Page 1


A five-star week for two in Madeira



at the speed of a glacier




the angelic side of a devilish island



At the end of a 3000 mile adventure, you’d think you had seen everything there was to see in Africa.

For more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate, visit Saga’s holidays and cruises are exclusively for the over 50s (but a travelling companion can be 40+). Saga Holidays is a trading name of ST&H Ltd (registration no. 2174052). ST&H Ltd and Saga Cruises Ltd (registration no. 3267858) are subsidiaries of ST&H Group Ltd (registration no. 0720588). All three companies are registered in England and Wales. Registered Office: Enbrook Park, Sandgate, Folkestone, Kent CT20 3SE. With respect to general insurance products sold in the UK, ST&H Ltd is an appointed representative of Saga Services Limited, registered in England and Wales (company no. 732602), which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. NHA-AP5114.

Deep canyons, hot springs, towering sand dunes and sunset cruises are just the beginning of all you’ll experience on this incredible holiday. Adventure across Southern Africa, experiencing sights you’d previously only seen in films or your imagination. All roads lead to a magnificent finale, one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. Be hypnotised by the entire Zambezi River tumbling majestically into the Batoka Gorge below. The locals call it ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. Once you arrive you’ll understand why. As they say, if you’re going to do it, do it properly. Visit or call 0800 302 9798.

When your Silversea Expeditions ship takes you to the wonder of Antarctica, it carries you close to some of the planet’s most extraordinary creatures. Our intrepid ZodiacŽ craft allow you to venture closer still. And as you witness the awe-inspiring sight

Voyage Beyond Expectation

of whales breaching before you, our expert team will share their knowledge to make you feel even more intimately acquainted with this natural wonder; our personal service is not confined to the comfortable environment on board.


For more information please call 0207 340 0700, visit or contact your travel agent.

A holiday experience at Matterhorn FOCUS in Zermatt means an exciting fusion of art and architecture from a unique point of view.


March 2017



In pictures: South Australia


The peaks of the Flinders Ranges rise above Outback plains, salt lakes and red sand dunes

76 Cover story: Cities The latest urban innovations, revolutions and trends transforming our metropolises

108 Chile On the bumpy Carretera Austral, vast glaciers and Patagonian wildlife clamour for attention

142 City life: Jerusalem When history, legend and scripture intertwine, facts can be elusive — but stories soar

92 Switzerland Embrace slow travel on the Glacier Express, gliding between gorges, vineyards and spa towns

122 Ibiza Head inland to glimpse the soul of Ibiza, where unnoticed hamlets nestle among orchards

152 City life: Portland In this quirky spot, the DIY vibe spreads from beer and coffee to food trucks and craft shops

Issue 53

Nyhavn Canal at sunset, Copenhagen, Denmark IMAGE: 4Corners

March 2017


March 2017






41 The word The Art of the Airport by Alexander Gutzmer


17 Snapshot Madrid’s love affair with cochinillo asado 19 Editors’ picks These are a few of our favourite things 20 Big picture Pre-dawn trading in Nha Trang 22 What’s new Baz Luhrmann, new ravers and smart tech 28 Do it now Where to go for some serious shut-eye 31 Food Ray Mears in the polar north

43 Competition Win a five-star trip for two to Madeira 44 Events Travel Geeks tackles cycling, Japan and food 49 Author series Samantha Wilson in Honduras Bay Islands 50 View from the USA Aaron Millar vouches for Las Vegas 52 Online Weekly highlights from INSIDER

33 On the trail Eye-catching architecture in Baku

54 Weekender: Zagreb Forgo the coast for this confident capital

34 Rooms Scandi style in Sweden’s second city

59 Neighbourhood: Lisbon Cute, bombastic and buckets of fun

36 Family Make a difference abroad

64 Eat: Queenstown Farm fresh Kiwi cuisine

39 Stay at home Mermaid Street and more in Rye

68 Sleep: Singapore The eclectic offerings of the Lion City

Reader offers 8

158 Travel Geeks The experts’ travel manuel 170 Feature: Homestays in Japan Bunk with locals for a fresh perspective 176 Report: Allergies Navigating foreign travel with food allergies GET IN TOUCH

184 Subscriptions Great offers and discounts 185 Inbox Your letters, emails and tweets 186 Your pictures This month’s best travel photos


47 Big Sleep Awards Tell us which hotels deserve recognition 164 Travel Writing Competition Have you got what it takes it takes to write for National Geographic Traveller (UK)?

see p.141 for our latest partnership with Barrhead Travel

©2017 Visit San Antonio

Contributors Lee Cobaj

“With tropical greenery creeping around every corner, energy-efficient skyscrapers, electric taxis and its aim to become the first zero-waste nation, Singapore truly lives up to its ‘Garden City’ moniker.” SINGAPORE P.68

Ben Lerwill

“Switzerland’s Glacier Express railway may only cover a modest 181 miles from St Moritz to Zermatt, but the scenery en route is monumentally beautiful. The service also glories in calling itself ‘the slowest express train in the world’.” SWITZERLAND P.92

National Geographic Traveller (UK)

APL Media

Editorial Director: Maria Pieri Editor: Pat Riddell Deputy Editor: Glen Mutel Senior Editor: Stephanie Cavagnaro Associate Editor: Sarah Barrell Assistant Editor: Amelia Duggan National Geographic Traveller Photography Magazine, Editor: Tamsin Wressell Digital Editor: Seamus McDermott Online Editor: Josephine Price Sub Editors: Hannah Doherty, Chris Horton Project Manager: Natalie Jackson Group Art Editor: Chris Hudson Senior Designer: Lauren Atkinson-Smith Designer: Daniel Almeroth Production Manager: Daniel Gregory

Contributing Editors: Jo Fletcher-Cross, Zane Henry, Sam Lewis, Farida Zeynalova Editorial Assistant: Connor McGovern Sub Editor: Lorraine Griffiths Designers: Gabriella Finney, Lauren Gamp, Danielle Humphrey, Philip Lay Production Controllers: Maia Abrahams, Joaquim Pereira, Lisa Poston, Joanne Roberts, Anthony Wright Sales and Marketing Manager: Rebecca Fraser APL Business Development Team: Neil Bhullar, Chris Dalton, Cynthia Lawrence, Sinead McManus

Special Projects Consultant: Matthew Midworth National Geographic Traveller Business Development Team: William Allen, Bob Jalaf, Adam Fox, Glyn Morgan, Adam Phillips, Mark Salmon, John Stergides, Jon Stone Head of National Geographic Traveller — The Collection: Danny Pegg

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. Editorial T: 020 7253 9906. Sales/Admin T: 020 7253 9909. F: 020 7253 9907. Subscriptions: T: 01293 312166.

Adrian Phillips

“Southern Chile’s bumpy, gravel-covered Carretera Austral snakes over 800 miles through Patagonian wilderness. By turns beautiful and downright terrifying, it’s one of the most invigorating and life-affirming road trips in the world.” CHILE P.108

Tara Isabella Burton

“There are cities that get into your blood. Jerusalem was one of them for me. Walking alone at night on the Via Dolorosa, sitting on the terrace of the Austrian Hospice, lighting candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I felt like I’d come home.” JERUSALEM P.142

David Whitley

“I was wary of Portland — the hipster stereotype made me think it would reek of pretentiousness. But when you get there, you find that genuine love and enthusiasm rather than an aspiration to be cool are the driving forces.” PORTLAND P.152


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.


Editor’s letter

National Geographic Traveller Festival


here was a time, not so long ago, when people didn’t want to live in city centres. But then, as the 1980s moved into the ’90s, docklands began to be spruced up, warehouses were renovated and architects and town planners started to reimagine areas of post-industrial decline as 21st-century habitats. This culture of renewal and entrepreneurship has driven a wealth of urban developments across the world, transforming the lives of the people who live there. Swathes of smaller cities are now being overhauled, while neighbourhoods and boroughs in the larger metropolises are getting a whole new look. Witness Berlin’s creative revolution or Portland’s hotbed of hipsterism. Across the globe, where you find Gap and Apple stores, you’ll now also find local craft beer breweries, food trucks, designer art galleries and gin distilleries, as well as bike-share schemes and shipping container parks. Our cover story this issue highlights some of the notable urban changes happening around the world — neglected mansions transformed into boutique hotels, railway lines converted into urban walkways and entire areas revamped. What was once just a trend in capitals and major conurbations is seemingly now something for cities of any size — benefiting all of us.

Step into the pages of our magazine at this live reader event, packed with headline speakers, acts, workshops and cuisine. See p.14

Travel Writing Competition

Enter our annual competition and you could win a place on a 10-day polar expedition to Greenland. See p.164

Big Sleep Awards

Nominate your favourite hotel in our three Readers categories and you’ll be in with the chance to win an iPad Mini. See p.47


Travel Geeks

Don’t miss our next three reader events — Cycling, Japan and Food & Drink. See p.44

@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











¡ 2017 ¡ Planning your next trip? Want to see the world through new eyes? Love travel? Then the National Geographic Traveller Festival is for you. Step into the pages of our award-winning publication at this all-day live reader event, packed with inspirational speakers, writers, photographers, travel experts and must-try workshops. Pick from a menu featuring our popular Travel Geeks panels, Photography and Travel Writing masterclasses, Babbel language lessons, dance and martial arts classes, cooking demonstrations, and much, much more. Book now!

Save t hNeDdAaYte17

SU 17 SEPTEMBER 20 The Brewer y, , 52 Chiswell Street D 4S London EC1Y




Seven reasons to �ook now 1

TRAVEL WRITING MASTERCLASSES Our incredibly popular sessions will cover finding a story, how to pitch, beginnings and endings, structure and a Q&A with the editor of National Geographic Traveller


COOKING DEMOS Tantalise your taste buds, pick up tips and enhance your culinary skills at these expert-led food and wine sessions


BRUSH UP ON LINGO Perfect phrases and pronunciation before your next big trip with the language experts at Babbel


SURVIVAL SKILLS From lighting a fire to finding food, learn a practical skill to practice in the wild outdoors


TRAVEL GEEKS PANELS Meet the National Geographic Traveller team, as we gather a panel of experts to discuss everything from cycling to foodie tours


SNAPSHOT TO MA STERPIECE Learn how to d o more than just point and shoot at our compreh ensive Photography Masterclasses


DANCE & KICK Break a sweat during one of our active classes, with everything from martial arts to dance routines



EARLYBIRD TICKETS ON SALE NOW FOR £135 AT NATGEOTRAVELLER.CO.UK/FESTIVAL Headline acts to be announced in the spring.

March 2017


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All rights reserved - PONANT. Documents and photos for illustrative purposes only. Photo credit : © PONANT / Nathalie Michel / François Lefebvre.

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


Roel Basalam Alim, Madrid

The man in charge of suckling pigs at Madrid’s Sobrino de Botín, the world’s oldest continuously running restaurant, is Roel Basalam Alim. The three-week-old pigs, or cochinillo asado, are roasted in a traditional oven for two-and-a-half hours, and Roel can cook 50 in a day, using a long wooden paddle to move the pigs around inside the oven. This dish has been served and prepared the same way for some 300 years and was eulogised in the closing pages of Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises. NICK WARNER // PHOTOGRAPHER

March 2017



St Helena Island, one of the most remote places on earth, is also one of the best destinations in the world to encounter whale sharks. Swimming with the world’s largest fish is an unforgettable experience and a must-do activity between January and March, when these gentle giants visit our shores. For further information, please visit our website or send an email to



1. A garden of adventure: Family activities will be held the Royal Horticultural Society’s four major gardens this May. 2. Dorset capers: Corfe Castle is believed to have been the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s Kirrin Castle. 3. Gift books: Parody tales include Five Give Up the Booze, Five Go Parenting and Five Go Gluten Free. MARIA PIERI // EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

n the os



Editos' icks We’ve been here and we’ve been there, and our team have found a few things we thought we’d share PHILANTHROPIC PHILLY Philadelphia restaurant Rooster Soup Co. makes stock from leftover chicken parts and gives all net profits to a local charity. Soup never tasted so good. STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO // SENIOR EDITOR


What we're watching... VICEROY’S HOUSE

BOWIE’S BERLIN 2017 marks 40 years since the release of Heroes — and Saga’s long weekend pays homage with guest speakers, sightseeing and dining at Paris Bar. So go on, be a hero… but just for four days. TAMSIN WRESSELL // CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

(3 March)



(23 February)


(14 April)

Where: Croatia & South Africa


50 items

such as lamps and benches were pushed aside for the sculpture, which weighs

2 8 tonnes. 70 people

were involved in its transportation and it's

75m long.


visitors came to Hull in its first week as UK City of Culture celebrations. 'Blade' will on display until


March 2017




Hon Ro, Vietnam

We sent the Portfolio winner of our National Geographic Traveller (UK) Photography Competition 2016 on a commission to Vietnam. During his trip, he snapped this image of Hon Ro: “A busy fishing port in the city of Nha Trang in South Central Vietnam, Hon Ro is a bustling hub of trading activity during the predawn hours. I return later in the morning, keen to capture moments of relative calm after the hectic period, and come across a small group of women, quietly and methodically mending what seems like acres of fishing net. Climbing some nearby steps, I manage to fill the frame and surround my subject in a sea of colour and texture for both visual and symbolic effect.” ALAN O’RIORDAN // PHOTOGRAPHER @alanoriordan6870



March 2017



director's HOTELS



Baz Luhrmann is the latest cinematic auteur to dabble in design, joining the likes of Hollywood greats David Lynch and Wes Anderson


Moderation isn’t a concept in Baz Lurhmann’s aesthetic wheelhouse. So it’s no surprise that Faena Hotel, the jewel in the crown of Miami’s $1.2 billion (£995m) Mid-Beach regeneration, is an orgiastic display of stylistic flamboyance and eye-popping luxury. Lurhmann and his Academy Awardwinning production designer wife, Catherine Martin, were invited to spearhead the hotel’s design by Alan Faena, the self-styled ‘urban alchemist’ who breathed new life into the derelict docklands of Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero district a decade ago. The art deco influences of Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013) are written across the complex’s 169 rooms and suites, cocktail bar and Moulin Rouge-inflected cabaret theatre. Built in the shell of the Saxony hotel, which hosted Liz Taylor and Dean Martin, Hotel Faena opened in December 2016. Poolside, beyond the gilded columns and chandeliers, sits a golden mammoth skeleton — Damien Hirst’s ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ showcases the hotel’s artistic vision: an opulent revivification of Miami’s glamorous heyday. AMELIA DUGGAN




In David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2011), Club Silencio is a nightmarish theatre of phony performers. Its namesake — in Paris’ second arrondissement — is something quite different. Opened in 2011, it’s Lynch’s answer to Andy Warhol’s The Factory: a members club for artists during the day and a wild public bar by night. Every detail, down to the bespoke 1950s-inspired furniture, was picked by Lynch.


The kitschest kitchen in Milan opened in May 2015. Designed by Wes Anderson, Bar Luce echoes the modish sets of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) with its seafoam green Formica tables, whimsical wallpaper and pinball machines. Set in the Fondazione Prada, it pays stylistic homage to the palatial Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade and Milanese cafes of the mid20th century.


Faena Hotel iami Beach

The director was partial to a drink. A favourite tipple was the gin-based White Lady, invented by barman Harry MacElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. For a creamy taste, add beaten egg white to gin, lemon juice and Cointreau.

Why just look out over the landscape...

when you can walk straight through it Come with us to Colorado and you won’t just see the sights, you’ll experience the real USA. C

With incredible, diverse landscapes, Colorado opens up a world of arid desert, river canyons and breathtaking snow-topped mountains.




Watch wildlife in its natural habitat. Meet local people. Experience the great outdoors. Discover the Americas like never before, travelling in real time.








Colorado Multi Active Tour - 10 days from £2,419


Hike through Colorado’s breathtaking scenery, sandboard in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, visit the town of Aspen, mountain bike through Telluride and explore Rocky Mountain National Park on this active adventure.

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Rocky Mountain NP


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Great Sand Durango Dunes NP




For our full range of small group tours in the USA, Canada, South and Central America visit or call 0333 999 7962 T

Real Americas Real Adventure M











of society FABRIC

Despite recent venue closures, a turn of events means London’s clubs have a new lease of life

After London’s landmark club Fabric closed late last year due to municipal mishandling and misunderstanding, the Farringdon venue made a Lazarus-like return in January. According to the the club, this is thanks to the ‘petition signers, letter writers, donors, T-shirt bearers, artists, party promoters and more than we can ever recount’. All hail international club community spirit. The opening weekend saw trusted hands Craig Richards and Terry Francis — both resident since 1999 — performing alongside Seth Troxler and Daniel Avery. A new addition is the Pioneer Pro Audio Room showcasing the club’s focus on high quality sound. Party on.


RAVING RAMBLERS To ramble or to rave? The two may appear to inhabit different spheres of interest but at their heart share the same outdoorsloving, law-flouting approach. Or at least this is the backstory behind the launch of new outdoors clothing brand RMBLR, which aims to create clothing that looks as good on the dance floor as it does deep in the dales. According to RMBLR, back in the days of CND and psychedelia, “hiking became a way to escape the aggressive political machine and reconnect with nature. Further out, rave culture saw weekend convoys descend upon England’s green and pleasant land looking for a party, from Blackburn to the M25.” As those ’80s ravers have grown up, rambling may well be a safer pursuit — not exactly easier on the knees but definitely on the liver.

n numbes



So pop on your beanie, pack your roll-top and camo print backpack, and make the pilgrimage from abandoned mill to rolling hills. In celebration of these new escapist threads, countercultural publisher Huck has come up with three hiking routes through the UK’s most iconic rave cultural hotspots. And yes, there’s more to them than meeting up at the local Esso station and wandering along a bypass. Our favourite is the route that explores the river and farmland setting for the game-changing 1989 Biology rave in Watford that saw some 10,000 people show up to hear Paul Oakenfold, Trevor Fung, Grooverider, Paul Trouble Anderson and Nicky Holloway do their stuff in the open air. SARAH BARRELL

The fine print With the Night Tube in action and Night Czar Amy Lamé directing party traffic, things are looking up in London. Printworks is a new 5,000-capacity licensed venue set in what was once Western Europe’s largest print facility. printworkslondon.

March 2017


A dress watch with sporting pedigree, the C3 Malvern Chronograph Mk III has received its most impressive update yet. With a dynamic case design inspired by our premium dress line, and a choice of three light-catching dial finishes, it’ll redefine what you should expect from a watch at this price.

Swiss movement English heart

Discover the new breed of watchmaker...


CLOCKWISE: Henn-na Hotel, Japan; Paris Navigating Gym; automaton from the ‘Robots’ exhibition at the Science Museum, London



Not all smart tech will plunge us into a Black Mirror-esque dystopia. From robocases and jetlag-fighting digital pills to automata-staffed hotels, the future of travel is filled with android affinity

1 // HOTEL

British Airways has applied for a patent to create a ‘digital pill’, which can monitor body temperature and stomach acidity to facilitate an optimal travel environment.

Japan’s robot-staffed Henn-na Hotel brand is expanding with a further three this year in Tokyo, Aichi and Osaka. From March, Tokyo Disney Resort will open with a front desk manned by a fembot and dinosaur in a bellhop hat and bowtie. Store luggage with a robotic arm or ask the porter-bot to bring it to your room where facial recognition tech replaces archaic keycards. 2 // SUITCASE

Travelmate Robotics has created the first autonomous suitcase, which follows owners by tracking their smartphone locations, rolling around at a speed of up to almost 7mph. Available from June, it’s as loyal as a pet puppy — just don’t lose your phone. RRP: $399 (£321). 3 // EXHIBITION

London’s Science Museum’s latest exhibition, which opened in February, explores our 500year obsession with automatons. ‘Robots’ features over a hundred pieces, including a 16th-century mechanical monk and one of the first bipedal bots. Don’t miss a ‘Robots’-themed Lates on 28 June.

Go with the flow

A pedalo seems primitive compared to this sightseeing vessel. Harnessing the power of human energy, the Paris Navigating Gym will ply the Seine, taking in scenes like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. It’s a project led by international designers, Carlo Ratti Associati, and Technogym, and will feature augmented reality screens that display the quantity of energy sourced from workouts and data about the river’s environmental conditions. Encased in glass, the 65ft-long boat will host up to 45 fitness fiends. STEPHANIE CAVAGNARO

March 2017





Plagued by restless nights? Find out where to go and who to see for some serious shut-eye. THE POWER NAP POD

The Metronap rest pods at Phuket’s Kata Rocks are designed to lull guests to sleep by playing soothing sounds and putting you in the perfect position for a nap, taking pressure off the cardiac system. THE DREAM MATTRESS

Malaga’s Healthouse Las Dunas GL Health & Beach Spa is the world’s first hotel to feature NGmatt intelligent mattresses that monitor the movements, position and phases of your sleep. Results are sent to the pioneering Austrian sleep laboratory Institute Proschlaf, whose feedback is used to create a tailor-made ‘Insomnia Programme’.


1 // Sleep retreat focused on

nutrition and Ayurveda at the Shanti Maurice, Mauritius. FROM TOP: Ocean Loft Sky Villas, Kata Rocks; Energypod at Kata Rocks; Relaxation area at Champneys Tring

2 // Laughter therapy at the SHA Wellness

Clinic in Spain, a favourite among celebrities. 3 // Chiva Som’s Cranial Relief


For those who fret, toss and turn, a Six Senses resort may be the solution. New initiatives include special pyjamas, mattresses and

linens, plus a personal sleep ambassador. Monitor your sleep with a sleep tracker, then get tips from a wellness practitioner, trained by internationally renowned sleep doctor Michael J. Breus (Ph.D). THE SLEEP BAR

Has a Paris city break worn you out? If you’re after a good night’s sleep, but don’t have the time, you can pay for a 25-minute nap at this sleep bar. From €12 (£10.55). SAM LEWIS

TOP SLEEP TIPS Choose tryptophanand magnesium-rich foods — try a banana and almond milk smoothie // Don’t use electronic devices in the hour before bedtime


// Try to exercise during the day rather than in the evening // Avoid bright lights before you go to sleep, and install blackout blinds // Sleep in a cool room — 20C is the optimum temperature // Read a book

or meditate to unwind // Go to bed at a similar time every day, and aim for 7-9 hours’ sleep // Avoid caffeine and alcohol



Champneys Tring’s new two-night Sleep Retreat with sleep expert Jason Ellis could be a dream come true. A professor of psychology at Northumbria University and director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research, Ellis is on a mission to show how getting an average of just six-and-a-half hours’ shut-eye a night can affect your mood and ability to carry out everyday tasks.

programme in Thailand.


f o e t s a t �

BUSH TUCKER Survival and bushcraft expert Ray Mears reveals how to find food in the wild forests that fringe the polar north

Ray Mears

Northern exposure

The boreal forest is the planet’s largest and a truly awe-inspiring and majestic environment. It’s a land of extremes, of sultry heat and paralysing cold, where food is difficult to find. In the forest, catering becomes simpler: a kettle filled with tea, a smoky bannock bread and some fresh pike are enough. With time, you appreciate fresh berries or edible mushrooms as the culinary marvels they are. Travelling here demands efficient cookery skills, a repertoire of recipes in your memory and the ability to supplement your supplies from the land.

Catch of the day

Fishing in the boreal forest needn’t be complicated — Arctic char and northern pike are abundant. Try to fish in the early morning and towards last light in places with steep drop-offs, where there’s weed. Being able to catch and eat fish on a journey provides a deep spiritual connection to the land. The traditional way to cook fish is on a sapling skewer angled beside the hot embers.

A household name, thanks to his TV series, which include Tracks, and World of Survival. His latest book, Out on the Land, is a celebration of the history and culture of the Northern wilderness. RRP: £25. (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Find & forage

Nettles can be used for cooking. Collect them from a shady location — ones growing in the open are too bitter. Many plants can be dried for use as wild teas, including mint, birch, wild raspberry, wild strawberry, blueberry and fireweed, to name but a few. Many berries can be encountered in the forest. Take a good field guide with you and learn to distinguish between the edible and poisonous varieties; being able to recognise a few of the tastiest and most common of these can really enliven the trail menu.


Winter bannock Ingredients

2 cups plain flour 2 tbsp lard or oil 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp baking powder Water to make the dough 1 cup dried fruit


Mix the dry ingredients, minus the fruit. Add water slowly, mixing to a soft dough with fingertips. Fold in the dried fruit. Put frying pan on heat and add oil/lard. Once hot, spread the dough out in the pan to a thickness of 2cm. When the dough is firm enough, set the pan at a tilt to one side of your fire. Grill the bannock, rotating it and turning it over until a sliver of freshly shaved wood skewered into the centre comes out dry.

March 2017


LOCATION : Nanda De v i C a m p 0 3 1979 PACK: Expediti o n S e r i e s 1967

In 1967 we made a backpack that changed the world forever. ‘The Expedition’ was the first pack to feature an internal frame. It became a blueprint for every pack made today. Fifty years on we are still doing what we love, designing the best backpacks in the world.





The Azerbaijani capital boasts eye-catching architecture old and new. Farida Zeynalova explores the best of her hometown 1 // FLAME TOWERS

Start at the soaring Flame Towers, which, at almost 800ft high, is visible from across the city. Come night, its 10,000 LED luminaires flicker like burning flames — this is the ‘Land of Fire’, after all.


Walk north along Neftchilar Avenue to Azerbaijan’s most emblematic building. Climb the eight floors of this myth-ridden, cylindrical tower for panoramic views of the city and Caspian Sea.


Saunter north-west along the Old City’s cobbled lanes to this historical site — once home to the Shirvan rulers of the 15th century. UNESCO describes it as ‘one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture’.


Take the funicular to Bahram Gur and walk to the striking Azerbaijan Carpet Museum. It’s built to resemble a huge rolled rug, and houses over 10,000 carpets and items of traditional clothing.

6 7



Head north-east to catch a traditional performance at this 20th-century gothic opera house. The building mysteriously burned down in 1985, but was restored and re-opened two years later.




Stroll along Boyuk Qala until you reach this palatial museum, named after acclaimed poet Nizami Ganjavi. Its facade features patterned arches and carved statues of literary greats.


It’s back to Neftchilar Avenue for the city’s most extravagant Sovietera edifice. This stern beauty is the work of architects Lev Rudnev, V.O. Munts and K. Tkachenko, and overlooks the stomping ground of locals: Baku Boulevard.


Marvel at the elaborate undulations of this Zaha Hadid masterpiece on Heydar Aliyev Avenue. The multi-functional complex earned the British-Iraqi architect London Design Museum’s Design of the Year in 2014.

