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the

CiTiES WE LOVE issue

TOKYO PARIS NEW YORK LONDON BUENOS AIRES BANGKOK NASHVILLE LOS ANGELES AUSTIN MEXICO CITY MARRAKECH COPENHAGEN and more


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17_264 © 2017 Preferred Hotels & Resorts

The Preferred Life JUST BEYOND THE EDGE OF THE WORLD Take everything that draws your focus — every email, every meeting, every schedule, and move it all behind you. Ungrip the phone. Let loose the to-do list. Move your mind to a place of calm — where priorities align and relaxation ensues. Dive in at P R E F E R R E D H O T E L S . C O M


C AVA L L O P O I N T — T H E L O D G E AT T H E G O L D E N G AT E

T H E L O D G E AT P E B B L E B E A C H ™

O J A I VA L L E Y I N N & S P A

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SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER THE CITIES WE LOVE ISSUE

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RED, WHITE, ET BLEU

CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON

Photographer Christopher Anderson searches for identity in the colors of the French flag.

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SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER THE CITIES WE LOVE ISSUE

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Meet the people— snake charmers, musicians, monkey trainers—who make Marrakech’s most famous market tick.

Stumbling upon the city’s secrets means putting down the guidebook and thinking like a flâneur.

FACES OF THE THE BEAUTY MEDINA OF BANGKOK

by LISA ABEND 8

AFAR

by TOM DOWNEY

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

DESTINATION INDEX ARGENTINA 58 AUSTRALIA 76 AUSTRIA 67 BELARUS 30 CALIFORNIA 37, 50 CAMBODIA 32 CANADA 20 DENMARK 36, 120 ENGLAND 37, 84 FRANCE 21, 36, 78, 110

FRENCH POLYNESIA 20 HONG KONG 58 INDONESIA 21 ITALY 20, 21 JAPAN 21, 36, 82 KENYA 20 MEXICO 20, 24, 72 MICHIGAN 61 MOROCCO 86 NEW YORK CITY 37, 80

OREGON 30 SINGAPORE 54 SOUTH AFRICA 53 TENNESSEE 43 TEXAS 54 THAILAND 98 WASHINGTON 36 ADAM BIRKAN

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IT’S GOOD TO KNOW YOUR

PLACE IN THE WORLD.

IT’S EVEN BETTER WHEN SEARCH AND RESCUE KNOWS.

INREACH ® With an inReach® satellite communicator, you can navigate, trigger an SOS, send and receive text messages, and share your GPS location with friends and family from anywhere on earth, even when there’s no cell phone service.

©2017 Garmin Ltd. or its subsidiaries


SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER THE CITIES WE LOVE ISSUE

p.53

Balance a Phnom Penh booze crawl with a stop for local veggies at the TigerÕs Eye.

p.71

p.32

24 ONE GREAT BLOCK

Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución has gone from infamous to inviting, with sleek digs, an arthouse theater, and food trucks that transcend tacos.

26 MIX

of the most buzzedabout restaurants in Portland, Oregon.

32 BEFORE SUNRISE Six reasons to stay up late in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital.

36 NOMAD

Fashion maven—and runner—Olivia Kim zips us around the globe.

These colorful subway terminals will stop you in your tracks.

30 WHERE I’M FROM Chef Bonnie Morales mined her Belarusian heritage to create one

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CONNECT 43 RESIDENT

Restaurateur brothers heat up Nashville’s food scene with bold choices and an uncanny sense for what’s next.

50 VIEWS FROM AFAR

A SoCal exhibit puts border-spanning art on display.

53 STAY

Three hoteliers get creative with historic spaces. Plus, obsessions of a Hong

Kong architect and a Buenos Aires stay for extroverts.

61 WORKSHOP

Armchair travel to the Midwestern birthplace of Eames furniture.

67 SPIN THE GLOBE

Author Tom Rachman looks for the real Vienna—and things get weird.

SPECIAL SECTION 71 CITIES WE LOVE

Six writers reveal hidden sides of the world’s most celebrated cities.

14 FOUNDER’S NOTE 16 CONTRIBUTORS 20 TRAVELERS’ CHOICE AWARDS The best hotels in the world—according to you, the best travelers in the world.

120 JUST BACK FROM

ON THE COVER

Bangkok can be hypnotic, soul-stirring— and massively overwhelming. Here to help: A traveler who knows the best ways to cut through all that neon (p.98). photograph by ADAM BIRK AN

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MARC TAN, RADIUS IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES, COURTESY OF THE TIGER’S EYE

WANDER


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AFAR ID Statement AFAR® (ISSN 1947-4377), Volume 9, Number 5, is published bimonthly by AFAR Media, LLC, 130 Battery St., Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111, U.S.A. In the U.S., AFAR® is a registered trademark of AFAR Media, LLC. Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited manuscripts, art, or any other unsolicited materials. Subscription price for U.S. residents: $24.00 for 6 issues. Canadian subscription rate: $30.00 (GST included) for 6 issues. All other countries: $40.00 for 6 issues. To order a subscription to AFAR or to inquire about an existing subscription, please write to AFAR Magazine Customer Service, P.O. Box 6265, Harlan, IA 51591-1765, or call 888-403-9001. Periodicals postage paid at San Francisco, CA, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to AFAR, P.O. Box 6265, Harlan, IA 51591-1765.


Forrest Lewinger vase image by Holly Gleason

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Four globally minded artists invite us into their studios to share their unique creative processes, daily rituals, and sources of inspiration. Come along for the journey in partnership with illy, which values artistic excellence and beautiful experiences.

Forrest Lewinger, Ceramicist Geometric patterns and confetti-like splatters are signatures of Workaday Handmade. Forrest, who has a background in the fine arts, founded the pottery studio after making a splash at a Brooklyn craft fair. The acclaim has spread, including to Mexico, where he did a recent residency in Oaxaca.

Sheena Sood, Fashion Designer In 2013, Sheena took a break from designing patterns for Tracy Reese and spent three months in Rajasthan, where she collected vintage embroideries. She incorporated them into the first collection of her clothing brand abacaxi, featuring vibrant fabrics from artisan nonprofits.

Aelfie Oudghiri, Rug Designer When Aelfie visited Turkey as a teen, tracing her mother’s roots, she was captivated by the textile markets. She studied abroad in France and Hungary, but couldn’t shake the “rug bug.” In 2012, she embraced it by launching Aelfie, her eponymous company with original designs influenced by her travels.

Dana Glaeser, Leather Craftsman Dana’s philosophy of “make what you love” is rooted in childhood memories of observing his grandfather in his woodworking shop in Alabama. Now he carries on that heritage of traditional craftsmanship with his leather accessories line, Slightly Alabama, hand punched and sewn with a durable saddle stitch.

To learn more, watch the Life Artists video series at afar.com/lifeartists


FOUNDER’S NOTE New Ways to Get Inspired OUR GOAL AT AFAR has always

been to inspire, guide, and enable deeper, richer, and more fulfilling travel experiences. For us, this isn’t a passing fancy. We believe such experiences lead to deeper, richer, and more fulfilling lives. And the more people who live this way, the better our world is. That you are reading this means we have succeeded, at least to some degree, in inspiring you. As we look to the future, our vision is to be the leader in taking you, the world’s best travelers, from inspiration to action. You had to be a little crazy and a lot passionate to launch an independent print magazine in 2009. But we believed, and still do, that a magazine packed with powerful stories, beautiful photos, and creative design is a great way to inspire travelers. One of our major aims has been to help travelers translate that inspiration into action in the digital realm. On AFAR.com, we’ve created travel guides to more than 180 destinations, spotlighting recommended places to eat, drink, shop, play, and—with AFAR Recommended Hotels in each destination—stay. We’ve included more than 75,000 unique points of interest, with photos, maps, and info on what makes each intriguing. We also have introduced a trip-planning tool that allows 14

AFAR

you to save anything you read on AFAR.com—or anywhere else on the web—to an itinerary you can access digitally as you travel. It’s like tearing pages from a magazine, only better. We will continue to build tools that enable deeper travel experiences and connect you with providers who can help you have the best trips possible. At the same time, we won’t forget what inspires you to travel in the first place: interesting perspectives, great writing, bold photography, and welcoming design. We recently launched a new section on AFAR.com called Inspiration to stir your wanderlust when you don’t have a destination in mind. You’ll find pieces on adventure travel, cruises, art and culture, food and drink, and more. I urge you to visit AFAR.com and check out our new Inspiration section. Let me know what you think. GOOD TRAVELS,

Greg Sullivan Cofounder & CEO

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

Have feedback on our redesigned website? Email me at greg@afar.com.


CONTRIBUTORS

p.98

ADAM BIRKAN

LAUREN ELKIN

ROBIN HAMMOND

SARAH RICH

TOM RACHMAN

The local take: “I’ve lived in Bangkok for almost three years and love it. It’s a big city—about 10 million people live here— so you never run out of things to do or see.” Urban focus: “Bangkok is a 21st-century city with a subway and more high-rises than I can count. For this story, I wanted to highlight Bangkok’s similarities to other big cities, like New York and Tokyo, so I focused on the skyline and more modern stores.” Discover his world: on Instagram @adambirkan

Wild life: “My neighborhood, Belleville, used to be a village outside of Paris and was known as a nightlife destination. People would come, get trashed, and then roll back down to the city.” The way she moves: “My thoughts take new paths when I put myself in a different physical space. The location doesn’t have to be remote—it can be a neighboring town. Travel and movement are just really good for brainstorming.” Explore with her: on Instagram @drlaurenelkin

Market day: “Marrakech has such a rich culture. I tried to photograph the vendors of the Djemaa el Fna market in a way that captured their character and reflected the textures and colors of Morocco.” A shared vision: “It was really important to me that each vendor have control over how I took their portrait. As foreigners, I think we should allow our visions to be influenced by the people we photograph.” Catch his perspective: on Instagram @hammond_robin

Armchair philosophers: “The Eames lounge chairs coming out of the Michigan workshop were meant to be covetable items. But the Eameses also believed in what they called the ‘new covetable’—not just things, but experiences, ideas, and concepts as well.” Maturity matters: “Wear and age are valuable when it comes to Eames lounges. The chair is even more beloved when it takes on the shape of its owner.” Sit with Sarah: on Twitter @sarahrich

Pre-Vienna: “When I found out I was being sent to Vienna, my reaction was that it wasn’t as far-flung as I’d expected. So I set out to find what was edgy about the city.” Post-Vienna: “Vienna is a pleasant city with a complex history. If you’re looking for a cuttingedge experience, it might not be the place to go. But if you’re interested in how the past relates to the present, it’s a fascinating place.” Tom’s new novel, The Italian Teacher, comes out in March 2018.

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Writer Cities We Love: Paris p.78

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

Photographer Faces of the Medina p.86

Writer Lounge Act p.61

Writer In Vienna Veritas p.67

ADAM BIRKAN

Photographer The Beauty of Bangkok p.98


Take the

Plunge


9 I NT I M ATE SH IPS • 7 C O N T INENT S • OVER 900 PORT S • INFINIT E POS S IBIL IT IES

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Charter flight to Santiago de Chile (Silver Cloud) Charter flight to Buenos Aires (Silver Explorer) All necessary transfers included

To reserve your suite, contact your travel professional, call Silversea at 844.885.8420, or visit Silversea.com/afar.


Top Hotels

Checking In Our readers know a good hotel when they see one. This year, they cast close to 40,000 votes on the stays that have shaped their travel experiences, be it a family getaway in Banff, Canada, or a wine retreat in Tuscany. Read on for the places you should check into on your next trip.

VAMOS A LA PLAYA

A secluded location on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and proximity to a nature reserve are just two of the reasons CASA DE LAS OLAS was ranked the No. 1 Beach Hotel by our readers.

BRING THE

When it comes to snazzy digs, IL SERENO LAGO DI COMO, on Italy’s glamorous Lake Como, is our Design Hotel winner. Patricia Urquiola’s sexy interiors incorporate earthy materials such as walnut wood and bronze.

WILDEST

DREAMS

If you feel like you’re on a movie set at ANGAMA MARA, our Outdoor Adventure Hotel winner, it’s because you are: Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, was filmed here in 1985. The 30-room safari lodge looks out over Kenya’s Great Rift Valley.

With activities from fishing to snowshoeing, FAIRMONT BANFF SPRINGS in Alberta, Canada, our Family Getaway winner, is a no-brainer.

SHOOT THE (HONEY) MOON

Bora Bora is the birthplace of the overwater villa, and at the FOUR SEASONS RESORT BORA BORA, no fewer than 100 of the resort’s villas hover on stilts over the turquoise lagoon. Worthy of the top spot in our Epic Stay category? Absolutely.

LE BRISTOL PARIS: VALENTIN PHAM, REMAINING IMAGES COURTESY OF HOTELS

HEY, GOOD LOOKIN’

KIDS


CIAO, EVERYONE Couples might hang the DO NOT DISTURB sign for their entire stay at the sea-facing HOTEL SANTA CATERINA, our Romantic Retreat list topper on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

BEST HOTEL FOR A STAR-STUDDED

MEAL

You could literally roll out of bed and into a three-Michelin-star restaurant at LE BRISTOL PARIS, where chef Eric Frechon’s Epicure restaurant ensured that this classic hotel won our Foodie Stay category. Just don’t wear your pajamas.

SURE, IT’S A “WORK TRIP” A world-class spa. Five notable restaurants. A location that’s a stone’s throw from the Champs-Élysées. As soon as you check into the PARK HYATT PARIS-VENDÔME—which took the top spot in our Business Hotel category—the line between work and pleasure fades away.

ROYAL TREATMENT You’re literally in good hands at Ubud’s MANDAPA, A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE, our Spa & Wellness Retreat winner, where the eight treatment rooms, healing-master-in-residence, and Balinese blessing rituals are worth traveling halfway around the world for.

LAND OF THE

RISING ELEVATOR MANDARIN ORIENTAL, TOKYO, the winner in our Urban Oasis category, is a respite from the frenetic city, which is on view at a peaceable distance from almost every vantage point in the hotel, including the eight-seat Sushi Sora and the 37th-floor spa.

THE

GRANDEST OF DAMES It was good enough for Coco Chanel, Sophia Loren, and Ernest Hemingway before its recent $450 million renovation. Now, the 1898 RITZ PARIS, our readers’ favorite Grande Dame Hotel, is ready for another century of glitterati.

ONE VINE STAY CASTELLO BANFI - IL BORGO, tucked amid the world-renowned wineries of Tuscany, is an oenophile’s dream. The No. 1 Wine Country Retreat also offers cooking classes, painting lessons, and even horseback riding.


Satsuma snoballs. Second lines. An entire museum dedicated to cocktails. No matter how many times you visit New Orleans, there’s always something new to discover. So follow your NOLA and see how we do it like no other city in the world.

Keep exploring and show us how you #followyournola Visit GoNola.com


WANDER

JAMEL SHABAZZ/GETTY IMAGES

CURIOUS TRAVELERS ONLY

MIX

Riding the subway has always been the fastest way to take a city’s pulse. That was true circa 1983, when boom boxes ruled New York City trains, and it’s true in today’s iPhone era. Take a tour of the world’s most vibrant terminals on page 26.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

AFAR

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ONE GREAT BLOCK

A REVOLUCIÓN ON THE BORDER

Once Tijuana’s most infamous drag, Avenida Revolución is now brimming with hip food trucks, design-y boutiques, and the city’s most Instagrammable hotel. by JACKIE BRYANT

1

Swing by La Justina, a cozy gastropub putting new spins on Mexican classics. Try the rib eye tartar or the tostadas with roasted octopus and smoked shrimp. The Margot, a gin cocktail with lavender and a whole beet, is a must. Avenida Revolución, between Calles 3 and 4.

3

2

Tijuana’s first boutique inn, the sleek, industrial-style, 15-room One Bunk, opened in May in the renovated Hotel Lafayette building. The lobby houses a barber shop, a coffee bar, and a boutique selling jewelry, furniture, and decor from the chic home store Object. Avenida Revolución 920.

For decades, El Foro Antiguo Palacio Jai Alai was a destination for gamblers betting on jai alai games. Today the 65-year-old building with the iconic red neon sign hosts concerts, stand-up comedy, and even shows featuring the beloved children’s character Dora la Exploradora (Dora the Explorer). Avenida Revolución, between Calles 7 and 8.

