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insider's

EUROPE

SWEDEN w ITALY w SPAIN w HOLLAND w FRANCE w LuxEmbOuRg

Boat cruise on the canals of Amsterdam

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Beyoncé

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PraBhas

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FIFa 2018

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outlook traveller awards


Contents may 2018

sweden

by Nitin Chaudhary

spain

by Amit Dixit

italy

by Marta Galli

holland

by Rupali Ghosh

France

by Gustasp & Jeroo Irani

estonia

by Sharmistha Chaudhuri The Turning Torso in MalmĂś, Sweden getty images

luxembourg

by Apoorva Prasad

46 56 64 72 78 82 86

insider’s europe

volume 18 issue 5


Contents editor amit dixit deputy editor sharmistha chaudhuri correspondent manek s. kohli deputy photo editor shruti singh senior photographer Puneet k. Paliwal assistant art director asha rajPut designer gulshan sharma dtp operator kuldeeP kalia outlooktraveller.com managing editor sharmistha chaudhuri features writers Precious kamei, snigdha sharma contributing writer uttara gangoPadhyay

98 107

librarian alka guPta

BUSINESS OFFICE chief eXecutive officer indranil roy

18 32

advertisements vice presidents sameer chhaBra meenakshi akash (events) shrutika dewan (Brand & marketing) digital team amit mishra circulation & SuBScriPtionS anindya Banerjee raj kumar mitra asst. general managers g. ramesh (south) vinod kumar (north) zonal sales manager arun kumar jha (east) manager shekhar suvarna ProDuction general manager shashank dixit chief manager shekhar kumar Pandey manager sudha sharma deputy manager ganesh sah assistant manager gaurav shrivas accountS asst. general manager diwan singh Bisht company secretary & law officer ankit mangal

BACK OF THE 05.18… Time Traveller Book Reviews BOOK Time Pass Where on Earth? Picture Post n

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Features

Printed and published by indranil roy on behalf of outlook Publishing (india) Private limited. editor: amit dixit. Printed at international Print-o-Pac limited, c4-c11, Phase ii noida & published from aB-10 safdarjung enclave, new delhi 110029.

released on 01-05-2018 total no. of pages 120 + covers

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Grumpy Traveller

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TIME TRAVELLER PAKISTAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES, 1960S There was a time when Pakistan ran one of the best airlines in the world. (It was probably the same time India flew a stellar airline as well.) The airline initially began life as Orient Airways in Calcutta in 1946 but shifted operations to a newly independent Pakistan in 1947. In 1955, the airline was nationalised and renamed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). It was the same year the airline started international flights, with a service to London, via Cairo and Rome. It was the first Asian airline to fly the Lockheed Super Constellation and the second Asian airline to acquire a jet aircraft with the induction of a Boeing 707. It was also the first non-communist airline to fly to China. The airline’s slogan, ‘Great people to fly with’, was coined by Pakistani writer and adman Omar Kureishi. It received an extraordinary endorsement from Jacqueline Kennedy, who, after a flight in 1962, hugged the pilot and repeated the tagline. These gorgeous ads, mostly from the 1960s, provide a glimpse into the golden age of aviation, when there was something thrilling about taking a flight. But it’s safe to say that the golden age of PIA advertising is well and truly behind us. Recently, they ran a Facebook post which said “Oh did you say you won’t fly PIA?”, and went on to list all the good reasons one should fly with the airline. (“We are the only Pakistani airline to fly big planes”, “We are the only Pakistani airline with a real business class”, etc, etc). Needless to say, they were royally trolled. Currently the loss-making airline is slated for privatisation. Sounds familiar?

28 Royal EnfiEld gaRagE cafÉ by Precious Kamei

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98 fifa woRld cup guidE

OUTLOOK TRAVELLER • MAY 2018

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Love thy high-flying neighbour

page 114

by Sharmistha Chaudhuri

108 outlook tRavEllER awaRds gEaRbox 26

HEAD OFFICE aB-10, s.j. enclave, new delhi 110029 tel: 33505500; Fax: 26191420 customer care helpline: 011-33505533, 33505500 e-mail: outlook@outlookindia.com For subscription helpline: yourhelpline@outlookindia.com other officeS mumbai tel: 33545000; Fax: 33545100 kolkata tel: 46004506; Fax: 46004506 CHENNai tel: 42615224, 42615225 Fax: 42615095 bENgaluru tel: 43715021

