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F R E E I N S I D E FAMILY TRAVEL GUIDE

��o� JAN/FEB 2017 // £3.95 // UK EDITION // NATGEOTRAVELLER.CO.UK

THE

Win!

A week for four in the South of France

LIST

2017

Hip Portland, wild Donegal, artsy Aarhus... places to see & be seen

Los Angeles

MOVING TO A LATIN BEAT

E AT, L I V E , LOV E

L I M A !

ALSO: FRANCE // BRISBANE // BANGKOK // MALTA // ATHENS // NORFOLK // SURVIVAL SKILLS

Reader

Awards winners


vk.com/stopthepress FRESH MAGAZINES EVERYDAY

СВЕЖИЕ ЖУРНАЛЫ НА АНГЛИЙСКОМ ЯЗЫКЕ В ГРУППЕ

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Sailing and snowshoeing in Disko Bay While waiting for darkness to fall during your trip to see the aurora, why not take advantage of the snow and go snowshoeing along the ice fjord of Ilulissat? Or go by boat if you want to get even closer to these 5,000- year-old ice-cool artworks of nature. Enjoy first-class cuisine at Hotel Arctic - with or without dessert - and top if off with a night of the Northern Lights just outside your window.

Fatbiking and dog sledding the Arctic Circle From the fjord of Kangerlussuaq to coastal Sisimiut, the ultimate adventure would be a week-long fatbike trip – or jump on a dogsled to cover the 180 km over three days. Kangerlussuaq is just a 4½ hour flight from continental Europe, and with 300 clear-sky days per year, it’s perfect for a prolonged weekend getaway to experience the Arctic snowscape.

greenland.com / greenlandin3minutes.com


Mask optional. Fun inevitable.

In New Orleans, it’s Fat Tuesday every day of the week. Perhaps it’s because the city is the birthplace of jazz and the cocktail. There’s something to amuse and delight around every cobblestoned corner, especially the tax-free shopping savings. Visit neworleansinfo.com and start planning your trip today.


Jan/Feb 2017

Contents

FEATURES

126 In pictures: Los Angeles

From dance to a thriving art scene — the city that moves to a decidedly Latino heartbeat

19 Reader Awards Who — and what — came out on top in our second Reader Awards, as voted for by you

102 France Having put itself back on the map, we look at the curious incident of Occitania’s rebirth

136 City life: Beirut The alluring Arabian coastal city with a captivating split personality

84 Cover story: The Cool List

114 Peru Market stalls and Michelinstarred restaurants are experiencing a culinary revolution in Lima

144 City life: Brisbane Home to helicopter pub crawls and a flourishing live music scene, it’s more than a gateway to the tropics

Culture capitals, wild escapes, hipster hotspots — these are the 17 spots to visit in 2017

Issue 52

IMAGE: Getty

Jan/Feb 2017

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Jan/Feb 2017

Contents

67

72

76

SMART TRAVELLER

51 Stay at home The Georgian spa city of Bath

TRAVEL GEEKS

29 Snapshot Industrial Resto & Bar, Kraków 31 Editors’ picks These are a few of our favourite things 32 Big picture Binga District, Zimbabwe 34 Destination Anguilla’s 50th anniversary celebrations

53 The word Planet Earth II, A New World Revealed by Stephen Moss 56 Events Travel Geeks and Travel Writing Masterclass 59 Author series Sarah Outen in the Aleutian Islands

154 Travel Geeks The experts’ travel manual 162 Feature: Traveller types What type of traveller are you? Do you prefer adventure, luxury or family travel? 166 Feature: Survival Learning to live off the land GET IN TOUCH

37 What’s new Prince’s Minnesota home is open for tours

60 View from the USA Aaron Millar on pantomime politics and the seat of power

176 Subscriptions Free tickets, great offers and discounts

39 Arts & culture Citywide makeovers

62 Online Weekly highlights from natgeotraveller.co.uk

177 Inbox Your letters, emails and tweets

40 Do it now From cat skiing to after-dark safaris

INSIDER

178 Your pictures This month’s best travel photos

43 Food A foodie foray into the tastes of Istanbul

64 Weekender: Malta The tiny archipelago nurturing a host of surprises

45 On the trail Joining a photo safari in Amsterdam

67 Neighbourhood: Athens If you dig, you’re sure to find something

46 Rooms Where to stay in the hill towns of Puglia

72 Eat: Norfolk Gourmet experiences at almost every turn

48 Family Visit Tintagel, King Arthur’s Cornish castle

76 Sleep: Bangkok An eclectic array of eye-candy hotels

Compe�ition 12

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Win a seven-night trip for four to France, p.55

DON'T MISS

26 Reader survey Take our five-minute survey for your chance to win one of 10 £25 John Lewis vouchers 152 Reader offers Travel solo with Barrhead Travel


Contributors Pól Ó Conghaile

“Have appetite, will travel. That was my mantra in Peru. I’d heard so much about Lima’s sizzling food scene, but nothing prepared me for the Wonka-esque wonders on the plate. I was several kilos heavier on the flight home!” PERU P.114

Lee Cobaj

“No matter what has been thrown at Bangkok in the past few years — protests, a military coup, multiple bombings and the death of the country’s beloved King — this gritty city always bounces back with astonishing alacrity.” BANGKOK P.76

Editorial Director: Maria Pieri Editor: Pat Riddell Deputy Editor: Glen Mutel Senior Editor: Stephanie Cavagnaro Associate Editor: Sarah Barrell Editorial Assistant: Farida Zeynalova Digital Editor: Seamus McDermott Contributing Editors: Amelia Duggan, Jo Fletcher-Cross, Zane Henry, Sam Lewis, Connor McGovern, Josephine Price, Joanna Reeves, Tamsin Wressell Sub Editors: Andrew Brassleay, Hannah Doherty, Lorraine Griffiths, Chris Horton Project Manager: Natalie Jackson

Special Projects Consultant: Matthew Midworth National Geographic Traveller Business Development Team: William Allen, Bob Jalaf, Glyn Morgan, Adam Phillips, Mark Salmon, Jon Stone Digital Media Manager: John Stergides Sales and Marketing Manager: Rebecca Fraser APL Business Development Team: Neil Bhullar, Chris Dalton, Adam Fox, Cynthia Lawrence, Sinead McManus Head of National Geographic Traveller — The Collection: Danny Pegg

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

Chief Executive: Anthony Leyens Managing Director: Matthew Jackson 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

Chris Leadbeater

“People are scared of Beirut. They hear its name and think of the past. And of the present, of the troubled Middle East. But I’ve always been fascinated by the Lebanese capital; it’s an enthralling survivor city.” BEIRUT P.136

Shaney Hudson

“It’s easy to visit Brisbane and stick to the main attractions in the CBD. But head into the suburbs and the greater region is revealed to be a far more varied and vibrant destination than most people give the Australian city credit for.” BRISBANE P.144

Ben Lerwill

“France has recently changed the names and layouts of many of its regions. Occitania now pairs Midi-Pyrénées with Languedoc-Roussillon and it still has a proud cultural identity. Exploring the region was a joy.” FRANCE P.102

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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 2017 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 W. Stone Publisher & Vice President, Global Media: Kimberly Connaghan Digital Director: Andrea Leitch Design Director: Marianne Seregi Director of Photography: Anne Farrar Editorial Projects Director: Andrew Nelson Senior Editor: Jayne Wise Features Editor: Amy Alipio Associate Editor: Hannah Sheinberg Editor/Producer: Christine Blau Producers: Mary McGrory, Lindsay Smith Associate Producer: Caity Garvey Editor, Adventure: Mary Anne Potts Deputy Art Director: Leigh V. Borghesani Senior Photo Producer: Sarah Polger Associate Photo Producers: Jeff Heimsath, Jess Mandia Associate Photo Editor: Laura Emmons Chief Researcher: Marilyn Terrell Production Director: Kathie Gartrell Executive Assistant: Alexandra E. Petri Editorial Assistant: Gulnaz Khan Copy Editors: Preeti Aroon, Liane DiStefano, Emily Shenk Flory, Nancy Gupton, Cindy Leitner,

Mary Beth Oelkers-Keegan, Ann Marie Pelish, Brett Weisband Communications Vice President: Heather Wyatt Communications Director: Meg Calnan 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 Financial Officer: Marcela Martin Global Networks CEO: Courteney Monroe Chief Communications Officer: Laura Nichols Legal & Business Affairs: Jeff Schneider Chief Technology Officer: Jonathan Young Board of Directors Chairman: Gary E. Knell

Copyright © 2017 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved. National Geographic Traveler: Registered Trademark. Printed in the UK.


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HIGHLIGHTS

Editor’s letter

Reader survey

Take our five-minute survey for your chance to win one of 10 John Lewis gift vouchers worth £25! natgeotraveller.co.uk/readersurvey

T

ravel enriches, enthrals, entertains and educates. It opens hearts, minds and doors. It helps us understand different people, different cultures and different lands. Travel piques our curiosity. And it’s that curiosity that informs our annual Cool List — what’s happening in the world, what’s interesting and, most importantly, what’s in it for you? We aim to answer these questions, and more, with our list of 17 must-visit destinations for 2017. From Ireland’s forgotten county to the high temple of American hipsterism, and South America’s hottest foodie city to Germany’s art scene, we’ve selected the world’s best places to see and be seen in the coming year. Following on from our highlights for the next 12 months, we turn to your crowning glories from last year. This issue, we announce the winners of our Reader Awards — the best destinations, attractions and travel companies, as chosen by you. It’s pretty clear you’re a knowledgeable, sophisticated, well-travelled bunch who don't need much prodding to air your views about the things that matter. It’s very pleasing for us to reward those that have won your hard-earned respect. So shake off that winter cold and keep your eyes fixed firmly on the year ahead — there’s more than enough curiosity to be satisfied.

Family guide

Don’t miss our Family guide — free with this issue. Featuring a rain-soaked exploration of Costa Rica and family forays to France.

Travel Geeks

We’ll be at Destinations Show in London on 3 February talking about trekking, and TV presenter Simon Reeve will be on the Indian Ocean panel on 21 February — join us! See p.56

Photography Magazine

Our free digital-only photography magazine is available to download on Apple, Android and Kindle devices. Don’t miss out! ngtr.uk/photo-mag

PAT RIDDELL, EDITOR @patriddell @patriddell

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

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ANTIC SOUTH ATL

St Helena Island’s unique character lies in contrasting and spectacular scenery, a rich cultural heritage and an environment exceptionally rich in biodiversity. These are just a few of the reasons why this remote jewel in the South Atlantic Ocean is the perfect destination for active exploration and discovery.

www.sthelenatourism.com


We’ve been on a mission to reveal the best in travel, as chosen by you. Earlier this year, we launched our second annual Reader Awards, with thousands of you revealing your favourite destinations, airlines, tour operators and more. A big thank you to all who voted — we truly value your opinions, and are excited to bring you the results. The winners were announced at an awards ceremony in November. Here's who — and what — came out on top

Jan/Feb 2017

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SMART TRAVELLER // READER AWARDS

W I N N E R

SHORT-HAUL COUNTRY

ITALY

Here at National Geographic Traveller (UK), we’re obsessed with everything Italian — and it looks like you are, too. Italy can be gritty but grand, hipster but historic, offering everything from sun-kissed beaches and snow-covered mountains to striking cities. And one of its biggest lures? The superb food and wine that’ll leave you salivating every time.

FINALISTS SPAIN // FRANCE

W I N N E R

W I N N E R

LONG-HAUL COUNTRY

SHORT-HAUL CITY

This super power has yet to be knocked off the top spot, and no wonder — 2016 was a time to rejoice, with free entry to national parks and new routes launched by low-cost carriers WOW Air and Norwegian. Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian’s chief commercial officer, predicted flights to the US falling as low as £50 in 2017 — cementing our love for all things stateside.

The A-listers fought it out for this gong, but the enchanting seaside city of Barcelona has once again stolen readers’ hearts. Explore the historic Gothic quarter, see Gaudí's greatest gems and discover bustling tapas bars and thriving ports. If you’re looking for somewhere new to stay, check out the striking Soho House Barcelona.

FINALISTS AUSTRALIA // NEW ZEALAND

FINALISTS ROME // AMSTERDAM

BARCELONA

IMAGE: GETTY

USA

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READER AWARDS // SMART TRAVELLER

W I N N E R

LONG-HAUL CITY

NEW YORK

New York, New York — it’s clear that many of us have an enduring love for the Big Apple. Already explored Central Park? Then try the High Line, Manhattan’s elevated park. Seen The Book of Mormon? Get tickets to Groundhog Day. There’s always something new to prolong the passion. Those who haven’t yet visited should make plans to go. There are multiple direct flights every day of the week and a huge number of new hotels are due to open in 2017, including The Bryant, British architect David Chipperfield’s first residential tower in Manhattan.

FINALISTS SAN FRANCISCO // SYDNEY

W I N N E R

SHORT-HAUL AIRLINE

BRITISH AIRWAYS

It’s onwards and upwards for BA, with a number of new routes set to launch next year. The airline already offers up to 750 short-haul flights a day to/from Heathrow, Gatwick, London City and Stansted; new destinations for 2017 include Pula, Brindisi, Montelier, Nantes, Tallin and Murcia.

FINALISTS EASYJET // RYANAIR W I N N E R

LONG-HAUL AIRLINE

BRITISH AIRWAYS

Low-cost airlines may be snapping at BA’s heels, but our national carrier continues to survive and prosper, launching new services and taking on its no-frills rivals. New destinations for 2017 include New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale and Santiago — marking BA's longest flight and the only direct service between the UK and Chile.

FINALISTS EMIRATES // VIRGIN ATLANTIC

W I N N E R

RAIL JOURNEY

ROCKY MOUNTAINEER, CANADA

You love an adventure — so it’s no surprise this rail operator came up trumps, offering passengers the chance to spot swooping ospreys, leaping salmon and grizzly bears on journeys through Canada’s remote Rocky Mountains. With waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and glacier-fed lakes flashing past, this is one train journey you won’t mind being delayed on.

FINALISTS GLACIER EXPRESS, SWITZERLAND // WEST HIGHLAND LINE, SCOTLAND

Jan/Feb 2017

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SMART TRAVELLER // READER AWARDS

W I N N E R

TOUR OPERATOR

KUONI

One of Europe’s leading travel groups, Kuoni has been in the UK market for over 50 years, creating tailor-made holidays and honeymoons to more than 90 destinations around the world. 2016 saw the introduction of a new partnership with specialist company Wellbeing Escapes, resulting in a range of healthy breaks offered alongside trips such as dedicated holidays for solo travellers. Over the past few years, Kuoni has expanded its high-streets presence, with new standalone shops plus several concessions in John Lewis stores, tying together two popular UK brands.

FINALISTS EXODUS // VIRGIN HOLIDAYS W I N N E R

UK HOTEL GROUP

PREMIER INN

The UK’s biggest hotel brand continues to come out on top, thanks to its huge selection of properties offering quality accommodation at affordable prices. Your votes show that you really can get a ‘good night’s sleep’ at any one of the 700-plus hotels across the UK. That number is set to rise: since October, there’s been several new openings across the capital, including at St James Park, Goodge Street, London Bridge and Clapham. Beyond London, Chipping Norton has also welcomed its new hotel.

FINALISTS HILTON HOTELS & RESORTS // RADISSON BLU HOTELS W I N N E R

CRUISE LINE

P&O CRUISES

It’s no surprise this Southampton-based cruise line is a favourite among our readers. Offering stylish ships, incredible itineraries and themed cruises (the Strictly Come Dancing crew will waltz on its decks several times again this year), it’s also making headlines by building its biggest ship ever: the new 180,000-ton vessel will hold 5,200 passengers and is scheduled to set sail in 2020. Meanwhile, new cruises in the pipeline include a 30-night Canadian adventure and a 12-night Norwegian Fjords tour.

FINALISTS ROYAL CARIBBEAN // NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CRUISES 22

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W I N N E R

OVERSEAS HOTEL GROUP

HILTON HOTELS & RESORTS The hotel heavyweight continues its world dominance, with 13 brands and more than 570 hotels across 85 countries and six continents. There are no plans to slow down, either — the group is busy adding properties to its upscale Curio brand, with new locations including Boston and Ibiza.

FINALISTS FOUR SEASONS HOTELS AND RESORTS // MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL


READER AWARDS // SMART TRAVELLER

W I N N E R

GREEN INITIATIVE

WILDERNESS SAFARIS – RHINO CONSERVATION PROJECT

This is a project that clearly touched hearts. In 2016 it won a Tourism for Tomorrow Award in the Environment category for its pioneering conservation work that included the largest ever cross-border translocation of critically endangered black rhino.

FINALISTS TRIPADVISOR GREENLEADERS // ABTA – MAKE HOLIDAYS GREENER CAMPAIGN

W I N N E R

OVERSEAS ATTRACTION

IMAGES: GETTY

GRAND CANYON, USA

History was made in 2016, with the discovery of thousand-year-old cities buried deep in the jungle surrounding Cambodia’s Angkor Wat — but the historic find still wasn’t enough to knock Arizona’s Grand Canyon off the top spot in this category. Those with nerves of steel can admire the views from the glass suspension bridge 4,000ft above the riverbed — but the best way to experience it has to be hiking, biking or rafting away from the crowds.

FINALISTS ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA // GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA

W I N N E R

FAMILY TRAVEL COMPANY

THOMAS COOK

There’s no shortage of competition in the family travel market these days, but Thomas Cook has come out on top. Funpacked Aquamania hotels and Thomas Cook Kids’ Clubs have clearly struck a chord with parents, and the operator has become synonymous with family escapes, offering a wide range of family-friendly accommodation, qualified childcare and facilities including water parks. The trend looks set to continue in 2017, with the opening of five Sunwing Family Resorts in the UK.

FINALISTS VIRGIN HOLIDAYS // THOMSON Jan/Feb 2017

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SMART TRAVELLER // READER AWARDS

W I N N E R

TV PROGRAMME

GREAT BARRIER REEF WITH DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (BBC)

This three-part series followed Sir David on his return to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef after almost 60 years. The extraordinary documentary saw him descend 300m beneath the waves in the Triton submersible to discover corals and animals never before seen on the small screen. Most importantly, the programme raised pertinent questions about the protection and preservation of the oceans’ coral reefs.

FINALISTS WALKING THE HIMALAYAS, LEVISON WOOD (CHANNEL 4) // GREECE WITH SIMON REEVE (BBC) W I N N E R

UK ATTRACTION

EDEN PROJECT

After 15 years, the world’s largest indoor rainforest remains a perennial favourite — but there’s plenty more to see once you’ve explored the two million plants housed inside the iconic biomes. From interactive exhibitions and the Rainforest Canopy Walkway to 20 acres of gardens and England’s longest and fastest zip wire, the Eden Project promises all manner of ecological family fun.

IMAGES: GETTY; ALAMY

FINALISTS BRITISH MUSEUM // EDINBURGH CASTLE

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READER AWARDS // SMART TRAVELLER

W I N N E R

BLOG

BUDGET TRAVELLER

Featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Vanity Fair and National Geographic Traveller, Kash Bhattacharya shares his top tips on how to travel in style on a budget, often bedding down for the night in surprisingly luxury hostels. His blog reveals how to live the high life without spending a fortune and includes articles from a variety of like-minded travellers sharing advice and travel guides on everything from cheap eats to affordable attractions.

FINALISTS A LADY IN LONDON // EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE W I N N E R

BOOK W I N N E R

NEW CULTURAL ATTRACTION

LINCOLN CASTLE (RENOVATION), UK

THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING, BY BILL BRYSON

Following a £22m restoration project, Lincoln Castle re-opened in 2015 with a vault to house one of only four copies of the 1215 Magna Carta. A new wall walk and the Victorian prison are among the highlights of this magnificent fortress, which dates back to 1068 and is one of only two castles in the country to feature two mottes.

It comes as no surprise that a fair few of our readers voted for the American author’s compelling sequel to his hilarious book, Notes from a Small Island. Twenty years on, he tours the British Isles once again — The Road to Little Dribbling is the culmination of his roundabout trip between Bognor Regis and Cape Wrath. RRP: £20 (Doubleday)

FINALISTS SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART // MUSÉE DE L’HOMME, PARIS

FINALISTS LONDON OVERGROUND, BY IAIN SINCLAIR (HAMISH HAMILTON) // HEAT, BY RANULPH FIENNES (SIMON & SCHUSTER) Jan/Feb 2017

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SMART TRAVELLER // READER AWARDS

W I N N E R

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO TRAVEL

MICHAEL PALIN

Comedian, actor, writer, presenter, scriptwriter, producer, traveller… Michael Palin’s contribution to entertainment and travel has made him nothing short of a national treasure. After cutting his teeth on the influential The Frost Report in the 1960s, Palin joined up with several of his cowriters to create Monty Python’s Flying Circus in 1969. The BBC TV show and subsequent films — Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Life of Brian and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life — remain among the most influential and beloved comedy series of the 20th century. Palin also forged his reputation with Ripping Yarns and appeared in the films Time Bandits, Brazil and A Fish Called Wanda, working alongside his Python collaborators. As a presenter of the BBC’s Great Railway Journeys series, Palin has become as well known for his travels as for his Monty Python days, fronting a string of travel documentaries that have helped inspire a generation to see the world. His journeys and accompanying books, including Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole and Full Circle, brought new parts of the globe into viewers’ living rooms at a time when travel as we now know it was very different. Between 2009 and 2012, Michael was President of the Royal Geographical Society and was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship in 2013. The rest of his achievements are simply too numerous to list…

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Yo u r P r i vat e L u x u rY S k i C h a L e t home of Skiing


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

SNAPSHOT

Piotr Wankewycz

During a recent visit to Oskar Schindler’s factory in gentrified Podgorze, we stumbled across Industrial Resto & Bar. Five weeks prior it had been derelict, abandoned since the end of the Cold War. The new owners had retained its brutalist structure but converted the interior into a chic Polish restaurant. Outside, the stark polished concrete walls with snow on the ground felt like a surreal photography studio. We convinced a waiter to brave the cold for a photo in just a thin shirt and apron. I love how unvexed he was despite the sub-zero temperatures and a photographer dressed for Arctic conditions. JON ATTENBOROUGH // PHOTOGRAPHER jonattenborough.com

Jan/Feb 2017

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Discover the new breed of watchmaker...

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EDITORS’ PICKS // SMART TRAVELLER

LAS VEGAS: VELVETEEN RABBIT

On my visit to this arts district cocktailsand-craft beers bar, I took a shine to the ‘I’m a visitor here’ cocktail — pisco, rum, black sesame ink and a sprinkle of ‘star dust’. velveteenrabbitlv.com FARIDA ZEYNALOVA // CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

TAKE A DEEP BREATH…

Admittance to recent Amsterdam pop-up Matt Hangover Bar required failing a breathalyser. It’s off to Berlin this autumn, with massage stations, oxygen bars, comfy beds, TVs and smoothies. mattsleeps.com STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO // SENIOR EDITOR

Editors' icks

LONDON: MUSEUM OF HAPPINESS

The world’s first Museum of Happiness — which acquired a permanent spot at the Canvas Café in London’s East End earlier this year — has organised a calendar of free events and workshops that focus on wellbeing and mindfulness, just to help us all get by. museumofhappiness.org TAMSIN WRESSELL // CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

We’ve been here and we’ve been there, and our team have found a few things we thought we’d share

Travel ans for

3 CHEERS FOR FINLAND

2017

PERU: To finally see

Machu Picchu PAT RIDDELL

VIETNAM: For the

adventure

1 SWEAT IT OUT

Artist Dida Zende’s Sweating for Europe project brings MEPs and citizens together to discuss Europe’s hottest topics in a fire truck, converted into a Finnish-style sauna and parked in front of the European Parliament in Brussels. 2 MOOMINS

IMAGES: GETTY

An expanded Moomin museum is set to move to Tampere Hall, Southern Finland, in May 2017, promising a unique multisensory experience and original artworks. moomin.com 3 HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Finland celebrates 100 years of independence in 2017. suomifi nland100.fi MARIA PIERI // EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Ocean explorers

It may be hours from the coast but Paris is appealing to your inner ocean adventurer this winter at the Arab World Institute’s latest exhibition. Running until 7 February, it charts the voyages of great explorers, from fictional Sinbad to Italy’s own Marco Polo. imarabe.org/en/exhibitions/ ocean-explorers JOSEPHINE PRICE // CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

MARIA PIERI BHUTAN: To hike to

the Tiger’s Nest STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO HAWAII: For the

Wai Koa Loop walking trail

SARAH BARRELL MONGOLIA: To saddle

up and cross the steppes

AMELIA DUGGAN

Jan/Feb 2017

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SMART TRAVELLER

BIG PICTURE

Zimbabwe

A Tonga (BaTonga) woman smokes tobacco in her traditional pipe during sunrise near Binga District, Zimbabwe. The Tonga people have always lived around the Zambezi River in southern Zambia and northern Zimbabwe. However in the 1950s, after the construction of the Kariba Dam wall, they were relocated from the river valley to higher grounds around Binga. Today they lead a subsistence farming life influenced heavily by the seasonal rains and can experience four to five months without water in their wells. BOGUSLAW MASLAK // PHOTOGRAPHER bobbyart.com @boguslaw.maslak

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Jan/Feb 2017

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WHAT’S NEW // SMART TRAVELLER

Purple reign PAISLEY PARK, MINNESOTA

His death shocked the world, but Prince’s legacy lives on at Paisley Park, now open to visitors Prince’s was one of many unexpected celebrity deaths in 2016. Like David Bowie, he operated effortlessly in numerous genres of music — changing the pop landscape as he did so. He also challenged perceptions of sexual, racial and gender roles. The mystery and secrecy that surrounded him were embodied by his Paisley Park home and recording studio complex, inside whose hallowed walls only the most privileged visitors were allowed. “Opening Paisley Park is something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on,” says Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister. Only a small number of select people had the chance to tour the estate during his lifetime. His ‘creative sanctuary’, where he wrote, recorded and produced much of his iconic work, remains a part of his mysterious persona. Was it really completely purple? Did it really have a private nightclub and concert hall? Is it home to a confusing labyrinth of corridors? Despite looking like an IT warehouse on the M4 corridor, the 65,000sq ft, $10m complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota has now opened to the ticket-buying public. Yes, no longer is Paisley Park off limits to all but a select few. And, in keeping with Prince’s notoriously shy nature, cameras and mobile phones are not allowed on site. officialpaisleypark.com PAT RIDDELL

The inspiration

IMAGES: GETTY

Graceland

Although Elvis Presley’s former estate in Memphis, Tennessee now receives over 650,000 visitors a year, his widow, Priscilla Presley, wasn’t sure if it would be a success when it opened in 1982. Yet, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and has revitalised

the local economy. The recently-opened 450-room Guest House at Graceland is the largest hotel project in Memphis in over 90 years and Elvis: Past, Present & Future, a 200,000sq ft, $45m entertainment complex is due to open next spring. graceland.com

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Laurent-Perrier chosen by

The Ritz London.

Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Photo credit: Iris Velghe / Illustrator credit: Quentin Blake

CUVÉE ROSÉ CHOSEN BY THE BEST


WHAT’S NEW // SMART TRAVELLER

Citywide

MAKEOVERS

While a single high-profile, statement building can revitalise a city, some places crave an entire new look When a city feels a little unloved or overshadowed, one path to popularity is to try to recreate the ‘Bilbao effect’ — by which we mean to pay a famous architect to design an eye-catching building, in the hope that the rest of the world will take note. It’s a phenomenon named after the northern Spanish city, which put itself on the map in 1997 when it unveiled the now iconic Guggenheim Museum, designed by architecture’s very own King Midas, Frank Gehry. However, sometimes just one new building isn’t enough, with cities such as Milan, Montpellier and Tirana taking a far more ambitious approach and attempting far more extensive makeovers.