March 2017




GOTHENBURG Venture out from Sweden’s second-largest city to discover the wilds of the west coast and bed down in true Scandi style. Words: Julia Buckley 1 KAJKANTEN

Escape the hustle and bustle on car-free Vrångö island, just an hour’s drive from the city centre. Harbourside boathouses come with a floating sauna and sea-view hot tub, and the journey into town via boat and tram is a truly idyllic commute. From £58 per night. 2 LÅDFABRIKEN

Once a factory producing wooden crates, Lådfabriken — 90 minutes from Gothenburg — is now a boutique hotel with an eclectic, modern design. Enjoy views over the Skagerrak Sea from this colourful clifftop B&B. From £134 per night. 3 KOSTERGÅRDEN

It’s a five-hour trip to South Koster Island, but this collection of beachside cabins is well worth the journey. Tuck into fresh seafood, while away evenings at the rooftop bar and discover Sweden’s only marine national park. From £139 per night. 4 BALDERSNÄS HERRGÄRD



Set beside the Dalsland Canal in the heart of Swedish lake country, this 200-year-old country estate lies two hours north of Gothenburg. Spend the night in the mansion or cosy up in lakeside cabins. From £104 per night or £510 per week.



World Book Day, 2 March




Here are our favourite bookish ideas shared by teachers and librarians, to celebrate the 20th year of World Book Day UK. Children can get the official World Book Day book for free in exchange for the £1 token available to all schoolchildren in the UK and Ireland. 1. BOOK BLITZ: Share a favourite book with a friend. Read it to them and tell them why you love it in one minute, then swap. 2. WEIRD WRITE-ALL: Children write one paragraph or page of a story and pass it on to create a combined story. 3. CHARACTER STUDY: Children present their favourite literary character to classmates, talking about the values they represent.

Go somewhere spectacular, do something unusual, make new friends, preserve the environment and gain new skills in the process?


Join a team of international volunteers conserving endangered loggerhead turtles in Giannitsochori, one of Greece’s most important nesting areas. For teens aged 15-17 years old. Two weeks from £1,800.

Book an Easter ecoadventure at the Stackpole Estate, in Pembrokeshire, where you can take part in conservation tasks such as scrub clearance, beach cleaning and campfire building. From £125 per person for three nights. types-of-working-holiday

FANCY MILKING A COW… IN NEPAL? Try a farm-working holiday with a difference with Volunteering Journeys. You’ll have a chance to plant crops, and generally help out with spare time spent hiking, zip-lining, visiting waterfalls and lakes plus touring cities. This new collection of family volunteer trips features destinations such as India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand and South Africa. Journeys cost from £499 per person. volunteering



OF THE IMAGINATION: Create lots of fairground stalls such as Swap a Book, Hook a Duck, Madame Bibliotheque or The Magic of Books (with a real magician). 5. GUESS MY BOOK: A ‘Who Am I?’ quiz where teachers provide a title for their own ‘autobiography’ and children have to match the teacher to the title. 6. SPELLING BEE: Have fun with words like ‘splendiferous’ and ‘Gruffalo’. Prizes could be book vouchers or stationery. 7. READATHON RUN: A sponsored read for a week or a month.

A WORLD OF ANIMALS Responsible Travel’s volunteer family trips include monitoring sea turtle nests and protecting hatchlings in Costa Rica; marine conservation in Thailand; volunteering with monkeys or horses in South Africa; or a bear sanctuary in Romania. responsibletravel. com/holidays/familyvolunteering MARIA PIERI

World Book Day UK has to date delivered 13 million £1 books into the hands of young people across the country

TAKE A PAGE FROM WORLD BOOK DAY AND WRITE YOUR OWN… Take inspiration from World Book Day and write a travel blog or post an Instagram picture on your next trip. We’ve begun our fortnightly family blog online.



Do you want your holiday to make a positive difference to local people and the environment? Then relax, Travelife has it covered. We check if a hotel protects the environment, supports local businesses and treats their employees fairly. Travelife Gold hotels and their responsible management practices make sure your holiday will be authentic, rewarding and unforgettable. Choose a Travelife hotel for a better stay.

Better Stays, Better Holidays

#Look4Gold Twitter: @TravelifeHotels Facebook: TravelifeCollection Find Travelife Gold hotels at or book through all major Travel Agents Travelife is a registered trademark and is owned by ABTA Ltd, 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ, United Kingdom, Registered in England No. 551311

Explore Nova Scotia by bicycle Canada’s ocean playground




From hillside homes and cobbled lanes to vintage warehouses and Scandi cafes, Rye is both overwhelmingly quaint and refreshingly on trend

Where to stay Roaring fires, roll top

baths and sheepskin throws await you at The Gallivant, which offers spacious, wellappointed rooms. Plus, it’s only a stone’s throw from the impressive dunes of Camber Sands.


Mermaid Street is regularly touted as one of the prettiest roads in Britain. Start at the bottom of the hill and work your way up, past the affectionately named House with Two Doors and The House Opposite. The Mermaid Inn, dating back to the 15th century, was once the drinking den of choice for smugglers but today entertains more refined groups around its open fire. At The Parish Church of St Mary, climb the tower to gaze out over mossy roofs, the quaint harbour and Romney Marshes.

What to do

Vintage shopping — from Wishbarn Antiques to McCully and Crane, Rye is heaven for homeware hunters. The town is full of independent stores. In fact, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a chain. Drop by The Fig for a coffee break amid Scandi-style designs.



Where to eat 95% of ingredients used in The Gallivant’s kitchen are sourced from fishermen and farmers who live and work within 10 miles of the hotel.

The ancient town of Winchelsea and its architectural quirks sit on an outcrop above marshes. Stock up on local produce at the farm shop, visit the Black Cat Gallery and swing by the Church of St Thomas the Martyr to see Spike Milligan’s grave. Check out his Gaelic epitaph, translated as: ‘I told you I was ill’. JOSEPHINE PRICE

March 2017


Whether you are looking for accommodation only, bed and breakfast or special packages, we will ďŹ nd you the best holiday!


Word The



Abstract art, ingenious architecture and quirky facts collide in this glossy photography book about the world’s most beautiful airports

This lavish guide to the world’s tell a tale, some more fantastical most architecturally weird and than others. Take strange, craggy, wonderful airports covers hubs copper-clad creation The Rock, like Madrid and Los Angeles an extension to New Zealand’s but also celebrates the obscure Wellington International Airport. delights of, say, Queen Tamar Based on the ancient Māori legend Airport in the Georgian ski town of two sea creatures, Ngake and The Art of the of Mestia. The modernist, Whataitai, it was designed to Airport: The World’s L-shaped tower sits like a resemble the Cook Straight Most Beautiful Terminals lost Lego block amid the cliffs, through which one of the by Alexander Gutzmer, Laura Frommberg and stark beauty of the Caucasus monsters threw itself on route Stefan Eiselin. RRP: £25 Mountains. Sadly, Mestia never to exploring the oceans. (Frances Lincoln). drew sufficient tourist numbers There are enough facts here to merit this quirky terminal being to make airport geeks giddy, awarded an international airport code. including a ‘boarding pass’ panel for Then there’s the flying saucer-shaped each entry, citing passenger and runway Daocheng Yading Airport in Tibet, the numbers, plus practical details like distance world’s highest civilian airport — only just from the nearest city and tips on local within the realms of our planet’s habitable duty-free novelties. Be still our quivering departure boards. SARAH BARRELL atmosphere, at 14,472ft. Airports always

WISE WORDS The podcast

From BBC Radio 4 doc series Seriously..., The Green Book looks at the titular segregation-era guidebook that listed hotels, restaurants and bars that served African Americans.

The storybook

Stories For Ways and Means is a collection of dark tales by Nick Cave, Frank Black, Laura Marlin, Tom Waits and 25 other musicians.

The soundtrack

Live feeds from police scanners and emergency channels in cities across the world set to ambient music.


A look at Scotland’s unique network of bothy cabins and mountain huts: oft-overlooked tourist accommodation frequently found in stunning beach highland or moor locations. RRP: £16.99 (Wild Things Publishing). PLANE CLEVER

Christopher Bartlett’s The Flying Dictionary is full of air travel facts and stats, plus tips and tricks for saving money, staying safe and being savvier from booking to touchdown. RRP: £10.33 (OpenHatch Books). STAR RATED

Star-Rated: The Official Tourist Boards Guide has reviews of over 500 places to stay in the UK, from hotel and hostels to farmstays, campus accommodation, boats, glamping pods and holiday parks. RRP: £7.99 (Hudson’s Media).

March 2017


Q30 BORN TO CHALLENGE With its stunning, fluid styling and advanced technologies like Around View Monitor* and Automatic Park Assistance*, this is a premium compact like no other. Crafted with originality and conceived to take on the status quo. Discover the daringly designed INFINITI Q30 for yourself today. Book your Test Drive now at

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laboratory testing and are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results. Optional equipment, maintenance, driving behaviour, road and weather conditions may affect the official results. **Model shown INFINITI Q30 1.6t Premium at £22,770 OTR including optional glass roof at £500 and metallic paint at £670. Terms and Conditions apply – see *Available on specific grades.




Your prize

Win seven nights in Madeira for two, staying at the five-star Vidamar Resorts Madeira in a Superior Ocean View Room (half-board, dinearound), with return flights and private transfers included.

National Geographic Traveller (UK) has teamed up with Inspired Luxury Escapes to offer a five-star week’s trip for two to Madeira


Answer the question below by visiting WHAT IS THE CAPITAL OF MADEIRA?

Bed down

With luxury tour operator, Inspired Luxury Escapes, head to the southern shores of Madeira. Sitting a 30-minute walk from the capital, Funchal, the luxurious Vidamar Resorts Madeira offers spacious rooms in a contemporary style with stunning sea and garden views from each balcony. A superb spa harnesses the natural healing properties of seawater in the Thalasso Sea Spa vitality pool. There’s also a steam room and sauna, and a large outdoor infi nity pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A wellequipped fitness centre and a range of sports facilities, include tennis, squash, diving, mini-golf and snorkelling are on offer. Featuring a unique dine around concept, guests are spoilt for choice at the resort’s four on-site restaurants, including Madeiran Casa das Espetadas, which serves up a selection of international dishes as well as local favourites.

Out & about

Madeira Islands has just won World’s Leading Island Destination 2016 at World Travel Awards. Renowned for its pleasantly mild temperatures, colourful gardens and delicious wine, Madeira is a subtropical paradise. Explore its famous Levada watercourses, which create beautiful paths that feature stunning views across the lush mountains and valleys of the archipelago.

Competition closes 31 March 2017 at 23.59 GMT. The winner must be aged 18 or over and the trip is subject to availability. Full T&Cs available at

March 2017



Eents 2 0 1 7


Japan Sponsored by Intrepid




Sponsored by Intrepid Travel


Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or biking beginner, join our expert panel as they discuss great places to explore by bike, the best options for a cycling holiday and guided or self-guided tours

18.30 to 19.30 WHERE: Intrepid UK, 4th Floor, Piano House, 9 Brighton Terrace, Brixton, London SW9 8DJ TICKETS: £10 (includes a drink plus nibbles)

Jumping onto a bike is one of the best ways to discover a region: from secluded castles in rural France to the leafy lushness of Kerala, the world can easily be explored at your leisure. Whether you’re an expert looking for inspiration, seeking out the best spots for a family holiday, or simply wanting to get a handle on cycling, our panel will answer all your questions about where to go, what to do and how to do it. No need to bring your bike for now — all you have to do is come armed with a curious mind, your burning questions and any ideas you’d like to discuss.

A land of ancient traditions, tranquil beauty and mystique, but also a place of modern megacities and relentless innovation — few countries captivate as much as Japan. Join our panel as they share their stories and tips: from when and where to visit, to how to navigate this unique and fascinating culture. WHERE: Intrepid UK, 4th Floor, Piano House, 9 Brighton Terrace, Brixton, London SW9 8DJ TIME: Tuesday, 2 May 2017 from 18.30 to 19.30 PRICE: £10 (includes a drink plus nibbles)



Senior Editor of National Geographic Traveller, Stephanie will bring a touch of order to the proceedings.


Emily has crossed Asia by bike, cycled through the Alaskan and Canadian winters, and won the 4,000km Transcontinental race across Europe.


Matt is a freelance writer, and former Deputy Travel Editor at The Sun. He has a wealth experience exploring the world by bike.


Frank heads up Intrepid Travel’s new cycling range. He started as a tour leader 15 years ago, and enjoys sharing his experience with cyclists.


Matt is a freelance writer for National Geographic Traveller, The Sunday Times and The Independent. He often covers active travel.


Food and drink are always high on the travel agenda, and whether it’s through the barbecues of Nashville or on a tapas trail of Seville, you can dig into the destination’s history and culture through its kitchens. Our expert panel will be on hand to answer all of your culinary quandaries, including the best food tours and the cuisines to look out for on your next adventure. WHERE: Intrepid UK, 4th Floor, Piano House, 9 Brighton Terrace, Brixton, London SW9 8DJ TIME: Tuesday, 6 June 2017 from 18.30 to 19.30 PRICE: £10 (includes a drink plus nibbles)


Food & drink Sponsored by Intrepid


Could you end up here?

Where will your clues take you? While you’re flipping through pages, we’re flipping travel on its head. Discover the new treasure hunt based travel experience at

Photos: Monica Stefanac

or here? Experiences above and beyond Ordinary

“By far, our most memorable experience in the Rockies� Colin Smythe Family- Leeds


"Comfiest b ed " "Free wi-fi" t o o f e r a B " luxury"


"Rural "Kids retreat " " ub cl p u "Ocean view" m i "Swar" b "Urba "C oncierge n tips" hideaway"


Nominate your favourite hotel or place to stay in our three Readers categories and you could win an iPad Mini as part of our annual Big Sleep Awards. The winners, picked by our panel of experts, will be revealed in the Jul/Aug issue

Home from home

Euro stars

Far-flung fancy

The staycation. The great British break. Be it a cosy cabin outside Cardiff, a boutique boudoir in Belfast or an Edinburgh hotel oozing with élan, we want to celebrate the UK properties that rolled out the red carpet for you. Who deserves a medal?

You’ve not felt this rested in years. Perhaps you’re back from a lazy day at the beach and you’ve just uncorked a gutsy Rioja. Maybe room service is on its way. This is your European break and your accommodation has surpassed all expectations. Go on, tell us more.

Excellence comes in many guises, but stellar, standout hotel stays linger in the mind. This is the stuff of office daydreams. The style, the ethos, the food, the service: this hotel was the Cullinan Diamond in the crown of your long-haul trip. Give us the details.






March 2017




ÚTILA, HONDURAS BAY ISLANDS A magical first dive with a whale shark in the waters off this idyllic Central American cay inspired a fascination with this leviathan of the deep



he captain of our little boat pointed nonchalantly towards the horizon, to what appeared to be an innocuous gathering of seagulls. “It’s a boil,” he said in his heavy Caribbean drawl, although his explanation left me none the wiser. But as the boat inched closer I could make out a furious melee swirling just under the surface of the gently sloshing sea. Fish jumping in silvery panic, as though the water was indeed boiling, the seagulls swooping in noisily for easy pickings. And, in the midst of it all, a vast shadow, its cavernous mouth opening like an image from Moby Dick to filter gallons of water through its gills in one giant gulp. A whale shark. As the captain killed the engine and gave the signal, I slipped into the bathwarm water, snorkel and heart in mouth. As I peered beneath me, there it was: the largest fish in the oceans. An eight-metrelong whale shark, the size of a minibus, sashaying effortlessly just inches from my fin tips. I held my breath as it glided past; its magnificent pointed tail propelling its navy and white-spotted body with ease. I kept pace for a few minutes, eking out every last second of this magical encounter. But with a flick of its tail it dived into the inky blue depths, just off Útila’s north shore. I’ve always travelled to find wildlife — from the depths of the Brazilian Pantanal to the wilds of Alaska. Yet it was swimming with whale sharks in Honduras’ Bay Islands that was the true impetus for writing my book. The island of Útila is a mere blip of cay rising from the Belizean Reef. I’d gone there to take advanced scuba diving courses, and planned to stay three months. I stayed three years. In that time I had many special encounters with the descendants of Old Tom, a legendary and gargantuan, barnacle-encrusted whale shark that, locals say, once plied these waters. It’s hard to say exactly why I stayed in Útila so long. It’s a question I ask myself years later. It’s the quintessential tropical paradise, where translucent waters wash over coral reefs buzzing with psychedelically coloured fish, and pelicans swoop over slithers of beach. But the allure of life on Útila went deeper than that. Here, the rules of life and society as I knew it were different to those of the outside

Fish were jumping in silvery panic, as though the water was boiling. Seagulls swooped in noisily for easy pickings. And, in the midst of it all, a vast shadow, its cavernous mouth opening like an image from Moby Dick to filter gallons of water through its gills

world. Materialism was pointless, for there were few shops. Vegetables were scarce, yet the rum never ran out. It was rough around the edges, raw, simple and always unpredictable — like living in a Caribbean soap opera. That’s because Útila revels in its eccentricity, its loud, charismatic inhabitants shoe-horned into one end of the isle by a gnarled and impenetrable mangrove forest. Stilted, pastel-coloured wooden houses line the waterfront; elderly fishermen standing in their doorways, loudly regaling passersby with the same stories they’ve told for decades. The rickety jetties of the dive centres jut into the horseshoe bay, and a handful of bohemian bars play the ubiquitous reggaeton music. Útila is too small for cars; in their place, scooters, golf carts and rusty old bicycles tootle up and down the main street, weaving between ambling pedestrians, scuttling red land crabs and prehistoric-looking iguanas. I spent my days diving reefs that became as familiar as my hometown, chugging out on the dive boat into the pond-calm waters of the bay in the crisp early morning as pods of dolphins hundreds-strong leapt together in a choreographed dance. Evenings were spent under the starriest of night skies in the company of locals who are proud descendants of British and Dutch pirates, only understanding half of what they said. I’d slip silently through the mangroves by kayak, get caught up in the fervour of carnival, and quickly tire of the rainy season, despite it bringing respite from the sticky heat. That first encounter with a whale shark was my most special. But there were many more during my years in Útila, and my fascination with a gentle animal we know so little about deepened each time. Old Tom and his comrades hold a special place in the heart of Útilians; their pride in and protectiveness of the placid animal that frequents the waters off their tiny island as infectious as their own exuberance and big personalities. I know I for one fell under the spell of the pirates of the Caribbean and their very big fish. Ultimate Wildlife Destinations, by Samantha Wilson, is published by New Holland Publishers. RRP: £14.99. @samanthakwilson

March 2017






as Vegas is the epicentre of American decadence. The entire country’s concept of indulgence radiates from this spot. It’s like a spiritual retreat for the devil on your shoulder, a church for all the shameful, superficial things that we desire the most: money, sex and naked flesh. Here, all that is debauched and shallow in US culture has been poured into a neon mould, covered in sparkle and somehow made right. It’s spectacular and wrong all at the same time. Las Vegas is more than just a city in the desert; it’s part of the American psyche itself. Enormous replicas of the world’s great landmarks line either side of the strip, a four-mile road crammed with lights and casinos. It’s simultaneously larger than life and shrunken down, like cartoon caricatures of the real thing. As I walk down it, I’m surrounded by pastiches of stolen cultures, pumped up, hollowed out and wrapped in glittering lights: the gleaming white castle of the Excalibur Hotel & Casino, like somewhere Super Mario would live; The Venetian Las Vegas, as if dreamed up by Tony Soprano; an actual full-size roller coaster circling a miniaturised New York skyline. It’s the real world transformed into a theme park. It’s Willy Wonka meets Mob money — and glitz. I half expect to see Godzilla turn up and trample the entire thing like a cardboard movie set. It’s that kind of place. But damn is it fun. In a single night, I throw shapes in a space ship, get lost in a pyramid, have dinner serenaded by gondoliers and end up in a mosh pit of exactly three middle-aged men going crazy to Blur’s Song 2. And, yes, I was one of them. I see volcanoes light up the street; fountains perform water ballet and dancers dangling from ribbon dressed in nothing but paint. Everything is glitz, glamour, lit up and loud. Feminism is on a break. Las Vegas, it seems, is single-handedly keeping the world’s pushup bra industry alive. It’s nearly impossible to look anyone in the eye. But that’s also what’s wonderful about this city. There are no taboos; you cannot go too far; the madder you are, the better you fit in. It’s skin and lipstick and cash; pure unabashed American hedonism. Strut or get swept away.


And then there’s the gambling. I play blackjack for an hour, win 50 bucks and feel like James Bond. I play roulette for five minutes, lose 100 and feel like George Lazenby. Entire rooms are filled with slot machines manned by smoking, undead automatons. But gambling’s not really what Vegas is about any more. More people come for the experience now than to get rich. They come for a pure undiluted dose of decadence itself. The food is like a Greco-Roman orgy for your taste buds: I eat wagyu beef at Rivea, on the 64th floor of the Delano Las Vegas, and sip flaming sugar cubes dipped in absinthe amid the golden opulence of Sage, at Aria Resort & Casino. And the shows are, quite simply, mind-blowing. I’m not a Cirque du Soleil guy (once you’ve seen one fire-juggling contortionist, you’ve seen them all), but even I end up screaming like a Belieber by the end. And the most decadent experience of all isn’t even on the strip. On my last day, I take a helicopter ride over Lake Mead, across the parched heat of the desert and into the enormity of the Grand Canyon itself, 5,000ft of crimson cliffs rising up around me; the silver sliver of the Colorado River far below. But being out here makes you think. Miles away from the skyscrapers and slot machines, you see Las Vegas for what it is: a pimple of neon and debauchery in a wilderness of silence and red stone. “It may not be the end of the world,” the late, great Robin Williams said. “But you can certainly see it from there.” And he’s right: there’s something apocalyptic about a city built on our most base desires, as if we’re witnessing civilisation devolving to its lowest form. But there’s something liberating about it too. And that’s the point. American decadence isn’t about exclusivity; it’s about embracing your demons. That’s what the church of Las Vegas is all about. Let the beast out. Party with your bad self. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And damn is it fun. 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


Las Vegas doesn’t hide from what it is — a gaudy, neon church for all our decadent, debauched and superficial cravings... and it’s all the more fun for it



Blog T Wetsuits that have been darned countless times hang like rubber curtains around the ‘mermaids’, as one of the women proudly lists her great-grandchildren 52


RETURN OF THE MERMAIDS A new generation of female divers is reviving a dying fishing tradition on Jeju Island

heir whistles are eerie, otherworldly. From my perch on the black, wavesplattered rocks of the volcanic beach, they seem to be coming from every direction. Shrill echoes reminiscent of marine mammals. But these strange high-pitched wails are human. And they’re getting closer. This is remote Jeju Island, 105 miles off the southern coast of South Korea. The sharp whistles announce the arrival of a team of haenyeo — the island’s legendary ‘sea women’. Variously described as everything from ‘the last mermaids’ to ‘the Amazons of Asia’, haenyeo have been farming these waters for over 400 years. Plunging to depths of up to 65ft on just one breath, they expertly harvest everything from shellfish and seaweed to abalone and — most valuable of all — conch shells. Then, returning to the surface, they emit the sumbisori, a whistling sound created by the rapid expulsion of carbon dioxide and intake of oxygen, before diving back down again.

As this particular ‘pod’ emerges from the waves, each of the 10 dripping sea sirens hoists a net bulging with her aquatic spoils. Moving easily under the heavy loads (and disguised beneath hooded wetsuits and snorkelling masks), it’s easy to assume these are women in the prime of their lives. As they pull up their masks to greet me, however, it becomes apparent they’re somewhat older. A short time later, I’m sitting cross-legged with the haenyeo inside their bulteok. Roughly translated as ‘warm place’, it’s a simple stone changing room-cum-dining room-cum-common room, a few feet from the beach. Wetsuits that have been darned countless times hang like rubber curtains around us as one of the women proudly lists her great-grandchildren, while another describes diving during the war and the friendliness of the US sailors. Despite their abundant energy and obvious fitness, many of these eel-like fisherwomen are well into their 70s and 80s.




With daily updates, including a blog every Tuesday and our Travel Video of the Week each Friday, get your fix of National Geographic Traveller online

As they talk, they use their hands to mime what they’re saying — perhaps to help our translator, but more likely out of habit. “As soon as we’re in the water, we’re young and strong again,” says 87-year-old Hyun Sun-jik. “Beneath the waves, we’re real mermaids.” The others nod in happy approval, most of them with thick, black heads of hair to go LIKE THIS? READ MORE with their sparkling eyes and ABOUT SOUTH KOREA childlike energy. There isn’t a ONLINE single walking stick in sight. Until recently, the future HITTING THE SLOPES wasn’t looking bright for the With South Korea hosting haenyeo. With their numbers the 2018 Winter Olympic dropping at an alarming rate, Games, the ski resorts of as the younger women left for Dragon Valley and Phoenix Park are set to the mainland in their droves, gain fame on the world the South Korean government stage, with proof that stepped in to help establish you really can ski at 2am… two state-of-the-art haenyeo training schools on the island. EAT: SEOUL Then, last month, the haenyeo The Korean capital is a became officially UNESCOpulsating vision of the listed as an Intangible Cultural future, but when it comes to food, tradition Heritage of Humanity. is everything. Think Their resurgence is a cause dishes such as crunchy for celebration. As I arrive at kimchi and the impressive Hansupul BYO barbecues Haenyeo School, one of the two new facilities, a class has just CITY LIFE: SEOUL finished and a cluster of Seoul’s transformation to trainees in their 20s are a high-tech city is almost complete, yet life here breaking open a pile of remains communal, sea urchins. One of them revolving around blow-out — 26-year-old Lee Hyun-kyeng meals and a centuries-old — insists I join them, pushing a market culture finger of urchin innards into my unsuspecting mouth. “The training is tough, but it’s about more than just a job,” she says. “I believe it’s important for young people to get involved, to keep our old traditions alive. Our parents’ generation didn’t. Now it’s up to us to take over from our grandmothers.” A new generation of eager recruits, government funding and official UNESCO recognition — it appears the tide has now turned for the ‘real mermaids’ of Jeju Island. JONATHAN THOMPSON

�ost �ead Tune in to an unusual French dialect and discover the coolest places on the planet — here are our most popular online posts TRAVEL VIDEO OF THE WEEK


This week, we whirl through northern Michigan, home to a sizeable chunk of the Great Lakes shoreline, where everything comes with a little pinch of quaint THE COOL LIST

17 for 2017

In our latest on-the-pulse Cool List, we reveal the not-to-be-missed culture capitals, hipster hotspots, wild escapes and freewheeling destinations that are keeping it ‘fresh’ in 2017


The chocolate islands

Once the world’s largest producer of cocoa, the tiny African islands are finally living up to their nickname again


The accidental rebirth of Occitania

An ancient region in the South of France has risen from the ashes. Occitania is an area doused in heritage — and the intriguing language marking out many of its inhabitants


Party for one

What’s it like to be the only guest in a one-room five-star hotel 230ft above ground? We check in to Prague’s exclusive Zizkov Television Tower

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March 2017




Day 1


Strossmayer Square is sizzling. Patties can’t hit hot grills fast enough for punters at the Zagreb Burger Festival, where the crowd are enjoying Balkanburgers and cold brews. “Since I lived here in 2009, Zagreb has changed so much. It seems like there’s loads going on,” says my partner, Dan. Damjan, our guide, agrees: “It used to be a very dull and quiet city, but now we have a lot of festivals — every weekend something is happening.” The free event is only a brief stop — we’re walking the Green Horseshoe, a mile-long series of parks, leafy squares and gardens.


