WINEMAKER

Into the Sierra Nevada

PREVIOUS PAGE: Spices at a local market; view towards Torre de la Vela; tourists at Plaza de San Nicolás; doorway at the Alhambra

I strike out early from Granada, taking the A-44 highway for 30 miles south east before branching off into mountain roads. Southern Spain is splashed with toothpaste-white villages — Ronda, splayed across El Tajo, a gorge in Málaga, is the best known, but those of Las Alpujarras, on the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada, are well worth a visit. This leafy spa town of Lanjarón is one of the region's largest. Shops sell ceramics, baskets, hams and jarapas (hand-woven rugs). When I walk into the old town (Barrio Hondillo), the streets slim down, tourist traffic is just a trickle, and I soak up hanging baskets and drinking fountains, before coming to rest in a little plaza. A pair of hikers stride by (summer is the time to follow old mule paths between villages). OLD-SCHOOL TAPAS Driving on from Lanjarón, I In Granada, drinks come with free tapas. Here pass Órgiva, taking the A-4132 at Bodegas Castañeda, with hams overhead towards Pampaneira, my base for and crumpled receipts at my feet, I'm happy to the night. I’m 24 miles from the keep this dying Spanish tradition alive. Med, but it feels a world away.

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IMAGES: PÓL Ó CONGHAILE; GETTY; ALAMY

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Mountains and Mediterranean combine to create a magical microclimate for Hacienda Señorio de Nevada, a boutique bodega 16 miles south of Granada. “First with eyes, then the nose, then the mouth,” says Fernando Rebelles, kicking off a wine tasting that takes me from slatey soil to stonking grand reservas. The restaurant overlooks vineyards and snowy peaks — take a seat and let the afternoon slide by. senoriodenevada.es


WEEKENDER

�ay 3

Lost in Las Alpujarras

Pampaneira is the fi rst of three towns along the Poqueria Gorge. Here, I meet Consuelo Castillo Castillo, a local guide with activity company Nevadensis (nevadensis.com). The Pueblos Blancos are “totally adapted to the silhouette” of the mountainside, according to Consuelo, who points out the chestnut beams of the houses, the flat rooftops and layers of straw, mud and slate. Brightly-coloured rugs are draped over balconies, as they are in the towns of Capileira and Bubión. Leaving the Poqueria Gorge, we drive towards Trevélez, then into the mountains until the road runs out. This village, at an altitude of 4,843ft, is famous for its jamón (legs curing in warehouses leave a sweet scent in the air). We taste some during a lunch of baked aubergines, slow-cooked lamb and other treats at Hotel Restaurante La Fragua (hotellafragua.com), atop the village.

THE EXPERIENCE

Lanjarón isn’t just a gateway to Las Alpujarras; the town’s Berber CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The gardens of Alhambra; Fernando Rebelles, Hacienda Senorio de Nevada; Courts of Justice building in the Plaza Nueva; La Fragua, Treveléz, Las Alpujarras; cowboy in Tabernas; street life in Granada.

name, Al-Lancharon, means ‘place of springs’. The mineral

water tastes super-pure and the Hotel Balnaerio de Lanjarón

(hotelbalneariolanjaron.com) is home to a thermal spa. For a more

energetic soaking, head to the Festival of San Juan, on June 23

— celebrating ham and heritage with Spain’s biggest water fight.

NEED TO KNOW SECRET CHOCOLATE STORE

Pampaniera (population: 355) lies deep within the Poqueria Gorge. And deep within Pampaniera, in the basement shop off Liberty Square, you’ll find three young women whipping up a Wonka-esque range of chocolate bars. Flavours range from honey to goats’ cheese and coconut; finished products are wrapped in parcels of three, tied with a bow, and sold for €5 (£3.90). abuelailichocolates.com

SKIP IT: SACROMONTE

Granada’s Sacromonte district sounds like the ideal stumble-upon for your travels. A main street lined with caves? Check. A Roma community dating back to the 15th century? Check. In reality, it’s a cunning tourist trap, where hosts clamour for your custom, the flamenco is variable, and you’re unlikely to get a good deal on anything. Go for an

off-radar roam in the historic Realejo or Albaicín quarters instead.

SADDLE UP

Many of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns — including A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — were filmed near Almería. Oasys Park, Fort Bravo and Western Leone theme parks, in the Tabernas Desert, offer cowboy fun and film sets.

British Airways flies direct from London City Airport to Granada four times a week. In Pampaneira, the three-star Estrella de las Nieves has rooms from €50 (£42). ba.com estrelladelasnieves.com andalucia.com turgranada.es spain.info

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�a�

NEVIS

Whether it’s fiery ‘goat water’, lobster with hot pepper sauce, curried yam or Killer Bee rum cocktails, Nevis offers the simple pleasures and a taste of the Caribbean with a serious kick. Words: Audrey Gillan

Golden Rock Hotel gardens. RIGHT: Scotch bonnet peppers for Llewellyn's Gourmet Pepper Sauce

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‘Baba’ Tyson, a former police officer who leads nature tours of the verdant island. As we walk through the rainforest, he stops to pick up various herbs, squashes them in his hand to release the scent and asks me to guess what it is. I can’t and he tells me this one with the spicy overtones may smell like curry leaves but is actually mint basil. “We boil and make tea with it when we have a cold,” he says. As we wander, Baba points to a tamarind tree with a monkey trap underneath and tells me how the vervet monkey population has become a nuisance since the animals came down from Mount Nevis after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. “The vegetation around the tops of Mount Nevis was destroyed to such an extent that the monkey thought, ‘Me not got nothing to eat, me going down to the lowlands’. They discovered all the melons and all the ting the farmer grow and they stay put.” He points out a cashew tree from which no human ever gets nuts because the monkeys always get them first. No wonder, then, that some locals take great delight in eating monkey. “If you see ‘tree mutton’ in the supermarket, it’s monkey,” Baba warns.

FIVE NEVIS FOOD FINDS Fried fish & Johnny cakes: Nevis’s national dish of fresh fried fish served with delicious fluffy fried dumplings. Goat water: A cross between a stew and a soup made from goat meat, fiery spices and breadfruit. Nevis lobster: The island lobster is sweet and moist. Try it in a sandwich at the Golden Rock Hotel, located at the base of Mount Nevis. Cookup: A hotch potch onepot dish of chicken wings, pigtail and snout, rice, celery and spices — served mostly at the weekend. Llewellyn’s Gourmet Pepper Sauces: Fiery Nevis hot pepper sauce and mango pepper sauce all made by hand on the island.

IMAGES: AUDREY GILLAN; ALAMY

O

ne handwritten sign says 'Hot soup sells here' while another offers up 'Live rabbits, ducks, local drinks, noni (fruit) juice'. I’m drawn not so much by today’s bull foot broth, but by the bright aqua colours of the shack and the smile of a little boy I later learn goes by the name of J’Kingley. This is the roadside shop, pop-up cafe and petting zoo of the Liburd family, a joyous ramshackle place at the edge of the New River Estate on the Caribbean island of Nevis. My guava juice is not only cold and sweet, but freshly squeezed and delightfully cheap. Once a sugar plantation, the New River Estate presides on the south east of this little island measuring just six by eight miles. Most of the stone edifices of the mills and boiling and curing houses that dominated the place during the slave trade remain; in 1655 sugar was the most important export crop from Nevis, the oldest British colony in the Caribbean. Some of these old plantations lie in decay, while others have been converted into hotels, residences and restaurants. In spite of the blood and toil upon which they were built, they’re still stoically beautiful. It’s at the foot of one such mill in the Maddens area that I meet up with Alfred


'Sunny' Sunshine with amberjack fish cooked at Sunshine’s Beach Bar

My grandmother called me Sunshine from the day I was born because I smiled and didn’t stop,” he says. “I can’t tell you the secret of my Killer Bee cocktail, but it’s so good, people come over from St Kitts just to drink it.”

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EAT

A TASTE OF

Nevis

Restaurant 750

BANANAS

I leave Baba and hook up with Patterson Fleming, the maitre d’ at Nisbet Plantation, my hotel, who has a nice sideline offering guided tours of the rum shacks dotted all over the island. We meet convivial Esme, owner of Esme’s Sunrise Snackette and chat over a Mount Gay rum and Ting (popular fizzy grapefruit drink). At another bar we bump into King Dis and Dat, a calypso champion (real name Keith Scarborough MBE) who smiles as he devours his plate of chicken soup. In Rawlins Village, in an area known as ‘the breadbasket of Nevis’ because of its abundance of fruit and fresh produce, I visit the industrial kitchen of British-born Llewellyn Clarke, who makes Nevis gourmet hot sauces in the basement of his in-law’s house. He shows me vast tubs of the bright red and orange fiery Scotch bonnet peppers collected and sold to him by church groups across the island. A Manchester lad, Clarke moved to Nevis to look after his elderly father and, while working as a chef, began making sauces, jams, chutneys, ice cream and sorrel wine, a kind of red liqueur traditionally drunk in the Caribbean at Christmas. “I started making pepper sauce in 2003 and sold it to shops, then supermarkets, and it became huge, mostly through word of mouth. My Nevis hot pepper sauce has a sweetness and depth because I add thyme. It’s got flavour and character,” he says. “A lot of the time West Indian pepper sauce is just hot. Mine is different.” At Sunshine’s, on Pinney’s Beach, the tables have bottles of Llewellyn’s hot and

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mango sauce and I try both with fresh lobster. The seafood flesh is soft and has a buttery flavour, perfectly matched to the hot sauce. The restaurant is famed for its Killer Bee, a rum cocktail invented by owner Llewellyn Caines, known to all as Sunshine. “My grandmother called me Sunshine from the day I was born because I smiled and didn’t stop,” he says. “I can’t tell you the secret of my Killer Bee, but it’s so good people come over from St Kitts just to drink it.” The drink is sweet and a little spicy and I resolve that more than two would most definitely be a killer, so I err on the side of caution. Later, down at the beachfront restaurant chef Elsa teaches me the secrets of a good goat curry — it’s in the subtlety of the spices — and tells me that ‘goat water’, a Nevisian dish, is, in fact, more like a cross between a soup and a stew and is, in spite of its name, often not watery at all. Later, in the historical dining room up at the old house, I try it. I taste clove, black pepper, thyme and Scotch bonnet in the sauce, and the goat — often referred to as mutton — is tender, paired nicely with chunks of breadfruit. Patterson brings me a Carib beer. And not a moment too soon, as like so many things in Nevis, goat water has a bit of a kick. KENWOOD TRAVEL offers seven nights at Nisbet

Plantation Beach Club from £1,619 per person

based on two sharing a superior room with meals,

and including return flights with British Airways from Gatwick and airport transfers. kenwoodtravel.co.uk

THE GREAT HOUSE AT NISBET PLANTATION

Under the swoosh of fans, the fine dining experience at this grand old plantation house — the ancestral home of Fanny Nisbet, wife of Horatio Nelson — takes you back in time. Each day a ‘taste of Nevis’ dish features on the largely international menu — goat water, say, or grilled mahi mahi. HOW MUCH: Dinner (three courses) from £21 per person without wine. nisbetplantation. com/#/greathouse RESTAURANT 750, MONTPELIER PLANTATION

Housed on a converted sugar plantation, the restaurant at this boutique hotel has an outdoor terrace with far-reaching views over the island’s capital, Charlestown, and neighbouring St Kitts. Local ingredients lead the menu with starters such as breadfruit vichyssoise, curried yam and tannia hot soup and coconut-crusted shrimp. HOW MUCH: Three courses from £12 per person without wine. montpeliernevis.com

IMAGE: ALAMY

Sunshine’s Beach Bar

Perched on a hill in the middle of the Hamilton Estate, this funky restaurant and bar often has live music and is owned by Gillian Smith, a former dancer. Go there for seriously ‘good home cooking’ and to sample fiery goat water served in a traditional coal pot or the ‘taste of Nevis’ platter, with conch fritters, salt fish and Johnny cakes and tannia (a local root vegetable) fritters. HOW MUCH: Three-course meal from £12 per person without wine. bananasrestaurantnevis.com


Somewhere only we know

Bentota, Sri Lanka +94 34 7200 334 | resv@samanvilla.com www.samanvilla.com

Behold the ebb and flow of the Indian Ocean in luxurious privacy. Savour the sweet, sour and spicy tangs of the tropics in cuisine made to order. Share secrets on strolls along a sun-kissed beach and relish the sensual pleasures of bespoke spa rituals. Saman Villas is your paradise, found.


Neighbourhood

SOUTH LONDON

The Bussey Rooftop Bar

From The Shard down to the cusp of Surrey, the south side of the city has plenty of pleasant surprises up its sleeve. Words: Gavin Haines Photographs: Nick Warner Search for rare vinyl in a shipping container; eat exquisite jerk chicken in a period Victorian boozer; try your hand at laughter yoga on the Southbank; catch a big screen movie in a Dulwich pub; kayak under Tower Bridge. It might only have contributed one street to the Monopoly board, but south London has come a long way in a short time — The Shard helped put it firmly on the map, but Europe’s tallest building is merely the top line of a bigger, more surprising, story.

Dulwich & Peckham

There are few neighbourhoods that bring the city’s diversity into sharper focus than Dulwich and Peckham, which sit cheek by jowl in southeast London. First to Dulwich, which was actually in Surrey until 1889, when the County of London was created. It certainly has that Home Counties feel, with its lawn tennis clubs, leafy parks and 17th-century boarding school, Dulwich College, which, incidentally, charges £13,160 per term. Some of London’s most underrated museums are located in this corner of the capital, including the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which professes to be the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery. Constructed in the early17th century, this grandiose building was often visited by van Gogh and is home to a permanent collection of Baroque masterpieces as well as temporary exhibitions. Just outside Dulwich is the Horniman Museum, the brainchild of Victorian tea trader Frederick John Horniman, who opened his house to showcase his collection of eclectic artifacts. His legacy endures; this quirky museum is stacked to the rafters with world-class collections of anthropology and natural history. For a slice of local life, hit Lordship Lane in East Dulwich, a vibrant neighbourhood full of independent shops, yummy mummies, fine restaurants and great pubs like the East Dulwich Tavern, a pleasantly unpretentious boozer with an upstairs film club, The Bigger Picture, where you can sink into leather sofas with a beer and watch movies on the big screen. Profits from the cinema go towards local charities.

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NEIGHBOURHOOD

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The long-standing Boot and Flogger pub; graffiti under Brixton railway arches; Molly at Ted's Veg stall, Borough Market OPPOSITE: Jellied eels

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NEIGHBOURHOOD

IMAGE: ALAMY

WHEN IN SOUTH LONDON...

GO TO A ROOFTOP BAR

A new rooftop joint seems to open every week. Located 31 floors up Europe’s tallest building, Aqua Shard’s lavish bar has arguably the best views in town. aquashard.co.uk

TRY JELLIED EELS

London’s iconic pie and mash shops have been around since the 18th century, but are slowly dying out. One of the last is M.Manze, in Peckham — serving Cockney fare for over a century. manze.co.uk

SIGN UP TO AN UNSEEN TOUR

Unseen Tours is a social enterprise that helps homeless people find work as guides on tours of various city locations. sockmobevents.org.uk

GO ON AN ADVENTURE

Fancy kayaking under Tower Bridge? Secret Adventures are keen to prove you don’t need to leave London to go on an adventure. secretadventures.org

FORAGE FOR ANTIQUES

At Bermondsey Antiques Market, shoppers peruse anything from offbeat ornaments to Victorian tableware. Fridays from 6am-2pm in Bermondsey Square, early birds catch the best worms. bermondseysquare.net

Peckham has long since shed its ‘Del Boy and Rodders’ image to become one of south London’s most dynamic neighbourhoods. Many young professionals have decamped here, enticed by its relatively low rent, vibrant nightlife and burgeoning cultural scene. Yes, you can have a pint in the Nag’s Head, but most of the nocturnal action takes place in and around the Bussey Building, an arts hubcum-entertainment venue housed in a former Victorian warehouse. Hosting everything from yoga to political discussions and raves, the Bussey Building can be found on Rye Lane, or Little Lagos as it’s often called (on account of the sizeable Nigerian community living here), where I once had my phone repaired by a fishmonger. Diverse indeed.

London Bridge

Nothing represents the changing fortunes of south London like The Shard. Love it or loathe it, Europe’s tallest building has spearheaded the ongoing redevelopment of the London Bridge area. While this gleaming glass-and-steel skyscraper wouldn’t look out of place in downtown Singapore, it seems at odds with the antiquity of London Bridge, whose Victorian railways arches, cobbled streets and blackened warehouses cling romantically to bygone epochs. Once upon a time, this slither of south London was the capital’s smut-peddling underbelly. All the naughty stuff happened here — the gambling and prostitution, bearbaiting and drunkenness — far from the disparaging eyes of north London. William Shakespeare knew which side his bread was buttered on: the young playwright based himself here after moving down from Stratford on Avon, and in the year we commemorate the 400th anniversary of his passing, there’s probably no better neighbourhood in which to celebrate our greatest cultural export. Suffice to say, thespians and theatregoers have been descending on London Bridge with a newfound enthusiasm this year, as Shakespeare’s Globe and the Rose Theatre Kingston put on fantastic adaptations of the Bard’s greatest works (tickets start at a fiver). You can also pay tribute to Shakespeare in The George Inn, the site of one of his favourite haunts. This crooked coaching house — the last galleried inn in London — is owned by the National Trust and its connections with literature are not limited to Shakespeare: Charles Dickens was also known to prop up its bar. The Boot & Flogger is another establishment trapped in antiquity (and all the better for it). It’s all creaking floorboards, antique furniture and wood panelling inside this discreet

An April Fools’ Day prank doing the rounds a few years ago claimed Brixton was due to be renamed Clapham East. Yes, that Brixton; the edgy former home of David Bowie and chalk to Clapham’s well-matured cheddar

watering hole, which professes to be London’s first wine bar. Opposite is another hidden gem, the Cross Bones Graveyard, where local prostitutes — nicknamed the Winchester Geese — were laid to rest in medieval times. Festooned with ribbons and messages for the outcast dead, it’s a solemn site. Assuming a visit to this necropolis doesn’t kill your appetite, Borough Market, with its cornucopia of culinary delights, would be a logical next stop. But if you’re willing to walk a bit further, Maltby Street Market (Sat 9am4pm; Sun 11am-4pm) is less touristy.

Brixton

An April Fools’ Day prank doing the rounds a few years ago claimed Brixton was due to be renamed Clapham East. Yes, that Brixton; the edgy former home of David Bowie and chalk to Clapham’s well-matured cheddar. It was just a prank, but few found it funny: gentrification is a sensitive subject in this unconventional corner of south London, where it’s now just as common to see quinoa being consumed as it is cannabis. The rising tide of gentrification has indeed claimed some of the neighbourhood’s best-loved boozers and raised fears its independent spirit is being watered down. Nevertheless, Brixton remains one of London’s favourite nocturnal destinations. Despite charging more than a fiver for a can of beer, the Brixton Academy is still one of the best live music venues in London — musos come from across the country to sweat it out in the stalls here. Owing to its vast Caribbean population and David Bowie legacy, live music is in the DNA of this neighbourhood and those who’ve experienced jazz at The Prince of Wales on a Thursday night generally return for more. Elsewhere, the Effra Hall Tavern is a classic neighbourhood pub dating back to the Victorian era. The period features — ornate bar, brass fixtures and panelled walls — have been faithfully preserved, but this tavern is not constrained by tradition: jerk chicken and jazz are usually on the menu. Hootananny Brixton is another champion of musical diversity. Around the corner from the Effra, this local institution puts on an eclectic programme of live music that flirts with anything from reggae to gypsy folk. For a quieter night, you could catch a film at the Ritzy Cinema, one of London’s grandest picture houses. The building dates back to 1911 and screens independent films as well as big budget blockbusters. Brixton famously has its own currency, the Brixton Pound, and there are many opportunities to spend it in Brixton Village, which has become the destination for budget eating in south London. For cut price cocktails and tasty tapas, pull up a pew at Seven at Brixton, the Spanish-themed tavern. Alternatively, join the inevitable queue at

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NEIGHBOURHOOD

Pop Brixton, a community project and event space built out of shipping containers

Europe, the Southbank Centre is a sprawling concrete Brutalist complex that serves up anything from free concerts to art-house cinema, political discussions and performance art. Visitors can even peruse dog-eared paperbacks at its feted book market, tucked under Waterloo Bridge; recent Southbank highlights have included a play about the phone-hacking scandal, a discussion with Caitlin Moran, the World Press Photo Exhibition and a session of laughter yoga (yes, really). However, Waterloo has its own cultural institutions: The Old Vic, a theatre from which Kevin Spacey recently stepped down as artistic director, and its whippersnapper sibling, the Young Vic, which showcases experimental productions and up-andcoming talent. Don’t just go for the shows, though; the Young Vic has a buzzy bar and restaurant, which attracts theatregoers, intellectuals and anyone with a penchant for imbibing tapas, wine and craft beer. Both theatres can be found along The Cut, a busy street that’s home to some of the neighbourhood’s best bars and eateries, including Tas Restaurant, which brings a taste of Anatolia to Waterloo. It’s also worth diving into The Vaults, a subterranean arts hub that occupies the labyrinthine tunnels beneath Waterloo station. Accessed via Leake Street, which is renowned for its street art, this impressive venue champions bold productions and contemporary art.