MILAN

Sibling rivalry

In an attempt to steal the limelight from prettier siblings Rome, Venice and Florence, Milan has embraced modernity within its CityLife development, which features apartment blocks by Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid, plus a tower from Arata Isozaki. This follows the Bosco Verticale (pictured), opened in 2014, which comprises two balconied highrises resembling a vertical jungle.

MONTPELLIER

Modern follies

Montpellier has become a lab for experimental architecture. Recent developments include blocks by the likes of Zaha Hadid (pictured), while planned projects include a Phillipe Starck-designed spa. The city also plans to erect 12 striking ‘modern follies’ in its Port Marianne area. TIRANA

IMAGES: ALAMY

Starting again

The Albanian capital has handed Stefano Boeri — the man behind Milan’s Bosco Verticale — the task of redesigning a huge section of the city, including buildings and roads, over the next 14 years. Early plans include plenty of green spaces and a huge ring road for bicycles and pedestrians.

ATHENS

Cultural clout

The Greek capital is seeking the ‘Bilbao effect’ with the February 2017 opening of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center — a complex designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, housing the Greek National Opera, the National Library and a park. GLEN MUTEL

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SMART TRAVELLER // DO IT NOW

YEAR OF LIVING

(not so) DANGEROUSLY

Bored of the same old resolutions and keen to try something new in 2017? We’ve picked 12 activities to get you thinking, biking, moving and making Words: Sam Lewis

1 // MOUNTAIN BIKE IN AN EPIC LANDSCAPE

Get off the trails in Torridon in the Scottish Highlands. Go independently or book a guided tour — WildBike pioneers new expeditions here each year. From £685 for six nights. wildbike.co.uk

10 // LEARN A MARTIAL ART

2 // Track wild pumas

Mixed martial arts is booming in popularity, with Rio de Janeiro a mecca for those wanting to learn the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu style of fighting. Try it yourself or watch the pros battle it out at MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. connectionrio.com mgmgrand.com

Join Steppes Travel’s new Puma Tracking tour in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. 11 days from £3,995. steppestravel.co.uk

3 // Try cat skiing & more

11 // Join a safari after dark

Check into the five-star GostlinKeefer Lake Lodge in British Columbia to explore 86,500 acres of mountainous, forested terrain and ski untouched snow at dawn. keeferlakelodge.com/catskiing

7 // MEET WITH A MONK

Try a temple stay in South Korea and learn about a host of Buddhist rituals, including meditating and dining in complete silence. eng.templestay.com

4 // VISIT A CAR-FREE ISLAND

Breathe deeply on Sark, in the Channel Islands, where bikes and horse-drawn carriages are the main mode of transport.

6 // LEARN THE ART OF BUSHCRAFT

Challenge yourself on Ray Mears’ three-day Woodlore Bush Chef course, learning to cook dishes outdoors. From £450. raymears.com

8 // Run on new surfaces

New for 2017 is the Serengeti HalfMarathon Experience. Spot the Big Five on safari, then set off on the big race (21km and 5km routes available). From £2,299 for an eight-day trip. gadventures.co.uk

Heading to South Africa? See more than just the Big Five. Take a night tour to spot the elusive aardvark at Samara Private Game Reserve. samara.co.za

12 // EXPLORE TECTONIC PLATES

Slip into the Silfra fissure in Iceland’s Þingvellir National Park, a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents. Snorkelling tour: ISK17,900 (£127); diving: ISK39,900 (£282). scuba.is

5 // SNOWKITE ON AN ICED LAKE

Switzerland’s Grand Hotel Kronenhof offers bespoke snowkite packages on frozen lakes. Go in February and you can also watch the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in nearby St Moritz. kronenhof.com

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Get active with coastal swims and island-hopping tours around Croatia, Greece, the Isles of Scilly and the Inner Hebrides with SwimTrek. A week in Croatia from £790 without flights. swimtrek.com

IMAGES: GETTY; CRAIG BRADY

9 // Take a dip in the sea


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FOOD // SMART TRAVELLER

a tas�e of ISTANBUL

Dine out in the Turkish capital and you’ll find that every dish has its own neighbourhood, and an address at which to enjoy it

Street eats

Mezze

A tradition shared by Turkey’s neighbours, mezze is a state of mind: that of several people gathering around a table covered with little dishes, taking time to make the most of it. Lunch can become dinner, through sheer inertia. A favoured spot is Agora Meyhanesi 1890, in the old Jewish neighbourhood of Balat, on the Golden Horn. Try ekşili Antakya, a spicy tomato and walnut dip hailing from near the Syrian border. Meanwhile, Asmalı Mescit Caddesi is a street brimming with places for small plates. Yakup 2 (21/B Asmalı Mescit Caddesi), a vast, old-style meyhane (traditional restaurant/ bar) has wonderful acılı ezme (a spicy salad).

IMAGES: AKIKO IDA AND PIERRE JAVELLE; ISTOCKPHOTO

Neighbourhood of note

Cihangir is the artists’ neighbourhood — a little bohemian, a little bourgeois and very charming, with narrow, tree-lined streets, views of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, and many cafes, organic food shops and chic grocers. A compulsory stop, Asri Turşucu (9/A Ağahamam Caddesi), was opened over a century ago by the grandfather of the current owners. Offering approximately 40 different types of pickle, it’s hard to pass up the cabbage leaves pickled in lemon juice. This text is an abridged extract from Istanbul Cult Recipes, by Pomme Larmoyer; photography by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle. RRP: £20 (Murdoch Books).

Street food is part of Turkey’s cultural heritage. Expect to find everything from grilled meat and fish sandwiches to pizzas, chestnuts, juices, stuffed mussels and the little mountains of pilav rice with chickpeas on sale at any time of day. A lahmaçun (Turkish pizza) devoured at, say, 8pm, at Abusta 33 Mersin Tantuni (in Beşiktaş, at 7 Kazan Sk), does not rule out a 2am islak (‘wet’) burger, best eaten on Taksim Square’s main street, Istiklal Caddesi. Kumpir Sokak (‘Baked Potato Street’), in Ortaköy, only sells kumpir (potatoes stuffed with everything); and perhaps the city’s best döner is to be found at Karadeniz Pide Ve Döner, in Beşiktaş (6 Mumcu Bakkal Sk, Sinanpaşa). While balık ekme (a fish sandwich) is traditionally eaten near the Karaköy Fish Market, at stands along the water’s edge.

MAKE IT AT HOME

Turkish coffee INGREDIENTS

2 tsp Turkish coffee per person Granulated sugar to taste METHOD

Mix the coffee and sugar in a cezve coffee pot. Add cold water (125ml per half pot), and mix. Wait for coffee to swell over a low heat. Take

off the heat, spoon the top foam into the bottom of two cups. Return to the heat, wait for the coffee to rise again. Half-fill the cups, carefully pouring the liquid over the foam. Return pot to heat: when coffee rises a third time, serve by topping up each coffee cup to the rim.

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7 1 0 2 S T H G ENT HIGHLI

EV

23–27.02.2017 Highlights of the Rhineland Carnival

30.06.2017 Schloss Benrath (Benrath Palace) Festival of Lights

29.06–02.07.2017 Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2017

14–23.07.2017 The biggest funfair on the Rhine

23.11–23.12.2017 Düsseldorf Christmas Market

© Stiftung Schloss und Park Benrath, Foto: Dirk Freder

For more information, please take a look at Düsseldorf, which is selected by National Geographic Traveller as one of the coolest destinations in this magazine, or visit www.visitduesseldorf.de.

Düsseldorf Tourismus GmbH T +49 211 17 202-854 welcome@duesseldorf-tourismus.de www.visitduesseldorf.de


ON THE TRAIL // SMART TRAVELLER

�msterdam PHOTO SAFARI IN

Lights, camera... Amsterdam. Connor McGovern takes a photographic tour of the Netherlands’ capital 1 // PRINSENEILAND Prinseneiland’s historic houses and converted warehouses are striking subjects for urban photographers. Off the tourist trail, there’s no danger of crowds ruining the perfect shot in this spot away from the city centre.

8 8 // NOORDERLICHT CAFÉ Take a ferry to NDSM, a modernised ship wharf with an industrial edge. Rest your feet — and lenses — at the Noorderlicht Café, a giant greenhouse-like structure. noorderlichtcafe.nl

2 // DE NEGEN STRAATJES Stroll south to ‘the nine streets’. This is classic Amsterdam, with whizzing bikes, buzzing cafes and quaint boutiques. Look out for Frietsteeg, serving fantastic fries. de9straatjes.nl frietsteeg.jimdo.com

1 3 // BEGIJNHOF It’s a short walk to the charming Begijnhof, a 14thcentury courtyard. The peaceful green is framed by an enchanting assembly of iconic Dutch houses.

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ILLUSTRATION: TILLY RUNNINGFORCRAYONS.CO.UK

4 // LEIDSEGRACHT AND KEIZERSGRACHT Impossibly pretty beneath dusky skies, this photogenic canal junction features all of Amsterdam in one sweeping shot: bridges, bikes, boats and bell towers. Make sure to swing by again at night to see the scene gloriously lit up.

6 2

6 // CAFÉ CENTERCOURT Wind through the Red Light District, stopping off at this canal-side cafe. Practise night-time photography against the backdrop of rippling water and glowing buildings.

3 4

Amsterdam Photo Safari offers a number of tours from €160 (£137). This trail highlights some of stops that may be included in a tour, but is not a route offered. amsterdam photosafari.com

7 // CENTRAAL STATION The waterfront runs just north of this grand, recently renovated transport hub, taking in the modern silhouettes of the EYE Film Institute and the A’DAM tower.

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5 // MAGERE BRUG Take in the scenes along the banks of the Keizersgracht canal before snapping a shot of the city’s famed Magere Brug (‘the skinny bridge’), crossing the Amstel river.

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SMART TRAVELLER // ROOMS

WHERE TO STAY

PUGLIA

Skip the hotel, and try these alternative spots around the Italian port city of Bari. Words: Julia Buckley 1 MASSERIA MONTELAURO

Inland from Otranto, this 19th-century building has been thoroughly modernised — inside it’s all whitewash, exposed stone and gleaming white furniture, while, outside, olive trees shade the pool. Doubles from £151. masseriamontelauro.it 2 TRULLI FIORITI

Distinctive ‘hobbit house’ trullos? Check. Ancient olive groves? Check. ‘Hobbit town’ Alberobello on the doorstep? Check. This is the classic Puglian rental, and with three bedrooms and two bathrooms plus a pool, it’s a good choice for families. From £1,450 a week. qualityvillas.com 3 TRULLO FICO

A triple-cone trullo near Ostuni turned holiday palace for nine. Soak in the pool or hot tub, or take a turn around the orchard — lemons, limes, peaches and figs all grow here. From £1,450 per week. coolstays.com 4 ALBERGO DIFFUSO MONOPOLI

One of Puglia’s prettiest fishing towns plays host to this ‘albergo diffuso’ or ‘scattered hotel’ — rooms and suites dotted across town, converging round a central cafe. Doubles from £53. albergodiffusomonopoli.it

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SMART TRAVELLER // FAMILY

King Castle HERITAGE TALES

OF THE

Certain stories endure through the ages and the legend of King Arthur is the daddy of them all. Words: Maria Pieri

OF MYTHS & LEGENDS

LE MONT SAINT-MICHEL, NORMANDY, FRANCE

Disney reportedly used this fortified gothic island castle as inspiration for Rapunzel. At high tide it appears to rise majestically out of the sea. ot-montsaintmichel.com

CORVIN CASTLE, HUNEDOARA, ROMANIA

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FROM LEFT: Tintagel Castle; Le Mont Saint-Michel

thurian conections

The Round Table, a Neolithic henge in Cumbria, was King Arthur’s jousting arena Somerset’s Cadbury Castle a possible site of Camelot, King Arthur’s court

Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle (which found recent fame as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts) is, according to medieval texts, the castle of Lancelot, King Arthur’s knight. englishheritage.org.uk

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, BAVARIA

Cinderella’s castle at Disney World and Sleeping Beauty’s castle in DisneyLand are reportedly fashioned on this 19th-century palace with its iconic turrets and cylindrical towers. neuschwanstein.de

PRAGUE CASTLE, CZECH REPUBLIC

This 10th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site and Guinness World Record holder is the ‘largest coherent castle complex in the world’. hrad.cz

ALCÁZAR OF SEGOVIA, SPAIN

Constructed by the Moors, this medieval fortress sits on a large rock promontory on a hill overlooking the city — 156 creaky steps lead to the top. alcazardesegovia.com

IMAGES: ALEXANDRE LAMOUREUX; ENGLISH HERITAGE TRUST

The 148 steps on to the island to see Tintagel Castle in Cornwall have to be taken slowly and in single file. It’s steep, hard work, treading the well-worn stone grey steps to reach what would be known as the Great Hall, built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Tintagel, which for centuries has captured the imagination as the birthplace of King Arthur and home of Merlin, foretells of magic, and it’s truly a spectacular pile of rack and ruin to behold. The new fi lm, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Jude Law, David Beckham (really) and Charlie Hunman in the title role, is due for release this March and will no doubt spark further interest in the legend. The castle, connected to the mainland by a narrow neck of land, offers spectacular views of the dramatic Cornish coastline. It has had some ‘touristy’ additions in the past year, including Merlin’s face carved onto the stones by the beach — but the aim is to help preserve the magic for future generations. Open 10am-4pm in winter; with swordplay in the summer. english-heritage.org.uk/tintagel

Also called Huniazilor, this fairytale castle, complete with a drawbridge over a flowing river, inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire, Dracula, who was based on the very real Vlad the Impaler. castelulcorvinilor.ro


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UK // SMART TRAVELLER

DON'T MISS

After admiring the Roman Baths, experience the city’s thermal springs for yourself at the Thermae Bath Spa. Start with the basement Minerva Bath, then head up to its floor of steam rooms and saunas, before finishing in the rooftop pool. thermaebathspa.com

STAY AT HOME

Bath

Why go?

You don’t have to spend long in Bath to understand why its centre was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. Around almost every corner you’ll find a row of handsome Georgian façades, built from the local golden Bath stone.

Subterranean bars, thermal spas and a thousand Georgian panoramas — arguably the UK’s most attractive city, Bath serves up a mean cocktail, too

WHERE TO EAT

IMAGES: GETTY; PHILLIP EDWARDS; GAINSBOROUGH BATH SPA

There may be a few flashier restaurants in town, but Ponte Vecchio is an atmospheric Italian option, with tasty dishes and pleasing terrace views of both the River Avon and Pulteney Bridge. pontevecchiobath.com

We like Bath does a good line

in cosy cocktail bars. One of the best is Opium — in the Vaults under Grove Street — a snug cavern with a sprightly tipple list. opiumbars.com

WHAT TO DO

WHERE TO STAY

Occupying a pair of Grade II-listed buildings, The Gainsborough Bath Spa offers classically attractive rooms with iPod docks, a fine-dining restaurant and the Romanthemed Spa Village. thegainsboroughbath spa.co.uk

The green hills visible from any point in the city are worth exploring. There are walks available from the Bath Tourist Information Centre — the Bath Skyline is ideal for newcomers to the city. GLEN MUTEL visitbath.co.uk

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Word The

BOOKSHELF // SMART TRAVELLER

WISE WORDS

The map

No, not a list of places where fauna relieve themselves but an atlas of animal movements. The authors worked with scientists collecting tracking data, from the digital tags of humpback song to satellite images of penguins and magnetic fields used to trace badgers. Particular Books (RRP: £25).

WILD AT HEART

The list From a mother bear and cub scaling a near-vertical Peruvian mountain to jaguar wrestling with a caiman in an Amazon river, relive key moments from current BBC series Planet Earth II A decade after David Attenborough and the BBC blew our minds with Planet Earth — raising the bar ludicrously high for all subsequent nature docs — he’s back with the sequel. If you haven’t yet seen this sixpart series on BBC1, then get ye to iPlayer to watch Sir David lend his enquiring mind, inimitable tones, and impressively game 90–year-old body to an exploration of how animals meet the challenges of surviving in the most iconic habitats on Earth. Or, if you can’t stand the heart-stopping jeopardy of watching, say, the tragic fairy tern incubating an egg that will never hatch, or heroic hatchling marine iguanas being mobbed by gangs of racer snakes, then try this book. It doesn’t squirm or squeal out a distracting survival cry; it does contain over 200 photographs from the Beeb’s Natural History Unit, accompanied by text from naturalist, broadcaster and nature author, Stephen Moss. There’s a foreword from Sir David himself, followed by seven chapters (divided into terrains: Jungles, Mountains, Deserts,

Grasslands, Islands, and Cities), packed with insider quotes from the series’ producers, plus one chapter, Tales, where frontline producers and cameramen reveal their best and stickiest moments. From rare spectacles like a Arctic caribou migration and capturing the ‘ghost cat’ (snow leopard) in the Himalayas to behind-the-scenes moments, this captures wildlife broadcasting at its best. Planet Earth II, A New World Revealed, by Stephen Moss, is published by BBC Books. RRP: £25

Our columnist Aaron Millar sets his sharp sights on The 50 Greatest Wonders of the World. This quickread review of classic bucket-list experiences includes the Grand Canyon at sunset and swimming to the edge of Victoria. Icon Books (RRP: £8.99).

The podcast

Fond of Danish noir? Then try The Double: a podcast drama about a man who meets his doppelganger (one of the winners of 2016’s Third Coast/Richard H Driehaus Competition). Find it on Radio Atlas, a site hosting English translations of European podcasts. radioatlas.org/the-double

Parisian perspectives PARIS STREET TALES

Short stories, each associated with Paris. Showing how the city has changed over the years, the 18 newly translated tales range from the 19th century to the present day, penned by such well-known names as Colette, Maupassant, Didier Daeninckx, and Simenon. OUP Oxford (RRP: £10.99).

THE ONLY STREET IN PARIS: LIFE ON THE RUE DES MARTYRS New in paperback, this is a literary tour of the author’s favourite Paris street, Rue Des Martyrs, a place where, among other events, the patron saint of France was beheaded, Degas and Renoir painted circus acrobats, and Truffaut filmed. Norton (RRP: £9.99).

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ZOLA The French novelist’s littleknown period of exile in England from 1898-1899 (he left Paris with nothing but the clothes he was wearing and his nightshirt) is uncovered in this new book by former Children’s Laureate and Francophile, Michael Rosen. Faber & Faber (RRP: £16.99).

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SPECIAL PROMOTION

Win a week's trip FOR FOUR TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

National Geographic Traveller (UK) has teamed up with Voyages-sncf.com and Sunêlia to offer a week’s trip for four in a holiday village on France’s Mediterranean coast

Your prize

Seven-day trip for four people to Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière, B&B. Includes one meal for four, two spa treatments, two days’ bike hire, and London to Béziers transfers. voyages-sncf.com sunelia.com

TRAVEL IN STYLE

Your trip starts in style courtesy of Voyagessncf.com with train travel from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet International station to Paris on Eurostar. In Paris, board the highspeed TGV to Béziers — sit back and enjoy watching France go by at 320km per hour. OUT & ABOUT

Discover Béziers’ cathedral, Montpellier’s museums and the Cathar fortresses. The Camargue is a world of its own with its horses, flamingos and a colourful gypsy pilgrimage in late May. Heading north from La Dragonnière brings you into the hill country of the Massif Central, where the Gorges de l’Hérault is a great spot for white water canoeing.

STAYING PUT

Sunêlia’s Domaine de la Dragonnière’s setting between Montpellier and the ancient city of Béziers offers sightseeing, beachcombing and bird watching. Take the free shuttle to Dragonnière’s beach for 7km of uninterrupted sand from Vias to Sérignan Plage. Or stay put, and enjoy a state-of-the-art spa, an immense aquapark complex and four themed restaurants.

TO ENTER Answer the question below by visiting natgeotraveller.co.uk/competitions HOW FAST WILL YOU TRAVEL ON THE TGV? Competition closes 31 January 2017 at 23.59 GMT. Winner must be over 18. Prize includes travel for two adults and two children or four adults. Subject to availability. Full T&Cs at natgeotraveller.co.uk

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SMART TRAVELLER

Eents

TRAVEL GEEKS 3 FEBRUARY 2017

Travel Geeks at Destinations Show — Walk This Way

2 0 1 7

Put your best foot forward at this year’s Destinations Show for an hour of all things trekking and hiking, from the wilderness of Patagonia to the UK’s green splendour. Our expert panel will discuss their most memorable experiences and share tips on making the most of your next walking adventure. There’ll also be an informal Q&A session at the end. WHERE: Theatre 2, Olympia London TIME: 12.30 - 13.15

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JAN UARY

MASTERCLASS

Travel Writing Masterclass

THE PANEL

MARIA PIERI // MODERATOR

Our editorial director is a family travel specialist and fitness enthusiast who’ll bring a touch of order to the proceedings.

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GLEN MUTEL

Our deputy editor is responsible for editorial standards across the title. He likes a good pitch, a well-worded intro, quirky tales and a good European city.

PAT RIDDELL

National Geographic Traveller’s editor since 2010 and travel writer for over 15 years, Pat’s love of Italy and New York is matched only by his Nottm Forest fixation.

SARAH BARRELL

Associate editor Sarah is a former deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday’s travel pages, and a guest lecturer in travel writing at Oxford Brookes University.

TRAVEL GEEKS: RUSH HOUR 21 FEBRUARY 2017

Indian Ocean Sponsored by Kuoni

Join us for an evening of tips and advice on everything the Indian Ocean has to offer. Our panel will reveal their most memorable spots, from unspoiled scenes in Madagascar to the heavenly white beaches of the Seychelles. Author and TV presenter Simon Reeve will share tales from his BBC2 series Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve. Panel includes: Simon Reeve — adventurer, author and TV presenter WHERE: Wallacespace Rooftop Kitchen, Covent Garden, 2 Dryden Street, London WC2E 9NA TIME: 18.00 - 19.00 PRICE: £10 (includes a drink plus nibbles) First 20 tickets free with code: NGTINDIANOCEAN

IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO

Calling all aspiring travel writers. Ever thought about transforming your love of writing into a career? Join the editors of National Geographic Traveller (UK) for an evening of invaluable advice, taking an in-depth view of the art of storytelling and how to improve your own writing and get published. From avoiding pitfalls and improving your prose to pitching ideas to magazines and craft ing a good story, the team TIME: are on hand to answer all your questions. 18:30 – 22:00 The Masterclass is aimed at budding travel writers looking WHERE: to take their work to the next level, or newcomers who want Wallacespace Rooftop to know how it all works. Kitchen, Covent Garden, Moderator Maria Pieri, National Geographic Traveller’s 2 Dryden Street, editorial director, says: “Our aim is to answer the many London WC2E 9NA questions emerging talent might have about travel writing: TICKETS: £75 ‘What are the do’s and don’ts? Why won’t those travel editors ever reply to my pitch? How can I create a gripping story?’”


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SMART TRAVELLER

NOTES FROM AN AUTHOR // SARAH OUTEN

THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS Even for an elite kayaker, these remote Pacific islands are an intense place, challenging and inspiring in the same stroke, with back-breaking swells

T

he NOAA Pilot describes the weather in the Aleutian Islands as being generally considered some of the consistently worst in the world. Low pressure systems — born from warm air from the Pacific to their south mixing with the frigid air from the Bering Sea to their north — spin eastwards along the island chain and onto the US mainland, driving its west coast weather. The water conditions are just as dynamic, powered by strong tides and currents, which heave and rush through island passes over a richly sculpted seabed, meeting a jagged, rocky coastline. Wildlife abounds above and below the water, drawn here by the rich up-swellings and cold water. Hordes of noisy sea lions bark and honk from precarious rocky stages, while rafts of sea birds divebomb shoals of sand eels, or perch on ledges. Otters bob and float in family groups or giant nurseries, weaving in and out of the kelp beds. Spiky carpets of sea urchins cram the shallows and knobbly chitons graze the rocks in static herds. It’s like a wildlife sweet shop — there’s always something to look at, study and wonder on. For the paddler, it’s an intense place, technical and physical, often inspiring and challenging in the same stroke. The currents between the islands are not well understood and often do the opposite of what you think they should be doing, or something in between. A brilliant book by Corey Ford based on the diaries of 18th-century naturalist surgeon Georg Wilhem Steller on his experiences of the Russian expedition to discover the ‘Great Land’ is titled, Where The Sea Breaks Its Back. Reading it inside our storm-bound tent on the tiny volcanic island of Amukta on my birthday in 2014, it was easy to see why — surf crashed on shore as a grey sea rolled in from the south. The night before had been still and quiet when we landed in our kayaks, after 16 hours crossing the notorious Amukta Pass, but for the ‘(un)welcome chorus’ of angry sea lions, apparently unhappy at us disturbing their snooze. For a couple of days we were stormbound in our little tent, much as the early Aleuts might have been pinned on shore during their journeying up and down the islands as they moved from camp to

It’s an ever-changing place, and yet there’s something unchanging about it too. Just as the biting wind and damp can leave a chill, which persists until the sun comes out, the spirit of the islands endures after a visit; its space and energy, its contrasts

camp. Days later, further along the chain, we spent nearly half a day wondering if we were ever going to make it to land as the tide waltzed us north and south, pulling us away from our destination and from any land at all. It’s an ever-changing place, and yet there’s something unchanging about it too. Just as the biting wind and damp can leave a chill, which persists until the sun comes out, the spirit of the islands endures after a visit; its space and energy, the contrasts between still and stormy, quiet and raucous, colour and grey. The tenacity of the Aleut people who have called the region home for thousands of years, the mummified remains of their ancestors tucked away into volcano sides. The region is home to one of the early precursors to the modern kayak, the iqyax, now relegated to museums and community centre halls, in favour of skiffs and motors. The irony is that the Aleuts’ persistence as a remote islandic people is threatened by that very remoteness within the context of a globalising world, controlled by a government thousands of miles away. It’s relatively unpeopled and unspoilt because it’s so inaccessible and expensive to get to. For me, the Aleutians never figured in my London2London: Via the World journey plans, until the weather dictated that it should, forcing a diversion from my original path across the Pacific in 2013. That’s the Aleutian way — the weather is boss out there. Having landed in Adak, the most westerly inhabited of the islands, I returned home to the UK to train and prepare for the 15,000mile journey the following summer with my kayaking partner and sister of the sea, Justine Curgenven. I’d always wanted to visit Alaska and so this felt serendipitous. It became the favourite leg of my journey and perhaps one of the most formative too. Not only did it develop my kayaking to the point I felt like a real kayaker, it also showed me the importance of being open to changes in plans and how, sometimes, the best journeys are those which you don’t plan at all. Dare To Do: Taking on the Planet by Bike and Boat, is published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing. RRP: £18.99. sarahouten.com @sarahouten

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SMART TRAVELLER

VIEW FROM THE USA // AARON MILLAR

HEROES & VILLAINS

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olitics in America is like pantomime with nuclear weapons. If you were to throw a billion dollars at a high school popularity contest, and put the fate of the world on the result, you would get the past 18 months of the US election campaign. We’ve had potential presidents discussing the size of their manhood, eating bacon off a machine gun and claiming the pyramids were used to store grain, not dead pharaohs. This isn’t democracy; this is electile dysfunction. But, at least, it’s been great TV. And that’s a problem. There’s a term: hyperreality. It means the blurring of fiction and the real world. This election, America has taken a hyperdrive to the hyperreal. Presidential debates are introduced like boxing matches, with winners decided by appearance not ideas; political adverts look they’ve been churned out by Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth, only meaner; rallies are like an episode of The Apprentice on eviction night — even the beloved ‘U-S-A’ cheer (surely the most unimaginative chant in the history of crowds) has been hijacked by the even more horrifying ‘Lock Her Up!’ And that’s all we get. I’ve been in a media bubble so long now I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be fed anything but the Hillary and Trump sandwich (extra bologna with a small pickle, if you were wondering). Surely that’s not what the Founding Fathers intended? Winston Churchill once said: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” That, or watching prime-time TV around the election. Surely the results of the greatest political experiment in the history of the world can’t be skewed by Super PACS, Twitter rants and catchy one-liners. Surely, we’re better than that? I went to Washington DC to find out. The first thing to say is: DC has been designed to impress. Imagine a patchwork quilt of architectural styles, stolen from the world’s greatest ancient civilisations, and then arranged around a 146-acre, neatly manicured lawn, the National Mall. It’s like walking through a manifestation of power itself. The 555ft white-marble obelisk, the Washington Monument, which could’ve been lifted from Cleopatra’s grasp; the Roman pillars of the Supreme Court; the