The bucolic route also takes in several stunning buildings from the Habsburg era, such as the golden Art Pavilion and neobaroque Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Beyond King Tomislav Square — an oasis of spouting fountains and flowers — is the 11.6acre Zagreb Botanical Garden, a sanctuary of secluded benches, ponds and over 10,000 plant species. But it’s in the Upper Town where I find some of Zagreb’s quirkier attractions. A climb to Stone Gate, the last remaining medieval entrance to Upper Town, reveals a Marian shrine with pews and flickering

candles, marking the spot where a fire in 1731 engulfed all but a painting of the Virgin. I emerge in the historic hilltop district, where manually lit gas lanterns line cobbled streets. It’s up here I visit St Mark’s Church, an ode to the Croatian flag, with coats of arms emblazoned against a red, white and blue tiled roof. It faces the Lotrščak Tower, a 13th-century fortified tower where a cannon’s been blasted at noon each day since 1877. At its base, I hop on the Zagreb Funicular — the shortest cable-car in the world — and slide back down to Lower Town before I can blink.


Forgo the crowded Croatian coast and head inland for a quirky, coffee-loving city with bags of confidence, and a wilderness of wild, blue lakes and tumbling waterfalls WORDS: Stephanie Cavagnaro

CLOCKWISE: Zagreb Cathedral; WWII Grič Tunnel; Museum of Broken Relationships; Zagreb Burger Festival; Cogito Coffee

Day 2


Croatia’s capital may not get the same level of attention as the coast, but it’s more than just a gateway to the Adriatic. It’s a self-confident city experiencing a creative awakening with a series of regeneration projects, openings and a newfound focus on local products — like coffee. Busy baristas steam and slosh batches of java at Cogito Coffee, one of the city’s pioneering bean-roasters. I order their speciality blend, Tesla. “We don’t drink espresso — it’s always coffee with milk, for a longer sip,” Damjan explains. “Coffee culture is closely linked to Zagreb.” Post-latte, we emerge onto Flower Square. It’s Saturday — a day for the Croatian špica, a social phenomenon where locals and celebrities alike stroll, shop and sip with the aim of being seen. “It’s a must for us — it shows a provincial mindset,” says Damjan. We pass a crowd forming around the mayor and a footballer as we head to the Grič Tunnel, a WWII relic that opened to the public last summer. The walls are bare, but there are plans for exhibitions or a museum here, Damjan says. I emerge to find Art Park, a former junky hangout that’s been transformed into a graffiti-splashed open-air museum. A few hours later, I scoff vegan fare sourced from a local organic farm at Zrno Bio Bistro, and head to Tkalčićeva Street, a pedestrianised lane lined with outdoor boozers. At Rakhia Bar, I order a citrusy pale ale from Zmajska Pivovara, a craft brewery that opened in the city in 2014. Watching the street swell with people, I remember Damjan telling me it was once known for seedier evening encounters; the ladies of the night may be gone, but hedonism has remained.


Quirky museums

MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS Founded by a former couple, this museum contains mementos of failed relationships. Bizarre exhibits, including stilettos and stun guns, have been donated from around the world by members of the broken hearts club.

MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS Nothing appears as it should at this museum that opened in late 2015. Set across two floors, this is a world where water flows upwards, perspective is warped in tilted rooms and optical illusions line walls.

MUSHROOM MUSEUM A fungi-filled space that exhibits around 1,000 specimens, from rare truffles to death caps. Due to freeze-drying, the mushrooms look as though they’ve just been picked. For the fearless forager, there’s also lectures and mushroom gathering exercises.

March 2017



Day 3


Planks of wood are all that separate me from a waterfall hissing below. In fact, cascades spurt and stream into turquoise water everywhere I look. I’ve reached Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site two hours from Zagreb. These 16 terraced lakes are connected by hundreds of tumbling cataracts. Fifteen miles from the Bosnian border, I plunge into a forest of beech, spruce and fir, where roots bulge like varicose veins and stretch across worn tracks. From the upper lakes, we descend through the trees, emerging onto wooden boardwalks that zigzag above the marble-green shallows. These take us through reedy backwaters plied by carp and pike, where moss and epiphytes spill from the rock. Where water laps at a walkway, I stop to fill my bottle. My guide, Jasmina, explains: “The

average person who drinks this water daily digests 180 kilos of rocks in their lifetime.” The high prevalence of limestone here has splashed leaves white with calcium carbonate. A boat takes us to the lower lakes, where we find the pretty Milka Trnina Waterfalls, named after a Croatian opera singer. “This was her favourite part,” says Jasmina, pointing to the short, sinewy, luminous blue cascades. We walk in the shade of soaring cliffs, staying out of the way of backpacks and selfie sticks. A distant roar grows louder as we approach Veliki Slap (‘Big Waterfall’), an imposing, 255ft-high torrent that throws up curtains of mist. It’s busy, and as I turn to leave the packed area, Jasmina smiles. “I also prefer the upper part,” she says. “It’s more interesting. It’s more wild.”


Bear mountain // Cloaked in flora, Medvednica (‘Bear Mountain’) is a playground for Croats. Climb up to Medvedgrad — a medieval fortified town — for views over the red-roofed city from 1,600ft. 56

FROM LEFT: Croatian Design Superstore; Plitvice Lakes National Park

Rooms at Palace Hotel, in central Zagreb, from £87 a night, B&B. Rooms at Hotel Jezero, at Plitvička Jezera, from £51, B&B. Return flights from Heathrow to Zagreb with Croatia Airlines or British Airways, from £138.


Bathed in red, the Croatian Design Superstore is a pop-up shop and design exhibition space with everything from ceramic bowls to minimalist coffee tables. “Everything here is designed in Croatia and many of the products tell a story about Croatian heritage, cultural habits and history,” says Marija Kata Vlašić, the company’s PR manager. “We also started a project that aims to turn this whole area into a creative zone.” Design District Zagreb was launched last year, and will be held from 13-18 June 2017, with food stalls, workshops, exhibitions and urban gardens.




A shop selling nothing but colourful tins of fish; streets where revellers rest their drinks on car roofs; a bar whose wine list is a pair of binoculars... Lisbon is eccentric, unpredictable and, most of all, fun. Words: David Whitley

Few cities straddle a line between cuteness and bombast the way Lisbon does. On one hand, a city of mazy mosaic-tiled pavements, centuries-old bookshops, thighsapping hills and orange-tiled rooftops. On the other, the former trading hub of the world, prone to celebratory monuments and chunky relics of a golden age. There are also grandstanding modern additions that have leant cultural heft. Crucially, though, somewhere in the middle of this it manages to be an awful lot of fun. Low-cost, freewheeling, sun-splashed and youthfully inclined fun that adds more than a touch of hedonism in a country with a relatively sober reputation. March 2017




The Praça do Comércio rather captures the feel of the Baixa district. The giant square connecting the Tagus River and the city oozes grandeur, with a combo of triumphal arch, symmetrical arcades, equestrian statue focal point and harmonious multi-balconied architecture. But there’s also a feeling of desolation, with the vast majority of the square empty where there could be cafe terrace chairs or market stalls. The square — along with the rest of Baixa — was built after the 1755 earthquake that devastated the city. Under the guiding hand of the Marquês do Pombal, the reconstruction saw Baixa become Europe’s first modern city centre. A grid pattern was imposed, and architectural continuity replaced the uncoordinated jumble that had existed for centuries. Churches were incorporated in the grid rather than given pride of place on their own squares — a strong power grab by the state at the expense of religion.


But many of the handsome, red-roofed buildings lie empty, particularly above the ground floor — testament to the suburban flight of the mid-20th century that gutted Baixa, as it did so many other city centres. However, Praça do Comércio is taking baby steps back to vitality. It’s now lined by genuinely interesting propositions. The Lisboa Story Centre traces the city’s history; Wines of Portugal tells the story of the country’s wine regions and offers tastings; the Museu da Cerveja dips into beer history and boasts some mighty fine tile art, but is essentially a giant bar. Similar life is returning to Baixa’s streets, spurred largely by cheap rents. Several of what are now among the world’s top-rated hostels led the way, but a series of designleaning hotels have recently followed in their wake. A short stroll uncovers several newcomers, too. Giftware shops that go for the interesting and individual rather than mass-produced and tacky, wine stores that revel in the wide variety

of options they offer, cafes that mix traditional pork sandwiches with a fine array of fresh juices. But in among this burgeoning of new life, a few stalwart survivors remain. The cheap rents that are attracting newcomers have also helped those who braved out the exodus to achieve some sort of renaissance. Conserveira de Lisboa is just shelf after shelf of tinned fish — all wrapped in colourful packaging that borders on art. Chapelaria d’Aquino goes in for braces and hats, whether hipster-friendly flat caps or something a lady might wear if she had to go to the races then dance a Charleston in quick succession. And, on Rua da Conceição, haberdasher after haberdasher line up, seemingly oblivious to how Baixa is morphing around them.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Bird’s-eye view of Baixa; Lisbon Cathedral; an evening in Bairro Alto; an ‘Open Day’ event at LX Factory; pasteis de nata


When in Lisbon…


Half of the Mercado da Ribeira, in Cais Do Sodré, is a food court, showcasing Lisbon’s top chefs. The Feira da Ladra flea market, in Graça, and more craftsy LX Factory market, in Alcântara, are also worth popping into.


A series of funiculars and lifts makes short work of Lisbon’s hills. Just €1.25 (£1) per journey with a prepaid Viva Viagem card.


Azulejo tile art can be found all over Lisbon. The Museu do Azulejo showcases impressive examples from around the country.


Bairro Alto

The striking bookends at either end are no preparation for what’s to come in the middle. Pavilhão Chinês, at the top end of Bairro Alto, is a mesmerising absurdity. Walls are lined by cabinets stuffed full of everything from dolls and teapots to model trains and ceramic dogs. Paintings of Lenin are accompanied by helmets and army hats hanging from hooks, while a scale model boat dangles from the ceiling. Waiters, in waistcoats and bow ties, exercise scarcely concealed contempt for patrons, very reluctantly bringing over humongous cocktail menus. It’s a bewildering one-off sealed in its own fantasy world. At the bottom end, the Bairro Alto Hotel tops off its sumptuous yellow marble bathrooms, high ceilings and tastefully classic furniture with the most seductive of roof terraces. Wicker chairs and sofas look out high over the river under a white fabric awning, as port and Champagne are gently slurped. Between the two, however, all hell breaks loose. Pity the long-suffering residents of Bairro Alto’s main streets, who have to put up

with what’s essentially a giant party going on beneath them each night. Dozens of tiny bars fight for attention on top of the hill. Their names are largely irrelevant as hardly anyone stays inside after they’ve bought their drink. Five-euro mojitos are advertised on every sign, then sipped as groups amble along in the open air. Cars get used as tables, with Heineken bottles perched on their roofs in between sips. The remarkable thing about this glorious shambles, though, is the atmosphere. There’s no hint of aggression and no peacocking image-consciousness. It’s just natural, go with the flow, joyful exuberance in no real need of policing. Anywhere else, this would be a freefor-all that quickly descends into brawling. But there’s something about Lisbon’s spirit that makes it work. Amid the cavalcade of identikit bars tipping cheap cocktails into plastic glasses are a few more interesting novelties. A Capela is a prime example — a converted chapel that still has the old religious paintings all over the walls, but now puts DJ decks in front of them.


Portugal’s soulful fado singing is best experienced in the small clubs and restaurants of the Alfama and Graça districts.


Bairro Alto’s street-drinking scene winds down from 2-3am, after which ravers head to the riverside Cais do Sodré district for big clubs such as the raucous MusicBox and African-tinged former warehouse favourite B.Leza.


Canned fish have long been a key Portuguese export, but rarely seen as a delicacy. This is changing, with restaurants popping up seeking to make canned fish gourmet. Can the Can Lisboa, in Baixa, is a strong example.

March 2017



CLOCKWISE: Bar 38 ° 41’; Feito ria Restaurant & Wine Bar; Sunday brunch at Cafetaria Mensagem, all the Altis Belém Hotel & Spa

“When we opened, I thought people really didn’t know much about Portuguese wine,” Nelson Guerreiro, the sommelier at Enoteca de Belém, tells me. “So we ask what styles people like, then try to match the best wine for the dish.” He hands me the wine list. It’s a pair of binoculars for reading the labels on the shelves. This would once have felt odd in Belém, which is where Lisbon stores its museums. They cover everything from Portugal’s Age of Discovery to model ships, archaeology and royal carriages, and the neighbourhood teems with people dropping in for a few hours on a tour bus, then disappearing. Once a separate town to the west of Lisbon, Belém was barely touched by the 1755 earthquake. This left the now UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed Manueline twins, the Tower of Bélem and the Jerónimos Monastery, standing in all their sumptuous late-Gothic-with-flourishes glory. But it started to morph from being an attractive, but dead, relic in 1992. The humongous Centro Cultural de Belém was


built to host Portugal’s presidency of the EU, before being used to house art galleries and theatre spaces. Things stepped up a gear in 2007, when the Museu Colecção Berardo opened inside. Suddenly, Belém had a worldclass art collection, with Hockneys, Dalís, Mondrians and Warhols rubbing shoulders. They’re made accessible too, broken down into artistic movements, and slotted around courtyards full of sculptures. And since the Berardo opened, hotels like the waterside Altis Belém Hotel & Spa and Hotel Jeronimós 8 have opened. So has minimalist gallery-cum-cafe Espaço Espelho d’Água, with deckchairs outside, overlooking small pools and the Tagus. The area once defined by tour bus throngs in shorts and T-shirts is evolving, with the cultural blitz, creating room for a discerning social scene. And Nelson’s ‘wine list’ embodies that. BRITISH AIRWAYS has four nights in Lisbon, staying at the four-star Hotel Jeronimós 8, from £354 per person, room only, including return flights from Heathrow.

MORE INFO Lisboa Story Centre. Wines of Portugal. Museu da Cerveja. Conserveira de Lisboa. Bairro Alto Hotel. Tower of Bélem. Jerónimos Monastery. Museu Coleção Berardo. Altis Belém Hotel & Spa. Hotel Jeronimós 8. Espaço Espelho d’Água. Lonely Planet Pocket Lisbon. RRP: £7.99.






t’s the smell, not the scale, of Queenstown that most takes the senses by surprise. Sure, the Southern Alps, which form a towering green wall around the city, are astonishingly massive. But the aroma — of grass and woodland, fern and farmland — has an almost divine purity about it. If God did gardening, it would smell like this. For all its fame as New Zealand’s outdoors capital, Queenstown is also a place of frenetic arable activity. While its peaks and lakes crawl, buzz, seethe and hum with hikers, bikers, paragliders and kayakers, in the alluvial plains fanning out between the mountains of the surrounding Central Otago province, farmers are equally busy producing some of the country’s best dairy, meats and abundant fruits — including award-winning grapes. Yet, my fi rst food stop in town involves none of these Kiwi farmland staples. Down in the fluro-lit basement of a central shopping centre, I fi nd Yama Express, a little sushi bar recommended by British chef Ben Batterbury, who heads the feted kitchens at Queenstown’s Rees Hotel. Unprepossessing it may be, but it’s a winner for bargain, moreish maki rolls jewelled with roe and stuffed with king salmon, and crispy hoki (hake) just-plucked from South Island’s seafood-rich waters. Raw fish propels me to my next stop too, Kappa, a rustic little wood cabin-style cafe just above the mall. Among its 10 tables, on the terrace overlooking the city’s mountainbacked rooftops, I eat a simple bowl of grilled eel on a plump bed of rice crisscrossed with


delicate strips of seaweed. I haven’t tasted anything so earthy and yet so artfully restrained since visiting Tokyo — in fact, owner Nao Higuchi hails from the Japanese capital. I’m only distracted from oooohing out loud at its immaculate freshness by a conversation on a neighbouring table. An American woman and Australian man, both dressed in fi nely tailored fitnesswear, are discussing places they recently worked. These include a yoga studio in Jasper, Canada, a spa in the Maldives and a boutique surf business in Australia’s Byron Bay. It’s hard not to be somewhat dazzled by their cosmopolitan chatter, but it also underlines how this little city has fi rmly inserted itself on the well-to-do wellness circuit. As the demographic of thrillseekers has widened from beanie-wearing, backpacking 20-year-olds, so too has its food scene matured. Pizza and burgers still dominate, but they’re now likely to be

the gourmet variety. On offer at Fergburger: prime New Zealand beef and lamb burgers, loaded with all manner of homemade relishes and mayos, and rejoicing in names such as Sweet Bambi and Bun Laden. Here, you can add queuing to your list of local extreme sports — this joint is open 21 hours daily and there are people lining up around the block every minute of each of them, come hail, sleet or shine. But if quinoa is more your kind of protein, then there are new organic cafes aplenty. At the Vudu Larder and Café, start the day with house-baked sourdough and local Otago honey alongside a house-roasted flat white, while the silverbeet (chard) and chicken broth with pearl barley is very much a yoga class for your tonsils. Where Queenstown used to be a resort town with a food problem, it’s now a foodie town with a resort problem. In peak season at least, there’s little room to manoeuvre,






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New Zealand’s adrenalin sports capital is no longer just for bungee-jumping budget backpackers. From gourmet burgers to farm fresh fine dining, this orchard and vineyard-backed city is firmly on the foodie map. Words: Sarah Barrell

CLOCKWISE: Vudu Larder; Queenstown harbour view; bungee-jumping from Kawarau suspension bridge; venison tataki at Kappa; green-lipped mussels

March 2017



FROM LEFT: Autumn at Felton Road vineyard, Bannockburn; freshwater crayfish at Amisfield Bistro


Queenstown BLANKET BAY


Felton Road, a small artisan winery in the wilds of old Bannockburn mining country. Looking like a cross between a medieval wizard and an eccentric 1970s science teacher, owner Nigel Greening walks pre-booked visitors though the wine-making process of his biodynamic vineyard — literally. “Footsteps are the best,” he says. “Know your vines, land, weather. That, for me, is what biodynamics is about, not Harry Potter stuff.” He’s found Stone Age flints amid the glacial dust that makes this terroir so uniquely successful for Pinot Noir grapes. “Ancient Maori hunted here, chasing giant moa [an emu-like bird] up dead-end valleys.” His tasting notes are even more colourful. “This has the persistence of a Jehovah’s Witness,” he says, about one 2014 Pinot. But the wine that stays in my mind and palate is the Chardonnay: not oaky, not flinty and not overtly fruity. “It does cause upsets for those expecting that Central Otago fruit bomb,” says Nigel. “But we can’t make enough of it. There’s a real renaissance of interest.” Give me this wine, in this setting, and I’ll certainly drink to that. Stay at the Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel, from NZ$600 (£341), including a breakfast menu focused on local produce. For packages, including international/domestic flights, car hire, tours and stays at outlying food-focused lodges, visit


Much has been made of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge dining at this winery’s sleek modern bistro. And you can see why — think mountain views, great wines and mains such as crispy Southern blue cod and sides such as salt-crusted kumara (sweet potato) with black garlic butter, spring herbs and grains. HOW MUCH: A four-course ‘Trust The Chef’ lunch with wine-pairing costs $125 (£71) per person. MATAKURI LODGE

Dine over the water on mountain backed Lake Wakatipu. The contemporary, art-laden conservatory restaurant is at the centre of this plush resort, 10 minutes from downtown. The daily changing seasonal menu uses produce mostly drawn from local farms, markets and the waterfront vegetable garden. HOW MUCH: Rooms cost from NZ$830 (£471) per person per night, including pre-dinner drinks, five-course menu and breakfast.


its narrow streets densely packed with bars and bistros rammed to the rafters with hungry patrons. Fleeing the fray, the older crowd has lately been decamping to adjacent Arrowtown, with its greenways and quiet cobbled backstreets. At Chop Shop, with its vintagebike-parts-turned-lampshades and standout dishes like Japanese pork belly pancakes and tempura bluff oyster sliders, I begin to understand what’s drawing them 20 minutes down the road. En route to this lovely, old mountain-side mining town, you pass New Zealand’s highest bungee jump, whiplashing people 440ft above the Nevis River. But, if you prefer to steady your nerves, you’re in a fine spot, as surrounding Central Otago is prime Pinot Noir (not to mention Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling) country. Viticulturalists are as happy as adrenalin junkies in the backcountry. Around the lake town of Wanaka, an hour north of the city, there are epic routes, from ranch-style landscapes that wouldn’t look out of place in Wyoming, right up to glacier-topped mountains, beguiling heli-bikers, iron man competitors and hardy hikers, not to mention hobbits — film director Peter Jackson has based numerous of his Tolkien adaptations here. And in the deep valleys that lay between earth and sky: a patchwork of near-endless fruit orchards and vineyards with enticing cellars. The best of these, not least for sheer entertainment, has to be

This grand, hunting lodge-style retreat in the frontier town of Glenorchy offers resident guests nightly five-course menus in the lakefront dining room or terrace. Showcasing seasonal New Zealand produce, including Canterbury quail, Hawkes Bay lamb short loin and crayfish from Milford Sound, with paired wines. HOW MUCH: Rooms at Blanket Bay cost from NZ$775 (£440) per person per night, including pre-dinner drinks, five-course menu and breakfast.



From its multi-award-winning airport to its sci-fi architecture and artsy enclaves, it’s clear Singapore loves intelligent design. It’s an appreciation that filters through to its hotel scene, where you’ll find everything from grande dames to conceptualised boutiques. Raffles Hotel is, of course, the most famous of them all but a refurbishment means it will be off the radar for most of 2017. However, there’s no shortage of memorable alternative options. Location isn’t an issue in this tiny city state — you can zip from one end to the other in under an hour — unless you want to zero in on a particular interest. For food and drink galore, stay near Chinatown, Club Street or the Jägermeister-fuelled Robertson Quay and Clarke Quay. Shoppers should head for Orchard Road, while Marina Bay and the historic centre are best for the city’s big-hitting (often free) attractions. The only downside? Singapore has the priciest hotel rooms in Asia. That said, business hotels often drop their prices at weekends.

F 68


From a beachside hotel with a chic Gallic-granny vibe to an island retreat with a croquet lawn, accommodation in the Lion City is an eclectic affair. Words: Lee Cobaj

For sta�in� connected HOTEL JEN

A family-friendly bolthole, weekend getaway, post-shop flop... Hotel Jen will satisfy all-comers. The location is solid; smack-bang in the middle of shopping central, Orchard Road, attached to the ION Orchard mall, with an MRT station down below and the world-class Singapore Botanic Gardens a short stroll away. Rooms are on the small side (as is usual for Singapore) but Jen has nailed the necessities — good coffee, powerful showers, decent hair dryers, black-out blinds, loads of plug sockets and free fast wi-fi (which comes without a laborious login process). Elsewhere, there are cool sky gardens to hang out in, a flash rooftop pool to cool off in and a great little Malay-fusion restaurant for refuelling. ROOMS: Doubles from £135, B&B.

March 2017



�ang �or �our buck M SOCIAL SINGAPORE

Think of Philippe Starck and you’ll probably think of ghost chairs, tripod lamps — and eye-watering price tags. But, at the golden one’s latest Singapore project you can bag an overnight stay for less than £100, including breakfast — no mean feat in the Lion City. Admittedly, the 205sq ft entry-level rooms are tiny, but they’re smart and stylish, with white-buttoned headboards and lighted


mirrors pushed up against polished concrete walls, as well as 3G-enabled smartphones to help you navigate the city. Pay a little more (about £35) and you can move up to a cunningly designed duplex. Other perks include a 24-hour gym, rooftop swimming pool and free shuttle buses around town. ROOMS: Doubles from £98, B&B.


For ni�htli�e


This handsome new 37-room hotel on Robertson Quay — set in a 19th-century former godown (warehouse) — is a heritage hotel with a difference. No string quartets and afternoon teas here; instead, guests are greeted with warm pineapple tarts and spicy cocktails. Rooms feel distinctly metrosexual, with lashings of leather, dark rattans and polished stone walls, not to mention organic amenities from Ashley & Co. There’s also a rooftop pool and a great restaurant serving sexed-up Singaporean. ROOMS: Doubles from £257, room only.

For foodies THE CLUB HOTEL

The Club resembles the kind of trendy British inn you might find in Yorkshire or Bath, rather than the back streets of Singapore. Housed in a 1900s building, the 20 rooms have aged wooden floors, herringbone armchairs and fuzzy throws. There’s also a moody whisky bar, homey coffee shop, brasserie and Peruinspired rooftop bar. Head for the Maxwell Street Food Centre, a two-minute walk away, for bucket-sized bowls of Singapore noodles, baskets of dumplings and chilli chicken rice for under £5. ROOMS: Doubles from £129, B&B.

For �iews

For artsy types


Found on gritty-glam Jalan Besar, between aromatic Little India and the colourful shops of the Arab Quarter, Hotel Vagabond is an art-filled bohemian wonderland. Behind its art deco exterior, Cubist paintings sit alongside scarlet sofas and polished parquet, antique telephones, golden elephants and banyan tree chandeliers. The 41 rooms are equally


fabulous, with a chic Gallic-granny vibe: crushed velvet ottomans, painted floral panels and goose-y feather beds. Facilities are scant, but the service is super and the salon-like bar and Hot Buns & Thunder Balls restaurant are popular local hangouts. ROOMS: Doubles from £115, room only.

It’s eye candy all the way at The Fullerton Bay, from the crystal chandeliers in the dazzling white lobby and the glam clientele, who clip-clop across its marble floors, to the waterfront’s triple-towered Marina Bay Sands, the durian-shaped Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, and the pretty historic quarter. It’s all best soaked up from a poolside cabana at the chic rooftop Lantern Bar or lounging on the deck at Clifford Pier. Rooms are ogle-worthy: think burr-wood, bronze, top-tech and Frette-wrapped beds. ROOMS: Doubles from £265, B&B.

March 2017



For desi�n buffs


One of the city’s first true boutique hotels and still one of the best. Inhabiting a charming former shophouse in Chinatown’s conservation district, the 30 rooms were designed by Singapore’s creative elite. While some bedrooms drenched in ruby-reds, others boast stepladders and tiny flower gardens. Whichever you go for, inside you’ll find baby-soft Ploh bedding, coconut-y Kiehl’s amenities and free juices and soft drinks. The Cantonese restaurant is less memorable, but the surrounding streets have their fair share of organic cafes and dim sum parlours. ROOMS: Doubles from £144, room only.