Recent Southbank highlights have included a play about the phonehacking scandal, a discussion with Caitlin Moran and a session of laughter yoga (yes, really) Franco Manca, which has built a Londonwide reputation for its sourdough pizzas. Constructed from old shipping containers, Pop Brixton is a relatively new addition to the neighbourhood. It aims to give a platform to local entrepreneurs by offering discounted rents, which some locals have taken advantage of to launch record shops, clothing outlets and restaurants. Brixton’s community spirit lives on.

Waterloo

Erstwhile Waterloo can hardly be called off the beaten path — its station is where most visitors from Southwest England arrive in the city — but like a leaking bucket this neighbourhood has sometimes struggled to retain those who step off the train here. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to work out why; just beyond the boundaries of this busy interchange are two of the capital’s most popular attractions — the London Eye and the Southbank Centre — which lure visitors away from Waterloo. Let’s follow the crowd for a minute, because the latter attraction, in particular, is a worthy diversion. The largest arts hub in

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MORE INFO Visit London. visitlondon.com Dulwich Picture Gallery.

dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk Horniman Museum. horniman.ac.uk East Dulwich Tavern.

eastdulwichtavern.com Bussey Building. clfartcafe.org The Shard. the-shard.com Shakespeare’s Globe.

shakespearesglobe.com The George Inn. george-southwark.co.uk The Boot & Flogger. davy.co.uk Borough Market.

boroughmarket.org.uk Brixton Academy. brixtonmarket.net Effra Hall Tavern. theeffra.com

Ritzy Cinema. picturehouses.com Seven. sevenatbrixton.com

Franco Manca. francomanca.co.uk Pop Brixton. popbrixton.org Southbank Centre.

southbankcentre.co.uk The Old Vic. oldvictheatre.com Young Vic. youngvic.org

Tas Restaurant. tasrestaurants.co.uk The Vaults. thevaults.london


Sleep

LAS VEGAS

IMAGE: GETTY

Opulent, ambitious and decidedly over-the-top, the hotels of the Strip have made Vegas instantly recognisable. But these days, with a new generation of pleasure palaces, Sin City is springing a few surprises. Words: Julia Buckley

Bellagio. Caesars Palace. MGM Grand. Rarely are hotels woven as closely into the fabric of a city as they are in Las Vegas. Then again, hotels in Vegas aren’t really hotels — they’re sprawling attractions, casinos-with-rooms, with shopping malls, restaurants, nightclubs, even theme parks all attached. This is what the overwhelming majority of Sin City’s visitors come for, of course. As a road, Las Vegas Boulevard runs for miles through the Mojave desert, but the four-mile section nicknamed ‘the Strip’ — running, roughly speaking, from the MGM Grand to the Stratosphere — is where the fun has been centred since gangster Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo in 1946. There are ways, of course, to play Vegas at its own game. There’s no high and low season, but prices do ramp up at weekends, so stay midweek and you can get an incredible deal. That is, if course, if you don’t lose it all on black.

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For vibe

THE CROMWELL

Times have changed for the dive once known as Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, famed for its ‘Fat Elvis’ impersonator and late-night club, Drai’s. Stripped to the bone, it reopened in 2014 as The Cromwell, the Strip’s first standalone boutique hotel with a mere 188 rooms — impressively styled with Chesterfield sofas, damask wallpaper and backgammon-board coffee tables. Drai’s

has doubled in size with a basement lounge and a rooftop day-and-nightclub (the Strip’s first). Room service is provided by celeb chef Giada de Laurentiis, whose restaurant sits downstairs, while the drinks list at bar Bound is curated by cocktail maestro Salvatore Calabrese. ROOMS: Doubles from £113, room only. thecromwell.com

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SLEEP

For luxury

BELLAGIO

There’s a reason why Bellagio was recently voted the best hotel in the world in a New World Wealth survey of millionaires: Vegas’s first modern luxury hotel keeps upping the ante. As well as large, plush rooms (all have been refurbished over the past four years to the tune of £125m), a sprawling pool deck and unparalleled views of those famous dancing fountains, new features include fountainfacing Italian restaurant Lago, farm-to-table food at Harvest, and world-class exhibitions at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art — Degas, Monet and Van Gogh all currently feature. If that wasn’t enough, it presently holds four Michelin stars split between three of its restaurants, and real Picassos on the walls at the restaurant of the same name. ROOMS: Doubles from £135, room only. bellagio.com

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For kitsch

NEW YORK NEW YORK

For some, Vegas means one thing and one thing only: outrageously themed hotels. While they’re a dying breed, NYNY keeps the kitsch flag flying with aplomb, from its roller coaster curling round the ‘Manhattan’ skyline outside to the faux-cobbled streets, Irish pubs and brownstones that lie within. The rooms are decent, and all have been remodelled within the past year, so even the standard rooms have no nasty surprises. Right outside, meanwhile, is The Park, a brand new open-air mall that, along with its adjacent arena (Janet Jackson and Guns n’ Roses have already played) is injecting new verve into the southern Strip. ROOMS: Rooms from £58, room only. newyorknewyork.com

THREE OF THE BEST

For rooms

SLS LAS VEGAS

Hotels in Vegas tend to be casinos-with-rooms, but the SLS has forged a different path. A 2014 revamp of the iconic Sahara Hotel saw it downsize the casino to focus on the restaurants and rooms that made the name of this LA-based chain. Philippe Starck, no less, designed the rooms, and both main towers have a completely different look, from the urban entry-level Story tower to the grungy World tower. ROOMS: Doubles from £75, room only. slslasvegas.com

For hipsters

For pools

Surrounded by the super-cool shops, restaurants and craft cocktail bars of the Fremont East district, this retro motel has been transformed into a hipster oasis — the rooms feature sofas and record players, while the adjacent building, once a casino, is now a smoke-free bar with real games (darts and Connect Four) instead of roulette wheels. ROOMS: Doubles from £46, room only. oasisatgoldspike.com

This modern casino resort is where Las Vegans head for a staycation: sprawling across 70 acres of land, it overlooks the sandstone cliffs of Red Rock Canyon in Summerlin, 10 miles west of the Strip. Red Rock offers more bang for your buck, with a three-acre pool area, a top-notch spa, a casino with onyx-clad walls and some of the largest rooms in Vegas. ROOMS: Doubles from £103, room only. redrock.sclv.com

OASIS AT GOLD SPIKE

RED ROCK

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The new Infiniti Q30

THE FIRST EVER INFINITI Q30

£20,550

Starting from

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With its sleek and unique design and assistive technologies, discover how the new Infiniti Q30 stands out.

Book your Test Drive now at Infiniti.co.uk

Best Small Family Car of 2015** Official fuel economy figures for the Q30 range shown in mpg (l/100 km): combined 42.2 (6.7) to 74.3 (3.8). CO₂ emission: 156 to 108 g/km. Fuel consumption and CO₂ figures are obtained from laboratory testing and are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results. Optional equipment, maintenance, driving behaviour, road and weather conditions may affect the official results. *Model shown Infiniti Q30 1.6t Premium at OTR price £23,470 including optional glass roof at £500, metallic paint at £670 and 19” alloy wheels at £700. Terms and Conditions apply – see infiniti.co.uk/q30launchtandcs **Best in Class cars of 2015 – Rating of Euro NCAP – award in category ‘Small Family Cars’.

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SLEEP

For all round MGM GRAND

There’s nothing quite like the MGM Grand. The US’s largest hotel, it has 6,852 rooms, almost seven acres of pools, multiple restaurants and nightclubs (Calvin Harris is resident DJ at Hakkasan), the largest casino in town and an events arena where everyone from Elton to Floyd Mayweather has performed. Standard rooms could be better — instead, go for the mood-lit Stay Well rooms. Designed in conjunction with Deepak Chopra, they offer aromatherapy infusions and vitamin C showers. But you don’t stay here for the design: you stay because MGM Grand is Vegas. ROOMS: From £75, room only. mgmgrand.com

For exclusivity NOBU

Not only the world’s first Nobu hotel, but also the first branded hotel-within-a-hotel in Vegas, this reinvention of the Centurion Tower at Caesars Palace was opened in 2013 by Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro. It’s a Norman Rockwell-designed oasis within the chaos of Caesars — in the middle of the resort, yet accessed via a separate lobby with check-in done on an iPad in your room. Everything in the zen rooms — from the meditative artwork to the minibar contents — has been curated by Nobu himself, while downstairs, the in-house restaurant also happens to be the largest Nobu restaurant in the world — and it even offers 24-hour room service. ROOMS: Doubles from £126, room only. nobucaesarspalace.com

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SLEEP

For peace ? quiet

MANDARIN ORIENTAL

No smoking, no gambling and a bar that’s best known for its tea — this isn’t your typical Vegas hotel. But for those more interested in the city than its sin, things don’t get better than this glass-fronted eyrie. Call it Vegas for grown-ups: Chinese art in the 23rd floor lobby, an S-Class Mercedes to shuttle guests around, and Twist, Pierre Gagnaire’s only US restaurant. Rooms are everything you’d expect: floor-to-ceiling windows, egg-shaped baths with separate showers, Frette bathrobes and 21st-century technology — use your bedside tablet to do everything from opening curtains to ordering room service. ROOMS: Doubles from £194, room only. mandarinoriental.com

For value

STRATOSPHERE

It’s better known as a landmark than a hotel, but this huge tower dominating the north end of the Strip — the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US, no less — doubles as a great budget hotel, the accommodation blocks sitting either side of the tower. In the last few years, all rooms have been renovated to a high standard, while the views ogling the Strip from

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higher floors (which require an upgrade) can be spectacular, and the pool — on the eighth floor rooftop — takes some beating. The kicker? Guests get free access to the observation deck (normally $20/£15 per person) and discounts on the hair-raising rides up there. ROOMS: Doubles from £39, room only. stratospherehotel.com


LAKE BRATAN, BALI, INDONESIA

Bespoke Adventure T A I L O R - M A D E

T R A V E L

Our seasoned travelers at Bespoke Adventure design unique travel experiences, tailored just for you. Let us give you the adventure of a lifetime without the burden of planning. Visit our website to set up a consultation.

W W W. B E S P O K E A D V E N T U R E T R AV E L . C O M


ETERNAL EPIRUS One of the best-kept secrets in Greece, the northwestern state of Epirus is home to timeless natural beauty, enduring traditions, mouthwatering gastronomy – and countless authentic, off-the-beaten-track travel experiences. From white water rafting through virgin forests to strolling the cobbled alleys of hidden mountain villages, there are adventures to get the pulse racing and others to quiet the soul…

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IMAGES: H.KAKAROUHAS, VISITGREECE.GR; ZAGORI EXCELLENCE NETWORK; REGION OF EPIRUS

PROMOTIONAL FEATURE


PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Trek the Vikos Gorge

The world’s deepest canyon cuts through the spectacular Pindus mountain range, offering secluded hiking along a twisting, dry riverbed and sublime views across forested valleys. Hike it either from the stone village of Monodendri, north to Vikos, where the Monastery of St Paraskevi is perched above the ravine; from Vikos to Papingo; or from Monodendri to Kipi. A trail runs from Pápigo to a shelter near the Astráka peak and on to Drakolimni, a lake that, legend says, was home to dragons.

RAFT THE VOIDOMATIS RIVER

One of the cleanest rivers in Europe, the Voidomatis curls through the picturesque Vikos-Aoos National Park like a turquoise brushstroke. Take to the waterway as part of a rafting tour group: from the icy, drinkable waters intrepid rowers can admire rare birds, wild horses and flitting fish — as well as drifting under ancient arched bridges and past tumbledown monasteries. But it’s not for the faint-hearted! There are whitewater rapids of moderate difficulty, perfect for both brave beginners and advanced paddlers.

Seek out the stone bridges of Epirus // The stone bridges of Epirus are architectural marvels, steeped in folklore and set in rugged landscapes. To find them, you may need to wade into babbling streams, raft down emerald rivers, carve a path through lush woodlands, dodge goats on riverbank trails — or, for some, just follow roads.

DISCOVER THE MOUNTAIN VILLAGES OF ZAGORIA

Zagoria’s 46 historic settlements are tucked into the pine-clad mountain of northwest Epirus. The slate-roofed stone houses are home to exquisite traditional eateries and boutique pensions, while rustic churches are decorated with frescoes and carved wooden altar screens. Each village spreads out from a central, cobbled square in which feast days are celebrated. Two of the most magical are Papigo, perched on one of the highest peaks of Mt Tymfi, and Vradéto, home to the staggering Vradéto Stairs — 3,937ft of stone steps that, until 1973, offered the only access to the village.

CLOCKWISE FROM OPPOSITE PAGE: Vikos Gorge;

Bridge of Kalogeriko; whitewater rafting and swimming in the Voidomatis river; villages of Zagori; local sweet treats

Dig into local cuisine

Whether pulling up a chair in a koutouki (small cafe), tsipouradika (tavern) or gourmet restaurant, a menu staple will be pie. Stuffed with free-range meats, wild mushrooms, spiced vegetables or local cheese, these savoury filo creations are the backbone of the culinary scene. In Epirus, diners can sample refreshing regional wines and homegrown fare in a lively, family atmosphere.

For more information about visiting Epirus, go to visitgreece.gr

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For all its myriad natural wonders and abundant wildlife, it’s the people of Africa who are the real highlight. From a Maasai beadworker in Kenya and a Tanzanian savannah guide to a shark conservationist in South Africa, we meet some of the continent’s most charming characters. Words E M M A G R E G G

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IMAGE: JAMES WALSH, SINAMATELLA, ANGAMA MARA

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IMAGES: EMMA GREGG; ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES

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ETHIOPIA

The airline

captain

In 2015, the European Council on Tourism and Trade voted Ethiopia the world’s best tourism destination, citing its rich heritage and community-friendly tourism, which brings much-needed income to rural areas. In the Simien Mountains, a fragile World Heritage Site, an exciting new project is shaping up.

T he Shiferaw Asrat

eco

Limalimo Lodge is the kind of grand design that would have Kevin McCloud furrowing his brows and delivering urgent pieces to camera. When I visit, it’s not yet complete. Founder Shiferaw Asrat, who runs local hillwalking company Simien Treks, and Julia Jeans, his English wife, have dozens of decisions to make: from restyling their dining room lampshades (the prototypes aren’t quite right) to making their green roofs and rammed earth walls less appetising to monkeys. None of the construction team has built an eco-lodge before, so they’ve called in the experts. “Almost everything is hand-built by 200 local men and women, using eco-friendly techniques and technologies that are totally new to us,” says Shif. “We’ve been learning as we go.” Undeterred by the hubbub, the first ‘test guests’ gamely pick their way past the carpenters and masons to admire the view. Limalimo’s location is superb. It’s perched like an eyrie in Ethiopia’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Below its deck, shaggy-furred gelada monkeys meander among wild Abyssinian rose bushes and nibble peacefully on rosehips. Beyond, crags recede into the distance like a tide. Funding has come from African Wildlife Capital, which promotes nature-based tourism with conservation potential. Limalimo is the first locally owned and managed lodge it has supported. “I guided their executives in the mountains once,” says Shif. “Fortunately, they remembered

visionary me. That helped.” This is fascinating and unspoilt trekking country. “There are campsites, but they’re very basic,” he says. “This beautiful place deserves better.” Shif seems to know everyone. As we drive through his home town of Debark, he stops every few metres to exchange greetings. “My father, who worked for the national parks authority, was somebody everyone loved and respected. He died when I was 18, and people transferred their affection onto me,” he says, modestly. Instead of attending university, Shif cared for his mother and siblings, earning a living as a mountain guide and setting up Debark’s first internet cafe. A gentle, intelligent leader, he has helped other guides develop their careers. But it was always his dream to build an eco-lodge. “I’ve spent time in Europe, so I know what city living is like,” he says. “When people come to a place like this, they don’t want to sleep in a hotel built of concrete blocks. They want to feel close to nature. “The first thing I did when I was granted this land was plant hundreds of native trees. I wanted to feel that, even if Limalimo never got built, I’d have done something worthwhile.” limalimolodge.com ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES flies direct to Addis Ababa from Heathrow. ethiopianairlines.com COX & KINGS offers an Ethiopian safari from £1,595 per person, including flights, transfers, two nights in Addis Ababa and three at Limalimo Lodge. coxandkings.co.uk

Amsale Gualu Endegnanew

Ethiopia’s first female airline captain. To celebrate International Women’s Day earlier this year, she commanded an all-female crew on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Kigali. Who were your role models? My parents. They encouraged me to have confidence. I was born in 1977 in Bahir Dar in northwest Ethiopia, the eldest of four children in a middle-class family. I always wanted to be a pilot. Our father would take us to the airport to see planes landing and taking off. Is there a gender bias in Ethiopian society? Yes, it’s deep-rooted, but I don’t feel I’ve faced any unfair competition during my career. What happened to the other candidates during selection and training, happened to me, too. You’re a mother of three. Is it difficult to maintain a work-life balance? It’s a matter of being psychologically prepared. I’ve learned to manage my time! Thankfully, my husband helps take care of our children. Are you ambitious? I didn’t set out to become Ethiopia’s first female captain — I just wanted to be a pilot. But now, I want to take my career as far as I can. When young Ethiopian women ask your advice on how to succeed in a male-dominated industry, what do you say to them? Keep trying. Believe that it’s possible.

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SOUTH AFRICA

BRITISH AIRWAYS and SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS fly direct to South Africa from Heathrow. ba.com flysaa.com. The next Land Rover Shoals of Agulhas Expedition will be in April/May 2017. montyhalls.co.uk landrover.co.uk. Charlie Standing runs foraging tours in partnership with the Table Bay Hotel. theurbanhunter-gatherer.com suninternational.com

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IMAGES: NICK DIMBLEBY, LAND ROVER; EMMA GREGG

Near the tip of South Africa, where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans meet, Emma goes snorkelling with sharks and undertakes an expedition foraging for chestnuts, mushrooms and seaweed.


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shaexperkrt T he

Meaghen McCord

It’s rare for a snorkeller to be torn between looking up and looking down. But that’s exactly how I feel as I bob around in the indigo waters of the Indian Ocean on a grey day in July. Beneath me, bronze whaler sharks are circling. Meanwhile, in a boat a few metres away, something just as exciting is playing out. I’m taking part in Land Rover’s Shoals of Agulhas Expedition, an overland adventure led by broadcaster Monty Halls along South Africa’s Wild Coast, following the famous Sardine Run. Every year, from May to July, gigantic sardine shoals up to nine miles in length and 131ft deep travel north from the cold southern oceans off South Africa’s Cape Point, to the warmer waters in the north. Equipped with rugged vehicles and high-speed boats, we’re exploring the rolling seas where dolphins race, seals tumble and gannets dive like torpedoes as they feast on the seasonal abundance of fish. Scientist Meaghen McCord (left), a member of the team, is aiming to capture, tag and release as many sharks as possible in order to analyse their behaviour. She’s been unlucky so far, but today, a bronze whaler — or copper shark — takes the bait. “Very little is known about the movements of predators before, during and after the Sardine Run,” she says. Detailed information will help promote better management of shark species along this coast. “Most South Africans accept that, by swimming in the ocean, they’re visiting the homes of amazing animals. But some still have archaic views, like those who insist on deploying bather protection nets in KwaZulu Natal, for example.” Controversially, these nets take a heavy toll on marine life. Meaghen runs the South Africa Shark Conservancy, which studies various aspects of marine ecology. She advises anyone hoping to dive the Sardine Run to do their research. “Look for responsible dive companies which help fund conservation,” she says. “[Sadly] some just regard shark tourism as a way to make money.”

T he

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Charlie Standing

forager

“I take people foraging in my home city, Cape Town. It’s an idea which grew out of my love of cooking and the outdoors. Some of my earliest memories are of collecting mussels off the rocks and fishing in tidal pools using makeshift rods with my dad. I also remember picking berries on my walk home from school and balancing in a loquat tree, gorging myself until my stomach hurt. I think foraging comes naturally to all of us, but in today’s urbanised world we seem to have lost touch with nature. “Foraging gets easier with experience, but it’s also getting more competitive. A few years ago I might have overlooked a delight that’s everywhere in town because I didn’t know it was edible. These days, other foragers sometimes beat me to the chestnuts and porcini mushrooms [on offer]. “September is a good time to gather Cape pondweed for waterblommetjiebredie, a classic lamb stew. Our spring is also

excellent for seaweed. I make kelp lasagne, using kelp instead of pasta. It’s mindblowing how yummy it is. “I’d love Cape Town to put more resources into encouraging people to grow their own produce. I know it seems idealistic, but we need more projects like Abalimi Bezekhaya Harvest of Hope, which empowers shack dwellers to grow organic vegetables, and Oranjezicht, a non-profit city farm established on a disused bowling green. It’s distressing to see local vegetable plots replaced with yet more shopping malls. “Cape Town has a European feel, with a vibrant edge that’s very African. It’s a hub for creatives, dreamers and alternative thinkers. I’m a former stunt man and rigger; I used to make performing artists fly, Cirque du Soleil-style. My other lifelong passions are rock climbing and surfing. Nothing beats eating a delicious fully foraged (or homegrown) meal after a day in the mountains or on the sea.”