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neoclassical Thomas Jefferson Memorial, a revival of the Pantheon itself. Even The White House appears as an elegant country manor, plonked in the middle of the city, but with snipers on the roof instead of Pimm’s on the lawn. But the difference is these aren’t decrepit ruins of the past; these are gleaming, sparkling, living structures today. And the effect works. To stand beneath Lincoln’s feet and read those words: ‘Four score and seven years ago…’ means something. To walk beneath the arched ceilings of the Capitol Building, where John Adams defended the Amistad slave mutineers, the League of Nations was formed and the Iran nuclear deal was put to ink, is humbling. To see the colours of the Senate wing — every inch adorned with glazed tiles depicting stars and eagles, paintings of statesmen and wild landscapes, like a mosaic to the American dream itself — is to see power itself. And that’s the second thing: being here, that dream, that original song of American freedom, self-governance and hope, can still be heard. And it’s not just their dream; it’s ours too. This is ground zero for the modern era of mankind. The first rays of democracy spread out from this point. Whatever language you speak, wherever you come from — this is your history too. That’s why this election mattered. Because hidden among the mudslings and halftruths, the great experiment goes on, and we’re a part of it. Because the more hyperreal it gets, the more hyperaware we need to become. America’s Founding Fathers could never have imagined the billion-dollar circus that is politics in this country today. But here, in DC, you can still feel something of their original vision, in the power of the architecture, in the grandeur embedded in the stones. It’s inspiring and, just maybe — if we can keep those nuclear weapons out of the hands of pantomime baddies — the seed of something greater than we’ve yet to build. capitalregionusa.co.uk British travel writer Aaron Millar ran away from London in 2013 and has been hiding out in Colorado ever since. His latest book 50 Greatest Wonders of the World is published by Icon Books (RRP: £8.99). @AaronMWriter

ILLUSTRATION: JACQUI OAKLEY

Behind the election campaign’s pantomime baddies, the noble democratic dream of the Founding Fathers lives on in the seat of power, Washington DC


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MARRAKECH

A BRUSH WITH THE STARS A journey through the labyrinth of Marrakech’s souks reveals previous encounters with Alec Baldwin, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Daniel Craig

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his is the crazy place.” My guide, Mustapha, grins at the scene: hooded men in djellabas (robes) swoop between shaded alleys; Yamaha motorbikes hiss and pop through throbbing crowds; rust-coloured cats dart between zelije-tiled doorways. People pulse past gilded goods like blood through veins. The morph and muddle of colours and movement evokes a Jackson Pollock painting. “‘What a souk’ means ‘what a mess’ — like my children’s room,” jokes Mustapha. When he smiles, he smiles big, showing a neat row of white teeth that match a short white and grey beard. We met at Almaha Marrakech, my riad, before exploring Marrakech’s squeeze of souks. Despite a slight limp, he quickly weaves between donkeys (“local Mercedes,” he quips), carts piled high with watermelons

and men running with bulging bundles of curled leather. Golden light seeps through a slatted roof and onto the crush of people moving down the too-crowded Souk Semmarine. Mustapha swings left and we make our way towards an area crowned with copper and brass lanterns, casting rainbows on dark-brick pavement. “When I was here with Alec Baldwin, he told me this is like a movie,” Mustapha nonchalantly offers. “He loved it. He bought one door.” I laugh at the idea, but Mustapha explains: “He was here for Mission Impossible.” He knows he’s impressed me, and quickly adds: “I’m also a friend of Maggie Gyllenhaal,” before producing his phone and showing me a series of images: one with Maggie and her family, another with a towering Alec, and a third showing a glowing Mustapha sandwiched between Mark Strong and Daniel Craig.


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IMAGES: AWL IMAGES; STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO

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He smiles big, starts to sing Another Brick in the Wall, and hurriedly limps off. I follow him to the quieter corners of this maze, where men are huddled over bags, darkening fragrant leather with oil and carving patterns into shiny silver trays. Others sip mint tea between bouts of embroidering vibrant ottoman poofs with long needles. “We don’t make LIKE THIS? READ MORE Mercedes in Morocco, but we BLOGS ONLINE... make beautiful decorations,” says Mustapha. SALEM: AMERICA’S I’m lost in the labyrinth, WITCHCRAFT CITY On the coast of but Mustapha seems to know Massachusetts, the every inch of this place. We location of the US’s most stop before a shrivelled old notorious witch hunts man crouched in the doorway is heartily embracing of a cluttered workspace. its past He’s sifting through a pile of change when Mustapha KUCHING: A TASTE OF speaks to him in Arabic. “We MALAYSIA A restaurant trail in call him Omar International Borneo’s culinary capital, Bank,” Mustapha explains, springs several pleasant pointing to the pile of copper surprises and silver coins Omar uses to decorate belts and bags. Omar INTERRAIL: FURTHER finds 10 pence, and shows it to DOWN THE TRACKS me proudly. I nod approvingly, A return to interrailing and we move on. after 20 years proves Further along, a yellowsurprisingly rewarding slippered foot bobs from FRANCE: THE WATERLESS between a doorway. It belongs WONDER to a man dressed in all white The Bassin de Saint— skullcap, trousers and loose Ferréol was part cotton shirt — who’s sitting of one of the most cross-legged on a stool. He’s remarkable engineering absorbed in concentration, achievements of precarving a Hamsa Hand motif revolution France — but time your visit carelessly into a tile, and doesn’t seem to and you may find a notice us watching. surprise in store Along these narrow streets, there’s a hum of artisans hammering, welding, carving and sculpting. Mustapha’s tour beyond the main streets of shops and shouting has me impressed. I only have enough dirham for a handmade ceramic bowl, but if I were Alec, I’d have bought a door too. STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO mustaphachouquir.com almahamarrakech.com

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WEEKENDER // SMART TRAVELLER

o 3

Go to Gozo

Malta’s greener sister island is where the Maltese take their summer breaks. To get a taste for Gozitan life, join a tour of the vineyards, olive groves and orange trees of Ta’Mena Winery in the Marsalforn Valley, a 27-hectare estate run by Joe Spiteri and his siblings. The man himself greets us with a selection of bottles and, beneath the

SUNDOWNER SPOTS

shade of a vast gazebo, I sip wine — a fruity rosé of Merlot, Grenache and Tempranillo grapes in my left hand; a dry white of Vermentino grapes in my right hand — and eye up platters of traditional food: wild capers in vinegar, peppered cheese, and sweet sundried tomato paste, all made from produce grown on the estate. Adventurous souls should sample the prickly pear liqueur.

1 RIVIERA MARTINIQUE, GHAJN TUFFIEHA BAY

A casual beachside diner with a sea view. facebook. com/rivieramartinique 2 INTERCONTINENTAL MALTA CLUB LOUNGE, ST JULIAN’S

This elegant 15th-floor terrace towers above the nightlife district. malta. intercontinental.com 3 CAFÉ DEL MAR, ST PAUL’S BAY

Dance the night away at this outdoor lounge with infinity pool and special guest DJs. cafedelmar.com.mt

Perfect pairings IMAGES: ALAMY; DENISE WILKINS; CHEN WEIZHONG; GREGORY IRON; PETE BULLEN; VIEWINGMALTA.COM

PLATES PILED HIGH

Head to Cent’Anni in the village of Gharghur for dishes of fresh pasta, braised rabbit and king prawn, accompanied by a fine Maltese wine. bottegacentanni.com

FINE DINING

Try the five-course menu plus wine pairing at the InterContinental’s Waterbiscuit Restaurant. The dishes are mouthwatering: think cauliflower frittatini alongside pan-seared red mullet and prawn, followed by pumpkin and honey cake with pear sauce and date chutney. waterbiscuit.com.mt

CLOCKWISE FROM

TOP: Ghajn Tuffieha Bay; Gozo skyline; peppered Gozitan cheese; traditional pastizzi; Fontanella Tea Rooms, Mdina

ON-THE-GO SNACK Old-school charm

INTERCONTINENTAL

HIGHLINE SUITES start

from €250 (£212) a night depending on season, including breakfast, VAT and club lounge facilities. Return flights from Gatwick to Malta with British Airways from £98. ba.com malta. intercontinental.com

Mdina is a picturesque walled city, with Baroque architecture, winding lanes, ornate streetlamps and honeyed stone walls glowing pink in the evening light. At Bastion Square, look over sprawling fields and vineyards towards Valletta and the deep velvety blue of the Mediterranean. As the sun begins to set, stop in for a glass of wine at the charming Vinum Wine Bar & Bistro. vinumwinebar.com

Backstreet bars

Strait Street was once the centre of Valetta’s nightlife when the Royal Navy was stationed here, with more than 150 pubs frequented by British sailors on a nightly basis. The area is now returning to its former glory, with a smattering of attractive pubs and smart wine bars. Pay a visit to Loop Bar, still decked out in authentic 1950s deco, or check out the vaulted Trabuxu Wine Bar around the corner.

Tuck into a pastizz, Malta’s beloved street food — traditionally filled with ricotta or peas — and wash it down with a locally brewed Cisk beer.

visitmalta.com

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Neighbourhood

ATHENS

ILLUSTRATION: KERRY HYNDMAN

Be it the ruins of a city wall, a back-street ice cream parlour or the sight of a former president at a cafe table — in Athens, if you dig, you’ll find something Words: John Malathronas

At first glance, Athens may not seem the prettiest European capital. Its centre is small and scruffy, its traffic chaotic and its short-lived neoclassical soul was sacrificed on the altar of Mammon in the 1960s and 1970s, leaving the city teeming with five-storied apartment blocks whose only decoration is graffiti. Yet, despite everything, this city of four million people is compelling like few other European capitals. It’s the heartbeat of the indomitable Greek nation and a fitting stage for the verve and vivacity of its culture. And when you know which side streets to saunter through, you soon discover that Athens can be beautiful after all. Jan/Feb 2017

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NEIGHBOURHOOD

Street art in Kerameikos OPPOSITE CLOCKWISE

FROM TOP: The Parthenon; diners in Plaka; tyropites (cheese pies)

WHEN IN ATHENS ATHENS FESTIVAL

In the summer-long Athens Festival, you get to see top dance, music and theatre performances sitting on the marble blocks of the Herod Atticus Theatre (opened 161AD) at the foot of the Acropolis for a bonkers €10. Nary a roped off area in sight. greekfestival.gr

THERINÁ (OPEN-AIR CINEMAS)

Open-air cinemas are a summertime Athenian institution. Watch a film, sipping a drink and munching salted pumpkin seeds under the night sky at Cine Paris in Plaka — it’s much more than a movie experience. cineparis.gr

TYRÓPITES (CHEESE PIES)

Kerameikos

I’m standing 20 feet below ground, beneath the Athens Museum of Islamic Art, staring at a massive apricot-coloured wall. Fifteen feet tall, it’s made from well-chiselled rectangular stones and is greening at the bottom from the damp. Yet, this isn’t just any wall. “This is the best preserved part of the Athenian defences from 5BC,” says Dimitris Savvatis, one of the museum curators. “It was constructed by Themistocles. We discovered it when we started renovating this building.” The museum is also not just any building. It was my mother’s family home and she’s with me, gazing at the wall. When I ask her how she feels, having spent her childhood above the best preserved part of the Athenian defences, she shrugs. “This is Athens. If you dig deep enough, you’ll fi nd something.” Yet, this is not just Athens. This is Kerameikos and the eponymous ancient cemetery is opposite. As the dead were buried outside the city walls, this is where you’d expect those walls to be located. The archeologists had guessed, but the locals hadn’t. They were a mixed bunch: lower middle class households, students renting

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digs, gaswork workers, all living in charming neoclassical buildings with crafted wooden doors, pleasingly symmetrical windows and flat balustrated rooflines. It was a multicultural area, with the Athens Synagogue only a stone’s throw away, still soaring proudly despite last century’s vicissitudes. Next to it, one of the most beautiful edifices in Kerameikos houses the Athens Hammam, a private venture that has painstakingly recreated an Ottoman Turkish baths with all the hipster trimmings of the 21st century. Yet, the only sign of life is graffiti in the side streets, as the people aren’t around any more. And that’s exactly because wherever you dig here, you’ll fi nd something. No owner could sell or renovate without the archeologists butting in, and eventually, the only buyer became the state, which started renovating the buildings, converting them into museums or donating them to charities. Somehow though, by accident or design, the hammam, the Islamic museum, the synagogue, the detached neoclassical houses, the street art and the ancient cemetery glide seamlessly into a tantalising jigsaw. Kerameikos is a flaneur’s paradise.

Need a fast-food fix? These savoury snacks, in puff or filo pastry, rolled and fried or flat and baked, with cheese alone or accompanied with ham or spinach, are all delicious. The best? Most Athenians will point you towards Ariston (Voulis 10, Syntagma) that’s been churning them out since 1910.

PERÍPTERA (KIOSKS)

You can’t walk around without bumping into one of these tented cubbyholes, synonymous with the Athens streetscape since 1911. Stock up on water or cigarettes, skim over the newspaper headlines and buy anything from pens to postcards, calendars to condoms, sunglasses to sunscreen, on the hop.

RETSÍNA

This humble drink is as local to the Attica basin as the pines supplying the added aromatic resin. Dating from ancient Greek times, if it was good enough for Plato, it’s good enough for us.


NEIGHBOURHOOD

IMAGES: JOHN MALATHRONAS; ISTOCKPHOTO; GREEK NATIONAL TOURISM ORGANISATION

Plaka

Athenians have a love-hate relationship with Plaka. It’s an Instagram-friendly tourist flytrap teeming with tat. Chance away from the main drag, however, and there are signs this is a living, breathing neighbourhood. We take a left and we’re suddenly eerily alone…

“Plaka is too touristy for us,” says Tina Kyriakis from Alternative Athens. “We provide an unconventional view of the city; the street art, food joints and hip spaces you won’t fi nd here. But if you only spend a few days in Athens, then yes, come to Plaka.” Athenians have a love-hate relationship with Plaka. It’s an Instagram-friendly tourist flytrap teeming with tat, yet these same narrow alleys snaking around the Acropolis comprise the glorious centre of classical Athens. Then again, its small village feel is a reminder of the city’s decline, reviled as it was by the Byzantines for being the centre of pagan learning. Chance away from the main drag, however, and there are signs this is a living, breathing neighbourhood. At Kayak, a gourmet icecream shop, Tina and I join a queue of locals hankering after its signature frozen yogurt. A couple of streets in, Brettos serves the best tipple in town, from ouzo to brandy and fruit liqueurs. Meanwhile, at Lulu’s bakery, a strong cappuccino can reanimate the ghosts of the French Capuchin monks who used to inhabit the monastery.

Then Tina takes a left and we’re eerily alone. The only thing we see is our shadow on the flaky plaster of houses draped in drooping burgundy bougainvillea. As we walk further around the Acropolis rock, the familiar Athenian neoclassical gives way to an unexpected Cycladic whitewashed structure. We’ve reached Anafiotika, the (once) illegal houses built overnight by migrants from the island of Anafi, brought in as construction workers to the capital in the 1860s. If it weren’t for the spectacle of Mount Lycabettus in the distance, this could be Paros, Mykonos or Naxos. Cicadas sing overhead hidden in the surrounding pine trees. The strong aroma of jasmine creepers overwhelms our senses. Cats lie lazily in the shade of oleanders, blocking the winding walkways that all too occasionally lead to someone’s backyard. The houses are so blindingly white it feels like we’re meandering in a mirage. Tina smiles. We’ve now walked — what, half an hour? — without a souvenir shop or tourist taverna in sight. She promised me an alternative Plaka and I got it.

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The grandiose neoclassical palace of King Otto, first monarch of modern Greece, defines Syntagma Square, which in turn defines Greek political discourse. Recent demonstrations, eagerly filmed by the world’s TV crews, have raised its profile. But the day I visit there are no angry anarchists about. I’m confronted instead by dancing blue bins. I can’t believe I wrote that, but yes, there they are promoting recycling. Regular commuters are baffled, but at least kids love them. Because of that Habsburg-yellow, ex-royal palace, the Greek psyche associates Syntagma with prestige. No wonder that the first — and until very recently, the only — McDonald’s had to open on its south side. The only other building of note is Greece’s top heritage hotel, Grande Bretagne, dating from 1874. I meet its manager Tim Ananiadis in the hotel’s retro interwar lobby. There are intoxicatingly luxurious armchairs with Italian upholstery. White marble columns on green marble bases. And a new atrium with tall palm trees, embalmed, because Athenian palm trees are dying: a stowaway weevil on trees imported for the 2004 Olympics for decoration is killing them. Tim is talking on his mobile, fretting, because South Korean statesman Ban Ki-Moon is in town, staying at the hotel.

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All dignitaries are offered a choice, but most choose the exclusive Grande Bretagne. We visit the hotel’s roof bar, packed with TV cameras during the Greek crisis, empty now. What happens to the VIPs when there are demonstrations outside? Tim dismisses me with a hand gesture. “The vast majority are peaceful. Journalists take the exception and present it as a rule.” But, determined to meet some of those elusive VIPs, I make my way to the Citylink, a redeveloped commercial block just off Syntagma. The shops belong to Hermés, D&G or Cartier. The Attica department store claims equivalence to Harrod’s. In the corner stands Zonar’s, a historic cafe, at whose tables the country’s fate has often been decided sotto voce. I sit down under black-and-white photos of past habitués — Melina Merkouri, Sophia Loren, Lawrence Durrell — look around and, bingo, I spot an elderly gentleman ready to leave. He’s the ex-President, Karolos Papoulias. I order a freddo summer coffee and lean back. Mission accomplished. SUNVIL offers three nights’ B&B in Athens in three-star PHILIPPOS HOTEL , from £465 per person (until March), including flights from Gatwick and transfers, based on two sharing. Prices start from £501 at the four-star HERODION HOTEL . Both hotels are a short walk from the Acropolis and Plaka. sunvil.co.uk

MORE INFO Athens Museum of Islamic Art. benaki.gr Athens Hammam. hammam.gr Alternative Athens. alternativeathens.com Kayak. kayak.gr Brettos. brettosplaka.com Hotel Grand Bretagne. grandebretagne.gr Attica. atticadps.gr/en Dinner with Persephone by Patricia Storace (Granta Books). RRP: £8.99 Eurydice Street by Sofka Zinovieff (Granta Books). RRP: £7.99 Rough Guide to Greece. RRP: £14:99

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Grande Bretagne hotel; changing of the guard; a freddo summer coffee

IMAGES: ALAMY; GETTY

Syntagma


Eat

NORFOLK S

alt marshes and sea defences; fields of corn and birders with binoculars swinging from a string around their necks; honesty boxes proffering samphire and freshly laid eggs; sand dunes, beaches and village pubs; these are the sights I see through the window of the Coasthopper bus as we clatter our way from Sheringham to Hunstanton. At points the road is so narrow I fear we’ll clip the flint walls of the cottages that abut the street, but each time we somehow squeeze through. We pass through lovely little Stiffkey, then Wells-next-the-Sea, with its cheesy arcades sitting cheek-by-jowl with upmarket delis. On through gentrified Burnham Market, with its chic shops, past handsome Holkham Hall, until we reach what looks like a cluster of boutiques by the side of the road. The driver shouts “that’s you love” and stops the bus. This is Drove Orchards, a 40-acre fruit farm which is host not only to a farm shop, but a wet fish stall, a restaurant in a yurt, a posh chippy and — it seems my eyes have not deceived me — a couple of boutiques. I’m seeking out Wild Luxury, which offers topof-the-range glamping right in the middle of North Norfolk’s larder. To reach the site I must first cross the orchard, which — on my visit — is in glorious abundance. Fruit trees reach up to a bright sky, while below them lies a carpet of windfall apples in red and yellow. The smell is sweet and almost fizzily heady, made all the more bewitching because you can reach out and pick the ones you want. As I pass along the rows I discover varieties I’ve never even heard of

— Peasegood Nonesuch, D’Arcy Spice, Robert Blatchford and Norfolk Beefing are just a few among a total of 160 types of apple first planted here by Major David Jamieson when he returned to settle in his family home after winning the Victoria Cross in the Normandy Landings. A gate leads me to a field laid out with four Serengeti-style tents, one of which is mine. I step up onto my porch, with its two sofas, and unzip the flaps. The inside is fabulous — there’s a table seating six, a sofa, a kitchen, two bedrooms proper and a little double cabin bedroom carved into the side of the room. At its beating heart is a log-burning stove, which must be lit to do any kind of cooking. There’s also a small camping stove for the kettle but all culinary adventures are wood fuelled — plus there’s a large firepit outside should the notion of toasted marshmallows, or even joints of meat wrapped in foil and cooked in the embers, take hold. A tent for six is a waste for a single girl so my friends and Frank, their baby, drive from London. We pile Frank into a wheelbarrow and head for supplies. The farm shop sells produce grown on the 350-acre farm, of which Drove Orchards is a part. Depending on the season there’s beetroot, potatoes, broad beans, lettuce, rhubarb and soft fruits. Ciders and apple juices are made on site. Back on our porch, we slide down oysters — cultivated by Richard Loose out near Scolt Head Island. These are followed by dressed crab, lobster, prawns and crayfish, all bought from Gurneys Fish Box a field away. In our stove there’s an apple and blackberry

FIVE NORTH NORFOLK FOOD FINDS CRAB: The local sweet crab is most commonly caught from Cromer, but shellfish fans can also find it elsewhere on the North Norfolk coast.

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SAMPHIRE: Pick this sea vegetable — a bit like a salty asparagus — along the banks of marsh creeks. Or buy it along the roadside from ‘honesty’ stands.

FRUIT: Farms offering pick-yourown fruit can be found throughout the county — pluck apples and pears in season, as well as soft fruits such as strawberries.

OYSTERS: These shellfish have been harvested not far from the shore at Brancaster for generations by two families: the Southerlands and the Looses.

MRS TEMPLE’S

CHEESE: Catherine

Temple makes cheese using milk from cows grazing in fields minutes away from her base in Wighton, near Wells-next-the-Sea.

IMAGES: AUDREY GILLAN; WILD LUXURY NORFOLK; ALAMY

From glamping in an abundant orchard to foraging for samphire to accompany a freshly caught fish, North Norfolk offers gourmet experiences at almost every turn Words: Audrey Gillan


OPPOSITE PAGE FROM TOP: Drove Orchards; baby Frank in the wheelbarrow CLOCKWISE: Boat in tidal muddy sea

water marshes, Brancaster Staithe; lamp-lit Wild Camping Serengeti-style tent; dressed crab, lobster, prawns and crayfish, all bought from Gurneys Fish Box

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EAT

CLOCKWISE: View across the marsh from White Horse, Brancaster Staithe; Norfolk quail cobnuts, Titchwell Manor; seafood platter, White Horse Brancaster

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Norfolk TITCHWELL MANOR

Overseen by chef Eric Snaith (owner of Eric’s Fish and Chips), the restaurant here offers a la carte and five- and sevencourse tasting menus. Dishes include Brancaster lobster bisque and Norfolk quail, parsley root, and cobnuts and Szechuan pepper. HOW MUCH: Six-course meal costs £50 per person. titchwellmanor.com For almost the entire weekend the weather is kind, but on the day I leave the rain pours. As I wheel my bags along in the barrow, I see fellow campers wrapped in blankets lying on their outdoor sofas with books in hand. There’s a pair of kids playing swingball with waterproof jackets flapping. They all smile: they might be laughing at the state of me, but I think it’s also because — in spite of the rain — this is just a good place to be. Up by the roadside, I stick my hand out for the Coasthopper. The windows are steamed up so I cannot nod at the multi-coloured sign I love in Blakeney, guiding people to a path down the side of a house where they will find ‘crabs fresh boiled and dressed’, ‘oysters’ and ‘samphire’. I can’t see the old windmill in Cley or any of the lovely village churches. But I am happy. I may be soaked to the skin, but North Norfolk has left me truly aglow. WILD LUXURY has two private camps offering weekend stays starting at £395. Trains from London Liverpool Street to Sheringham from £18 return. HUFF AND PUFF BICYCLE hire from £12 per day for adults. wildluxury.co.uk greateranglia.co.uk huffandpuffcycles.co.uk

THE WHITE HORSE, BRANCASTER

Look out across the Brancaster Staithe and see the fishing boat used by Cyril Southerland to bring in the mussels on the menu. The seafood platter is spectacular with Brancaster oysters harvested in the waters before you and prawns smoked in the smokehouse in the Jolly Sailor pub across the road. HOW MUCH: Mains from £17 per person. whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk SHUCK’S AT THE YURT, DROVE ORCHARDS

A cosy affair inside a yurt with a wood burner in winter. A starter called ‘sack of spuds’ of saltbaked Maris Piper potatoes comes with garlic aioli and red mojo sauce, while mains include ballotine of free-range chicken, lemon pepper and bacon stuffing. HOW MUCH: Mains from £12 per person. shucksattheyurt.co.uk

IMAGES: AUDREY GILLAN; THE WHITE HORSE, BRANCASTER STAITHE

crumble made from fruit picked on the walk back to our tent. We cycle along tracks and wooden bridges crossing streams towards Holme Dunes nature reserve, a vast swathe of sand and long grass that marks the point where The Wash meets the North Sea. Norfolk is known for its flat landscape and wide-open skies, and here the beach is vast and sandy. There’s sea buckthorn everywhere here — the chef’s foraged berry de jours — while in the lodge there are recipes for wild food dishes such as ‘baked fish in newspaper’ or ‘safari coffee beef’ which use ingredients collected yards, rather than miles, away. We cycle on to the Lifeboat Inn for a pint before heading back to Drove Orchards and Eric’s Fish and Chips for fried haddock, mushy peas and IPA-pickled onions. With Frank strapped up in a baby seat our bike forays are restricted to the beach and pubs. But the slightly less wary could eschew four wheels altogether and still cover a large swathe of this north-west corner of Norfolk. Once my friends have headed back to the smoke, I use Shanks’s pony and the Coasthopper to get me to lunches and dinners. On my way back from the glorious White Horse at Brancaster Staithe I walk through marshland and stick my feet in the mud to forage sweet but salty samphire around the banks a little in from the coast. It will go perfectly with a piece of fresh fish. Other highlights include Mrs Temple’s Cheese, made by Catherine Temple at Copys Green Farm in Wighton; and a preponderance of local gins, including Bullard’s, Black Shuck and Norfolk Gin, as well as local berry liqueurs.

A TASTE OF


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Sleep

BANGKOK

Loud and ludicrous, with a mind-boggling number of attractions and hotels to choose from, it can be a challenge to know where to lay your head in Bangkok. If history floats your boat, head for Rattanakosin, the old quarter skirting the Chao Phraya river, where you’ll find the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho temple. With its Khmer, Chinese, Buddhist, Muslim and European influences, Bangkok is one of the world’s best foodie cities. The city’s rooftop bars have also become something of an attraction in their own right — to see them make tracks for the glittering new skyscrapers of Sathorn and Silom. But, if you want to jump into the city head first, then Sukhumvit and Siam Square, with their street markets, gargantuan malls and endless bars and restaurants, are the neighbourhoods for you.