Newcomer Casa Duhagón, a shop and full-service interior design firm, sells locally handwoven pillows, fringed purses in colorful fabric made by the indigenous Otomí people, and cowhide patchwork rugs. Avenida Revolución and Calle 8. 4 6

Just off “La Revu,” as the locals call the avenue, is Telefónica Gastro Park, a collective of food trucks. In the morning, try chilaquiles from La Carmelita; in the afternoon, a limey ceviche from Otto’s Grill; and at night, spicy pork noodles from Don Ramen. Blvd. Aguacaliente 8924. 24

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

Cine Tonalá, the city’s first art house movie theater, screens new releases and presents lectures and art shows. The menu at the cinema’s rooftop restaurant was designed by renowned chef Diego Hernandez. Avenida Revolución 1317. illustration by K ATE PUGSLEY

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT, COURTESY OF: CHAD WHITE, ONE BUNK TJ, ENBLOC HOTELS, CASA DUHAGON, TELEFONICA GASTRO PARK

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live life luxuriously

T H E M O S T I N C LU S I V E LU X U RY E X P E R I E N C E T M

Enjoy every day exactly as you wish while exploring some of the most beautiful places. Everything is included — from flights to excursions and from gourmet dining to unlimited WiFi. Allow us to take care of every detail as you sail aboard our luxuriously appointed, perfectly-sized ships to more than 425 destinations, in the company of an intimate group of newfound friends. You really can have it all aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises®.

CALL 1.844.4REGENT (1.844.473.4368) | VISIT RSSC.COM OR CONTACT YOUR TRAVEL AGENT


W

MIX

To add warmth to Munich’s concretewalled Westfriedhof station, designer Ingo Maurer installed 13-foot-wide domes that glow red, yellow, and blue.

NEXT STOP, INSPIRATION Subway station or art installation? These creative terminals put a little color in the world’s commute.

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017


During the five days of Carnival, Rio’s subway system runs 24 hours a day.

BERLIN, GERMANY

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN

PARIS, FRANCE

NAPLES, ITALY

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

DUBAI, UAE

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

NEW YORK CITY, USA

MONTREAL, CANADA

MADRID, SPAIN

Solna Centrum is one of 90 Stockholm stations transformed by local artists.

The Überseequartier station echoes the nearby harbor with blue tile and an undersea soundtrack. HAIFA, ISRAEL

HAMBURG, GERMANY

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO


P ROMOTI ON

TRAVEL DEEP E R W I T H AFAR & WORLD OF HY ATT

EXPERIENCE J A P AN 'S N EON HEART

TOKYO NO VE M BER 1 0 - 1 3 , 2 0 1 7

AFAREXPERIENCES.COM/TOKYO #afartokyo


P ROMOTI ON

Take the road less traveled through Tokyo Experience an ancient blessing performed by a Shinto priest at a historic shrine, participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and discuss pop culture with the chief curator of the city’s contemporary Mori Art Museum. These are just a few of the things you’ll do when you join World of Hyatt, Andaz and AFAR on this immersive Tokyo travel excursion exclusively for World of Hyatt members. And now, for the first time ever, members can use their World of Hyatt points to participate in this experience. Meet us in Tokyo this November 10-13 to experience this remarkable city through the eyes of a local. To learn more and register, visit afarexperiences.com/tokyo To join World of Hyatt and take advantage of this offer, visit visit worldofhyatt.com

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AFAR Experiences Tokyo (“Trip”) open only to World of Hyatt members (join at worldofhyatt.com). Membership in the program is subject to the World of Hyatt program terms and conditions, available at worldofhyatt.com/terms. Trip registration must be complete by 10/27/17 and is subject to AFAR’s approval of a member’s application, availability and the full terms and conditions, available at afarexperiences.com/tokyo. Must be at least 21 years old to register/attend Trip. Members may pay for Trip by redeeming World of Hyatt points (travel & airfare excluded from cost) or using a valid credit card (travel, airfare & hotel excluded from cost). See full terms and conditions for pricing and early termination fees. Itinerary details are subject to change in AFAR’s sole discretion. Hyatt, Andaz, World of Hyatt and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation or its affiliates. © 2017 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.


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WHERE I’M FROM

SOVIET SOUL FOOD Chef Bonnie Morales drew inspiration from Belarus, her ancestral homeland, for her Portland restaurant, Kachka, and a new cookbook, Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking, out this fall. by AISLYN GREENE

And what are meals like? “They are all about zakuski, small plates that range from pickled vegetables to seledka pod shuboĭ, or ‘herring under a fur coat,’ a layered salad with 30

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herring at the base and hard-boiled eggs on top. All the drinking, toasting, and socializing happen while eating zakuski.” Did you always love the food? “My parents immigrated in 1980. Growing up, when

How to Drink Like a Belarusian

What might surprise travelers? “If people even know where Minsk is, I think they assume it’s gray and monolithic and serious. The reality is very different. The people are warm and hospitable and

What’s your first stop in Minsk, the capital of Belarus? “Kamaroyka, a massive market with mountains of produce. Cucumbers are very important, and so there will be cucumbers piled taller than I am. For

A guide to surviving the vodka-soaked feasts.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

a fine-dining experience, I like Kuhmistr, which serves traditional Belarusian cuisine prepared expertly. And I have to stop at a street vendor cart and get plombir (ice cream served between two wafers or in a cone).”

1. GRAB A TABLE

“It’s traditionally frowned upon to drink without eating. Instead of going to a bar, everyone drinks while sitting down around a table with a spread of food.”

2. EAT, EAT, EAT.

“People will eat a slice of salo (pork fatback) with bread before they start drinking. Whatever you do, eat. Eating is what keeps you from passing out in your salad.”

the city is incredibly well-kept. There’s a lot of pride there.” How has Minsk changed? “Minsk is experiencing a coffee and cocktail renaissance. It’s in its infancy, but I love seeing new places like Bar Duck, a cocktail bar, and all-day cafés like Svobody 4, which becomes a wine bar in the evening. The first time I went to Minsk in 2000, I felt like people couldn’t express themselves publicly, but there’s a blossoming of culture in the city right now.”

3. MASTER THE TOAST

“Clink glasses, catch eyes with people, and shoot a glass of something, even if it’s not vodka. Everyone takes a turn toasting, so try to join in, even if you just say ‘to all of us.’ ”

FROM LEFT: JULES DAVIES, CARLY DIAZ, KATSIUBA VOLHA/SHUTTERSTOCK

What’s a hallmark of Belarusian food? “Potatoes are king. They’re the backbone of the cuisine, used in everything from draniki (potato pancakes) to babka (potato casserole). Potatoes are so important that some people get excited about the first harvest of the season.”

friends would come over for a meal, I would say ‘You’re not going to like this.’ When my nowhusband and I were first dating, I said the same thing. But he loved everything my family made. I had a paradigm shift: I started to appreciate the foods I grew up with.”


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PERUÕS highlands

A trip through the Peruvian Highlands takes you to fabled cities—Cusco, Arequipa, and Puno among them—and through unforgettable landscapes. From Cusco, the capital city of the Inca Empire and jumping-off point for visits to the citadel of Machu Picchu, the splendors of the Andes stretch out across the highlands of southwestern Peru. It’s this region of ancient cities and stunning vistas that Belmond’s new luxury sleeper train, the Andean Explorer, navigates in style.

off the beaten path. On board, the train’s 48 passengers savor the views while mingling over pisco sours and dining on New Andean fare by renowned chef Diego Muñoz.

One- and two-night journeys stop at the region’s most famous sites as well as others that are

After visiting cave paintings believed to be 8,000 years old on Lake Lagunillas, you’ll head west

In the morning, you may wake up in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. There, you’ll board a small boat headed to the floating Uros Islands, made from totora reeds, and continue on to explore the textile workshops and ruins on Taquile.

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across the altiplano, passing remote Quechua villages and herds of alpacas and vicuñas. At Cañahuas, passengers can descend into the arid Colca Canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, as Andean condors circle overhead. Many of Belmond’s adventures culminate in the atmospheric “White City” of Arequipa, named for the volcanic sillar stone used to build the colonial churches and convents of the city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a fitting conclusion to an itinerary of some of Peru’s, and the world’s, most breathtaking natural and cultural wonders.


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BEFORE SUNRISE

KHMER CRAWL

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s once sleepy capital, you can now find craft cocktails, late-night DJs, and happening spaces worth staying up for.

6 P.M. Rum Kickoff Cambodia’s first rum producer, Samai Distillery, bottles the country’s most alluring terroir-driven spirit: Kampot pepper rum. You can find it at bars throughout Phnom Penh, but it’s best consumed while mingling with local artists when the distillery opens its doors to the public on Thursday nights. samaidistill ery.com 32

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7 P.M. The Main Course South African chef Timothy Bruyns opened The Tiger’s Eye in 2015. What traditional ingredients he can’t source from local markets, he forages himself. Expect innovative dishes such as raw and cured tuna served with cured fish roe, banana heart, water lily stems, and a spicysour dressing with holy basil gel. thetigerseye.asia

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9:30 P.M. Modern Mixology After dinner, walk a few blocks to Bassac Lane, the capital’s cocktail nexus. At Harry’s rooftop martini bar, order the lychee martini with lime or a local craft beer. In the main bar downstairs, where the decor includes vintage posters and suitcases, the bartenders are good conversationalists, so plan on making some new friends.

11 P.M. Heritage Cocktails Around the corner, shoebox-size Le Boutier pays tribute to the 1960s golden age of Cambodian rock and roll. The “Sinn Sisamouth in the Second City” cocktail, for instance, is named after the late Elvis of Cambodia. Many ingredients, such as the Kampot pepper tincture and sticky rice syrup, are house-made. leboutier.com

1 A.M. The Chillest Nightcap The evening downshifts across town at Chinese House, a refurbished colonial mansion with live jazz, DJs, and a mellow house-party vibe. Duck in for classic cocktails and Cambodian favorites such as fried crickets with lemon pepper dip and beef lok lak. restaurantphnompenh.com

The Next Day Recovery Brunch Seek hangover relief in the plant-based dishes at the new Vibe Cafe, the city’s first vegan restaurant. Regulars swear by the Amazonian Acaí Bowl, prepared with acaí, avocado, dragon fruit heart, chia seeds, coconut, and granola. Don’t skimp on the medicinal-grade turmeric tonic, either—your liver will thank you. vibecafeasia.com

SAM JAM

by JENNA SCATENA


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NOMAD

THE STYLE SLEUTH

In the colorful world of Olivia Kim, fashion and travel go hand in hand. As the vice president of creative projects for Nordstrom, she hops around the globe in search of the most forward-looking designers—and since she knows her brand’s next great idea could come from anywhere, she’s ready to be inspired as soon as she hits the ground. “I need to get in with a new city as soon as I get there,” Kim says. “That means dumping my bag in a hotel room and walking, whether I know where I’m going or not.” The designs she brings back to Seattle turn up at the retail giant’s in-store pop-up shops, called Pop-In@Nordstrom; her boutique-withina-department-store, SPACE; and within SPACE, The Lab, which features collections from emerging designers. Whether she’s strolling the streets of Paris or scrolling through Instagram at the Tokyo airport, Kim’s travels feed her imagination. by SARAH PURKRABEK

“I’m notorious for bringing home lamps and other oddly shaped objects,” Kim says. Her favorite place to hunt for vintage Nesso lights is the Clignancourt flea market in Paris.

Curry Up, in the Jingumae section of Tokyo, serves Indian curry in a designforward space. Kim discovered the restaurant on a recent trip to Japan—and it quickly became a new favorite.

When in Paris, Kim takes her early morning runs along the Seine. “I always try to get lost,” she says, “because there’s the river and this giant landmark called the Eiffel Tower; it’s easy to find my way back to the hotel.”

“I live in this super hilly neighborhood in Seattle called Queen Anne,” Kim says. “When I run there, it’s mega hard, but I love that I get to look at the old houses. I always come back later, sans running gear, to take a closer look.”

On a recent trip to Copenhagen, Kim discovered Hay, a Danish stationery and tabletop design company. “They have this store called Hay House that looks like a home,” she explains. “We designed a Nordstrom Pop-In shop to recreate that experience.” 36

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Her ultralight, ultra-durable, hard-shell suitcases from Rimowa’s Salsa Air series have four 360-degree wheels that easily maneuver around airport corners.


The all-trailer Caravan Outpost in Ojai, California, enchanted Kim with its “11 Airstreams, giant communal movie screen, and fire pit. It’s the cutest thing ever.”

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: COURTESY OF STARDUST MODERN, SASHA ARUTYUNOVA, JAMIE MCGREGOR SMITH/GALLERY STOCK, AYA BRACKETT, COURTESY OF CARAVAN OUTPOST, IMAXTREE, CREATIVE COMMONS, COURTESY OF NIKE, JAY LAZARIN/GETTY IMAGES, COURTESY OF BOSE, COURTESY OF DILARA FINDIKOGLU, CHUCK PEFLEY/ALAMY, COURTESY OF RIMOWA, COURTESY OF HAY (2)

“Rose Bakery in Paris has the best coffee in the world,” Kim says. The baked goods include decadent French pastries—roseand-lemon cake, sticky toffee pudding—as well as Kim’s favorite, the healthier multigrain scones.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than an English park,” Kim says. “Regent’s Park in London is so meticulously maintained, it feels like you are stepping into a different time.”

“My favorite designer of all time is Rei Kawakubo,” Kim says. “She’s the mother of avantgarde, conceptual fashion. For somebody at her age [74] to still be doing what she does— and still be a revolutionary—is amazing.”

“I read The Great Gatsby for the 12th time on my flight to Seattle from London,” Kim says. “It sounds cliché, but a favorite book like Gatsby winds up being like a best friend.”

“I don’t feel normal if I don’t run, so I make it a point to do it every morning, even when I travel,” Kim says. Her kicks of choice for the variety of terrains she covers? “Always Nike.”

“Designer Dilara Findikoglu is an überly creative, magical being,” Kim says. “She does things like reconstructed T-shirts with conical boobs. Her work is so beautiful and grotesque and human.”

Kim loves Bose noise-canceling headphones. They’re perfect for blocking out chatter (and screaming babies) on a crowded airplane. “The West Side Highway has been there in Manhattan my entire life, but I just started running on it recently,” she says. “New York has been having these wowza-moment sunsets lately; that’s part of the allure.” Find more of Olivia Kim’s travel discoveries at afar.com/oliviakim.


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CONNEC T RESIDENT p.43

VIEWS FROM AFAR p.50

STAY p.53

WORKSHOP p.61

SPIN THE GLOBE p.67

TEC PETAJA

Nashville’s Pinewood Social— part lounge, part adult playground—is a symbol of the city’s booming creativity. Meet its makers on page 43.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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We sent AFAR Ambassador and lifestyle blogger Cynthia Andrew (@simplycyn) to Bermuda for AFAR Experiences: three days of access to notable locals, remarkable places, and spectacular celebrations. She was amazed that it took only 90 minutes to fly from NYC to Bermuda, where she was immersed in the island’s history and contemporary style. Here are some of her favorite Bermuda looks.

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CONNECT R E S I D E N T

WHO

Max and Benjamin Goldberg WHERE

Nashville, Tennessee

The Brothers Nashville

Want to know where to go in Music City? Follow Max and Benjamin Goldberg, the restaurateurs changing their hometown for the better. by AISLYN GREENE

I

photographs by TEC PETA JA

T WOULD BE EASY to assume that Max and Benjamin Goldberg, the brothers behind nine of Nashville’s most popular and innovative restaurants and bars, have a method (and graphs and spreadsheets) to their madness. Not so much. “It’s kind of embarrassing to say,” Benjamin

explains. “In terms of market research, we just ask ourselves ‘Would we be the first people to go there?’ ” In the decade since the brothers formed their company, Strategic Hospitality, they’ve been answering “yes” to that question for nearly every project, from their restaurant and adult playground, Pinewood Social, to their

latest restaurant, Henrietta Red. Benjamin kicked things off when he opened a bar in a part of town so run-down that the streetlights didn’t work. (He would stand outside with a flashlight to show guests the way in.) They installed a rowdy burger-and-beer joint on the “wrong” side of Broadway, the main thoroughfare in downtown Nashville. And in an industrial pocket of the city with few eating options, they opened the area’s first finedining restaurant. “We typically have not gone for what people consider the hot area,” Max says. In nearly every case, however, that not-sohot area turns out to be where locals—and condo developers and other restaurateurs and entrepreneurs—also want to be. That first bar closed, but the site is now surrounded by some of the priciest real estate in the city. The boisterous burger joint enticed locals to the other side of Broadway. The restaurant in industrial Nashville feeds the area’s growing creative community. Like diviners with a rod, the Goldbergs feel the pull of the next buzzy neighborhood. So how do they pick their spots? “We fall in love with buildings,” Benjamin says. “If we don’t fall in love with the bones of a building, we’re definitely not interested in the project. If we love a space, we’ll fight tooth and nail to make it happen—whether other people think it makes sense or not.” Beneath the brothers’ passion for architecture and food is a serious devotion to their home city, which has grown by nearly 100 people a day since they started working together in 2007. Having heeded the call back to the booming city after moving away for college, the Goldbergs are the third generation of their family to live and work in Nashville. “We never open a business purely for the financial gain,” Benjamin says. “We open it because we think it’s going to make the city of Nashville—the city we grew up in—better.” Here are three neighborhoods the Goldbergs have helped to transform. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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CONNECT R E S I D E N T

WHERE TO FIND NASHVILLE’S ARTISANAL EDGE

Henrietta Red

Peter Nappi

1. PETER NAPPI “This leather goods shop is really important to the city,” Max says. “Peter Nappi learned to make shoes in Italy, and then his grandson, Phillip, who lives in Nashville, revived the tradition in the States. They’ve got incredible shoes, boots, and belts. Benjamin wears one of his two pairs of Peter Nappi boots almost every day.”