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BOTSWANA

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IMAGES: NICK SMITH, KURU ART; NICK WEST, KURU ART

The San Bushmen have a heritage that can be traced back over 40,000 years. The rock paintings of their ancestors are the last traces of a way of life which no longer exists. Founded in 1990 in a remote village west of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Kuru Art is a grassroots project which nurtures the cultural identity of Naro San artists and helps them sell their work. Collectively, they use art to express their responses to the pressures of modern life and their respect for the natural world.

Ncaote Thama “I don’t really know what art is; I just do it and find I like it. My late husband’s beautiful paintings intrigued and inspired me. My work tells of my love for the Kalahari.”

Gamnqoa Kukama “I led a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and worked as a farm labourer before becoming an artist. My art enlivens the memories that I’d otherwise have lost.”

KURU ART (kuruart.com) is in D’Kar, near Ghanzi. Companies which arrange trips to the Kalahari include

Rainbow Tours and Botswana Specialists. rainbowtours.co.uk botswanaspecialists.co.uk

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Coex’ae Bob (Enni) “I was born in the 1930s, strongly rooted in the traditions and beliefs of the Kalahari San. Through my paintings, I share my knowledge of wildlife, domestic animals and medicinal plants.” September 2016

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Find respite

in the luxurious comforts and excellent service of Journeys Namibia run lodges Grootberg Lodge is in the heart of Damaraland, owned by the local #Khoadi//Hoas conservancy. The Conservancy places particular emphasis on conservation and reducing human wildlife conflict. On the western border of the Etosha National Park lies the Hobatere Lodge, situated in a concession area of 8,808 ha which is home to a wide selection of game, including lions, elephant, giraffe, eland, and Hartmann’s zebra Less than an hour away from Windhoek lies the Auas Safari Lodge offering a natural retreat from city life with access to a wellness spar and the added advantage of being one hour away from the international airport.

Hoada Campsite

The Fish River Lodge is the only establishment situated directly on the edge of Namibia’s iconic Fish River Canyon. Awe inspiring hiking trails lead down into the heart of the canyon. Located on the famous Skeleton Coast the new Shipwreck lodge will open its doors in 2017.

Grootberg Lodge

Hobatere Lodge

Auas Safari Lodge

Shipwreck Lodge

Tel: ++264 61 228 104

www.journeysnamibia.com

No 7 Brandberg Street, Eros, Windhoek, Namibia | PO Box 91045, Klein Windhoek, Namibia

Fish River Lodge


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MAURITIUS

The e-bike

entrepreneur

IMAGES: EMMA GREGG

Laurent Marrier d’Unienville

“I discovered e-biking in 2015. I was looking for a way to regain my fitness after a serious illness. Electric bikes are totally new to Mauritius and when I tried one I was like, ‘Wow! This works.’ It’s the perfect way to train. The idea of a tour company came soon after. “At first, my friends thought I was crazy. People don’t cycle much here. But now, many of our guests are Mauritian. On e-bikes, it’s easy for everyone to stay together and ride at the same pace, even with little cycling experience. “We offer exercise, scenery and culture, so our trips have broad appeal. Sometimes the guy who came for a workout will say he never expected to see and learn so much, and the person who doesn’t normally ride at all will love the physical side. I’ve even taken professional cyclists

out. For them, it’s something different. They can crank up the resistance on the bike to make the experience really sporty. I think this is the future. “On my tours, I talk about pirates, settlers and slaves. I’ve done a lot of research. Even though I’m eighth-generation Mauritian — the tombs of my ancestors are in the Souillac Marine Cemetery here in the south — I’ve learned things I didn’t know before. When Mauritians come on my tours, they say the same; so much took place here in the 18th and 19th centuries, but we’re not taught much about it in school. “Mauritius is very multicultural. Some Mauritians consider themselves totally separate from the rest of Africa, but I disagree. Jo’burg is only four hours away. We’re different, but we’re definitely African.”

BRITISH AIRWAYS flies direct from Gatwick to Mauritius. ba.com/mauritius ELECTRO-BIKE DISCOVERY

offers half-day group tours in southern Mauritius from Rs1,500 (around £30) per person. electrobike-mauritius.com

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KENYA

na�uralist The

IMAGES: TYLER DAVIS, ANGAMA MARA

The owners of luxury safari lodge Angama Mara insisted that the quarters for their mostly local Maasai staff should be as well-designed as the guest areas — so, it’s sleekly modern, with respectful references to Maasai culture. And the people who work at the lodge, which opened in 2015, seem delighted with the result. We caught up with two of them…

Fredrick Kerika Ole Sinoni

WHO INSPIRED YOU WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?

My father. I consider him a hero. Managing a huge family of four wives and 27 children is no easy task. He was a local administrator and would attend conservation workshops, bringing home leaflets containing wildlife illustrations and interesting facts. These small pieces of information helped me develop my passion for nature. WHAT DO YOU ROUTINELY WEAR WHEN YOU’RE GUIDING A BUSHWALK?

A typical Maasai warrior ceremonial outfit. It makes me stand out and gives me a sense of identity. Beadwork is entirely a woman’s role, so my necklaces, bracelets, straps and the beading on my shukas (clothing blankets) are all handmade by my mother, sisters and girlfriend. DO YOU THINK THE MAASAI WILL STILL BE WEARING TRADITIONAL DRESS IN 25 OR 50 YEARS’ TIME?

Christian preachers used to discourage the Maasai from wearing traditional clothes and ornaments, calling them ungodly, but we’re now reclaiming our identity. People wear traditional

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dress everywhere, to the market, at church and for other important occasions. In my opinion, our dress code is here to stay. ARE TRIBAL RITUALS IMPORTANT TO YOUNG MEN?

They’re very important, since they indicate our age group and social status. This ensures cohesion and mutual respect. They have enabled us to come a long way as a community. DO THE MAASAI HAVE A SPECIAL UNDERSTANDING OF NATURE?

Yes, the stones, leaves, grass, trees, birds and animals are our first library books. Spending time in the bush herding cows hones our skills. We can track wildlife and the changing seasons by merely picking up on the clues in our surroundings. WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPIEST?

I have a passion for nature and love meeting people from different parts of the world. With every encounter a new story unfolds and a lesson is learned. That’s the essence of life — it’s a continuous learning process.


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The

craftworker Elizabeth Kaiyoni

How did you learn your craft? My grandmother taught me how to work with beads when I was a girl. Selling things was my way of contributing to the family. What’s the significance of the beads worn by Maasai women? We have necklaces for specific events, like weddings or meetings with the elders. I make my own. When I wear them, I feel in touch with tradition. Why are Maasai traditions important to you? They teach our children how to become good elders. Also, tourists find them interesting — many people want to dress and dance like the Maasai! Presenting our culture to tourists has brought us schools, hospitals and other benefits. Are you proud to be Maasai? Yes, because we’ve kept our culture intact. Our cows are our wealth; we live in manyattas, groups of small houses, that unite us — it’s a cheap and resourceful way to live. I’m happy because I’m in my home country, healthy and at peace. What does it mean to you to be African? My skin doesn’t change even if I walk under a hot sun. If I’m pricked by a thorn, I remove it and apply herbs and it heals very fast. I’m African, therefore I’m tough.

JACADA TRAVEL offers a luxury safari staying four nights at Angama Mara and three nights at Segera Retreat from £7,295 per person sharing, full board, including activities, transfers and flights from Heathrow. jacadatravel.com

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W W W . M A K A N Y I L O D G E . C O M South Africa | reservations@makanyilodge.com | +27 (0) 15 7932663


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TANZANIA

In East Africa’s safari heartlands, we meet two guides working in very different habitats.

The

savannah

IMAGES: EMMA GREGG

Ernest Onesmo

What do you look for in a walking safari guide in the African bush? Sharp eyes, a steady nerve and a sixth sense for danger? Rifle skills, just in case? The best guides have all the above, but are also artful interpreters, able to decode the intimate mysteries of the bush. When you step out of your safari vehicle and start walking, you break an invisible barrier. Suddenly immersed in the Great Outdoors, you want to get stuck in — touching bones, sniffing herbs, listening for tiny sounds. Ernest Onesmo, who’s based at Sand Rivers in the Selous Game Reserve, knows this. “Do you recognise this?” he says, picking up a pinch of sweet-smelling, semi-digested grass. “Elephant dung?” “Correct! And it’s also a source of new plants, if we let the seeds germinate; an insect repellent, if we burn it; paper, if we press it; or stomach medicine, if we use it in a potion. Each time we let a poacher take out an elephant, we sacrifice so much. It’s a battle we can’t afford to lose.”

guide Ernest is an all-rounder, as adept at mixing a gin and tonic on the bonnet of his Land Rover as he is spotting birds, tracking lions or planning a bushwalk. On foot, he’s totally at ease. In many ways, ours is a walk like any other. But there’s a crucial difference: I’ve packed my toothbrush. As I follow Ernest through dappled woodlands where antelopes eye us, shyly, from a distance, I’m thrilled that our destination remains, to me at least, a mystery. “Welcome!” says Ernest at last. “This is your home for the night.” We’ve reached a beautiful lakeside clearing. The fly-camping team have rigged mosquito nets over mattresses near the shore, and hoisted a bush shower in a terminalia tree. As we rest our legs beside the crackling campfire, delicious cooking smells drift our way. “Everything OK?” asks Ernest. It certainly is. Right now, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

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The guide

forest Butati Nyundo

NATURAL WORLD SAFARIS can create a 10-night bespoke safari at Sand Rivers Selous, Greystoke Mahale and Arusha Coffee Lodge from £6,995 per person, full board, with activities, transfers and flights from Heathrow. naturalworldsafaris.com

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IMAGE: NOMAD TANZANIA

“I’ve been interested in chimpanzees all my life. My father was a field assistant to the Japanese primatologists here in Mahale Mountains National Park. I have a very early memory of one male chimp attacking another, kicking him and standing on his head! I was amazed at his strength. “My father encouraged me to get a government job, but I wanted to work with wildlife. Luckily for me, one of Mahale’s researchers sponsored me to study for a diploma in Wildlife Management in Kilimanjaro. “Chimps are incredibly exciting. They’re always doing something different — grooming, feeding, exploring. They make me laugh every day, but a dominance display can be nerve-wracking. It’s like stepping into a domestic dispute. “I recently met Jane Goodall. It was a dream come true. I asked her whether she’d ever tried to convince people to practice family planning in the communities living adjacent to protected areas. I was the only Tanzanian in the room to ask her a question and she asked everyone to praise me for raising such an important point. “I believe that uncontrolled population growth is one of the biggest conservation challenges we face. My father had 13 children, but I have no wish to follow him. I have twins and that’s enough.”


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Chief Albert Luthuli, Zulu Tribal Chief 1936-1967 (Durban) Chief Albert Luthuli, Zulu Tribal Chief 1936-1967 (Durban) Chief Albert Luthuli, Zulu Tribal Chief 1936-1967 (Durban)

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24 HOUR PARATY PEOPLE

A former colonial boomtown that fell on hard times, Paraty has transformed itself into a hotbed of creativity — a vibrant, multicoloured, coastal speck on the corridor between Brazil’s two biggest cities Words E M M A T H O M S O N 92

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IMAGE: GETTY

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t’s as if a painter had trailed his brush down the cobblestone street. Each window ledge and door frame is daubed in shades of lemon, lapis, merlot and magenta. “You don’t choose Paraty; Paraty chooses you,” Brazilian master chef Yara Roberts tells me one morning when I call into her house. She has a point. This preserved colonial town, backed by forested mountains that snuggle up to the sea, has an allure that's ensnared dozens of artists, designers and restaurateurs. Indeed, it’s so picture perfect it was chosen as the location for Edward and Bella’s honeymoon in Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Sat amid the blue curve of Ilha Grande Bay, Paraty (pronounced ‘para-chee’) belongs to the verdant Costa Verde corridor and is halfway between Brazil’s two largest cities: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. How on Earth, you might wonder, has it escaped modernisation? The answer: pirates. In 1696 ‘the metal that gleams’ (gold) was discovered in the Minas Gerais region, but the Portuguese — who had arrived more than a century earlier — were faced with the challenge of getting it across the mountains to the coast and onto boats bound for Rio and then home. Following an ancient trail marked out by the native Guaianás Indians, they forged the 745-mile-long Caminho do Ouro (‘Gold Trail’) that transported supplies, miners and African slaves. Back then, Paraty “was not a city to live in, but a city to make

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deals in,” says town guide, Gabriel Toledo, as we stand in the main square. Portuguese ships “did the best deal ever: they sold rocks for gold. The Portuguese lined their ships with stones for balance, exchanged them for the construction of churches, and returned to Portugal with gold lining the hulls instead”. He turns his shaved head and hefty brown beard towards the Baroque Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (First Church of Our Lady of Remedies) to make his point. Crimson drapes have been thrown from her windows in preparation for the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo and whiteand-red flags are strung to the surrounding magnolia trees that drip with bromeliads and moss. Paraty blossomed, but pirates based in the bay were attacking ships as they left for Rio and stealing the gold. “See how the streets are bowed? If you stand at one end, you can’t see the other. It was to skew the line of sight so pirate cannons and gunfire caused minimal damage,” explains Gabriel, pacing the cobblestones in his black Havaianas flip-flops. Furious at losing money, the king of Portugal ordered the construction of a new road that bypassed Paraty and the economy collapsed. Coffee was the solution. The fertile slopes of the Paraíba Valley were ideal and, as a result, the town’s port enjoyed a new boom. “You know the saying ‘to rise up in life’?” asks Gabriel. “That comes from when merchants could afford to build a second

ABOVE: 3D-papier-mâché artwork by Paraty artist Lucio Cruz RIGHT, CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP LEFT: Paulo Cesar, the owner and chef of Casa do Fogo, uses cachaça to flambé his prawns and steaks; dreamcatcher made by hippie beachcombers; dressmaker and jewellery designer Sônia Moraes; bottles of Cachaça Maria Izabel


IMAGES: EMMA THOMSON; CASA DO FOGO

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IMAGES: EMMA THOMSON; AWL IMAGES

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floor on their homes!” The town prospered until the coffee lords grew greedy. Seeking faster ways to transport their beans, they financed a railway from the valley direct to Rio. As a result, Paraty was cut off from Brazil and the world for 88 years. “But what we gained was culture,” explains Gabriel. “No one came in with new clothes, songs, food or ideas, so all the original practices were preserved. Music and recipes were unchanged.” Then in the 1970s the construction of the BR-101 highway — running the entire length of the country — reached Paraty and she entered a renaissance. “Our last treasure is you guys! We’re now 110% dependent on tourism.” “That’s not true!” counters Yara. “Obviously tourism is important, but even outside the holidays we have plenty happening. The thing that sets Paraty apart is that the community is self-confident. Where this doesn't exist — such as when locals think tourists are more important than them — a community loses its culture. Ours is a real village — an unsynthentic life.” It certainly feels authentic. Talent oozes from every cobblestone. Artists flocked here during the military dictatorship of the 1960s and the compact old centre brims with ateliers concealed behind coloured doors. “Until the road was built, locals only had contact with the water, mountains, nature — and they started to create from there. It’s so bucolic! The pace of life is different and an artist needs that,” enthuses my guide, Miriam, as she ties back her riot of dyed red hair. Yara nods along. “The tripod of cultures — from the native Indians, Portuguese and Africans — creates a unique mix of foods, colours and ideas. How can one not be inspired?” Yara runs Brazilian cookery lessons at her colonial home — one of around 400 in the old town. “My mother and father were gourmet cooks and I grew up in a traditional Brazilian house where food was the centre of life — they were always throwing lunches. But I never paid attention to cooking until Robert and I moved to Vermont. I was so cold and remembered a soup from childhood used to warm us up and from then on I cooked!” A profile in The New York Times and a cooking show on PBS followed. She finally returned home and today uses food to explain the country’s history. “What happens at the table explains so much of our economy and behaviour. For example, the popular moqueca (fish stew) recipe was actually invented in Africa and brought over by the slaves. And did you know ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper were only introduced when the Portuguese court fled to Brazil to escape the invasion of Napoleon's army? We still call it pimenta do reino (‘pepper from the kingdom’)!”

LOCAL SPIRIT

Foodie flair seems to have followed the art. Restaurateur Jane Assis gave up her life in Rio to run farm-to-table gourmet Restaurante Quintal das Letras and get creative with local staples such as manioc, tapioca, palm hearts and yucca. Meanwhile, Paulo Cesar, the owner and chef of Casa do Fogo (House of Fire), uses local spirit cachaça to flambé his camarãoes (prawns) and steaks. Made from distilled sugarcane juice cachaça is the alcoholic base of Brazil’s favourite cocktail: the caipirinha. Indeed, the first recipe for the drink was found in Paraty. Once the region boasted 200 distilleries, now only a handful remain. Maria Izabel makes the best. This fiery clear liquid runs in her veins: in 1800, her great-greatgrandfather, Francisco Lopes da Costa, was producing cachaça in Paraty. She’s turned its production into an art form by focusing on quality not quantity and does everything herself — from brewing to bottling — at her seafront pousada (hotel) a mile or so out of town. We manoeuvre the car down her winding rocky driveway.

ABOVE: Boats in the quay with Capela de Santa Rita and jungle-covered mountains in the background LEFT: Paraty town guide, Gabriel Toledo, and his dog

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IMAGE: EMMA THOMSON

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I TURN A CORNER AND COME ACROSS A SILVER-HAIRED MAN PAINTING A DOORWAY BEDECKED WITH BOUGHS OF PINK BOUGAINVILLEA. HIS OLD FISHERMAN TATTOOS, SMUDGED INTO HIS TANNED ARMS, ARE JUST VISIBLE

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Bird-of-paradise flowers burst like orange fireworks from the nearby bushes. Maria emerges barefoot, her three rescue dogs racing around her ankles. She’s tamed her cascade of long greying hair into a plait that trails to her waist. At the age of 66, her face hardly bears a wrinkle. Maria takes us up the hill to a small outhouse where the sugar — grown organically on her land — is pressed to extract the juice. “I then mix it with a yeast using a recipe that dates from 1900. I was given it by an old lady who’s lived on the land her whole life.” Once fermented, it’s heated over a fire. “I lie in my hammock waiting for the first drops to drip from the condenser,” Maria says, pointing to the hooks in the wooden beams. “I use the first stuff that comes out to clean things!” The best — the Reserva Especial — is siphoned off during the peak moment of distillation and stored in the bowels of giant jequitibá rosa wood barrels for five years. She shows me a bottle. It’s as yellow as urine. Time for a tasting. “Do you drink cachaça every day, Maria?” “Only the best one nowadays,” she says, pouring me a dram. I notice she’s handwritten the production date on each of the labels. I take a nip and feel it race down my throat. A wave of warmth flushes my cheeks and brings tears to my eyes. “Potent!” I sputter, but then it mellows and leaves the tongue wrapped in a smooth heat. “People have to be like cachaça: strong and without acidity — soft,” she smiles. Maria bathes daily in a freshwater pool she’s carved from the rock and snacks on the coconuts and passion fruit that fall from the trees in her garden. She’s certainly the least materialistic business owner I’ve ever met.

HAPPY MEDIUM

Getting there & around British Airways flies nonstop to Rio and São Paulo from London, while LATAM flies nonstop from London to São Paulo. ba.com latam.com Paraty Tours offers day trips to Trindade and can arrange 4WD jungle tours, hiking along the Gold Trail and bike tours. paratytours.com.br

Places mentioned Cachaça Maria Izabel. mariaizabel.com.br Casa do Fogo. casadofogo.com.br Flip. flip.org.br Lucio Cruz. paraty.tur.br/ateliers/lucio_cruz Margarida Café. margaridacafe.com.br Restaurante Quintal das Letras. pousadaliteraria.com.br/quintal Restaurante Refúgio. restauranterefugio.com Sônia Moraes. ateliesoniamoraes.com.br Academy of Cooking & Other Pleasures. chefbrasil.com

More info

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IMAGE: CACHAÇA MARIA IZABEL. ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

Back in town, I stumble across a life-size papier-mâché man sitting at a table sunning himself. Intrigued, I wander inside and meet Lucio Cruz. With a full head of black curls and a trim goatee, artist Lucio specialises in 3D models, molded to bring the town’s festivals, such as Festa do Divino Espírito Santo, to life.