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IMAGE: GETTY

From rooftop pools and space-age lobbies to water limousines and hidden nightclubs, Bangkok’s eclectic array of eye-catching hotels are a big part of the city’s exuberant charm. Words: Lee Cobaj


For golden age of travel MANDARIN ORIENTAL

Bigger, flashier hotels have come and gone over the Mandarin Oriental’s 140-year history, but this grande dame remains Bangkok’s destination hotel. Its prestigious guest list includes everyone from Noël Coward and Graham Greene to Johnny Depp and David Beckham and the facilities are second to none — riverside restaurants, outdoor pools, award-winning spa and the historic Author’s Wing, where pinkies are raised over afternoon tea and Champagne glasses clink at evening soirees. Rooms are plush and perfectly put-together — neutral walls, gold armchairs, vases of fresh tropical flowers — and every one with at least a partial view of the river. The staff, some of whom have been with the hotel for over 50 years, are as impressive as the hotel itself. ROOMS: Doubles from £349, B&B. mandarinoriental.com

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SLEEP

For pools

W BANGKOK

A flash skyscraper pad, in the happening hubbub of Sathorn, the W announces itself with a lobby decked out with black mirrors and crystal-clad walls, panels of flashing tuk-tuk lights and a swirling glass staircase. The spa — seemingly transported from the set of Barbarella — features mesh curtains, and treatment beds glowing pink, green and blue. The rooms, however, are slick but serene — subway tile bathrooms, Bliss toiletries and giant beds topped with sequined Muay Thai boxing glove cushions. Housed in a lovingly restored 19th-century mansion, Asian restaurant The House on Sathorn is one of the most glamorous spots in town. But the crowning glory is the swimming pool, with its cool city views and riotous weekend pool parties. ROOMS: Doubles from £146, room only. whotelbangkok.com

For city slickers HANSAR

This is a seriously stylish all-suite offering with glossy wooden floors, squared-off lines, a subdued Thai vibe and switched-on service. Rooms are large restful spaces with limestone bathrooms, thick square sofas and vertical gardens climbing up through an interior glass wall. They come with a nice bundle of perks (a free cocktail, comp mini-bars and a lovely big breakfast). Elsewhere, there’s a 25-metre outdoor swimming pool with views of Ratchadamri and the Royal Sports Club racecourse; an attractive spa with steam rooms, saunas and heated pools; and a couple of suitably hip bars and restaurants — make time for a Tomyamtini (vodka, tom yam herbs and ginger syrup) at Rouge Bar. ROOMS: Doubles from £107, B&B. hansarbangkok.com

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SLEEP

For glam

HOTEL MUSE

This upmarket 174-bedroom address in Langsuan, near Chit Lom BTS station, may be housed in a sleek skyscraper but on the inside it’s a mad mash-up of Victoriana and Rama V-era art and objects. Fabulous all the way, you’ll be able to find opera singers giving live performances in Medici restaurant, teenyweeny bikinis by the teeny-weeny outdoor pool and Bangkok’s most beautiful girls and boys shaking their tail feathers around giant, gold cupolas on an Astroturf lawn at the rooftop speakeasy bar. If you want to camp it up even more then you can head out to the nearby Soi Twilight and the nightly 11.30pm synchronised swimming show at The Classic Boys Club go-go bar. ROOMS: Doubles from £111, room only. hotelmusebangkok.com

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POINT a is the elegant roof top garden restaurant and bar of 4*HERODION hotel. With its breathtaking views of the Acropolis and the new Museum, POINT a is a place to relax and savour the ambience of a truly authentic moment dining in Athens. The restaurant offers an eclectic blend of refined creative Mediterranean cuisine, with traditional touches, inspired by the talented chefs Marios Pirpiridis and Manolis Mavrigiannakis. At the bar, Lefteris Sofatzis creates exclusive signature cocktails. When the chefs and bartender join forces the result is an unforgettable experience; Tapas cocktails... this is where each cocktail meets its culinary match!

www.acropolispoint.com

www.herodion.gr

Hotel Herodion, 4 Rovertou Galli str. Acropolis,117 42 Athens Reservations T:+30 210 9236832 / pointa@herodion.gr. Daily from 19:00-1:00 from May-October. el-gr.facebook.com/acropolispoint / facebook.com/HerodionHotelAthens


SLEEP

For street food

SHANGHAI MANSION

If you want to chow down on some of the best, most eclectic street food in Bangkok — sour/spicy soft-boiled cockles, crispy pork noodles, oyster omelettes — head for the joyfully chaotic streets of Chinatown. Located right on the main drag, Yaowarat Road, Shanghai Mansion taps into the neighbourhood’s rich mixed heritage in extravagant style. In the atrium lobby there are Chinese lanterns, decadent velvet sofas and pretty wooden birdcages looped around a water garden filled with lotus flowers and goldfish. The colourful palette extends to the 76 rooms — all pinks, limes and purples, adorned with four-poster beds, balloon lanterns and jewel-coloured silks. It’s all spick and span and gorgeous fun. ROOMS: Doubles from £65, room only. shanghaimansion.com

THREE FOR CITY-SLICKERS

For singletons DREAM BANGKOK

The rooms at this hip, hidden-away hotel, in the backstreets of Sukhumvit, are comfortable, with floating beds (and 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets), blue therapy lights and free mini-bars stocked with beers, snacks and soft drinks. The Dali-inspired restaurant is terrific for a night in and the Flava dance bar, with its pink porcelain leopards, is popular with expats and locals alike. Sealing the deal are free tuk-tuk rides to nearby attractions, an ultraviolet-lit rooftop pool and terrific little spa. ROOMS: Doubles from £59, B&B. dreamhotels.com

For local sights ARUN RESIDENCE

If you were sleeping any closer to Wat Pho temple, you’d be a monk. Located just around the corner from Thailand’s most revered place of worship and the equally-spectacular Grand Palace, Arun Residence is where you want to be to beat the crowds. Set on the banks of the Chao Phraya river in a beautifully restored 1920s shophouse, the Arun has just six head-to-toe teak rooms; three split-level deluxe rooms and three airy suites with private balconies from which you can stare across the water at Wat Arun. ROOMS: Doubles from £69, B&B. arunresidence.com

Luxury hideaway THE SIAM HOTEL

Set in the upmarket neighbourhood of Dusit, downwater from Bangkok’s historic district, The Siam is a luxurious retreat frequented by Thailand’s high-society set. Doze off by the outdoor swimming pool, detangle at the Opium spa or pick up a permanent souvenir from the hotel’s Sak Yant tattoo studio. The rooms and suites have the air of a stylish country retreat; spacious, monochrome, with lofty ceilings, claw tubs and deco-inspired furniture. The river can be enjoyed from the hotel’s complimentary water limousine. ROOMS: Doubles from £436, B&B. thesiamhotel.com

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SLEEP

Best for views

BANYAN TREE BANGKOK

The Banyan Tree Bangkok celebrated its 20th birthday in 2016, but with its clutch of fabulous bars and restaurants, as well as a smart new refurbishment, it remains at the top of its game. The suite-sized rooms, each with its own living space and marble bathroom, are perched between the 15th to 58th floors, meaning they come with spectacular views. There’s also a rooftop pool, a gym and a cavernous spa. But it’s the 61st floor Vertigo restaurant and Moon Bar that will set pulses racing. Knocking back a cocktail here as you gaze over Bangkok’s skyscrapers is a heart-stopping experience. ROOMS: Doubles from £110, room only. banyantree.com

For shopping

SIAM KEMPINSKI

Attached to the enormous Siam Paragon shopping centre and surrounded on all sides by street markets and mega-malls (try Central World for high-street fashion and MBK for gadgets), shoppers simply couldn’t be better placed. And when you’re ready for a post-shop flop, you’ll find spacious rooms, all pearl whites, mossy green and soft bronze, with chocolatey marble bathrooms — the best have balconies overlooking tropical gardens or access straight into one of the many swimming pools. There’s also an impressive array of restaurants on site. ROOMS: Doubles from £203, room only. kempinski.com

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National Geographic Traveller has placed 17 pins in the map, marking this year's must-see destinations. Our regular writers Julia Buckley, Chris Leadbeater, PĂłl Ă“ Conghaile, Donald Strachan and David Whitley reveal the culture capitals, hipster hotspots, wild escapes and places generally keeping it cool

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COOL LIST

Donegal

Forgo�en no more

It’s Ireland’s forgotten county. Hugging the northwest corner of the Wild Atlantic Way, completely devoid of motorway or train access, regularly splashed with all four seasons in a single day (heck, even the same hour), Donegal doesn’t exactly make it easy for visitors. But that’s entirely the point. This is a dreamlike landscape, wild and remote. It’s the kind of place where you might spot a golden eagle soaring above Glenveagh National Park, or hear Irish spoken as a native tongue in the Gaeltacht around Gweedore and Glencolmcille. Driving Donegal’s peninsulas, your phone reception flickers in and out of reach, and there’s a constant risk of crashing into the scenery. At the end of the Slieve League Peninsula, there is a sickle-shaped strand cut into the cliffs at Malin Beg. The roads wind like ribbons and suddenly run out at Silver Strand. No mobile coverage. Often no people. Next parish? Boston. Donegal has just a single five-star hotel — the gorgeous, sandstone castle that forms the heart of Solis Lough Eske and its spa. Just next door, set beneath the Blue Stack Mountains, you’ll find Harvey’s Point — Ireland’s top-rated hotel on TripAdvisor for the past four years. Rathmullan House, on the Fanad Peninsula, is a member

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of Ireland’s Blue Book collection of unique properties, and halfway along the spit of land leading to St John’s Point near Killybegs, you’ll find Castle Murray House, once named among the world’s most romantic hotels. Donegal’s weather-nibbled coast is spotted with sea stacks, Blue Flag beaches and offshore islands that reward the intrepid. Gola is renowned for its rock-climbing and abseiling. Tory Island has its own ‘king’, Patsy Dan Rodgers, who welcomes visitors off the ferries with a heartfelt fáilte romhat (welcome). Horn Head, a driving, walking or cycling loop from Dunfanaghy in the north-west of the county, squeezes the 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way into a 4.5-mile nutshell. Surfing beaches ranging from Magheroarty to Ballyhiernan Bay would be jam-packed around resort towns further south. Here, they feel undiscovered. It’s not a complete wilderness, of course. Flights are available from Stansted (until March 2017), Liverpool and Glasgow to City of Derry airport, a 20-minute drive from the border, or from Glasgow and Dublin to Donegal Airport, a speck of runway on the coast at Carrickfinn. Prices are cheaper than traditional honeypots such as Dublin and Kerry, and green shoots are sprouting in its food-and-drink scene — Kinnegar farmhouse beers and food champions Harry’s Bar & Restaurant in Bridge End should certainly be on your to-do list. Last summer, scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII were filmed on the Inishowen Peninsula too, leading to the surreal sight of the Millennium Falcon on Malin Head. From forgotten county to a galaxy far, far away… 2017 looks like being quite a year for Donegal. govisitdonegal.com POC

ABOVE: Fanad Head Lighthouse, Donegal CLOCKWISE: Story, Old Market Hall, Helsinki, Finland; Old Market Hall, Market Square and South Harbour; Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, Chile; graffitied walls, Bellavista, Santiago

IMAGES: AWL IMAGES; GETTY; ALAMY; GARDINER MITCHELL

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helsinki Heating up

Done Copenhagen? Seen Stockholm? It’s Helsinki’s time for travel love. The world’s second-most northerly capital does both freezing, fairytale winters and bright, leafy summers — so visitors can choose between two very different trips. Are you a cosy cafe and steamy sauna kind of person, or do you prefer bright nights, waterside vibes and midsummer parties? Whenever you arrive, expect to find cutting-edge design, a lava-hot Nordic food scene (start your day with breakfast in the renovated Old Market Hall), surprising art nouveau architecture and good coffee as standard. visithelsinki.fi/en POC

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santiago British Airways launches flights to Chile’s sophisticated capital in January and it’s a hive of activity for 2017, with hotels opening in heritage buildings (such as the new Hotel Magnolia in El Centro) and the reopening of one of the city’s magnificent palaces, Palacio Cousiño — damaged in the magnitude-8.8 2010 earthquake — after a seven-year closure. chile.travel JB

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Kangerlua Fjord, Disko Bay, Greenland OPPOSITE:

IMAGES: AWL IMAGES; EL MERCADO

El Mercado, Lima

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peru

� ma�er of taste

Peru’s capital is becoming one of South America’s biggest hitters. British Airways launched direct flights to Lima last summer, but no longer do visitors touch down in the city and get out as soon as jet lag allows — an explosive food and culture scene means these days it’s a standalone city break, holding its own against the likes of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Buzz has been growing about its restaurants for the past few years, but instead of joining the waiting lists for the most celebrated joints, look for the new, more casual affairs which some of the top chefs are opening up. Rafael Osterling (of Miraflores’ Rafael fame) opened El Mercado recently — a simple farm-to-table

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greenland Cruises have been gingerly dipping into Greenland for a few years now, but the world’s largest island is beginning to feel established rather than experimental as more and more companies include it on 2017 itineraries. Covered in vast glaciers and largely uninhabited, Greenland is carving a niche as an adventure destination. But the likes of dog-sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are complemented by boat tours around towering icebergs, Inuit cultural experiences and some of the best spots in the world to watch the Northern Lights. greenland.com/en DW

restaurant firmly rooted in Peruvian cuisine, as opposed to the Mediterranean fusion at his flagship restaurant — and darling of the jet-set Jaime Pesaque will open Mayta in 2017 (read more about Lima’s culinary revolution on page 114). The capital’s hotel scene is blossoming: new openings include Casa Republica in Pacific-edged Barranco — a lavish 1920s mansion reimagined as it was in its glory days, opening in February — and the Atemporal ‘hotelito’ in Miraflores, where contemporary art and retro furniture meet in a 1940s building that’s a cross between a medieval castle and a Swiss chalet. There’s plenty going on outside the capital, too. In May, Belmond’s Andean Explorer train will ply its route from Cusco to Arequipa, winding through the Andes and past Lake Titicaca as part of one of the highest altitude train journeys on Earth. The ‘second Machu Picchu’, pre-Incan fortress Kuelap, will get more accessible with the imminent opening of a cable-car. Instead of braving a four-hour walk to the ridge, 9,800ft above sea level, the cable-car will whisk visitors up in a sweat-free 20 minutes. LATAM’s new flights from Lima to Jaén are opening up the north of the country — it’s now easier to reach places like Máncora, a boho surfing village near the border with Ecuador. Popular with the South American jet set, it’s been difficult to reach for travellers without their own private planes. Even the Amazon is opening up its secrets — a ‘boiling river’ that simmers in temperatures over 90C and was previously known only to locals, made headlines this year. Jacada Travel can arrange trips to see the river and meet the native Amazonian communities who live on its banks. peru.travel/en-uk JB

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aarhus

�n�o the spo�light

FROM LEFT: Langhoff & Juul, Aarhus; St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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Sometimes, a year as European Capital of Culture can be an unfulfilling experience. It can be a burden, which asks too much of a city too small to do the title justice — or an unnecessary extra reason to visit a metropolis whose ready charms need no introduction. But Aarhus may be a place of perfect size and stature for a 12-month stint in a spotlight that it’ll share with Paphos in Cyprus (there have been two European Capitals of Culture a year since 2007). Denmark’s second city is a sizeable port, with more than a quarterof-a-million residents. It’s an enclave of Viking origin with 13 centuries of history behind it — where the art and food scene is already well developed. Yet it’s also, due to the shadow cast by bigger, brighter Copenhagen, still something of a lesser-known prospect for travel.

In terms of weekends away for curious tourists, 2017 will be its coming of age. The planned programme (aarhus2017.dk) promises a feast of flair. There’ll be performances, by the Royal Danish Theatre, of Rode Orm (Red Serpent) — an epic Viking saga of love and sword fights — played out on the colossal slanting roof of the Moesgaard Museum, a natural history institution six miles south of town. Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier will see three of her movies — Open Hearts, Brothers and After The Wedding — reimagined as ballet, opera and musical theatre respectively at the Musikhuset concert hall. And The Garden will be the focal point — a three-mile visual trail that will curve through the centre and along the coast, examining man’s relationship with nature in a weft of paintings and installations curated by the city’s contemporary art hotspot ARoS. Speaking of ARoS, this wonderful gallery is both key to Aarhus’s appeal and a sign that it had grown broad wings long before it received the Capital of Culture rubber stamp. Having opened its doors in 1859, it’s the oldest public art museum in Denmark beyond Copenhagen,


COOL LIST

IMAGE: SUPERSTOCK

07 yet has shone unmissably since 2004, when it moved to a new building at the heart of the grid. It's hosted daring exhibitions (last year’s A New Dynasty compiled pieces by 21st-century Chinese artists to the irritation of Beijing) — but makes its mark most notably in Your Rainbow Panorama, a promenade on the roof, hewn from coloured glass by Danish-Icelandic genius Olafur Eliasson, which shows the city in changing shades of orange, blue and green as you walk. Aarhus also intrigues at ground level. It's been reshaping itself since the millennium, and the fruits of its labour are clear — Urban Mediaspace Aarhus, a grand revitalisation of the waterside with a library, cafes and children’s play areas; Godsbanen, a former railway warehouse reborn as bars and eateries; and Substans, one of three Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, where chef René Mammen crafts delicate morsels of haddock, pork, lobster and Scandinavian healthiness. Being one of Europe’s poster cities of 2017 won’t be a fresh start for Aarhus, nor the end of a process, but the continuation of something special. visitaarhus.com visitdenmark.co.uk CL

canada Ship ahoy 2017 is a hugely symbolic year for Canada — it’s the 150th anniversary of the Confederation, with celebrations including a tall ships fleet sailing along the coast in July, and summerlong events in Charlottetown, where the movement started. But this is a year of openings as well as commemoration — from the zipline along the gorge edge at Niagara Falls to a ‘seafood trail’ launching in Nova Scotia, and a new UNESCO World Heritage Site in Labrador, Mistaken Point. Add in free national park entry all year, Montréal's 375th anniversary and the Invictus Games taking place in Toronto in September, and there’s no better time to go. uk-keepexploring.canada.travel JB

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Escape to

happiness. With crystal clear water, white sand beaches, lush rainforests and tropical islands, it’s easy to see why Fiji is home to the happiest people on Earth. Take a private island getaway and let happiness find you. Go to www.fiji.travel to find out more.

www.fiji.travel


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portland, oregon Hipster hotspot

The high temple of American hipsterism has long been the most appealing US city without a direct flight from the UK. That changes in May, when Delta launches a direct route to Portland from Heathrow. It’s a city that has encouraged small-scale enterprise to flourish, leading to a scene where virtually everyone seems to run a food truck, roast their own coffee, brew craft beer or dabble in small-batch distilling. As a result, it’s a far better city for grazing than sightseeing — although it’s the gateway to Oregon, perhaps the most underrated state in the Union. travelportland.com DW FROM TOP: Todd Edwards prepares a latte in his Olé Latte Coffee food cart, downtown Portland, Oregon; Voodoo Doughnut, Portland RIGHT: A Bengal tiger with one of her cubs, Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India

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india With 2017 sandwiched between the release of two Jungle Book films, now’s the time to really get to know India’s wildlife, particularly its tiger. Earlier this year, a global census revealed tiger numbers had grown for the first time in over a century, with over half of these living in India — what’s more, Indian Railways and IRCTC have just launched the Tiger Express train to help visitors to Madhya Pradesh glimpse their own Shere Khan. incredibleindia.org

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south africa

The price is right

LEFT: View across the Atlantic towards Lion's Head mountain, Cape Town

Since the post-Brexit referendum slump in the pound, many overseas destinations have come with a significant wallet shock. This is not the case with South Africa, where the rand has had a dismal few years and kept prices on the ground remarkably low. ‘Halve the London price’ is a decent rule of thumb, and that’s for some of the best wines and (admittedly meat-heavy) dining in the world. Wildlife is the obvious reason for going, with the Big Five game parks remarkably accessible even without staying in still-pricey safari lodges. Tours aren’t necessary (although they might be a better bet if you want to spot the more elusive big cats). The parks are designed for people to saunter through in a hire car. The Kruger in the north-east is the big boy when it comes to South African safaris, but there are also options for those not fancying dosing up on anti-malarial medication. Pilanesberg National Park is an easily manageable all-rounder outside the Sun City resort. Addo Elephant National Park makes for a good tag-on at the end of a Garden Route road trip — no prizes for guessing which bulky member of the Big Five predominates there. The lumbering pachyderms aren’t the only wildlife highlights that can be strung together on the drive. It’s possible to go swimming with seals at Plettenberg Bay, observe meerkats rise from their burrows in Oudtshoorn, and coo at penguins on the beach in Cape Town. Cape Town is a special ingredient that makes South Africa’s recipe so enticing. It’s both beach destination and design-hungry world city, natural wonder and cultural treasure trove. There’s been a much-needed increase in airlift, with British Airways and Thomas Cook launching seasonal flights from Gatwick. The other great South African city, Johannesburg, has a very different energy. Less glam, more grit, but the downtown renewal projects have had a startlingly positive effect. It’s the place to tap into modern South Africa. The likes of the Apartheid Museum tell the horrors of the 20th century, but modern Soweto is a grand post-Mandela tale of poverty to prosperity, where the black middle-classes have stayed in their townships rather than fleeing to established wealthy neighbourhoods. There’s a palpable sense of coming-of-age in South Africa right now — and talking to people becomes just as eye-opening as watching the wildlife. uk.southafrica.net DW

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Eat Korea ...come and enjoy one of the world’s healthiest and tastiest cuisines in one of the world’s coolest countries.

For an extensive list of UK Tour Operators offering the best Holidays, Stopovers and Tours to Korea see;

Featured Tour Operators

www.GoKorea.co.uk E: London@GoKorea.co.uk T: 020 7321 2535

0208 772 3879 0207 725 6774 020 8566 3739 www.exodus.co.uk www.peoples.travel www.transindus.co.uk


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iran Thawing of relations with Iran has put the country back on the travel map. The ruling regime is still deeply conservative, but the tour operators that have made tentative steps there are expanding their programmes. Virtually no one comes back from Iran without remarking on the friendliness and hospitality of the Iranian people. The country is also dotted with stellar cultural sites, including the archaeological ruins at Persepolis and Pasargadae. This historic cities of Isfahan and Shiraz, meanwhile, show off present-day culture in ancient settings. DW

ABOVE: Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz, Iran

Whangarei Falls, Hatea River, New Zealand

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new zealand Strictly roots

With the 150th anniversary of the Maori Representation Act next year, New Zealand is turning the spotlight on its roots — a new museum at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (where the Maori’s land ownership was recognised in 1840) opened earlier this year. The British and Irish Lions return in 2017 — their first visit to New Zealand in 12 years and the biggest sporting event in NZ since the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Ten matches over June and July across seven host cities — from Whangarei to Dunedin — means you can see the sights while cheering on your team. newzealand.com/int JB

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seoul While South Korea will spend much of the next 12 months preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it will get an early boost before then with the opening in late 2017 of the Seoul Skygarden — a former bypass converted into a half-mile stretch of raised urban garden, replete with cafes, performance spaces and shops. Seoul’s answer to New York’s High Line is the latest of several high-profile projects to have transformed the Korean capital into one of Asia’s greenest cities. english.visitkorea.or.kr

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sudan While Egypt’s tourism is still suffering, its neighbour to the south is stealing into focus. January sees Cox & Kings launch Treasures of Ancient Nubia, a tour of Sudan, which will proffer a pyramid substitute for those missing Giza — the ancient monuments at Meroe and Karima are arguably a match for anything in Cairo. coxandkings.co.uk CL

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IMAGES: AWL IMAGES; 4CORNERS; ALAMY; TIM ZIMMERMANN/THE DORF

LEFT: Jongno 2-ga, Seoul, South Korea; Dongdaemun Night Market, Dongdaemun, Seoul; walking to school in Karima, Sudan; Rikiki Grafik & Produkt, Flingern, Dusseldorf, Germany; Pyramids of Meroe, Nubia, Sudan


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Düsseldorf �ork of art Just over an hour by plane (or five hours by train), Düsseldorf is among the best shortrange weekend break destinations. It has deep historical roots in the art world. The city’s Museum Kunstpalast launched in the 1800s with paintings by the Düsseldorf School, an offshoot of the German Romantic movement. Paul Klee taught in Düsseldorf, at the Kunstakademie, and Joseph Beuys was a student here. As a result, there’s a fine crop of contemporary and historical art museums. As well as the Kunstpalast, K20 has a stellar 20th-century collection: German Expressionism, Kandinsky, Pollock, Picasso, Futurism, and more. And the former regional parliament building is now K21: 26 rooms with a contemporary permanent collection and a shifting roster of site-specific installations. A 2016 newcomer, the Philara Collection opened in a former glass factory. Exhibits

focus on contemporary art gathered by collector Gil Bronner over a couple of decades, with a new rooftop sculpture terrace coming in 2017. The nearby Flingern neighbourhood has several smaller galleries. Major exhibitions for 2017 include Lucas Cranach the Elder at the Kunstpalast (8 April to 30 July). Even below ground, there’s no escaping art. In February, Düsseldorf opened its new €840m (£678m) metro line, the Wehrhahnlinie. Six central stations were built to individual collaborative designs by architects and artists who studied at the Kunstakademie, creating ad-free subterranean spaces with a striking variety of themes and media. Meanwhile, one of Europe’s coolest art spaces, Kunst im Tunnel is a single elliptical gallery in a former traffic underpass below the pedestrianised Rhine promenade. The €14 (£11) DüsseldorfCard gets you free or reduced

admission to almost every sight, plus free public transport in the centre for two days. Alongside the art, there’s a small but quaint Germanic old town complete with a Gothic town hall, Gehry architecture at Neuer Zollhof in the regenerated harbour and a luxe shopping mall designed by Daniel Libeskind. The vast Rhine promenade is buzzing all summer, Little Tokyo has some of Germany’s best Japanese food, and the centre has five brewhouses selling different versions of Düsseldorf’s famous ‘Altbier’, a top-fermented brown beer unique to the city. Outlying neighbourhoods Unterbilk (especially around Lorettostrasse) and Flingern are perfect for boutique window-shopping. Summer dates for the 2017 diary include the Tour de France’s Grand Départ (1–2 July) and the biggest funfair on the Rhine (14–23 July). duesseldorf-tourismus.de/en DS

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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

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sicily After a long refurbishment, Sicily’s oldest museum, Palermo’s Museo Salinas, has reopened. Its archaeological treasures feature on all Martin Randall cultural itineraries for 2017. In May, Thomas Cook Airlines launch the first UK flight from Birmingham to Comiso in south-west Sicily. Also in May, a new Sentido resort opens nearby in Marina di Ragusa. italia.it/en DS

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usa

Total eclipse

With the growth of budget options to the US from airlines, 2017 will see a blitz of non-Heathrow direct flights. Virgin Atlantic will start flying to Boston, New York and San Francisco from Manchester, for example. But it’s not the big cities that will get the best view of 2017’s main event. On 21 August, a full solar eclipse passes across the country, from Oregon to South Carolina. The biggest settlements in the path are Kansas City and St Louis, Missouri, but it’s a far better bet to build the event into a road trip and head into the sticks. visittheusa.com DW

IMAGE: ALAMY

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IMAGE: 4CORNERS

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THE ACCIDENTAL REBIRTH OF

OCCITANIA An ancient region in the South of France has risen from the ashes and put itself back on the map. Occitania is an area doused in heritage, its name long entwined with the old hamlets, towns and cities that stud its hills, and the intriguing language marking out many of its inhabitants Words B E N L E R W I L L

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There are vultures circling over the Gorges du Vis. Soundless silhouettes tracing loops above the clifftops, black wings outspread, riding the currents. First one bird, then two, then six. A few hundred metres below, the canyon floor is a wild, rumpled corridor of sun-baked limestone. “For me, being Occitan is about having a connection to the land,” says Valérie Bousquel, as she stares across the ravine. “It’s about having

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a passion for artistic expression and a love of liberty,” she continues. “C’est un esprit.” A spirit. I’m in the South of France. Not the glossed world of palm trees and rock star villas that shimmers on the coast, but inland among the high plateaus and drowsy villages at the foot of the Massif Central. The landscape tumbling out in front of us has, despite its aridness, been grazed and farmed since at least the 12th century. For most of that time, the everyday language spoken by its inhabitants has been not French, but the Romance tongue of Occitan. Still spoken today, albeit on a much smaller scale, it was being used at its height by some 12 million people. Describe it as a patois at your peril. This is a part of the country that Valérie — dressed in a heavy coat despite the 20-degree heat — has known from birth. She works for CPIE Causses Méridionaux, a local association preserving not only traditional farming methods but the countryside itself, and has brought me here to show off the remarkable Cirque de Navacelles — a rounded, cathedral-sized rock monolith standing far beneath us at the foot of a naturally eroded canyon.