Peter Nappi

why they love

GERMANTOWN

Pop into this neighborhood—settled by German immigrants back in 1865—and you might find fans of the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team grabbing a pregame pint, or foodies sharing plates at Henrietta Red, the Goldbergs’ latest restaurant. “We loved what was happening in Germantown, especially the food community that was building,” says Benjamin. The duo had watched the area progress from historic relic to restaurant hot spot. Places such as Rolf & Daughters and City House jump-started the scene while the Goldbergs were 44

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Barista Parlor

busy building the Band Box and the Country Club at the Band Box—their bar and mini golf course at the First Tennessee ballpark. When the stadium opened in 2015 and drew crowds, the brothers saw an opportunity to create Henrietta Red, a bright space featuring seafood with an Americana twist (fried oyster sandwiches, trout with fingerling potatoes and apples). “Germantown is really exploding,” Benjamin says. “Homes are being renovated, new ones are going up, and it’s so walkable. It’s hard not to get excited about being here.”

3. HENRIETTA RED “Our newest restaurant is named after the grandparents of the chef, Julia Sullivan. I’ve known her since first grade,” Max says. “We wanted a casual place where people could come in whatever they’re wearing and eat ‘poppy’s caviar’ (paddlefish with spring onions) and trout with farro and plums. You walk into a vibrant bar area with patterned cement tile, and then beyond that is a quieter dining room with an open kitchen, a marble raw bar, and walls made from old white brick we salvaged from a nearby brickyard.”

ILLUSTRATIONS BY NICO189

2. BARISTA PARLOR Benjamin calls Barista Parlor “a first-class coffee shop.” Max says, “It has a really cool aesthetic, with a massive ship mural by Bryce McCloud. Their food is great, too. Many mornings when we were working on Henrietta Red, the Barista Parlor’s egg, sausage, and biscuit breakfast sandwich, plus an iced coffee, was the fuel that kept me going.”


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With sheltered coves and steady trade winds, the British Virgin Islands have long lured sailors, divers, and other watersports enthusiasts. Increasingly, they’re making a splash with foodies, too. The best time to sample the burgeoning culinary scene is November, when the fourth annual BVI Food Fete returns for a month of events highlighting both classic favorites and contemporary dishes. Here’s where to fill up your plate. bvifoodfete.com

Jost Pork Festival November 4-5 The tiny island of Jost Van Dyke transforms into a pork lover’s paradise, with traditional types—corned, roasted, and stewed—as well as pulled pork and sliders. You can also join the Jost Crawl, a bar crawl with transport by safari bus, and take in the entertainment. It culminates with a bonfire to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day.

Peter Island Caribbean Food & Wine Festival November 10-11

Cooper Island Rum Festival November 19

The sugar-soft sands and gently lapping waves of Peter Island Resort & Spa set the scene for the festival that attracts notable local and international chefs like Erika Cline. One highlight is the Barefoot Gourmet Soiree, an elegant evening under the stars. Mingle with tastemakers and savor the setting along with a multicourse menu.

The Rum Bar at familyrun eco-resort Cooper Island Beach Club has amassed a collection of more than 100 varieties, the largest selection in the BVI. Do your taste testing of its ruminspired sweet and savory cocktails at this secondannual festival, complete with live music.

Anegada Lobster Festival November 25-26 The only coral island in the BVI volcanic chain, Anegada also stands out for the spiny lobster available at its waterfront restaurants. This event, styled as a lobster hunt, takes you across the island for lobster in preparations of all kinds, created by the island’s most popular chefs.

For more information, visit bvitourism.com or call 800.835.8530.


CONNECT R E S I D E N T

WHERE TO SOAK UP CLASSIC NASHVILLE 1. MARTIN’S BAR-B-QUE JOINT “Their downtown location is massive, with a huge outdoor beer garden,” Benjamin says. “They do whole-hog cooking in covered pits, and when the pit master lifts the hatch, you can see the entire hog being cooked. The beef brisket and cheeseburger are also ridiculously good. And they have a strong side game: slaw, baked potatoes, fries, and what my daughter calls ‘hot cheese’ ” (mac and cheese). 2. RYMAN AUDITORIUM “This is the best place to see live music,” says Benjamin. “Locals call it ‘The Church,’ because of the pews and the amazing acoustics,” Max adds. “Tom Ryman, a steamboat captain, built it as a place of worship in 1885, and it’s where bluegrass was born. Everyone from Vampire Weekend to Bob Dylan has played there. It’s magical.” 3. ROBERT’S WESTERN WORLD “Robert’s is the best honkytonk on Lower Broadway,” Max says. “A place where you can randomly stumble into some of the best music of your life. One night, we went for fried baloney sandwiches and cold Miller and saw this 17-year-old guitar player, Daniel Donato, just melting faces. He was later featured in Guitar Player, but we saw him at Robert’s first.”

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DOWNTOWN For years, downtown Nashville was the province of honky-tonk bars and tourists. “When we opened Paradise Park, our-beer-and burger place, 10 years ago, everyone told us it was on the wrong side of Broadway,” Max says. “They said nobody would cross the street to get there.” Now Broadway is just Broadway. “The area has exploded around us,” Benjamin says, “and both sides of the road are completely full, all day and all night. It’s like people play Frogger across the street.” Since the success of Paradise Park in 2007, the duo has acquired two other spots along

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

Lower Broadway: Aerial, a rooftop event space with views of the city, and Merchants, a threestory building with a bistro, a restaurant, and a private event space that they took over in 2010. “This is going to sound cheesy, but I love downtown Nashville,” Benjamin says. “What’s happening there is absolutely amazing. We have all the oldschool honky-tonks, we’ve got historic buildings, and now, new places like Martin’s Bar-B-Que. People are moving downtown to live, there’s the convention center, and so there’s an intermingling of local folks and tourists. It’s a wonderful hodgepodge.”


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why they love

WEDGEWOOD HOUSTON Once a heavily industrial area, Wedgewood Houston is arguably Nashville’s most upand-coming neighborhood. Thanks to the influx of Nashville’s new creative class, the area has become an arts and culture hub just a few minutes from downtown, with galleries, small companies, and—after Benjamin, Max, and their chef-partner Josh Habiger opened Bastion in 2016— exactly one fine-dining restaurant. The restaurant is situated in a pair of buildings, known as Houston Station, that once housed a hosiery mill and a syrup company. Abandoned in the 1980s, Houston Station sat mostly empty until a local company bought the property and started restorations in 2005. Today the 98,500-square-foot space skews more upscale: There’s an interior design firm, several tech companies, and an art gallery. “A bunch of creative folks live, work, and hang out in the area,” Benjamin says. “It’s a really quirky place that’s just starting to be developed in interesting ways.” 48

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WHERE TO EXPLORE THE CITY’S CREATIVE SIDE

1. BASTION “We opened Bastion in 2016,” Benjamin says. “It’s split into a neighborhood hang where you can get beer, cocktails, and nachos—which we take very seriously— and the restaurant. Josh Habiger, an opening chef at Catbird Seat”— another Goldberg eatery—“changes the menu constantly, but I won’t forget one dessert: sunchoke ice cream with foie gras caramel.”

2. CORSAIR DISTILLERY “This is one of the most innovative spirit makers in town,” Max says. “Darek Bell, the owner, distills at this location, so the space has beautiful distilling pots and a bottling area, plus a retail shop and a small bar. The Triple Smoke, a smoky, peaty whiskey, is next level. We like it so much, we’ve incorporated it into cocktails we serve at Bastion.”

3. FERRIN IRONWORKS “You walk into this old garage and see workers welding metal. It’s awesome,” Benjamin says. “It’s not a retail shop, but you can watch them working. Ferrin does a lot of custom work for people in Nashville, including us. They built the Bastion kitchen area and made the brass bar tops and back bar for Henrietta Red. We think the world of them.”

Save these places for your next Nashville trip at afar.com/visit/Nashville.


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Border Crossing

A massive Southern California art series explores the ties that bind Los Angeles and Latin America. to Latino artists and architects, and the city’s influence on Latin American culture: This creative interplay forms the focus of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a multicity art program that runs from September 15, 2017, through January 2018. From Santa Barbara south to San Diego, more than 70 arts institutions will host events. One exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) zeroes in on design dialogues between California and Mexico in the 20th century. Look for House at 131 Rocas, Jardines del Pedregal, Mexico City, at right. The dreamy home was styled and shot by Mexican photographers Roberto and Fernando Luna, a father-and-sonduo inspired by the late Angeleno architectural photographer Julius Shulman. (The house was also a collaboration, between Fernando Luna and Mexican architect Francisco Artigas.) The photo blurs the line between LA and LA—which is the point of this celebration beyond borders. —SARAH PURKRABEK

Get the guide to 11 must-see exhibits at afar.com/PST. 50

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HOUSE AT 131 ROCAS, JARDINES DEL PEDREGAL, MEXICO CITY, 1966, PHOTOGRAPH BY FERNANDO AND ROBERTO LUNA, 1966, COURTESY OF FERNANDO LUNA

LOS ANGELES’S DEBT


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Design Digs

COURTESY OF THE SILO HOTEL

These urban oases are adding a stylish new dimension to their cities.

THE SILO HOTEL Cape Town, South Africa

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CONNECT S T A Y THE DOORS ARE OPEN

A Tale of Three Cities Creative hoteliers have transformed these historic spaces into modern-day retreats. by JENNIFER FLOWERS

1

Singapore

The Warehouse Hotel The site On the banks of the Singapore River, the 19th-century building that now houses the Warehouse Hotel has had many previous lives: It’s been a spice storage unit, an illegal distillery, and even an ’80s disco. The hotel Chris Lee, founder of the Singapore-based Asylum design group, gave the interiors their polished industrial look: Edison bulbs and replicas of old pulleys hang from exposed steel 54

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beams above the lobby lounge and bar. The 37 guest rooms, with their textured concrete walls, are furnished with custom chairs from Shanghaibased Neri & Hu, while ikat textiles on the beds lend a Southeast Asian flair. At Po, the on-site restaurant, chef Willin Low serves elevated takes on local classics such as hokkien mee (prawn with egg noodles). Doubles from $230. thewarehousehotel .com

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2

Cape Town, South Africa

The Silo Hotel

The site Thomas Heatherwick, a London-based architect, converted a 1924 grain silo on Cape Town’s waterfront into a sparkling new hub that houses the Silo Hotel and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which opens this fall. The hotel Occupying the six floors above the museum, the Silo makes a design statement with hotelier Liz Biden’s eclectic style. Floorto-ceiling windows encase 28 guest

rooms where steel beams contrast with crystal chandeliers, and bathrooms have black-andwhite marble floors. African artwork, including photography by self-taught Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru and multimedia works by South Africa–born Frances Goodman, hangs throughout the hotel. The rooftop lounge, with a pool and 360degree views, is the place for sunset cocktails. Doubles from $1,140. theroyal portfolio.com

3

Austin, Texas

Austin Motel The site When she renovated this 1938 property in Austin’s happening South Congress neighborhood, local hotelier Liz Lambert riffed on three aesthetics: art deco, midcentury motel, and ’80s kitsch. The hotel Lambert, a lover of all things vintage, kept all the curvy features of the original building, including the bulbous red neon sign out front. The 41 guest rooms are a retro mash-up of red vinyl tufted beds, silk-screened

music posters, and lip-shaped rotary phones. The throwback theme continues in the public spaces: Lounge chairs and red-and-white umbrellas flank the kidney-shaped pool, and the hotel’s shop, Bodega, sells quirky Americana curios (neon Slinky, anyone?). Don’t miss a burger and onion rings at Jo’s Burger Box, which serves a satisfying array of American classics. Doubles from $125. austinmotel.com

FROM LEFT: COURTESY OF THE WAREHOUSE HOTEL, COURTESY OF AUSTIN MOTEL

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Stroll the atmospheric medieval streets of Bern, located on a bend of the Aare River

Halfway between the country’s largest French-speaking city, Geneva, and its largest German-speaking one, Zurich, Bern is perfectly positioned for experiencing the best of both sides of the country. Its well-preserved old town—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—has narrow streets lined with sandstone facades, fountains, and age-old fortifications. An advantage of its compact medieval street plan is that most historic sites are within an easy walk to the train station, making this a convenient base to explore the Bernese Oberland.

Immerse yourself in the Bernese Oberland, an area of mountain peaks and flowering meadows

Begin your adventure one hour east of Bern in Lucerne, on the shores of the lake of the same name. Here, you can board the GoldenPass Line, which takes you past several more lakes— Alpnach, Sarnan, and Lugern—before ascending to the Brünig Pass. At an altitude of 3,307 feet, it separates the Bernese Oberland from Central Switzerland. You’ll continue on to Meiringen, notable for the nearby Reichenbach Falls, and then to Interlaken, a popular base for outdoor sports. From Interlaken, a 90-minute ride on the second segment of the GoldenPass Line hugs the shores of Lake Thun before climbing to the charming village Zweisimmen. Along the way, you’ll have views of hills dotted with typical Simmental farmhouses, with their sloping roofs and elaborate wooden facades. The GoldenPass Line will also take you on to Lake Geneva and the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The train’s oversize windows—and a VIP section with a glass dome—immerse you in green pastures and snow-covered peaks as you travel via Gstaad to Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. History buffs may prefer to opt for the GoldenPass Classic, an elegant recreation of a Belle-Époque car. With three trains traveling through three different regions of Switzerland, and countless stunning vistas along the way, it all adds up to an unforgettable adventure.

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RENT THIS PLACE SOUTH AMERICAN SPLENDOR

In 2009, when he was only 30, architect André Fu made his mark on the Hong Kong hotel scene by designing the interiors of the sleek Upper House. We caught up with the Hong Kong–based designer just after the spring opening of his second hometown project, a Shangri-La Kerry Hotel.

When it comes to hotels, what’s your overall design philosophy? I’m interested in the simple things, such as what it feels like to be a guest inside the space, whether the guests feel at ease, and whether they feel that the space has been designed for them. That, for me, is luxury—going beyond superficial decorative grandeur and focusing more on that physical experience. What was your concept for the Kerry? On a macro level, it’s an urban resort: its scale and alfresco elements make it an escape from the city. In some ways, we are trying to redefine what business travel can be. I don’t think there’s a real distinction anymore between travel for business and travel for leisure; it’s all mixed together. You want a hotel that has all the facilities that cater to business, but it’s even more important for that kind 58

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of hotel to provide on-site experiences beyond that—things like unique dining options, a great spa, and inviting public spaces. Describe the hotel for us. The hotel is right on Victoria Harbor, and it has more than 500 rooms, a spa, three restaurants, a bar, and a food hall. Water is a key part of the design. We use a lot of a color called mineral blue, and there’s a recurring water ripple theme, whether in the bronze screens in the elevator lobby or the pattern of the carpets. The large scale is very different from the more intimate projects I usually work on, but I still wanted to bring in that same intimacy by carving out smaller spaces throughout. The alfresco terrace next to the Red Sugar bar has semiprivate areas shaded by trees, and they offer 270-degree views— you feel like you’re almost floating over the harbor.