For swimmin� �ools


Wrapped around the jungle-clad hillside on Sentosa Island, this remarkable hideaway is a mash-up of two former colonial-era military barracks with towering curved walls, airy interiors and three lagoon-shaped swimming pools. The spacious rooms (starting at a chandelier-swinging 770sq ft) are sleek, sensual affairs — all dark woods, warm, amber tones and touchy-feely fabrics. They also come with balconies (from which you can watch cockatoos canoodling in the treetops) and spa-worthy bathrooms. Dining is pricey but worth a splurge. The terrace at Bob’s Bar is the place to be at sundown. ROOMS: Doubles from £320, room only.

March 2017



The wildcard


The antidote to Singapore’s big-city kicks, this island retreat a mere 45-minute ferry ride from the city’s shores. Ringed by ice-white beaches and the gin-clear South sea, days can be spent snorkelling with hawksbill turtles, playing croquet or floating in the 50-metre infinity pool — where loungers come with baskets of sun cream, cold towels and tiny flags to wave at the staff when you require another piña colada. Villas and suites are decorated in stylish colonial chic: cool whites, navy blues, dark bamboo and breezy porches. ROOMS: Doubles from £560, B&B.

For �am�ering


Situated in the Marina Square shopping and entertainment district, the Mandarin Oriental’s half-pyramid exterior looks dated. Inside, though, it’s a different matter: the lobby is a shimmering gold-and-black oasis with glass elevators in the atrium. Rooms are classy, never showy, in mauves, powder blues and teal greens, with wood panels, tasteful artworks and floor-to-ceiling windows for sensational views. Head to the fabulous spa to soak in the heat and water therapy rooms, or to the glam outdoor pool or serene yoga studio. Come evening, there’s a new bar and restaurant to discover every day of the week. ROOMS: Doubles from £229, B&B.


Beyond Expectation Reside in luxury with exceptional service by your St. Regis Butler at the address of prestige and elegance in the city.

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The St. Regis Singapore 29 Tanglin Road t. +65 6506 6888

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From the pop-up store revolution and the ginbar renaissance to the High Line bandwagon, the dust never settles on the world’s greatest cities. Here’s what’s in store for your favourite metropolis Words J U L I A B U C K L E Y & DAV I D W H I T L E Y March 2017





CLOCKWISE : Chef at Alto, Hong Kong; the Big River Crossing, Memphis; Galerie d’Apollon, the Louvre, Paris; Junkyard Golf Club, Manchester


Once an area loses its ‘cool’ status, it rarely gets it back. But some neighbourhoods are bucking that trend. Santa Teresa, in Rio de Janeiro, was once an aristocratic hilltop hood, where the rich built their opulent mansions. But the area fell into neglect when newly-accessible beaches drove residents downhill. In recent years, it’s taken a boho turn, and some of those mansions are being turned into boutique hotels. Casa Marques ( and Vila Santa Teresa ( capture the vibe nicely. In Hong Kong, Causeway Bay flipped from colonial cool to crass commercialism — it’s generally seen as mall heaven and not much more. But now, some genuinely talked-about joints are slipping into the gaps. Alto has the island’s go-to rooftop terrace (, while the Seafood Room, with its fine fish and harbour-view terrace, is the one everyone wants to get a reservation for.

But perhaps the biggest comeback kid is Charlottenburg, in central Berlin. A hive of decadence in the 1920s, then a Cold War shopping hub, its fortunes plummeted after the Wall came down, and there was all that space and opportunity to try things in the newly reunited former GDR districts. As rents rise and mass tourism softens the edges in the nearby district of Mitte, however, Charlottenburg is on the rebound. Most of the action is centred around Zoo Station, where the hip brand- and indie store-filled Bikini Berlin ( concept shopping mall has a roof terrace overlooking Berlin Zoo’s baboons. There’s also the C/O Berlin (, which pulls in first-rate photography exhibitions and has chosen to shift from Mitte to Charlottenburg. The hotels — the Hotel Zoo Berlin ( is filled with design flair and transforms into a popular nightspot with DJs after dark — and restaurants are now pouring in too, while bars are cropping up under the railway arches. It’s not the new Mitte — but it’s a significantly more fun revamp of the old Charlottenburg. DW




Conquering the mighty Mississippi usually means pootling along it in a paddle steamer. But, as of October 2016, there’s another option: traversing it on the Big River Crossing in Memphis, the longest public pedestrian/bike bridge across the river.


France’s capital is going heavy on its ‘city of art’ reputation this year with major exhibitions including Vermeer at the Louvre, Pissarro at the Monet Museum, Cy Twombly at the Centre Pompidou and a centennial Rodin exhibition at the Grand Palais — all running in spring.


A mini-golf revival is long overdue, and Junkyard Golf Club has managed to make the activity cool in London and Manchester. Courses are put together using junk salvaged from antiques shops and warehouses, burgers and cocktails are served up on the side and DJs do their best to put off the putters with their furious beats.


Havana’s hotel boom shows no sign of abating. Starwood, which last year became the first US hotel brand to enter Cuba, plans to reopen the historic Hotel Inglaterra as a Luxury Collection property in March. Kempinski is poised to take over the Manzana de Gomez — another grande dame having new life breathed into her. Elsewhere, a Sofitel So and an MGallery are being built, while Iberostar has just taken the reins of the Hotel Riviera.

March 2017




It’s emerged as a creative hub in recent years, and the Ghanaian capital is adding to its modern art galleries and swish restaurants this year with Carbon, a new club from London impresario Nick House; one of the biggest spas in West Africa at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra; and Gallery 1957, opened by Marwan Zakhem.



FROM TOP: Food trucks at MadrEat Market; Serge Attukwei Clottey, ‘My Mother’s Wardrobe’ installation at Gallery 1957, Accra






The Foodie Week Madrid, a covered market for six days every month, attracts scores of food trucks, like La Pulponeta serving octopus burgers and La Trastienda Tapas. MadrEat Market, meanwhile, held in a park in the AZCA business district, brings together trucks from standalone ventures and restaurants every third weekend of the month.

Time Out Market Lisbon — stalls showcasing hot chefs, restaurants and food producers from around the city — has been a hit. So now the concept is getting a baby brother in Porto. The space for 500 seats, 15 restaurants, four bars, four shops, one cafe and one art gallery in the São Bento train station is scheduled to open in the second half of this year.

Some of Italy’s theme parks are rather less ride-heavy than others. Eataly World, which will open later in the year on the outskirts of Bologna, is all about the nation’s favourite pastime — food. That means interactive displays and workshops delving into the entire food chain, 25 restaurants to choose from and tasting-centric markets.

March 2017



new High Lines The

New York City realised it had a hit on its hands well before the final phase of the High Line opened in 2014. New Yorkers and visitors alike took to the linear park concept like flies to the proverbial, and the former railway line became the city’s new favourite open space. The plants have grown, the art installations have mushroomed, and the 1.8-mile shortcut through Midtown has become anything but utilitarian. Other cities saw the results and have been eagerly leaping on board. Chicago went bigger and longer. The 606, a former freight rail line stretching through upand-coming neighbourhoods to the north west of downtown, opened in 2015. It’s only now that it’s coming into its own, though. The slightly bouncy blue rubber surfacing was seized upon by cyclists and walkers straight away, but the whole thing looked a little samey and lacking personality. Now, however, the art projects are arriving and the plants are flourishing. The connections to neighbouring public parks are being harnessed, making the whole thing a system rather than a straight line. Toronto’s take on the idea involves using the space under the hideous Gardiner Expressway. As well as serving as a scenic gateway to the Lake Ontario waterfront, The Bentway (thebentway. ca) will slot 55 outdoor ‘rooms’ under the highway, each hosting something different — a farmers’ market, say, or an exhibition, a performance space or children’s garden. It’ll cover over a mile of road across six neighbourhoods. Miami is home to the most ambitious project of the lot. The Underline ( will eventually be a nine-mile linear park beneath the Metrorail line from Brickell Station to Dadeland South Station. It’ll happen in stages, starting with an outdoor gym, before bike repair stations, cycle paths and vegetation start to materialise. DW


CLOCKWISE: Cyclists and walkers share The 606 trail, Chicago; cold risotto dish at Aubergine Bistro, Smallman Galley, Pittsburgh; rooftop pool, EAST, Miami


2017 is Rome’s renaissance year: the Colosseum is free of scaffolding (and cleaner than it’s been in the past two millennia), the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps have reopened after restoration work, and the Circus Maximus is now partially open for the first time in seven years (you can peruse pubs and betting shops dating back 2,800 years).


The latest addition to Miami’s ever-changing Downtown is Brickell City Centre, in the Financial District. It’s essentially a new neighbourhood, with shops, a cinema and a hotel from cult brand Swire Hotels. EAST, Miami boasts a rooftop bar overlooking Biscayne Bay; and a Uruguayan restaurant.





Borrowing from the tech world’s startup incubators, the Smallman Galley is a restaurant incubator. Would-be restaurateurs apply for one of four spots, which the winners get rent-free to test out their concept. Then, 18 months later, another four take over.


The self-styled brewing capital of America has moved on to the hard stuff, with a number of distilleries putting together small-batch vodkas, gins and whiskeys. United under the Distillery Row label, they now issue ‘passports’ granting visitors tastings at each.

March 2017







Gin’s the thing for the artisanal drinking scene in 2017, and Cape Town is at the vanguard, with specialist bars like The Gin Bar and Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar serving drinks concocted with locally made gins — such as Inverroche ( and the Woodstock Gin Company (, which use endemic fynbos, rooibos and buchu plants as botanicals. Hope on Hopkins (hopeonhopkins., Cape Town’s first distillery, offers tours and tastings in its warehouse conversion. Belfast’s big on gin, too — bars like The John Hewitt ( are serving up local brands, like Jawbox, Northern Ireland’s first ‘single estate’ gin. Small distilleries are opening up for visits, too: Echlinville ( flavours its gin with gorse and seaweed, while Shortcross ( uses local apples, elderflowers, and spring water from the Rademon estate on which it’s located. There’s a resurgence in Buenos Aires, too, where Renato Giovannoni, the man behind Floreria Atlantico (floreriaatlantico. — often named Latin America’s best cocktail bar — has produced his own brand, Principe de los Apostoles, flavoured with yerba mate and eucalyptus. It also serves gins from Bolivia and Peru, in fishbowl-size glasses. Not that the craft beer boom has let up: the Copenhagen Beerwalk (copenhagenbeerwalk. com) coincides with Carlsberg’s centenary this year and takes in 12 pubs in Vesterbro and Nørrebro (£23 for six drinks); Amsterdam’s new Hoppa! bar ( brings together 60-odd city-brew beers; and Denver’s ever-gentrifying RiNo neighbourhood is home to several breweries, including Beryl’s Beer Co ( and Our Mutual Friend (, while the Source Hotel, due to open this year, will host a New Belgium brewery, and a barrel-ageing area by the rooftop pool. JB


Dubai has a tendency towards excess — the city opened four theme parks under one roof in late 2016. IMG Worlds of Adventure’s rides, cinemas, live shows and 5D simulators are themed on Cartoon Network characters, Marvel comic heroes and dinosaurs. While it’s hardly highbrow, it’s an indisputable kid magnet.

FROM TOP: Nightlife at The Source artisan market, Rino, Denver; Acorn restaurant, at The Source; Man O’ War Vineyards, Waiheke Island, New Zealand


Until recently, visiting Waiheke Island tended to involve a short ferry hop from Auckland city centre, then wine tasting. But sea kayaking tours around the harbour island are turning it into an adventure destination as well as a food and wine escape. Auckland Sea Kayaks leads novice paddlers around the craggy cliffs.

March 2017



culture hub Arabian


The blingier the better has traditionally been the Arabian Peninsula states’ approach to tourism, but all that’s changing this year with a slew of new top-notch museums and galleries. Muscat is home to the sprawling new National Museum of Oman (facebook. com/nationalmuseumoman), which traces the history of the sultanate back to prehistoric times, with exhibits including gold from a wrecked 15th-century ship that form part of Vasco da Gama’s fleet. There are temporary exhibition spaces with links to the Smithsonian, Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate that should be running blockbuster exhibitions soon, and even a gallery where visitors can watch staff working on artifacts. Doha, meanwhile, is soon to open the futuristic-looking National Museum of Qatar (, designed by Jean Nouvel

around the former emir’s palace, and filled with Doha’s past and present, with films projected onto walls, and themed galleries, including ‘Life at Sea’ and ‘Trade & Souk’. Over in the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s longawaited Saadiyat Cultural District ( should come to fruition this year, with a Louvre, a Guggenheim and the Zayed National Museum, designed by Norman Foster. Dubai, meanwhile, has opened its Saruq al-Hadid Archaeology Museum (, displaying fi nds from a new archaeological dig in the desert, dating back 3,000 years. Its location, the Shindagha heritage area, is rapidly expanding, with 50 museums slated to be open by next year. For something different, look no further than Ras al-Khaimah, swift ly establishing itself as a world-class destination for adventure tourism, with biking, climbing, a via ferrata, the world’s longest zipline, plus horse-riding at the local royal family’s stables, booked via the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. JB


CLOCKWISE: Entrance to Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi; Boardwalk storefronts, Venice Beach; biking on The Strand, Venice Beach; clothing boutique in Maboneng, Johannesburg




The opening of the Metro Expo Line last year swept away the received wisdom that you need a car to visit LA. Running from trendy Downtown to Santa Monica, it connects the beach, city and Valley. Ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber have slashed transport prices. Even better, the most popular areas (NoHo, Silverlake, Downtown, the beach towns) are easily walkable — the LA tourist board has even produced car-free itineraries.


There’s a growing buzz about Joburg’s hipster scene, centred round Maboneng, a once gritty part of downtown that’s now packed with local designers, galleries, Africa’s fi rst design museum and even a hotel. Meanwhile, Braamfontein, 10 minutes away, is the place to go for nightlife.


The Chicago River has long suffered from a lack of public access, but the Chicago Riverwalk has changed that — completed last year, the riverside path stretches through the heart of the city, flanked by a fresh crop of wine bars, kayak rental outlets and tiki huts.


Marrakech’s Medina Bike became Africa’s fi rst bike-share scheme when it debuted in November. The 300 bikes, stationed at 10 solar-powered points outside key sites like the Majorelle Garden and Koutoubia Mosque, cost £4 a day to hire.

March 2017



A WOW stopover gives you time to visit Iceland on your way to our destinations in USA and Canada. It’s almost like getting two vacations for the price of one. Now that’s wow!

Check it out at


African American



First proposed in 1915, the National Museum of African American History and Culture ( in Washington DC opened in September, and is the first US museum of its kind. It traces African American history from the slave trade to Barack Obama’s presidency, and the over

36,000 exhibits range from a cowry shell necklace used as currency during the slave era to the lunch counter from a North Carolina Woolworth’s that was the scene of a famous Civil Rights sit-in in 1960, and the coffin of Emmett Till, lynched, aged 14, in Mississippi in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. It’s not all so sobering — three of the five floors celebrate highflying black Americans, with items including Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and one of Muhammad Ali’s boxing robes. This is just the start of America’s longoverdue focus on its black history: until 26 February, the Oakland Museum of California ( is hosting an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of

the Black Panthers, while Detroit’s Motown Museum ( — currently squeezed inside what was once the house from which Berry Gordy launched the careers of Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross — will start a major expansion this year. Elsewhere, the Studio Museum in Harlem (, which focuses on 19thand 20th-century African American art, is set to get a new home, designed by David Adjaye (who also did the DC museum). Further south, the McLeod Plantation Historic Site (, which opened last year on the outskirts of Charleston, is the first former plantation to focus on the experience of the enslaved, rather than the owners. JB

Motown Museum, Detroit


The Lisbon waterfront revival continues apace with the big, bold Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. A cultural powerhouse in a very literal sense — it’s housed in a former power station — its modern art exhibits are displayed alongside the historic machinery that once provided energy for the whole of Lisbon.



To mark the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love — when up to 100,000 people descended on Haight-Ashbury — San Francisco is hosting a year of events. They include an exhibition of Jim Marshall’s photos of the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin at City Hall, and a display of hippy art at the de Young Museum.

Venice’s bacari taverns and cicchetti snacks have been getting a shake-up. Naranzaria, at the foot of the Rialto, serves up Asian tapas; there’s slow-food cicchetti at bar El Refolo, while La Cusina, at The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice reinterprets cicchetti in its gourmet tasting menu.

March 2017




FROM TOP: Boxpark Croydon; floating

container malls

restaurants around Hong Kong Island


The trend for turning shipping containers into shops and bars was borne of necessity. When Christchurch, in New Zealand, was ravaged by an earthquake in 2011, shifting businesses into shipping containers was meant to be a temporary means to an end. But for the RE:Start Mall (, it’s been a formula for success. It’s now home to over 50 businesses, clustered together, selling everything from exercise gear to woodfired pizzas. The shipping container idea has spread globally, neatly coinciding with the trend for pop-up shops and restaurants. Boxpark ( in London’s Shoreditch now has a sibling south of the river, in Croydon, while more recent additions to the scene include Common Ground (common-ground. in Seoul and the garishly-painted Quo Container Center in Buenos Aires. The Downtown Container Park ( in Las Vegas is a spectacular example of the genre — part of a plan to revitalise the once-grim downtown area. Not all the enterprises have worked, but the overall effect — in a city best known for doing things on a lavish scale — is charming. One vendor sells handmade beef jerky, another gourmet hotdogs, others clothes and jewellery. They all surround a big park and playground, where parents can let their kids loose as they sit outside with a glass of wine. The only clue that this might be Vegas is the ludicrous, superscale model of a praying mantis made of scrap metal that periodically shoots flames six storeys high. Bristol has also got in on the act. Cargo, at Wapping Wharf (, is a precinct of indie retailers that includes a posh pie shop, a hipster barbershop and cider shop. It’s all worked rather well — a second phase is set to open early in 2017. DW

Say hello to the southern side of Hong Kong Island — the brand new South Island Mass Transit Railway (MTR) has at last opened it up to visitors (the final district of Hong Kong reached by the MTR), making it easy and affordable to visit areas such as Aberdeen, famous for its floating seafood restaurants. Elsewhere, the recent Kwun Tong Line extension has opened up the southeast side of Kowloon.



Bottles and corks, begone — Melbourne is going in for some serious middlemancutting. The barrels come in from the wineries, taps are stuck in, and the good stuff is poured out, straight from source. Several bars are leaping on the bandwagon, including Harry & Frankie, in hip Fitzroy, and Arbory Bar & Eatery, at Flinders Street Station.



Come and enjoy with us the ultimate all-round

Photograph by Mehdi Berrada


Moving at


speed With an average speed of just 24mph, the Glacier Express bills itself as the world’s slowest express train. And when your route is dotted with gorges, mountains, vineyards and spa towns, there’s really no need to rush Words B E N L E R W I L L Photographs S L A W E K K O Z D R A S




glacier March 2017



We're dancing on

air. 94



t’s early morning in the Swiss Alps, and we’re curving noiselessly through the sky as the sun spills down onto the mountains. I’ve just leapt off the side of a ridge harnessed to a man I met half an hour earlier. We experience a few bewildering seconds of kerfuffle, a rush and furl of fabric, the bizarre sense of being hurled upwards — then silence, and the euphoric stillness of the valley. Now, with each current that reaches our paragliding wing, we spiral off and away, gravity-defiant and eagle-high. Far below, rags of white cloud still linger above the birch woods. The ageless Matterhorn looks on, its craggy geometry incandescent in the morning light. I’m grinning like a loon, trying to take in everything at once: a gust of wind curling wisps of snow from the tallest peaks; a tiny red car glinting along a forest road. Looking high then low, it’s possible to trace precisely the passage of glaciers over time, their icescoured valleys and side-gorges spread out in file. “Not a bad way to start the day, is it?” comes the voice behind me, as we float into the blue again. “Makes you feel alive.” There’s a lot that makes you feel alive in Switzerland. I’m at the end of a week-long rail

journey through the crystalline amphitheatre that is the south of the country. The right scenic superlatives have been hard to come by. This tandem paragliding flight is a finalmorning frill to a trip that has brought me from St Moritz to the resort town currently sitting a few hundred metres beneath my dangling legs: Zermatt. The backdrop is head-swimmingly beautiful, as it has been all week. I’ve spent the trip riding the Glacier Express, a narrowgauge train that bills itself as ‘the slowest express train in the world’. It’s an unflustered way to travel. Indeed, you learn quite quickly in the Swiss Alps that it’s best to do as the glaciers do: don’t rush. My week begins in St Moritz, that bastion of million-dollar tourism. It’s summer, so many of the trappings of the ski season are under wraps, but there’s still a rarefied air to the lakeside town. These days it’s a playground that lures the likes of Ivana Trump and John Travolta, although the resort first found popularity way back in the 1860s. A Swiss resident invited four aristocratic Brits to spend a few months here, on the promise of their being fully reimbursed if they weren’t wowed by the setting. They were.

With each current that reaches our paragliding wing, we spiral off and away, gravity-defiant and eagle-high. Far below, rags of white cloud still linger above the birch woods

PREVIOUS PAGES: The epic natural surroundings dwarfing the Glacier Express as it makes its way along the Oberalp Pass LEFT: Breathtaking views of the Matterhorn during the early-morning paragliding session in Zermatt ABOVE: Taking a walk in the hills outside of Zermatt

March 2017





The connection to the UK still holds strong. Today, there’s a British classic car rally taking place, so the resort’s designer boutiques are being treated to the fine sight of pipe-smoking greybeards cruising past in mustard Jaguar E-Types. Luxury is relative, of course — and budget-dependent. I source a different kind of extravagance 20 minutes out of town on the terrace of a hillside cafe, where a morning coffee comes with an unhindered view of fir-flanked mountains. It’s a princely way to spend a few francs. Back in St Moritz, my train is on the platform. First impressions are good. Every carriage is broad, gleaming and coated in the bright red of the national flag, with panoramic windows as standard. This is no regional commuter-trundler. Since its inaugural journey in 1930, the Glacier Express has functioned unabashedly as a tourist train. It’s now in its ninth decade of feeding and watering international travellers across over 180 miles of Alpine loveliness. End to end, its daily mountain journey from St Moritz to Zermatt lasts around seven and a half hours, with an average tempo of just 24mph. On each journey it passes through 91 tunnels and noses its way across 291 bridges. I’m splitting the route into four sections over the course of the week. The train is prim, punctual and, quite frankly, couldn’t be more Swiss if Roger Federer were eating a bowl of muesli in the driver’s cab. Once we pull away from the platform, it becomes clear just what an engineering feat the line represents. The first leg of my journey is taking me to Chur, the oldest city in the country. This initial stretch of track, looping through yawning valleys of milky rivers, was constructed in 1903, the same time as Albert Einstein was developing his theory of relativity in nearby Bern. The endeavours of the railway’s 5,000-strong workforce must have been only marginally less taxing. When the sun comes out, the whole wraparound scene — ravines, Heidi huts, lush meadows — is carpeted in a giddying green. To just sit and stare is a delight. We’re in the canton of German-speaking Graubünden, the country’s largest region. Cars were prohibited here until 1925, on the basis that they sullied the overall environment. “Yes, you could say we have a little rivalry with ‘French’ Switzerland,” one of the train staff tells me, a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “Why wouldn’t we? We have more to boast about.”

The high life

On the outskirts of Chur I find a vending machine selling nothing but freeze-dried fondue. It’s a modern touch in a city that has been part of Switzerland’s story from the very beginning. Founded by the Celts and subsequently ruled by the Romans and the

Franks, it’s somewhere that has always been positioned at a crossroads for traders and alpine wayfarers. Even my accommodation for the night, the modest, pine-panelled Romantik Hotel Stern, has been welcoming travellers for more than three centuries. Hans, the jolly guide showing me around the city’s elegant old squares the next day, claps his hands. “I want to show you some marmot fat,” he says. I’m ushered into a pharmacy, where he produces a jar of thick, pale ointment. It smells pungent. “This substance is taken from marmots,” he explains, referencing the hefty, squirrellike animals that live on the surrounding mountains. “It’s very valuable. It’s good for aches and pains, and it’s all-natural.” As elsewhere on the trip, the relationship between Chur and the countryside is a symbiotic one. Fifteen minutes out of town, the slopes are draped in vineyards. At nearby Bad Ragaz I hire an e-bike — the inclines here are tough — and meander up into the hills.

The train is prim, punctual and, quite frankly, couldn’t be more Swiss if Roger Federer were eating a bowl of muesli in the driver’s cab

LEFT: British Classic Car Meeting, alongside the designer boutiques of St Moritz ABOVE: Passengers waving from aboard the Glacier Express as it travels up the Oberalp Pass

March 2017





On either side of the train, the Rhine Gorge stretches up towards rock spires and granite buttresses. Copses of larch trees perch at impossible angles, staring down at our little scarlet locomotive March 2017


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Disentis Andermatt

St Moritz





Leukerbad Brig Zermatt

Bad Ragaz






20 miles

ESSENTIALS Getting there & around Base your Glacier Express itinerary around Zürich Airport. SWISS operates up to 119 weekly flights to the city from London City, Heathrow, Gatwick (seasonal), Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh (seasonal) and Dublin. Other airlines that serve the city include British Airways and EasyJet. The country has a comprehensive and efficient rail and road network. The Swiss Travel System provides a dedicated range of travel passes and tickets exclusively for visitors from abroad.

When to go? The Glacier Express runs year-round, with one daily service in winter and up to three over summer.

A quiet evening in Arcas Square with St Martin’s Church in the background, Chur. PREVIOUS PAGES: Passengers taking in the view through the Glacier Express train’s iconic panoramic windows

Places mentioned? Romantik Hotel Stern. Chedi Andermatt.

More info? Switzerland (Lonely Planet Travel Guides). RRP: £15.99

How to do it?


All-inclusive air fares with SWISS from the UK start from £71, one-way. One-way tickets from St Moritz to Zermatt on the Glacier Express cost from CHF 149 (£119) second class or CHF 262 (£210) first class, plus seat reservation fee. Tandem paragliding flights with Fly Zermatt from CHF 170 (£136).