It’s a beautiful but odd sight, as if a green meteorite had slammed into the soil and remained there, stubborn and immutable. “You see,” smiles Valérie. “Occitania holds surprises.” The name Occitania has been pushed to the fore in the past year. Mainland France recently underwent a wholesale change in the way its regions are divided up, parcelling together previously separate regions — reducing the overall number from 22 to 13. Some of these mergers appear to have simply lumped together areas that happen to neighbour each other — new super-regions created foremost as a means of cutting civic costs. Others, however, hold more significance. Step forward the pairing of Languedoc-Roussillon and MidiPyrenees, two historically Occitan regions, which since 2016 are now officially joined together under the title Occitania. A happy by-product is the return to prominence of a place-name doused in heritage, a word long entwined with the old hamlets, towns and cities that stud the hills. To its most vocal adherents, Occitania is a territory, a homeland, a language and a way of life. For them, the true Occitania — that is, those areas where the Occitan language

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was once predominant — actually stretches all the way from the Bay of Biscay to the Alps, incorporating pockets of Spain and Italy and utterly dwarfing this new region. The freshly formed administrative borders do, however, encompass an area that can claim close to a thousand years of Occitan cultural history. It’s somewhere with a Mediterranean climate, a Latin spirit and a tendency to view Paris and the north with a wary gaze. It’s a terrific place to travel through, being exceptionally easy on the eye and predisposed to long, well-lubricated meals. It also has a stack of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a past fierce with drama and a passion for rugby and music. I’m making a road trip between its two main cities, Montpellier and Toulouse. The distance between them is just 120 miles, but with a bit of judicious zigzagging, the riches that can be enjoyed en route are essentially numberless. And in the process of getting from A to B, I want to find out what the idea of Occitania means in the 21st century. Is it these days just a name, or something more?

IMAGES: AWL IMAGES; ALAMY

Monsieur BMX

In Montpellier, bicycles fly and disappear into walls. I’ve been in the city for just a few hours, and have already seen half a dozen protruding from buildings, their frames metres off the ground and their handlebars vanished from view. “It’s the work of a street artist. We call him Monsieur BMX,” explains Bruno Martinez, a local guide and photographer. “They started appearing four years ago in different parts of the city. It seems as though they’re here to stay. I like them.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Montpellier is laissez-faire about the presence of rogue wheels above its medieval alleys. The city is resolutely open to fresh ideas. Whereas most French cities have grand, stuccoed town halls, Montpellier has a maze-like block of translucent glass. Its trams were designed by A-list fashionista Christian Lacroix, students make up one fifth of its population and a whole swathe of its town centre was reshaped in the late 20th century by an architect allowed to run freestyle with neoclassical styling. This mood of tolerance is nothing new. Bruno unlocks a door from the street and leads me down a set of steps to a dark underground chamber that served as a ritual bathhouse for the city’s Jewish community 800 years ago. He flicks on a light to reveal a small changing area and a square pool still filled with naturally gathered water. “Historically, Occitania always welcomed outsiders — Jews, Muslims, Cathars, everybody,” he explains. “This is key to understanding the history of Montpellier and Occitania.”

FROM LEFT: Toulouse; street art by Monsieur BMX

The Cathar religion, in particular, had very strong ties to the region. A hybrid faith that took the pillars of Christianity and added elements of Middle Eastern philosophy, it grew in popularity across Occitania to the point that, by the early 1200s, France’s political and religious rulers saw it as a grave threat to their authority. There followed a twodecade military campaign known as the Albigensian Crusade, which stamped out Catharism in brutal, bloody fashion. Some estimates place the death toll at close to a million. Such things are not easily forgotten. Catharism has been closely linked to Occitania ever since. Over a bottle of Gaillac, I meet long-term local Patrick Hutchinson, a Cambridge-educated academic who composed the words — in Occitan — to a musical about the Albigensian Crusade. “Occitania has a very real dimension,” he tells me, pointing out that there has always been a spirit of resistance in the region’s character. “It represents something that the rest of France is not, so the fact that it now exists as an official entity — well, until recently no one would have dreamed

of such a thing.” He explains that in early 2016 the name of the new administrative region was put to public vote, with Occitania soundly beating the four other alternatives. But although the region’s current incarnation might be new, its chief attractions are anything but. Nowhere evokes images of fire, sword and medieval bombast quite like the fortress city of Carcassonne, and my first glimpse of this hilltop citadel, shining and Camelotlike in the afternoon sun, is powerful. Settled since the sixth century BC and progressively fortified by the Romans, the Visigoths, Saracens, Counts of Toulouse and French, the citadel is today a touristseducing flurry of towers, turrets and fearsome ramparts. I cross its moat and walk through the double-walled main gateway. The old streets, lined with souvenir shops, lead me to the basilica, where rows of derangedlooking gargoyles still stare down at visitors. Carcassonne played an active role in protecting the area from anti-Cathar forces until falling to Catholic crusaders in 1209, and it remains very much of its region. These days it houses one of Southern

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IMAGE: ALAMY

Carcassonne’s swashbuckling good looks are partly the result of a 19th-century restoration that added crenellations, conical towers and arrow slits — evidence that in Occitania, initial appearances can hide a deeper story

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FROM LEFT: Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi; cheese for sale at the Saturday market in Revel

France’s 65 calandretas (primary schools in which lessons are conducted entirely in Occitan). Shortly before sunset, I join dozens of others by walking out onto the battlements and watching as flocks of starlings swirl and gather in the sky. Carcassonne’s swashbuckling good looks, I learn later that evening, are partly the result of a fanciful but dramatic 19th-century restoration that added crenellations, conical towers and arrow slits. It’s evidence that in Occitania, initial appearances can hide a deeper story.

The art of paratge

One of the most prominent words in the Occitan language has no direct translation. Paratge, in loose terms, means a respect for others, a courtesy towards strangers and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong. Conversely, Occitan itself has endured a torrid time over the centuries, having been marginalised — shamed as a peasant’s dialect and, until relatively recently, banned from formal education. Despite the fact that more than 500,000 people still speak it to some degree, Occitan has an unpromising future — indeed, it’s

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been classified as officially endangered (UNESCO includes Occitan in its Red Book of Endangered Languages). There’s residual anger that France still refuses to recognise it as a national language. During my trip, I see a poster showing Che Guevara with the French Tricolour wrapped gag-style around his mouth. The words below the image — ‘Parlar Occitan Es Encara Un Acte Revolucionari!’ — state proudly that to speak Occitan is a revolutionary act. This might be why, aside from the odd bilingual street sign, the language is almost undetectable as I drive around the region. There’s certainly little evidence of it at the boisterous Saturday market in Revel, where flowers, grapes and gooey cheeses are being sold from underneath broad oak eaves. Saucisson sec (cured sausage) is being chopped, pumpkins are being weighed, snails are being ladled. It’s midautumn, and the queue at the chestnut stall is 20-strong. Revel is one of hundreds of bastides — fortified market towns built in the Middle Ages to protect local inhabitants from marauding outside forces. The recurrent images of war and conflict in Occitania are at odds with the countryside

Sweet goat music

In the Occitan Cultural Centre at Cordessur-Ciel, Daniel Loddo is playing a folk instrument that is, to all intents and purposes, a goat. The animal’s skin, still bearing four legs, is the central component of a bagpipe-like contraption known as a craba. The sound it produces — all things considered — is surprisingly tuneful, and the notes eddy merrily around the small room in which we’re standing. Music has always been a fundamental part of Occitan culture. In the centuries before the Albigensian Crusade, troubadours — usually funded by wealthy southern nobles — helped to accelerate the

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itself, which remains an open, docile landscape. Plane tree-shaded roads unfurl beneath escarpments and forested mountains, and close to Revel, the massif of La Montagne Noire hulks quietly on the horizon. The pull of the great Southern outdoors was a common theme in the paintings of the region’s most famous artist, who would, by contrast, become best known for depicting the brothels and cabarets of Paris. The brilliant but famously dissolute Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec grew up in and around the laid-back cathedral city of Albi, where a museum dedicated to his works still stands. “When he was young he was known as lo poulit. It means ‘the beautiful baby’ in Occitan,” says guide Christian Rivière, leading me through the red-brick palace that houses the collection. “ToulouseLautrec never stopped loving this region. He came back several times a year.” The artistic leap from the lakes and horses of his early canvasses to the cancanning mademoiselles of his later works was considerable, but then the man himself — born into aristocracy, and in adult life standing just 4ft 11in tall — was full of surprises. Christian takes me to a restaurant set in the former family stables, where I’m taken aback to learn that Toulouse-Lautrec was also an obsessive cook, putting his own spin on traditional Occitan recipes and, according to some food historians, inventing the first chocolate mousse. A trip to Occitania still requires a loosened belt. Like elsewhere in France, the region approaches food and drink with reverence. The native larder relies heavily on meat, herbs and dairy (the most famous of its cheeses is Roquefort) and more wine is produced here than in any other part of the country. Sitting down to table is therefore a convivial affair, and I’m informed matterof-factly that one of the most renowned local wine producers still starts each day with a quick ‘santat!’ (cheers!) and a glass of red. Down in the sun-warmed South, some old traditions die hard.


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OCCITANIA GORGES DU VIS

Cordes-sur-Ciel

Toulouse

Montpellier

Revel

Carcassonne

Me dit e rrane an Sea

ESSENTIALS Getting there & around EasyJet flies direct to Montpellier and Toulouse from Gatwick. British Airways, Flybe and Ryanair are among other carriers with direct flights between the UK and Toulouse. easyjet.com ba.com flybe.com ryanair.com By using Eurostar and TGV rail services, it’s possible to reach Montpellier from London in around eight hours and Toulouse in approximately 10, including changes in Paris. eurostar.com sncf.com/en/trains/tgv Driving is the most logical way of taking in the places mentioned. Routes follow a mixture of country roads and tollbooth motorways.

CLOCKWISE FROM

TOP LEFT: Place de la

Comedie, Montpellier; Daniel Loddo playing the craba; Occitan cross mural, Toulouse

Places mentioned Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. museetoulouselautrec.net Occitan Cultural Centre. talvera.org

More info en.destinationsuddefrance.com tourism-midi-pyrenees.co.uk atout-france.fr Grains of Gold, An Anthology of Occitan Literature (Francis Boutle Publishers). RRP: £30

IMAGE: ALAMY. ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

How to do it EasyJet flies from Gatwick to Montpellier from £32.49, and from Toulouse to Gatwick from £25.13. easyjet.com Accommodation options include Hotel Le Guilhem, Montpellier (rooms from £75; leguilhem.com), Hotel du Chateau, Carcassonne (from £130; hotelduchateau.net) and Domaine d’En Fargou, (from £96; Côte d’Enfargou, 81370 Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe, Toulouse. T: 00 33 6 76 74 63 56).

spread of the Occitan language, performing poetic songs about everything from religion to courtly love. Their modern Occitan descendants, however, are far harder to classify, covering every genre from metal and punk to folk and rap. I sit down with Daniel and local civil servant Philippe Sour, whose job it is to ensure that Occitan culture has every chance to thrive. I ask how they feel about the formation of the new region. “Well, the borders are far too small,” says Daniel, laughing. “But yes — it’s a very important platform for the future. We have to ensure younger generations understand Occitan culture and know its stories. Culture is not dust and death, culture needs to live, and music is fundamental to that. “The government has been against regional cultures since the French Revolution. We cannot let it die,” continues Philippe. “The language might not survive, but we have to safeguard the knowledge and the history.” As a potent illustration of how he views the situation, he recently arranged for an Occitan town to be twinned with a settlement in Tibet. Today, there are effectively two Occitanias. One is the newly minted

administrative region, the other is the historical land stretching from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The challenge, perhaps, for its custodians is to ensure that the traditional culture — paratge and all — is as relevant to one as it is to the other. In Toulouse, now the regional capital, the issue doesn’t seem to be furrowing too many brows. Late October sunshine is washing over the city’s cafe terraces as sightseers spill in and out of the Basilica of Saint-Sernin. I walk down to the banks of the Garonne River — source of the red mud that gives the city’s buildings their famous pink hue — and, in the distance, can pick out the shape of the Pyrenees. Toulouse is now the fourth largest city in France by population, but it’s an easy-going place to spend time in. I make my way across to the Ostal d’Occitània, which puts on regular cultural events, and notice a spraypainted mural on a side street. Only when I’ve nearly passed it do I see that it depicts the traditional Occitan cross; its design modified to include a tongue sticking out in defiance. Maybe that’s the thing: when you travel through this handsome, hardy region, Occitan culture is often right in front of you — you just need to look for it.

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eat

drink l o v e

LIMA

From home-cooked dishes and market stall flavours to Michelin-starred fare, a culinary ‘creative awakening’ in Lima is reason to fall in love with the Peruvian capital all over again Words P Ó L Ó C O N G H A I L E Jan/Feb 2017

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Tunta. Mashwa. Bark. I’m staring at a menu in Lima’s leafy Miraflores neighbourhood, feeling a Wonka-esque sense of wonder. Titled ‘Mater Ecosystems’, the menu themes a 12-course meal by altitude, ranging from 65ft below sea level to 12,800ft in the Andes, celebrating Peru’s biodiversity with dishes so breathtakingly beautiful they could break Instagram. I need to Google several of the ingredients (tunta is a type of sun-dried potato; mashwa a flowering plant — both grown in the Andes; bark is… well, bark). But that just adds to the experience. A decade ago, who would have thought it possible? Lima is making me fall in love with food all over again. The restaurant is Central. Its chef is Virgilio Martínez. Bestubbled, handsome, floating between guests at their tables and the symphony of sous-chefs working behind a glass wall next door, he’s the poster boy for the Peruvian capital’s white-hot food scene. “I’ve always seen myself as a boy from Lima, living in a bubble,” the 39-year-old tells me. But this is no ordinary bubble. A few weeks after my visit, Central retains its numberfour spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants — one place ahead of Copenhagen’s Noma. My lunch dishes include ‘Close Fishing’ (10 metres below sea level), a simple but vibrant arrangement of delicate octopus pieces beneath egg-white ‘coral’, dyed with squid ink. ‘Low Andes Mountains’ (1,800 metres) comes in an earthy-red bowl, filled with air-dried beef, airampo (a purple prickly pear cactus from the Andes) and a kaleidoscopic splash of quinoas. “There’s a creative awakening in Lima,” Martínez continues, referring to the new generation of chefs, producers, foodie entrepreneurs and diners that’s found the

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confidence to just be “what they are”. But the journey is only beginning. “Now,” he smiles, “we have to think beyond trends.” Leading the South American charge on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants along with Central are Maido (ranked 13) and Astrid y Gastón (30). But this is about more than accolades. Peru’s natural pantry ranges from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes and Amazonian rainforest. Its spread of fauna, flora, climates, soils and ecosystems makes Scandinavia look like a 7/11. Market cevicherias (ceviche stands), street sangucherias (sandwich shops) and hole-in-the-wall huariques (traditional restaurants) serve up mouthwatering fare for a couple of sols. Locals know their food (one of my favourite discoveries is lonche, a light, chatty meal enjoyed between lunch and dinner), and neighbourhoods like Miraflores and Barranco are sizzling. Forget backpackers tucking into badly cooked guinea pig on their gringo trails, tourists are finally realising Machu Picchu can be joined by magic on the plate. “Peruvian people are the hardest to please,” says 26-year-old Cesar Bellido, head chef at a San Isidro restaurant many consider the engine of Lima’s gastronomic revolution — Astrid y Gastón. “All of what we’re doing comes from traditional food, from home cooking. You start with the most basic ingredients, although very honed. You see the Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and native influences. But it all starts very simply.” Established in 1994 by Gastón Acurio


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CLOCKWISE: A Peruvian woman sells sweets and snacks outside the Government Palace, Lima; walking past street art near the Bridge of Sighs in the Barranco district of Lima; chefs at work in the kitchen of Central; sweet potato appetiser, Central

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FROM LEFT: Surquillo Market; ‘Close Fishing’ (octopus, coral) dish, as served at Central

and his wife, Astrid Gutsche, Astrid y Gastón has blossomed from a pioneering Peruvian restaurant into a food empire stretching from Caracas to Madrid. Its colonial-style Casa Moreyra mansion has become an icon. From Bellido’s eagle-eyed attention to a team of tweezer-toting chefs through Gastón’s experimental kitchen and Astrid’s adventures in chocolate, it’s the Modern Peruvian mothership, a place that celebrates identity as much as a new way of eating. At Surquillo Market, a few blocks from Kennedy Park in Miraflores, I pick my way through the raw ingredients of a revolution. Workers shift crates around a Catholic shrine; stalls bulge with exotic produce. There’s lucuma, a mango-like fruit that grows in Andean valleys and emits hints of butterscotch when cooked. There are teensy tubers (ulluco), red-hot rocoto chilli peppers, golden aguaymanto berries and ice cream beans (pacay), whose black beans are squirrelled away within a white, cottony pulp. There are grains and spices, boxes of corn, key limes, avocados, cassava and potatoes (Peru has 3,000 varieties, my Condor Travel guide tells me). Amid the colour, ceviche stands are cranking up for the morning trade. “Everyone comes here — the rich, the poor, even Gastón,” says one lady, as she’s showing me her husband’s stall. A blackboard is propped up on its counter, bearing the words ‘El mar en tu boca’ (‘The sea in your mouth’).

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Ceviche is the closest thing Peru has to a national dish. It combines raw fish with a citrusy marinade, crunchy corn and soft sweet potato

Behind it, chunks of sole are chopped. Thunk. Splat. Squelch. Ceviche is the closest thing Peru has to a national dish. Combining raw fish with a citrusy marinade, crunchy corn and soft sweet potato, infused with ginger, coriander and chilli, the freshness of its ingredients is key. Later, at nearby Lima 27 restaurant, I watch as chef Alcides Alegre puts his own twist on this classic — arranging cubes of fish in a circle in the bowl, scattering his garnishes and pouring a marinade that quickly turns the surface of the fish white. The flavours come in intense bursts — the acidic key lime, the sharpness of the onion and chilli, the chunky corn, the accents of sweet potato — all seeming to converse around the plump fleshiness of the sole. From market stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants, from grandmother’s recipes to game-changers like Central and Astrid y Gastón, everyone has a favourite ceviche. Peru’s diversity goes deeper than its produce, of course. Lima has its indigenous and Spanish influences, but the city also boasts thriving Japanese and Chinese communities, and strong European links (two of my guides have Irish ancestry). Limeños love their chaufa, a casual, comfortfood mix of Cantonese and Peruvian ingredients and traditions. Japanese influences shine through in dishes like tiridito, with its petal-thin, sashimi-like slices of raw fish served in citrus-spicy sauce.

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PERU

ABOVE: Sacha soba (purple potato noodles, clams and crab), Maido

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City by the sea

Bit by bit, Lima is changing. In times gone by, the traveller’s rule of thumb was to get in and out quickly, moving on to the more obvious attractions of Cusco and Machu Picchu. Now, eye-catching art and design scenes are emerging to complement the restaurants and chefs that have made it the culinary envy of Latin America. There’s a cautious optimism, a sense that decades of economic chaos, terrorism and hyperinflation could now be in the rear view mirror. Still, it’s not an obviously alluring city. Modern Lima dates from 1535, when it was established as a coastal base by the Spanish conquistador Pizzaro, although Inca settlements stretch back way further, as evidenced by the mudbrick pyramids still dotting its suburbs. Today, the city sprawls like a South American LA, with around 10 million residents, ranging from the relative opulence of Miraflores to the tumbledown slums stacked up its surrounding hills and mountains. Chorrillos throbs with tuktuk rickshaws. In Old Lima — home to the city’s colonial set-pieces — you might see a Mercedes followed by a battered minivan

IMAGES: AWL IMAGES; PÓL Ó CONGHAILE

BELOW: Ayacuchano Carnival, San Martin Square

At Maido, I try chef Mitsuharu Tsumura’s hymn to Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese fusion) — a tasting menu whose dishes include a gigantic Amazonian snail, guinea pig dumpling with spicy ponzu sauce and soba noodles made from purple Amazonian potatoes. It’s another, epic culinary journey — and I only get the menu after the meal. At Ámaz — whose chef, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, is another of Lima’s gastrogeniuses — I’m confronted with still more flavours and combinations. There’s river dorado, slow-cooked in a bijao leaf with jungle spices, turmeric, bitter orange, onion, sweet chilli and tomatoes. There are scallops with camu camu, a rainforest fruit hailed for its health benefits. Chonta palm tree shavings are rendered as waif-like tagliatelle around sustainably farmed palm tree hearts and sweet plantains. Schiaffino has forged relationships with producers in the remotest parts of Peru to tell the story of the Amazon region with serious pizazz on the plate. “When I first came here, all the flavours were new to me,” my waitress, Lucero Baca Galiano, tells me. “You compare and contrast them to things you know, before getting to know them as flavours themselves.”

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PERU

Bar Restaurant Cordano BELOW: Butifarra sandwich with ham, pickled

onion and chilli, Bar Restaurant Cordano

IMAGES: PÓL Ó CONGHAILE

with a ticket seller hanging from the doorway. Lima is low-rise and, aside from its colonial centre and oceanside bluffs, rarely beautiful. I visit in July, in the midst of winter. The city wakes up hazy, sea blending with the horizon in a feather-grey blur (“We call it garua,” my guide says. “It’s like the belly of the donkey.”). The notorious mist is due to the city’s position between the Andes and Pacific, but it doesn’t stop any enjoyment of the water. No other South American capital faces the ocean like Lima, and I see surfers carrying their boards through Miraflores, paragliders riding thermals above the bluffs, and couples canoodling in the necklace of parks along its cliffs (look out for the statue of Paddington Bear, who came from ‘darkest Peru’). In summer, the sunsets here create what’s called el cielo de brujas (‘the sky of witches’). As the days go on, the heat picks up, and I use the time between meals to explore the city’s other attractions. In Callao, near Lima’s port, a rundown centre is being rebooted by a surprising bloom of galleries and street art fanning out around Casa Fugaz, a converted 20th-century market building. In Lima’s old

town — by turns crumbling and elegantly colonial — the Basilica Cathedral of Lima contains the tomb of Pizarro. Nearby, the 17th-century Church and Convent of Santo Domingo contrasts cedar and mahogany ceilings with colourful tiles from Seville. Outside the monolithic Government Palace, a military band plays popular classics (was that really the Star Wars theme?), while a Peruvian woman in a boxy bowler hat sells trinkets from a basket. Around the corner, the waitress at Bar Restaurant Cordano, a spit-and-sawdust bar, slices cured hams and slips the pieces into butifarra rolls with pickled onions and chillies. Barranco is another district on the turn. When I check into Hotel B, a Belle Époque mansion rebooted as Relais & Chateaux’s first Lima hotel, my eye is drawn to a black tie on the bed. It’s not a hint, or a leftover from some illicit tryst. It’s the do-not-disturb sign, paired with a note instructing guests to hang it on the door handle when they want privacy. Walls are crammed with head-turning artworks, rooms individually designed, and the barman whips me up a mean pisco sour with coca. It’s the perfect base for exploring

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At Hotel B, my eye is drawn to a black tie on the bed. It’s not a hint, or a leftover from some illicit tryst. It’s the do-not-disturb sign Jan/Feb 2017

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Iglesia de Santo Domingo OLD LIMA

CALLAO

Basilica Cathedral Presidential Palace

SAN MIGUEL

P A C I F I C O C E A N

SAN ISIDRO

Surquillo Market MIRAFLORES BARRANCO CHORRILLOS

P ERU Lima

Juanito de Barranco

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ESSENTIALS Getting there & around British Airways flies direct, non-stop from Gatwick to Lima three times weekly, with return fares from £650, including taxes and fees. ba.com

city. But the place is definitely having a moment, and there’s a vibrant food scene. I find Peruvian pisco, a grape brandy dating back to the Spanish settlers, undergoing a renaissance. It’s the same story with chocolate and coffee. Barista and coffee entrepreneur Harrysson Neira pours me a sample of the latter in his cafe at Maria Deplacer, a boutique food court in Miraflores. He tells me how he takes a plane, a bus and then walks for two hours to meet one of his producers. “Peruvians are coffee drinkers but they drink bad coffee,” he says. He wants to change that, turning one of Peru’s main exports into a brand as refined as Lima’s new cuisine. Back in Barranco, I spend one of my final evenings taking in the district’s buzzing nightlife. I veer from Juanito de Barranco — a dive bar where an old guitar man serenades customers on a battered instrument — to a cheap ceviche, a tart pisco sour and some traditional tunes at Sóngoro Consongo, an old peña set in an adobe house near the Bridge of Sighs (‘barranco’ is Spanish for ‘ravine’). “This is home cooking,” says its owner, Hernan Vega, joining me for a drink. “To be alive and to share with friends. This is the spirit of Lima. It was the same feeling 100 years ago, and it’ll be the same feeling in 100 years’ time.”

Metropolitano buses connect Barranco, Miraflores and San Isidro with the city centre, although routes are limited. Minivans and taxis are plentiful, but rates need to be negotiated. Condor Travel offers themed city tours, ranging from the half-day ‘Flavours of Peru’ to a gastronomic bike excursion in Miraflores. metropolitano.com.pe condortravel.com

When to go Lima has a subtropical climate, with temperatures ranging from around 12-30C. December-April is the summer season. June-October brings grey skies, but crowds are smaller and surfing is still an option.

Places mentioned: Central. centralrestaurante.com Maido. maido.pe/en Astrid y Gastón. en.astridygaston.com Lima 27. lima27.com Ámaz. amaz.com.pe Casa Fugaz. facebook.com/fugazcallao Hotel B. hotelb.pe Hotel Paracas. libertador.com.pe Sóngoro Consongo. songorocosongo.com

More info peru.travel

How to do it Rooms at Hotel B from £280 a night. Hotel Paracas has rooms from £180 a night. Condor Travel’s tours can be booked with Rainbow Tours. Rainbow’s Peru packages include an 11-day Gourmet Peru and Amazon in Style itinerary from £5,685 per person, with flights. rainbowtours.co.uk condortravel.com

ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER. IMAGE: PÓL Ó CONGHAILE

a neighbourhood where hot new galleries sit next to derelict mansions; where old-school peñas (music clubs) pump out Afro-Peruvian folk near funky additions like Isolina (the restaurant serves its modern twists on traditional, Criollo cooking in enamel bowls), where street art adorns walls a stone’s throw from Mario Testino’s MATE gallery. The ripple effects are spreading, too. During my week in Lima, I take an overnight trip to Pisco, spending a night at Hotel Paracas that comes with a 4WD excursion into the desert. The experience is in stark contrast to the shanty towns along the four-hour, rubbish-strewn highway drive (a far remove from the Andean landscapes of holiday brochures). The skies bloom a bit bluer here, and our dune-bashing ends with a barbecue beneath the stars. The sun goes down, and I sit on a rug in a tent lit up like a spaceship. Prawns, beef, chicken, cassava and potatoes are all brought, course by course, and the crystal-clear constellations are cherished all the more after Lima’s fug. Would one fly 6,000 miles for Lima alone? Public transport is tough going, there’s serious logistical jujitsu required to get your restaurant bookings in a row, and the gulf between salubrious suburbs and slums is as jarring as you’ll find in a big South American

2 Miles


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Latino

LOS ANGELES

The sprawling US city moves to a decidedly Latino heartbeat, from music and dance through to art and culture. And then there’s the masked wrestling bouts — who will win in the City of Angels? Words & photographs K R I S D A V I D S O N

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LOS ANGELES

Lďż˝ story

America’s second-most-populated city lies just 125 miles north of the border, and was a part of Mexico as recently as 170 years ago. With half of all Los Angelenos having Latino heritage, Mexican culture remains infused and vibrant, from the Mariachi bands in Boyle Heights to the high-end Mexican cuisine at Broken Spanish, in Downtown.