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Regulars

May 2018 • `100

INSIDER'S

EUROPE

SWEDEN w ITALY w SPAIN w HOLLAND w FRANCE w LUXEMBOURG

Boat cruise on the canals of Amsterdam

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BEYONCÉ

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PRABHAS

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FIFA 2018

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OUTLOOK TRAVELLER AWARDS

Cover photograph: GETTYIMAGES

6 letters 8 insider 12 ask marco 14 nsew 32 hotels 107 kitchen conFidential 114 Back oF the Book


letters .1 A’ S NO NE IN DI MA GA ZI EL TR AV

RAJASTHAN MAP INSIDE

www.outlooktraveller.com

April 2018 • `100

SIKKIM « AUDEN'S COL MUKTESHWAR «10 COMFORT TREKS 10 HIMALAYAN RETREATS SOMEWHERE ELSE?

Sweden 8 904150 800003

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ELLIE GOULDING

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SOHA ALI KHAN

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NEW YORK

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DUDHWA

Sikkim in all its splendour, with the Khangchendzonga range behind

m The Mar ’18 issue of OT was a delight, and allowed me to indulge from a distance. The restoration project in Amanyangyun (‘Restoration Drama’) was very special for its novel idea and implementation. Since Chinese also happens to be my favourite cuisine, I enjoyed the photographs of the exotic dishes in the issue too (‘Chinese Crackers’). The stories on Kashmir (‘How White Was My Valley’) and Cortona (‘Love in the Time of Cortona’) were much appreciated too.

b. aJit, neW delhi

Kashmir seems to have once again captured the minds of tourists and has started reappearing as a destination on travel maps. Inspired by your

m

favourite topics numerous times. I have even preserved all the issues from the past six or seven years. I must admit, OT nurtures a wonderful pattern of tourism, and my view of travel has changed because of it. The way I used to travel in the past was different from the way I travel these days. For me, travel is now all about living a different experience rather than just seeing the sights. Finally, I’ve missed Marco in the last few issues as he hasn’t been all the regular. Could we please have him back soon? dharmeSh C. KaChiWala, delhi

I have been an avid reader of OT as it offers myriad options of armchair travel in every issue. Your story on the heroic restoration work carried out at Fuzhou (‘Restoration Drama’, Mar ’18) made for an exceptional read. It was overwhelming to learn about the logistics involved in relocating camphor trees and heritage dwellings, and I have great appreciation for the people who made it possible. There are many heritage monuments in India too that are in desperate need of relocation and preservation, many of which have been documented by OT over the years. Why do we never see such Herculean efforts in our own country? Especially given the fact that a vast majority of us Indians do believe in conserving our heritage? There is a lesson to be learnt from the Chinese effort. Gulbahar S. Sidhu, Jalandhar

letter of the month

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I am a poet and I have just published my first collection of poetry. I derive my inspiration for writing from my frequent travels around the country, and the main theme of my work is to showcase travel as a symbol of cultural harmony. I am a huge fan of Outlook Traveller, and I simply wanted to put this piece of fan mail across. madhura, KolKata

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coverage (‘How White Was My Valley’, Mar ’18), I have started promoting Kashmir as a tourist spot to Indian travellers as well as those from around the globe. I hope very soon evergreen Kashmir will become an automatic choice for a holiday. raVi ShanKer, delhi m The first thing that caught my

attention about your Apr ’18 issue was the term ‘Summer escapes’ because of the deep sense of respite it brought. The moment one thinks of summer, the next thought that crosses one’s mind is to escape to take refuge in a place that is cool—for both mind

and body. Thus, the destinations covered, like Dudhwa National Park (‘Feathered Friends’) and Sikkim (‘Snow & Steady’) were very apt. I enjoyed some breathtaking treks in the Yumthang and Lachung area in Sikkim three decades ago and can testify that trekking is great for de-stressing, and everyone must try it at least once in their lifetime. The feature on Uttarakhand (‘Learning to Walk Again’) and ‘10 Easy Treks to Try’ were also great summer reads. raJneeSh batra, neW delhi m I have been an ardent reader

of the letter WInS! month

FWS

of OT, having read and reread my

CITY SHANGHAI COVER STORY UTTARAKHAND

The letter of the month has won a gift hamper by First Water.