Within the hour, serendipity leads me to a small-batch winery, where a dozen people are sitting on sun-dappled wooden tables under a broadleaf tree. I order a glass of Riesling and some local cheese, then sit back. Only around 2% of Swiss wine gets exported. Judging from the drinkers in front of me, the remaining 98% has no trouble finding a willing market. I get talking to the couple next to me, who, it transpires, are from Liechtenstein, the tiny principality just a few kilometres away. “We come to Switzerland a lot,” says the man, taking a slug of rosé and wiping his moustache. “The wine’s nicer here.” Back on the bike, I make the most of the electric assistance as I continue to follow the hills. Unable to resist the urge to pedal into another country, I make the short diversion into the southern tip of Liechtenstein, where a bluff-top castle stands over empty Sunday roads. Returning into Switzerland, I wheel back to Bad Ragaz along the banks of the

Rhine. The river is broad and cloudy with glacial run-off. Groups of bathers are relaxing on the banks, some of them swimming in the shallows offshore. It takes little deliberation for me to join them, improvising with clothing and dunking into the cold, fast waters. To a large degree, water and ice have moulded and contorted the Swiss Alps into the features we know today, scooping out valleys, sharpening ridges and forging river courses. The region showcases nature’s work on a titanic scale. There’s a reminder of this when I rejoin the Glacier Express for the journey from 1,949ft-high Chur to the 6,706ft-high Oberalp Pass. On either side of the train, the Rhine Gorge stretches up towards rock spires and granite buttresses. Copses of larch trees perch at impossible angles, staring down at our little scarlet locomotive. For our part, we have to pause at the old monastery town of Disentis to change to a cog-wheel engine: nature might do its own thing

March 2017


Bernina Express - From glaciers to palms Experience one of the most spectacular ways to cross the Alps: The Albula and Bernina lines of the Rhaetian Railway.

Information / Reservation / Sales Rhaetian Railway, Railservice, Tel +41 (0)81 288 65 65,

Glacier Express – The slowest express train in the world! Ride the rails up into the clouds, through untouched Alpine countryside, over roaring mountain streams, past towering walls of rock.


in the mountains, but mankind needs a helping hand. Human intervention isn’t always positive, of course. My next stop is the high-altitude town of Andermatt, which for centuries prospered from its position on regional trading routes. Then a 10-mile tunnel was built under the surrounding peaks in the 1880s, greatly easing cross-mountain travel but effectively cutting Andermatt adrift from the source of its livelihood. The town, ringed by snow-capped behemoths, struggled badly. “We were screwed, if you’ll pardon the expression,” explains Berni — a middle-aged man with unruly hair tucked under a flat cap — who grew up in the valley. He introduces himself as a snowboarder, historian, chemical analyst and crystal digger. Today, he’s my guide. “Andermatt had always been a world between worlds, but now we were properly isolated,” he continues. “Most people who live here are descended from the Walsers, the Germanic people who settled here in the Middle Ages. Me too. We adapted. Nowadays we focus on tourism.” This is no idle statement. Things don’t get done by halves in Switzerland, and the town is currently in the middle of a fairly staggering £1.3bn development programme, which already includes fivestar The Chedi Andermatt (iPad-controlled fireplaces, Swarovski crystal lamps, cheese cellar). Just as pertinently, it also gives access to superb hiking and skiing territory. At Berni’s recommendation, I trek up into the hills to reach the source of the Rhine, a five-hour round-trip on which I meet just two other hikers. It’s nevertheless a busy walk. Tiny dragonflies zip across pink wildflowers; mountain jackdaws arrow past in tightly choreographed flocks; marmots bundle nervously away from the trail. All the while, serried ranks of mountains file off into the distance, their sides splattered with enormous snow grooves. I climb higher. Silhouetted peaks haze away to the horizon, and when I take a diversion to the almost perfectly pointed summit of Pazolastock, I can see for what feels like forever. The river source, when it arrives, is enjoyably understated. A sign on a rock reads ‘Rheinquelle’, marking the small, lonely lake from which one of Europe’s mightiest rivers takes shape. I dip my hand in. From this high cradle in the hills, these waters will flow down through six countries, getting broader all the while, passing through the cities of Basel, Strasbourg, Cologne and beyond, before discharging into the North Sea.

hairpin bends to the hill town of Leukerbad. It’s another Alpine settlement with a long history — the Romans are known to have lingered here, for example. The main reason? For as long as anyone can remember, Leukerbad has received 900 litres of hot thermal water a minute, every hour of every day. “We use it to heat our homes and power our lights. And to relax in, of course,” says guide and local resident David, with an understandable hint of smugness. We’re watching a few dozen people wallowing in outdoor thermal swimming pools, the steam rising against a backdrop of cathedral-like mountains. “It doesn’t even smell. No rotten eggs. No sulphur. It’s basically melted snow that has bubbled up again through the earth. The water that’s coming out today was snow 40 years ago.” There are 65 mountains higher than 13,100ft in the European Alps. Leukerbad sits in the canton of Valais, which claims no fewer than 48 of them. Almost every

For as long as anyone can remember, Leukerbad has received 900 litres of hot thermal water a minute, every hour of every day

The Chedi Andermatt

Lucky Leukerbad

Some places get all the luck. Having taken the Glacier Express as far as the little city of Visp, I’ve travelled away from the main St Moritz-Zermatt route by catching a bus up

March 2017



Devil’s Bridge, Andermatt

My paraglider instructor veers us towards a remote mountain cafe where two families are having breakfast on the terrace. “Two cappuccinos, please!” he shouts direction you choose to face reveals a postcard panorama. And all those peaks mean lots of south-facing slopes, which in turn means plenty of places to grow grapes. “We have 20,000 vineyard owners in Valais,” says David. “So life is good. Mountains, hot baths, wine. Yes, life is good.” As evening falls, we find a restaurant. Over a carafe of local white and multiple plates of raclette (the dangerously moreish Swiss dish of melted cheese served with pickles and potatoes) I hear more about Leukerbad’s past. It emerges that tourism of a sort has been in evidence here for over 1,500 years, thanks to a bath-loving bishop who invited his friends to sample the thermal waters in AD 501. It seems churlish not to see what the fuss is about, so the following morning I visit one of the numerous public pools around the town. Two hours later, having soaked and sauna’d in varying degrees of heat and humidity, I’m rather wishing I was staying up


here for longer. The calcium levels in the local water make it particularly good for the bones, I’m told. So it’s a pleasant irony that the experience has left me feeling sleepily invertebrate. In the vast valley below Leukerbad, another of the continent’s major rivers forces its way westwards. I stare down at the Rhône, its waters flowing slowly on their journey to the Mediterranean. Of the various tributaries feeding the river, one of the most notable is the Matter Vispa, which drains the Matter Valley. It’s down this lateral branch that I’m heading next, to round off my trip. The Glacier Express isn’t the only train making the journey between St Moritz and Zermatt. There are good Swiss rail services plying the same route for a lower price. But there’s something laudable about a longdistance train that still exists for pleasure alone, and as we trundle past waterfalls and onion-domed churches in the shadow of the

Alps, it’s easy to let your mind tread back through the decades. Then the tip of the Matterhorn appears, and all eyes on board look south. Certain landforms demand to be ogled. There are far higher and far broader mountains than the Matterhorn, but its Toblerone-inspiring pyramid of gneiss is a thrill to behold. When I disembark in Zermatt, 15 minutes later, teasing afternoon clouds linger around the summit, before parting to reveal the mountain’s full form against a blue sky. The streets, busy with outdoor stores and tour groups, are suddenly awhir with cameras. My final morning is deliciously exhilarating. It’s hard to do justice in words to a day that starts with a paragliding flight in clear sunshine. Halfway through our descent, Stuart, the instructor on my back, veers us towards a remote mountain cafe where two families are having breakfast on the terrace. “Two cappuccinos, please!” he shouts, before angling our wing back out across the valley. The families wave back. It might be a while before we return there to drink our coffee, but in the Swiss Alps, there’s nothing more unnatural than hurrying.

 Ticke ts inclu fun a de cti on th vities e top !


Four seasons on Europe‘s highest mountain excursion High-Alpine mountain spectacle and recreation pure The genuine Zermatt experience only happens up on the mountain, at Matterhorn glacier paradise. You find yourself amidst a spectacular mountain world of ice, rock and snow after a comfortable cable car ride. On the panorama deck, you are greeted by a fresh breeze of mountain air and you enjoy the breathtaking panorama of 38 four-thousand-metre peaks, 14 glaciers, and three countries. The Matterhorn seems so close you could almost touch it. And at Europe’s highest cable car station – at an altitude of 3,883 metres – you immerge on a tour through the glacier palace nestled within this ice world or you enjoy pure movie pleasure in the Cinema Lounge. Or pick up your snow tube for no extra charge and it‘s launch time! On Trockener Steg, one station below the Matterhorn glacier paradise, the 3S InfoCube awaits you with interactive information about the project to build the world’s highest 3S cableway and the challenges facing construction engineers in the high-Alpine region. International skiing enjoyment Did you know that you can ski 365 days a year at Matterhorn ski paradise? When all the other ski areas are still closed, your wish to curve through the snow becomes reality in Zermatt. At Europe’s biggest summer skiing area, genuine snow delight is

yours also in the summer on 21 kilometres of slopes and in the Snowpark Zermatt. This is the time when deep green meets the white splendour. The winter ski area with state-of-the-art infrastructure encompasses over 360 kilometres of slopes, extending into Italy. You feel the international flair everywhere, not only with the Italian culinary treats and the Mediterranean cordiality. Unforgettably beautiful freeride descents, ski safaris, the Snowpark for lifting off, sunning terraces, and plenty of time for relaxation await you at Matterhorn ski paradise. And all that without the hype but with full assurance of snow. Multiple highlights Zermatt is the starting point for mountain tours in the world of 4,000-metre peaks, a hiking paradise with pastures of flowers, fresh spring water and romantic forest trails, and a place to have fun, like riding dirt scooters. regardless of the season in which you come, Zermatt offers time to recuperate amidst the peacefulness of nature. Breathe easily in the fresh mountain air. Treat yourself to a vacation full of sun, which shines some 300 days a year in Zermatt. Simply enjoy life to the fullest at Matterhorn glacier paradise.



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Nearly 7,000ft up in the Pilatus massif, this historic mountain three-star superior hotel boasts sweeping views down toward Lake Lucerne. There’s a clutch of Alpine-chic rooms, access via a new cable-car and a sun terrace for soaking up the scenery. More stays close to nature at: staysclosetonature

Arolling-eyed wild, beast of a

route Words A D R I A N P H I L L I P S

The Carretera Austral highway bumps and shudders you through the remote AysĂŠn region of Southern Chile, while the Andes and ice fields clamour for your attention


March 2017





COmes, loaded with the sounds and silences

of the


breeze rises and dies among the trees that fringe the clearing, the horses nicker intermittently, and out on the lake some ducks thrash and squabble before all is calm again. “Patagonia is about moments like this,” says Mary, and I nod my appreciation of the moment through the hum of my electric toothbrush. Yesterday evening, the camp had unfolded around me in minutes. The horses were tethered, my tent pitched, a windbreak improvised from tarpaulin and whittled branches. Rodrigo magicked a whole salmon from his saddlebag and we ate it fresh from the fi re with pieces of lemon and tomato while a billion stars convened above us. Now everything is dismantled with the same swift efficiency, until only the cheeky meadowlark that’d insisted on sharing our breakfast would ever have known we’d stayed. And we’re off again, along the narrow cattle trails. Welcome to Aysén, in Southern Chile, a region the size of England but containing just one person for every two sq km. A region so remote that until recently it didn’t





Gaucho Cristian shows off his lassoing skills PREVIOUS PAGES, FROM

LEFT: San Rafael Glacier;

Rolando, horse trekking near Villa Cerro Castillo

March 2017






FROM TOP: Cristian and Mary lead a riding trip in the foothills around Villa Cerro Castillo; Carretera Austral crossing the Rio Ibanez Valley near Cerro Castillo National Reserve

even feature in Chilean weather forecasts. For several years, real-life gaucho Cristian and his wife, Mary, have led riding trips through the foothills around Villa Cerro Castillo. Their multi-activity company, Senderos Patagonia, has recently joined forces with Rodrigo, whose family own much of the land hereabouts. I’ve joined them on a two-day trek. My priority, though, is not to break my neck on the land. “Negra’s lovely, but you’ll need to show her who’s boss,” Mary had warned yesterday, and then I’d spent the afternoon muttering prayers and clinging on for dear life. Whenever we dropped too far behind the others, Negra would break into an unbidden trot that left me bouncing and flapping like a Jack-in-the-box; when she loped over a log, I nearly lost my teeth in the back of her head. But by the second day, I’m anticipating my horse’s sudden dashes, interpreting her huffy grunts, and coaxing her around low-hanging branches rather than letting her drag me through them. I start to appreciate the mint-green frosting of lichen on the lenga trees, the scent of tobacco on the leaves. We cross streams and toil up sandy tracks, the horses snorting and struggling for purchase, before reaching a plateau with views over Cerro Castillo, its peak crenelated like a Crusader castle. This is horse country, and my companions are horse people, through and through. Mary arrived from the US a decade ago, but the others are direct descendants of the tough pioneers who first settled Aysén in the early 1900s, drawn by the promise of cheap land from a government desperate to prevent Argentinian claims on empty territory. Guiding the packhorse at the front is Rolando, a gaucho with a greying moustache and no front teeth, his great-grandfather one of the original five families to inhabit this pocket beneath the mountains. Behind me is Rodrigo, whose grandfather helped establish the town of Cochrane to the south in the 1950s. “He made his money driving horses — 100 at a time — to sell in Coyhaique, over 300km away.” Right at the back is Cristian, the horse whisperer. “These guys know the terrain like the backs of their hands,” Mary tells me. It’s Rolando who finds a big hairy armadillo’s shell, and points out the Magellanic woodpecker jutting sideways from a tree trunk, its tufted head a blaze of crimson. Rodrigo spots a pair of grey-brown fox cubs, legs splaying as they scamper back up to a fissure in the rock. “Foxes and pumas are the only predatory mammals here,” he explains. In the past, farmers ran pumas down with their dogs, but recent education efforts have resulted in puma numbers climbing. “Cristian has seen a couple of pumas,” Mary reveals proudly. Cristian says nothing. “He’s quite quiet,” Mary concedes, as her husband canters ahead to scout the path, toothpick between teeth, the very epitome of the strong, silent cowboy. I unspool his story from the others. He used to be a bucking bronco rider, they tell me, breaking horses the old-fashioned way, but grew tired of forcing animals to bow to his will. Instead, he learned a more natural method, one that focuses on fostering trust between man and beast. Today, he’s the horse whisperer of choice for miles around, famed for bringing the wildest of steeds to heel. That evening, while the lamb is roasting at Rodrigo’s cypress-wood lodge, Cristian takes centre stage at last.

The Carretera Austral advances with the sweeping undulations of an angry snake, before shedding its tarmac entirely “I understand the way a horse communicates,” he says, “its movements, the position of its ears and lips.” And as he approaches a feisty white stallion called Napoleon in the paddock, he clicks and shushes and utters hushed reassurances; this quiet man talking and talking in the language he loves best. Trust established, Cristian takes Napoleon through a series of exercises, each designed to prepare him for a real-life scenario. He wraps a rope around his forelegs (to mimic a stray lead rein) and the stallion stands steady. He shakes some pebbles in a bottle (like the sharp rattle of a rock slide), and Napoleon remains unspooked. “Cristian doesn’t break horses — he trains them,” observes Mary, admiringly. “I just enter the horse’s world,” says Cristian, simply, and is silent for the rest of the night.

On the road Next day, I’m in my hire car heading south on the only road connecting Aysén with civilisation — a fragile lifeline threading its way over 800 miles between the Andes to the east and rainforest, ice fields and coastal fjords to the west. The Carretera Austral (Ruta 7) was once called Pinochet’s Highway because it was mainly constructed in the 1970s and 1980s under the rule of the infamous dictator. Journeys that took days by boat could now be made in hours; despite his brutal record, Pinochet is revered by many in these parts. But the road can be a wild, rolling-eyed beast. Paved smooth from Coyhaique, it advances on Villa Cerro Castillo with the sweeping undulations of an angry snake before emerging from the village and shedding its tarmac entirely. From there onwards — for hundreds of miles — it thrums and thunders beneath your tyres, spitting stones that make tinny music on the chassis. My car jounces over the bumps and shudders through the potholes, and when I overtake a cyclist, I watch guiltily in the mirror as he’s engulfed by the dust that gushes in my wake. Alongside me, the vastness of the Patagonian landscape clamours for attention. Grassed hills are topped with tonsures of green forest, before the scenery takes on a haunted quality; mountainsides littered with burnished tree stumps where pioneers’ fires once burnt out of control. A movement catches the corner of my eye, and I reverse to watch two deer stepping along a stream — pretty deer like I’ve never seen before, with dark muzzles and oversized elasticky ears. Then, a few miles on, I pass the orange carcass of an upturned car, a rusting reminder that if I lose respect for the Carretera Austral it will buck me in a flash. At Puerto Río Tranquilo, I take a gravel road 50 miles west along the Exploradores Valley. Here, the rainforest is close and dense and prehistoric, looming above and around as though nature has dislocated its jaw and is slowly swallowing the road. There are no other cars, just

March 2017






FROM LEFT: Austral pygmy owl; Lago General Carrera, near Puerto Rio Tranquilo

The vastness of the landscape clamours for attention. Grassed hills are topped with tonsures of green forest, before the scenery takes on a haunted quality; mountainsides littered with burnished tree stumps where pioneers’ fires once burnt out of control March 2017


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the ghostly shape of a cow deep in the foliage, a caracara falcon perched motionless on a dead tree, and a flattened hare that must have put some effort into getting run over on such a lonely track. Waiting at the end of the road is Jorge, the man who will take me to the San Rafael Glacier. I’m joined in his motorboat by four tourists from Florida, and as we set off from Bahia Exploradores down the Elefantes Canal, one of them launches into an exhaustive commentary on the birds at the shoreline. “Richard is very into wildlife,” his wife says apologetically. “He has a species of ant named after him,” she adds, by way of emphasis. Patagonia contains a greater swathe of ice than anywhere but Greenland and Antarctica, and we’re thwacking over the lumpy water towards a sheet that covers over 1,620sq miles. Two hours later, the canal flattens as we approach the neck of Laguna San Rafael, and a dog-sized chunk of ice floats gently by. Another follows, the length of a car (and the shape of a swan, Richard points out), and when we finally swing into the lagoon we’re met by blocks as big as yachts, a sleek flotilla escorting us to the mother ship. There, in the distance, is the glacier, its snout poking between the valley sides. All around are the murky browns and greens of the mountains, and the ice seems too brilliantly white by comparison, a piece of artistic licence. From here its texture seems unreal too, foamy or furry, but as we draw closer the glacier’s face sharpens into focus: granite-hard, pocked and scarred, scored with deep vertical lines where meltwater has dragged its fingernails. When Darwin visited aboard HMS Beagle in 1834, the ice extended eight miles further into the lagoon, but you’d never guess this was nature in retreat. The glacier is 1.5 miles across, climbs over 260ft above the water and drops 820ft beneath, while it hauls behind a body stretching 31 miles up Monte San Valentin. Our boat is a twig below a hoary tanker; the sheer bulk of the glacier sucks sound from the air. And then it lets out a pistol crack that splinters the quiet and echoes about the lagoon. Two puffs of powder rise like gun smoke to the right, and the world holds its breath, before a huge section of the ice drops smoothly like a guillotine, collapsing in a rubble of ice and spray as it hits the water. The boom of the impact reaches us a second later, and a second after that we watch as a colossal slab surges back to the surface with a violent, fizzing hiss. “Gigante,” laughs Jorge, as he manoeuvres the boat to ensure we’re ready for the swell that’s rippling towards us. Small craft can be capsized by the waves from calving glaciers. As we bob and drink a tot of whisky, Richard gives an impromptu lecture on the lifecycle of the gulls that are now circling the spot, hunting for fish stunned by the ice fall. “We’ve certainly carpe’d the diem today,” he eventually concludes. “And the diem has carpe’d us a little bit too, dear,” replies his weary wife.

Guanacos roam the plains like dinosaurs. This strange-looking animal, with bulging eyes and a stretched neck, looks as though it just pulled its head free from some railings


A sense of proportion Nature is in festive mood as I continue south on the Carretera Austral next morning. The clouds have been back-combed to full fluffiness, and lupins breathe gusts of honeyed perfume through my open window. On the left, Lago General Carrera is so blue it looks pink. I pass a caracara bird in deep conversation with a goat, and wait

Guanacos graze the grasslands of the Chacabuco Valley

March 2017


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A huge section of the glacier drops smoothly like a guillotine, collapsing in a rubble of ice and


spray as it hits the water

while a cascade of cows clatters down the hill ahead, a gaucho full pelt at the rear. But shortly afterwards, I lose the car for a moment, the back end slewing as though batted by an invisible paw, and I realise that — whatever nature’s mood — I’m a beetle on the floor at its party. I spend the day exploring Parque Patagonia, in the Chacabuco Valley, an area purchased in 2004 by controversial US conservationists Doug and Kristine Tompkins with the aim of rescuing it from overgrazing and restoring its original biodiversity. Not everyone took kindly to gringo millionaires buying up Chilean land, but one person’s imperialists are another’s pioneers, eco-friendly successors to those who were themselves outsiders less than a century ago. And there’s no disputing the beauty of the valley, now free of fences and livestock. Bronze bluffs tower either side, sunlight pooling in their hollows, while distant herds of guanacos roam the grassy plains like dinosaurs. This strange-looking animal, with bulging eyes and a stretched neck, looks as though it recently pulled its head free from some railings. I watch as the males fight for dominance, barking and biting, and charging about the slopes with necks lowered like jousting poles. In truth, the valley is a Noah’s ark of the oddly proportioned. Fat viscachas with rabbit ears and squirrel tails survey me comfortably from the rock faces, paws folded over their Buddha bellies. A dozen flamingos glide above Flamingo Lake, pink and stringy at both ends. Pygmy owls — the Tom Thumb of owls — live among the grasslands, as do skittish lesser rheas, ostrich-like birds best described as a panicky backside on legs. Which I rather fear is how the residents of Cochrane

might describe me as I stalk through town the following morning, clad in figure-hugging neoprene. You must go river snorkelling, Jorge had said, and I’d suspected a practical joke, a suspicion that lingered as I shoehorned myself into a wetsuit in a shed behind a cafe just off the main square. However, the well-proportioned Jorge is deadly serious, and with flippers under our arms, we walk out of the centre until the River Cochrane opens before us. “Will it be warm?” I ask. “No,” he replies, and then he’s wading in and I’m tiptoeing after, the cold river inching its way up my legs. Face masks on, we fin above waterweed that sways like poplars in a wind, before the channel narrows into a tunnel of woodland, sunlight strafing through the twigs that tweak the tops of our snorkels. Jorge briefly removes his mouthpiece to warn me of “small rabbits ahead”, and I’m thoroughly confused until the river hurries us through some gentle rapids. When the water deepens, Jorge makes a graceful dive, tracing the contours of the bed and showering silver bubbles behind him. Trout as long as my arm drift unperturbed in the current; introduced by European pioneers, they’re now the only fish left in the waters. But there’s plenty of life above. As we rest by a meadow, Chilean swallows dog-fight for insects, and Jorge pulls his phone from a waterproof pouch to play a recording of trills and whistles. A moment later, a flycatcher appears on a bullrush, cocks its head at us, and then flits away in a rainbow blur of yellow, green and red. “The many-coloured bird,” Jorge smiles. “That’s my favourite.” I have to wait until dawn on my final day, though, for the bird I really want to see. Leaning precariously over a

ABOVE: San Rafael Glacier and Laguna San Rafael

March 2017









Lago General Carrera



Villa Cerro Castillo


Lago Pueyrredón

7 50 Miles


ESSENTIALS Getting there & around British Airways operates the only direct flights from the UK to Chile, flying from Heathrow to Santiago four times a week, from £680 return. Several other airlines fly to Santiago indirectly, with one stop. The only commercial airport on the Carretera Austral is Balmaceda, near Coyhaique. Domestic carriers are LATAM Airlines and Sky Airline. Buses run between Coyhaique and Cochrane, but the easiest way to explore is by car. Car hire is available at Balmaceda airport through companies including Europcar. One-way rentals tend to be significantly more expensive, so arrange to start and finish at the same point. The vehicle should have decent ground clearance.

When to go The Carretera Austral can be visited from November to March. Prices are highest in the peak season of January and February.

Where to stay Pampa del Corral, Coyhaique. El Puesto Hostel, Puerto Río Tranquilo. The Lodge at Valle Chacabuco. Hotel Ultimo Paraiso, Cochrane. Estancia Punta del Monte (homestay), Coyhaique.

More info Chile: The Carretera Austral (Bradt). RRP: £17.99

How to do it SWOOP PATAGONIA offers the nine-day Carretera Austral

ABOVE: Andean condors

Adventure Self-Drive Tour, from £2,750 per person, including camping and hotel accommodation, 4WD car hire, boat trips to the Marble Caves and Laguna San Rafael, snorkelling in the Cochrane River, two days’ horse-riding and a dawn excursion to a condor nursery.


dizzying canyon near Coyhaique, I look onto a coven of hunched bodies, wings folded into low-hanging capes and beaks curving menacingly from wizened faces of grey-pink skin. The Andean condors squat on a ledge just 65ft below, waiting for a sallow sun to warm the earth; from time to time, the adult tests the thermals, plucking a downy under-feather and watching to see if it rises. And when it does, he pitches himself into the abyss, the air catching and tugging him upwards. The juveniles follow — one, two, three — and together they form a graceful holding pattern, soaring out over the canyon and then arcing back to swoop along the edge of the cliff, so that for a split second each is eye to eye with me like a bomber pilot on a flypast. Up to 50 of these enormous vultures roost here. “Incoming high left!” cries my guide, Tim, as another joins the parade, and soon there are nine of them — their wings as long as beds — making circles around us. After a few minutes, the circles stretch as the birds begin to move away across the tundra, travelling 250 miles to search for carrion. “Some people believe condors kill deer and even babies — absolute rubbish, of course,” says Tim, and the mention of deer reminds me of the two I’d spotted on my third day. “Huemul!” exclaims Tim, as I show him a photo on my phone. “You’re so lucky — they’re endangered. Most Chileans have never seen a huemul.” It’s true. I’m lucky. Not just to have got close to the huemul and the condors and the glacier, but to have experienced the feral spirit of the Carretera Austral. Someday — perhaps someday soon — the road will run smooth with tarmac. It’ll become safer and more practical, the humps and bumps ironed out. But it’ll also seem just that little bit divorced from the landscape, just that little bit deadened, an animal forced to submit. A horse broken rather than trained. Now’s the time to visit Aysén, while its wildness still judders through the seat of your pants.