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LOS ANGELES

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LOS ANGELES

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LOS ANGELES

Dance like a but terfly

“In East LA there’s a folklórico dance school on every corner,” says Kareli Montoya, the founder of LA’s premier folklórico ballet company, Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles. Half-dressed for a rehearsal, her dancers flit around her like butterflies, colourful skirts swirling. They perform across Los Angeles, telling a wide range of Mexican stories in the process. The children are dancing out the memory of the Mexican Revolution, when women, called Adelitas, fought alongside their men. Jan/Feb 2017

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Brush with authority

A young Latina glides past Mariachi history in Boyle Heights. The City of Angels is home to a thriving Chicano art scene, with artists frequently challenging racial discrimination, citizenship and nationality, the exploitation of workers, and the traditional gender roles of Mexican-Americans in the US. Pictured right, artists Cici Segura Gonzalez and Hector Silva hold court at ChimMaya, a gallery in East Los Angeles. 132

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Behind the mask

Deep in East LA on a Friday night, spectators at lucha libre bouts are transported to a theatrical world of masked battle. Clad in lurid spandex, the wrestlers clamber between the ropes of a boxing ring, before flying through the air, engaged in the age-old battle between good guys (tĂŠcnicos) and evil guys (rudos). Spanish cheers abound, as do the smiles.

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City life

BEIRUT

IMAGE: ALAMY

An alluring coastal capital with an endearingly split personality, Beirut is the thriving Arabian port city on the Med that refuses to be deďŹ ned by its recent past WORDS: Chris Leadbeater

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nests. So it was treated to a confetti shower of artillery to the point that, four decades on, it’s irredeemable. The companies who co-own it — one Lebanese, one Kuwaiti — can’t agree on whether to demolish or renovate it, though the latter is implausible. And so it stands there, shrieking of a dispute between disparate militias that, though 27 years into yesterday, still shapes perceptions of Lebanon, casting it as a hell-hole of hostages and gunfire. This is now a ridiculous idea, easily dispelled if you wander around Beirut on foot, along the Corniche promenade that flirts with the Mediterranean for three gilded miles; into the districts which present various versions of the city — resurgent Downtown, heavily rebuilt; Hamra and Ras-Beirut, full of Arabic chatter and strong coffee; Accrafieh and Gemayzeh, still dreaming of the French colonial era in their cafes and galleries; Verdun, merging Paris and the Middle East in its restaurants and luxury malls. Together, they create an urban tapestry whose intricate craftsmanship is apparent whether you’re sipping a cocktail on Rue Monot or gazing at antiquity in the National Museum of Beirut. I find myself in the latter, staring in admiration at the tomb of Ahiram, a king who reigned in Byblos,

25 miles up the coast, in 1,000BC. There, on the side of the sarcophagus, is the earliest known example of the Phoenician alphabet, a potent symbol of early communication and a reminder of two things: that Lebanon was a seat of civilisation while much of Europe was still squatting in the mud, and that the tale of its capital stretches far beyond 15 years in the abyss, however loudly Banquo moans and wails.

A RESURRECTION OF SORTS

If the Holiday Inn is a scab of war, then Beirut’s Downtown is a sticking plaster on scar tissue. So damaged was the heart of the city due east of Minet el Hosn that it had to be re-created. And it was, by Rafic Hariri, prime minister of Lebanon between 1992 and 2004 (aside from a brief window in 1998-2000), who redrew the core of the capital as a polished zone of shops and sophistication fanning out around the pivotal Place de l’Etoile. Perhaps it’s a little too sophisticated. Sitting in Al Balad, a Lebanese restaurant just off the square on Rue Hussein el Ahdab, I get the feeling that something isn’t right. True, there’s nothing wrong with the meal in front of me, a perfectly pleasant platter of grilled lamb. But out in the street, there’s an absence of reality, a dearth of authenticity. Hariri revived his metropolis in fabric, but

IMAGES: ALAMY; SUPERSTOCK; 4CORNERS

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anquo has at least stopped bleeding. The clots have congealed and fallen away, leaving only the wounds in his flanks — ash-rimmed holes, blackened punctures, smoky scorches. But he’s here at the banquet nonetheless; a dead presence eyeing the guests who mill at his feet. And so I watch him in turn, this dread spectacle, and start to feel uncomfortable. Catching sight of Beirut’s notorious Holiday Inn is an experience that tugs at the lungs. It makes me gasp. There’s something of Macbeth’s friend-turned-phantomtormentor to this 26-storey wreck in the Minet el Hosn quarter. All about it, the Lebanese capital is chasing the future in a blur of cash and glamour: chauffeured cars pulling up outside the five-star Phoenicia Hotel next door, and the Four Seasons and Le Vendome hotels beyond; sails fluttering at Le Yacht Club, the marina and chic residential complex on Zaitunay Bay. But the Holiday Inn only wants to discuss the past: the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990, which transformed it from a glitzy debutante (it opened in 1974) into a blood-stained memory of what occurs when a cosmopolitan city becomes a charnel house of internecine conflict. For two years (1975-1977) it was coveted not by tourists, but guerilla fighters who wanted its upper floors for snipers’


BEIRUT

OPPOSITE: Street vendor selling ka’ik (bread with sesame seeds) along the Corniche CLOCKWISE: Local fishermen; Mr Firas, Baghdadi handicraft shop; modern downtown Beirut; a lantern streetlight in the downtown area

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Interior of the National Museum of Beirut

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IMAGE: SUPERSTOCK

Greater glories // In the National Museum of Beirut, I find the earliest known example of the Phoenician alphabet, a potent symbol of early communication and a reminder that Lebanon was a seat of civilisation while much of Europe was still squatting in the mud


BEIRUT

not in spirit, for Downtown lacks any of the scratches and scuffs that you might expect of an Arabian city. The pavements are smooth, manicured, and the road surfaces — thanks to the adjacent position of the national parliament and the security issues that go with it — are largely free of traffic, with cars backed up behind checkpoints. The same applies, directly north, in the reconstructed souks. The location of Beirut’s main market zone is the same as in the city’s halcyon 1960s, but the space delineated by Avenue Mir Majid Arslan, Rue Weygand, Rue Patriarch Howayek and Rue Allenby is not the manic hive of citrus fruits, kitchenware and spices it once was. Business seems brisk as I stroll through Souk al-Tawileh and Souk al-Jamil — but it’s Christian Louboutin and Louis Vuitton who are doing the selling. Pedlars do not peddle; hagglers do not haggle. It’s as if the 21st century has expunged all that came before, using a whitewash of luxury. Listen carefully, however, and former epochs whisper. On the south-east edge of Place de l’Etoile, St George’s Orthodox Cathedral remembers its late 19th-century origins in a swirl of incense and candlelight. Behind, scattered pillars and columns reach back further, to the Roman incarnation of Beirut. And if the Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque is a pretender, a newcomer hewn between 2002 and 2008 as part of Downtown’s reemergence, it rises with such elegance — four 65m-tall minarets lancing the sky, a soaring blue dome that wouldn’t seem out of context in Ottoman Istanbul — that its youth is invisible. Meanwhile, over in Hamra, Beirut is struggling to contain itself. At a table on the street outside Café Hamra, an argument has broken out. Perhaps it’s not an altercation, more a heated discussion. But the four men seated in a cluster are ripping into their subject matter like lions into a zebra carcass. A fist is raised, the table is banged with sufficient power for the eight small cups and three laden ashtrays on its circular top to tremble in concern. For a moment I’m fearful that the scene will unravel into violence. But then there are shrugs, nodded heads, handshakes, and the quartet rises in friendship, their gloopy dregs of coffee still shaking from the force of their conversation. If Downtown is a sanitised vision of how a Middle Eastern city should look in 2017, Hamra, to the west, is the truth. It’s the soul of Beirut, a glowing ember of Arabic clutter and cacophony. Minibuses and taxis stutter along Rue Hamra, its main east-to-west drag, exhaust fumes billowing, horns honking with an incessant impatience that never succeeds in soothing the congestion. The stores fringing the thoroughfare are just as crowded, with locals shopping not for $800 handbags but for washing powder,

irons, shampoo, cartons of orange juice. It’s a maze which, for all its mundanity, demands exploration. And so I explore, down the narrow lanes of Rue Antoun Gemayel, Rue Yamout and Rue Ibrahim Abdul Aal, through a press of people and purpose, until I drop back onto Rue Hamra and into coffeehouse Bread Republic, where the game of call and response between staff and regular customers is as representative a flavour of Lebanon as the mint tea in front of me. But then it all slopes away. At its west end, Rue Hamra becomes Rue Kuwait and drifts downhill through the adjacent district of Ras-Beirut to connect with the Corniche, which forges south here as Avenue General de Gaulle. Suddenly, the Mediterranean dominates the picture, a green-grey carpet wrapping itself around the off-shore outcrops of Pigeon Rocks in a flurry of white flecks — and I struggle to connect the dots. Ras-Beirut wears a faint shadow. It was here that British captives Terry Waite and John McCarthy were held in dank basements. Yet today, there’s only warmth and light, holidaymakers turning their faces towards the sunshine on Ramlet Al-Bayda Beach, a crescent of sand which could happily grace the Cote D’Azur, as any ghosts of the dark decades are blown away on the breeze.

A GALLIC THROWBACK

Catchphrases become clichés for good reason. And Beirut’s oft-quoted status as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ is a description born of fact. Not because an Eiffel Tower rears tall on Place des Martyrs, but because the French Mandate of Lebanon and Syria (1923-1946), the post-First World War partitioning of the collapsed Ottoman Empire by Europe’s key states, left its mark. It’s perhaps less pronounced than it was. But ambling along Rue Gouraud, the arterial avenue in easterly Gemayzeh — so far east that it was on the other side of the infamous barbed-wire Green Line which divided Beirut during the civil war — I’m not wholly convinced that this isn’t the Rue de Rivoli where it skirts the hem of the Marais. There are jewellers and gem stores, cafes which blink woozily at the afternoon. Urbanista deals in patterned-milk lattés and laptop tip-tap. And when my lunch — pink-raw slices of seared tuna, doused in sesame seeds, on delicate slivers of toast — arrives, thoughts of conflict feel far removed. Montmartre feels closer, in effect. The bohemian hilltop of Paris is echoed on Saint Nicholas Stairs, ascending 500 metres southwards, small galleries pitted along its gradient. Laboratoire D’Art revels in painting, sculpture and photography; it’s a permanent exhibition spot in a place which was hosting outdoor art shows before the civil war, and has picked up the thread

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ESSENTIALS Getting there & around British Airways operates a daily flight from Heathrow. Middle East Airlines, Lebanon’s national carrier, offers a daily service on the same route. ba.com mea.com.lb Public transport within the city is limited, but Beirut is easily explored on foot, and Uber cabs are increasingly common. Taxis into town from the airport should cost US$25 (£20).

When to go Lebanon has a southern Mediterranean climate akin to Turkey and Cyprus. Temperatures dip to around 15C between January and February, but crest 30C during July and August.

Places mentioned

again, earning the moniker ‘Escalier De L’Art’. And so I go up, one step, two, to the 125th; this corridor of creativity impersonating the French capital all the way. My reward at the top is not the Sacré Coeur but the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, a Greek Orthodox bastion offset by the Jardin Saint Nicholas, a pretty pocket of green. Then Gemayzeh seeps into the sub-district of Accrafieh and the party begins. Rue Monot is an antidote to the idea of the Middle East as a dour region of pious self-restraint, its doors opening onto bars and drinkeries. Pacifico delights in a Mexican ambience and a long list of tequilas; 37° pines for a Marais back lane in its cocktail menu and chic vibe; O Monot finishes the sentence, a boutique retreat of 41 rooms, decorated with slabs of modern art, where the sense of denial that the Louvre is not a five-minute walk away is near-palpable. France simply won’t take the hint that its mandate has expired. While, officially, the broad boulevard which cuts south from Hamra, through Snoubra, ultimately ending its journey where it hits the Corniche, bears the title ‘Rue Rachid Karami’, it’s known locally as Rue Verdun. Liberté, egalité and fraternité link arms on this two-mile drag whose name salutes the First World War battle which saved the French nation, and its identity, in 1916. And yet, in the neighbourhood of Verdun, another identity has coalesced: the European

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and Middle Eastern strands of Beirut intermingling. The former has its say at the north end of the strip, where Hotel Le Bristol, a grand old dame, sings of that white-gloved, coat-tailed version of hospitality which feels most at home in the capitals of the Old World. The latter finds expression in Leila, the best restaurant on the street, a Lebanese gastronomic delight, where Beirut displays a dash of liberté, egalité and fraternité of its own — all-women groups of diners pooled at booth tables, dissecting meze dishes over laughter and Tuesday evening chatter, heads unbowed to the conventions of a portion of the planet that can be all too masculine. There are further knots of girls’-nightout togetherness amid the flash and sparkle of the Dunes Center. But my attention is caught, in this gleaming glass complex of retail outlets and cascading elevators, not by the gold watches in their reinforced showcases, but by the intriguing sign for the main hotel. ‘Holiday Inn Beirut Dunes’, it reads. The property isn’t new — it opened as far back as 1998. But the accommodation giant’s move to an alternative address in the city feels, nonetheless, like a stride away from the desiccated corpse that still clings to its brand. Two miles to the north-east, Banquo grumbles. It seems the banquet will outlast him.

More info tourism.gov.lb Bradt: Lebanon by Paul Doyle. RRP: £15.99 Footprint Focus: Beirut by Jessica Lee. RRP: £7.99

How to do it KIRKER HOLIDAYS offers three-night breaks at the

Four Seasons from £1,279 per person, including return flights, private transfers and breakfast. kirkerholidays.com WILD FRONTIERS sells an eight-day ‘Lebanon: Jewel Of The Levant’ group tour with four nights in Beirut. From £1,690 per person, land only. wildfrontierstravel.com

Beirut

Medit er ran ean

Corniche RAS-BEIRUT HAMRA

Pigeon Rocks

S ea

LEBANON

Zaitunay Bay MINET EL HOSN

DOWNTOWN St George's

Orthodox Cathedral Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque

VERDUN ACHRAFIEH

500 yards

IMAGE: 4CORNERS. ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

Linas cafè, Hamra district

Al Balad. albaladrestaurant.com Bread Republic. facebook.com/BreadRepublichamra Café Hamra. facebook.com/CafeHamra Cathedral of Saint Nicholas. stnicholascenter.org Dunes Center. dunes.com.lb Four Seasons. fourseasons.com/beirut Hotel Le Bristol. lebristol-hotel.com Holiday Inn Beirut Dunes. holidayinn-dunes.com Laboratoire D’Art. laboratoiredart.com Leila. leilarestaurant.com Le Vendöme. levendomebeirut.com Le Yacht Club. leyachtclubbeirut.com National Museum of Beirut. beirutnationalmuseum.com O Monot. omonot.com Phoenicia Hotel. phoeniciabeirut.com 37° Bar & Grill. T: 00 961 1 203 215 Urbanista. weare-urbanista.com


City life

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Home to the blue Banksy, helicopter pub crawls and a flourishing live music scene, Brisbane is shaking off its reputation as a mere gateway to the tropics WORDS: Shaney Hudson PHOTOGRAPHS: Chris Van Hove

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t’s curious, but Australia’s most laid-back city divides opinion. In one corner, you’ve got those who dismiss Brisbane as little more than an urban gateway to Queensland’s more alluring tropical destinations, while in the other, there are the enthusiasts who point to its sun-drenched climate, outdoor way of life and a thriving nightlife. Architecturally, the city is certainly distinct. Sprawled along the Brisbane River and its tributaries, the riverfront is shadowed by a hotchpotch of questionable high-rise developments, while the suburbs are filled with traditional tin-roof houses wrapped in breezy verandahs known as Queenslanders. On the outskirts, the landscape is decidedly green, giving way to the wineries and sprawling properties of the Scenic Rim — a region of forested national parks. For international visitors, most of the action happens in the city’s CBD, spilling over into South Bank, where you’ll find Brisbane’s major galleries, museums and parklands. Nearby lies the inner city enclave of West End, while further up the river you’ll find the newly gentrified, but suitably grungy precincts of Newstead and Teneriffe, followed by posh hubs Ascot and Hamilton.

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Come nightfall, most revellers head to the previously seedy, but now hip pubs, bars and restaurants of Fortitude Valley. Closer to the CBD, Caxton Street is popular with university students keen for a pint, while Burnett Lane, tucked behind Queen Street Mall, is the current darling of the trendy set thanks to a string of new openings. Brisbane hasn’t yet been fully hit by the lockout laws that have curtailed nightlife in other East Coast cities. Instead, the bars have flourished, fuelling an exceptional live music scene. The city has long been an incubator for Australian indie bands, and you can’t spend a night on the town without catching live tunes. Come the weekend, Brisbane’s appeal lies in the quirky smaller events visitors passing through often miss: a pizza box art show one weekend, a food truck music festival the next, or a jailbreak-themed movie and inmate-led tour at a heritage listed jail. The best thing of Brisbane, however, is its people. There’s an ease with which the city conducts itself, a friendliness more notable here than elsewhere in Australia. While Sydney and Melbourne bicker about which is best, Brisbane kicks back with a beer, stretches in the sun and enjoys the good life.


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SEE & DO

RIVERLIFE: Brisbane is a city that likes

to be active. Burn off a little excess energy at Riverlife on Kangaroo Point, one of the city’s most popular local fitness hubs. Best known for its cliff side abseiling experience, they also offer daily paddle boarding and kayaking tours of the Brisbane River. Those keen on a more relaxed workout can also hire bikes and rollerblades to explore the surrounding foreshore. riverlife.com.au SOUTH BANK: Stretching along the river opposite the CBD, South Bank is effectively the city’s lifestyle and cultural hub, home to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Queensland Museum and Sciencentre. Alongside the Brisbane Wheel and the city’s Brisbane sign, there are parklands and a lagoon-style swimming spot open to the public, while during weekends there’s free live music at the riverfront amphitheatre. HELICOPTER TOURS: Pterodactyl Helicopters’ tailor-made tours of the Scenic Rim get you out of the city and up into the air. Best described as a flying pub-crawl, guests touch down in the back paddocks of familyowned wineries and nearby country pubs,

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sampling the local produce, wine and beer, before taking off again for a bird’seye view of the surrounding mountains. pterodactylhelicopters.com.au BRISBANE GREETERS TOURS: Departing at 10am daily, Brisbane’s free Brisbane Greeters tours offer a surprisingly comprehensive overview on the best of the city. Run by volunteer guides, tours are often tailored to their specific interests or knowledge, and it’s this personal perspective that make these intimate, six-person tours work. Bookings essential. brisbanegreeters.com.au STORY BRIDGE ADVENTURE CLIMB: Brisbane’s Story Bridge has been the city’s postcardperfect backdrop for years, but since 2005 it has also forged a new identity as a giant adult’s jungle gym, offering adventure climbs and abseiling tours for those keen enough to conquer their fear of heights. Sunset climbs offer the best views. sbac.net.au LONE PINE SANCTUARY: Tick a few boxes on your animal encounters list by heading to Lone Pine Sanctuary, a 90-year-old Brisbane institution. Best reached via a river cruise from the CBD, visitors can feed kangaroos or cuddle a koala. koala.net


BRISBANE

PREVIOUS SPREAD: View of Brisbane CBD from South Bank CLOCKWISE: A typical Sunday in the beer garden at South Bank; live music at Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets; beer, markets and murals in the cool enclave of Fortitude Valley OPPOSITE: A local favourite, Newstead Brewing Company represents Brisbane’s contribution to the world’s love affair with craft beer

BUY

JAMES STREET: Located in Fortitude

Valley, this meticulously landscaped shopping hub offers the crème de la crème of Australian brands. Broken up by a liberal scattering of al fresco cafes and homeware stores, it features designers such as Zimmerman, Camilla, Scanlan Theodore and Sass & Bide, as well as Brisbane activewear giant Lorna Jane. jamesst.com.au BRISBANE ARCADE: Heritage-listed Brisbane Arcade is the perfect antidote to the same-same retail outlets occupying Queen Street Mall. Along with browsing the bridal boutiques, speciality jewellers and one of the city’s best-loved tea salons, keep an eye out for the resident ghost, rumoured to wander from shop to shop. brisbanearcade.com.au UBERMEN: Raising the bar for men’s fashion is homegrown label Ubermen — it opened in the CBD in 2014 and has since gained something of a cult following. Popular for its free stylist service, it also offers accessories and lifestyle products. ubermen.com.au

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EAT

EAT STREET MARKETS: Arguably Brisbane’s best food experience, offering everything from freshly shucked oysters to Vietnamese cuisine, with craft ales, live music, expansive chill-out areas and a bustling crowd. eatstreetmarkets.com NODO: Nodo exemplifies the best of Australian cafe culture: a menu that covers everything from baked doughnuts to healthy green bowls, along with the critical ingredient any respectable Australian cafe needs: good coffee. nodo.com.au ESQUIRE: Serving up modern Australian fine dining with the obligatory sweeping views of the Brisbane River, Esquire offers a daily changing market menu, with dishes ranging from lamb with black cardamom to anchovies and basil. esquire.net.au

Lamington // The iconic Australian cake, known as the Lamington, was first served at Brisbane’s Old Government House to Lord and Lady Lamington. A dayold sponge cake was dressed up with chocolate syrup icing and coconut, and was an instant success with many asking for the recipe AFTER HOURS

THE TRIFFID: Owned by a member

FROM TOP: Capturing the BrisVegas vibe at Eat Street Markets; a chef prepares food at an open kitchen at Brisbane’s bustling Queen Street Mall; dishes from the menu at GF-friendly cafe Nodo OPPOSITE: Abseiling with RiverLife at Kangaroo Point on the Brisbane River

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of one of Brisbane’s most successful bands, Powderfinger, The Triffid is the kind of venue musicians and fans dream of, with a container-park beer garden outside and an intimate performance space located inside an old World War Two aircraft hangar. thetriffid.com.au LEFTY’S OLD TIME MUSIC HALL: With ornate chandeliers, red velvet drapes, and taxidermy lining the walls, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall doesn’t hold back on the kitsch or cool, with a hidden mermaid-themed bar inside and a regular billing of live honky-tonk, bluegrass and country music. leftysoldtimemusichall.com RIVERBAR: A favourite with the after-work crowd, Riverbar specialises in al fresco sunset drinks with sweeping views. Expect tasty shared plates, great beers and lazy cocktails. Its convenient CBD location near the Eagle Street Pier ferry terminal doesn’t hurt either. riverbarandkitchen.com.au


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IBIS STYLES ELIZABETH STREET:

Offering good value for money and decent views of the Brisbane River, this Ibis has bright, functional rooms in a central location and includes free continental breakfast. ibis.com HEAL HOUSE: Located in Newstead, Heal House is one for the architectural buffs keen to live like a local in a large suburban Queenslander, with breakfast served on the verandah and a choice of three rooms with en suites for guests. healhouse.com.au HOTEL INCHCOLM: With one of the best minibars you’ll ever see (including thankfully, a kettle), the Hotel Inchcolm offers visitors sophisticated art deco cool without sacrificing comfort. Don’t miss dining in its award-winning modern Australian restaurant, Thomson’s Reserve. inchcolm.com.au

LIKE A LOCAL

THE BLU ART XINJA: Brisbane’s answer

to Banksy has left his blue mark all over Brisbane — but you have to know where to look. Locals have made a game of trying to spot the guerilla street artist’s work as it pops up — and before it’s taken down. The best example of ‘blue art’ is in Burnett Lane. NEWSTEAD BREWING CO: The global craft beer phenomenon continues in Brisbane (a place where the climate thankfully warrants the thirst). To sample the city’s best, aficionados should head to the Newstead Brewing Co, popular for their lazy afternoon Sunday sessions. newsteadbrewing.com.au MOUNT COOT-THA: Four miles from the CBD, Mount Coot-tha is known to international visitors as a lookout point offering the best views of Brisbane — but to locals it’s more popular for the walking tracks and bike trails through the surrounding bush land.

The Australian obsession with coffee continues at Brisbane’s South Bank

ESSENTIALS

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nights in Brisbane and four nights on the Gold Coast, including flights, from £899 per person, based on two people sharing. travelbag.co.uk

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TRAVELBAG has a seven-night package with three

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ILLUSTRATION: JOHN PLUMER

Burnett Lane Queen St Mall

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Story Bridge

More info visitbrisbane.com.au Queensland & the Great Barrier Reef (Lonely Planet). RRP: £15.99

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Emirates codesharing with Qantas have connections from Newcastle, Manchester Birmingham and London to Brisbane (via Dubai). Singapore Airlines fly from Manchester and London to Brisbane via Singapore. Etihad Airways has connections via Abu Dhabi from London, Manchester and Edinburgh. emirates.com qantas.com singaporeair.com etihad.com Brisbane Airtrain links Brisbane Airport and the CBD in 23 minutes. Tickets cost A$17.50 (£10.50). airtrain.com.au Trains, buses and ferries connect the city. Customers require a prepaid Go Card, available from local railway stations. Two free buses, the City Loop and Spring Hill Loop, run between 7am to 6pm weekdays. A free (but horribly congested)

Cityhopper ferry service travels between North Quay and New Farm. translink.com.au Brisbane’s bike share scheme, CityCycle, has more than 150 pit stops with the first half-hour’s hire free; a week’s hire costs A$11 (£6.60). Riders must pre-register at citycycle.com.au

i v e r

Getting there & around


OFFICIAL PROVIDERS

OF READER OFFERS FOR

OFFICIAL PROVIDERS

OF READER OFFERS FOR

WHY TRAVEL SOLO WITH A room of your own Expert tour managers

FREEDOM

Solo travel allows you to do exactly what you want on your journey. With no compromising with friends or groups, you can spend hours exploring a museum, spend all night partying with the locals or hit the hay early. When you book with Barrhead Travel, our experienced travel experts offer advice, while taking into account what you value most — whether that’s transfers, accommodation, or car hire.

CONFIDENCE

Travelling alone is the perfect way to learn about yourself. Something as simple as navigating a new city is a great way to boost your self-confidence, and challenge yourself. When booking your adventure with Barrhead Travel, you’re in safe hands. We’ve built our

See the world No single supplement

reputation on first-class customer service and value for money. Every holiday we offer is financially protected to the highest standard, and since we’re one of the UK’s largest independent travel providers, we can offer unbiased advice and offers, giving you the best deals and peace of mind.

INSPIRATION

Your first foray into solo travel could spark inspiration for a world of exploring. A short solo visit to a city you’ve always fancied could lead to more weekends ticking off the world’s cultural hotspots. Travelling alone allows you to shake off the restraints that come with organising trips within a group. Wherever the travel bug takes you, we’ll be on hand to offer 41 years of expertise and the know-how to make it happen.