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What hotels do you obsess over? One memorable stay I had was at the Parco dei Principi in Sorrento, Italy, designed by the late Italian architect Gio Ponti. The hotel opened in 1962, and I love its Mediterranean spirit. The whole place is decked out with blue-andwhite custom-made

tiles, along with all of Ponti’s custom furniture. Another hotel I love is the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which inspired my love for hospitality and hotel design. It’s been open for more than 20 years now, and it remains timeless. That’s the kind of design I aspire to achieve. Doubles from $245. shangri-la.com —JF

The Clubhouse Buenos Aires

COURTESY OF OASIS COLLECTIONS, ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID WILSON

Q&A

Sleep Style

The only thing better than visiting Buenos Aires’s characterfilled residential enclaves—with their lavish homes, tree-lined streets, and hidden restaurants—is actually staying in one. Tucked away in the Palermo Soho area, the Clubhouse Buenos Aires is set within a converted four-story residence with five guest rooms, all designed with individual flourishes (original artwork on the walls; Argentine antiques). The sprawling Master Suite, pictured below, is the most indulgent, thanks to its double rain shower, deep claw-foot tub, and large private terrace. But the best part about the Clubhouse—which was the first property opened by the international home rental company Oasis—is that the space doubles as a social club for local creative professionals. As a guest, you’ll mingle with this crowd by the private pool or in one of the two atmospheric bars, enjoying whiskey tastings, live mural painting, and guest DJs. From $120. oasiscollections.com —JF


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Lounge Act The local story of the world-famous Eames chair

by SARAH RICH photographs by ROSS MANTLE

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HE DESIGNERS who worked at

Charles and Ray Eames’s office in Venice, California, called the place simply “901.” It was the address of the husband-and-wife team’s brickwalled workshop, 901 Washington Boulevard, the origin point for many groundbreaking furniture designs in the mid-20th century. However, the location where several of those concepts came to life—and still do—is 2,000

miles away: a small town in western Michigan called Zeeland. Located 10 miles from the shores of Lake Michigan, Zeeland looks less like a modernist hot spot than a classic Main Street, USA, with two-story brick buildings lining quiet downtown streets. The town has roughly 5,500 residents, many of whom are involved with the furniture industry, whether they’re sourcing lumber, treating leather,

or assembling and shipping finished pieces. Any design lover who hears the name Zeeland immediately thinks of Herman Miller, the furniture manufacturer founded nearly a century ago and made legendary largely through its collaborations with the Eameses, among a handful of other famous designers. From Herman Miller’s four West Michigan facilities come a celebrated array of midcentury modern designs—the wide, low-slung

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Sixty-one years after the Eames lounge chair debuted, each one is still painstakingly hand-assembled by a team of dozens of workers.

bent plywood chair; the colorful molded fiberglass seat; and, of course, the Eames lounge chair and ottoman. While the curves of those pieces look organic, the process of making them is industrial and became possible only through some of the technological advancements of the World War II era. In the early 1940s, the Eameses’ early experiments in pressing and bending plywood led them to create better field splints for injured soldiers. When the war ended, they took what they had learned back to chair design and began producing genuinely timeless American furniture. The lounge chair, in particular, with its generous proportions and softly gathered leather, has come to be 62

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a declaration of comfort and permanence. It’s a luxury item, yes, but also a symbol of commitment to what we now call “heirloom design,” or pieces made to last for generations. Many of their prior chairs had been made and priced to be accessible to all—an approach that Charles Eames famously encapsulated as “the best for the most for the least”—but the lounge chair was their first “aspirational” product. They wanted the luxurious leather upholstery to have “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt,” Charles said. Time and wear should only deepen the owner’s love for the chair.  The couple’s influence can be found in houses around Zeeland and neighboring

cities, such as Grand Rapids, and in many public spaces. Modernism junkies make pilgrimages to seek out original pieces in local antique stores (see p. 64) and spot them at sites around town. Travelers will find Eames seating in the Grand Rapids airport, Herman Miller benches at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and classic molded plastic chairs at Ferris Coffee and Nut. “Here in West Michigan, my favorite thing is that people have just grown up with this stuff,” says Amy Auscherman, Herman Miller’s corporate archivist. “You saw [Herman Miller furniture] in your bakery or barbershop, and your parents had it because it was locally available or they worked for the company. You’ll see it


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3 Ways to Find Midcentury Design in West Michigan In Grand Rapids (the region’s urban heart) and its satellite towns, midcentury pieces are everywhere: on display at the local art museum and for sale at shops that traffic in Eames and other Herman Miller furniture. 1

OFFICE OUTLET, ZEELAND Office Outlet, known in Zeeland as “The Company Store,” is the spot to find authentic Herman Miller pieces at a discount. The unassuming store sells gently used furniture from Herman Miller’s showroom floors. officeoutlet.net 2

GRAND RAPIDS ART MUSEUM (GRAM) While the museum hosts only the occasional show devoted to modernist design, its commitment to the style is permanent. Much

in people’s homes, where they might have an Eames lounge chair next to a coffee table with a doily on it. [The furniture] is not fancy to people here, it just is.” Herman Miller employees—of whom there are thousands in West Michigan—receive Eames chairs as gifts when they welcome a new baby or when they retire after 25 years or more at the company. Each lounge chair begins as a set of shells made by a local producer, Davidson Plyforms, that specializes in molding plywood. The shells are then transferred to a second location, where workers assemble the chair by hand. Ever since the chair was first produced in the 1950s, the cushions have been tufted by hand with a massive needle, the thread pulled 64

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through the buttons to pucker the leather; the creases smoothed with a palm. The final green light comes from an inspector who plunks down into the seat and rocks three times to test the tension and give of the joints. Technology has made production more efficient. A machine now scans each hide and maps the cushion patterns onto it to maximize the usable leather. Engineers use computers to measure and cut wood for the shells. Herman Miller has also evolved environmentally. The chairs used to be made from Brazilian rosewood, but as the company became more aware of the perils of rain-forest logging, it began to use more sustainable woods grown primarily in the American Midwest and South, such

of GRAM’s furniture is midcentury—look for Le Corbusier benches and chairs—and the gift shop sells Herman Miller goods. artmuseumgr.com 3

SAUGATUCK ANTIQUE PAVILION, SAUGATUCK The pavilion is one of the best places in Michigan to find used Herman Miller originals sold by former employees. Saugatuck is located very near the Herman Miller facilities, so it’s a great place to stop if you’re driving by HQ. saugatuck antiquepavilion.com

as cherry, maple, and beech, each of which possesses a distinct grain and hue. “More often than not, the shells are not stained,” says Ty Coon, the toolroom manager at Davidson Plyforms. “We are doing a clear coat, and the wood itself has its own little fingerprint.” Some chair owners keep their prized pieces pristine, of course, but others celebrate how much use their chairs get. Recently, when a custom denim company ordered Eames lounge chairs for its showroom, the company requested the lightest possible leather for the upholstery, so that the dye from its unwashed denim would imprint on the chairs as people sat in them. When they’re all marked up from the interaction of the denim and leather, something completely unique will have been created: chairs that are worn but priceless. Not unlike that old baseball mitt. “If you offer any baseball player a new mitt in exchange for his old one,” Coon says, “chances are it’ll never happen.”


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In Vienna Veritas

On his quest to discover the soul of the Austrian capital, writer Tom Rachman stumbles upon the city’s darker side. illustrations by NANNA PRIELER

A

N AUSTRIAN WIT ONCE SAID:

“When the world ends, I’ll go to Vienna. Everything happens 10 years late there.” My timing is perfect then: An apocalyptic mood is sweeping the globe, with chaos in politics, jitters about terrorism, dread over the climate. the world in crisis, a tabloid in my home city, London, declares. we’re on the brink of nuclear war. So I head to peaceable Vienna, arriving to nothing more threatening than a drizzle outside Wien-Mitte train station. I wander across an empty park, past deserted palaces decorated with bodybuilders of ancient myth, depicted beating weaklings like me to death with clubs. But where are the living residents of Vienna? True, a holiday weekend is ending. But this feels like a ghost town, as if the End of Days had sucked up the inhabitants and left just the sinners (that is, tourists). Vienna—once the seat of an empire inhabited by 53 million people and stretching from Ukraine to Italy— is today the capital of a minor nation with fewer than 9 million residents. So what happens, I wonder, when a great power shrivels? What becomes of its ego? Imperial decline is something I’ve encountered before, being based in the former British Empire. Previously, I lived among the ruins of ancient Rome. But each decline is different, and the death twitches of Austrian power were hideous indeed. I amble into nearly deserted Heldenplatz and realize this is the square where Hitler announced the Anschluss in 1938: Austria, the country of his

birth, was to unite with Germany in the Third Reich. A crowd of hundreds of thousands cheered him on. But I don’t want to make this trip about the war. I confess, my earliest notion of Austria came from the country’s role in the Holocaust; but in 2017, my bias seems unfair. Nobody I’m likely to see would be old enough to bear responsibility. Vienna has a storied history stretching back centuries; the city is much more than its worst chapter. So I repress my impulse—a suitable response in the city of Sigmund Freud. The good doctor also conceived of “sublimation,” by which a

person funnels troubling urges into socially acceptable ones. Hence I hurry away to find apple strudel with whipped cream.

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HE NEXT MORNING, I awake with a mild hangover, owing to my selfless exploration of Austrian white wines at Wein & Co. the night before. Each time my body moves, my head comes along unwillingly. But like it or not, all of me is going underground. A thirtyish guide with a dapper neckerchief nods to stairs leading beneath Stephansdom, the gothic cathedral at the heart of Vienna. I SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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CONNECT S P I N T H E G L O B E descend to the Habsburg crypt, where emperors’ intestines rest in copper urns. (Their bones and hearts were deposited in two other churches.) But the main attraction isn’t viscera. “Through that window,” the guide says, “you can see your future.” What I see behind the metal bars are human bones in numbers beyond reckoning—the leftovers of thousands of people who grew up, gossiped, ate strudel, and are now a tourist attraction. About 11,000 were interred under the cathedral, a practice that stopped in 1783 because officials ran out of space—and because the stench made Mass unbearable. Vienna, I am learning, is filled with such macabre attractions. The Funeral Museum. The Criminal Museum, housing the mummified head of a murderer. A walking tour through sewers. The Collection of Anatomical Pathology in the Madhouse Tower, where one may peruse deformed body parts. Death and decay loom—which is peculiar, given how healthy and pleasant life is. Last night at Wein & Co., the bartender jotted down a lengthy to-do list for me, including zip-lining and thermal baths and stylish dining, only to complete his list by noting his two favorite cemeteries. When I later meet a local property entrepreneur, Ingomar Seeber, he treats me to a coffee and puffs a cigarette, raving about his charmed existence. Sure, Seeber acknowledges, there is an Austrian fascination with the Grim Reaper. But, he adds, I can hit the ski slopes in an hour, gun my motorbike to winemaking areas within the city limits, or, on a hot day, head to the Danube, strip to my skivvies, and jump in. “Everything is so easy.” Yet the easy life is not always the most stirring, and I’m curious about edgy parts of Vienna. For clues, I consult Markus Lust, who exposes the country’s underbelly as editor in chief of the bro bible VICE Austria. A smiley young Austrian with a hipster mustache and a silver MacBook, he offers any help I might want. Yet Lust can muster little excitement about Vienna. “The whole city is pretty much a big museum. It’s also very fake,” he tells me. “Even the most renowned coffee places, like the Café Central and the Café Griensteidl, have moved or shut down.” Café Central, frequented by Lenin and Trotsky, as well as Freud and Hitler (not all at once), is on a different floor nowadays, Lust laments, and Café Griensteidl, hangout of early 20th-century writers such as Stefan Zweig and Arthur Schnitzler, closed in June. None of his complaints seem that damning. 68

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I suspect he just wishes that fate had deposited his life in Manhattan—better yet, Brooklyn. “If you really look carefully, you will find those 10 artists worth looking into. But Vienna is not a vibrant scene,” he says. “There aren’t those odd spaces and bombed buildings that you find in Berlin. It’s all very neat and tidy.” But what about all the spooky attractions? “People from Vienna would probably love to think it’s part of their humor,” he says of the morbid tastes. “But it’s not funny. It’s really covering up something else. I don’t know what. Not even Freud figured out what it was about.”

Quinn overflows with passion for Vienna, but harbors a few gripes too. If you visit Copenhagen or London or New York, local life is there to grab, he contends. But Vienna has packaged its history as cutesy confection: the costumed classical concerts, the horse-drawn carriages. “It’s very bad for the mental health of the Viennese,” he says. “Because they’ve started to believe a lot of this kitsch. They don’t see their country as very dynamic, and it is, in some ways. I mean, it’s not pioneering much. But Vienna has the highest quality of life in the world; it’s regularly ranked that way.”

Death and decay loom—which is peculiar, given how healthy and pleasant life is.

T

O DELVE EVEN further into the

Austrian id, I meet for drinks with Eugene Quinn, a Londoner by birth, Viennese by marriage, and a character around his adopted city, known for leading tours such as a walk based on smells and another called Vienna Ugly. He also helped found the nonprofit group Space and Place, which seeks to enliven Vienna and its more buttoned-up residents. Quinn—late 40s, stubble beard, glasses— provides me with a tour of his mind, itself a bustling city of opinions, theories, facts . . . some a little hard to verify. Such as: “There are 7,000 spies in Vienna, more than in any other city in Europe.” Or: “If you look at the porn search words in Austria, it’s extremely dark and kinky.” Or: “Men sit down to piss here.” “How do you know that?” “I ask them. And I notice it.” “But they have urinals here.” “Obviously,” he explains gently, “you don’t sit down on a urinal.”

When I ask him to explain the disturbing tinge, we drift into a discussion of the Austrian arts. The novelist Elfriede Jelinek, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004, writes of twisted sexuality and repressed aggression. The awardwinning filmmaker Michael Haneke deals compulsively with the violence behind polite exteriors. Another noted Austrian director, Ulrich Seidl, made a 2014 documentary, In the Basement, about weird hobbies his countrymen practice in downstairs rooms—an indirect reference to two notorious cases in which Austrian men confined young women in their basements for years. But Quinn’s organization aims to push back against what he calls “the angst monkeys,” those who linger over sourness and suspicion. Space and Place runs projects such as Coffeehouse Conversations, where Austrians are matched with foreign visitors and handed a menu of unusual questions: “Which part of your life was a waste of time?” or “How important is money to you?” And it arranges


CONNECT S P I N T H E G L O B E “social dinners” at which locals dine with refugees—an attempt to defuse anxieties about the migrant crisis, which has emboldened Europe’s xenophobic Right. (Austria’s Freedom Party—founded in part by ex-Nazis—has a strong chance of entering the government after elections this October.) Vienna is far more liberal than the rest of the country, and had a richly multicultural past during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed in 1918. Although that remarkable phase is long gone, Quinn observes that “the future of almost every city is migration.” With this in mind, I set out to meet Vienna’s future, leaving my tidy but charmless lodgings for a hotel staffed largely by refugees. Magdas Hotel employs 30 people, of whom two-thirds come from desperate locales, including Syria, Afghanistan, and Congo. The space is filled with upcycled furniture to create a spartan boutique hotel with the air of a merry youth hostel: The desk manager doesn’t merely check me in, she shakes my hand. The Catholic charity behind Magdas aims to show Austrian businesses that asylum seekers, who struggle to find work here, are trustworthy and well suited to the tourist trade, especially given how many languages some of them speak. Dinis Angsberg, an immigrant from GuineaBissau, has been a mainstay since Magdas opened in 2015. Taking a break from slinging cappuccinos at the hotel bar, he tells me that right-wing opponents of the hotel said it would end up “a criminal camp.” Summer camp would’ve been more accurate, given the kumbaya mood here. As for 31-year-old Angsberg, during more than a decade in Austria, he has volunteered to help the elderly and handicapped, studied at university, and become fluent in German—one of his six languages. He disavows any wish to change this culture with his own, but sometimes has dreams set in Vienna, with all the locals speaking Guinea-Bissau creole. I smile at the image. “For me also, it’s very funny,” he says, laughing.