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To glimpse the soul of Ibiza leave the throbbing coastal strips and head inland, where hamlets nestle unnoticed between fig trees and citrus groves, and fine wines are savoured in preference to cocktails

March 2017



Somehow, he has six stems wedged between the fingers and thumb of one hand; the other is clutching a bottle of Sa Cova 9, his most popular mid-priced red, and there’s a clang and thud of glass bases on wood as he sets everything down. He spreads them out, reaches for the corkscrew, then stops and tuts. One of the vessels is wearing a thin layer of dust from its winter hibernation at the back of a cupboard. He mutters a frustrated volley of under-the-breath Spanish, grabs the offending item, clomps back into the lodge, and sources a replacement. Fifteen miles to the south of the island, the same scene is, perhaps, playing out in one or two of the stylish bars flanking the sands of Platya d’en Bossa. Except that there — I imagine — the moment is being accessorised by a flurry of expensive cocktails and over-effusive apologies, skittering rhythms and pounding beats. When Riera re-emerges through the unlit door of the near-windowless building, he does so brushing his hands on the back of his jeans. The new glass is deposited without a word or any great need for performance, and the unhurried process of tasting his wine starts again. Huddled up a rutted track in the north of Ibiza, roughly between the village of Sant Mateu d’Albarca and the fabled party town of Sant Antoni (San Antonio), Sa Cova winery is an an echo of the toil and soil that dominated life on this Mediterranean outcrop until the hippy dream of the 1960s and the tourism boom of the 1970s dragged focus onto the 130 miles of coastline where six million holidaymakers chase the sun every year. Riera is a happy relic of this yesterday. His business began in 1993 as a hobby, a simple way of concocting unfussy table wine for family weddings and friends’ parties. His was the first commercial winery on the island, and even now, there are only five. Twenty-four years on, he produces around 25,000 bottles per annum to be distributed around Ibiza and exported to Germany. But Sa Cova remains an unpretentious affair, open to visitors to its out-of-the-way address, yet unlikely to fall into a panic if, for weeks on end, nobody wanders in for a tour. “The first year was quite difficult,” Riera muses, filling the glasses with a crisp white


that splices historic malvasia and macabeo grapes. “On Ibiza, you couldn’t buy a cork, you couldn’t buy a bottle.” He shrugs. “The personality of the land is the personality of the wine,” he says, waving his arm airily to the left, towards Plat Albarca, the valley sheltering his 12 hectares of vineyards. “The vine is a strong plant. It survives with little water. And we have good climate, good soil.” I leave with two bottles of Sa Cova 9 and one of Riera’s signature Clot D’Albarca, which works miracles with the monastrell grape, as he retreats into the diminutive lodge with its small clusters of barrels — an emperor with no real urge to widen his empire.


Sa Cova is out of step with the image of Ibiza as a hedonistic haven, but it’s very much part of a version of island life that’s oddly easy to encounter. It’s there again at Can Lluc, an agroturismo hotel within the vicinity of the capital Eivissa (Ibiza Town), an oasis where olive trees murmur around a tranche of villas and whisper to the day-beds by the pool,

before further rows of grape vines take up the chorus to the rear. Squint at the latter and you might make out the Ibiza that existed in the ancient world, the one settled by Phoenician navigators in 654BC, ruled from Africa by Carthage (modern-day Tunis) in 5BC, and gradually absorbed into the Roman realm during 2BC — it was this last set of incomers who knew a thing or two about wine cultivation on gentle hillsides. The foundations remain. At Sa Caleta, in the south-west of the island, a peninsula protects the Asentamiento Fenicio, remnants of stone structures crafted by those first Phoenicians. These low lines of brick, right angles in orange dirt, were uncovered by archaeological excavation in the early 1990s and given UNESCO World Heritage status by the end of that decade — a Balearic Pompeii hidden by time rather than anything as gaudily dramatic as volcanic fury. The Mediterranean gleams on each side, and those original residents’ ingenuity becomes clear, their choice of site providing access to both the sea and Ibiza’s salt marshes — Ses Salines — whose minerals were such a desirable commodity for traders. It’s a beautiful setting, and therefore, I decide, just a little obvious. Ibiza is renowned for its wave whoosh and shoreline sparkle. But to devote oneself to the coast is to ignore the meat of an island which, at 221 sq miles in area, is the third biggest of the Balearics; it’s small enough to explore, yet big enough to be dissected over the course of a week. Indeed, you could meander through Ibiza at length, without so much as glancing at the seafront. This is not to dismiss the joys of its beaches — the decadent curve of Platja d’en Bossa, the tranquil crescent of Platja de Ses Salines, the perfect horseshoe of Cala d’en Serra. More to say that, to glimpse Ibiza’s soul, you need to look inwards, to the hamlets that nestle, half unnoticed, between the fig trees and citrus groves. So it is that, on a cautiously warm March morning, I find myself in Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera, the village at the geographical heart of the island. Carrer de la Vénda des Poble, the aorta of this heart, would blush at attempts to describe it as a main square




Procession during the Sant Agusti des Vedra Festival PREVIOUS SPREAD:

Tourists exploring the streets of Ibiza Town OPPOSITE: Grapes growing in San Mateo valley

March 2017



Ibiza Old Town in the summertime







Cacti in the rugged Ibiza landscape OPPOSITE: Local woman in Ibiza Town




— indeed, as per its name, it’s strictly a street. But it fulfils the role of central plaza nonetheless: woozy cafe drinkeries — Bar Es Canto, Bar Costa — pinned to its hem; the church on its east edge, spotlessly whitewashed, harking back to 1797, its squat belltower as much an alarm system in an era of European warfare as a siren call to the penitent and faithful. Metres away, a bronze sculpture salutes Manuel Abad y Lasierra, the bishop of Ibiza between 1783 and 1787, his unsmiling face recalling a century when stern clerics rather than David Guetta, let alone Calvin Harris and Avicii, were the isle’s headline acts. This sepia tone continues six miles to the east, where Santa Eularia des Riu has garnered a reputation as a resort town ideal for parents on holiday with young children, but betrays its medieval fear of invaders in the shape of Puig de Missa, a 170ft bluff, half a mile inland, which formed the town’s 14th-century kernel. The church on its top, built in 1568, is as much a fortress as a place of prayer, scanning the horizon for ships with aggressive intent. And yet it leavens this nervousness with its attached cemetery; neat stone cabinets for urns of ashes, rising in columns, decorated with blooms. Any of these villages can be a seductive environment for lunch. Bar Anita in Sant Carles de Peralta is so much a cog of its community that PO boxes for local residents are lined against one courtyard wall. And if you come to pick up your letters, you may as well stay for mouthfuls of tapas — hearty slabs of pan y alioli (bread with garlic mayonnaise) and oil-drenched plates of boquerones (seasoned anchovies). Elsewhere, a short hop westward, I stumble into Restaurante La Paloma, in the tiny acorn of Sant Llorenc de Balafia, and dedicate an afternoon to gloopy gazpacho and a seafood risotto that jostles with shellfish. It would be entirely possible to drift into indolence here. But the interior also lends itself to energy. The wider municipality of Santa Eularia des Riu, one of the five administrative units into which Ibiza is divided, has just published a series of cycling routes: 12 trails which trundle the backways of this south-easterly segment of the island. Some of these are gentle jaunts for heat-haze afternoons — the nine-mile Itinerario 4 is an undemanding circumnavigation of Sant Carles which halts at the Font de Peralta, a 17th-century spring which is still the context for midsummer festivities every 29 June. Others are exercises in sweat and stamina.


Itinerario 11, which drops in on Santa Gertrudis, asks 13 hard miles of its riders, including a climb of Puig d’en Valls, a crag stirring 75ft of altitude into the mix, but which rewards those who reach its ‘peak’ with a picturesque six-sail windmill, which first produced grain in 1797. Then there are the mountain-bike routes which criss-cross the entire island: 21 ribbons of endeavour split — ski-run-style — into green, blue, red and black categories. Ruta 19 cuts an 18-mile circular arc through the northerly municipality of Sant Joan de Labritja, wending in and out of Sant Llorenc. Pitched affably in the blue bracket, it pulls me into its grip one overcast lunchtime, and keeps me bewitched by its spell: rich aromas and ingrained furrows of Ibizan agriculture on the road to Sant Miquel de Balansat; bursts of pine fragrance as the gradient stiffens after a turn onto a choppy track; fir trees crowding the camber, my calf muscles beginning to ache; a hairpin bend, various bangs and bounces, and a sudden from-above snapshot of the Mediterranean at Na Xamena, a bay where cliffs drop to rocky, sharptoothed shallows. Then it’s on and eastward, descending on welcome tarmac to the resort of Port de Sant Miquel, where the beach strikes seductive poses — though I resist, snaking back inland, with the isle throwing off its cloud cover as I return to Sant Llorenc under a sky of psychedelic orange.

If it’s too much of a shock to see the sea after half a week inland, then Ibiza offers other places in which to avoid it — not least its capital. Eivissa (Ibiza Town) may be southcoast in location, but it’s effectively northfacing in aspect, all but turning a cold shoulder to the Mediterranean and cocooning itself within high walls. Its fortifications are not quite a match for Dubrovnik’s world wonders, but they had the same defensive purpose and were strengthened between 1555 and 1585 at a juncture when the Ottoman threat was growing. With this, they sing of the 13th century, when the isle was a coveted entity for which swords were wielded and blood shed, and ruled by the North African chieftains who had swept it into their Moorish realm in the 10th century, before James I of Aragon ripped it from their educated grasp in 1235. Come at Ibiza Town via the Porta de Ses Taules, one of its grand historic gateways, and you enter a self-contained citadel that’s as much a nugget of cosmopolitan Spain as it is a portal within quick reach of the beach. You may have already ambled through Placa de la Constitucio, where the Mercat Vell (Old Market) is a Saturday feast of olive oils, herbs and cheeses. You may have strolled across Passeig de Vara de Rey, a leafy square where Galeria Blanca sells intriguing artworks and Pollock-esque swirls of paint, and the next-door restaurant Sa Brisa promises tangy seabass ceviche, delicious Segovia suckling pig and intimate conversation at dimly lit tables. You may have tripped into Teatro Pereyra, an 1898 theatre now restored as a music venue and the atmospheric option for a soft island red. Even so, the Dalt Vila (Old Town) surprises with its cultural menu. A stride along the broad walkway Carretera Nargiso Puget brings me to the Museu d’Art Contemporani, the island’s leading art institution, which stretches itself, schizophrenically, between a stone house that harks to 1727 and a heroic modern structure hewn from glass and concrete by Ibizan architect Victor Beltran Roca in 2011. Inside, temporary exhibitions reinforce a permanent collection of the obtuse and the mysterious, such as Catalan visionary Albert Porta y Munoz’s Confuzeya staring discomfitingly at the observer as a cascade of disembodied eyes, and Hans Laabs’ Weise Mitte confronting the viewer with its blocks of yellow and green. The cultural landmarks continue to appear as Eivissa flows up its slope. Sala Es Polvori, a

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nds Isla ric lea a B Ibiza A






Eivissa (Ibiza)





Sant Llorenc de Balafia

San Antonio de Portmany

Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera

Sant Carles de Peralta Santa Eulària des Riu



ESSENTIALS Getting there & around British Airways provides regular direct flights to Ibiza from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and City. EasyJet, Norwegian, Ryanair, Flybe,, Monarch, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways offer summer services from most major British cities, including Bristol, Glasgow and Belfast. Public transport in Ibiza is limited, and it’s easiest to hire a car at the airport if you plan to move around. Bike rental companies include Bicicletas Kandani and Velo Club Ibiza.

When to go Ibiza has a classic southern European four-season climate, and tends to hit temperatures of up to 30C in July and August, but it can also be as warm as 15C during the winter months.

Places mentioned Can Lluc. Cas Gasi. Catedral de Santa Maria. Galeria Blanca. Museu Arqueologic. Museu d’Art Contemporani. Museu Casa Broner. Restaurante La Paloma. Sa Brisa. Sa Cova. Teatro Pereyra.

More info Guides to Ibiza’s mountain bike routes can be downloaded at Printed packs detailing cycle routes in Santa Eulalia des Riu can be obtained from tourist information centres (see

How to do it LOVE VELO is offering a guided ‘Luxury Ibiza Cycling Getaway’, which

explores the interior of the island over five days. From £789 per person, including five-star accommodation, airport transfers, meals and bicycle rental. Excludes flights.

ABOVE: Market in D’Alt Vila (Old Town)

INNTRAVEL offers a six-day self-guided walking tour, covering the north and north-east of the island. From £845 per person, with breakfast and some other meals. Excludes flights.


former gunpowder storehouse resculpted as a hub for rotating art shows and surreal soundscapes; the Centro de Interpretacion Madina Yabisa, a considered museum which charts Ibiza’s Moorish centuries; the Museu Arqueologic, which takes a trowel to Arabic, Phoenician and Roman Ibiza with equal dexterity. The latter sits in the shadow of the Catedral de Santa Maria, another swarthy temple which looks like it knows how to fight as well as worship. From here, I drift downhill and beyond the walls, then clamber up again, tracing increasingly narrow passageways and tight staircases, until Carrer Sa Penya reveals an offbeat jewel. Wedged into the north-east corner of town, above the port from which ferries begin the chug to Formentera, the Museu Casa Broner is a fine curiosity, the former home of Erwin Broner, a German architect who spent his closing years on Ibiza, designing to a style that was an idiosyncratic alliance of Mediterranean and Bauhaus. His ethos lingers in the futuristic house he built for his wife, Gisela, though for all its light and space, the key note is his sulky studio, squirrelled below stairs and clad in red tiles. I follow Broner’s lead, abandoning the seascape once more, and flee back to the centre of the isle, where Cas Gasi is another countryside oasis, its luxury boutique aesthetic, spa and swimming pool slotted discreetly into woodland west of Santa Gertrudis. As the evening descends, a fire crackles in the hearth in the lounge-lobby, and the bacalao gratinado, a thick cod fillet with Iberian ham, is essential fuel against the March chill. In the morning, there’s dew on the grass and a ghostly mist around the tree trunks, and the idea of Ibiza as a hotspot of sun, sand and sangria seems more distant than ever. I’m not disappointed.



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Flinders Ranges

AUSTRALIA On the edge of the South Australian Outback, the mountains of the Flinders Ranges rise above plains, salt lakes and red sand dunes that are home to cattle stations, sheep farms and the elusive yellow-footed rock-wallaby Words & photographs E W E N B E L L

March 2017





Ross and Jane Fargher and family run the Nilpena Station, as well as the Prairie Hotel, in the town of Parachilna. Their cattle compete with kangaroos and emus for feed, so the Farghers make a point of putting plenty of these indigenous animals on the menu. One boundary of Nilpena runs into the foothills of the Flinders Ranges, the other into the slat flats of Lake Torrens.

March 2017





Sheep were once allowed to graze throughout the Flinders Ranges; beyond the national park, Ian Fargher still keeps 1,000 sheep for wool. The woolshed at Angorichina Station was built in the 1850s from local pine, and has been preserved by the protective properties of lanolin, a wax found in unwashed wool.

March 2017





Yellow-footed rock-wallabies differ from other large marsupials in their reluctance to leave their troup. Groups of several dozen will remain in valleys where the high cliffs and supply of food keep them safe. A troup on the edge of Brachina Gorge is signposted — and if you arrive early in the morning, a group of them are likely to be hiding in plain sight, just a few hundred metres away. Only when they hop between boulders do they reveal themselves, or when they cross the road in search of something green.

March 2017



The muted colours of the Flinders Ranges are reflected in the wildlife. The mallee ringneck parrot — native to Australia — mimics the cool blues and greens of a distant range, with flecks of colour that invoke the yellow and reds of late spring flowers.





Sydney Opera House

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City life

JERUSALEM If you ask a question in Jerusalem, you may well get five different answers. In an ancient city where history, legend and scripture intertwine, facts can be elusive, but the stories still soar. WORDS: Tara Isabella Burton



venerate one of the most important rulers in Jewish history, is almost certainly not at the shrine where young women in snoods now sit in silence with their Torahs and sometimes weep; even David’s historical city lies today outside the old city walls. The Via Dolorosa — sacred to Christian pilgrims because of its association with Jesus’s final walk to Cavalry for his crucifixion — first defined by Franciscan monks in the Medieval era almost certainly doesn’t reflect the original route. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the Temple Mount — closed to nonMuslims — venerates the site of the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey, as recounted in the Qu’ran; but the text doesn’t mention Jerusalem, at least not by that name. But in Jerusalem’s tangled, stone-stepped, historically fraught Old City — one sq km that’s home to about 4,000 Jews, 31,000


here are two graves just inside the Jaffa Gate. Nobody knows whose they are. One story, says my guide, Arnon, is that they’re the architects behind the Ottoman-era city walls, slain by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent lest they ever create something as beautiful again. Another has it that the hapless architects were killed to prevent them ever revealing the wall’s tactical weaknesses, or because the walls didn’t encompass Mount Zion — associated with the ancient city of King David. “Or maybe they’re just nobodies,” he adds. “But that’s not as good a story.” There’s an old saying among Jewish families like mine — ask two Jews a question, get three answers. Here in Jerusalem, you get at least five. There are so many stories here, lines are blurred. The tomb of King David, where Jews

March 2017




Faisal, the gardener, gives me an olive branch (they say the leaves, boiled in tea, have special properties) and whispers at me not to tell, lest the other pilgrims want one too OLIVE BRANCH

A Palestinian taxi driver takes me to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus is said to have wept before his arrest, and where the Basilica of the Agony (also known as the Church of All Nations) now stands. There I stop to talk to Faisal, an Arab Christian who’s been a gardener there for 20 years; just like his father, and his father’s father. He gives me an olive branch he’s pruned (they say the leaves, boiled in tea, have special properties) and whispers at me not to tell, lest the other pilgrims want one too. Beyond the Lion’s Gate, I stop for a lavender-infused, white wine spritzer at the Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family (one of many historic guesthouses for pilgrims scattered around the Old City) on Via Dolorosa. It’s a Habsburg-built palazzo surrounded by bougainvillea and oleander, where nuns (flanked by the stalwart Hospice dog, Benny — presumably short for Benedict) eat Austrian Sachertorte alongside bluehaired backpackers under an enormous, nostalgic portrait of the Habsburg emperor Franz-Joseph. I can hear the call to prayer; later, the church bells. On my way out, the streets are closed; policemen stand guard with machine guns alongside a march that’s passing by. Men are in yarmulkes, some with beards and peyot (sidelocks sported by most Haredi

Jews), some in the hats traditional to ultraOrthodox Lithuanian Jews and Hasidim. Some women wear a snood — married Orthodox women cover their hair — some wear secular clothes. Everyone is dancing. Traditional Jewish music blares out from a sound system on wheels; an old bearded man, Joseph, from Jaffa, sees me standing on the sidelines and pulls me in. It’s two days before Rosh Hashanah — the celebration of the New Year — and the thousand-odd gatherers are participating in Selichot, the ritual making of amends through prayer, here celebrated by a march to the Western Wall (the outer wall of the complex of the Second Temple, built as an expression of faith after the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon). A 10-year-old girl patiently explains the theology to me in English; Joseph hands me a chocolate bar before vanishing behind a curtain — men and women are separated — for a series of starlit group dances. I watch for a while; I wander on. It’s just after sundown; the streets are barricaded now, to prevent any inter-religious violence. As I make my way into the Muslim Quarter, a group of Arab men, on their way home from the Islamic holy sites known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, have gathered and are growing increasingly irritated at the closure of the street. I, however, am allowed to pass. Walking through the Muslim Quarter, I pass men playing cards at plastic tables in undecorated tea houses. A group of young men call out to me, laughing, mocking my slight edginess. “Come on,” one says. “Let’s take a selfie.” We do.


Yesterday’s tensions at the barricade are a reminder that despite the proximity of Jerusalem’s religious traditions, the city is anything but unified. “It’s not just three cities,” Arnon remarks. “It’s three cosmoses. Avoiding each other. Negating each other.” In the walled, claustrophobic Old City, he says, the communities intersect without meaning to — “When a Muslim family puts a picture of their child up on the wall in the Arab Quarter, they’re often putting it up against a section of the Western Wall” — against which so many Muslim houses lean. Outside the Old City, Jerusalem has its ferociously separate spheres. There’s the secular-Jewish Jerusalem of the New City: underground pop-up bars in former pickle-shops and gluten-free patisseries along Jaffa Street, and the newly renovated Mamilla Boulevard — where the windows all face inward, so that Orthodox Jews passing by outside don’t have to see mannequins in lingerie. There’s the East Jerusalem of


Arabs (mostly Muslims), 500 Armenians and countless pilgrims — topography, it seems, transcends truth. “Facts have no place in Jerusalem,” says Arnon. We’re in the heart of the Old City, sitting on a bougainvillea-strewn terrace of the Lutheran Guest House, overlooking Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall, and the gold-glinting Dome of the Rock; the sloping green Mount of Olives in the distance. “Here, they’re a hindrance.” For travellers — whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or secular — Jerusalem’s power lies in its promise of the cosmic; a city that, for so many of its visitors, lies at the centre of stories about Creation (according to one legend, Adam’s skull is buried here; according to another, divine creation started at Mount Zion) as well as about the end of days. “It’s the only city in the world,” Arnon says, “where history isn’t just past and present, but future.” Arnon tells me about the time he explained to a family of Orthodox Jews how unlikely it was that David’s tomb was really David’s tomb. “They listened very carefully,” he says, “then they said when are we going to the tomb? I want to read some psalms!” It’s that sense of faith that, even as an outsider, gives Jerusalem its propulsive, chaotic energy. Every other street in the Old City throngs with sellers of menorahs and rosaries, icons and incense; every corner has a church with a minaret built on top of it, a synagogue whose dome fades, on the sand-coloured horizon, into the dome of a church nearby. Crowds come in waves; by day, near the major sights, the city is packed with pilgrim groups and backpackers (“You can push!” somebody tells me, through the throng. “It’s Israel!”). At dusk, the Old City is empty: moonlight falls over cobblestones. At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — one of Christianity’s holiest sites — standing on what many believe to be the execution and burial site of Christ, Russian Orthodox pilgrims wave sweet-smelling sprigs of basil as a bearded priest waves a candle; Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenians kneel to kiss the stone where Jesus was said to have been embalmed. Hanging over it are so many lamps — each one key to a different Christian tradition. Women kneel and weep; the younger ones help the older ones up the stairs to Calvary. During my time in Jerusalem, I find myself welcomed wherever I go — partly because I don’t obviously belong to one faith or tradition. “Jewish or Christian?” a seller calls out at me as I make my way across the low stone steps of the bazaar. He holds up a Star of David necklace in one hand, a cross in the other. I tell him my family is mixed — “Both.” He harumphs. “Well, which do you like better?” I don’t buy either.


OPPOSITE: Street sign

Jaffa Gate in Old City


of the Holy Sepulchre is a church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, a few steps away from the Muristan; delivering bread, Mahane Yehuda Market; fresh made bagels at the market; ornate frames, also at the market

March 2017



Crowds come in waves; by day, near the major sights, the city is packed with pilgrim groups and backpackers (“You can push!” somebody tells me, through the throng. “It’s Israel!”). At dusk, the Old City is empty: moonlight falls over cobblestones

The Western Wall




March 2017




the Muslim and Christian Palestinians beyond the Damascus Gate. Then there’s the Jerusalem of the deeply Orthodox, the Haredi — from both Hasidic and Lithuanian traditions, as well as some Sephardim — who live in the neighbourhoods around Mea Shearim. Conservative, fiercely insular — English-language signs exhort the few tourists who visit to be modesty dressed, lest they ‘seriously offend’ residents — Mea Shearim is a prime example of a selfsustaining neighbourhood: a culture of inward-looking self-sufficiency born out of a world where centuries of discrimination — and violence — made putting up barriers seem that much more sensible than opening its doors. My guide, Lea Schreiber, a woman from a largely Haredi family in Belgium, and one of an increasing number of women who provide neighbourhood tours, mostly to curious Israelis, takes me through the quarter. She shows me a free loan society — the Haredi don’t charge one another interest for loans, but instead require an esteemed guarantor from within the community — where locals take care of their own; and points out the donation boxes (located outside ATMs and money-changers) for charitable causes. Lea also shows me ‘Haredi Facebook’ (many Haredi chose not to use the internet, or any other media that might be deemed to distract from their focus on God) — advertisements, death notices and pashkevil posters plastered outside the synagogue. She then takes me to shops selling modest clothing, religiously appropriate storybooks and media (National Geographic nature videos are among the rare nonreligious items on display) and glimmering silver Torah covers — the sort a wealthy family might buy to donate to their local synagogue. “We look out for each other here,” Lea says. Even outside Mea Shearim, this fierce collectivism is integral to the identity of Jewish Jerusalemites. “In Tel Aviv,” Itzik Kadosh, the owner of the Central European-style Cafe Kadosh on Jaffa Street tells me, “it’s more like the West.” People are cutthroat, competitive, he says. But in Jerusalem, people work together. Nowhere is that more evident than in Mahane Yehuda Market (Jerusalemites just call it the shuk). A decade ago, the market

At the Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family, I eat Austrian Sachertorte alongside bluehaired backpackers under an enormous, nostalgic portrait of the Habsburg emperor

FROM TOP: Nuns and visitors eating at the cafe in the Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family; locals in Mea Shearim

March 2017



Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family

Medit erraean S ea

Jerusalem a l l s y W t i C Damascus Gate Via Dolorosa Church of the Holy Sepulchre Dome of the Rock OLD CITY Western Mamilla Jaffa Wall Boulevard Gate l s al W C i t y



greased hair and infectious energy. He shows me the shuk bars; they include Casino de Paris, set in a former Mandate-era brothel — catering largely to 18-to-20-year-olds looking for a hedonistic break from military service — and the slightly ‘Berlin-style’, lowlit bars on the fringes, where those in their 30s go. We wander through archways and courtyards, and across alleys, to the Alliance House, an NGO-funded arts and performance space in a converted schoolhouse between the shuk and Zion Square.

Tonight, there’s an immersive theatre performance going on in the basement. “They do experiments on people,” Daniel tells me. “But, like, cool ones.” I fill out a form and head into the basement, to be grilled about my insecurities, my regrets and my relationship with religion by strangers who look deeply into my eyes while filming me. One gives me a makeshift passport, a “new identity”. “Welcome to the future,” he says, and ushers me into a parking lot. We move on. Daniel takes us to HaMazkeka, a live music venue tucked away off Jaffa Street. Tonight, there’s an Arab DJ playing. The crowd is mixed: boys in jeans, men in floor-length robes, women with curly hair and heels. The music pulses, the space — cramped, cavernous — echoes. The words of the music — in Arabic, in Hebrew — melt into the soundscape; all that’s left is the beat. We dance until dawn.

ESSENTIALS Getting there & around El Al flies from Heathrow to Tel Aviv daily, while EasyJet flies from Luton. The most straightforward way to get from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem is by taxi (325 shekels/£70), taking about 45 minutes; regular buses (90 minutes, 30 shekels/£6.50) leave from the Egged company’s bus station in Airport City, a short shuttle from the airport itself, to Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station.

Places mentioned

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I fill out a form and head into the basement, to be grilled about my insecurities, my regrets and my relationship with religion by strangers

Cafe Kadosh. 6 Queen Shlomziyon St. T: 00 972 2 625 4210. Alliance House. 5 Kiach St. HaMazkeka.