ADVENTURE // CITY BREAK // RELAX EXPLORE // CRUISE // TOURS // BUCKET LIST Established in 1975, award-winning Barrhead Travel specialises in all types of travel, from far-flung worldwide adventures and cruises to city escapes and summer getaways.

T: 0800 011 1105 barrheadtravel.co.uk/nationalgeographictraveller

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OFFICIAL PROVIDERS

OF READER OFFERS FOR

OFFICIAL PROVIDERS

OF READER OFFERS FOR

ATHENS, OLYMPIA & THE CORINTH COAST

HIGHLIGHTS OF PERU

DEPARTS MAY 2017 – SEP 2017

DEPARTS AUG – NOV 2017

Architectural gems and beautiful natural delights abound in Greece. Visit the Acropolis in Athens, the home of the original Olympic Games in Olympia, and ancient sites in Delphi. Step away from the cities and discover quiet, traditional towns where cobbled streets, peaceful beaches and silent squares show another side of this unforgettable country. WHAT’S INCLUDED

• Flights and overseas transfers • Tour manager and local guides • Four full-day excursions and one half-day excursion • Nine nights’ accommodation, half-board, with one lunch • A representative to greet you at UK airports READ ALL ABOUT ATHENS ON P.67

SAVE £85pp From £1,614 for 10 days

Follow in the footsteps of intrepid adventurers in Peru’s mountain wilderness. Explore the remains of the Incas’ final stronghold in the ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu, visit beautiful colonial towns pp and discover the world’s From highest navigable lake on £2,94 4 for this fascinating trip. 11 days

SAVE £155

WHAT’S INCLUDED

• Tour manager and local guides • Flights from Heathrow to Lima via Madrid • Use of an airport lounge in the UK • Overseas transfers and other transportation • Eight nights’ accommodation, B&B plus three lunches and one dinner • Five full-day excursions READ ALL ABOUT PERU ON P.114

Prices correct at time of publishing and can change. Price includes discount. Credit and debit card transactions are subject to a charge: 2.5% credit card charge and £1 debit card charge. Errors and omissions excluded. Barrhead Travel Service Ltd is registered in Scotland SC057208.

Established in 1975, award-winning Barrhead Travel specialises in all types of travel, from far-flung worldwide adventures and cruises to city escapes and summer getaways.

T: 0800 011 1105 barrheadtravel.co.uk/nationalgeographictraveller

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TRAVEL GEEKS

ASK THE EXPERTS

Q // Where in Paris do you recommend staying for a fun, budget weekend away?

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If you don’t want to suffer the overpriced and often stuffy areas of central Paris, then try the up-and-coming east. You can play at being a Parisian for a weekend in a blossoming number of affordable apartment rentals (most of them via Airbnb) in the happening 10th, 11th and 20th arrondissements. Hotels here are thin on the ground, but the vanguard address is Mama Shelter (mamashelter. com), the budget boutique hotel that comes with Philippe Starck design and the hippest bar restaurant in the ’hood with menus recently overhauled by Guy Savoy. This urban playground is the very definition of fun. Double rooms from €109/£98. Pop into the Flèche d’Or nightclub, straddled over the

disused railway line opposite, if only for a quick drink. Set in the old Charonne station, this perennial has been welcoming partying Parisians since the 1930s when it was abandoned. But it’s the nearby Rue du Charonne where you’ll find the mainstay of affordable bars and restaurants, shops and delis. Call into L’Abribus and La Belle Equipe for lively (and cheap) happy hours, while great-value, buzzy brunch, lunch and dinner can be had in and around the ramshackle indoor/outdoor Marché d’Aligre. Cheap, if not chic, this area isn’t handsome in the classic Parisian sense, but it’s hipster central. Meanwhile, for a real villagey vibe, the St Blaise area, just to the southeast of Charonne, comes

with arty cafes set along narrow alleys and streets that are among the city’s most leafy and green. If you want to really stretch your legs, tree-lined Père Lachaise cemetery is on your doorstep (final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Jimi Hendrix and countless other venerables), and the lesser-known Parc des Butte-Chaumont a bit further north in the hilly heights of the 10th. From here you’ll get superb views of Paris and can explore the lively hipster delights of the St Martin Canal district. It’s here that you’ll also find the aesthetic-led Generator Hostel (generatorhostels.com), another fun, affordable place to base yourself for a weekend, with rooms from €88/£79. SARAH BARRELL

IMAGES: AWL IMAGES; GETTY

NEED ADVICE FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP? ARE YOU AFTER RECOMMENDATIONS, TIPS AND GUIDANCE? THE TRAVEL GEEKS HAVE THE ANSWERS…


TRAVEL GEEKS

Q // I can never seem to use my air miles to buy a flight. How best to spend them, then?

Q // In light of the recent earthquakes in Italy, am I still insured if I travel to a region that has been affected, and what happens if I want to cancel?

Q // Where is heli-skiing most affordable for a good skier who’s a novice at the sport?

First up, look to see if you can use them to upgrade a flight. The best value and availability tends to come in the higher classes. Then, think about where and when you’re flying. Availability is always poor during school holidays, but excellent on new routes. With the BA Avios scheme, you can spend the points on hotel stays — although beware that the hotels available on the BA site are often cheaper booked direct — or car hire, wine from Laithwaites

and experiences through Viator. Virgin Atlantic points can be used on a slightly more limited range, but also on Eurostar and Virgin Trains. The bad news is that none of these offers are particularly good value. You’ll generally get 50p-60p for each Avios you spend and slightly less with the Virgin points. On flights, you’ll generally get 75p-£1.50 worth of value per point, depending on how cannily you play it. But, if there’s no availability, you could do worse than to cash the points in for a hotel night or a case of booze. DAVID WHITLEY

Italy is in a seismically active area, and the recent tremors in the central regions are a reminder of just how devastating they can be. Regarding your insurance, the only reason that your cover might be invalidated would be if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office were to advise against travel there, or if you ignored the advice of Italian authorities. The FCO is not advising against travel — though it recommends that you check with the local authorities if you’re travelling to areas badly affected by the tremors. If you’ve booked a package holiday to one of the affected

towns, then your tour operator should offer you an alternative holiday or a refund. If, as is likely, you’ve booked independently, you’ll need to check with the hotel as to the state of the accommodation and whether or not you’ll be due a cancellation charge if they’re open for business and you don’t travel. Your flights will operate as normal, so the airline will charge you a 100% cancellation fee if you don’t travel, and it’s unlikely that any cancellation charge will be covered by your insurance, though you should check with your provider. abta.com SEAN TIPTON

Heli-skiing can burn a hole in your pocket, so if you’re just looking to ski fresh tracks, consider cat skiing instead — it’s where a ski hill grooming machine takes you to the top of a vertical descent in backcountry. In Canada, it can be as cheap as C$10 (£6) a run, although more exclusive operations can cost well into the hundreds. If, however, you’re after the thrill of taking a helicopter ride, expect to pay from £2,850 per person for three days of heli-skiing in Revelstoke, British Colombia, with companies such as CMH Heli Skiing, which, incidentally, offers special trips for powder skiing

novices. There are some low-cost airlines operating routes from the UK to Canada. Closer to home, the Ski Club of Great Britain offers breaks in Europe that include several heli drops in a week — rather than a day — which means it’s a good value option, and ideal for newcomers. Its seven-night holiday in the Spanish resort of Baqueira-Beret costs from £1,799 per person and includes four-star hotel, return flights, transfers, six days with mountain guides, two heli drops, and a Ski Club Leader. A six-day lift pass costs around €237/£203. skiclub.co.uk SAM LEWIS

health corner Q // What is… Leishmaniasis? Largely a disease of the rural poor, Leishmaniasis is uncommon in travellers, though Ben Fogle caught the disease while filming Extreme Dreams in Peru in 2008. CAUSE: Leishmania parasites, spread by the bite of infected sand flies. WHERE: The disease occurs in some Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, India, Nepal, East Africa and Latin America. SYMPTOMS: From relatively painless ulcers appearing on the face or limbs two to eight weeks after being bitten, to the fullblown, fatal form of the disease known as kala-azar. Symptoms can take two years to appear. TREATMENT: The medical regimen is complicated, sometimes prolonged, but effective. PREVENTION: Sand flies bite mainly at night, usually outdoors. Cover up, using a liberal application of DEET repellents, and sleep under a permethrin-impregnated mosquito net. DR PAT GARROD

THE EXPERTS SARAH BARRELL ASSOCIATE EDITOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER

DAVID WHITLEY CONTRIBUTOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER

SEAN TIPTON MEDIA RELATIONS MANAGER, ABTA

SAM LEWIS CONTRIBUTOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER

DR PAT GARROD TRAVEL AUTHOR THEWORLDOVERLAND.COM

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TRAVEL GEEKS

THE GRAPHIC

HOW TO FLY LONDON – NEW YORK WITH LOW-COST AIRLINES LAUNCHING A RAFT OF NEW TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHTS, WE COMPARE NINE ROUTES BETWEEN LONDON AND NEW YORK

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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW The extras

NORWEGIAN AIR

Basic fare doesn’t include a hold bag, food or drinks, headphones, or blankets. Personal TV entertainment is free. norwegian.com

WOW AIR

All extras, including hold bags and pre-bookable seats must be purchased. wowair.co.uk

AER LINGUS

Basic fare includes 23kg hold luggage, food and advance seat selection. aerlingus.com

AIR INDIA

This price includes meals and two 23kg pieces of hold baggage. Advance seat assignment is also free. airindia.in

WESTJET

Basic fare includes seat and hand luggage. A checked bag is £15-18 each way. Meals can be pre-ordered. westjet.com

ICELANDAIR

Basic fare includes hold bags, hand luggage and seat selection, but not food or drink. Headphones and wi-fi cost extra. icelandair.co.uk

AMERICAN AIRLINES

One hold bag, food and non-alcohlic drinks are included in the basic fare, but reserving specific seats costs extra. aa.com

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

Extras are included in the price, but seat selection more than 24 hours ahead costs from £30. virginatlantic.com

BRITISH AIRWAYS

Time/date changes are £150 per flight. Seat selection more than 24 hours before departure costs from £20. ba.com

from £304 from £381 from £393

from £408.55 from £435 from £464

from £481.37

from £481.55 from £481.62

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U S A

Fares are return, outbound on 1 February, returning 8 February, published in early November.

IMAGE: GETTY. ILLUSTRATION: DANIEL BRIGHT

Airline & cost


TRAVEL GEEKS

HOT TOPIC

CAN VOLUNTEERING BE A BAD THING? HOW THE RISE OF VOLUNTOURISM COULD ACTUALLY BE DAMAGING TO THE VERY COMMUNITIES IT SETS OUT TO HELP. WORDS: JAMES DRAVEN

In the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated coastal communities, I decided I wanted to help. I’d already planned a trip to Sri Lanka, and thought that rather than swerve the region entirely, or support their economy with tourist dollars spent on arrack-based cocktails, I’d go out there and do something useful and help my fellow humans in crisis. I’d rebuild homes and dig wells. The fact I had absolutely zero construction experience was beside the point, surely? I contacted a tour operator that was recruiting westerners to undertake this kind of work. They wanted £2,000. I explained I already had flights and accommodation booked, I just needed them to point me in the right direction. The two grand, it transpired, was for them; it was their fee for enabling me to go help. This organisation, and its competitors whom I contacted, were exploiting one of the deadliest natural disasters in history for financial gain, turning the Boxing Day tsunami into a product to be sold. Fast forward 12 years and wealthy tourists — rather than donate cash, or volunteer at home — are increasingly paying to personally go and inexpertly erect buildings and cuddle parentless children. What could possibly be wrong with that? It turns out, quite a lot. While the desire to

Q&A I STILL WANT TO PHYSICALLY HELP. WHAT CAN I DO?

There’s a reason we no longer institutionalise children in orphanages in the UK. Giving unqualified staff access to vulnerable children increases the risk of abuse. If you feel you need to help personally, check out the Ethical Travel Guide at tourismconcern.org.uk for worthwhile initiatives to support. SHOULD I AVOID CRISIS REGIONS?

No. The fact that Royal Caribbean continues to dock in Haiti is a good thing: the company pays taxes to the region and offers livelihoods to local craftsmen and ‘voodoo’ trinket vendors who are invited to set up on-site tourist shops for the small fee of US$4 (£3.20) per day. WHAT CAN I DO FOR HAITI?

Melanie Kramers from Oxfam says, “The best way to help is by supporting an appeal which will go towards survival gear, such as food, water purification kits and materials to patch up roofs.” donate.oxfam.org.uk

make a difference and get one’s hands dirty is honourable, the results can be negative. According to ethical travel charity, Tourism Concern’s website, ‘Volunteer placements can prevent local workers from getting much-needed jobs’, with westerners being exploited for money and free labour, while locals struggle to find paid work doing anything other than repaving the road to Hell once the well-intentioned workforce has gone home. By far the most alarming side-effect of voluntourism has been the rise of the ‘orphanage industry’. With so many tourists willing to pay top dollar to mollycoddle foreign kids, they’ve inadvertently created a profitable industry; in other words, fuelled a demand for these institutions — and for orphans to fill them. A campaign by tour operator, Responsible Travel, revealed the extent of the clandestine ‘orphan trade’, such as the Cambodian city with a population of just 100,000 people that housed an astounding 35 orphanages. Unicef research shows around 80% of all children in orphanages worldwide actually have one or more living parent. Families are often conned into sending their children to an institution where they think they’ll have a better quality of life, while well-meaning travellers are scammed into paying to volunteer there,

without so much as a basic child care qualification. There are even reports of children being ‘rented’ or abducted from vulnerable parents. The high turnover rate of volunteers, who are only there for an extended holiday, means these exploited children form bonds with well-meaning carers, only to be inevitably, and repeatedly, separated from them. Maeve Kearney from Save the Children says, “We don’t send volunteers overseas. We aim to encourage self-sufficiency and build skills locally, so we employ locally based staff and volunteers wherever possible.” So if you want to help, that’s great — but maybe you’d be better off donating your money, not your time.

AND ANOTHER THING... NEW ROUTES BRITISH AIRWAYS

MONARCH

THOMAS COOK

AIR CANADA ROUGE

THOMSON

From 27 March, HeathrowNew Orleans will be one of the most exciting of the new transatlantic routes, along with HeathrowSantiago, Chile, starting 4 January. ba.com

New flights to Stockholm (from Birmingham, Luton and Manchester), Porto (Luton and Manchester), and Zagreb (Gatwick and Manchester) begin on 28 April. monarch.co.uk

The charter airline is now flying from Manchester to Tobago in the Caribbean and, starting in May, from Manchester to San Francisco. thomascookairlines.com

Gatwick-Vancouver flights launch on 8 June with Air Canada Rouge operating three times a week. The carrier also set up a new Toronto route last year. flyrouge.com

Launching in May, new routes from Bristol connect the South West with Cancun, Mexico, and Sanford in Florida. Fly, too, from Manchester to Santa Clara, Cuba. thomson.co.uk

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CHECKLIST: GREEN CLOTHING

MADE FROM RECYCLED BOTTLES

Fjällräven Re-Kånken RRP: £70. fjallraven.co.uk

7 ways to

SUSTAINABLY EAT YOUR WAY AROUND THE WORLD EVEN TRAVELLERS WITH A BIG APPETITE CAN LEAVE A SMALL FOOTPRINT. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN EAT GREEN...

1. MEAT MATTERS

Columbia Outdry Extreme Eco RRP: £180. columbia.com

2. CHEESE OFF

MADE FROM RECYCLED DOWN

Patagonia Women’s fleece vest RRP: £140. patagonia.com

Sampling a creamy burrata or a soft brie may be an integral part of a trip but did you know consuming one pound of cheese can produce more than 11lbs of carbon dioxide, making a huge contribution to climate change? If you must indulge in dairy, buying local is better (as it usually reduces the distance food has to travel), and buying directly from the source is better for local economies.

3. FISH AROUND 100% RECYCLED LINER

Picture Organic Clothing helmet RRP: £84.95. absolute-snow.co.uk

MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS

YOGO ultralight travel yoga mat RRP: £72.50. bearandbear.com

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Sourcing sustainable seafood is a minefield at home, let alone once you’re out in the world. Certain labels and websites help those willing to wade through murky waters, and the Marine Stewardship Council is a good place to start (seafood.edf.org/ about-guide) with clear markets for recognised standards in different countries. Also be aware in parts of Asia cyanide fishing is used to stun and capture fish that often appear in live seafood markets.

Not only will you be consuming toxins but contributing to the demise of coral, fish and, ultimately, the local community.

4. GO VEGGIE

Not only is it less likely to give you traveller’s tummy, eating veggie is better for the planet. If you can go raw veggie, better still. As cooking causes the production of carbon dioxide, eating raw food reduces the environmental impact… and means your body The amount of absorbs more nutrients.

70%

animal foodrelated emissions could be cut by if the world adopted a vegan diet; 63% if we all went veggie.

8-12 million

The estimated tonnage of plastic that is flowing into our oceans each year.

11lbs

The amount of carbon dioxide created by producing just 1lb of cheese.

1/10th

The carbon footprint per kilo created by chicken compared to that of Brazilian beef.

5. DON’T BE A WASTER An estimated 8-12 million tonnes of plastic flows into our oceans each year and studies have found plastics in the guts of fish, seabirds and bivalves. Cut waste: pack a picnic rather than buy food as you transit. Carry a reusable water bottle with a builtin filter, and refill from the tap.

6. DRINK MINDFULLY It takes a fair bit of energy to get booze into bottles, so cask or tap beers are usually a more ecologically sound bet.

7. FARM TO FORK: FACTS Farm-to-table restaurants are becoming the norm in North America, while in Europe, zero kilometre kitchens are cropping up everywhere. Check out restaurants recommended by The Sustainable Restaurant Association (thesra.org).

IMAGES: GETTY; ISTOCKPHOTO. SOURCES: UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD; SCIENCE MAGAZINE

MADE FROM RECYCLED BOTTLES

Industrially intensive farmed meat has a devastating impact on the environment and is more detrimental to greenhouse emissions than all modes of transport put together. The solution is simple: eat less meat, or consider switching from high to low-impact varieties — i.e. eat less beef and more chicken as the latter doesn’t produce heaps of manure.


TRAVEL GEEKS

Tech traveer

TECHNOLOGY REPORTER FOR @BBCCLICK AND AUTHOR OF WORKING THE CLOUD, KATE RUSSELL PICKS THE LATEST INNOVATIONS

TOP APPS FOR... Road tripping

KEEP IT SAFE The free wi-fi offered by many holiday accommodation hosts may not be as safe and secure as you think. You’d be wise to consider a VPN (virtual private network) instead

Half a million people book accommodation through Airbnb every day, and many hosts offer all the mod cons, including wi-fi internet access. We’ve talked about public wi-fi safety before, and you might think that password-protected connections in your Airbnb home are safer. But beware; your host and any guests who’ve stayed in the apartment previously may also have the password. This could be used to snoop on your internet activity, resulting in stolen login details and passwords for any services you use while connected. Using a VPN — or virtual private network — helps you browse more anonymously by routing your traffic through a server that isn’t your point of origin. It’s a bit like switching cars to shake off someone who’s tailing you. Many VPN services have apps for Android and iOS, and these can also offer security

while using popular apps such as Tinder and Pokémon Go when out and about. Remember to also protect any laptops you connect to the wi-fi router. Most VPNs work in a similar way, allowing you to select from a range of connection locations that you want to appear to be from. Some people use this to get around geographical restrictions on streaming services such as iPlayer and Netflix, but bear in mind that bypassing copyright restrictions is against the law. If you’re looking for private browsing, Tunnel Bear (tunnelbear.com) is fast and easy to use. There’s a free service providing 500MB data traffic per month — which won’t last long if you’re streaming video. You can pay $7.99 (£6) per month or $50 (£40) a year for unlimited data. NordVPN (nordvpn. com) has great service and military grade encryption that costs $70 (£56) a year.

FUEL!

IOS. FREE. This simple turn-by-turn navigation app

lists the nearest pumps so you’ll never run out of fuel. Launch it hands-free with Siri voice activation. fuel-app.download

SPOON GURU

IOS/ANDROID. FREE. Topping up on snacks as well

as fuel? Use Spoon Guru to scan barcodes and make sure dietary requirements, such as allergies and gluten-free, are being met. spoon.guru

ROAD TRIPPERS 3.0

IOS/ANDROID. FREE. Use this app to map your

route, and find points of interest and overnight stops along the way. Especially good for US trips. roadtrippers.com

GLYMPSE

IOS. FREE. Let people follow your journey, and your

ETA, using Glympse’s map and its real-time GPS tracker. glympse.com

GET THE GADGET Suunto D4 Novo Dive Computer If you’re escaping the cold weather for a diving trip this winter, Suunto is the market leader in dive computer tech. The D4 Novo, available in a range of bright colours, is a great mid-level pick if you want something lightweight and comfortable that isn’t over-complicated to set up and use.

With four settings, Air and Nitrox modes will log your dive depth, time, temperature and decompression time, with clear information about when it’s safe to fly again. There’s also a warning beep if you’re approaching unsafe depths or surfacing too quickly. Free-Dive mode records depth data, logging lung-powered underwater activity three times a

second. You can upload up to 80 hours of dive logs to your computer for further analysis. You’ll be the envy of your friends. RRP: £425. suunto.com Tweet her @katerussell katerussell.co.uk

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HOW I GOT THE SHOT

LIKE THIS? READ MORE

DANCERS IN MOTION KRIS DAVIDSON, PHOTOGRAPHER OF OUR LATINO LOS ANGELES STORY, EXPLAINS HOW SHE SHOT THIS IMAGE IN A FOLKLÓRICO DANCE STUDIO

This image was made in a folklórico dance studio in East Los Angeles for a story about Latino culture there. Baile folklórico is a collective term for traditional Mexican dances that emphasise local folk culture with ballet characteristics. By the time this particular image was captured, I had already spent two hours with these dancers. They were all very used to me and this shows in the final photograph. As I moved around the studio, changing positions and angles, the dancers flew around me without much notice. Once in a while, one would give me a familiar, comfortable smile. After spending some time trying different viewpoints and

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After experimenting with 1/30 and 1/125 of a second, the 1/60 setting revealed itself as being ideal for both showing motion while leaving select parts sharp.

compositions with the camera I settled on this scene. I liked the way the black chalkboard filled out the background, providing a clean backdrop for the swirl of colourful skirts. Then, I made the camera adjustments. I knew I wanted the image to illustrate the vibrancy of the dance; using a slower shutter speed in a situation like this can be a fantastic way to show motion. I set my ISO to 1250, which is fast enough for low-light situations. I also set the camera to shutter speed priority, since the main aesthetic goal was to show a hint of motion in the swirling skirts. Once the settings were dialed in, I assumed a low position on the

floor and began shooting. I knew that two things needed to happen for the image to be effective: 1) the main dancer needed to have motion in the skirt but not the face or torso and 2) the remaining elements in the composition needed to fall in a compelling manner. In a case like this, where dancers were moving quickly, and there literally are multiple moving parts, a photographer must make many frames. It’s a numbers game in a way, and there were hundreds of frames in which the motion was too much or too little, but I was rewarded with a few stellar shots — like this one. krisdavidson.com @hellokrisdavidson

IMAGE: KRIS DAVIDSON

This feature can be found in our free, digital-only Photography Magazine, in association with PADI. Inside, we explore the colours of Morocco, Maui and China’s Sichuan Province. iOS/Google Play/Amazon


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Tuck in

The Algarve doesn’t disappoint when it comes to delicious seafood, with freshly grilled sardines a speciality of Portimão. A number of bars, cafes and restaurants offer an ideal spot to enjoy the area’s cuisine coupled with a generous glass of sweet rosé — a must in this area of Portugal.

Golf is everywhere in Portugal — and with top-class courses on offer, Portimão sits at the top of the list for anyone looking to tee off in the sun. There are plenty more activities available: walking and cycling routes criss-cross the landscape, petrol heads will love a spin on the Algarve International Circuit, and Portimão’s marina is the perfect spot for watersports.


WHAT TYPE OF TRAVELLER ARE YOU? WHERE DO YOU FIT INTO TODAY’S TRAVEL SCENE? ARE YOU A COMMITTED FAMILY TRAVELLER WHO NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT AN IPAD FOR EACH CHILD? A CULTURAL TRAVELLER, BOOKING EARLY AND NEVER MORE THAN TWO HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR NEXT TRIP TO ITALY? PERHAPS YOU’RE AN INTREPID ADVENTURE-SEEKER, WHO ALWAYS PACKS A GOPRO CAMERA; OR A SPONTANEOUS JET-SETTER, SCOURING THE WEB FOR LAST-MINUTE DEALS. EXACTLY WHAT KIND OF TRAVELLER ARE YOU? WORDS: DONALD STRACHAN ILLUSTRATIONS: ALLAN DEAS

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ADVENTURE TRAVELLER From Antarctica to the Aral Sea, pretty much every patch of the planet features on someone’s bucket list. Modernday Shackletons are likely to be under-40, curious, and comfortable with booking solo trips. Postcards are out, replaced by Instagram Stories. WHERE?

Southeast Asia, South America, India. Recent growers include Central Asia, especially the ’stans such as Uzbekistan (for cultural explorers) and Kyrgyzstan (for the outdoors).

BOOKING SEASON

For adventure specialist G Adventures, the average lead time is four months. Only just over a quarter of their travellers book more than six months ahead. HOW DO YOU BOOK?

Agents, especially those with niche expertise, still have a huge role to play. For G Adventures, almost four out of five bookings comes via an agent. Threequarters of those who book online do so on a desktop device. There’s still resistance to paying for complex trips on a smartphone.

NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT…

GoPro Hero POV cameras are tough enough to survive in pretty much any environment; add the dive housing accessory and you’ve got an adventure-holiday all-rounder. There was a time, not so long ago, when the main function of a phone was to make calls. The wilderness was phone free, but these days cameras and GPS trackers are likely to be apps, not extra gadgets to pack. WHAT’S ON THE HOME SCREEN?

AllTrails (Android, iOS; alltrails. com), because you can never have

enough routes for hiking and biking all over the world. National Geographic Traveller Photography Magazine (Android, iOS, Amazon; natgeotraveller. co.uk), for pro tips on getting shots good enough for a glossy. HOLIDAY READING

Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, a controversial account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster by a journalist who was there. BOOKMARKS

gadventures.co.uk tourdust.com exodus.co.uk

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FAMILY TRAVELLER You may all be travelling together, but let’s not kid ourselves: the ones calling the shots are aged three to 15. In your mind, the trip is planned with military precision. The reality is more like an episode of Outnumbered with better food. You mean to be a good friend/ daughter/son, but the wellintentioned postcard only gets posted during lunch on your first day back at work. The kids, meanwhile, have kept a running commentary via Snapchat. WHERE?

The Mediterranean: Balearics, mainland Spain, Greece and Turkey are still favourites. Mexico, Cape Verde and the Caribbean were among Thomas Cook’s fastest growers in 2016. BOOKING SEASON

There’s a reason holiday ads hit on Boxing Day. “January is the biggest booking month of the whole season for families,” says a Thomas Cook spokesperson. HOW DO YOU BOOK?

For Thomas Cook, 44% of bookings still come via a traditional agent. Mobiles

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and tablets cover the majority of searches at Thomas Cook’s website, while desktop and laptops are more popular for bookings. NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT…

An iPad. For everyone. Plus a portable chargepack, such as the Anker PowerCore 20100, which will re-juice an iPad twice. WHAT’S ON THE HOME SCREEN?