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EW AUSTRIANS may define the city’s future. But for now, Vienna remains a city infused, infatuated, perhaps imprisoned by its past occupants. So on my final day, I visit them. The main cemetery, I recall that chatty bartender telling me, is on the way to the airport. As I head for my flight home, I ask the taxi driver to pull over there. Zentralfriedhof is a vast place, with more

dead Viennese (3 million) than there are living ones in the city (2 million). The place has an internal bus service, even an audio guide. I press play on mine, expecting somber directions to headstones of national heroes. Instead, I learn in graphic detail how an undertaker deals with a rotting corpse (mouth guards and eye shields). “You never get used to that unpleasant odor,” the audio says. I hit stop on creepy Vienna, preferring to bask in the city’s creative side, admiring some of the most original tombstones I’ve ever seen, such as a full-size rendering of a musician’s grand piano under a marble shroud. Beethoven’s tomb and Mozart’s memorial are here too, alongside other greats of Viennese classical music: Schubert, Strauss, Schoenberg. Then I recognize a chilling name: Kurt Waldheim. I’ve tried not to dwell on the Nazi past. Austria long did the same. While postwar Germany was struggling with its shame, Austria preferred to claim it was merely the first victim of Hitler. But the Waldheim Affair of 1986 changed that. Waldheim, among the nation’s most admired statesmen, was running for the presidency when it emerged that he had lied about his military service under the Nazis and must have known about war crimes. As Austrians were discovering this, they went to the polls—and elected him regardless. This disturbing choice prodded the nation to finally begin admitting its complicity in Nazism. Yet the war years are still effaced in Vienna. Outside the Albertina Museum there’s a Monument Against War and Fascism, but it’s a strange site, including the most tasteless memorial I’ve seen: a sculpture of a Jewish man on all fours scrubbing anti-Nazi political slogans off the pavement, as Jews were forced to do by the Nazis. Partly in response to this abominable artwork, the city added a Holocaust Memorial in 2000, acknowledging the 65,000 murdered Austrian Jews. During construction, excavators found the ruins of a synagogue that was razed in 1421, when an earlier Jewish community was destroyed, its relics buried under another pretty square. I check my watch. Fittingly, my time is running out in a graveyard. If I’m to make that flight, I can visit only one more area of the cemetery. I hasten to the old Jewish sector. On one side of an avenue, where graves are marked with crosses, the grass is trimmed and fresh flowers flutter. On the side with Hebrew lettering, plots are overgrown with weeds, headstones toppled. Presumably, nobody is

left alive to tend these graves. Perhaps the authorities prefer to let the grass grow until one can’t make out this part of history. Vienna may take pleasure in exploring the dark side. But not all dark sides, it seems. “Most people come to Vienna and they see what they want to see—Schönbrunn Palace and Mozart,” Seeber had told me. “What you find depends on what you are seeking.” And he was right. I claimed to seek a vibrant place, yet spent far more time peering into the darkness. Of course you’ll find gloom if you spend your time in crypts. Still, I found more than just the shadowed past. The locals were welcoming and open. I walked everywhere, viewed exquisite art and imperial pomp, and encountered not the slightest trouble—just kindness and cakes and glasses of riesling. A few nights earlier, when I exited a restaurant into a downpour, a waiter ran after me. “Please,” he said, thrusting an umbrella into my hand, though we’d surely never see each other again. “You keep it.” So what to make of haunted Vienna? Was I imagining it? When I canvassed locals, they always confirmed a local fascination with death. Explanations included cold intellectualism, Catholic guilt, Central European melancholy. Shortly before arriving at the cemetery, I walked past a private gallery and was stopped short by ceramics intended to resemble human bones and a large photo of decapitated deer. I entered 12-14 Contemporary and quizzed the gallery director, Denise Parizek, who argued (most cheerfully) that contemplating the end is good. “Good or more honest?” I asked. “Good. Because we will all decay and be part of life again—like those flowers,” she said, looking to a long-stemmed heap artfully rotting on the gallery floor. Vienna ranks among the world’s most livable cities for good reason. During my days here— as the United States raged over politics and London fretted over Europe and Paris suffered yet another terrorist attack—the main disturbance I found in Vienna was preparations for the marathon. I ponder this as I exit the cemetery and step into the waiting taxi. Time to leave this place of death and decay, this city of humbled power, long shadows, and regeneration. The world may be ending elsewhere, but not in Vienna. Here, the world already ended. And life, the surveys say, is better than ever. Writer Tom Rachman is profiled on page 16. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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H O T E L S T H AT D E F I N E T H E D E S T I N AT I O N ™ Boasting sleek, sophisticated design and a curated selection of Mexican art, Las Alcobas defines modern elegance in this historic city. Experience a curated ensemble of the world’s most iconic destinations at The Luxury Collection hotels and resorts. Explore the collection at theluxurycollection.com

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Mexico City In the springtime explosion of jacarandas, a writer finds her muse. b y Annusk a A ng ul o

have so many trees,” visitors often say when they come to Mexico City for the first time. Somehow, images of trees and Mexico City do not go together, yet huge, thick-leaved ficuses break the concrete sidewalks, and parks are filled with tall ahuehuetes (Montezuma bald cypress) and swaying ahuejotes (a kind of willow). You can walk down the street and encounter a cluster of banana trees loaded with fruit. The trees remind us that when the Spaniards came, they found a city built on lakes and canals. There would have been trees everywhere. I like to imagine how beautiful it must have been. I am a Spaniard who arrived in Mexico’s capital 15 years ago. I came to a city built on what Mexicans call el fango. It means mud, or sludge. And while it is literally true that a large part of today’s metropolis stands on the muck where lakes and canals have been drained, city residents also use the word to describe the messy, complex, sometimes corrupt ways that things work here. When you’re frustrated by some aspect of city life, Mexicans will tell you, “Así es el fango” (“That’s the mud for you”). It’s at those moments I identify with trees—how they sink their roots down into the mud and hold on. In the face of pollution, vandalism, and poisoned water, they manage to thrive. And ultimately, they blossom. One of the most beautiful trees in Mexico City is, like me, a recent arrival. Every year, in late February or early March, the jacaranda 72

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by my balcony blooms, and it always surprises me with its shockingly intense bluish-purple color. I have a Japanese immigrant to thank for that. In the 1920s, Tatsugoro Matsumoto, a landscape architect well known and respected among Mexico City’s upper classes, brought the Brazilian jacaranda to Mexico; on his advice, the main avenues of the city were planted with the trees. Their knotted branches and clusters of delicate blossoms, in hues that change during the two- to three-month-long season, give the trees the air of a sumi-e—the brush-and-ink paintings made by Chinese and Japanese poets. For me, jacaranda season is my own Mexican version of Japan’s cherry blossom festival.

But I love the jacaranda for more than its beauty. One afternoon I was sitting in the garden in front of my school, the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s School of Philosophy and Literature, jacarandas in bloom all around me. There I was, a Spanish student of English literature who was living in Mexico, reading Wuthering Heights, surrounded by trees native to Brazil and brought here by a Japanese gardener. I realized that these trees could be a symbol for me and many others who have come from afar to make Mexico City their home: They represent the migrant’s resilience and the curious fact that some people, like some seeds, grow best in foreign soil.

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Sydney There’s an oceanside pool where women—and octopods—swim naked and free.

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ydneysiders have long been suckers for a celebrity sea creature. There’s Bluey the Groper, a giant blue fish made famous by camera-wielding snorkelers in Clovelly Bay—and by the public outcry after he was reportedly shot with a speargun. (Bluey’s death has since been disputed, but it was likely the only time a fish made national news in Australia as a murder victim.) Then there’s the Opera House Seal, a New Zealand fur seal who got a little lost, turned up on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, and now has his own hashtag (#sydneyseal). And finally, there’s the octopus at McIvers Baths. Now, I grew up in Australia during the ’80s. And during that era, it was not uncommon to develop a hysterical fear of the blue-ringed octopus, thanks to a grainy educational tape that schools would show on rainy days. The tiny but deadly creatures with their angry, electric-blue markings could reportedly be found hiding under the sand in shallow rock pools, poised to kill with their venom at any moment. Those tapes scared an entire generation of children out of touching the bottoms of pools. Some (me at least) didn’t even like putting their hands in the sink. So when I heard there was a resident common octopus—harmless, unlike its blue-ringed cousin—lurking around one of my favorite swimming spots, I knew it was time to make my peace. McIvers Baths, popularly known as the Coogee Women’s Pool, is a natural saltwater pool bordering the ocean; sea creatures wash in and out with the tides. It also happens to be the last remaining women-only seawater pool in Australia. Built into the side of an old rock wall on the eastern beaches, it’s an incredibly special and not particularly well-known patch of Sydney.

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When friends fly in from overseas, I meet them here, we swim, and they decompress. It’s sort of like a Sydney baptism—a place to clear your head, get your gills wet, and soak up some Southern Hemisphere sun. Above the pool, the grassy knoll is an unofficial reading and meeting spot where locals sun themselves preand post-swim. Down the slightly slippery, slightly mossy stairs, the pool itself is filled with sea urchins and tiny crabs who do their best to hide from seagulls by camouflaging themselves in the same earthy russet colors as the rock crevices they hide in. It’s magical, really, this secluded rock pool that’s been providing the women of Sydney a sanctuary since 1886, where little dartfish, whiting, and toadfish caught by the tides swim up and down alongside women taking unhurried laps. It’s probably all these tasty sea treats that attracted the octopus here in the first place. In the abstract, this may sound tantalizingly after-hours. (I can’t be the only one to have spent a little too much time staring at sexy 19th-century Japanese octopus art on the Internet. Or can I?) But there’s a big difference between hearing about an octopus cohabiting in a natural pool and, well, cohabiting with an octopus in a natural pool. Because the pool’s rules strictly prohibit men, swimwear is optional at McIvers Baths. I like to call it A Great Time to Get Nude. Part of the experience is getting in and out of the sea and feeling the warm air on your salty, bare skin as you dry on the little stone ledge leading into the water. What I didn’t expect was to feel a tentacle shyly wrap around my ankle. But there he was (a male, I assumed). The famed octopus of McIvers Baths. Resting on a nearby rock, seven tentacles tucked neatly under his glossy, mottled middle. He looked into my eyes, and I looked into his, that eighth leg folded inquisitively around my sun-dried

ankle. Now, if I were a better person, I would have stood still and let that octopus fondle my leg. Appreciated the rareness of the moment. Maybe even enjoyed it. Who knows what we both might have learned? But I’m not. Instead, I let out the most bloodcurdling shriek a human can utter, and the poor octopus shrank away, back into the depths. In all my swims, I’ve never seen him since, though I’m given to believe he’s still slithering about. Octopus, if you’re out there, I’m sorry. Let’s try it again sometime. You know where to find me.

ARNOLD LONGEQUEUE

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Come On In, the Water’s Fine! Sydney has no shortage of excellent ocean pools. Here are five to try.

1. Andrew (Boy) Charlton One of the greats, this Olympic-size, heated, chlorinated seawater pool in Woolloomooloo looks out over Sydney Harbour. Named for the famous Aussie freestyle swimmer, “ABC” has eight 50-meter lap lanes. Open September through April.

2. Bondi Baths The bronzed, the beautiful, and the leathery all flock to this seawater pool (pictured), also home to the Bondi Icebergs, Australia’s famed winter swim club. The pool overlooks one of the world’s most recognizable beaches, and entry includes use of the sauna. Open year-round.

3. Dawn Fraser Baths Founded in the 1880s and named after one of Oz’s greatest Olympic swimmers, this saltwater tidal pool is the oldest of its kind in Australia and is steeped in Victorian character (wooden pavilions, a glamorous old bathhouse). Open October through April.

4. North Sydney Olympic Pool Eighty-six world records have been set in this 50-meter heated waterfront pool, which is part chlorinated, part saltwater. It also happens to be located in one of the city’s most stunning locales—directly beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Open year-round.

5. Murray Rose Yachts bob near multimillion-dollar homes just beyond the wooden enclosure surrounding this tidal pool and beach. Although the pool occupies some of the finest real estate in the city, it is completely free. (Most Sydney pools charge around US$5.) Open yearround.

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Paris A neighborhood shop expands the definition of what it means to be French.

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t started when I was given chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook as a present. Suddenly I needed to track down all kinds of fascinating-sounding Middle Eastern ingredients: za’atar, ras el hanout, grape leaves. I had just moved to Rue de Belleville, in artsy, scrappy northeast Paris, and a neighbor told me I’d find what I needed at “l’égyptien.” As I walked up my new street, looking for someone who might be described as “the Egyptian,” I came upon a shop with a sign that read le caire—the French name for Cairo. I entered and took it all in: shelves of spices, enormous vats of olives and feta, tubs of dried fruit and multicolored lentils, bottles of rosewater, every flavor of molasses, dozens of herbal extracts. I longed to buy a little of everything, and walked out with more za’atar than I could ever use. Now I’m a regular, popping in for halloumi, sugared ginger, sticky baklava, and garlicky homemade crème d’artichaut. I always find something I didn’t know I wanted. After years on the Left Bank, I hadn’t particularly wanted to move here. But I wanted to buy an apartment, and Belleville was within 78

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my budget. Now it feels like it was meant to be. Belleville straddles four arrondissements—the 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th—but it often feels like it straddles four continents. Everyone, it seems, is from somewhere else. In the 19th century, that meant people from Alsace, the Auvergne, and Burgundy; by the 1930s it was filled with Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, as well as Algerian, Spanish, Armenian, and German immigrants. Over time, it welcomed other populations—Malians, Senegalese, Tunisians. Now there are Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants as well, with shops selling durian, bok choy, and lucky cat statues with waving paws. Over the past decade or so, the neighborhood has gentrified, and no doubt I’m a part of this. I wondered how this was affecting places like Le Caire.            “The neighborhood has changed a lot,” the shop’s co-owner, Gamila, told me. “It’s become much more French.” She gestured downhill, toward the third-wave coffee shop, the upscale wine bar, the retro sneaker shop. By “French,” she seemed to mean young, white, and hipster. Gamila is striking, with blue eyes and naturally red hair; she wears a head scarf and speaks

softly, but with a slightly ironic tone. She and her husband, Adel, set up shop here in 1989. Back then, a great deal of public housing had just been built in the area, and the hilltop Parc de Belleville, with its spectacular city view, had recently opened. “I don’t feel at home here anymore,” she said. “But the neighborhood has gotten better.” Business hadn’t suffered. Shoppers come from across Paris, she told me, and Le Caire supplies spices and other ingredients to the city’s best restaurants. But it can’t be easy, sitting in her shop wearing a head scarf, in today’s political context. Even in the best of times, diversity isn’t always seen as inherently positive in France. Immigrants are asked to subsume their ethnic, religious, or social identities in favor of a collective “French” identity. And though recent elections rejected the Far Right nationalism of Marine Le Pen, her ideas have not disappeared. I try to imagine what Le Pen would think if she took a stroll through Belleville. She might be pleasantly surprised to see what France can look like. Perhaps she would step into Le Caire and, like me, find something she didn’t know she wanted.

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HELPING STUDENTS EXPAND THEIR WORLD Learning AFAR, an award-winning program from AFAR and nonprofit organization No Barriers USA, and World of Hyatt are helping Chicago-area students expand their world by traveling to Costa Rica this summer. Inspired by the belief that travel is a spectacular form of education, this program will make it possible for these students to take part in a lifechanging experience as they immerse themselves in Costa Rica’s rich culture, history, and geography. For the first time, World of Hyatt members were given the opportunity to contribute their points to help fund students’ participation in the Learning AFAR program. Thanks to a number of generous member contributions, an additional student will be able to join the trip this summer, bringing the total number of students to eleven. L

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While in Costa Rica, the students will participate in an exciting mix of outdoor adventures, community service projects, and immersive cultural activities. Highlights of the itinerary are set to include hiking through the Cloud Forest at Curicancha Reserve, volunteering at an orphanage, learning about the coffee production process, and taking a cooking class in a local home.

To find out more, visit afar.com/hyattcostarica World of Hyatt point contributions are no longer being accepted. Point contributions have enabled one additional student to join the Learning AFAR program, bringing the total number of students attending the program to 11. Hyatt reserves the right to alter or withdraw this offer at any time without notice, where required, Hyatt will offer an alternative offer of similar value. Void where prohibited by law. Hyatt®, World of HyattTM and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation and/or its affiliates. © 2017 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.


New York City


Bridges to Everywhere How to explore New York’s finest spans. 1. Classic Bridge, New Itinerary After crossing the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, grab an Archway juice (apple, pear, pineapple, wheatgrass, and mint) from Foragers Market and roam the bocce courts, pebbled beaches, and tide pools of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Return via the Manhattan Bridge for Nom Wah dumplings and ramen from Ippudo offshoot Kuro-Obi at the new Canal Street Market.