ESSENTIALS

A

T

Y

B aía de I lha Grande

paraty.com.br

How to do it RAINBOW TOURS offers five nights in

Ilha Grande

Paraty Trindade

B R A Z I L AT L A N T I C MINAS GERAIS

OCEAN Sao Paulo

Rio de Janeiro

Paraty from £1,550 per person, including return flights with British Airways from London to Rio, a night in Rio at the Windsor Excelsior Hotel in Copacabana, four nights at Pousada do Sandi in Paraty, and transfers with a private driver/guide. Alternatively, upgrade to Casa Turquesa or Pousada Literaria. rainbowtours.co.uk

PREVIOUS PAGES: Tattooed fisherman painting the

streets of Paraty

ABOVE: Maria Izabel's cachaça, stored in giant jequitiba wood barrels

“I started with watercolours, but there are plenty of good painters in Paraty — I wanted to be different. It’s not an easy life: galleries don’t talk about or like this kind of art,” he shrugs. His seven-year-old son sits at the kitchen table working on his own papiermâché mask and Lucio rumples his dark hair proudly. “He loves it already,” he beams. Dusk is setting in as I step into the atelier of Sônia Moraes, a dressmaker and jewellery designer who moved to Paraty from São Paulo 18 years ago, following her daughter. “It was waiting for me; there’s such a warm welcome it’s hard to leave,” she says, ushering a glass of red wine into my hands. Her hand-painted shawls, kaftans and skirts have appeared in Vogue and been worn by famed Brazilian actress Maria Della Costa. “I live with art inside me,” she says, her Prada glasses perched on her nose. Certainly her dedication to her art form can’t be faulted: “For my daughter’s wedding dress, I asked the local fishermen to keep all the scales they scraped from the fish. I then hand-stitched each one onto the bodice of her dress — she shimmered!” Trumpeting from the street starts to drown out her voice. “Ah, the parade,” Sônia cries, jumping up and reaching the door as a procession of flag bearers from the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo sweep past, drums pounding and candles flickering. It’s just one of a packed calendar of events — which includes the literary festival Flip — set up by the co-founder of Bloomsbury, Liz Calder, that attracts the likes of Salman Rushdie, Joanna Trollope and Michael Ondaatje.

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letters of complaint and it was stopped. Back then there were around 20; now there’s more, but they come and go.” Today, Trindade has the feel of a holiday town. Bikinis and açaí sorbet are for sale in the shops, paddleboarders plumb the calm waters and phone signal dips in and out. I walk barefoot across the beach, passing a group of dreadlocked friends who sit on their sarongs listening as a boy strums his guitar. Up into the forest — the wet earth as cold and slippery as slugs beneath my feet — I pass an artist’s house built from mud and trees. His girlfriend shows me their handmade wind chimes, hanging from beams crafted from driftwood, shells and bird feathers found on the beach. Smoke from the fire weaves between them. It’s all rather groovy. On my last day in Paraty, I turn a corner and come across a silver-haired man painting a doorway bedecked with boughs of pink bougainvillea. His old fisherman tattoos, smudged into his tanned arms, are just visible. Propped against a wall is a trio of his paintings. One is a view of the town as seen from the harbour; the white spire of Capela de Santa Rita framed against the shadowy mountains. “Quanto custa?” I enquire. “One-hundred-and-fifty reals [£28],” he mumbles shyly. I’m not sure if the town had ‘chosen’ me or not, but it was clear the colours of Paraty quickly stain the soul. Both the painting and I were sold.

THE HANDMADE WIND CHIMES HANGING FROM BEAMS ARE CRAFTED FROM DRIFTWOOD, SHELLS AND BIRD FEATHERS FOUND ON THE BEACH

ABOVE: Flags line cobbled streets in Paraty for the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo

IMAGE: AWL IMAGES

After they’ve passed, we bid Sônia ‘tchau’ and follow the crowd to the main square, where everyone is shimmying to a local band. Something glints nearby and I’m lured into the atelier of Carina Saladino, who sits at her desk in dungarees painting tiles. She left her home in Argentina seven months ago to move here. “I visited Trindade two years ago and fell in love — the energy of the people is different.” Trindade — a village 20 minutes down the road — is famous for its hippies, who, in a sense, were the first artists to arrive. The children of rich families from São Paulo and Rio, they rejected the move towards technology and turned to nature instead. Trindade, with its dense forest clawing at broad sandy bays, was the answer. It’s one of the few places left where locals still live on the beach. One of them is 72-year-old Jair da Anunciação Oliveira, whom I meet at a cafe overlooking the ocean. The sun lines hatched into the back of his neck are testament to a life spent fishing. Jair remembers the 1960s, when the hippies arrived, as if it were yesterday. “It was a one-day walk from Paraty back then,” he says. “They lived in our homes like family and we all shared food.” Didn't they disrupt village life? I ask. He shakes his head. “We liked the hippies because they helped us. When Grupo Adela wanted to build a swathe of condominiums — like they did round the headland in Laranjeiras — and tried to force us off our land, the hippies wrote


PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

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PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Jerusalem

GO LOCAL

It is unparalleled that a city, steeped in a history that stretches back for so many thousands of years, can also play host to the vibrant, modern and innovative culture that exists in Jerusalem today. Whilst Jerusalem’s deep significance to three monotheistic faiths draws thousands of devoted visitors to the city every year, there is a changing face of the city, which lies beyond those historic walls. From food markets, technology, film, restaurants, spas, hotels and bars, Jerusalem blends past, present and future together in this extraordinarily unique destination. The creative hub continues to push boundaries, creating original spaces and immersive experiences. We meet some of the locals to hear about their Jerusalem...

THE CULTURAL AMBASSADOR

Deena Levenstein

"I'm attracted to the things where I feel the people behind them. It's the people who are here today who are doing really interesting projects like the dance project and the pop up galleries and the Machne Yehuda market. All this is juxtaposed with the things that have been going on here for thousands of years. When you visit a city it's a challenge to tap into the local culture but it's such an enriching thing to do."

THE CHEF

THE CURATOR

"I lived all my life here. Connecting food and culture in a complex city like Jerusalem is really interesting because the city observes such a variety of cultures and kitchens, which creates a cultural and culinary melting pot. For me as a chef and a creator, it is about figuring out how to make a stew out of this that will represent Jerusalem. I think my particular speciality is the translation of the culinary heritage of Jerusalem to a modern restaurant."

"[In Jerusalem] you have all the history and archeology. It's alive. It's not a ghost city where you just show old stones. You see how the Muslims, Christians, Armenians and Jews all live – all surrounded with history and stories. We have one of the 10 biggest encyclopaedic museums in the world and when you come to visit the [Israel] museum you take a journey. It's like a brief history of humankind, art, culture, history, archeology and more."

Assaf Granit

Roni Peled

THE BAKER

Moran Mizrachi

"I am a pastry chef – I live in Jerusalem, I grew up in Jerusalem, I was born in Jerusalem. I remember how it was to grow up here in this complex but dynamic place with all kinds of characters. We have some very creative ideas of what to do with food. You believe you have seen it all and then you understand that people are still thinking of things and inventing new dishes. The bases are always the same. I don't think I invented anything but maybe I had an idea."

THE BAR OWNER

Avi Moskowitz

"There's something about the shuk that's extra special – you feel the pulse of the country really is beating there. So take the idea of the shuk and add something like craft beer and being able to combine those two makes for a very special place. The Beer Bazaar is a way of exhaling and being able to experience the city in a way that's very different from during the day. People say: "Wow – there are 100 craft beers in Israel. I didn't imagine that was possible!"

To hear from these individuals who are the driving force behind Jerusalem’s ever-changing face, National Geographic Traveller will be running a series of videos on its website. From market traders and restaurateurs to chefs and tour guides, tune in for a range of insights from the locals in the city. For more information, visit citybreak.itraveljerusalem.com or contact the Jerusalem tourist board on +44 (0)20 7593 1714

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�urquoise, Cerulean,

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Words A U D R E Y G I L L A N Photographs A L E C S A N D R A R A L U C A D R A G O I

Lewis and Harris — those conjoined Hebridean twins — are home to an unfathomable number of shades of blue, from the sea to the sky. Perhaps that’s what calls so many natives back to these Scottish islands. And why the world wants to get its hands on their infamous tweed

�zure, �quamarine

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account of those who died at an early age, or to those lost in the First and Second World Wars, while others tell stories of people who left for America but returned here to lie. There’s a seeming echo of the cemetery at the Standing Stones of Calanais (Callanish), where 13 different flat rocks ranging in height from 3ft to 15ft are arranged in a cross, along with a circle surrounding a monolith at its centre. But this is not some ancient burial ground. Instead, it’s thought that the assembly marks the rising and setting of the moon, which represented birth, death and rebirth. These hulking pieces of Lewisian gneiss were erected some time between 2900 and 2600 BC. As the sun sets, the shimmering Neolithic stones give the impression of human silhouettes and for just a second or two, seem to briefly embrace. Beyond them, low hills resemble a reclining woman, known as the Old Woman of the Moors, or more affectionately as Sleeping Beauty, and the sun descends around her like a duvet. Azure. Turquoise. Cerulean. Aquamarine. I’m struggling to find Near Callanish, in the village of Breasclete, you’ll enough words to describe the different shades of blue that I encounter find Whitefalls Spa Lodges, with their floor-to-ceiling on my travels across the length and breadth of Lewis and Harris in windows that afford a view across fields and hills, and the Outer Hebrides. I pass down a mountain road and there, sweeping vast bathrooms complete with whirlpool bath, sauna before me, is a crystalline sea with a palette that changes hue as it and steam. But at this time of year, in this part of the washes over ripples of sand and my lexicon simply lets me down. world, the nights are long and light and the landscape I see teal. I see sapphire. And that one over there? Royal? Navy? It’s seems to sing to us, so we venture outside amidst the true that we Scots have just as many words for snow as the eskimos lilac gloaming. do, and more words for rain, but we haven’t extended our vocabulary The weather is glorious — the locals keep telling far enough to cover the blues. us how lucky we are — and so we play John Martyn On these islands on the edge of the North Atlantic, the colours are (a Scot) singing Bless the Weather as we drive along utterly absorbing — at once muted and vibrant; there’s thunderous single-track roads to Great Bernera — once an island grey, heathery purple, woolly cream and myriad greens. These tones (the largest island in Loch Roag), but a bridge linked tell not just the story of the seasons but of the wildlife and the people it to Lewis in 1953. At Bostadh Sands, an Iron Age who live here in the extreme northwestern fringe of Europe. It’s not just before you on the hills and on the bogs, but woven into the very fabric of Harris Tweed, a cloth now famous the world over but synonymous with the Outer Hebrides, because this is the only place that it can be made. The real stuff is certified and stamped with an orb and Maltese cross. Sitting on the marram grass above the dunes on the beach at Dail Mòr (Dalmore) on Lewis’s west coast, I watch the Atlantic rollers crash in. It’s after 7.30pm and a heat haze is still hanging in the air around the sea stacks. In the two cemeteries that back on to sand dunes, a striking Celtic cross stands proud and headstones mark the names — Mackay, Maciver, Macarthur, Macdonald and more — that tell a story of the generations of people who once lived or were born in the nearby village of Carloway and have come to be interred in this most stunning of resting places. For many, it was a harsh life on an island that can be brutal and OPPOSITE, FROM TOP: A tennis court on the road to Huisinis beach; one of Rebecca Hutton’s tweed designs ravaged by the elements, and not just in winter. Some stones give

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“I’ve absorbed the landscape to create my own tweed. Sometimes you realise that the colours you used are all around you. You might look at the machair and it’s in the tweed you’ve made” REBECCA HUTTON, TWEED WEAVER

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At this time of year, in this part of the world, the nights are long and light and the landscape seems to sing to us, so as the sun goes down, we venture outside amidst the lilac gloaming

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Lewis and Harris

of an old black house where life was centred around a peat fire that was never allowed to go out. In spite of their two names, Lewis and Harris are in fact one island, separated by mountains. In a sense, the boundary line runs from Loch Resort in the west to Loch Seaforth in the east. The road between the two dips down past the shoulder of Clisham, the highest mountain in the Western Isles, and skirts past Tarbert, the ‘capital’ of Harris, until the A859 hits the coast. “Wow,” says photographer Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi. “I don’t think I have said ‘wow’ so much in my life as I have on this trip, but this is an even bigger ‘wow’.” And she’s right. In Harris, there’s a ‘wow’ at almost every turn. The endless shell sand beaches are so white they’re dazzling. One of the largest, Luskentyre, has regularly been voted one of the best in the world and is, by far, the most spectacular I have ever come across. It curves around the bay for almost two miles. But there are other, smaller shimmering sands such as Seilebost, Horgabost and Borve — these old Norse names are vestiges of the Vikings that settled on the islands in the eighth century. village was discovered after the ‘great storm’ of 1993, when the dunes In the tiny settlement of Borrisdale sits Sound were pushed back, revealing an ancient figure-of-eight house of Harris, two newly built self-catering properties, hunkering in the sand. with extremely chic, modern interiors, hugging We head to Uig bay, with its sweeping golden beach where the the cliffs. Rob English, who fell in love with Harris Lewis Chessmen — 12th-century Viking chess pieces — were found. with his partner Carol and made a new life here, By the roadside, just beside the cattle grid in the village of Carishader, suggests a hike over to the Rodel Hotel, one of the sit a pair of tattybogles (scarecrows) — a kilt-wearing woman playing few pubs on the island, for a pint with genial hosts the bagpipes and a man sitting squeezing at his accordion with a can Donnie and Dena MacDonald. With a small harbour of beer on a table by his side. Inquiries reveal that this is the work of outside the front door and St Clement’s, a 15tha local man who works at the civic dump and retrieves bits and bobs century church built for the chiefs of the MacLeods to keep his tattybogles kitted out nicely. of Harris, just a stone’s throw away, this is a Lewis is a mostly flat place with peat bogs dictating the lie of truly stunning spot. So charming that Princess the land, but down at Uig Sands (Traigh Uige) there are rugged Anne once pulled up in her yacht and toddled in and remote hills fringing the beaches. And truly glorious machair, to the restaurant. a Gaelic word meaning fertile, low-lying grassy plain. This is one of the rarest habitats in Europe and only occurs in the western coasts of Scotland and Ireland, where sand has been thrown ashore by Atlantic gales. Over time it has become home to a vast diversity of flowers and plants, the colours of which change with the season. It’s also a refuge for threatened birds like corncrake, chough and corn bunting. At nearby Miavaig harbour, RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) excursions are operated by Seatrek. “The amount of sand on the beaches and the dunes depends on the winds and gales — they move with the weather,” OPPOSITE FROM TOP: The spectacular sunset at Borrisdale; a dish of Hebridean langoustines says our guide, Dolina. “The year before last we counted 38 beaches around the coast here.” ABOVE: Carol, the owner of the Sound of Harris self-catering She points out the ruins of the traditional black houses — low properties, tackles the langoustines structures made with dry-stone, their cavities filled with peat dust and earth and their roofs covered with oat thatch. “People slept in NEXT SPREAD, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Weaver Norman one end and the animals slept in the other. It was certainly cosy,” Mackenzie at his loom shed in Carloway in Lewis; Harris Tweed she jokes. “They kept willow trees in a walled garden. Willow was scarves for sale in Norman’s workshop; the cemetery backing so precious for basket weaving, so to keep the cattle from eating it, on to the beach at Dail Mòr; the lengths of blue yarn Norman uses to weave his tweed; yarn on the loom they put a wall around it.” Later, at Arnol, we see a reconstruction

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“I love weaving. There is creativity and technical skill, and I like that I’m keeping the tradition alive. You get a wee bit of exercise as well. I don’t have to go to the gym with all this pedalling” NORMAN MACKENZIE, TWEED WEAVER

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Surfing in Alaska

Are you ready to change your perspective? Discover one of a kind adventures run by hand picked, local guides. ODYSSEON.COM

Riding with the Cowboys of Colombia


Lewis and Harris

for one hour will, if the loom is behaving well, result in three to four metres of tweed. “The wool comes from the mainland because there is not enough here to keep the industry going,” he explains. “The mills dye the wool. They used to make dyes from lichens in the rocks and from plants and flowers. Nowadays it is all chemical dyes but they are still using natural colours, the blues of the sky, perhaps, or the heathers. Once they have dyed the wool they will spin it into yarns. And then I will make my own tweeds. I make my own warp and weft. “I didn’t intend to be weaving,” he goes on. “When I came back the family loom was gone and a neighbour had a Hattersley rusting away. I asked him if I could Donnie, a chef, gives us tips on how to cook scallops bought by Rob have it. I love it because you are making a nice product and, served with crisp slices of Stornoway black pudding, they’re and these looms are very rare, there are now only exquisitely fresh and juicy. There’s a local fish merchant in the area 20-odd of these left. But once there was 400 to 500. and so the following day Rob orders a box of langoustines — 104 of There was probably about 60 in Carloway alone. There them are delivered live to our door for just £70. is creativity and technical skill and I like that I’m In the village of Northton, independent weaver Rebecca Hutton keeping the old tradition alive. And you get a wee is in her garden shed working at her pedal-powered Hattersley loom, bit of exercise as well — I don’t have to go to the gym crafting Harris Tweed. She’s a cheery wee soul who relishes this with all this pedalling.” work, something she only learned four years ago. “I love that I have Hutton’s tweeds take her Harris heritage and created my own designs,” she says. “I have absorbed the landscape add a flash of modernity, with turquoise or lime, say. around me and created my own tweed and it’s part of me.” Mackenzie’s are solid, stoical expressions of Lewis Hutton does not work for one of Lewis’s big three mills, which and its landscape. In both their sheds, beautiful bolts employ weavers to make tweed to order, so the design of her patterns are stacked, some in herringbone, tartan, dogtooth, is entirely of her own choosing. “I might pick a colour that I have seen Russian twill, all of it for sale to people who drop in out and about. Sometimes it is just a subconscious absorbing of the for a demonstration and are drawn to buy exquisite landscape. You realise that lots of the colours you have used are all craft directly from the place in which it’s made. around you. You might be looking at the sea and the machair coming together and realise that is the tweed that you’ve made,” she says. Pointing to a tweed that mixes purple, cream and grey, she explains: “That’s the purple of the heather, the cream of the sheep and the grey of those rocks just over there out of that window. This one was from the sea — it’s a mix of blue and grey and the dark part is a storm coming.” Up in Carloway in Lewis, Norman Mackenzie also works a Hattersley loom. A retired dentist, he returned from Glasgow to the place of his birth and took up weaving as a hobby — a hobby that FROM LEFT: Rebecca Hutton, an independent weaver at Northton; weaving tools in Rebecca’s garden shed was to become a satisfying and very successful business. Pedalling

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Isle of Lewis

AT L A N T I C O C EAN

BUTT OF LEWIS

Ness

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Dail M

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L E W I S

Carloway

GREAT BERNERA

Breascleate

B ay Miavaig

Carishader

Stornoway

STANDING STONES OF CALLANISH

Clisham

Northton BORRISDALE HOUSE

TH

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Tarbert

M

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10 Miles

ESSENTIALS North of Carloway, in Ness, crofter Donald Macsween is bottlefeeding some orphan lambs. His family has been crofting here for almost 200 years — he was given the tenancy of a croft for his 21st birthday. Previously a journalist with the BBC in Stornoway, Macsween missed Ness, the land and the life that it offers. “Sheep are my true love. I was brought up with sheep. All my earliest memories are sheep related,” he explains. Like almost all families on Lewis, the Macsweens cut peat in the summer for fuel in the winter. Out in the bog, the freshly carved peat is soft, with a wet richness that changes texture altogether when it’s laid out to dry. “We used to cut it by hand but now we hire a contractor in a digger and he is doing in 10 seconds something that would take two minutes by hand. It’s backbreaking work which many still do.” Air An Lot, Macsween’s croft, comprises various skinny pieces of land that sweep down to the sea. His dog Bud jumps over the fence to round up the sheep. “Trobadh,” he says, meaning “come”. Bud comes, too, and so is told to “laigh sios,” or “lie down”. I ask if Bud and the sheep speak English. “They’ve certainly never replied to me in English,” laughs Macsween. The crofter takes us to the Butt of Lewis, with its dramatic lighthouse designed by David and Thomas Stevenson, the celebrated ‘Lighthouse Stevensons’. This is the most northerly point on the Outer Hebrides and is said to be the windiest place in the whole of the UK. Macsween looks out to sea: “That’s the Minch [strait] there and the Atlantic on the other side, and quite often there’s a line where the two currents meet. You can see the mainland on a clear day, the mountains of Sutherland, and if you climb the lighthouse you might catch sight of St Kilda. “They call us the islands on the edge but that’s nonsense. This place is not at the end of the world — it’s the centre of the earth.”

ABOVE: Sheepdog Bud rounds up sheep at Air An Lot, Donald Macsween’s croft at Ness on Lewis

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Getting there & getting around Flybe franchise partner Loganair operates up to four daily services between Glasgow and Stornoway. flybe.com It’s also possible to drive to either Lewis (via Mallaig) or Harris (via Skye), crossing the water on Caledonian MacBrayne ferries. calmac.co.uk There’s a bus service on the islands, while cycling is also popular — the Hebridean Way is a cycle route that covers the Outer Hebrides from top to toe. Another option is to hire a car at Stornoway Airport, especially as it means you can drive two of the UK’s spectacular single-track roads — the road to Huisinis in North Harris and the Golden Road in the south. lewis-car-rental.com

Places mentioned The Standing Stones at Callanish. callanishvisitorcentre.co.uk Seatrek. seatrek.co.uk The Black House. historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/the-blackhouse-arnol Rebecca Hutton, Taobh Tuath Tweeds. taobhtuathtweeds.com Norman Mackenzie, Carloway Harris Tweeds. T: 01851 643413. Air An Lot. airanlot.com

More info visitscotland.com visitouterhebrides.co.uk The Black House Trilogy (RRP: £5.59) and Coffin Road (RRP: £5.59), by Peter May (Quercus). Crime thrillers set on Lewis and Harris.