More info DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Jerusalem, Israel, Petra & Sinai (2016). RRP: £20

How to do it The best guesthouses for budget travellers can be found in the Old City — and you don’t need to be religious to stay in a historic pilgrim’s hostel, such as the Austrian Guesthouse, which offers dormitory beds from £22 per night, and private rooms from around £70. For a more luxurious experience of trendier Jerusalem, try the Herbert Samuel Hotel (, where doubles start from £230.


was a teeming slum — the sort of place you’d avoided unless you were desperate for prickly pears or persimmons. Then, in 2002, a wealthy local merchant, Eli Mizrachi, transformed three of his stalls into a high-end cafe, Café Mizrachi, in the hopes of improving the market’s reputation among the young. The plan was a success. By day, the shuk is now equal parts traditional bazaar and artisanal gallery. Small pickle-and-cheese shops have been transformed into fromageries; chain bakeries, and tahini shops — boasting hundreds of flavours of the sesame paste — stand alongside fruit stalls. But it’s night when the shuk truly comes alive. As part of a collective deal, the shops hand over their keys each night to pop-up bars, transforming the space into a labyrinth of hookah pipes and beers. I take a tour with Daniel Nahmias, a bright-eyed, manic 20-something with

Welcome to the land of legendary and sacred icons. Cities that are cultural, living jewels. Nowhere else in the world can you ďŹ nd such a concentration of historic, cultural and faith-based sites including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You've heard the stories all your life, now it is time to experience them. The Palestinian people would be honored to welcome you, and share their culture and traditions, whose roots run through the centuries. They will see that your trip will be one you will never forget. To Plan Your Trip check out these useful links or contact one of our licensed tour operators,, Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association (HLITOA),



City life



What the leafy city lacks in wow-factor landmarks it makes up for in quirky individuality, with the DIY vibe spanning everything from beer and coffee to food trucks and craft shops. WORDS: David Whitley


t number nine on the TripAdvisor list of things to do in Portland is the MAX Light Rail. That’s right — the public has decided that the ninth-best attraction in Oregon’s largest city is a train. For most cities (and for the people who rate things on TripAdvisor) this would be damning. But for Portland, it feels oddly apt. This is partly because everything above it is outdoor space — valleys, parks, gardens, lakes and grottos. This is indicative of Portland’s tree-huggy embrace of its position in the green, forested heart of the Pacific Northwest. But it’s also an indication that the city has a different mindset from most others. Blundering into Portland uninitiated is likely to lead to confusion. Where’s the mustdo museum? What about the classic photo op spot? Or the big historic building? The truth is Portland doesn’t have any of these things. It is unequivocally a place to be, rather than a place to see. That doesn’t mean you can’t go with a large set of boxes to tick — it’s just those tickboxes are likely to be breweries, or restaurants, or distilleries, rather than conventional attractions. It’s Portland’s status as a relative backwater — something even Portlanders will happily admit to — that has given it space for fermentation. Without the glare of the spotlight or relentless pressure to cover extortionate rents, people have been free to try things. They’ve roasted their own coffee beans; they’ve experimented with different hop combinations; they’ve ferreted out the best local farms and put the resulting fi nds in the oven. In turn, this has attracted people from other cities who want to do the same. It has led to a remarkably symbiotic, buzzing hive of small businesses and self-employment. Imagine that one newly cool neighbourhood every city has, mushroom it across virtually the whole urban landscape, and it’s Portland. There are several pockets of brewpubs and food trucks, crafts stores and coffee shops, but on the whole, the experimental, quality-focused joints are spread throughout the city. This makes it a slowburner of a place, tough to put a fi nger on immediately, but gradually unveiling. There’ll be a few happy accident discoveries just wandering around, but talking to locals and a little advance research goes a long way. The resulting small fi nds all set off a little tingle, with no one in particular giving the full fi rework display. But they mount up, fi ring like synapses until suddenly the city makes consummate sense.

March 2017



CYCLE PORTLAND: The bike lane

network makes cycling the ideal way to get around. Cycle Portland offers rentals and tours like the Foodie Field Trip — a great way to stumble on coffee shops, food trucks and ice creameries. OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM: Offers an insight into what makes Portland and Oregon tick, from the fur trade and farming to key 1970s environmental policies and relationships with Native Americans. BREWVANA BREWERY TOURS: At last count, there were 71 breweries in Portland (the craft beer capital of the US) and Brewvana’s tours take in a few of the best. Heroically, it’s had its bus designated as a tasting room so you can keep drinking between stops. INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN: Part of the humongous Washington Park, this garden is where new breeds of roses are bred and tested out, with over 500 varieties on display.

WORLD FORESTRY CENTER: Also in Washington Park, the World Forestry Center offers an interesting take on forests, from the flora and fauna living at different levels of hulking great Douglas firs to the fearless ‘smokejumping’ firefighters. PORTLAND WALKING TOURS: Offers several tours, with the Underground Portland option providing a fascinating look at the city’s darker history: shameless Prohibition-era bar owners, people being tricked into working on ships for years and corrupt cops raking in backhanders. ALDER STREET FOOD CART POD: Other cities have food trucks, but Portland goes allout. The Alder Street pod, downtown, is extraordinary for both size (surrounding an entire city block car park) and variety. Options include jambalaya from Mumbo Gumbo, Hawaiian loco moco from 808 Grinds, Iraqi shawarmas from Al Mawj and Ethiopian doro watt and injera from Emame’s.


PREVIOUS PAGE: Portland Mercury Wall, Powell’s City of Books CLOCKWISE: Exterior of Andina Restaurant; cyclist on Hawthorne Bridge; Jason French, the chef and owner of Ned Ludd; guests socialising at Jupiter Hotel; Multnomah Whiskey Library



is apt. The self-styled largest independent new and used bookstore in the world is, in equal measures, intimidating and bewitching. Amid the canyons of tomes, colour coding and section-numbering are essential navigational aids; the Pacific Northwest section is hearteningly huge. UNION WAY: Opposite Powell’s, Union Way is a stylish mini-mall with a local indie focus. Danner specialises in outdoor gear — particularly shoes and boots — while

Hi-diddily-ho! // Simpsons creator Matt Groening is from Portland, and many of the characters are named after Portland streets. Groening himself grew up on NE Flanders Street. It doesn’t take too much guesswork to figure out who that turned into…

Will Leather Goods offers everything from leather travel bags that feel like they’ve been passed down through the generations to oldschool footballs. 1022 W Burnside Street. NORTH MISSISSIPPI AVENUE: This street in North Portland is emerging as the new bar and restaurant strip of choice, but there’s also a lot of shopping options. PDXchange offers Fairtrade and locally made bags, ceramics, metal carvings et al, while Black Wagon does a superb line in toys that grownups might secretly want for themselves.





LOYAL LEGION: The hundred-strong

draft list is broken down into types such as amber, farmhouse, IPA and nitro. Tasting flights are the way to explore a range of local brews, with knowledgeable bar staff on hand to help you choose. COOPERS HALL: A hangar-like space, with one wall stacked with wine barrels and another lined with on-tap wines — Cooper’s Hall does wine in a very Portland way. There are flight options to sample, but this feels nothing like a snooty, scene-y wine bar. MULTNOMAH WHISKEY LIBRARY: There are so many whiskeys here that they have to be stored on shelves, like books in a library, with staff climbing ladders to get at them. And the drinks list isn’t a piece of card — it’s a book. As spectacular as the choice is the rich man’s private club decor, with chopped wood by the fireplace, chandeliers and glorious leather seating.



JUPITER HOTEL: A converted,

hipped-up motel, the Jupiter comes with chalkboards on doors and encouragements for guests to express themselves. Reception doubles up as an art gallery — artists have been brought in to do individual feature walls and the neighbouring bar hosts plenty of bands. MARK SPENCER HOTEL: Free cookies, old newspaper cuttings on the walls and lots of plant-filled public space give the Mark Spencer a bit of character. Most rooms

come with kitchenettes, there’s a policy of always upgrading if there’s space and there are beer growlers (jugs) in the room that can be filled at the nearby Fat Head’s Brewery. HOTEL LUCIA: One wall is filled with old cameras, receptionists have a line in sassy chat, while the minibars have locally made chocs and ‘love kits’. And, if you choose to forgo your room being made up, they’ll give you $5 minibar credit. It’s high on quirks, but done with panache.

March 2017




CARTOPIA: On the corner of SE 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard, this was where the food truck pod movement started. Potato Champion does a mean satay poutine, Tahrir Square goes Egyptian and PBJ’s does a hefty, spicy Thai-style crispy coconut shrimp sandwich with peanut butter and orange marmalade. NED LUDD: With a cool cabin look, wood-fired oven and a tent outside, the Ned Ludd riffs on rustic kitsch. There’s an inventive simplicity to the food, with fare like rabbit or roasted trout served up with reverentially treated vegetables. ANDINA: A sprawling, multi-levelled jigsaw of a layout is combined with novoPeruvian food. Each dish is practically an essay, with the sources and treatments of all ingredients described with a love that borders on the weirdly meticulous.

of the few states in the US that doesn’t have a sales tax — which means there are no nasty surprise additions to bills. It also makes it a relatively bargainous place for shopping, with sporting goods and outdoors gear being particularly good value due to the likes of Nike and Columbia being Oregon-based. THE BALL GAME: Portland is one of the only US cities where football (as in proper football, played with the feet) is the most beloved sport. The Portland Timbers games at Providence Park attract big crowds, and sports bars tend to have a good atmosphere when they’re playing. THE HARD STUFF: Micro-distilleries have been popping up across the city in recent years — mainly in the south east. Eleven have banded together to offer a $30 (£24) tasting ‘Passport’ that grants free samples at their establishments. distilleryrow.pdx

The Green Room, Multnomah Whiskey Library TOP: Roasted trout, charred leeks, spring salad and house charcuterie board, Ned Ludd

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Union Way Alder St food cart pod GOOSE Oregon Washington HOLLOW Historical Park Society DOWNTOWN Providence Park

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R i v e r

staying at the Hotel Lucia and flying via Chicago from Heathrow with American Airlines, from £1,091 per person.


How to do it EXPEDIA offers a seven-night break in Portland,




More info Portland, by Hollyanna McCollom (Moon Handbooks). RRP: $17.99 (£14.19).




When to go Winters are drizzly, with temperatures around 9C. Parks are best experienced May-September.

Mississippi Avenue



Getting there & around Delta launches direct flights to Portland from Heathrow in May. Until then, there are several options for one-stop connections within the US. Alternatively, a KLM/Delta codeshare via Amsterdam offers flights from multiple UK airports, and Icelandair goes via Reykjavik from six airports, including Glasgow and Manchester. A combination of the MAX Light Rail (which goes from the airport into town), buses and streetcars makes the public transport better than most US cities. It’s also bike-friendly, and Uber is a good bet if on a decent mobile roaming plan. Try Broadway Cab (T: 00 1 503 227 1234) if you need a taxi.







Q // In the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, what can I expect if I travel to Cuba this year?


Ever since I first visited Cuba in the 1980s, I’ve been fretting about when this beautiful, wayward island might change. But since then, aside from a few rough patches — notably in the mid1990s during the economic crisis of the so-called Special Period — the island has only improved for the international traveller. Cities, coasts and countryside seem largely unscathed by the 20th century, and the warmth of the people is as intense as ever. Following the thawing in USCuban relations during Obama’s tenure, 2017 could be an ideal time to visit, while the island is blossoming with increased tourist numbers; and before the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s foreign policies truly sets in.

At the moment, Havana has a shortage of hotel beds, with most booked up by groups of American visitors. Fortunately, locals are opening up their homes as casas particulares — private houses open to fee-paying guests. These homestays pre-date services such as Airbnb and provide great value for tourists as well as offering an insight into Cuban life. Booking a homestay online isn’t easy; for independent travellers, asking around is a foolproof way to find a bed — someone always has room. Self-driving is an option, but given that Cuba is a long, skinny island (it’s over 540 miles from Havana to the second city, Santiago de Cuba), I recommend hopping from one end to the other on Viazul buses (and taking trains

where possible, although these are harder to come by) and then flying back to the capital. In a country not much smaller than England but with onefifth of the population, there are plenty of spots to escape to. South of Varadero, the port town of Cardenas is the epitome of graceful decline. Take the highway east from here, carving through sleepy villages and sugar plantations to the exquisite colonial town of Remedios. And for a taste of history, head to the country’s oldest town of Baracoa, where Columbus first landed in 1492. The port was battered by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 but — like so much in Cuba — has picked itself up, made do and mended. SIMON CALDER

Q // What is turbulence and how dangerous is it for plane passengers?

Q // I'm hiking in Graubünden, Switzerland this year. Where’s the best pre-pitched campsite for a first-time camper?


Q // I’m travelling to Canada this summer. Where do you recommend that best combines a city and big outdoors experience?

In the 25 years that British Airways has run its Flying With Confidence courses aimed at helping nervous flyers, we’ve found that turbulence is the most common fear among anxious customers. However, ask any pilot how much they worry about turbulence and the answer will be the same: not at all. No more than a driver worries about a bump in the road. Apart from wake turbulence, which is similar to the wake left behind by a boat, all turbulence is caused by nature. The mixing of fast- and slow-moving air causes small variations in the lift being produced by an aircraft wing. This variation may at times feel uncomfortable, but it’s never dangerous. Modern aircraft are incredibly strong and won’t suffer

structural damage in turbulence. So as long as you keep your seat belt on, you’re safe. Pilots know their aircraft is able to withstand even the most severe turbulence, so they’re totally at ease with this perfectly normal flying experience. On our courses, we explain all this in detail — and while we don’t ask people to like turbulence, we do ask people to understand it, to accept that it’s part and parcel of flying and, crucially, we teach some simple techniques to manage any anxiety caused by it.

How about concentrating on the sensational Beverin Nature Park, home to dramatic canyons, village scenery and crystal-clear mountain lakes? There are some modest camping options around the perimeter (due to the snowy winters, the Swiss favour more robust B&Bs and chalets). But in the heart of Beverin, near the village of ThalerLotsch, you’ll find a one-of-a-kind glamping experience. Null Stern Hotel has no walls; what it does

have, however, is one isolated, snug double bed where — during the warm summer months — guests can sleep under the stars and wake to see the sunrise over the Alpine foothills. No tent poles, no air mattress; it’s a gift to weary hikers (and reluctant campers). Guests even get coffee and breakfast brought out to them by a ‘butler’. To reserve, contact

• Check equipment beforehand, especially if rented • Never dive alone • Ensure you and your partner keep hydrated and avoid alcohol before diving • Be aware of weather, wind and currents • Familiarise yourself with the medical backup before you dive, e.g. nearest hyperbaric chamber • Be aware of the dangers posed by inexperienced divers and surface vessels • Reduce the risks of decompression sickness and nitrogen narcosis by avoiding long and deep dives, ascending slowly and paying heed to decompression tables • Avoid flying for 12-18 hours or more after diving • Have a healthy respect for sealife and don’t touch anything



Canada turns 150 this year, meaning it’s a fine time for a celebratory visit. The country is marking the occasion with yearround festivals, exhibitions and events, which will reach a crescendo around Canada Day (1 July). The Francophone city of Montreal also celebrates a big birthday in 2017 (375 years since its founding) so there’s probably no better place to join the party. You can expect some ambitious public art and culture projects, including an illumination of the vast Jacques

Cartier Bridge, plus Montreal’s usual roster of summer festivals (including the massive Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and Just for Laughs). From Montreal, Ottawa and the National Capital Region — where many of the 150th celebrations are taking place — are close at hand. Parks Canada is offering free admission to its natural and historical heritage sites in 2017, and from Ottawa/Montreal, you’re not too far from wilderness spots such as Algonquin Provincial Park, Bruce Peninsula National Park and the beautiful Thousand Islands.



health corner Q // How do I stay safe while diving? No activity is risk-free, but proper training, refresher courses and the following precautions will help keep you safe:


March 2017




LONDON’S SKYLINE BT TOWER // 627FT A child of the Cold War era, it was designed to withstand a nuclear blast and houses a bunker complete with chemical toilets.


TOWER 42 // 600FT Seen from above, the shape of the tower resembles the logo of its original owner, NatWest Bank PLC.

ONE CANADA SQUARE // 770FT Upon its completion in 1991, it enjoyed a very short run as the tallest building in Europe.

122 LEADENHALL // 737FT The roof of the Cheesegrater is home to a falcon’s nest.

LONDON EYE // 443FT On average, it receives more visitors per year than the Taj Mahal and Pyramids of Giza. There’s no number 13 capsule, for good luck.

THE SHARD // 1,016FT Europe’s tallest building. During construction, a fox was found by workers on the 72nd storey.

20 FENCHURCH STREET // 525FT The Walkie Talkie contains a threestorey public garden at the top.

















316 243 153 148 19


A skyscraper is any building over 150m (492ft) high. Compared to other cities, London really only has a few:


STRATA SE1 // 486FT The turbines on The Razor are audible to those on the upper floors, so they’re switched off at night, reducing the amount of power generated.

30 ST MARY AXE // 591FT 7,429 panes of glass were used in the Gherkin’s construction.


















A swathe of white sand backed by verdurous rainforest gently slopes into azure seas; manta rays and whale sharks glide through the clear waters around Thailand’s Koh Tachai, one of the finest diving destinations on the planet. This island is a snorkeller’s nirvana and a beach-lover’s wonderland. It’s perfect — because you’re not here. And you can’t come either. Due to pressure on the ecosystem and coral reef damage caused by mass tourism, the local environment has been deemed ‘unable to restore itself’ by authorities — and since 15 May 2016, Koh Tachai has been indefinitely closed to visitors. Anyone who’s ever gone for a paddle and ended up wading through a quagmire of plastic bags or found themselves swimming in an oily sea of motorboat fuel can probably see the authorities’ point. The only way to protect some of the planet’s most pristine places is to limit access to them. ‘Take only photographs; leave only footprints,’ may well be the mantra of every eco-tourist the world over, but millions of delicate footsteps over time can have a significant impact on pre-Colombian walking trails or centuries-old stairs. Rome’s famous Spanish Steps had to be closed for renovation in 2015 (for the second time in 20

years) due to tourist footfall, and Peru’s Inca Trail has a cap of 500 visitors per day — with 300 of those spaces allocated to guides, porters and cooks. Starting this year, Greece's Santorini is imposing a limit of 8,000 daily arrivals by sea. Cinque Terre, a string of five fishing villages on the Italian Riviera, is using a visitor permit system to cap tourist numbers at 1.5 million per year. In Venice, as daily visitor numbers exceed the size of the population, residents have taken to the streets — and the water — demanding a tourism cap. Brandishing billboards and staging swimming blockades to keep cruise ships from docking, it looks likely that the Floating City will be next to limit visitor numbers. In Barcelona, mayor Ada Colau has expressed her fears of mass tourism degrading the Spanish destination’s appeal. “We want visitors to get to know the real Barcelona, not a ‘Barcelona theme park’ full of McDonald’s and souvenirs, without any real identity,” Ms Colau told The Guardian in 2016. Many industry experts agree that tourism caps are better for the environment, better for architecture, better for residents, and better for visitors, too. But turning away tourist dollars isn't better for those dependent on

them — and some economies are reliant on tourism for survival. One solution lies in another industry trope: high value, low impact tourism. This means fewer people can afford to visit — but those who do, spend more. This is great for everyone — except those who aren’t super-rich. Bhutan’s system imposes a daily fee on each tourist of either US$200 (£162) or $250 (£202), dependent on season. This covers three-star accommodation (you can pay more to stay in luxury hotels), meals, domestic transport and a guide. Plus, $65 (£52) of the fee goes to free education, free healthcare, infrastructure development and poverty alleviation. It’s a system that makes tourism part of the solution rather than part of the problem.


1 // Australia’s Lord Howe Island, in the Tasman Sea, restricts numbers to 400 people at a time 2 // Antarctica has banned ships carrying more than 500 passengers, with a maximum of 100 visitors allowed on shore at once 3 // Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda only allows eight guests per day to visit a gorilla family 4 // Just 100 people can hike New Zealand’s famous Milford Track in Fiordland National Park at one time 5 // Iceland is limiting tourism by controlling the number of hotel beds available 6 // The Galapagos Islands and Peru’s Machu Picchu are famous for limiting their tourist numbers 7 // The Seychelles is also among the countries planning to cap tourism in the future Q: WHAT ABOUT ALLOCATED ENTRY OR A LOTTERY TO LIMIT TOURIST NUMBERS?

Tropical beach of Koh Tachai island

It's a good idea in theory, but governments would have to put systems in place to prevent the creation of a lucrative black market, which would also drive up the costs without passing on benefit to local communities.






Explore Iceland’s whaleand dolphin-rich waters aboard Callisto. Join a seven-day summer cruise along the northwest coast, with tours to black sand beaches, glaciers and hot springs.

Forget rotten shark; stay at Hotel Rangá and relish modern Nordic dishes such as lightly smoked puffin, reindeer carpaccio and Arctic chard with cauliflower foam.

London’s Southbank Centre is hosting a yearlong celebration of Nordic art and culture. Don't miss Neil Gaiman retelling Norse mythology and Mirth Control with Sandi Toksvig.

Visit Iceland’s still-forming Westman Islands. Volcanic Surtsey appeared above the surface in 1963, while Heimaey grew by a square mile after erupting in 1973. Tours on land and sea with

Icelandair’s Stopover Buddy ends 31 March; the free service sees transatlantic travellers paired with a local, letting you see the country through the eyes of an Icelander.

March 2017





Amazon Kindle Oasis RRP: £269.99



Bookeen Cybook Ocean RRP: £160

2. WHAT’S IN A NAME? Everything, when it comes to snagging that big saving. European operators name their advance tickets very differently, although thankfully they’re often grounded in the international language of commerce. Look out for words such as ‘advance’, ‘super’, ‘prems’ and ‘promo’. BEST FOR BUDGET

Amazon Kindle RRP: £59.99


Kobo Aura Edition 2 RRP: £99.99


3. KNOW WHEN TO BOOK Rail operators in Europe release their tickets at different times. For example, you get the best deals on Eurostar and German operator Deutsche Bahn if you book six months ahead, whereas Spain’s Renfe and Italy’s Trenitalia usually open booking only around three months before the date of travel. In the UK, you can book a maximum of 84 days in advance. Set yourself an alert for key booking periods for the countries you intend to travel to/through.

4. LOOK OUT FOR SEASONAL TIMETABLE CHANGES The booking period varies widely between French train operators, with seasonal timetables often modified

in December for winter ski train type services and in July for summer services. Keep your eyes peeled for changes and associated deals.


Left it until the very last minute to book that train ticket? Panic not. In the UK, cheaper advance tickets are often available for purchase until 18.59 the day before travel — sometimes as late as 23.59. So it’s always worth hopping online and buying, rather than waiting to queue at the counter for a wallet-wounding experience on the day of travel. Savings can be found in numerous Potential average savings on tickets in France and places online but nobody can make Italy made by booking discounts like the train operators in advance rather than themselves. Just be wary of eyepaying the walk-up fare. watering booking fees.


In Spain it's 23%.


The possible savings that can be made by booking UK rail tickets 10 weeks in advance.


The savings that can be made by booking UK rail tickets just one day in advance.


The cheapest one-way fare between London and Avignon, in the south of France, if booked the maximum number of days in advance. The same ticket, purchased on the day of travel, would cost £108.

6. TRAVEL MIDWEEK Most people travel at the weekend or at the sharp ends of the week. If you go midweek, ideally on a Wednesday, it could be up to 16% cheaper than travelling on a Friday.

7. EURO STARS As all international train journeys from the UK start with Eurostar, you’d better know when to look for those cheap tickets. Eurostar has LondonParis tickets for under £50 available each day of the week but reckons your chances of finding one is best on Wednesday afternoon. Data is based on analysis of searches carried out by between June-September 2016. For more info:



Britain has some of the most competitive fares in Europe — but only if you book in advance. Our walkup fares are some of the most expensive around, especially if you try to travel during peak hours, Monday-Friday. Booking in advance saves a whacking potential average of 43% on walk-up fares. Savings are less in Europe, around 23-32% on average.


Tech traveer A FOODIE FEAST


TOP APPS FOR... Saving memories

Food and travel are a great combination. To get the full flavour of a destination, check out these globetrotting websites for foodies

A growing number of us travel for culinary experiences, as evidenced by Instagram, which is rife with photos of people’s dinner plates. To make sure you get the best titillation for your taste buds wherever you are with Vizeat (, where you’ll find recommendations from locals for immersive food experiences, including cooking classes, eating events and the chance to book dinner with a local host, Airbnb-style. Another good tool for hosted meals is Traveling Spoon (, which connects you with vetted local hosts for a home-cooked meal and the chance to learn about local cultural and culinary traditions. As well as tasting new and exciting food, you’re bound to meet interesting people you’d never have

encountered otherwise. A lot of social tools for foodies have launched over the past few years but an old favourite of mine, Food Spotting (, is still the site to beat. Use it to find like-minded foodies around the globe and share photos and recommendations — a great way to find out what looks tasty where you’re heading. Another trend that’s exploded recently is foodrelated TV shows. If you’ve seen places on telly you’d like to visit, use TV Food Maps (tvfoodmaps. com) to find the restaurants and locations featured, then plan your trip around those destinations. If you have special dietary requirements such as allergies and are confused by foreign food labels, you can use the opensource database at Open Food Facts (world. openfoodfacts. org) to check the contents of a packet by scanning the barcode.


IOS, £3.99. If you have a stack of old photos you

want to add to your digital collection, Pic Scanner Gold has been designed for just that job. Use your phone to snap a copy and the app will convert it into a high-quality digital image.


IOS, FREE. Use Esplorio to record and share your

travels, including noting down routes, places and photos as you go.


IOS/ANDROID/WEB. FREE. If you have an Android

phone connected to your Google account you’re probably already using Google Photos without realising. With apps for iOS and Android, it offers unlimited online storage for your photos.


IOS/WEB. FREE. Create wonderful books of your

holiday snaps, drawing content from Facebook and Instagram. Making a digital book is free, but you’ll have to pay printing costs if you want a physical book delivered.

GET THE GADGET Handpresso Portable Espresso Machine The thing I miss most when I’m travelling is a decent cup of coffee in the morning. Handpresso lets you take your favourite grounds with you to enjoy wherever you are. The company has a range of compact, portable machines, starting at €70 (£60). The pumppowered one is perfect for

camping trips. Just boil up some clean water over a fire, pump up the required pressure by hand, and you’ll have bistro-quality espresso out in the wilds in no time. For €179 (£153), you can get a travel kit with a pump and espresso cups in a neat little carry case.