LUCA CAMPIGOTTO/GALLERY STOCK

2. Best OffBroadway Revival Closed to the public from the 1970s until 2015, the High Bridge is the city’s oldest standing span, a slender 19thcentury aqueduct connecting Washington Heights to the Bronx. After Instagramming its elegant arc, dig into a proper Dominican meal at Malecon, across from the opulent United Palace Theatre. 3. Best Bridge for a Walking Date The Williamsburg Bridge connects the Lower East Side with South Wil-

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liamsburg in Brooklyn—prime spots for walking and wooing. Pick up a crispy bread pocket stuffed with beef shoulder, tomato, and berbere spices from Trapizzino on Orchard Street; watch the sunset as you cross the bridge into Brooklyn; and wrap up at La Milagrosa, a happening mezcalería hidden behind a freezer door in the former Havemeyer Laundromat. 4. Most Epic Bridge Walk On a summer Friday, escaping the city in a car via the George Washington Bridge takes an eternity. On foot, it’s a clean 30 minutes. Pack a picnic from Frank’s Market, then choose a scenic overlook within New Jersey’s cliff-top Palisades Interstate Park. The return views of Manhattan are well worth crossing state lines. 5. Best Three-inOne Bridge Tour Head to the upper deck of a New York City Ferry boat for the best bridge tour $2.75 can buy. Hop on at Wall Street and cruise north to 34th Street for a new angle on the Brooklyn Bridge’s soaring arches, the Manhattan Bridge’s blue steel silhouette, and the Williamsburg Bridge’s cagelike frame.

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ntil my 13th year in New York City, I had never crossed one of its bridges on foot. A subway girl, I charted my paths through the city—and traversed its waterways—on the F, L, G, C, and Q lines, with (occasionally grudging) detours to off-circuit areas where friends or intriguing restaurants, bars, music venues, or museums exerted their pull. That was my city. And then, last year, I started running. As any urbanite distance runner can tell you, an uninterrupted stretch of sidewalk— no crosswalks, bus stops, or brunch-crowd dawdlers—is a rare and precious thing. And few ordinary sidewalks can rival the mile-long paths of unobstructed pavement you’ll find on New York’s major bridges. So I started mapping running routes that incorporated them. Training for my first half-marathon, I shuttled dutifully back and forth across the Manhattan Bridge, between Brooklyn’s waterfront Dumbo district and Chinatown. On each return, I’d peer down with envy at the tiny people dotting the green, tufted lawn of Brooklyn Bridge Park. From more than 100 feet up, the scene was like a New York–themed miniature golf course, with lampposts in place of flags and a glass-encased carousel instead of a windmill. Why had I never joined them, with my own plastic cup of wine, to watch the sun drop and the barges and ferries float by, the East River waters swirling gently in their wake? Was I always in that big of a hurry? On weekends and early mornings, I started running the brutally steep Williamsburg Bridge and learned to distract myself from the agony by reveling in the cross section of humanity I’d pass. I saw skateboard commuters, Hasidic families pushing strollers, and runners of every stripe: pregnant, elaborately pierced, elderly, solo, paired up, happy, suffering, happily suffering. Even when hardly anyone was on the bridge, it didn’t feel empty. Evidence of those who’d crossed before me was everywhere, spray-painted onto surfaces. I began to memorize the marriage proposals, guerrilla art, and out-of-context messages that read like a Magic 8 Ball of motivational mantras: “struggle. hunger. desire. respect.” “they can’t catch me!” “cheese butt.”

(Hey, whatever gets you up the incline.) I ran multibridge loops on lesser roads, circling from my apartment in northeastern Brooklyn over the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge into Queens and across the odd retractable Borden Avenue Bridge, with its wood-plank sidewalks and 1908 bridgekeeper’s hut. From there, it was back home via the Pulaski Bridge, with a clear view of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings as my homestretch reward. The more I ran, the more I looked—and not just for the architectural icons. I peered into industrial zones and gritty city margins, forgotten recreation areas and relics from the city’s past, and all the ordinary and overlooked spaces that fill the gaps between the luxury condos and high-rise hotels that claim new stretches of shoreline every year. Sometimes what I saw was grim (treeless cemeteries, dump stations for work boats), but I also began to notice strange and delightful things, such as the tiny Transmitter Brewery in Queens, hidden in the shadow of the Pulaski Bridge. Or the Farm on Kent in Brooklyn, just north of the Williamsburg Bridge, a pocket-size urban farm and public park on the site of the old Domino Sugar factory. The place has long wooden tables for picnics and a stainedglass house by artist Tom Fruin. It’s at once beautiful, surprising, and rough around the edges. To me, that democratic, high-low mashup is what makes exploring New York City’s bridges so special—the fact that you can see both the landmarks and the liminal spaces in a single trip, and that the feeling of transcendence you get staring out from the center of a bridge, 15 or 20 stories in the air, is there for anyone able to walk (or wheel) there. It’s a come-one, come-all alternative to the vistas typically associated with the city’s multimillion-dollar apartments—or long lines and pricey entry fees. Of course, there’s the other kind of perspective a bridge gives, too—the sort you get once you’ve put a little space between where you are and wherever you came from, be it the office or Oklahoma City. Whether you’re a tourist or a transplant, a newcomer or a native, isn’t that part of what we all come here—or go anywhere—to find? SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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How the city’s wackiest discount store turned an avowed anti-consumer into a voracious shopper. by A d a m H . G ra h a m

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y nature, I’m not a shopper.

I can’t stand the crowds, the confined spaces, the overconsumption, and most important, spending money. Artisanal craft markets and design-forward boutiques? I’ll pass. When I do shop abroad, I gravitate toward food, lingering in grocery stores, deciding whether I can squeeze another bottle of olive oil into my suitcase. But something about Tokyo draws out my inner shopper. And shopping here—by turns practical and wild—offers more insight into Japan’s modern culture than 100 precious tea ceremonies and cherry blossom picnics. I visit Japan at least once a year, sometimes for several months, and usually arrive clutching a shopping list of things I “need,” such as yuzu soy sauce, sesame dressing, brown rice vinegar pills, and vitamin A–spiked eyedrops. I hit the usual suspects: Muji, Uniqlo, Tokyu Hands, and depachika, the gloriously wellstocked gourmet markets found in the basements of high-end department stores such as Daimaru and Takashimaya. It’s here that I suss out the best piece of tempura and ogle the Hokkaido melons for 10,000¥ (about $90) before loading up on seaweed salt, pickled plums, and bonito. Occasionally I make a pilgrimage to Tokyo’s Kappabashi Street, aka Kitchen Town, for ceramic knives or sake cups. I’ve even lost a few hours at a 100 Yen Store (Japan’s dollar store equivalent), because when in Japan, I evidently have no shame. But it wasn’t until a recent stay in Tokyo’s Nakameguro neighborhood that my husband and I noticed a cavernous space flanked with eel aquariums as we stumbled home from a boozy night. It had no English sign, but looked and sounded like an arcade, blasting jingles and blinking lights. “It’s a store,” I said, moving toward the fluorescence. I looked back at my 82

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husband, who frowned before giving in. Our lives haven’t been the same since. Like someone experiencing his first high, I spent that first hour at Don Quijote exploring the unknown: five floors of Japanese whiskey, teeth wipes, matcha Oreos, melon-flavored Pocky sticks, dried squid, sliced pork belly, and cat-shaped room humidifiers with steam vents in the cats’ ears. Shelves were stacked high with “As Seen on TV” products such as hot dog toasters and ramen-cooling fans that clip onto chopsticks. Breathless, I tiptoed to grab a basket, hoping my husband wouldn’t notice. But then I spotted him eyeballing a package of soft-baked Country Ma’am Vegetable Chowder cookies, and I knew I was safe. Before long, we’d filled the basket and were humming along to the store’s famous jingle, “Miracle Shopping.” What we didn’t know then was that “Donki,” as locals call it, was founded in 1980 by Takao Yasuda, Japan’s 26th-richest

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man, and has 160 locations across the country, including 23 in Tokyo. Most are open 24 hours and hawk an endless variety of cosmetics, food, furniture, booze, medicine, and bikes. Donki doesn’t just have a few things you need—it makes you need things. That first outing, I bought a sharkskin wasabi grater, wax earplugs, and a luggage scale. I also scored a portable phone charger and a bottle of chestnut shochu at half the price I’d seen elsewhere. The Nakameguro store became my go-to grocery, providing fresh produce, butter from Hokkaido, slices of marbled Japanese beef, and Bull-Dog brand katsu sauce. Late-night visits revealed the wacky world of Japanese snacks: Apple Pie KitKats, scallop butter–flavored pretzels, and Camembert Cheeza crackers. As an antidote, I picked up gastrointestinal “Trumpet Brand” pills made with beechwood creosote—a must for adventurous eaters. But the most interesting part is what the packed shelves tell you about what Japanese people want. Many cosmetics revealed Japan’s complicated race and identity politics: suspect skin-whitening creams, a nose straightener, hot pink face-slimming masks, and eyelid clips to enlarge eyes to manga proportions. But who was I to judge, with my basketful of Bioré strips and smile-whitening toothpaste? Donki was one of the few Japanese stores that didn’t struggle after the economic bubble burst in 1992. And it’s easy to see why. As many Japanese were suddenly forced to become thrifty, life’s little luxuries became a salve for greater economic woes—a form of retail healing this miracle store still offers to locals and visitors alike.


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London To really understand how the city comes together, don’t travel underground. Head to the top deck.

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veryone makes the same mistake when they first arrive in London. Overwhelmed by the size of the city and the speed at which its populace surges through it, newcomers automatically fixate on the underground transit system. The asymmetric layout of Harry Beck’s famous Tube map and its strangely named stops—how do you pronounce Hainault?—mesmerize recent arrivals, not least because “real” Londoners seem to negotiate the subway so effortlessly. It happened to me, too. I used to take the Tube everywhere, studying its multicolored lines until I could speed through the underground warren like a ninja rabbit. The unintended consequence was that I lived in London for more than a year with only the vaguest sense of its geography. Oxford Circus, Covent Garden, Waterloo—they were all disembodied destinations to visit individually, offering shopping or nights out or a nice walk by the river. About 10 years ago, needing to save a few bucks, I started riding the bus to work. (These days a single bus fare costs £1.50—about $2— and you can ride all day for £4.50, roughly half the price of a day’s travel on the Tube.) This

An Ode to the No. 11 The one bus every traveler should take.

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To see as many sights as possible on a single journey, hop on the No. 11 for a seven-mile, 90-minute odyssey. Your trip starts at Liverpool Street, in the east, then proceeds through the City of London, passing grand old

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being the home of the double-decker, I would naturally climb the stairs to the top deck, a book in hand in case the journey was dull. I almost never opened the book. Underground, seasoned commuters treated their fellow travelers as obstacles. From the top deck of the bus, people on the street—shopping, smoking, walking, waiting—were creatures of fascination, not laggards to overtake. I loved my new vantage point, so I began taking more buses and discovering more topography. The No. 38 introduced me to the true sweep of the West End: the way that Shaftesbury Avenue slides down from the grotty shopping hub of Tottenham Court Road toward the Old World glamour of Piccadilly and St. James. On the No. 242, I realized just how close the sharp-suited bankers working in the City, London’s version of Wall Street, were to the trendy hipsters of Shoreditch—a matter of minutes separated their very different patches. Finally, the city was starting to

coalesce out of unrelated micro-pockets. Of course, the ascent to the top deck is essential: The lower deck won’t show you anything you can’t see from the sidewalk, but the top deck works its magic on even the most jaded of travelers. Up here, above the homogeneous shop fronts, you’re lifted out of the world of chain stores, free to ogle the beautiful buildings that house them. At street level, it might be just another Burger King or HSBC, but from the top deck it’s revealed as a former inn, or a bathhouse, or a mansion that housed one of England’s oldest and richest families. Down on the busy street, where folks walk fast and a new restaurant might not survive a month, London can seem prey to the whim of every trend. Up at tree level, its history and culture endure. It’s the reason heading up those stairs makes you feel, just for a second, like a kid again—the everyday can be glimpsed with fresh eyes, and the city reasserts itself as a place of wonder.

institutions such as the Bank of England and Mansion House, the official residence of London’s Lord Mayor. Enjoy great views of St. Paul’s Cathedral, then swap saints for sinners as you pass the Old Bailey (where the country’s

noon. Next, the Strand, lined with grand hotels and tony restaurants, such as the Savoy and Simpson’s. Swing through Trafalgar Square and along Whitehall— the corridor of political power—right past the Cenotaph

biggest criminal cases are tried) and the Royal Courts of Justice. Next comes Fleet Street, the former newspaper hub where you’ll see the old Daily Express building and bars like El Vino, where journalists once started drinking at

war memorial and Downing Street, down to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The ride ends in posh Chelsea and Fulham, home to a few authentic pubs where you can grab a pint before catching the Tube back.

MARTIN SOEBY/GALLERY STOCK

b y Emma J o h n


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AFAR RETREAT AT THE HARVEST INN BY CHARLIE PALMER

EXPLORATION WITH THE LUXURY RESORT AT PEDREGAL

LUXURY TRAVEL—THE MARK OF EXCELLENCE

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WHAT’S HAPPENING AT AFAR

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Center right: AFAR cofounder Joe Diaz with panelists Matthias Schmid and Daniel Cuellar. Bottom left: Barry Brown, AFAR executive director sales Caribbean; Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio; Edmund Bartlett minister of tourism Jamaica; and Muriel Wiltord, director Americas of the Martinique Promotion Bureau. Bottom center: Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio and Andre Rojer, marketing manager Curaçao Tourist Board. Bottom right: AFAR vice president, publisher Bryan Kinkede; Audrey Yacou, marketing assistant Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board; Arabella Bowen, AFAR digital executive editor; and Sandra Venite, US agency director Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board.

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Spice shops, snake charmers, and street food have long made Marrakech’s main square, the Djemaa el Fna, one of the world’s greatest tourist spectacles. But get past the sensory overload and you’ll find a place full of human stories. Let us to introduce you to some of the people who work there.

by Lisa Abend photographs by Robin Hammond


Farous Belaid, Snake Charmer


or a moment, the riotous swirl around me ceased. The whine of the snake charmer’s

horn, the undulating hips of the transvestite dancers, the wafts of grilled lamb, the cries of the healer just in from the Sahara as he spread out ostrich eggs and gazelle antlers before him—it all stopped. Coco had given me an inscrutable look, rested her tiny hand on my shoulder, and then pressed her lips to mine. I was so stunned, I didn’t even notice as she slipped the water bottle from my hand. There are not many places in the world where you can be kissed by a thieving monkey, but the Djemaa el Fna is one of them. A sprawling square at the thrumming heart of the Moroccan city of Marrakech, it has long seemed to me the most exotic place in the world—a fantastical spectacle where acrobats in satin pantaloons turned flips and dentists once pulled teeth, where drumming musicians rolled their heads in trance and multilingual touts no older than 12 insistently tried to persuade unsuspecting tourists that they were licensed guides, where men in lab coats cooked up heaps of wriggling snails and storytellers regaled listeners with the most marvelous tales. It is this exotic essence that has kept me returning regularly to Marrakech ever since my first visit 25 years ago. A dreary winter, or too many months stuck in a rut of work, would get me craving the city’s distinct kaleidoscope of sights and sounds and smells, and before I knew it, I’d

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Abdelkabir Almou, Monkey Trainer


Abdelaati Alia, Talisman Seller


be sitting at an outdoor café, sipping mint tea so sweet I could feel it carving cavities into my teeth, watching the scene unfold before me. But “exotic” carries distance within its definition—it depends on finding someone or something different, or “other,” as the postmodernists like to say. And somehow over time, the idea of distance had lost its allure for me. I found myself wanting less spectacle and more connection. Would it be possible, I wondered, to go beneath the surface of the exotic? Could I get to know the people for whom the Djemaa el Fna was not a pageant of fantasy, but a part of their routine? Instead of strangeness and remove, could I find something familiar, even relatable? My plan was simple: to hang out and, with the help of a translator, talk to people for whom the Djemaa el Fna was ordinary life. In other words, I would chat up those who worked there. The square, after all, has been a cosmopolitan marketplace since the Middle Ages, and there have been people making their living from it for just as long as there have been people coming to gawk at it. I hoped that by sticking around and asking questions—Is there a hierarchy among orange juice sellers? Do you get dizzy spinning your Gnaoua hat like that? How does one become a snake charmer anyway?—I might learn something meaningful about Morocco’s most iconic place. In other words, instead of being content with the surprise of Coco’s kiss, this time I set out to learn the story of the man who taught that monkey to pucker up.

juice Abdul knew in the early years. And for reasons that no one remembers now, most of the vendors wear lab coats. “Probably one person started wearing one, and then everyone else followed,” Abdul says of his colleagues in the other juice stands. “That’s what happened with the pomegranates.” Pomegranates? “Yeah, one stall introduced a new flavor, and everyone else copied,” he says, flashing the broad, gap-toothed smile

You need to know how to talk to people so they trust you,” Hajiba says. Her trick? “I ask about their kids.