How to do it Loganair flights between Glasgow and Stornoway start from £57.99 per person. Prices at Whitefalls Spa Lodges start from £149 per night based on a minimum three-night stay, off peak; Sound of Harris prices start from £108 per night, on a minimum three-night stay; while The Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway offers double rooms from £99 per night. flybe.com whitefalls.co.uk soundofharris.co.uk cabarfeidh-hotel.co.uk

ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

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Lerwick Stromness

Kirkwall

Scrabster

is V Shetland Ponies These world-famous miniature ponies can be found across Shetland’s islands. Seen grazing by the roadside or amongst heather on the hills, look out for this breed in their natural environment on your island tour.

And with regular, comfortable crossings, their beauty and wonder are just a sailing away.

www.northlinkferries.co.uk /northlinkferries

@NLFerries

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Orkney and Shetland are closer than you think. With stunning coastlines, unrivalled wildlife and ancient monuments, the islands are a perfect destination to explore.

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it

A million miles from what you imagine…

it

Aberdeen

Orkney’s iconic and mystical Ring of Brodgar. Part of Orkney’s World Heritage site, the 30 standing stone circle is free for visitors to explore.


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Words & photographs D A N I E L A L L E N

Cowboys, cigars and classic cars, all served with a swig of rum. Saddle up and explore the bucolic, tobacco-rich Pinar del RĂ­o Province, for a taste of the Wild West, Cuban style September 2016

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The

gleaming

Buick deposits me outside black

a nondescript

metal door in Old

Havana. Still simmering in the late-afternoon heat, the street is a chaotic throng of tourists, workmen and grizzly, cigar-smoking octogenarians. Skinny jeans cling to my legs in a sticky compress. Nobody seems to be answering the buzzer. “Daniellll! Daniel, llaves. Lllaaaavessss!!” I look up to see a woman with a big smile looking down at me from a first-floor balcony. She throws me a big bunch of keys and I let myself in. As I head up the narrow staircase, my suitcase seems to have acquired the mass of a miniature black hole. I stagger my way in through a battered, half-open doorway. “Bienvenido a Cuba, señor Daniel!” says the beaming woman, whose name turns out to be Julia. “Bienvenido al Casa Yor y Damaris.” Julia, mercifully, refrains from an immediate interrogation in Spanish. Handing me a glass of chilled guava juice, she shows me to my room. Under an enormously high ceiling and chandelier, I fall asleep to the sounds of rumba, reggaeton and muffled laughter.

I’m here not just to see Havana, but also for a spot of horse-riding — and the best place on the island to saddle up is Viñales, a small town of 30,000 people 110 miles west of the capital, in Pinar del Río Province. At 10 o’clock the next day I’m reclining in an air-conditioned Chinese bus, as we motor past timeworn Chevrolets, Fords and an array of pastel-coloured facades. The Malecón, Havana’s iconic esplanade and sea wall, is under attack from a choppy sea, with clouds of spume drifting across the baking tarmac. After three hours on an empty motorway, the first majestic view of Viñales presents itself. Stretching toward the horizon, a series of limestone mogotes (hills) rise up, domelike, from a sea of rice, cane and tobacco plantations. With its tangerine soil, emeraldgreen vegetation and cornflower sky filled with miniature eiderdowns of cloud, the so-called ‘garden of Cuba’ is a breathtaking vision of bucolic loveliness. No wonder this is Fidel’s hangout of choice. My accommodation for the next two days proves to be a whitewashed, singlestorey home. Located at the edge of open farmland, the view from the building’s flat roof is simply stunning, with a loaf-shaped limestone buttress providing a magnificent backdrop. Below a nearby stand of palm trees I can see the distinctive thatched roof of a casa de secadora (tobacco-curing barn), while red-faced turkey vultures swoop and soar overhead.

ABOVE: Traditional leather stirrups, Águas Claras Beach Resort LEFT: Afternoon trot at Águas Claras Beach Resort with guide Adonis Toledo

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After a delicious lunch of bean soup, pork, pineapple and sweet potatoes, followed by the briefest of siestas, I’m ready for my first equine encounter.

Of leaves & lakes

Pinar del Río protects more land than any other Cuban province, with the Viñales Valley designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and national park. I’m about to ride through the park with guide Miguel, who doubles up as a ranger. In his spotless Stetson, aviator shades and black leather boots, Miguel turns out to be one cool vaquero (cowboy). We mount up outside his house, and ride slowly through the suburbs of Viñales, past long lines of well-maintained casas and old US cars with their bonnets up. “Cuba is famous for four things,” explains Miguel, as we emerge into open country. “Fidel, chicas, rum and cigars. Now we’ll go to meet my friend Juan Manuel to experience the last one.” Apart from a spasmodic tendency to break into a trot, my horse is behaving himself nicely. Under a powerful mid-afternoon sun, we ride along a succession of rust-red paths, past fields of taro, yuca and corn. Arriving at Juan Manuel’s farm, the large tobacco barn is filled, floor to ceiling, with pole upon pole of desiccated leaves. The interior is dark and musky, with an earthy, sweet-dry smell of maple syrup and fresh cigars. “The leaves stay in the barn for three months,” explains Juan Manuel, as he gives us a quick tour. “They’re hung up in pairs, and turn from green to brown as they ferment. This process makes the final cigar sweet and smooth.” Cuban cigars are composed of three parts: a filling, a binder and the outer skin. The skin is the most important leaf as it has to make the cigar look good. Juan Manuel demonstrates the rolling process, using a small pot of honey to hold everything together. “The government always takes 90% of a Cuban farmer’s tobacco, at a low price," he explains. “The remaining 10% we can sell ourselves.” I take the hint and buy a simply wrapped pack of 15 — for 45 Cuban convertible pesos (£30) — on the way out.

RIGHT: Juan Manuel smoking one of his hand-rolled cigars at his farm in the Viñales Valley OPPOSITE, FROM TOP: Felipe driving his white Chevrolet, compete with dashboard fan and black fluffy dice; vintage vehicles in Pinar del Río city NEXT PAGES, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: An old wooden cart resting against the hollow trunk of an allegedly magical ceiba tree; a bunch of dried tobacco leaves; Ricardo and his family on their verandah near Aguas Claras; young guajiro, Roberto, on an early-morning ride out to the nearest mogote, in Viñales Valley

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Passing more barns and stands thatched with coconut palms, we continue our journey onward to a well-signposted mirador (viewpoint). Beside a lake populated with stalking herons and a couple of adventurous tourists, Miguel and I take in a distant mogote, shimmering in the afternoon haze. “Let’s see how well-behaved your horse is now he knows we’re going home,” says my guide with a grin, adjusting his shades.

Way of the guajiro

In the early years of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara travelled through Pinar del Río, drumming up support from the oppressed peasantry. These salt-of-the-earth labourers would later be championed throughout Castro’s Cuba. Today, the Viñales Valley remains the spiritual heartland of the guajiro. “The guajiros of Viñales are famous,” says 17-year-old Roberto. “They’re the hardworking country people who live off the land. I’m a young guajiro myself!” Up before dawn the following day, Roberto has collected me from my casa with a couple of chestnut stallions. Enjoying the early morning cool, we ride out toward the nearest mogote. The guajiros of Viñales are already hard at work, ploughing their fertile fields with teams of oxen. We pass a massive ceiba tree; an old wooden cart resting against its hollow trunk. Renowned for its alleged magical powers, the

Cuban cigars have a filling, a binder and the outer skin. The skin is the most important leaf as it has to make the cigar look good


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The leaves are hung up in pairs, and turn from green to brown as

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they ferment. This process makes the cigar sweet and smooth

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ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

CUBA HAVANA

Vinales VILLA AGUAS CLARES

O PINAR DE L R I

ESSENTIALS Getting there & around Virgin Atlantic flies twice a week between Gatwick and Havana. Indirect flights are available from airlines such as Air Canada (via Toronto), Air France (via Paris) and Iberia (via Madrid). virgin-atlantic.com aircanada.com airfrance.co.uk iberia.com The best way to travel long distances outside Havana is either by bus or colectivo (shared taxi). The Viazul bus company runs air-conditioned coaches to most Cuban cities. viazul.com

When to go The best time to visit is from December to May, when you can expect plenty of dry, sunny days. The wet season begins in June, while there's a risk of hurricanes between August and October.

ceiba is associated with the popular Cuban religion of Santería, practised in areas where the island’s African roots are strongest. “These trees are very useful,” explains Roberto. “Pigs and chickens can hide inside and are protected from wild animals. In the past, my mother would use the cotton from ceiba pods to fill our cushions and pillows.” Back at the Casa Jesús y María, owner Anai has concocted a hearty brunch of fried eggs, chorizo, rolls and fruit. With my sunburned neck and arms, she tells me I’m turning into some kind of blue-eyed guajiro. Later that day, a rather tender backside tells me it’s time to take a break from the saddle. With the late afternoon sun still high in the sky, I wander along the main street of Viñales. Below the whitewashed bell tower of a colonial-era church, clustered around the town’s single public router, smartphonewielding locals and tourists chat online with friends and check their emails. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Cuba was suddenly deprived of basic staples such as oil, tractors and fertiliser. Today, an underdeveloped manufacturing sector and unwieldy state distribution system means Cuban supermarket shelves are frequently empty, or filled with goods nobody wants to buy. After several fruitless attempts to purchase beer, I settle for a carton of apple juice and some stale crackers. As an exemption to Cuba’s prohibition on

private manufacturing, Cubans are allowed to make and sell ‘handicrafts’. The tourist market in Viñales turns out to be wall-towall Cuban kitsch, offering everything from Che Guevara T-shirts to jewellery made from old cutlery. Picking up a straw fedora for the princely sum of 8 Cuban convertible pesos (about £5), I set off for Hotel Los Jazmines. This, I’ve been told, offers the best sunset panorama in town. I soon discover that the hotel isn’t in Viñales at all, but three miles beyond the suburbs. It’s also on top of a hill. Feeling lazy, I flag down a colectivo (shared taxi) and hitch to the top for a handful of change. Overhung by belly palms and home to a small population of chickens and cats, the wooden balcony of the Hotel Los Jazmines is, indeed, superbly placed. Accompanied by a cool glass of Cristal beer, I watch the sun drop behind the farthest mogotes, as columns of smoke rise lazily from the valley floor below and fireflies dance in the trees. Grabbing a couple more beers for the evening, I wander back down to Viñales in the fading light. Huge, hand-painted signs line the road, adorned with Che Guevara’s whiskered visage and revolutionary slogans.

BELOW: Riding in the Viñales Valley, along rust-red paths and past fields of taro, yuca and corn, ploughed by teams of oxen

Places mentioned Yor and Damaris’ House. yorydamarishouse.com Casa Jesús y María. mycasaincuba.com Hotel Los Jazmines. T: 00 53 48 796123. Villa Aguas Claras. Carretera de Viñales km. 7 ½, Viñales

More info Cuba Tourist Board. travel2cuba.co.uk Insight Cuba. insightcuba.com/blog Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, by Jon Lee Anderson: RRP: £18.99 (Bantam Press)

How to do it CUBA DIRECT offers both economy and

deluxe seven-day horse-riding packages. The economy package, which includes B&B casa accommodation, guided excursions/rides in Havana and Pinar del Río Province, transfers and visas (not including flights), costs from £620 per person. The deluxe package, which includes all meals, four- to five-star accommodation and private transfers, costs from £2,100 per person, not including flights. cubadirect.co.uk

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I try to imagine what Cuba’s favourite adopted son would make of Viñales today, with its budding private enterprise and expensive tourist menus. At least he’d have enjoyed the views.

Country life

BELOW: Juan Manuel demonstrates the cigar-rolling process, using a small pot of honey to hold everything together, at his farm in the Viñales Valley

The next day it's time to relocate to Águas Claras Beach Resort, near Pinar del Río city, 15 miles west of Viñales. After breakfast, Felipe, my driver, pulls up outside the casa in an immaculate white Chevrolet, complete with dashboard fan and black fluffy dice. “This road is bad for my springs,” he complains, caressing one gleaming wing with a calloused hand. An hour later, I'm installed in a compact chalet at Águas Claras, preparing for an afternoon trot. This time, my guide will be the charming Adonis, who's been working at the resort for 15 years. “I started as the pool cleaner and worked my way up,” he explains. “I tried working in

The tobacco barn is filled, floor to ceiling, with pole upon pole of desiccated leaves. It’s dark and musky, with an earthy, sweetdry smell of maple syrup and fresh cigars

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Pinar del Río city, but had to come back here. I love the campo [countryside] life too much.” Saddling up, we leave the property across a river lined with picknickers and cavorting children, emerging on the opposite bank into a plantation of medicinal herbs. Adonis points out calendula, chamomile, oregano and eucalyptus, as well as groves of lemon and mango. We spot one guajiro perched precariously in the top of a tree, cutting palm fruits for his pigs. Adonis introduces me to a family he knows, living on the plantation in their modest, one-storey casa. Smiling shyly for a group photo on the verandah, they invite us in for coffee. Ricardo, the grandfather, shows me his impressive collection of knives and machetes. “In the 18th century, we fought the British with weapons like this,” he tells me with a gappy grin. “But today I just use it for clearing trees.” With the sun setting in a cloudless sky, a beautiful afternoon’s ride ends as we take in an amateur baseball game beside a half-full reservoir. As a team of oxen haul a cart along a nearby road, spectators pass round a plastic bottle of home-made rum. It really is life in the campo at its finest. The next day I’m up before sunrise to take a final ride around the countryside. Adonis has a slightly sore head. “Yesterday evening I was drinking rum with my father,” he explains ruefully. “He’s 81 years old but he still drinks and smokes and works in the fields every day. True guajiros work until they die.” We ride through a plantation of ripe guava in glorious early morning sunshine. Adonis picks a bagful and hands me one to eat. “This is a superfruit,” he exclaims. “Good for cancer, for the heart, for diabetes and for immunity. Maybe it will even cure my hangover.” Too soon it’s time to head back, and the horses break into a canter at the prospect of fresh hay at the stable. Back at the resort Adonis shakes my hand warmly and goes off to distribute guavas among his colleagues. By mid-morning, driver-guide David has arrived to take me back to Havana. We make a quick stop in Pinar del Río city, whose first cigar factory opened in 1760 and is still in operation. Nearby, in pink and white, the Catedral de San Rosendo is particularly beautiful; a giant Cuban flag flutters in the breeze above the main street. On the way back to Havana, David tells me about a French journalist who he once drove around the Cuban countryside. “He had this little book about understanding Cuba. A tiny little thing. And I thought to myself, how can this book explain Cuba? Understanding Cuba takes a lifetime, if not two or three lifetimes, even for Cubans.” Of course, he’s right. Like the fine tobacco of the guajiros, a proper appreciation of Cuban life is something that develops slowly.


OPENING WINTER 2016-2017 AT PARADISUS VARADERO New area with exclusive facilities and personalised service, for the whole family to enjoy a luxury stay. www.paradisus-varadero.com E X C E P T I O N A L


Hong Kong Words & photographs M A R K PA R R EN TAY L OR

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Think Hong Kong, think steamy high-rise canyons crammed with the clamour of the big city. It ’s hard to believe, then, that lazy beaches and countr yside trails lie just 30 minutes from all that hullabaloo September 2016

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In 2000, the village of Tai O on Lantau Island was devastated by fire. Today, its stilted wooden dwellings are protected by tin cladding. The villagers have the space to produce all kinds of tasty chow, from air-dried fish to the prawn paste that ‘Seven’ Cheung ferments on his shop roof. On Lamma Island, Gary Tse grows herbs at his beachside cafe Herboland. And in the township of Yuen Long, wintermelon-filled ‘wife cakes’ have been a speciality at Hang Heung Cake Shop for over 70 years.

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CLOCKWISE: Each day fish and seafood are laid or hung out to dry in the sun and warm sea breeze; ‘Seven’ Cheung on his rooftop; wintermelon-filled ‘wife cakes’; herbs grown by Gary Tse

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A mile or two east of burgeoning Yuen Long, Kat Hing Wai is a 17th-century walled village still inhabited by descendants of the Punti people, who first made this land their home some 600 years ago. Elderly residents spend their afternoons in the gatehouse, greeting visitors — and perhaps posing for the occasional snap. Read more to find out how this shot was taken, p.162

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Cheung Chau island’s harbour is busy day and night, with frequent inter-island ferries, kai-to (small motorised ferries) and other small craft carrying villagers, plus fishing boats that head out into the South China Sea each evening. 136

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The country trail across Lamma takes in the island’s sweeping landscapes. At the eastern end of Victoria Harbour, Lei Yue Mun village’s twisting, roofed-over lanes are lined with restaurants and stalls selling plump sun-dried oysters.

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Cheung Chau island's Pak Tai Temple is the focus of the Bun Festival, held in early May, but its evocative interior is always worth exploring — unless you’re hungry. The island has no trains, let alone cars, but kaido water-taxi pilots provide a characterful way of getting around.

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City Life

DUBAI

IMAGES: GETTY; KATY MORRISON

After years of trying to be the biggest and brightest, Dubai is finally prepared to think small — and focus more on those little things that help a city become a real hometown WORDS: Jamie Lafferty

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OPPOSITE: Old City

ABOVE: Deira Fish Market

ne Cafe by Life’n One could be anywhere in Southeast Asia. It’s the sort of place where would-be hippies hang out to eat raw food, read and strum ineptly at guitars. The kind of cafe a person can drop in to, dodge the chaos of the city outside and find a vegetarian version of food they miss from home. There are cacao smoothies, gluten-free pancakes, quinoa bread and yoga classes. The cafe frames a well-established garden, with its customers waiting out the heat of the day in the shade. There's a barefooted girl with dreadlocked hair dozing on a suspended wicker chair; there’s her baggytrousered boyfriend, his face a constellation of piercings, updating a journal while leaning on a satisfyingly chunky wooden table. Nearby are shelves of books, which look like they’ve been there for decades. Sitar music gargles out from an unseen stereo. The fact no one’s smoking a joint is perhaps the only surprise. Yes, One Cafe could be anywhere in Southeast Asia, but it happens to be in a suburb of Dubai. Yes, that Dubai — the one with the gargantuan shopping malls and the ‘seven star’ hotels, where the police drive customised sports cars. Dubai, the biggest city in the UAE, which for the past 45 years has developed almost completely unhindered, slowing down only briefly for the global financial crisis of 2008. That was when I first arrived in the city, when it was still fixated on building the

biggest, highest, best version of everything. I lived in Dubai for two years, leaving shortly after the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, opened for business in 2010. Now, it’s possible to travel all the way up to the 148th floor of that monolith, to the At The Top SKY lounge, for a view out across the city to the warm waters of the Gulf, or to the near endless desert. When I did this on my return to Dubai after a four-year absence, I was unable to discern many alterations to the skyline. But during my time away, there had been change — a lot of it. There’s now a fully functioning metro system and an astonishing plan to seed clouds to encourage rainfall. The biggest change, however, has been that the city seems to have gained a better sense of what people want in a hometown. Now, if you know where to look, you can find independent cafes and fairs, markets and galleries, people making things. OK, so the summers are still stifling, but in the two years since I returned, I’ve seen the emergence of more things that speak to me. These projects aren’t the result of colossal government or corporate funding, but rather the work of individuals who simply want to make things a bit better — a bit more normal. Consider the entrepreneurs at Ripe food market, which has grown exponentially since its 2011 launch. Now at multiple locations across the city, it brings farmers and traders together to sell organic fruit and

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vegetables. Alongside them are fancy coffee brewers, a satirical poster maker, evangelical juice pressers, ‘waffle artisans’ and a purveyor of tipis for children. It’s only really a craft-beer stall and several clouds away from being the kind of thing you’d find in east London. In the temperate winter months, Ripe is held in parks around the city; during summer, it moves inside. Or there’s Alserkal Avenue, a burgeoning arts district and the most obvious example of how far Dubai has come creatively. Located in the heart of Al Quoz, a dusty industrial zone more commonly populated by such beauties as the Modern Concrete Products Factory, Alserkal shines like gold in an ashtray. Here, old warehouses have been converted into art galleries and studios. You can come for photography courses with Gulf Photo Plus, or take a seat in A4 Space cafe and meet other creative types. Regardless of the heat outside, there’s almost always some kind of event or exhibition going on inside one of these cavernous buildings. When I visit, I notice an Indian man with an excellent moustache standing alone near A4 Space, under a faded sign which reads: ‘Shrey Sahaj. Smart Uniforms. Smart Impressions’. It looks as though he and his business are about to be swallowed up by relentless, trendy progress. But it would be a shame if that kind of place disappeared from Dubai entirely, because if the city has a soul, it’s surely South Asian. For all the new creative projects, the majority of the city’s population have little interest in whether or not they can buy a kale juice or take a sculpture class. At least 42% of the population is Indian, 21% Pakistani. Add the Bangladeshis, Nepalis and Sri Lankans, and well over two-thirds of the emirate comes from that corner of the world. At sunset on weekends, car parks and construction sites are converted into ramshackle cricket pitches — the sport is a big deal. Bollywood is a big deal, too, as is Diwali, the Indian festival of light. If you head up to the historic Creek, you’ll find a few Hindu temples — and a Sikh one. Inside the creek-side textile, spice and gold souks — favourite destinations for cruise ship passengers — are theatrical traders, merciless haggling, and absolutely no sense of personal space. It’s a dazzling dance of colour, smell and sound. I found that I never really understood Dubai until I visited India.