March 2017



T�a�el W�iting Compe�ition 2017



Have a way with words and an eye for a story? Find yourself scribbling notes when travelling? If you think you have what it takes to write for us, enter our annual Travel Writing Competition. Your work could appear in National Geographic Traveller (UK) and you could win a place on a 10-day polar expedition to Greenland with Quark Expeditions If you’re ready to transform your love of writing into a career and see your work published in one of the UK’s most prestigious travel magazines, our Travel Writing Competition 2017 could be your fortuitous foot in the door. For your chance to be noticed, simply write 500 words on an inspirational travel experience.


Keep your piece focused, capture the essence of the destination and ensure your writing has National Geographic Traveller (UK)’s defining features: immersive travel and authentic storytelling. DEADLINE: 15 May 2017. Terms and conditions apply. See more and enter online at competitions


Or are you perhaps a budding blogger?


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March 2017





Two things make this shot possible: shooting at the very last light of day and working with a fast prime lens. At this time of day, the direct sunlight has lost its intensity and the colour of the sunshine drenches everything in a golden yellow hue. The wild grasses and shrubs are already bone dry and the light removes almost every last hint of green from the landscape. Instead of fighting the monochromatic nature of the scene, I delved deeper into it by turning my lens into the sun. In the preceding days I had seen these flowers all over the Flinders Ranges, so I wanted an image that celebrated their charm. These flowers do well in the dry sections


By shooting at f/2, I soften the flaring that would otherwise leave an obvious trail across the frame, and just a hint of colour distortion remains where the flowers have caught focus.

of the landscape — anywhere the terrain is open and full of rocks. Technically, this shot is very simple: it demands a little imagination more than a depth of experience. Shooting into the sun lets you adjust how contrast plays out in a scene. It typically gives you less colour, depending on how much you angle away from the sun itself. I love this idea for compositions as it lets you hide things in plain sight, such as a road or a farmhouse. Things can get lost in the bokeh or the shadows — or both. Shooting at f/2 lets me highlight the hero of the shot — the flowers — because all else drops away out of focus. By kneeling down into the grass myself, I can work

LIKE THIS? READ MORE Similar features can be found in our new free, digital-only Photography Magazine. Issue 6 sponsored by Ponant Cruises. iOS/Google Play/Amazon

a few seeds into the immediate foreground to add another soft layer to the composition. I love bringing layers into my shots. I often grab a shot of the main subject and then step back to look at what’s outside the frame, before asking myself what else I can bring into it. The more layers, the deeper the complexity. Just those few little grass seeds up close in the foreground, blurry with bokeh as they are, add the final touch to my aesthetic eye. I rarely want to fill the frame with my subject — I’d rather allow the frame to embrace the subject, framing it within the frame. @ewenbell



The Mediterranean country is in a creative flux, born among the still-smouldering ashes of the recession. We meet the artists and entrepreneurs shaping the vibrant, irrepressible culture of Greece

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Plus // Macedonia, Barbados, Paris, Shanghai, Colombia, the Silk Road, Louisiana, Siena, Berlin, Glasgow





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March 2017


Shinjuku crossing





his powers everything up,” explains Tanya leaning over the forbidding Japanese toilet. “This switch here is for warming up the seat in winter. You control the temperature with these buttons. That switch lets off a jet of water. You control the flow from here and the pressure from there. This switch with the woman’s face is not for you. It makes the toilet function like a bidet.” She stops to check whether I’ve cottoned on. When she’s happy I have, she continues: “And this is the timer — in case you want to save electricity and start the warm-up at 8am, say. Simple really!” I’m in Tokyo with Tanya and her husband Toshiro, whom I met through, a website connecting travellers across the globe with families that have a spare room to rent. In my case, it was more like a spare wing, for ‘T and T’, as I ended up calling them, are a well-off couple who like to welcome tourists now the kids have fled the nest. I was expecting a rabbit hutch and got a large room instead, with a double bed, sofa, shell chair, coffee table, built-in wardrobe, fridge, microwave and air con. Our living room had designer Italian furniture, the dining room a crystal chandelier of cathedral

proportions, while the bathroom was furnished with Murano glass. It also included one of those high-tech toilets full of lights and buttons. One of the delights of living with a Japanese family is that they’re there to explain how to use that perplexing piece of porcelain. Toshiro is a successful Tokyoite entrepreneur and, although Tanya comes from Khabarovsk in Siberia, she’s totally acclimatised after many years in Japan. She shows me where to leave my shoes upon entering, gives me a rundown of the neighbourhood and explains the ritual of the Japanese bath, where you shower before you climb into the bathtub. But what I find most remarkable is that she leaves the house door open. Not on the latch — wide open. When I ask her about it, she shrugs. “There’s no crime in Japan,” she says, and that’s that. I’d often heard it said that Japan is like another planet and that you have to live there to grasp it. I’d also been warned about the ‘sensory overload’ it unleashes upon a new arrival. Even so, nothing can really prepare you for the onslaught. Tokyo streets are full of automatic announcements, voiced in a girlish inflection so

uniform I wonder whether a single actress has her work cut out for a lifetime. ATMs thank you profusely and express the hope you’ll return to the same obliging hole-in-the-wall for your future withdrawals. Even ambulances alternate their piercing sirens with loudhailers roaring ‘out of the way’ in a male, Japanese, fullthroated baritone. If the noise doesn’t overwhelm you, the colours will. While we’re all used to neon signs at night, the Japanese seem to want to replicate the effect during the day. Garish adverts in blue, green, red and orange compete for your attention, the design philosophy seemingly being ‘be brighter than your neighbour’. Thankfully, I’m not alone in the big city. My jet lag works to my advantage and I’m usually up early every morning to plan the day’s sightseeing, with ‘T and T’ offering both advice and a lift to the nearest subway station. On Sunday, having ascertained my interests, they drive me to Toyota City on the artificial island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, where I find myself in petrolhead heaven among classic cars, safety simulators, virtual test drives, monster SUVs and the latest aerodynamic models with hydrogen fuel

cells. Afterwards, they cook me a sumptuous supper on their terrace, where the only noise is the odd barking dog and the lighting is moody and subdued, courtesy of a pair of floor lamps. Admittedly, the food and the outing are paid extras, not included in the homestay rate, but both gestures are nevertheless welcome. At the end of my stay, I thank ‘T and T’ for my sanity. In a city like Tokyo, it’s great to have a steady frame of reference amid the flash and the flicker, the hiss and the hum.

Brushing up

Miyako’s Kyoto apartment is more in tune with my expectations of a Japanese home: compact, with sliding fusuma screens and futons on tatami mats, yet bouncing with gadgets. Apart from the monstrous TV looming at the edge of the kitchen-diner, there’s a small oven-grill, a microwave, a fryer, a massive washing machine and a leviathan of a fridge-freezer. And somehow the toilet here is even smarter: upon flushing, water automatically flows onto an attached basin so we can wash our hands. Here, my height is to my disadvantage: just like Bill Murray

March 2017




Arrive a visitor

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in Lost in Translation, I can’t extend the shower to above my head and every time I stand up from my futon I bang my head on the paper-lantern lampshade. Miyako likes to introduce her guests to Japanese culture, so she takes out her calligraphy pack. We’re about to practice shodō, the Way of Writing. As she stabilises her diaphanous washi papers with a bunchin lead weight, it occurs to me this is an act unchanged in a over a thousand years. Faced with the blank sheet, you’re allowed one stroke and you must be bold, quick and unthinking, if you’re going to get the complex curves correct. Miyako wets the suzuri inkstone calligraphy board and spends several minutes rubbing the sumi ink stick (a solid mixture of soot and glue) on the surface. She brings four fudé bamboo brushes for different strokes; we use the big, fluffy one made out of badger’s hair. We’ll first write down my name in easy katakana, although this syllabary is frowned upon in shodō. It’s going to be six letters, ‘ma-ra-su-ro-na-su’, so she folds the paper to form six equal squares. She draws the letters with downward strokes, moving from left to right and then puts another washi paper

on top so that I can duplicate the characters below. She explains that the strokes have a natural sequence: you can’t start with a vertical instead of a horizontal or change the direction. I try my Zen best and treat the writing like a dance. Miyako is pleased — “Good, very good,” she says. “You’re very good at calligraphy” — and stamps the result with her personal red seal. We move on to squiggly hiragana and I’m all at sea. Miyako tries to suppress her merriment, but she persists and patiently explains the stroke sequences. Then on to my first name, John, much easier with three letters: ‘dzi-yo-n’. I compose with ‘my eyes open and yet closed’ and Miyako becomes effusive about my hiragana ‘n’, in particular its lower curve. She shows my effort to her husband, who’s been watching baseball on TV all this time. He looks at my ‘n’, bows appreciatively and smiles. We’re all happy, although I’m not sure why. “You are a good pupil,” Miyako says. I look at my ‘n’. I can’t see what the fuss is about, but she’s over the moon. “You are a good teacher,” I reply. Next day, Miyako takes me to Imamiya Shrine in the north of Kyoto. A far cry from the centre of the city, with its dozen



Automaton // Tokyo streets are full of automatic announcements, voiced in a girlish inflection so uniform I wonder if a single actress has her work cut out for a lifetime. ATMs thank you profusely and express the hope you’ll return for future withdrawals Tanya and Toshiro

Homestays, or ‘casas particulares’, have long been a popular accommodation choice in Cuba but they’re more popular than ever now with the surge of international arrivals. After decades of embargoed isolation, Cuba’s people are craving contact, and very keen to show off their culture.

2. RIO DE JANEIRO The ‘pacification’ of the favelas for the World Cup and the Olympics, as well as the major infrastructure accompanying them, has opened up the rental sector for good.

3. RUSSIA Moscow and St Petersburg both have a lot to offer the independent traveller but their limited hotel infrastructure is geared to groups and business travellers, so families trying to earn an extra rouble are stepping in to fill the gap.

4. VENICE Homestays lend themselves better to sightseeing than drinking or clubbing at night, so a combination of expensive accommodation and lack of nightlife make cities like Venice ideal for what amounts to a flatshare on a city break.


5. TORONTO The cultural and linguistic bonds that tie Canadians with Europe make homestays in popular cities like Toronto feel like visiting distant relatives: you vaguely know they exist, you’re glad to make their acquaintance and you end up realising how much you have in common.

March 2017



CLOCKWISE: Imamiya Shrine; Shibuya crossing; John’s calligraphy attempts drying on the floor

Strangers on a train

Would I recommend a homestay? On the downside: well, most families live in suburbia and you could face long commutes on


buses as well as on the subway, so the transport-phobic should take heed. To my surprise, though, I found Japanese buses very easy to use. They arrive on time, they’re frequent, stops are hard to miss with their glowing digital displays, plus, of course, those constant announcements. On the upside there’s the low price, the congeniality of the hosts and the reassurance of staying with a friendly, helpful family. But the biggest plus point of all is they can provide an intimate, revelatory look at a different culture and a means of touching the soul of another country. It’s said that when we first experience a society we tend to concentrate on differences, while a second glance reveals the similarities. I’ll go further. A more in-depth look also finds differences, but on an individual level, for of course, whatever our culture, we’re all unique. Homestays allow you to meet individuals and do away with stereotypes. I lost my way several times in Tokyo. It’s easy to follow a

single ‘way out’ sign, but harder when there are 15 separate ones competing for your attention in massive corridors heaving with people. It was on one such occasion an elderly man in a suit asked me in perfect English if I was lost. “I’m afraid so,” I replied. “Which way to the Ginza Line towards Shibuya?” My companion took me to the right platform, boarded the train with me and started recounting his life. “You’re from London? I bought an apartment in France. Toulouse. My wife and I go live there every two months. I enjoy the food but mostly I enjoy the wine. I was a workaholic and now I’m an alcoholic,” he says and giggles at his own joke. “I’m retired and now for me it’s Sunday every day. I love doing nothing and finding out about Europe. This summer we drove all over Scotland. Next year it’ll be Spain. Europe is beautiful. Beautiful but strange.” “I could say the same about Japan,” I reply. And we both nod in agreement; two strangers on a train.

HOW DO TO IT HOMESTAY.COM has stays at Miyako’s home in Kyoto from £38 per room per night on a B&B basis. Stays at Toshiro and Tanya’s home in Tokyo from £36 per room per night, B&B. JAPAN AIRLINES flies daily from London to Tokyo Haneda Airport from £649; check the website for special offers. Its Japan Explorer Pass, which can be bought online if you live outside Japan, lets you book up to six internal flights for around £80 per leg. explorer_pass/uk

MORE INFO The Japan National Tourism Organization has maps, brochures and suggestions for your trip — it’ll even pay the postage.


or so UNESCO World Heritage Sites and swarms of sightseers, Imamiya is largely deserted. Miyako escorts me in, goes through the ceremonial Shinto ablutions and leads me to a covered chapel, in the middle of which there’s a stone. “This is the Omokaru-Ishi,” she tells me. “The heavy-light stone. You make a wish, rub the stone three times clockwise and lift it. Then you do it again: make a wish, rub it three times, lift it. If it appears lighter the second time, your wish will come true.” She goes through the ritual herself, and then lets me repeat it. “Hey, that’s funny.” Miyako picks up on my vibe. “Did the stone appear lighter the second time?” she asks. “I think it did.” “Then your wish will come true,” she says and beams.

Changgyeong Palace, Seoul, Korea Mount Fuji, Japan

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s a journalist and seasoned traveller, few things faze me. I’ve reported from war-torn Afghanistan, made night-time forays across deserts in the back of a pick-up truck, and locked horns with hardened commercial CEOs. My profession has made me resourceful. So why does the prospect of a family getaway cause me so much apprehension? The answer is: food allergies. Both of my children have them and, put simply, the consequences can be fatal. Many kids grow out of allergies when they’re young, but for those that don’t, full-blown anaphylaxis is a real and constant threat. As a result of being wrongly given a glass of milk to drink at nursery school, my daughter Issy, now 13, has a serious life-threatening allergy and has to carry EpiPens containing neat adrenalin with her at all times. Anaphylaxis, brought about by exposure to even tiny particles of certain foods, is a growing global problem — the number of sufferers has risen seven-fold over the past decade. In Britain alone there has been a 615% increase in hospital admissions. So, for the travel industry, catering for food allergy sufferers is an increasing challenge. When at home, it’s possible to be vigilant, as food is mostly prepared and cooked in the safety of our own kitchen. In foreign restaurants, however, where


language and culture can appear to be impenetrable barriers, extreme caution is essential for both restaurateur and guest. And for the airline industry, the problem is even more acute. Anaphylaxis at 39,000ft and halfway across a large ocean is potentially deadly. No wonder then that for many would-be travellers, the risks are seen as simply too great. However, with careful planning and sensible precautions, it’s possible to travel to even the most far-flung corners of the globe in relative safety. My wife and I are determined to expose our children to as many cultures and experiences as possible. After Issy’s initial diagnosis, we became far too cautious to travel anywhere outside the UK, but that has gradually changed. Having turned down an invitation from two zoologist friends to stay with them at their private lodge in the Serengeti — and regretting it ever since — we decided we’d no longer allow this hidden disability to prevent our children from experiencing the world. We dipped our toe into the water with car and ferry trips to France, Austria and Italy, and it didn’t take long before our horizons broadened. The Austrian Alps were soon superseded by rural Transylvania, which was followed last July by an overland trip across Sri Lanka. Planning is key, though, especially as the travel industry’s

attitude to food allergies varies widely. In the UK, hotels and restaurants are legally obliged to clearly label allergens on all menus. But not all countries adopt this policy. Airlines appear to adopt widely differing policies, with some, such as Singapore Airlines, offering to provide specific menus, while others refuse to guarantee their ingredients. We recently flew with an airline which promised to individually cook allergen-free meals, but found that its good intentions didn’t translate into meaningful actions. Despite a letter from our GP and filling out a comprehensive medical questionnaire, Issy’s breakfast consisted of just a small, unappetising bowl of overly chilled melon cubes. And the crew were unable to vouch for the ingredients of the accompanying bread roll. Arriving at an unfamiliar airport in the wee small hours, with a hungry child in tow and having to find her something suitable to eat, was one test we hadn’t bargained on. Eventually, after walking through the cavernous transit terminal, we stumbled upon an empty Italian restaurant. The only thing they could assure us was ‘dairy-free’ was a bowl of plain French fries. But after a few bites, my daughter announced that they tasted strange. What appeared at

first to be rock salt granules hidden underneath the top layer of fries, turned out to be tiny shavings of parmesan cheese. As her body started to shut down, I shouted for urgent medical help and the EpiPen was administered. When things go wrong, they can do so spectacularly. While the airport paramedic was on site within minutes, bureaucracy proved far harder to deal with. As we all rushed to the ambulance, my son and myself were taken aside and told that without business class tickets, we couldn’t ‘fast track’ through immigration and would need to join the long queue. The inability of air staff to make a decision regarding our connecting flight without higher authority proved utterly exhausting. But, we’ve also been pleasantly surprised, too. On our recent trip to Sri Lanka, we were met by our driver, Manjula, in Columbo, who greeted us with the words, “In Sri Lanka, it will be no problem.” How right he was. The next 10 days were delightful, easy and relaxing. Sri Lankans understand the issue and have adopted a flexible, commonsense approach. They dished up some of the best food we’ve eaten in a long time. Travelling with food allergies can be daunting, but taking extra precautions and with the right choice of country — and airline — it certainly needn’t be taboo.



Traditional Arabian dish

March 2017




Food allergies don’t have to be a barrier to travel. We’ve roamed extensively as a family, with relatively few problems, but it’s important to be prepared. On first discovering our children had allergies, we restricted our trips to the UK and continental Europe. However, there’s really no logic to this as the nearest destination isn’t necessarily the safest.

Choose your destination carefully

Recently, we’ve found Romanians and Sri Lankans both friendly and flexible. In Transylvania, the cooking was simple but wholesome. Sri Lanka has a very mixed cultural and religious heritage, with different dietary requirements the norm. In short, both countries ‘get it’. For dairy sufferers, Asia is a good option as milk-based products are rarely used, compared to say, France or the Netherlands. For those with nut allergies, however, the reverse is the case, so doing plenty of research in advance is key.

Carry your medication

Make sure you prepare all your medication early. Insist your GP issues a double supply and carry at least two extra EpiPens — this can be the difference between life and death. Split your medical supplies between your hand and checked baggage, or between family members — just in case a suitcase goes missing. Always carry a doctor’s letter or medical certificate with you.

Back-up food

Pack a small suitcase with safe tinned food in case of emergencies. Consider carrying a small supply for the flight, too. Snacking supplies are particularly important when going off the beaten track — and remember to take a portable can opener or a good penknife.

At the airport

Although medicines are exempt from the ‘100ml liquids in cabin baggage’ rule, always carry a doctor’s letter with you to avoid


delay. EpiPens can also be challenging when going through airport security, so allow extra time in case of problems. Try and swap liquid medication for tablets, if at all possible.

Sri Lankan curry

Flying well

Airlines are generally far more switched on to food allergies than they were a decade ago and many have detailed information on their websites. Some will even offer to cook a special meal, but most simply let you choose from a pre-prepared, allergen-free menu. Where no specific safe choice is available, check out the vegetarian or vegan options. Always check the ingredients in advance — airline websites usually provide this information and if they don’t, just ask. Note that some require a medical certificate before allowing allergy sufferers to fly with them.

Ensure hotel safety

If you’re staying in a hotel, be sure to email in advance, letting them know about your situation at the time of booking, especially if you’re using a third-party booking agent. Also, email again 24 hours before you arrive so they’re well prepared. At check in, ask to speak to the manager or chef. Clear communication is key.

Eating out

Research where the local hospital is and if you have a sat nav, pre-set the hospital’s coordinates in advance. Always take both EpiPens with you, just in case, and consider giving a spare one to anyone travelling with you and show them how to use it. When eating out, take back-up food with you and don’t be embarrassed to tell the restaurant that you might need to mix and match. Most responsible restaurant owners will understand and will go out of their way to accommodate your request, if you explain the situation clearly.

Order wisely

Remember that English is not a first language in the country

you’re visiting, so keep food requests simple. If the menu appears unsuitable, most chefs will happily grill a piece of chicken or fish in a clean pan. Check the type of oil that the food is cooked in, ensuring that it hasn’t been used to cook other food too, as cross-contamination is a big risk. Avoid sauces — however good they may appear — to reduce any risk of contamination. If you’re allergic to dairy, check that vegetables aren’t glazed in butter.

Avoid the tick box mentality Some chefs will go the extra mile and either show you the ingredients or explain how food is stored and prepared. This will help you make an informed judgement based on real facts. However, some places will trot out the “we can’t guarantee…” line, which is a particular problem in Britain. If they won’t elaborate or expand on why they can’t — or won’t — provide such essential information, don’t risk it.

Know when to cut losses

Don’t be frightened to walk out. On the whole, there’s more of a risk of this in large cities or tourist

areas where staff can be rushed. On odd occasions, you will encounter unhelpful, perfunctory or badly trained staff. This is normally apparent from the outset, so don’t be afraid to change your mind.

Break the language barrier

Communicating in a foreign language is always going to have its difficulties. Take some welltranslated allergy cards — clearly showing what you’re allergic to — with you. When you’re heading off the beaten track, find a good English-speaking local guide.

Going solo

If travelling alone, wear a medical alert bracelet explaining your allergies. Make any new people you may meet aware of them too, in case something goes wrong. Show them how to use the EpiPen.





You may think you know Florida, but how much do you know about Martin County? Discover a hidden gem that celebrates small-town life and an ‘Old Florida’ feel

Whether you arrive in flip-flops or cowboy boots, Martin County caters to all. Nestled in between its more popular neighbours, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, on Florida’s fabled peninsula, this is the place to get to know the state’s great outdoors, fishing villages and fascinating heritage.

Coastal charms

Get an insight into Florida’s natural history at Blowing Rocks, a magnificently preserved sanctuary named for its rocky Anastasia limestone shoreline, the largest on the US Atlantic coast. The restored preserve reflects what South Florida’s

barrier islands looked like a century ago. Elsewhere, get a taste of Key West style on Jensen Beach, formerly known as the ‘pineapple capital of the world’.

Animal kingdom

Conservation is king here. From Stuart’s large oyster preserve to the St Lucie Inlet — a unique ecosystem home to over 4,300 species of flora fauna — there’s plenty to marvel at. An ethereal, 100,000-year-old limestone shelf and crystalline waters underscore the natural grandeur of this Nature Conservancy–protected beach on Jupiter Island.

Catch of the day

Cast a line in Port Salerno, a fishing village where award-winning seafood tempts even the pickiest of palates. And be sure to stop in for a meal at Martin County restaurants, which use locally-sourced produce and freshly caught fish, alongside ingredients from organic farms.

Like a local

Discover your inner cowboy in Indiantown — one of the last Native American trading posts, with cattle ranches and rodeos — or head to the main town of Stuart for eclectic boutiques and the bustling Green Market.

MARTIN COUNTY is about two hours by car from four international airports: PALM BEACH, FORT LAUDERDALE , MIAMI and ORLANDO. T: 00 1 772 288 5451.

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A second honeymoon


Living in harmony

Your article — inspiringly titled ‘Occitania’ — about the southwest of France was both informative and beautifully photographed. It reminded me of my honeymoon, travelling around amazing cities like Montpellier and Nîmes. Montpellier, I remember, is full of lively bars because of its big student population and is actually quite near the sea. One of the new, modern trams gets to the beach in just half an hour. In fact, when you pointed out the ease of getting there on the new TGV in just six hours, it made me want to go there again — for a second honeymoon!

Recently I found myself at Heathrow and popped in to WHSmith to pick up the December issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK). Flicking through the weighty issue highlighted the element of chance in travel as, lurking inside, I found a supplement on Malaysia — exactly where I was headed. Although we weren’t able to take in all ‘27 ways to see Malaysia’, we did manage about eight — not bad for a two-week trip! We began with the sparkling shopping malls and giddy Petronas towers of Kuala Lumpur, moving on to the tea estates and mossy rainforests of the Cameron Highlands. Next was Georgetown, Penang, where an incredible diversity of street food, street art and traditional warung shops awaited us. Finally, we arrived at the Jewel of Kedah — the Langkawi archipelago — and the waters of the Andaman Sea, where we shared our beachside paradise with dusky leaf monkeys, macaques, lemurs and hornbills. Looking down on rainforest and mangroves from the Machinchang Hills, we reflected on this remarkable country. Here, Malay, Chinese and Indian peoples live side by side in harmony, with their individual cultures distinct. A shining example, I think, for our divisive political climate. NICK ADDY


Emotional & educational

If you’re heading to Gdansk at any time in 2017, I must recommend a visit to Stutthof concentration camp — about an hour away on public transport. I feel it’s important to visit such sites to educate oneself on the suffering endured by the groups who were persecuted and interned there. It was an interesting and emotional experience. Don’t be tempted by the private tours that can cost about £100; you can get there for a couple of quid on a local bus that returns three hours later (which is the perfect amount of time for looking around). A bonus tip would be to pack some drinks and snacks, as there are no shops or cafes nearby. LAUREN P

Chat back

What’s the best thing about your city?

SUHAS SHETTY The sheer number of parks in Bangalore. From huge ones to those just a few metres wide //

@TMVMEDIA The quality of the light and air in Tromsø, especially in winter // ELARA BROOKS The unsung

heroes of Istanbul who look out for others, even the homeless animals // ISHAN HASSAN The busy fish market in Malé, where culture, fishing and tourism intersect SEE OUR CITIES COVER STORY, P.76

Hashtag your Instagram pics with #NGTUK for your chance to be our Photo of the Week






March 2017



our Pictures

We give you a theme, you send us your photos, with the best published in the next issue. This month, it’s ‘Peru’ — a feature in our Jan/Feb 2017 issue Our winner is Emma Muir for her photo of salt production in Maras. While the story behind the shot is fascinating, we loved the way the walls of the pool frame the worker to create an unconventional, centrally composed photograph.


The theme: ‘Greece’. Upload your high-res image plus a sentence describing your photograph, to by 10 March 2017.


The ideal companion for the serious photographer, the versatile Manfrotto Pro Light 3N1-26 camera bag can be worn three ways (backpack, sling bag and cross-shoulder) and will carry a multitude of photo and video gear and personal belongings. RRP: £149.95.


1 EMMA MUIR // ESSEX: A worker at Maras salt mines, 24 miles north of Cusco. There’s been mining here since Inca times. It’s fascinating to see so much salt so high in the mountains. 2 JULIO RANEA // HOUNSLOW: This was taken in Arequipa, at the Santa Catalina Monastery, for nuns of the Dominican Second Order. I was inspired by the colours of the building and how they contrasted with the blue sky. 3 KRISTIAN LEVEN // LONDON: Two elderly ladies in traditional Peruvian dress share a moment in the Arequipa region, near the Colca Canyon.

For more about the next theme, including entry details and T&Cs, visit NATGEOTRAVELLER.CO.UK


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