Abdul el Baraka Juice Vendor

To the casual visitor, the Djemaa el Fna can appear timeless, but Abdul el Baraka knows that’s not true. He’s only 26, but he has been working at juice stand No. 63 since he was 14. His father wanted him to stay in school, but he wasn’t doing very well there, and besides, his family needed the money, even the little he earned back then. “When I started, I was only allowed to cut fruit, and made 20 dirhams (about $2) a day. I did that for two years before I was allowed to squeeze a single orange.” That’s not the only change he’s experienced in the last dozen years. For one, the stand itself is different: When Abdul started it was a pushcart, but now it’s more like a full-fledged food truck, with billboard menus and long stretches of fruit alluringly stacked. The offerings are more diverse now: fruits and blends— kiwi-strawberry, pineapple-coconut—that go far beyond the basic orange and grapefruit

clad in pink polka-dot socks and plastic sandals, she reaches out, unsolicited, to grasp the hand of a passing tourist, then, attention captured, quickly tries to engage the prospect in conversation. “You have to be a psychologist,” she says. “You need to know how to talk to people so they trust you.” Her trick? “I ask about their kids.” For her own children—she has four—Hajiba hopes for better things. “I wouldn’t want my

that draws clients with magnetic force. “Even here, we have trends.”

Hajiba Swergy Henna Painter

She may spend her days tracing impossibly intricate designs with her narrow brush, but make no mistake: Hajiba is in it for the money, not the art. “It’s a job,” she says of the lacy vines and swirls she paints on the hands and feet of female travelers eager for a touch of Moroccan beauty. (Local women have their henna painted at home or in a salon.) “Anyone can learn it. I started when I was seven.” On a good day, she’ll paint three or four designs over the course of her 10-hour day, and earn about 400 dirhams ($40). The biggest challenge of her job is attracting clients. Perched on a tiny stool, her feet

girls to do this. It’s too hard. You’re outdoors all day, in the heat and in the cold. It’d be better if they become teachers.” As for her own aspirations, they tend toward the monetary. “I’d like to become rich. Inshallah.”

Jamal Taika

Snake Charmer

Of all the serpents in God’s kingdom, cobras are the smartest. Jamal learned that from his father and grandfather, who were also snake charmers. But it was proven to him 20 years ago, when it came time for him to catch his own. He went into the desert in March—“that’s when the snakes marry and have babies,” he says—and, per custom, fasted while he hunted. It took weeks, but eventually he caught one. “You have to think like a cobra,” he says of his method. “They like to follow movement, but SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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Brahim el Chaouef, Water Vendor


Touria Moutalib, Balloon Seller


Jawad Arabi, Gnaoua Musician


they have a sixth sense. They’re sneaky. And they’re not loyal to anyone.” There are five snake-charming families who work in the Djemaa el Fna, and together they make up what they say is the square’s No. 1 tourist attraction. They all shake their heads when asked if they remove their snakes’ poison. Jamal’s own father died years ago, he says, of snakebite. His colleagues echo his disgruntlement when he brings up

another charmer who died recently because the hospital where he was taken allegedly had no antivenom on hand. Even so, Jamal is not afraid of the animals. “The snake is the enemy to everybody else. But to us, he’s a friend.”

Abdel Fattah Siddik Mint Vendor

Unlike most of the square’s workers, Abdel devotes himself primarily to locals, not tourists.

How to Navigate

Marrakech’s Djemaa el Fna Starla Estrada, the managing director for Africa at GeoEx, an adventure travel company, shares tips for managing the bustling open-air market. by SARAH BUDER

Bring Change “In the square, it’s expected that you pay for the entertainment you photograph,” Estrada says. Prepare to give between 10 and 20 Moroccan dirhams ($1 to $2) per performance, so head to Djemaa el Fna with plenty of change (and carry it on the front of your body, to deter pickpockets). Play Fair Don’t be afraid to haggle. “Treat bargaining like a game,” Estrada says. There’s only one taboo: “It’s considered extremely disrespectful to back off from a transaction once you’ve agreed to it.” Two phrases to memorize: “ghali bezaf” (the “gh” is pronounced like an “r”), which means “too expensive,” and “la, shokran,” or “no, thank you.”

Don’t Be a Hands-On Shopper In the market, “I look and don’t touch,” Estrada says. “As soon as you’ve touched an item, you’ve indicated that you’re serious about buying it.” Be a Repeat Vistor The scene at Djemaa el Fna has two distinct phases. “During the day, you’ll see snake charmers, monkey handlers, and other performers with animals. At sundown, the marketplace fills up with locals dining at the open-air food court and listening to storytellers,” Estrada says. Ask Before You Snap You can take pictures throughout the market, but always ask for permission first, especially in shops: “Mumkin nkhod tsowera?” (“May I take a picture?”)

Go Local “Throughout Morocco, it is considered a sign of respect to hire a local guide,” Estrada notes. “It shows that you’re interested in Moroccan culture and you’ve invested in someone who can teach you about it.” Travelers can hire reliable local guides through most Marrakech hotel concierges. Master the Art of the Taxi Deal “To hire transportation back to your lodgings, walk about 50 meters outside the marketplace,” says Estrada. “If you take a taxi directly from the square, you’ll pay more. Always ask for and confirm a price before you get in.”

His stall—one of five selling herbs—is piled high with bunches of the fragrant mint that Moroccans use to make tea. The omnipresence of that drink—which finishes every meal and is a necessary social lubricant for everything from business transactions to outings with girlfriends—helps explain why Abdel sells so much of it. That and his good nature, explains one client: “I’ve been coming since it was his father’s. They’re a nice family.” But things are getting harder for him. He wasn’t on the square the day that terrorists set off a bomb at the Argana Café a few feet away, killing 17 people, but his dad was, and Abdel’s been concerned about security ever since. “There are more cameras, and more police, but the worry never really goes away.” A more immediate concern is changes in consumer habits. “It used to be that everyone came here to do their shopping,” he says. “But now people go to the supermarket. Everybody still needs mint, they just don’t need it from here.”

Mahjoub

Shoe Shiner

There are 15 shoe shiners licensed to work in the square, and Mahjoub (who would give only the one name) is No. 5. Shoeshines used to be one among many services locals could get at the square. At 72, Mahjoub remembers when there were barbers cutting hair and dentists pulling teeth, but these days he and his coworkers are all that remain. His experience— all six decades of it—shows in the way he coolly sizes up a customer, caressing a shoe’s leather like a lover, and quickly pulling the proper brush and polish from the collection he keeps in a scuffed wooden box. He works silently, a slap to the side of the box the only indication that it’s time for the client to change feet. Mahjoub is not one for small talk. But when asked about the faded Arabic tattoo on his arm, he explains, “It says ‘the injustice that made me cry.’ ” He got it after he was jailed—unfairly, he says—for getting into a fight over a woman. He spent three months in prison, “but it seemed like forever, because I was in love,” he says. Asked whether the woman waited for him, he chuckles. “She’s waiting still.”

Jawad Abdelghafour Gnaoua Musician

Jawad Abdelghafour, although only a teenager, knows he has power. In fact, he’s seen it with his own eyes: A Gnaoua musician, he and his colleagues have freed victims from the bad spirits that plague them. The music itself “is more African than Arab,” Jawad explains. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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Instead, he now makes his living by running a game of skill in the Djemaa el Fna. First he sets up bottles of soda in a circle. Then, in exchange for 10 dirhams ($1), his customers get 10 minutes to attempt to hook a bottle via a ring that, if angled properly, slips over the bottle’s neck; if they succeed, they get to keep the soda. The ring, it should be said, dangles from a long, makeshift fishing pole. “What can I say?” Hassan explains with a shrug. “I miss it. The sea is a beautiful world.”

a fixed perimeter of the stall that employs him, so most congregate at the outer edges of their territory, in order to get maximum exposure to potential clients. But Aziz hangs back, confident in his technique. I see it in action when he learns I live in Denmark. “Eat here,” he says with a smile. “It’s better than Noma.” Later he confesses to having an arsenal of such remarks. “If you were from France, I would have said Paul Bocuse.”

Aziz Ramzey

Monkey Trainer

Restaurant Promoter

By late afternoon, the eastern edge of the Djemaa el Fna is a hot, smoky, noisy hive of

Eat here,” Aziz says with a smile. “It’s better than Noma.

Jawad and his colleagues don their tasseled hats embroidered with cowrie shells and play in the square. “Whoever likes it,” he says of the music’s fans, “lives it.”

Hassan Kharmouch Game Organizer

Hassan Kharmouch is a man who dreams of the sea, but in the Djemaa el Fna, the only water he sees comes in the goatskin sacks of sellers with fringed hats. These days— when water sellers can make more money by posing for tourist pictures than by quenching anyone’s thirst—he may not even see that. But once, Hassan spent his days on the ocean: He was a fisherman who hauled up octopus off the coast of Dakhla. He had his own boat, but the low prices paid by distributors drove him out. “It was too hard to make a living,” says the 29 year old. 96

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activity as dozens of makeshift restaurants set up tables and chairs, build kitchens, and lay out displays of kebabs, salads, tagines, fried vegetables, and fresh fish in preparation for the dinner rush. It also becomes something of a gauntlet for any passerby hungry or curious enough to get within a few meters. Thanks to dozens of persuasive talkers known as animateurs—each one hired to lure potential customers to a particular stall—walking through the vicinity can feel like a siege. But that, says Aziz Ramzey, is because most of the other animateurs don’t know what they’re doing. “I’m the best,” he says with the assurance of someone who has spent the last 20 years honing his skills. “Maybe there’s one guy who’s better than me, but otherwise, I’m the best.” The full tables at Restaurant No. 15 seem to bear him out. By common understanding, each animateur is only allowed to work within

Abdelkabir Almou The family of Abdelkabir Almou has been in the monkey business for 40 years. Like his parents before him, Abdelkabir keeps his monkeys at home, in cages hung in the trees of the garden patio of his house. He’s got 23 or 24 total—he can’t remember which. They all come from the Atlas Mountains. Coco, he says, is his favorite, because she was born on the same day as his son, seven years ago. She can do a dozen tricks, including kissing, smiling, flipping, and her signature pose, At The Beach, in which she stretches out coquettishly, as if sunbathing. “They’re not that hard to train, because they’re good imitators,” he says of the monkeys. “You just use food as a reward.” Coco likes cheese especially. He hopes his sons choose a different profession when they grow up. “It can be hard,” he says of his job. “I get a lot of criticism from tourists who think we mistreat the animals. They can be very aggressive.” Pulling Coco onto his shoulder for a kiss, he shrugs. “They just don’t understand.” Neither, he would later tell me, does his wife. Early on the morning before I was to leave Marrakech, I ran into Abdelkabir in the medina. Coco must have been at home, because he was alone. In broken English and French, he told me that he’d had a huge fight with his wife, and that she had thrown him out. He had been sitting in the café all night with no place to go, worrying about when he would see his family again. I told him how sorry I was to hear about his troubles, but inside, I was skeptical: I had been in Morocco enough to know that tourists are often scammed. My doubts faded, however, when he began to sob. I opened my arms and for a few moments, there on a silent street off the Djemaa el Fna, the monkey trainer and I embraced. Contributing writer Lisa Abend wrote about Tasmania in the November/December 2016 issue of AFAR. Photographer Robin Hammond is profiled on page 16. Plan your trip at afar.com/visit/marrakech.

LETTERING BY HELLO JON

“That sound?”—he clacks the castanets known as krakeb—“It’s the sound the chains made when the slaves danced.” But Gnaoua isn’t just music; it’s also a spiritual practice. The musicians are hired by an individual or a family suffering from illness or another misfortune. The ritual begins at sunset with an animal sacrifice. Throughout the night, the musicians play through seven “colors” until the spirit associated with the affliction reveals itself, and frees the victim. “It doesn’t scare me,” Jawad says. “The spirits have to listen to Gnaoua.” When they are not conducting the rituals or performing at festivals or in hotels—Gnaoua music is very popular in Morocco these days—


Khadija Hedidi, Fortune Teller


THE SPRAWLiNG, iNTENSE, SOMETiMES FRUSTRATiNG,


ALWAYS EXHiLARATING, TIMELESS, THOROUGHLY MODERN BEAUTY OF BANGKOK by Tom Downey photographs by Adam Birkan

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i’M iN BANGKOK’S CHiNATOWN, nearing the end of a long morning run through the city, when I see a stream

of people heading down a lane. I follow them. The lane is so narrow that I have to slow to a walk. I snake past stores purveying all manner of burnable offerings for the adjacent temple (fake money in both dollars and baht; New Balance branded sneakers made of cardboard), then spy two folding tables and eight plastic stools wedged against a wall, most of them occupied by ladies who breakfast. There’s something about the intensity with which these women slurp their noodles that makes me slow down further. As soon as she catches me staring, the short-haired cashier leaps up from her perch next to the cauldron and insists I sit down. The cook glances up at me as she preps my bowl, first ladling in soup and noodles, then an array of beef and pork parts. Al dente rice-flour pasta, called kway chap, combines with ultracrisp char shiu pork and a spectacularly flavorful, long-cooked broth to produce one of the best noodle dishes I’ve ever eaten. The pleasure I take in this breakfast isn’t only about the food. Even though I’m in a city I know well, having visited many times, I’ve found myself somewhere new. I’m nestled in the heart of a dense, bustling market where shoppers eye slabs of pork and vats of pickled greens, chat with vendors, bow toward the temple, and live the vibrant life of this inner city.


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In Bangkok’s Chinatown, which lies between Charoenkrung Road and the Chao Phraya River, the wandering traveler can stop for duck wontons and a drink spiked with ginseng at Ba Hao cocktail bar, above, and then slip into a nearby alley (opposite page), where a Buddhist shrine stands out amid the urban clutter.

For me it’s a revelatory experience of enormous, immersive pleasure. How did I arrive at this moment of bliss? I certainly didn’t read about this meal on some website’s list of the Top 10 Noodle Stalls in Bangkok. (If I had, I doubt I’d be the only non-Thai person in the market.) I am, instead, savoring the deep enjoyment that comes from finding something extraordinary all by myself, and by accident. It’s the kind of pleasure sought by the amateur urbanist known as the flâneur. As conceptualized in the 19th-century European metropolis, a flâneur is a person who approaches a city by wandering randomly yet observantly, discovering as he or she walks. The flâneur’s pleasure is different from the gratification that comes from being led by expert opinions to the best a city has to offer. It means stumbling upon great places and appreciating the spontaneous process that revealed them. 102

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The flâneur’s traditional approach still works in locales such as Paris or London, which were practically purpose-built for a pedestrian’s pleasure. But last year, for the first time since such things have been recorded, the most visited urban area in the world was nothing like—and nowhere near—those oldfashioned, European cities. It was Bangkok, the sprawling, crowded, everexpanding capital of Thailand, which welcomed more than 21 million visitors. Try to be an old-school flâneur in today’s Bangkok and you will likely end up dehydrated and heat sick, desperately trying to cross a six-lane road to nowhere. Bangkok, like so many other big cities that have grown up in the modern world (São Paulo, Tokyo, Lagos, Jakarta, to name a few) is a rapidly changing megalopolis where many of the old rules about how to know a city simply don’t apply. So how does a 21st-century traveler find spontaneous pleasure in a place like this?

1 FiND NEW WAYS TO WANDER Bangkok is a puzzle just to get around. The small, manageable blocks of the city’s old town along the Chao Phraya River give way to huge avenues as you get farther away from the river. The reach of subways and trains is limited, and traffic is so insane that sometimes taxi drivers will simply refuse to take you to your destination at any price. But cracking a city’s navigational code can be one of the most fun and interesting undertakings for a traveler. Bangkok’s best-known form of public transport is the boat service that plies the Chao Phraya, the largest and most important waterway in the region, dropping people off at all the usual tourist haunts: the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the Flower Market, Wat Pho. But better for revealing my kind of Bangkok are two boat lines less used by tourists.