CENTRE OF THE WORLD

There’s been a version of this semi-organised bedlam going on here for hundreds of years, almost always with traders from Persia or India. But in the early days, the United Arab Emirates was not united at all. The area had been settled, in so much as there were

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people living here, but not in the sense that it was peaceful or organised. Most maritime maps marked it as The Pirate Coast, owing to the number of cutthroats who made their fortunes raiding ships passing in and out of the Gulf. In 1853, the British convinced a number of coastal rulers to commit to peace and over the following 80 years or so, the newly christened Trucial States enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity, with a flourishing pearl industry encouraging trade with Europe. It lasted until the Japanese worked out how to synthesise pearls, at which point the natural market immediately collapsed. Two world wars and the rapid erosion of the British Empire put further strain on the region’s fragile stability. But then, again with British assistance, oil was discovered and once more the region lurched in a strange new direction. Money has since flowed out like a newly tapped well and, although Dubai is not particularly oil-rich (the majority of that fortune belongs to Abu Dhabi), its population has exploded from around 59,000 in the year the UAE was founded in 1971, to over 2.5 million today. The whole world now comes to Dubai. It’s said that two-thirds of the global population can be reached in a seven-hour flight. As a result, there’s a wide spectrum of cultures and ethnicities. The variety of cuisine is incredible: try boiled sea cucumber in a Chinese hotpot, or have fish and chips on the beach; lunch at Samarkhand, an Uzbek cafe, then head out to master chef Pierre Gagnaire’s Reflets for dinner. Unlikely culture clashes happen every day. I have an Australian friend who’d never seen snow before he arrived to work in Dubai, but then learned to snowboard in Ski Dubai, before taking a week’s holiday to Lebanon to hit the slopes. Thanks to Dubai, I have friends from Singapore, Georgia and Cape Verde — but I don’t have any Emirati friends. Making up 10-15% of Dubai’s population, Emiratis are an endangered species in their own land. Dubai is technically an Arabian city, but in truth, it was built by and for foreigners. So while Emiratis dominate the government, military and police, opportunities to mingle with them are rare. For newcomers, learning Arabic is virtually impossible — besides, it’s much more useful to learn Hindi, Urdu or Austronesian Tagalog. However, English is the lingua franca and virtually all of the 2.5 million people in Dubai learn to speak it. To get a better sense of who the city’s real locals are, I contact Frying Pan Adventures (FPA), a popular walking tour company run by sisters Arva and Farida Ahmed. Lifelong residents of Dubai, they’re Indian and no closer to an Emirati passport now than their parents were when they arrived 40 years ago.

Palm paradise // Man-made islands are a thing in Dubai. Dubbed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, Palm Jumeirah — a palm-shaped archipelago with 323 miles of beaches — is the artificial offshore home to luxury resorts and villas. Sadly, at almost seven to eight times its size, Palm Jebel Ali has been on hold since 2009 FROM TOP: Bicycle and graffiti at Alserkal Avenue art district in Al Quoz; Diwali celebrations in Dubai at a Sikh temple in Jebel Ali


IMAGES: ALAMY; GETTY

DUBAI

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Deira, spice souk

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IMAGE: GETTY

DUBAI

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ESSENTIALS 4 miles

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Getting there & around Emirates flies to Dubai from Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Gatwick and Heathrow. British Airways flies direct from Heathrow. emirates.com ba.com Dubai has had a metro system for the past seven years, with stations around the city. Taxis are abundant and

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Between April and October, temperatures regularly exceed 40C. In July and August, it may exceed 50C. Temperatures come down in September as humidity arrives. From November until March, the weather is largely perfect. Ramadan has a number of restrictions — in 2017, it’s projected to run from late May to late June.

Ar

UMM Burj Al Arab SUQEIM THE PALM JUMEIRAH

relatively cheap; Uber has also grown rapidly. Driving is recommended for experienced, confident drivers.

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DEIRA The Souks Du b BUR a i DUBAI

Places mentioned One Cafe by Life’n One. lifenone.com/one-cafe The Burj Khalifa. burjkhalifa.com Ripe markets. ripeme.com Alserkal Avenue. alserkalavenue.ae Frying Pan Adventures. fryingpanadventures.com

More info visitdubai.com

How to do it ELEGANT RESORTS has five nights at the Ritz-Carlton

in a Deluxe Room from £1,345 per person. It includes breakfast, economy flights, private transfers and UK airport lounge passes. elegantresorts.co.uk

Still, this is their hometown and they’re keen to help people explore it. “I’ve grown up here and feel strongly about showcasing what I feel is the authentic, no-frills, unpretentious side of the city,” says Arva, who personally leads three or four tours a week. It took joining one of FPA’s excellent food, culture and photography tours for me to visit the Deira district’s Naif neighbourhood, a place I was previously only dimly aware of. Naif is home to people from developing nations all around the world. This is a part of the city where men wearing kameezes gather under streetlights, conducting conversations over unbroken handshakes. Where women in salons laugh and gossip. A community majlis (council) hosts a confluence of cultures, surrounded by a giant halo of garish shop fronts with woeful typography: Hao Hao Tailoring sits next to Flower Breezes Trading, which sits next to Adbul Rahim Ali Mohammed and Sons. There are chai sellers, shwarma shavers, a waterseller with a wheelbarrow. The streets are tight and hot, the concrete alleys acting like radiators. Old air conditioning units hang from buildings, threatening to shake themselves loose. Many of Dubai’s tens of thousands of Africans live around here too, so there are also Ethiopian coffee shops, market stalls selling kaleidoscopic dresses, and barbers offering bombastic hairstyles. People cycle like they’re invincible — and drive like it, too. There are scrawny stray cats, un-emptied bins and competing aromas from street vendors. There’s a gun shop and perhaps not coincidentally, Dubai’s oldest jail. Arva encourages her guests to take photos of it all and to interact with the residents, to learn more about lives far removed from the Dubai the world knows. This neighbourhood is very close to the Creek, one of the city’s most heavily touristed areas, but Naif is unrecognisable as Dubai. Its residents come from rural Iran and India, Kenya and Ethiopia. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan. China. Uganda. Sudan. They’re not Emiratis, nor will they ever be. But they’re Dubaians. This is their town.

IMAGE: GETTY. ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

Traditional coffee, roasted over an open camp fire


City Life

OSLO Z

ZZ

Sandwiched between a fjord and forested hills, Oslo is the ideal place to experience hygge — the art of embracing life's simple pleasures WORDS: Audrey Gillan. PHOTOGRAPHS: Diana Jarvis

Oslo Opera House, situated on the Bjørvika

waterfront by the Oslo Fjord

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T

he circle of life seems to surround you in Oslo. It’s most manifest in the series of sculptures at the centre of Vigeland Sculpture Park, where figures of humans from birth to death create an eternal ring representing nature’s way of taking and giving back life to Earth. Look closely and you will see this circle in the paintings of Edvard Munch, and much more obviously in the lush forests and wooded hills just a few miles from the city centre. You can even trace it on the plates of its best restaurants — with food reflecting the time of year and the nation’s natural larder. With short days in winter and long, light nights in summer, Oslo wears a different cloak according to four very distinct seasons. It's a place to experience hygge (Scandi for ‘hug’, but really meaning ‘embracing all things cosy’) in its warm nooks and crannies when it is cold, and in warmer months its wide-open spaces are the perfect place to bask in the glory of almost endless days. Skirting the bay of the Oslo Fjord area, much of the city is at the water’s edge, from the vibrant, newly regenerated district of Tjuvholmen, to the magnificent Akershus Fortess, a medieval castle built to protect the capital of Norway. The Oslo Radhus (town hall) in the downtown Pipervika neighbourhood houses the city council, art studios and galleries. It's a glorious, almost Brutalist structure, its brick facade decorated with historical themes, combining national romanticism with modern ideas. Home to the annual Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony, it has a 49-bell carillon, which marks the passage of time by playing an eclectic range of music, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Bowie’s Changes. Oslo may be steeped in history but it’s also a funky, happening city. Groovy Grünerløkka is home to great bars and restaurants and fabulous vintage shops, while the once industry-heavy riverbank area known as Vulkan has been spruced up and is now a magnet for foodies, with restaurants, cafes and the Mathallen Food Hall. Yes, Oslo can be pricey, but it’s a city that can still be enjoyed by those of slender means, not least by avoiding (extortionatelypriced) alcohol. Buy an Oslo Pass (490 NOK/£44 for 48 hours) and the city’s 30-odd museums will be free to enter, along with pools and other attractions, plus you get free bus and train transport.

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SEE & DO

AKERSHUS FORTRESS: Children fixated

with Disney’s Frozen will love this medieval castle’s crenellations and high walls (it’s not much of a leap to imagine Princess Elsa living here), while adults will find the whole complex fascinating. Surrounded by green, it offers great views out over the Oslo Fjord. IBSEN MUSEUM: Visit the home where Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen spent the last 11 years of his life. norskfolkemuseum. no/en/related-units/the-ibsen-museum MUNCH MUSEUM: Home to over half of Edvard Munch’s art plus changing exhibitions linking artists and photographers with Munch. If the museum’s The Scream is ‘resting’, see one of Munch’s four versions of the painting on permanent display at the National Gallery in the city centre. munchmuseet.no/en NORWAY’S RESISTANCE MUSEUM: As well as celebrating those who fought against the Nasjonal Samling (Norwegian fascist party), this museum addresses uncomfortable questions about Norway’s past during Nazi occupation. forsvaretsmuseer.no NOBEL PEACE CENTER: Celebrating Nobel Peace Prize winners and telling the story of Alfred Nobel and the prize itself. There are also changing exhibitions, often related to war and peace and conflict resolution. nobelpeacecenter.org/en

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BUY

BLÅ MARKET: From noon on a Sunday

head to the district Grünerløkka to browse stalls selling handicrafts, vintage clothes and secondhand knick-knacks. visitoslo.com/en/product/?tlp=178086 MOODS OF NORWAY: With a tractor as its logo, this company makes ‘happy clothes for happy people’, all with a Norsk twist. moodsofnorway.com/en HOUSE OF OSLO: A chic interiors shop with a cool Scandi aesthetic. There are stylish clothes and jewellery outlets too, plus a cafe, supermarket, florist and sports shop. houseofoslo.no EGER KARL JOHAN: Upmarket department store full of global brands. egerkarljohan.no MATHALLEN FOOD HALL: Stock up on smoked salmon, brown cheese and other local produce, then try some bites from the many street food stalls. mathallenoslo.no/en

LIKE A LOCAL

KULTURHUSET: Hob-nob with the

city’s intellectuals, politicos and journalists at Kulturhuset (‘Culture House’), a bar, cafe and events space located on Youngstorget, a public square that’s home to a number of Norway’s main political parties. kulturhusetioslo.no SØRENGA: Take a swim at Sørenga, where you’ll find a large seawater pool in the fjord. Just east of the opera house, this former container port has been developed into a chic residential area with a floating park at its centre. RÅDHUSBRYGGE 3: Early in the morning head to Rådhusbrygge 3, pier number three, behind City Hall to watch fishermen bring in their catch, hauled from the Oslo Fjord. From 7am, they sell fresh fish straight from the boat but it's also possible to buy boiled shrimp and eat them by the quayside.

Jo Nesbo, author // “Until the 1980s, Oslo was a rather boring town, but it’s now much more cosmopolitan. If I go downtown, I visit the harbour to see the tall ships and the ferries and to admire the Opera House or the new Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art on the water’s edge.”


OSLO

EAT

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Edvard Munch's The

Scream, on display at the National Gallery; Akershus Fortress; beer hall, Crowbar

FESTNINGEN: At £27, the set menu at this restaurant, located in the grounds of Akershus Fortress, is great value. The menu varies depending on the availability of produce but diners can always expect thoughtful cooking. Take a seat by the window with a view over the Oslo Fjord, or in summer sit outside and bask in the breathtaking harbour views. festningenrestaurant.no FRU K: Local, fresh and seasonal ingredients are cooked with a Norwegian twist at this restaurant located inside hotel The Thief. Go for the five-course chef’s tasting menu for around £46. Try the beautiful turbot soup with pickled apple followed by fallow deer with cabbage, pumpkin and thyme. thethief.com/en/eatdrink/restaurant-bar MAAEMO: With a trio of Michelin stars to its name, this restaurant is a mecca for international foodies who flock here for its 26-course tasting menu. Scallops, mahogany clams fished in Nordskot, langoustine from Midsund, Norwegian cod and smoked reindeer are all likely to feature, depending on the season. On our visit the langoustine came glazed with pine and cold-pressed rapeseed and was utterly astonishing. maaemo.no

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AFTER HOURS

Mathallen food market

TERRITORIET: Head to this tiny wine

bar, in the heart of Grünerløkka, for a global wine list. Sip and pick a tune from the stacks of vinyl — vin and vinyl, a marriage made in heaven. territoriet.no CROWBAR: Located in very hip Torggata, in central Oslo, this is the place to taste locally produced beer, as well as a big range of outsiders. Like the rest of Oslo, alcohol is expensive, but flights of the brews are available and worth sharing if you’re on a budget. T: 00 47 21 38 67 57. FUGLEN: A coffee bar during the day, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar by night, this happening joint serves up its own mix of tipples, including a white horse and a ginger daiquiri. It’s also a design shop, selling Scandi vintage — almost everything you see is available to buy. fuglen.no

Z SLEEP

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CITYBOX OSLO: A simple yet stylish hotel, with good beds but a minimal service to cut costs, so no room cleaning unless you want to pay for it; the same goes for breakf ast. From £45 a night. citybox.no/oslo THON HOTEL ROSENKRANTZ OSLO: By no means a looker f rom the outside but inside a redesign has given it a welcome boutique-y feel. Centrally located, just a short walk from the train station and sights such as National Gallery, the Royal Palace and Akershus Fortress. thonhotels.com THE THIEF: This stylish five-star design hotel is packed to the rafters with works by big-name modern artists — Julian Opie, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, among others. Rooms have their own art pieces, suites have been curated by artists and you can buy some of what you see. Located by the water at Tjuvholmen, it also boasts a fabulous spa. thethief.com

ESSENTIALS KK

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OSLO PIPERVIKA Oslo Radhus CENTRAL Nobel Peace Center STATION

TJUVHOLMEN Astrup Fearnley Museum Fram Museum

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Getting there & around Norwegian Air flies to Oslo from Gatwick, Edinburgh and Manchester. Scandinavian Airlines, British Airways and Finnair fly from Heathrow, while Ryanair will fly from Stansted from 30 October. norwegian.com flysas.com ba.com finnair.com ryanair.com The Flytoget Airport Express Train reaches central Oslo in 19 minutes, £14 one way. The Oslo pass is sold in cards of either 24, 48 or 72 hours, giving free public transport plus entry to many attractions and museums. Available as an app. visitoslo.com/en/oslo-pass

When to go 500 yards

There's really no bad time to go to Oslo, although the long, light summer nights are particularly glorious,

while the winter is very cold, with an average temperature of -3C.

More info visitoslo.com

How to do it TABER HOLIDAYS offers a three-night luxury break to

Oslo from £1,195 per person, including flights from Heathrow to Oslo, private transfers by Mercedes to and from The Thief, accommodation with breakfast, a five-course gourmet meal with a selection of wine, complimentary entry to the hotel’s spa and unlimited entry to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. taberhols.co.uk

ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

VIGELAND PARK


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TRAVEL

talk ASK THE EXPERTS

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NEED ADVICE FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP? ARE YOU AFTER RECOMMENDATIONS, TIPS AND GUIDANCE? WE’VE GOT THE ANSWERS…

Q // I’ve got a stopover in Singapore and want to add a few days or a week on the beach. Where would you recommend?

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The incredible beaches of Thailand’s west coast islands of Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi are within easy reach, with regular flights taking less than two hours from Singapore, with a fantastic range of great-value beach hotels. The long, golden sand beaches, limestone cliff s and rainforest of the Malaysian island of Langkawi are just 90 minutes away by nonstop flight while slightly further afield, Bali is less than three hours away, with a choice of secluded hotels surrounded by paddy fields or sophisticated beach resorts with plenty of local restaurants, shops and galleries. For something a little different, why not take the threehour flight to central Vietnam to combine a beach stay with a visit to the charming, UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An. audleytravel.com

Singapore actually has some reasonable strips of sand of its own. Connected to the mainland by a causeway is Sentosa Island, with three palm-fringed beaches and scores of entertainment options, including the Universal Studios Singapore theme park and S.E.A. Aquarium. Of the three beaches, Siloso has the most activities and places to drink, including Tanjong Beach Club. Mersing, in the neighbouring Malaysian state of Johor, is three hours by bus from Singapore and the jumping-off point for boats to Seribuat Archipelago. The largest island is jungle-clad Pulau Tioman, with idyllic beaches. On its east side is Juara, with affordable beachfront bungalows. Singapore expats also favour Pulau Sibu, five islands that include the Rimba Resort on Pulau Sibu Besar. simonrichmond.com

LISA MCINTYRE

SIMON RICHMOND

THE EXPERTS LISA MCINTYRE // HIDDEN BEACHES SPECIALIST, AUDLEY TRAVEL

SIMON RICHMOND // LONELY PLANET GUIDEBOOK AUTHOR

SAM LEWIS // CONTRIBUTOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER

PAUL RICHER // SENIOR PARTNER, GENESYS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

DR PAT GARROD // TRAVEL AUTHOR & ADVENTURER

SARAH BARRELL // ASSOCIATE EDITOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER


TRAVEL TALK

Q // I’ve already visited Q // Is it true that deleting cookies on my browser while searching for flights will stop France’s Champagne the fare inflating? region. Where's a good base from which It would be nice to think that by periods such as sporting events, to explore Italy’s doing this we could stop flight competitor pricing, and so on. fares inflating but this is not Prosecco country? The ideal pricing pattern for Try Locanda Sandi (locandasandi. it), set in ‘the garden of Venice’ — the watery city’s verdant backcountry, where the Glera grape that makes Italy’s Prosecco wine thrives. You’ll find this rustic retreat in the hills north of Venice, between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, the heartland of Prosecco production connected by the 30-mile ‘Prosecco Road’, which is flanked by wine estates offering pre-bookable tours and tastings of this premium fizz. The locanda (traditional inn) takes its name from nearby Villa Sandi, a grand, Palladian-style residence that once housed 16thcentury Venetian nobility; now home to Italy’s Moretti Polegato family, who run the venerable Villa Sandi winery. The estate is backed by 50 acres of vineyards, including those of neighbouring wineries in Crocetta del Montello, all offering tours and tastings. Within walking distance along the ‘Prosecco Road’: Nino Franco (ninofranco.it) is one of Valdobbiadene’s oldest wineries, with a superb range of single vineyard Proseccos to sample; while Ruggeri (ruggeri.it) produces wines from the tiny Cartizze vineyards zone. Fizz from these hilltop-grown grapes is seen as the pinnacle of Prosecco production. Back at the locanda, carry on indulging in the restaurant, with its signature risotto made with Treviso radicchio and Prosecco. Doubles from €90 (£75), B&B. SARAH BARRELL

the case. The travel industry operates dynamic pricing in a much more sophisticated way than this. Airlines (and other travel principals) use complex revenue management systems that keep tabs on demand (the number of bookings) and relate this to previous years’ booking patterns, adjusted for changed circumstances such as Easter date-moving, high traffic

an airline is to start pricing low a long time before departure and constantly raise prices closer to departure, hence the illusion that you’ve been caught by a cookie. This constant escalation in pricing is bolstered by the lucrative business travel market, where travellers booking close to departure are willing and able to pay higher fares. genesys.net

Q // I’m planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next year but I’m worried about altitude sickness. What can I do to avoid it?