TopCashback (Android, iOS; topcashback.co.uk), because every little helps — and 13% cashback on hotels.com reservations, 5% from P&O Ferries Dover–Calais bookings, and 3% from Thomson package holidays (all at time of writing) helps even more. Airbnb (Android, iOS; airbnb. co.uk), for the freedom of a whole apartment at the price of a middling hotel room. HOLIDAY READING

If you somehow get enough peace even to finish an issue of National Geographic Traveller, you are a family travel ninja. BOOKMARKS

thomascook.com expedia.co.uk travelrepublic.co.uk

LUXURY TRAVELLER First-class safari lodges, winter long-haul to the Indian Ocean, an urban ‘design’ bolthole, the Abercrombie & Kent travel concierge on speed dial, or exclusive access to a new hotel’s soft-launch from bethefirst.com. According to a report by commercial platform Amadeus, luxury travel grew at 4.5% a year between 2011 and 2015 — faster than the general travel market. Luxe fact: Guccio Gucci was first inspired to design luggage for the kinds of travellers he encountered when he worked at the Savoy Hotel. That’s you. WHERE?

Russia is popular for escorted tours. For an upscale safari, it’s often South Africa. Iran is the fastest growing destination for Cox & Kings. For Abercrombie & Kent, it’s Japan and China. BOOKING SEASON

Luxury travellers are early bookers. Getting the right villa or the room with the just-so view matters a lot. Cox & Kings customers book Australia or New Zealand 12 months ahead.

For Abercrombie & Kent, longhaul lead times are 140 to 200 days; for cruises, 300-plus. HOW DO YOU BOOK?

Creating a bespoke experience doesn’t readily fit the online world of check boxes. “The majority of enquiries come in online, but almost all result in a phone call at some point before booking,” says Katie Cosstick at Cox & Kings. NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT…

Something box-fresh. Perhaps the new Nikon KeyMission 360 wearable, waterproof action camera with 4K recording.

WHAT’S ON THE HOME SCREEN?

PrivateFly (Android, iOS; privatefly.com), because nothing says opulence like a discounted flight on a private Learjet. Ritz-Carlton (Android, iOS; ritzcarlton.com), for smooth mobile check-in and check-out. HOLIDAY READING

Po Bronson’s The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, a novel from the 1990s dotcom bubble. BOOKMARKS

coxandkings.co.uk abercrombiekent.co.uk bethefirst.com


TRAVELLER TYPES

CULTURAL TRAVELLER A couple of centuries have passed since peak Grand Tour, yet culture-inspired travel is more popular (and more diverse) than ever. Experiences are valued as highly as the classic sights — whether cooking in a Tuscan kitchen or a street-art walk in Rio. WHERE?

Plus ça change: Italy still leads the way. “The tours that sell best include places privately owned or off the beaten track, and therefore difficult to arrange for the traveller who may have limited Italian,” says Liz Brown at culture specialist Martin Randall Travel. Popular adventurous destinations for escorted tours include Japan, China, Iran and Uzbekistan. BOOKING SEASON

Culture travellers often know exactly what they want. At Martin Randall, for example, bookings come in up to 18 months ahead of travel. HOW DO YOU BOOK?

This is a traditional market, with average traveller ages in

the 60s. Three-quarters of the bookings for Martin Randall escorted tours come in via phone. For those that use the internet to book, the shift from desktop to mobile hasn’t landed in this segment of the industry yet. NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT…

Careful preparation.

WHAT’S ON THE HOME SCREEN?

The Culture Trip (Android; theculturetrip.com), for a stream of articles and ideas to filter by interest or location. Duolingo (Android, iOS, Windows; duolingo.com), because all that pre-trip preparation time gives you a chance to brush up on language skills. HOLIDAY READING

A lot of thought goes into cultureinspired travel, and the same goes for the reading list. Something specific, immersive, tailored to the trip — say, the 1568 edition of Vasari’s Lives of the Artists or Abbate and Parker’s 600-page History of Opera. BOOKMARKS

martinrandall.com aceculturaltours.co.uk travellocal.com

SPONTANEOUS TRAVELLER According to Sojern, the British have an average pre-travel booking lead time of 86 days, putting us among the least spontaneous travellers in Europe. Always-on mobile connections and locationsensitive deals and tour apps have the potential to change our ways. When they invent a way to book a holiday using an artificial intelligence messaging bot, you’re interested, right? WHERE?

Short-haul is favoured by most. Top destinations for Expedia late-bookers are almost all in the UK, notably London, Manchester and Edinburgh. The top three cities for UK users of last-minute hotel app HotelTonight are London, New York and Paris. BOOKING SEASON

Whenever the mood takes you. The last-minute travel boom is associated with the millennial generation. Expedia research found more than a third of millennials ‘often’ make last-minute travel plans.

HOW DO YOU BOOK?

Digital advertising specialists Criteo’s research suggests smartphones netted about one in five travel bookings in mid-2016. NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT…

A charger: without a phone, there’s no way to access your boarding pass, hotel and restaurant reservations or lastminute theatre e-tickets. WHAT’S ON THE HOME SCREEN?

Google Trips (Android, iOS; get. google.com/trips), for journey planning with zero legwork. It scans your Gmail for bookings then suggests destination itineraries and places to eat. HotelTonight (Android, iOS; hoteltonight.com), for hotel rates that can get cheaper the longer you wait, including special ‘geo’ rates for your current location that are posted at noon. HOLIDAY READING

No time to plan. What was today’s Kindle Store recommendation again? BOOKMARKS

travelzoo.com/uk holidaypirates.com hotukdeals.com/travel

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EATS SHOOTS & WEAVES WORRIED YOUR COSY URBAN EXISTENCE HAS DEPRIVED YOU OF SOMETHING ESSENTIAL? THEN PERHAPS YOU NEED TO LEARN TO LIVE OFF THE LAND AND SEA ON A COASTAL SURVIVAL COURSE. JUST BE READY TO WEAVE. WORDS: CHRIS HORTON

M

y bushcraft instructor is standing over me, glowering, as a tempest rages in the evening gloom. “Face the pain,” Fraser Christian barks. “Find your inner hunter!” My rite-of-passage moment has arrived. I’d been expecting it during my five days camped on the Dumfries coast learning hunter-gatherer skills. But as a squeamish pescatarian who balks at killing flies, I’d imagined that when it came I’d be spattered in blood, whacking a fish to death. Not sitting on my backside in a tipi, basket-weaving. Still barely half-complete, the crooked nest of twigs in front of me is a grotesque parody of the tightly woven willow fish traps my nine Complete Coastal Hunter Gatherer coursemates had conjured up that afternoon as we beavered away under the awning of the mess tent. Only a suicidally stupid fish could fail to squeeze through the gaps appearing in its tapered sides as I struggle to twist the buckling willow canes into ever-decreasing circles. There’d been a moment of light relief — my sorry effort making a brief cameo as a hat when I photobomb my victorious coursemates as they pose for Fraser’s camera. But it’s followed by a pang of envy when I’m ordered to soldier on alone as they set off down the lane to Port O’Warren Bay clutching

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their traps. Baited with crushed baby crabs and wedged between rocks, the traps await a potential banquet of fishy visitors on the evening tide — Fraser having caused expectation levels to soar by assuring us “an 8lb conger eel doesn’t read the label” when asked what they might entice. If I’d feIt like the odd forager out earlier that afternoon, I’m an outcast now, effectively banished to the tipi — the only place I can continue my fish trap in the raging storm that’s sent my coursemates scurrying back to their cosy tents and campervans. But when Fraser pokes his head through the billowing canvas door, it’s not the hoped-for reprieve he delivers. With his exhortation to push through the pain barrier and engage with my inner Ray Mears ringing in my ears, I’m left to reflect on a week of highs and lows. “This isn’t a holiday,” Fraser had warned, as he welcomed us onto the course. “If you’d wanted that you should’ve gone on a chocolate-tasting workshop.” I sensed a siege mentality: our cosseted urban world on one side; his world — living off-grid in a bender tent in a Dorset forest — on the other. A world we’d now be inhabiting. “We work to the rhythm of the tides,” Fraser tells us. Not just heading down to the shore at 6am and 6pm to check and rebait traps at low tide, but ditching our phones and nine-to-

five mindsets and reconnecting with a primal, long-lost way of life. “Our ancestors all started on the coast — it’s inside all of us,” Fraser says, thumping his chest. But it’s soon clear my inner neanderthal isn’t talking to me. Neither, it seems, is Fraser. After demonstrating how to make long lines — which we’ll be baiting and tying in a row to lines attached to posts in the sand — he makes it brutally clear he doesn’t expect questions. When I ask how long to cut the nylon filament linking the line to the hook, I get short shrift: “Long enough to tear the fish’s throat out!” As someone who finds IKEA flatplan instructions infuriatingly vague, I’m craving centimetres or inches, but Fraser’s mantra — “nature doesn’t know any of these rules” — means the willow for the fish traps needs to be, “I dunno, leg height?” while fishing lines are “shoulder width” long. Barely five foot tall, Karen — the lone female in a group with more than its fair share of six-footers — shares a grumble with me at these bespoke dimensions. She also shares her encyclopedic knowledge of wild plants on foraging walks, plundering hedgerow, meadow and shore for a breakfast fry-up of oxeye daisies (like floral fried eggs), mushrooms, nettle nuts and hogsweed — a sight that has full-English traditionalists Tony and Phil

shaking their heads and muttering into their cuppas. It’s not just Karen with the green fingers. Fraser shows us how to create a wild allotment with a bit of light pruning — plucking a sea kale stem here, a sea radish leaf there, as we move along the shore, so plants aren’t depleted. When he goes a bit Zen on the beach — getting us to think like our prey in order to catch it — there are raised eyebrows. But after creating my own crab hotel in a rock-pool, I return the next day to find there are guests. Then, later on, Karen and I hit the bivalve jackpot when we think like shellfish — flooded wellies are a small price to pay as we engage in a spot of cave Twister, pulling out the fattest, barnacleencrusted mussels from the most inaccessible crags and nooks. Fraser has got us seeing the coast in a whole new light. Ripples on the sand are just pretty patterns until we realise they’re signposts, pointing to shore — handy in the fog, because you really don’t want to be stuck on such a vast expanse of sand racing an incoming tide that’s faster than Usain Bolt. There are even moments of disarming tenderness. When Fraser holds up a piece of string to demonstrate the bowline knot we’d be using for the fishing-rod rigs — making exaggerated looping movements with his hands and reeling off a


CLOCKWISE: The group at Port O’Warren Bay; Charlie demonstrates his

dogfish-dispatching technique; constructing a willow fish trap

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SURVIVAL SKILLS

quaint woodland mnemonic — it’s like I’ve switched channels from Tarantino to Beatrix Potter. I stifle a giggle, and try to repeat it back to myself while attempting the knot. “You fetch the rabbit out of his hole, take him round the tree, back down his hole, then back around the tree and...” The string falls apart. I’ve failed again. Fraser adopts a more confrontational approach during the net-making workshop. “I’m not going to mother you,” he snaps, when my hand shoots up for the umpteenth time. Summoned to the front, he hands me the net needle and gestures to the rope mesh suspended between two poles. I’m preparing to fail, but surprise myself by successfully stitching another diamond. “A round of applause please for the London journalist,” Fraser deadpans, flashing me a devilish smile. It’s a highlight of the week. A low point: making nettle cordage. After hours of exfoliating and de-leafing stems of the stinging triffid, peeling off the parchment-thin bark, tenderising the strips with the handle of our knives, then pleating into a single thread, the group has enough cordage for a pair of shoelaces — and has reached the unanimous verdict that some skills from the past really should stay there. After fiddly bushcraft tasks like these, the fish slaughtering I’d been dreading feels like light relief. Bating the long lines, Fraser watches as we each coax a live lugworm onto our hook — “Gently, gently... careful, you’re losing the juicy bits!” At dawn the next day, there’s a buzz of anticipation as we head to the shore — Fraser’s prediction of what we might catch as vague and florid as ever. “Everything... seals, birds, mackerel, labradors, children.” What are waiting for us look like sharks. Are sharks! One or two lie still — their gills pecked out by the gulls. But my dogfish is still very much alive. Squirming on the sand, a pair of startled eyes stare up at me as I ease him off the hook CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Putting on

a brave face as seabass-gutting awaits; how the willow fish trap should look; making gill nets; the catch from one of the surviving traps

as gently as I’d eased the worm onto it. But there’s nothing gentle about the next bit. Grabbing the tail with both hands, I wrestle him over to a wooden post and perform the overhead ‘bicycle swing’ Fraser had shown us. And again. And again — just to be sure. Charlie, next to me, has a different technique, but is equally vigorous. “If that was a baseball, I’d have hit it to outfield,” he grimaces. Then the fun really begins. Fraser had warned us there’d be a bit of twitching, but he hadn’t said anything about battling zombie fish. Even without his head, my dogfish is still writhing like a snake as I tighten my grip on its sandpaper flanks and use my knife to roll back the skin. It’s still putting up a fight as I begin to gut it. Looking up the beach, it’s like a corner of a Hieronymus Bosch painting has come to life — a row of figures, stooped, crouched, kneeling, amid pools of blood, heads, fins and guts. Going to Sainsbury’s would’ve been easier, it occurs to me that evening. Certainly a lot less messy. Right now I could be watching telly, waiting for the microwave ping. But I’m glad I’m here, watching the sun sink into the Irish Sea, waiting for Fraser to cook up a storm with our dogfish. As the darkness closes in around us, the glow from the oil-drum stove transforms my dreaded classroom into a cosy, fire-lit cave. Fraser cracks dad-jokes and spins scary-funny forager yarns, while turning a blind-eye to the bottle of Scotch doing the rounds that’s making Pete and Andy seem a lot less scary and Kiwi James sound like he knows what he’s doing as he strums our requests on the guitar and we sing along.

Catch of the day

Back in the tipi, my fish trap weaving hell continues, but I’m roused from despondency when a welcome face appears in the fluttering canvas doorway. It’s Steve, Fraser’s deputy and best friend, who has the weathered face of a grizzled trawler captain, but a patient, kindly manner that betrays his years as a psychiatric nurse (“It comes in handy when dealing with Fraser,” he whispers, at one point. “Don’t tell him”). Hovering in the shadows of the

mess tent during the bushcraft workshops, he’d been like a magician’s assistant — passing Fraser roll-ups, fetching things, taking Fraser’s cat back to his van. He’d done the same for us, lending a hand — when Fraser wasn’t looking. Steve takes one look at my fish trap, chuckles and disappears into the darkness. That’s it. I know now it’s a hopeless situation. I resolve to confront Fraser. Putting aside my willow bundle, I take a deep breath and head to the mess tent, where I find my instructor pulling tins of tomatoes from a Lidl bag. I can’t carry on with the fish trap, I explain. Can’t do it. I’m not being lazy. Rather than the dressing down I’m expecting, Fraser just shrugs, takes a deep drag on his rollie and fixes me with a stare. “I’m like you,” he says with a smile. “Slow learner, need everything explained twice.” I’m getting goosebumps. It’s not exactly like Luke finding out Darth Vader is his dad, but it’s a shock. A relief. We’re all part of a tribe, Fraser explains. “All got a role to play,” he says. “Maybe you’re not the fisherman, not the hunter. Maybe you’re...” A pause. “You’ve got your humour, you make people laugh.” And with that, the struggle’s over. That night, as the storm rages on, I ponder what had happened, if I’ve earned some grudging respect for confronting him. Maybe that was the pain I needed to face. Maybe I’d found my inner hunter. Maybe I was just a hopeless, helpless clown. There are white horses coming in at 6.30 the next morning but it’s me who could be forgiven for seeing the funny side in the bleak scene that greets us. Ripped from their rocky berths by the heavy swell, all that remains of most of my classmates’ fish traps are a few stray strands of willow — all they have left to show for their efforts. But I don’t feel even a twinge of satisfaction at the irony of this outcome. I feel their pain too. After all, we’re part of a tribe now. When I get to Dumfries station the next day, I get confirmation. My iPhone doesn’t recognise my fingerprints. The dogfish skin has erased my urban identity. I’ve joined Fraser’s world.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED 1. TIMING THE TIDES Tide cards aren’t exact (a gale held the tide back by half an hour one morning). Get to the beach before low tide to see what it’s doing — a fast sideways tide can strand you.

2. ALL ABOUT ARROWGRASS The pick of the foreshore plants? Arrowgrass (tastes like coriander) and sea kale (its calorific roots helped our ancestors settle on the coast; top chefs love the shoots).

3. KING OF KNOTS In coastal bushcraft, the top knot is the bowline (‘king of knots’) — a great all-rounder that’s also a life-saver as it’s easily untied and won’t constrict under load.

4. GROUP ETHIC A primitive coastal lifestyle was surprisingly pleasant — sociable activities like plant foraging and readying traps fitted around two bursts of hunting at low tide.

5. LOST ART Our ancestors were skilful hunters. Our primitive gill nets (between poles) and oak gorge hooks only caught baby crabs and seaweed.

HOW TO DO IT The five-day COMPLETE COASTAL HUNTER GATHERER

is held at two locations: near Dumfries, South West Scotland (26-30 June 2017); and near Bridport, West Dorset (18-22 September 2017). The course teaches a mix of modern and primitive bushcraft and foraging skills. Adults, £575, (children with adults, free). Price includes evening meals and accommodation in a private coastal meadow (bring own tent or sleeping system). coastalsurvival.com

Jan/Feb 2017

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PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

CANADA EXPERIENCES

find yours

National Geographic’s love affair with Canada has filled our magazines, books, website and television channel for years. Now, five of our writers, photographers and adventurers — just back from assignments in Canada — share the wild wonders, cities, culture, and cuisine that most inspired them. From urban streets to forest paths, there’s a Canada experience waiting for you. Find your own inspiration at nationalgeographic.com/ canada-experiences

ONTARIO

Downtown to lakeshore ALISTAIR HUMPHREYS NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ADVENTURER

This was a journey of remarkable contrasts. Trendy, exciting, incredibly international Toronto and then, an easy two hours away, the Muskoka Lakes wilderness, with beautiful cottages that are just perfect for big family gatherings involving plenty of activities. Then just another hour to tranquil Algonquin Provincial Park.

FAVOURITE EXPERIENCES:

Coming from the UK, I’m awestruck by the extraordinary scale of Canada’s wilderness.

Algonquin Park has 2,000 lakes and the autumn colours were spectacular. Swimming, fishing, and stand-up paddleboarding at sunrise were special moments. I also loved biking through Toronto, especially the Kensington area, and sampling ethnic restaurants — even more multicultural than London!

DON’T MISS:

Canoeing the lakes and rivers of Algonquin Park is a must. My guide was so knowledgeable about the wild landscape we paddled through, home to an array of wildlife, including moose, white-tailed dears and black bears.


PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

YUKON

Northern wilderness ROBERT REID NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DIGITAL NOMAD AND TRAVEL WRITER

The vast Yukon Territory is still an undiscovered secret, filled with stunning far-north wilderness. I zeroed in on the area around the capital town of Whitehorse and found very different experiences without covering a big distance.

QUEBEC

City lights to hikes ERIC ROSEN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

FAVOURITE EXPERIENCES:

TRAVEL WRITER

A thrilling canoe trip down the legendary, fastmoving Yukon River. Hiked to huge Kluane Lake. Biked up Grey Mountain. And explored the town of Whitehorse, where the Northern Lights paint the sky and murals paint the buildings — filled with dozens of art galleries and the Yukon River right downtown.

Exploring Montréal’s vibrant food scene, biking through historic neighbourhoods and along the Saint Lawrence River, and then having great wilderness adventures just outside the city really let me take the pulse of this extraordinary, invigorating area.

DON’T MISS:

FAVOURITE EXPERIENCES:

The aerial tour over Kluane National Park’s 2,000 glaciers was amazing. Flying is the only way to truly appreciate the massive scale of raw, rugged ice, mountain valleys, bright-blue lakes and icebergs.

CLOCKWISE: Algonquin

Provincial Park, Ontario; Yukon River; Montréal, Quebec

Phenomenal food halls and public markets reflect a robust restaurant culture fed by the renaissance of small local farms. Such a wealth of ethnic restaurants all across the city! A short day trip brought me to the Laurentians and beautiful hiking at Mont-Tremblant, with forest paths, waterfalls and spectacular panoramic views of the valley.

DON’T MISS:

Kayaking along the Lachine Canal will give you a fascinating eye-level look at the city’s 19th-century industrial past and imposing architecture.

TORONTO to VANCOUVER

Cross-country by rail NANCY GUPTON

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL WRITER

I’m a train buff and this cross-country trip had been on my bucket list for years. It’s one of the world’s greatest rail journeys — 2,775 miles across a huge country with ever-changing landscapes. The Old World feel really captures the romance of rail travel.

FAVOURITE EXPERIENCES:

Incredible scenery start to finish — vast prairies, lakes, snow-capped mountains, picturesque towns. I loved trying regional


PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

specialities and hearing local musicians and experts who joined different legs of the trip. All these experiences build a real community between passengers.

THE MARITIMES Wonders on the water RONAN DONOVAN,

DON’T MISS:

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Be sure to spend time in the glass-ceiling Panorama Car. Fantastic views of the Rockies, especially beautiful Yellowhead Pass across the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia.

PHOTOGRAPHER

My 1,500-mile visual journey through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island is a story of water — inland lakes, vibrant harbours, scenic coastal drives, bluff s battered by huge ocean swells, sustainable fishing villages and unique culture shaped by the sea.

FAVOURITE EXPERIENCES:

In Nova Scotia, I loved kayaking alongside seals, seabirds and sailboats to camp on Moshers Island, accessible only by boat. Forest trails took me to coves, bays and a lighthouse. That evening, a giant full moon rose up from the ocean — spectacular. I also toured a sustainable oyster farm on Big Island, Nova Scotia. And saw the world’s highest tidal swings at the Bay of Fundy.

DON’T MISS: CLOCKWISE: Cross-

country VIA Rail; Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia

PLANNING Your trip From vibrant cities to outdoor adventures, see where to go and what to do all across Canada, complete with information on attractions, entertainment, dining, weather and more: explore-canada.co.uk

1

2

1

4 5

YUKON

Yukon. travelyukon.com Aerial flight. kluaneglacierairtours.com

THE MARITIMES

Nova Scotia. novascotia.com New Brunswick. tourismnewbrunswick.ca Prince Edward Island. tourismpei.com Moshers Islands. moshersislandns.ca Bay of Fundy. bayoffundytourism.com Canada National Parks. pc.gc.ca

On Cape Breton Island, hike Highland National Park’s Skyline Trail and drive the Cabot Trail for breathtaking ocean views. Have your camera ready!

3 QUEBEC Montréal. tourisme-montreal.org Mont Tremblant. mont-tremblant.ca Laurentides. laurentides.com

4 CROSS-COUNTRY BY TRAIN Toronto to Vancouver. viarail.ca

3

5 ONTARIO Ontario. ontariotravel.net/uk Toronto. seetorontonow.com Voyageur Quest Outfitter. voyageurquest.com Algonquin Provincial Park. algonquinpark.on.ca

2


For more information and to book visit aircanada.com or contact your travel agent


COMING IN THE MARCH ISSUE

Cit�es

Shipping containers-turned malls in Bristol; cool comeback ’hoods in Rio de Janeiro; a new theme park for foodies in Bologna — our writers reveal the cities with ever-evolving faces to inspire your next urban escape

Plus // Zagreb, Queenstown, Istanbul, Singapore, Switzerland, Ibiza, Chile, Jerusalem, Portland

On sale 2 February 2017

For more information on our subscription offers, see page 176 174

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GET IN TOUCH

Inbox Readers, this is your space. Let us know what you think about the magazine, give us your unique travel tips, or simply ask us a question. Get Instagramming, emailing or tweeting!

GET IN TOUCH

STAR LETTER

New York, New York

Your articles exploring the five different boroughs of New York really opened my eyes to this wonderful city. With a trip booked for December, and an already bursting itinerary taking in the more obvious Manhattan highlights, we’ll now be mixing things up and hopefully seeing more and feeling more parts of the city. Like most people, I think that when planning a trip it’s all too easy to fall into the standard ‘must do’ things. What we enjoy about National Geographic Traveller is the way you make us see things differently and really evoke what travelling should be about... the whole experience and not a tick list. LAURA MYNETT

We’ve recently come back from six weeks of being intrepid travellers across Indonesia. There were so many moments ruined by the clicking of cameras, the fi ltering of photos and the quick selection for the image to go on to Instagram to show off to those back home stuck behind a desk. When we banned social media from the holiday, it felt like a holiday within a holiday. The best days were the ones away from the crowds, not snapping the beautiful sunset, but just taking it in and remembering how lucky we were. My travel advice: leave the phone at home.

If anything makes me want to explore the road less travelled it is your wonderful article on China and its amazing photographs. For those who could not afford such a trip, may I highly recommend the Panda Research Centre in Chengdu? Take a good local guide and get there early before the hordes arrive. A highlight was the young pandas fighting and chasing each other just like naughty children. Repeated efforts to climb up bamboo poles had us all laughing and raised a huge cheer from the crowd when one finally succeeded. Our guide also took us to the People’s Park where a dating agency was in full swing. Pieces of paper were strung along the park’s paths giving details of eligible men and women. Parents read and took note of prospective suitors. Just when you think you know China, nothing is quite as it seems.

KATE SANDERS

GWEN KINGHORN

inbox@natgeotraveller.co.uk

Digital detox

in IMAGE: ISTOCKPHOTO

Next issue’s star letter wins a Hanwag Belorado Low GTX worth £135! A versatile, lightweight trail shoe that is also available in men’s, women’s and even bunion-fit models. Features include a lightweight fabric and suede upper combined with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining. The shoe also benefits from a Vibram® Multifilm sole that offers a supportive and stable grip on mixed terrain. hanwag.com

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Where do you want to go in 2017?

@HTMWANDERS I’m off to Israel and Jordan so far, and would love to go to Japan!! // @COLORBLEUIND

Maldives most definitely. Volunteer for kids and conserve their environment. // @WHYNAOMITRAVELS Romania!! I hear such wonderful things // @CARRIELJAMES #Uzbekistan! I’ve been dreaming about #Samarkand and #Bukhara for years. In 2017 I’m going to make it happen! SEE OUR 2017 COOL LIST, P.84

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Jan/Feb 2017

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GET IN TOUCH

our Pictures

We give you a theme, you send us your photos, with the best published in the next issue. This month, it’s ‘India’ — the theme of our December 2016 cover story This issue’s winning image is by Paolo Musu, and while we see lots of photographs of Holi festivals, we liked the way your eye is led around by the clouds of powder, giving the impression of a Renaissance painting.

NOW OPEN

The theme: ‘Cities’. Upload your high-res image plus a sentence describing your photograph, to ngtr.uk/yourpictures by 31 January 2017.

THE PRIZE

The RX100 III is a premium fi xed-lens compact camera with a one-inch sensor, crafted for serious photographers on the go. It features 20.1MP image quality, a pop-up viewfinder and a bright F1.8-2.8 ZEISS zoom lens. RRP: £799. sony.co.uk

W I N N E R

1 PAOLO MUSU // BUSHEY: I took this photo of the Holi festival in Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh. Signifying the victory of good over evil, and the arrival of spring, it’s also a chance to forgive and forget. 2 AVA SCOTT // BRIGHTON: From businessmen, to fisherwomen, the Mumbai trains carry an eclectic crowd. In such a hectic city, this woman — adorned in national colours — caught my eye with her serene gaze. 3 RUSS BARTLETT // NAZEING, ESSEX: This lady was outside the Jagdish Temple, in Udaipur, making flower garlands for worshippers. She was happy to let me photograph her hands, although a bit bemused!

To find out more about the next theme, enter and for T&Cs visit NATGEOTRAVELLER.CO.UK

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IN PARTNERSHIP WITH RAYMOND WEIL is proud to be supporting Swiss sailing team Realteam as its Official Timing Partner and to introduce a new freelancer able to support the crew in the most extreme sailing conditions. A nice little tip of the hat to Mr Raymond Weil who was a member of the Geneva Yacht Club. Join the discussion #RWRealteam

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