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TRAVEL DEEPER iN BANGKOK

All roads in the Thai capital do not lead to the heavily touristed Khao San Road. Here are four other Bangkok neighborhoods worth getting to know. BY ASHLEA HALPERN

1

CHiNATOWN

If you have only one day in Bangkok to just wander, go here. The century-old neighborhood is a riot of sights, sounds, tastes, and smells (yes, that is freshly hacked durian singeing your nostril hairs). Gold chains, blue-and-white pottery, pirated DVDs—whatever you fancy, you’ll get more bang for your baht here than anywhere else in the city. See the 5.5-ton Golden Buddha statue at Wat Trai Mit and live crocodiles at Wat Chakrawat; photograph the sea of vertical Chinese-language signs fighting for attention on busy Yaowarat Road; and sample the fish maw soup at bustling Talat Kao market or the khanom buang (crispy dessert crepes) from a street cart on Sampeng Lane. Come nightfall, head to the shophouses of Soi Nana on Chinatown’s southern fringes. It’s this pocket of gritty-chic bars and boozy galleries (including Teens of Thailand, Tep Bar, Ba Hao, Project 189, 23 Bar & Gallery) that is credited with—and also blamed for—gentrifying one of Bangkok’s most historic neighborhoods. In a recent show of deference,

Cho Why Gallery staged an exhibition of documentary photography titled Bye Bye Chinatown. The aim? To raise awareness about the district’s rapidly vanishing culture—and lobby for its protection.

2

TALAD NOi

For years, this neighborhood south of Chinatown was mostly known for Siang Gong, a warren of grubby storefronts trading in chop-shop auto parts and engines. But now that the Thailand Creative & Design Center, or TCDC for short, has opened in the former Grand Post Office Building, the area has rocketed to instant—and Instagram— stardom. The enormous five-story space includes a multilevel design library, a 3-D-printing lab, and a gift shop featuring the work of Thai designers. About a minute away, respected architect Duangrit Bunnag is transforming two WWIIera waterfront warehouses into a mixed-use creative space. When it’s complete, Warehouse 30 will host a flagship store for Bunnag’s fashion label, Lonely Two Legged Creature, plus a restaurant and cocktail bar, a coffee roaster, a flower

shop, a hostel, a cinema, an indie bookstore, and lots of coworking space. Hip young Thais are also lured to Talad Noi to get inked at Black Pig Tattoo, devour burgers at Little Market and charcuterie plates from Outlaw Creative Cuisine, and rage late into the night at party galleries such as Speedy Grandma and Soy Sauce Factory. Of special note on the food front is the restaurant 80/20, helmed by rising Thai chef Napol Jantraget. Though its food is economically priced, the experimental locavore haunt, which opened in 2016, should be a shoo-in for a star when the first-ever Michelin Guide Bangkok edition drops next year.

3

ARI

Just a few Skytrain stops north of the Ratchathewi district’s chaotic wholesale clothing markets and buzzing electronics malls is a well-heeled residential neighborhood that seems to have more trees than the rest of Bangkok combined. Hop off at the Ari station to explore leafy streets peppered with creative businesses such as Future Factory Bangkok, a youthful art gallery that hosts

rowdy music events in the basement of an insurance building; TrueLove Café, the canine equivalent of a cat café, home to more than 20 Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes, plus a Japanese Akita; and La Liart Coffee, where thirdwave purists share a roof with Tokyobike, a manufacturer of lightweight, fashion-forward rides. For all-day eating in a convivial atmosphere, Summer Street is a must. The covered picnic tables surrounding the seafood truck have charcoal grills; it’s on you to cook the squid, sea snails, and giant freshwater prawns to perfection.

4

EKKAMAI

One train stop north of the trendy Thong Lo neighborhood, this condo-dense area in Upper Sukhumvit is a notable expat hang. But it’s hardly all foreigners loading up on cool accessories at Onion, rummaging for snakeskin pumps at (Un) Fashion Vintage, getting their spines cracked by Thai masseuses at Health Land, or throwing back old-fashioneds with infused syrups at the dimly lit bar Sugar Ray You’ve Just Been Poisoned. The main thoroughfare, Ekkamai Road, is dotted with casual eateries (Tamnak Isan, Sabai Jai Gai Yang, Hom Duan) specializing in fiery fare from Isaan, a region in northeast Thailand made famous in the States by Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker. For a break from shopping and eating, swing by the tranquil Wat That Thong, an 80-year-old Buddhist temple that goes largely unseen by tourists. Merit-making ceremonies are common here, as are funerals; use your judgment before whipping out your camera.


One putters along the Krung Kasem canal, which curves along the eastern edge of Old Bangkok, showing you the city the way it used to be, with shaded wooden walkways that abut the narrow canal and small ironwork pedestrian bridges that arc over it at steep angles. The other boat line connects the historic city center with the far reaches of eastern Bangkok via the Saen Saep canal. On the Saen Saep, commuters and students shuffle onto benches in long, low-slung green boats topped with blue-and-white plastic tarps for shade. The people nearest the sides clutch ropes to raise plastic shields when a wave of murky water is about to strike. Glimpsed from the canal, crowded tourist stops such as the home of Jim Thompson (a famous American silk trader who disappeared in 1967) appear tranquil. As the boat travels east and reaches the Pratunam area, it fills with shoppers carrying electronics from Pantip Plaza or designer bargains from the Platinum Fashion Mall. The gleaming towers of modern Bangkok—mirrored office buildings, high-rise condominiums, malls with jumbo video screens—loom over the few old wooden houses that remain on the waterside. The small piers where the boat stops are often positioned below bridges that shelter not only passengers but also papaya salad carts, coffee and tea vendors, and, invariably, a mutt or two sleeping in the shade. Compared to a canalside scene in, say, Paris, Bangkok offers an overwhelming density of life. People have been navigating Bangkok’s canals by boat for centuries, so it’s a fitting way to get a feel for the city. But for a uniquely modern take, do your wandering by motorcycle taxi. Offering 360-degree views as they bob and weave past the city’s enormous yet nearly silent traffic jams (Thais are loathe to honk their horns for anything that doesn’t involve impending death), motos are intensely pleasurable—if perilous. One day I caught a moto in the northern part of Chinatown and headed south, watching the riverfront area transform. We started the ride amid ancient Chinese warehouses that used to store goods that arrived by boat. We saw throngs of people crossing the street to shop at a mile-long fabric market. We turned onto Yaowarat Road, where street-food vendors staked out their territory, and the bright lights of tall, rectangular neon signs with vertical strips of Chinese characters were just starting to flicker on. As we neared my destination, we veered onto a strip of scrapyards with towering stacks of rusting mechanical

parts and man-size motors that looked like an Ai Weiwei installation. The panoramic view offered by the moto showed me how the city’s streets flowed together in a way I’d never have seen from a car window, stuck in traffic.

2 FOCUS My early morning runs, motorcycle taxi rides, and canal boat cruises are gratifying in themselves, but they also serve as reconnaissance for places I want to return to. This kind of exploration is essential in a place like Bangkok, where you need to accept that you will never be able to see everything. When I find a restaurant or a street I love, I go back and back again, even if I’m only in the city for a short time. Great places, like the noodle stall I found, don’t exist in a vacuum. If there’s a discerning clientele to support one excellent place, that probably signals a neighborhood worth returning to. And so, a few mornings after my noodle breakfast, I found myself in the same Chinatown alleyway at a different food stall, sampling a batch of delicious, silver-dollar-size pumpkin-custard-filled pancakes. I started to haunt that neighborhood and found that by the afternoon, the alleyway was scorching hot and painfully packed with tour groups on their way to the adjacent temple. By evening it was completely shuttered. But that nighttime return trip led me to scour the area and find, some blocks away on a small street called Soi Nana, at the southern edge of Chinatown, a bar that had just opened. Marked by a red neon sign with Chinese characters, the bar was called Ba Hao. Ba Hao offered the chance to put into practice another strategy for getting to know a modern city: Pick a spot and become a regular. Places that have been open for years have patrons who have been coming for years. New places have only new customers. Thus brand-new places offer a special opportunity to become a regular in just a few visits. Most of the other spots in the neighborhood were either old-school Chinese or newschool hipster. There were dozens of shark fin soup joints, tons of streetside sautéed noodles on offer, and even a gin specialty bar and a craft beer bar right down the street. But Ba Hao served stuff I didn’t see anywhere else: duck wontons with chili sesame oil; a Negroni-like cocktail made not with gin but with a Chinese medicinal liqueur containing ginseng and herbs. I struck up a conversation with one

of the owners behind the bar. His name was Phoom, and he invited me to come back the next day to see the neighborhood with him. “I grew up 250 meters from here,” he told me when we met up again. “The streets all have their specialties. My block sold baby ducks and chickens, as well as wooden coffins.” We walked toward his home street as he told me more about his history. “My family speaks Thai, of course, but also Teochew, our language from China. Growing up in Thailand, even here in Chinatown, there’s this idea that everybody should just be Thai and forget about where their grandparents might have come from. But I wanted to open this bar to make people see that Thai-Chinese culture can be cool.” Phoom shared his slice of the city with me. After all, I was a regular.

3 SEEK OUT WHAT’S ENDANGERED There are competing visions of this city, and one of those visions sees a place like Singapore as the ultimate goal of urban planning. In this vision, street activity moves inside, where it will be cleaner, cooler, and, in my opinion, profoundly boring. While I was in Bangkok, reports surfaced that the municipal authorities were planning to eliminate street-food vendors from many of the city’s most popular precincts. They cited concerns about pedestrian congestion, hygiene, traffic, and other issues that are, of course, important. Those negative aspects of street food are easier to see and to lobby against than the more abstract ways in which street life is the essence of the city. In modern, fast-growing cities such as Bangkok, debates like these constantly reshape the urban landscape. For me, that means that when I visit, I seek out the things that might not be there when I come back. Just across the bridge from Rattanakosin Island—arrayed around a large temple notable for the Giant Swing religious monument out front—is an old neighborhood that has become a battleground in the debate over the city’s future. At least one community has recently been pushed out to make room for a park. The neighborhood is distinguished by its many small restaurants, which spill out onto the street from low-rise shophouses and cater to City Hall workers on their lunch break, and by its alleyways, filled with vendors who make SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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Construction on the Grand Palace, in the background above, started in 1782, and the 2.3-million-square-foot complex, divided into four courts, is home to the revered Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Bangkok’s current building boom is aimed at creating commercial ventures such as the shopping mall rising between skyscrapers, opposite page.

goods for the monks from the surrounding temples. As I wandered, I saw something new: a flashy three-story hostel called Once Again Hostel, complete with a La Marzocco espresso machine and dozens of smiling, young European clients. Uh-oh, I thought. I’m too late. The area’s transformation into a tourist ghetto has already begun. I was in for a surprise. I met Sanon and Mic, the young Thai owners of the hostel, who, it turned out, were on a mission to try to preserve the fast-disappearing people and places around them. Mic, an architect, explained that the steel decorations that covered one of the lobby’s walls were locally manufactured metal lids that monks used to cover their alms bowls. Mic had grown up in this building, above his family’s business, a printing company that had relocated to a suburb. Sanon, a former industrial engineer, was knowledgeable and passionate about the communities that surrounded the place. He 108

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was devoted to using the hostel to help protect them. He showed me a prototype of a bright orange bag he was creating with one of these communities, an enclave where the traditional occupation has been to sew monks’ robes. I walked with Sanon down a tiny alleyway near the hostel, where we were greeted by a chorus of hammers on metal. Everyone on this street is involved in the eight phases of the ancient craft of metal monk-bowl making: One person frames the bowls, another welds them, a third hammers them into shape. Though there are now mass-manufactured bowls that are lower in price (and of dubious quality), this alley still makes bowls that require five different families of artisans to collaborate. We chatted with Ari, 46, a fourth-generation bowl maker. “Before, every single house in this area was making monks’ bowls,” he said. “Everyone lived out in the street, worked out in the street. Now you don’t hear the same sounds. Things are changing here.”

Who knows if the bowl makers, the monk robe manufacturers, and the other artisans who make this neighborhood so appealing will still be around the next time I return to Bangkok? When you look around the city and see the way swanky new shopping malls and high-rise hotels now dominate the landscape, it’s easy to despair. But people like Sanon and Mic, opening a hostel with the motto “Where your stays better the city,” and Phoom and his partners, who decided to celebrate their Thai-Chinese culture at Ba Hao, indicate that, below a facade of relentless modernization and globalization, there’s a powerful current of Thai pride, heritage, and cultural adaptation. It’s a side of the city that will reveal itself, if you know where and how to look. Contributing writer Tom Downey wrote about Japan’s modern crafts movement in the October 2015 issue of AFAR. Photographer Adam Birkan is profiled on page 16.


The French sport of les joutes nautiques (water jousting)—which is celebrated every August during the Fête de la Saint Louis—is as popular in Sète as baseball is in Chicago.

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E Photographer Christopher Anderson explores French identity through the colors of the flag.


“WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO BE FRENCH RIGHT NOW?” That question has gripped photographer Christopher Anderson since 2010, the first time he witnessed les joutes nautiques, the French sport of water jousting (pictured on previous pages). Anderson had just started his artist residency in Sète, a port city in the Languedoc region of France. As he watched the matches, a ghost of an idea began to form, inspired by the white of the jousters’ pants and the blue- and red-painted poles they use to push one another into the water; the red of the fireworks that celebrate the festival’s end later joined the mix. “I had never witnessed the national colors of France on display in this way,” he says, though he has lived in the country on and off since 1999. “It occurred to me that the colors of the flag could be a motif for this project I wanted to do about identity.” The project, Bleu Blanc Rouge, also touches on Anderson’s own search for identity. His father is Canadian; his mother is American. He grew up in Texas, then roamed a bit before moving to France, where he eventually married a French woman. The couple and their two children spent years in New York before settling in Barcelona.

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Anderson’s images add up to more than the hues of the French Tricolor, of course. A splash made by a falling jouster in Sète spoke to something universal, Anderson says. “Without getting too touchy-feely about it, water is essential to being human, so it’s an obvious theme when it comes to connecting and belonging.” The portrait of a local artist’s bruise, known as un bleu in French, speaks to the “fragile nature of flesh and the idea that color is literally skin deep.” And the image of a woman in bed, looking up at the camera from white sheets? It’s a shot of Marion Durand, Anderson’s wife. “She’s the reason I went to France in the first place—and the reason I stayed.”


“I never had the idea of ‘this place is where I belong,’ ” Anderson says. “And now, having children who are half French, who speak French but are growing up in New York and Barcelona—I was thinking a lot about what it would mean to them to be French.” As France grapples with issues of immigration and populism, what it means to be French is changing. Even the country’s relationship to the flag, which often used to be associated with Far Right nationalism, is evolving. “When I would explain the project to French people,” he says, “they would say, ‘We don’t have the connection to the flag that Americans do.’ ” But when Anderson was in Paris for the recent presidential election, he saw something completely different. “People on the Left were displaying the flag in a way that I had never seen before,” he says. “I think the French are realizing that national pride doesn’t have to coincide with nationalism.” —aislyn greene

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“Copenhagen is considered one of the best places in the world to live, and during the week my husband and I spent there, that was so obviously true. We spent a lot of time exploring the various neighborhoods. In Christiania—a hippie ‘free town’ that exists within the city—there are old houses, covered in crazy, colorful murals, where people live communally, plus a little flea market where I bought vintage Royal Copenhagen mugs. We also checked out the neighborhood of Nørrebro. Mikkeller Beer has a bar there; Manfreds, a veggie-focused restaurant around the corner, has a delicious chef’s choice menu; and there are tons of cute little stores. We went to the meatpacking district in the Vesterbro area for food: Texas-style barbecue at WarPigs and pork tacos at Hija de Sánchez, a taqueria run by a former Noma chef. I honestly feel like Copenhagen might be my favorite city in the world. And, bonus, it’s only 35 minutes by train from Malmö, Sweden, where we spent an afternoon in the Ribersborgs Kallbadhus sauna, alternating between sweating inside and running outside to jump in the Øresund Strait.” 120

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ELIZABETH SPIRIDAKIS OLSON

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