PAUL RICHER

Q // I’m travelling to the US soon. Do I need a new passport? UK travellers must have an electronic passport (e-passport) to be eligible for visa-free travel to the US — commonly referred to as the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). As electronic passports were introduced from 26 October 2006 and passports only last 10 years, you're likely to tick this box. If not, you need to apply for a new passport. The VWP scheme allows stays of up to 90 days and requires that you apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). If you’re a citizen of a country that participates in the VWP

health corner

and you enter the US by land from Mexico or Canada, you’re only required to complete the paper I-94W form at the land border crossing (ESTA is for air and cruise ship travel only). An ESTA is valid for multiple trips over two years, starting from the date you’re approved or until your passport expires (whichever comes first). It can be obtained online at least 72 hours before travel for $14 (£10.50) at esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta. If you’ve travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after 1 March 2011, you need to check if you’re eligible for a VWP. SAM LEWIS

Anyone can suffer from altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness (AMS), regardless of age, gender or fitness; symptoms tend to kick in above around 8,200ft. CONSULT: Speak to your doctor first if you're pregnant or you have diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, a heart or lung condition, or sickle cell disease. ACCLIMATISE: Spend two-three days acclimatising before going above 9,800ft, either on Kili’s lower slopes or by a leisurely trip to nearby Mount Meru. GRADUAL ASCENT: Ideally include rest days for acclimatisation. The golden rules are ‘climb high, sleep low’ and ‘slowly, slowly’. UP FLUIDS: Drink at least five litres of water daily, eat a light, highcalorie diet and avoid tobacco, alcohol and sleeping tablets. KNOW THE SYMPTOMS: These include headache, nausea or vomiting, appetite-loss, fatigue, breathlessness and poor sleep. If AMS is ignored then the condition can rapidly progress to HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) and/or HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema), both medical emergencies necessitating rapid descent by stretcher or helicopter. So medical insurance is essential. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: Tell someone, ideally your porter or guide, if you’re not feeling well. CONSIDER DIAMOX: Ask your doctor for a drug that can offset symptoms without masking the signs of AMS. DR PAT GARROD

September 2016

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TRAVEL TALK GERMANY FRANCE AUSTRIA

THE GRAPHIC

SWITZERLAND

GOTTHARD BASE TUNNEL THE WORLD’S LONGEST AND DEEPEST RAILWAY TUNNEL OPENED IN SWITZERLAND THIS SUMMER, PROVIDING A HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINK BETWEEN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN EUROPE 28.2 million tonnes of rock were excavated. While most was returned to the mountains, some of the material was used for local landscaping projects, including regenerating nature reserves and bathing islands on Lake Uri.

When full services begin in December, the rail journey between Zurich and Milan will be an hour quicker at two hours and 40 minutes.

ITALY

THE ROUTE The tracks cut through the Swiss Alps from Erstfeld to Bodino, a route previously navigated over the mountains via the circuitous St. Gotthard Pass

THREE LONGEST RAIL TUNNNELS Gotthard Base Tunnel (35.5 miles) Seikan Tunnel, Japan (33.5 miles)

ILLUSTRATON: DANIEL BRIGHT IMAGE: GETTY

Channel Tunnel (31.4 miles)

Some 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will travel the route every day.

A total of 2,600 people were employed on the construction of the two single-track tunnels, with up to 2,400 working at peak times.

Freight trains will pass through the tunnel at speeds of up 99mph, while passenger trains will hit maximum speeds of 124mph. Currently, Europe's most powerful trains can travel at top speeds of 249mph.

IN NUMBERS

1.42 mi 17 years £8.3bn 94.4 mi

At its deepest, the tunnel is almost a mile and half below the Earth's surface

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Construction work first began on the passage in 1999

The cost of the project, which was completed on time and within budget

The total length of all shafts, access tunnels and main passages

Random fact A shrine to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners, stands at the entrance to the new tunnel gottardo2016.ch/en


TRAVEL TALK

HOT TOPIC

WHERE IS IT STILL

safe to travel?

WITH THE THREAT OF TERRORISM, HEALTH SCARES SUCH AS EBOLA AND ZIK A, AND GENERAL NERVOUSNESS AMONG SOME TRAVELLERS, IT’S A WONDER WE AREN’T HIDING IN BASEMENTS WEARING TINFOIL HATS. WORDS: JAMES DRAVEN

“Are you scared yet?” asks Don ‘Big Don’ Staton of Big Bend Overland Tours as the Rio Grande river comes into view, marking the southern limits of one of the least visited national parks in mainland USA and the country’s border with Mexico. He’s being sarcastic. Before us looms the sheer 1,500ft face of Saint Elena canyon, a far more effective blockade than Donald’s much-trumpeted wall. Due to industrial damming, the once mighty river is now a mere trickle and, in places, one can easily wade from Mexico to Texas. After a particularly contentious election campaign, this is a fact that scares the bejesus out of some locals: “Oh, I’d love to go to Big Bend National Park,” says a Texan travel representative from one of the state’s cosmopolitan cities, “but I’d be worried about running into an illegal immigrant.” With terror attacks, global conflicts and health scares dominating the headlines, travellers are becoming more cautious — but not necessarily more knowledgeable. In truth, the vast, scorching Chihuahuan Desert, which straddles both Mexico and the US, is border enough in itself. Shaky geography has a lot to answer for. Tour operators in Kenya reported a dramatic drop in visitors due to health concerns over the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, despite the closest outbreak being over 3,000 miles

away; London was closer to the epicentre of the outbreak than Nairobi was. Meanwhile, Zika virus has, at time of writing, affected around 50 countries and territories across Latin America and Asia, causing widespread panic and confusion. Some would-be travellers are simply staying home. It’s the threat of terrorism that has, predictably, impacted on Middle Eastern destinations. Jordan, which neighbours both Syria and Iraq, saw a 23% fall in visitors in 2015, while Egypt’s tourist numbers plummeted by 40% in the first quarter of 2016. At this year’s Arabian Travel Market, tourism marketing representatives from both destinations confirmed that, as Europeans and Americans are avoiding the whole area, the industry is now focused on increasing ‘domestic’ tourism from neighbouring Arab countries. Britain is seeing a rise in ‘staycations’ after a spate of terror attacks in nearby France and Belgium, but some international tourists are steering clear of the UK for the same reasons: “You hear of terrorism in one part of Europe and the perception [is] that other parts of Europe

Q&A WHICH COUNTRIES ARE TRAVELLERS AVOIDING?

Brits are staying away from the Middle East, as well as traditional holiday favourites such as Egypt’s Sharm El Sheik and Tunisia, in the wake of terror attacks that targeted tourists. SO WHERE IS SAFE TO TRAVEL?

Cautious travellers might want to consider under-the-radar destinations with western standards of healthcare, such as New Zealand, Iceland and Japan, which are all seeing a boost in visitor numbers. These island nations have no borders, and do relatively little to upset anyone. WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ZIKA?

While symptoms are mild, pregnant women are advised to avoid travelling to Zika-affected areas as it's believe the virus can cause serious birth defects. HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S SAFE?

Check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website for travel updates, and remember that while advice errs on the side of caution, they’ll make it very clear if you should avoid travelling to a specific destination. gov.uk/fco

are also dangerous,” says tourism lecturer David Beirman, from Sydney’s University of Technology. Although international tourism grew by 4.4% (an extra 50 million travellers) in 2015, global travellers are increasingly looking beyond Europe for their holidays. Interestingly, Stephanie Loeber from Massachusetts attraction Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, doesn’t feel the 2013 Boston Marathon attack negatively impacted on tourism: “Visitor numbers have gone up and up. If anything, the news coverage of the way we came together as a city put Boston even more on the map.” Indeed, the US has seen a healthy rise in tourist arrivals, with 75 million international visitors last year alone. Roger Dow, CEO of the US Travel Association, says: “Our responses to threats in today’s world should be informed by intelligence and continuing to engage our friends and allies. We stand our best chance to achieve security when travellers, and indeed all of us, choose freedom over fear.” It’s impossible to insulate yourself from risk, and there’s no reason not to travel abroad if you take sensible precautions. Read Foreign & Commonwealth Office advisories and remember that terrorism is a global threat that could strike practically anywhere. In the words of Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

AND ANOTHER THING... NEW ROUTES NEW YORK FROM £119

DIRECT TO SANTIAGO

SIN CITY CONNECTS

BIRMINGHAM CONNECTS

BOURNEMOUTH BASE

Flights to Newark from Gatwick and Bristol, via Reykjavik, begin with WOW air on 25 November from £119. wowair.co.uk

Flights to South America are taking off. British Airways starts flying from Heathrow to Santiago on 3 January. ba.com

Norwegian continues its low-cost transatlantic assault with GatwickLas Vegas flights from 31 October. norwegian.com

Flybe launches the only daily, direct service from Birmingham to Toulouse, in the southwest of France, from 30 October. flybe.com

Ryanair celebrates 20 years at Bournemouth, with new routes to Krakow, Faro, Gran Canaria and Malta. ryanair.com

September 2016

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TRAVEL TALK

CHECKLIST: HIKING BACKPACKS

7 ways to

PACK YOUR BACKPACK

1. ROLL WITH IT FOR BEING LIGHTWEIGHT

Thule Stir 20L RRP: £70. thule.com/en

For fewer creases and more space, roll, don’t fold. But first, confusingly, you must fold your items using the ‘Gap’ method (as a shop assistant would for display), then roll them up tightly. Using this method means many tube-style, top-access packs must be unpacked fully at destination, unless you’ve compartmentalised (see below).

2. WHEN TO STUFF IT

FOR STREAMLINING THE ESSENTIALS

Patagonia Ascensionist Pack 35L RRP: £120. patagonia.com/eu

Backpacks are basically big sacks, so you can stuff your clothes into them — the preferred method of the hung-over gap-yearer — but it makes locating things or looking even mildly presentable something of an issue. However, stuffing certain things (socks, belts, wash bag, etc.) in the hard-to-fill gaps between your rolled items will give you more space and mean your bag’s contents are less likely to shift around.

SIZE

matters

10-30l FOR A PERSONALISED FIT

Women’s Osprey Kyte 36L RRP: £120. ospreyeurope.co.uk

Daypack size. Hiker-friendly with breathable material

30-50l Usually designed for heavier loads. Good for long weekends

60-70l Lots of outer pockets for bedding, waterproofs, etc.

FOR A SIMPLISTIC DESIGN

Fjällräven Kaipak 38L RRP: £150. fjallraven.co.uk

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70-90l For campers, skiers, divers. Many have detachable daypacks

3. COMPARTMENTALISE To make items in the main body of the backpack easier to locate, pack likecoloured or themed things together and use distinctive packing pods (shoe bags or canvas shopping bags work pretty well). Put things you need instant access to or that might leak (rain jackets, toiletries, travel documents) in outer pockets. Pack lesserused items closer to the bottom or inaccessible core of the bag.

4. FEEL THE PRESSURE If you really want to organise your chaos, buy some compression

sacks. These will shrink puffy things (sleeping bags, fleeces) to half their size and offer bonus waterproofing.

5. BOTTOMHEAVY? Top-heavy bags FOR FUNCTIONAL ITY Fraser the Rucksack topple over; 32L RRP: £125. very bottombearandbear.com heavy ones will give you backache. You and your bag will have better balance if you spread the load, keeping heavy items nearer the middle/bottom of your pack, towards your spine. Clothes will crease less, too. If you don’t mind looking like a one-man-band, fix lighter or awkwardly shaped items to the front of your pack, with carabiners or preexisting loops.

6. WEIGH IT UP The smartest (and priciest) backpacks are designed for specific uses — to make trekking, sailing, or bike-packing as pain free as possible. Many now also convert into wheelie bags and/or meet air cabin size requirements, meaning you don’t always have to shoulder your burden.

7. THE WORLD IS A GREAT BIG ONION… … and so are you. Pack clothing that can be layered for different climates, made from materials that dry easily. Put all your layers in a big pile next to your bag, then purge. Less is more — unless you’re a light packer, you’ll want to remove at least a third of that teetering stack of items before you start putting them in your bag. Sarah Barrell is co-author of new book, How to Pack For Any Trip. RRP: £7.99 (Lonely Planet)


TRAVEL TALK

Tech traveer

VIRTUAL REALITY TRAVEL

Want to experience a destination before you go? Such glimpses of the future are now becoming commonplace Travel can be pricey, but thanks to the rise of virtual reality you can now visit many far-flung places in full 360-degree glory without ever leaving your front room. From very pricey gaming headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive to the £5 cardboard viewers you pair with a smartphone, there are lots of ways to take virtual reality tours. Companies such as Airbus (airspace.airbus.com/ get-your-vr), Qantas, British Airways and Marriott are already experimenting with VR as a marketing tool, allowing customers to look around inside airline cabins and hotel rooms before booking. Popular platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Google Street View all have lots of VR content that you’ll find by searching for terms such as

‘VR tour’ or ‘360-degree video’. But for more specific travel experiences, try Ascape (ascape. com), a free app with plenty of scenic VR tours designed for travel inspiration — from a day in New York City to reindeer racing in Norway. The LittleStar 360 and VR cinema app (littlstar.com) also offers a journey across the globe curating 360-degree content from lots of high-quality sources in more than 20 categories including travel, outdoors, sports and lifestyle. YouVisit ( youvisit.com/virtualreality) is another great place to start exploring VR, with a large library of travel-related experiences that take you from a hike to Thailand's Ayutthaya temples to a stroll in the grounds of Princeton University. But if you want the ultimate VR experience, you should think about travelling to Salt Lake City, where the world’s first VR theme park, The Void (thevoid.com), promises to open its doors late this year. Here you’ll get the full outof-reality experience with ‘rides’ that add physical stimuli such as hydraulic cabinets, jets of warm air and water sprays to the VR environment, really bringing the experience to life.

TECHNOLOGY REPORTER FOR @BBCCLICK AND AUTHOR OF WORKING THE CLOUD, K ATE RUSSELL SELECTS THE LATEST INNOVATIONS

TOP APPS FOR... making connections

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around in airports? Btrfly Lounge connects users by airport or flight number, helping you make new friends heading to the same destination. btrfly.net

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PLANE

IOS. FREE. Connect with people around the

world for ‘chats’, so you can find out what’s going on at your destination. tryplane.com

GET THE GADGET

SeaLife Micro 2.0 camera Taking your camera for a swim can be a right performance, with waterproof housings and bulky accessories to drag around. But SeaLife’s new Micro 2.0 removes the faff with a compact, factory-sealed camera that captures perfect pictures and video at various depths with very little set-up needed. The four basic operating modes and wide- to narrowangle lens settings are accessed

through large buttons around the bright LED screen, so you can change

them easily underwater. The entry-level camera has 32GB memory; a 64GB version is also available. Getting images off the camera is really easy, as wi-fi is included. If you’re diving deep, the

Sea Dragon 2500 Photo/Video/ Dive Light will prove a fantastic accessory, although at £480, perhaps a little pricey for the hobbyist. It’s a powerful beast with a big battery, three light settings and a fully adjustable arm to light your subject perfectly from any angle. RRP: From £390. sealife-cameras.com @katerussell katerussell.co.uk

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TRAVEL TALK

HOW I GOT THE SHOT

THE PORTRAIT MARK PARREN TAYLOR, THE PHOTOGRAPHER OF OUR HONG KONG FEATURE (P.130), EXPLAINS HOW HE TOOK THIS SHOT OF TWO LADIES

Taking portraits I want the subject to look comfortable, so I never start snapping immediately. I spend time watching and listening. It could be just a three-minute wait, but if I can see something special, ready to be coaxed out, I might hang around for half an hour or even longer.

Of my five lenses, a long telephoto and a mid-range zoom are workshy. The other three, however, make up for this lazy pair, finding their way into my camera bag on a daily basis. For almost all shots, a 50mm f1.4 is my lens of choice — and I especially like it for portraits because, when the aperture’s fairly wide open, it gives a lovely gentle focus on the subject but it doesn’t crowd them. Occasionally I reach for the 105mm f2.8, a pin-sharp macro that I originally bought for food but is superb for everything from landscapes to sport. It can really pull you close to the subject — and even their thoughts. But for this portrait of the Punti ladies at Kat Hing Wai, a walled

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village in Hong Kong’s New Territories, I used the 16-35mm f4, because it would let me shoot in a tight space and with only a few seconds available. I’ll quickly compose the shot, then reposition the camera a few inches lower towards my chest (being careful not to swivel or tilt the camera) so that most of my face is showing. And I’ll then start snapping, while talking, smiling, without hurry or any attention on the camera if I can help it. I don’t ask too many questions because the sitter might respond by talking or shrugging, which can create undesirable, sometimes comical, expressions. I always aim to take a couple of dozen shots if I can. This means

LIKE THIS? READ MORE

This feature can be found in our new free, digital-only Photography Magazine. iOS/Google Play/Amazon

that even when I have discarded unwanted images — for example, if a person is blinking or talking, or showing an odd expression, I’ll still have a range from which to select the optimum shot. I’m careful not to antagonise my subject — the second a doubt appears to pass across their face, I’ll stop photographing. The two Punti ladies are no stranger to tourists taking a quick snap and disappearing (if you visit, please remember to give each HKD10 or £20 for their time). I took about 20 images, by which time the lady on the right imitated the shutter with “Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!” That was when I knew my time was up. mptphoto.com


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ALMOST FOUR IN 10

(38%)

PET OWNERS FEEL GUILTY ABOUT LEAVING THEIR PET BEHIND WHEN GOING ON HOLIDAY

PA S Mintel, Sept 2015

Demand for pet passports has increased by 50% since 2010

with dogs the most popular travelling companions LV= Insurance

35% OF HOLIDAYS IN 2016 HAVE INCLUDED A DOG

Brittany Ferries reports a

FOR

holidaycottages.co.uk

54%

SAY THEIR PET IS TOO MUCH A PART OF THE FAMILY TO LEAVE AT HOME, WHILE 31% WANT IT TO 'SHARE THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE'  LV= Insurance

78%

rise in pet travel over the last eight years from 38k animals in 2008 to 67k in 2016

£4.6bn the amount Brits spent on pets in 2016. Up from £4.5bn in 2015 Euromonitor

THOUGHT DOGS

make up 73% of all pets taken abroad. Labradors, golden retrievers and German shepherds are the most travelled

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LV= Insurance


WHO SAYS YOU HAVE TO LEAVE MAN’S [OR WOMAN’S] BEST FRIEND BEHIND WHEN YOU GO ON YOUR TRAVELS? FOR NOW AT LEAST, A TRIP TO EUROPE WITH A DOG CAN BE AS CAREFREE AS A ROMP IN THE PARK. AND MORE AND MORE OF US ARE CHOOSING TO TRAVEL ABROAD WITH OUR BESTEST FRIENDS. WORDS: SAM LEWIS

A

chaotic scene erupts in the car in front of me at the ferry terminal in Portsmouth. Small kids are hanging out of the window and a bike is toppling off the roof rack, stacked precariously high. Red-faced, a toddler is having a tantrum, while another screams it needs to pee. Inside our car, however, it’s an oasis of calm. I can hear Tommy, my rather large, lethargic hound and inveterate snoozer, snoring loudly in the back. He’s absolutely no idea we’re on our first trip to France and that his ‘mum’ has been up since dawn following a carefully planned regime that will ensure he’s been fed, watered and walked before our Channel crossing. As I draw up alongside the passport control booth, I ponder whether taking the dog is easier than travelling with children. I half expected to be interrogated with regards to Tommy’s good character and his likeness to his passport photograph — but his identity is verified by a brief zap of his microchip and a cursory check that a vet’s signature confirms he’s had his necessary jabs. When Britain’s pet passport rules were relaxed in 2012 [read more overleaf], it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take Tommy, my eight-year old

Rhodesian ridgeback, with me on my travels. Not only would I save myself the cost of a dog sitter, but I’d be able to enjoy my holiday guilt-free without leaving a sulking dog behind. Nevertheless, while the paperwork is easy, taking your pet abroad for the first time does involve some planning. And researching pet-friendly accommodation for the likes of a dog such as Tommy requires more consideration than for small dogs. With some hotels on the continent only welcoming dogs of a certain size and weight, could I turn up hoping that Tommy’s natural good looks and charm will convince the receptionist to waive the rule and overlook his 42kg? The Channel crossing, during which Tommy stays in the car, is short and uneventful (no seats chewed), and the process is so pet-friendly that cars and trailers with animals onboard are among the first vehicles to disembark. Within minutes we’re driving on the right, heading into the sunshine and long, leisurely walks. Before long, we discover that French motorways are so geared up for four-legged travellers that nearly all the rest stations have easily accessible water stops and small parks where your pet can shake a leg. After several hours’ drive, the smell of lavender wafts

through the window and we arrive at Manoir de Malagorse, a 19th-century manor house set in a peaceful rural idyll near Souillac. As two friendly golden retrievers bound towards us, two young children run with glee to get a closer look at the dog that’s the size of a small pony. The owners — British expat Anna and her French husband Ebel — come to see what the commotion is about as children and dogs hurtle around the sprawling lawn in playful chaos. The family home is a blissfully secluded sort of place. By day we wander around the manoir’s grounds, relax by the open-air pool, or visit nearby castles and markets, while in the evening we enjoy Ebel’s home-cooked food — a trained chef, there’s no need to abandon the dog and visit any of the nearby restaurants. After a few days of fine food and hospitality, we eventually tear ourselves away from the French countryside and head to the northern coast of Spain to trek the Picos de Europa, a sinuous chain of jagged mountains between the Pyrenees to the east and Galicia to the west. Although we time our walks carefully to avoid the heat of midday, our trip does not revolve around our dog, though we’re pleased he’s part of it. Long walks

without him wouldn’t have been the same and his handsome coat and Ridgeback character spark up friendly conversations with passers-by. Some days we head to the beach and while Tommy shows as little enthusiasm for the sea as he does for fetching sticks, his African genes reveals his propensity for sunbathing, more often than not — and much to the amusement of young kids — on our beach towels. We begin the long journey home back through France, incorporating a brief mandatory stop at a vet’s for a quick tick and worming treatment. Tommy protests (barking) against us leaving him at a strange hotel near the port on our final night, so we abandon the local bistro in favour of a meal of baguettes and cheese, for which Tommy has acquired a taste. Back on British soil, we start planning our next trip. Some ferries now have pet-friendly cabins, while in Switzerland, dogs can travel by train, bus or boat with a day pass. The possibilities are endless. Only, now that we have two dogs, we need a larger car and another pet passport. I wonder if, with our growing family, things will go quite as smoothly? There are sacrifices to be made when you travel with a pet, but the bonuses are many.

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TRAVEL WITH PETS

Q&A

ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT TAKING PETS ABROAD If you’re not sure about taking your dog abroad on holiday, but equally aren’t sure you can leave them behind in a kennel, what can you do? We tackle some frequently asked questions

Surely there’s too much paperwork to consider when taking pets abroad? If you’re travelling within the EU (excluding UK, Ireland and Sweden), visit your vet to acquire a pet passport, rabies vaccine (21 days before travel) and an identifiable microchip (all dogs have to be microchipped nowadays, but it’s worth checking that it’s easily scanned before travelling). Since 2012, blood tests are no longer required if you’re entering the UK from EU and listed non-EU countries, but you’ll need to make a quick stop at a vets on your return for a worming pill and anti-tick pipette costing about £30. Contact DEFRA for more details gov.uk/defra

Is cruising an option for travelling with a pet? Some ships, such as Cunard’s Queen Mary, allow dogs to accompany passengers on specified cruises. Pets get a coat with a QM2 logo and enjoy a range of treats, including freshly baked biscuits at turn down and a choice of beds and blankets. What about rail travel? Dogs can travel on trains in the UK and in many EU countries. In Switzerland, dogs can travel by train, bus, or boat with a Day Card For Dogs pass and most Swiss restaurants will allow a well-behaved pet. Dogs aren’t allowed on Eurostar, but can remain in the car on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle (fee £18 per crossing).

What about ferry travel? Can pets roam free? While pets have to remain in their owners’ cars on some services, if you choose your route carefully, they could accompany you to your cabin and enjoy walks on a special deck. Brittany Ferries has around 17 pet-friendly cabins on crossings from the UK to Bilbao or Santander. Dogs always have to be muzzled when not in the car or cabin.

Hotels are my preferred choice of accommodation, but what about larger dogs and is there a cleaning bill? Some hotels on the continent and in the UK have a weight limit for dogs, although not all of them (from my experience) uphold it. Others won’t let you leave animals in the room alone — which means you can’t dine in the restaurant unless you request a pet sitter.

Some hotels add a ‘cleaning’ bill — an extra charge of typically £20-£25 (often per dog) — while many luxury hotels provide complimentary dog beds, biscuits and dog food (typically, fresh chicken and rice) at an extra cost, but the beds are usually small and the food expensive. What about flying? Virgin Atlantic, Iberia and British Airways are just some of the airlines that frequently carry dogs in the hold, but as it can be a distressing experience for pets, most owners only fly to their destination if they’re going abroad for several months or more. British Airways subsidiary OpenSkies, which operates direct flights between Paris and New York, allows cats or dogs weighing less than 6kg (13.2lb) to travel alongside passengers in economy and premium economy inside the cabin. Surely I can just take my pet to a beach whenever I want? Many resorts in the UK and abroad don’t allow dogs on beaches during the peak summer season: typically the beginning of May to the end of September. Others allow dogs on leads or allocate a few pet-friendly sections where pooches are free to run around and play in the sand and sea. What if I decide to leave my pet at home instead? If you don’t want to leave them in a kennel, house swapping with other pet owners is a good option, as is paying someone to pet sit in your house. For UK breaks, local pet sitters can enable you to have the odd day or night off to experience something cultural.

THE LAST WORD WISE UP

Some breeds are banned from flying due to breathing difficulties and sadly, some dogs have died en route. Delta Air Lines has launched a pet GPS system, enabling owners to track their pet’s journey in real time. The technology costs around $50 (£38) per flight and monitors the temperature in the hold.

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IT’S TERMINAL

New York’s JFK international airport is spending $48m (£36m) to construct a pet quarantine and boarding facility called ARK that’s capable of caring for the 70,000 animals that pass through the terminal each year. The facility will be more like a luxury hotel, with play areas for a huge variety of species.

DONATE

Book a crossing with Aferry.co.uk — to France, Ireland, Spain, Holland, Belgium, across the Mediterranean and Northern Africa — via the RSPCA website (where there’s also a video and guide on taking your pet abroad) and Aferry will donate a percentage to the animal charity.

AND FINALLY

Flybe, Monarch and Thomson currently only permit pet travel in the hold area, while Ryanair is rumoured to be considering allowing pets to travel in the cabin. The only low-cost airline to allow pets in the cabin is Germanwings, although the airline does not offer the service to or from the UK or Ireland.


IMAGE: GETTY

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IS VENICE GOING DROWNING IN TOURISTS, CORRUPTION AND HIGH TIDES, MANY LOCALS ARE ABANDONING ITALY’S MOST FRAGILE CITY IN FAVOUR OF LIFE ON THE MAINLAND. BUT CAN VISITORS HELP WITHOUT CONTRIBUTING TO ITS DEMISE? WORDS: LISA GERARD-SHARP

F

ifty years ago, Venice suffered the greatest floods of its history, with 80% of the city swamped by high tides, priceless pieces of art destroyed and 5,000 people made homeless. The world was stirred to action, and heritage bodies sprang up to save La Serenissima from sinking beneath the waves. So far, so romantic — although mercantile Venice tends to buy into profits rather than fairytales. Since then, tourists have come in their shiploads and become part of a perfect storm that threatens the future of this fragile lagoon city. Europa Nostra, which bills itself as Europe’s cultural voice, is the latest heritage body to raise the alarm. This March it declared the Venice Lagoon ‘the most endangered site in Europe’, citing mass tourism, cruising,

dredging, depopulation and poor governance as key factors. Venice is even at risk of losing its prized UNESCO World Heritage Site status, with the organisation threatening to add it to its World Heritage in Danger register in 2017 if ‘no substantial progress is made’. As a Venice-lover with a conscience, do I have any right to encourage yet more visitors? Are we so toxic en masse that we’d be better off staying at home and dining at Pizza Express, where profits from the Veneziana pizza have long been helping to fill the coffers of the Venice in Peril Fund? My mission is to see what the city is doing to save herself and to work out what we can do to help, including looking towards a more sustainable future for it.

St Mark’s Square, the city’s principal piazza, is awash with selfie-snapping day-trippers torn between Venezia T-shirts and tawdry Taiwanese-made masks. “The city is cannibalising itself,” admits Paola Basso, of the tourist board. Profiteering Venetians are also to blame for fostering a Venice that’s ‘half fairytale, half tourist-trap,’ as the writer Thomas Mann put it back in 1911. Tourist numbers can reach 30 million a year, of which around half are grab-and-go day-trippers. As for the falling population, a dotmatrix counter in the window of Farmacia Morelli tells the true story, keeping track of the number of permanent Venetian residents. The figure stands at 55,415, a fall of almost half since 1981. Pharmacist Nicolo Morelli sheepishly admits to

living in Mestre, on the mainland, citing the soaring rents that stifle city life, as well as “the inconvenience” of Venice. At the Mille Vini wine shop around the corner, Lorenzo Menegus sees tourism as the root cause: “The mask-makers chase out the barbers — so if I have to travel to Mestre to have my hair cut, why not just live there?” I struggle along Riva degli Schiavoni, a wide promenade lined with illegal bag-sellers and travesties of Carnival characters. Further north, the Arsenale — the Republic’s ancient shipyard — holds a solution to the city’s flooding, the issue that most captures the imagination of the international media. Mose is the controversial mobile barrier designed to save Venice from the sea. Architect Monica

UNDER? September 2016

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Ambrosini updates me on its progress in the control room. “We’re 87% there, working on the electromechanical side, and will be ready in 2018,” she explains. Models of the 78 giant steel gates loom before us: gates designed to block the three inlets through which the Adriatic rushes into the Venetian Lagoon. We discuss the tidal wave of corruption, linked to flood defence funds, that swept out the previous mayor of Venice and the consortium’s top brass in 2014. “The guilty firms are still duty-bound to deliver the project on budget and to refund the €20m [£16.9m] they stole,” Monica says. “Despite cost overruns and slipped dates, Mose must work. Venice is resilient but must respond to storm surges and high tides.” Jane da Mosto, environmental scientist and co-founder of social enterprise We are here Venice, believes flood barriers are necessary to protect the city from occasional extreme events, such as the flood of 1966, but questions the need for such a huge scheme with high operating costs. Da Mosto also believes poor management is an issue. “There’s

a syndication of responsibility to the point where it hasn’t even been decided who’ll manage Mose,” she says. Francesca Barbini, head of FAI, an Italian equivalent of the National Trust, elaborates: “Mose is a pharaonic project that should have cost €800m [£675m] but will cost at least €7bn [£6bn]. If the barriers are closed at only 90cm of high water, most of St Mark’s will be flooded anyway; but if closed at very high levels only, then people will wonder at the logic of spending such sums on something that didn’t solve the problem. And pressure will come from the cruise ships to keep the gates open.” Although the city suffers sporadic winter flooding, it’s for brief periods only and, as Venetian hotelier Francesca Bortolotto Possati says, “media reports tend to be exaggerated”. While walking along sleepy Giudecca and marvelling at St Mark’s over the water, my view is blotted out by Norwegian Jade, one of 529 ships due to call in this season, bringing 1,550,000 people. From the city council to the cruise industry trade

VENICE IN NUMBERS 400%

The percent large-scale cruise-ship tourism has increased in the past five years

£6BN

Minimum cost of

building a mobile

barrier to save Venice from the sea

55,415

Number of Venetian residents, a fall of

almost half since 1981

78

Giant steel gates will block the Adriatic

from rushing into the Venetian Lagoon

1966

Year 80% of the city was swamped by

freakishly high tides

Francesca Bortolotto Possati, hotelier & heritage champion // “I was responsible for restoring one of Save Venice’s largest projects, the facade of Scuola Grande di San Marco, and helped restore the Santa Maria dei Miracoli. I’m on every committee imaginable. We aim to stay one step ahead of the rising tide, as our city could be underwater within a century.” 170

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association, CLIA, all agree that this visual blight has no place in historic Venice. Instead, both the port authority and the city council favour the creation of a large new canal through the Lagoon that will enable (even bigger) ships to reach Venice’s Marittima Cruise Terminal by a back route. Jane da Mosto opposes it. “This cuts through a 14-metre island of contaminated sediment and can’t be done without releasing pollutants into the Lagoon — and it’s the back end of Venice,” she says. “Will cruise passengers want to look at that kind of scenery?” Many environmentalists either favour the unrealistic solution of moving cruising to Trieste or the feasible option of building reversible docks on the Venetian Lido (a seven-mile-long sandbar), with cruisers then brought into the Lagoon by eco-friendly craft . At its heart it’s a battle between the cruise economy and the green lobby, backed by many local citizens. CLIA Italy, representing the cruise association, says that Venice keeps the entire Adriatic cruise industry afloat and points out that cruise companies operate a self-regulatory ban on cruise ships over 96 tonnes — once a common sight in the Lagoon. But UNESCO fears that the new canal being proposed could lead to the return of vessels this size — and much larger. Venice Port’s cruise arm, Venezia Terminal Passeggeri (35% owned by a cruise consortium), claims to respect the Venice Blue Flag protocol (a pledge to use cleaner fuel in the Lagoon). But FAI has expressed concern that this system of self-regulation isn’t effective.


THE FUTURE OF VENICE

Jonathan Keates, chairman of Venice in Peril // “If the resident population falls below 40,000, Venice will not be a viable, living city any longer. The solution is a long-term plan for Venice that favours residents but not buy-to-let businesses. Venice needs the feet of residents on the ground, children playing in the campi, old codgers on benches — a proper Italian city as we know it, a place that’s the perfect dimension for living.”

In 2014, the World Monument Fund put Venice on its Watch List because ‘large-scale cruise-ship tourism — which has increased by 400% in the past five years alone — is pushing the city to an environmental tipping point and undermining the quality of life for its citizens’. Bemused by this, I try the unscientific ‘nab a water cabby’ approach. Beyond gondoliers, I meet no one in favour of cruising — and this includes guides, hoteliers and restaurateurs.

THE SUSTAINABLE SCENE Despite what the doomsters might lead us to believe, sustainable Venice does exist, often in surprising places. Sustainable tourism isn’t about flashy eco-credentials but about tiny shift s away from Disneyland Venice. “Explore Cannaregio and Santa Croce — areas that still have real shops, real locals,” recommends Jonathan Keates, the chairman of Venice in Peril. “Use your eyes and look at what they need in order to help Venice survive.” Hotels Unlike stuffi er grand-dame hotels, the Splendid Venice welcomes local residents. “We strive not to be ghettoised, even if we’re off St Mark’s,” says its dapper manager Salvatore Pisani, whose children go to school in Venice. Locals come for cocktails on the rooft op terrace, with views of crumbling bell towers and, occasionally, an elderly signora watering her garden in the sky. Then it’s glimpses of delivery barges overladen with pumpkins and

artichokes before dinner in the moody courtyard restaurant below. The Venetian chef sources fish and spider crab from the lagoon and vegetables from the island of Sant’Erasmo. Elsewhere, the Aman Venice, set beside the Grand Canal, encourages guests to take part in cookery courses at Venetian homes or scout out lunch with the hotel’s chef at the Rialto Market. The aristocratic Venetian owners, meanwhile, still live on the top floor and engage in battles to save the city for future generations. At the Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, I feast on Slow Food in the jasmine-scented garden of a former nunnery where country girls, discarded by their Venetian patrons, once languished. Owner Francesca Bortolotto Possati sees this serene retreat as “a resort for the mind”. Restaurants Venissa — with its wine resort, vineyard, Michelin-starred restaurant and Slow Food inn — is behind the revitalisation of the island of Burano. Matteo Bisol, a scion of the winemaking Bisol dynasty, shows me round the Lagoon’s last walled vineyard. The family began by replanting Dorona, a golden grape beloved by the doges. Now the food is as magical as the wine, from the nettle and Asiago cheese ravioli to baked artichokes or gnocchi with cuttlefish — dishes inspired by the Lagoon. I spot the four young chefs picking wild herbs from the estate gardens, which are cultivated by local pensioners. As a resort, Venissa has just spread into central Burano, with charming rooms scattered throughout the island, drawing visitors into

the local community. Guests can go fishing or hire a boat to explore neighbouring monastic islands. “Sustainable tourism is win-win,” smiles Bisol. Over in Dorsoduro, family-run Cantine del Vino già Schiavi is a batteredlooking bacaro (Venetian tapas bar) patronised by countesses, chemists and celebrities alike. Barman Paolo takes me through his mother’s cicchetti — nibbles of artichokes, salted cod, shrimps and truffles. Elsewhere, Osteria Bancogiro, on the Rialto, brings the bacaro concept up-to-date and even counts fashion designer Miuccia Prada as a patron. Cultural trends Beyond St Mark’s, the museums are empty. Drift into the revamped Gallerie dell’Accademia, a repository of pre-19th-century Venetian art, to see the new Palladian wing. It’s even possible to leave the hordes behind at the Doge’s Palace, on a Secret Itineraries tour that includes everything from a new night tour and entry to the Doge’s private apartments to fearsome reminders of the former police state — ghoulish ‘post boxes’, where citizens were encouraged to betray their peers. For cypress-framed vistas and monastic solemnity, climb the bell tower of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, rather than San Marco’s; the island of San Giorgio Maggiore rebuff s the commercial maelstrom over the water. Cross to Giudecca, the next island, to explore a bastion of authentic Venetian life with a funky arts scene. Here, hotelier and hipster Alessandro Possati is behind Zuecca Project Space, a not-for-profi t art and installation centre, and Hortus,

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Jane da Mosto, co-founder, We are here Venice // “Water is not Venice’s enemy, it’s its soul. Venice struggles against the effects of living in water but it’s more about routine maintenance and salt infiltration, not linked to flooding per se. At St Mark’s, we simply need better walkways. Shipping has destroyed all salt marsh in the central area of the Lagoon.”

a scheme that aims to open up Venice’s neglected green spaces. Venetians are also fighting to reclaim the Arsenale shipyards but for now, outside of the Venice Biennale, access is limited to the magnificent gates and adjoining Venetian Ships Pavilion. Alessandro also recommends the 500-year-old Venetian Ghetto — an area where Jews were forced to live during the Venetian Republic, now fast becoming “a young, hip neighbourhood”. Shopping In Venice, provenance is all. For sustainable shopping, step behind the scenes to meet the master craft smen and characters. Libreria Acqua Alta bookshop offers a playful take on flooding, with stairs made of soggy tomes and books stored in gondolas. I visit the timeless Orsoni mosaics foundry, whose minor masterpieces grace St Mark’s Basilica and St Paul’s Cathedral. Also in Cannaregio, I catch up with Gianni Basso, an old-school printer with a celebrity clientele. “You hear about ‘saving Venice’ — but it’s craft smen like us who need saving,” says the Gutenberg of Venice. Gianni learnt his craft from Armenian monks and returned with their ancient printing presses. As local designer Michela Scibilia tells

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me, “you’re not just buying an object but the story behind it.”

KEEPING VENICE AFLOAT

Wild Venice Venetians recommend rowing or kayaking through the shallow Lagoon to appreciate the shifting tides, sandy channels and the salt marshes, which act as the city’s kidneys. I head into the Lagoon with gondoliera Alex Hai, in her off -duty rowing boat. “Sailing your own boat helps you feel the fragility of the city,” she says. “From the mildewed undersides of palaces to the Lagoon’s wild ducks, derelict forts and deserted monastic islands.”

SUSTAINING VENICE

Saving Venice Carolyn Spinks, chief operating officer at the Association of British Tour Operators to Italy, says, “Slow holidays are trending and we’re urging visitors to take longer stays outside the busy months.” Alessandro Possati agrees: “Stay longer and come out of season; mass tourism has deprived Venice of its timelessness — it’s ironic how for a ‘timeless’ city no one has any time for her.” His tips for saving Venice are to “engage with the city, get involved in paper-printing, jewellery design or perfume-making”. Alex Hai’s advice is blunter: “Shun cruise ships, buy genuine craft s, dine in authentic inns — don’t be a daytripper or picnicker.”

Venice in Peril. veniceinperil.org We are here Venice. weareherevenice.org FAI. fondoambiente.it Mose. puntomose.it Venezia Unica (Venice tourist information). veneziaunica.it

Alex Hai (gondola tours). gondoliera.com Row Venice (Venetian-style rowing). rowvenice.org Venice Kayak. venicekayak.com Musica a Palazzo (opera in palaces). musicapalazzo.com Orsoni (mosaics). orsoni.com Gianni Basso (old-school printer) T: 00 39 041 5234681.

SUPPORTING VENICE


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Into the wild

As a keen amateur photographer, I look forward to National Geographic Traveller for the excellent images as much as the written content. Browsing the Jul/Aug edition, my attention was drawn to a sports car outside the Monte Carlo Casino. I then came across the photo of children of the Mandrare River with stained tops and worn sandals — two very different worlds! I thought of the words of Stefan Zweig: ‘let us travel — only that way can we discover not only the exterior world but also that which lies within us.’ DAVID VANCE

James Draven’s blog in the Jul/Aug issue about his patrol with the KWS brought back memories of my time with ZAWA (now ZNPA, Zambia National Parks Authority). I spent a short time with KWS before ZNPA. We went on patrol in both Lower Zambezi NP and Kafue NP in 1997, sleeping rough and living on the few supplies we had taken with us as well as freshly collected honey from the hives in the trees around our camps. Both organisations do a fantastic job under extreme circumstances. They are badly equipped to combat the well-armed gangs of poachers who are paid a pittance to butcher some of Africa’s iconic creatures. We considered ourselves fortunate that we weren’t with the patrol that was sent to fight the poachers who had butchered ‘Big Boy’, a huge tusker in Lower Zambezi NP. A number of rangers were killed in the ensuing gun battle. Sadly the situation is now so critical that, unless this is stopped, there won't be any African wildlife left in a few years.

All alone

I’d like to add a footnote to David Hutton’s comments in the last issue about travelling solo and his upcoming trip to Kerala. I visited Kerala in March with a reputable operator. On a walking tour of Cochin, I was separated from the main group as I stopped to take a photo. Despite being 66 and conservatively dressed, I was hissed at by a local man. This did not unduly upset me but it could have been unnerving if alone. My point is that travelling solo may be a very different experience depending on whether you are male or female. JANET SCRACE

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We give you a theme, you give us the photos, with the best published in the next issue. This month is ‘luxury’ — the theme of our Jul/Aug 2016 cover story The winning entry, from Shane Lavin, showcases luxury with an elegant stairwell. The colours of gold and black, and the delicate iron railing, give a grand fi rst impression, which is only amplified on discovering the staircase’s location.

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W I N N E R

1 SHANE LAVIN // LONDON: This image of a grand staircase in the former Carlton Hotel in Biarritz was inspired by the progression of daylight to darkness, and the challenge of attaining compositional symmetry with a plethora of shapes. 2 SUZANNE BELL // HUGGLESCOTE: This was taken at the World Peace Pagoda in Nepal. I was captivated by the colour, innocence and matching ice lollies. 3 THOMAS HARRISON ANTHONY // LONDON: The world-famous Venice Beach with its golden sand and clear blue waters, plus a colourful parasol and chairs.

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