Learning to walk again

IT TOOK MANEK S. KOHLI THREE TRAILS TO FIND OUT THAT, AT MUKTESHWAR, NATURE IS THE GREATEST ATTRACTION. PHOTOGRAPHS BY PUNEET K. PALIWAL 70

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OUTLOOK TRAVELLER • SEPTEMBER 2014

outlook traveller • MaY 2018

• Keep WriTing To us aT: outlook Traveller, aB-10 safdarjung enclave, new Delhi 110029 letters@outlooktraveller.com

The plunge pool is crystal clear at the Bhalu Gaad waterfall OUTLOOK TRAVELLER • SEPTEMBER 2017

71

Please note that Outlook Traveller will not be held responsible for the return of unsolicited material, including photographs.


ot 05/ 18 ● insider letter from the editor

AMIt DIxIt

Close-up of a church covered in scallop shells, Isla de la Toja, Galicia

We all pine to go to the ends of the earth, to the heady embrace of the americas, the primeval wildness of africa, the coruscating beauty of oceania...But for a destination with depth, variety and the sheer simple force of historical and cultural wealth, nothing can (ever) rival europe. not to mention the food. no wonder we keep discovering new facets of the old continent all the time. for our ‘insider’s’ issue, we’ve relied on our eyes and ears in europe to send us dispatches bursting with secret nooks and surprising experiences that the typical tourist, immersed in the big-ticket stuff, so often misses. nitin Chaudhary, now settled in sweden, coaxes us to step beyond stockholm and discover skåne, sweden’s southernmost county. in galicia, where i went myself—and where i’d like to think i went nearly native—i was shown around by a true-blue local who held nothing back in her enthusiasm to promote her region. My friend Marta, who lives with her cat in Milan, was generous enough to share her secret haunts with us (be warned, Marta, the indians are coming, and it’s all your fault). rupali ghosh has lived all over the world, but is presently roosting in a garden house in amsterdam. she claims to have a punishing schedule, but her deep and diverse knowledge of amsterdam’s delights suggests otherwise. But we don’t grudge her that, since she’s spilled the beans and you can now do amsterdam as a local. and, thanks to apoorva prasad, we have a destination that’s rarely on the indian traveller’s radar. Clearly there’s more to luxembourg than being an alleged tax haven, eh, apoorva? other european highlights in the issue include the midsummer festival in the Baltic states and a mysterious island monastery in france. for all our readers who are also football fans, we have you covered with our comprehensive guide on how to make the most of fifa World Cup 2018. last but not least, we reveal the winners of the outlook traveller awards 2018. next up is our 17th anniversary issue. Keep your eyes peeled for that. —AMIT DIXIT @omitdixit

contributors#

apoorva prasad is an adventure journalistturned-entrepreneur. He’s the founder and CEO of The Outdoor Journal & Voyage, an adventure magazine and booking platform. He enjoys diversity in languages and cheeses, and can’t wait to do less start-upping and more climbing.

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outlook traveller • may 2018

Mumbai-based Gustasp and Jeroo IranI balance travel writing with babysitting their obstreperous two-and-ahalf-year-old granddaughter. As grandparents-on-the-go, they feel both occupations generate a sense of wonder and have their share of thrills and spills. In between, they have written and edited guidebooks and have a couple of unpublished novels up their sleeves.

rupalI Ghosh is a freelance writer, blogger and accidental entrepreneur. A global nomad, she presently lives and works in Amsterdam, where she has spent the last couple of years perfecting her bike posture and getting to know a country that is so much more than windmills and Delft blue.

Having started his journey in Gurgaon, nItIn Chaudhary is an adrenaline rush-seeking travel writer who now calls Malmö, Sweden, home. He’s been living in Europe for the past ten years. He loves the mountains, nature, yoga and meditation, and is learning how to paint these days. One day, he hopes to travel the world in a boat.

Milan-based Marta GallI is a freelance journalist. She has written on people, art, design and style, and currently contributes to Vogue Italia, Panorama and Domus. She lives with a cat called Lucian, named after the painter Freud, and is also an interiors enthusiast.


o c r A m K S A

marco polo's troubleshooting guide

Lighthouse at Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland GETTY IMAGES

We are five couples, aged 60 to 65. We want to visit Scotland and Ireland for 12 days in the beginning of June. Can you suggest a few places? We are particularly interested in the Scottish countryside. Purohit

I suggest you start in Glasgow. Spend a day taking in the city, its art collections and other attractions before making your way to Loch Lomond for that Scottish Highlands experience you want. A short lake cruise will give you fine views of the surrounding peaks. From there, it is a two-hour drive to the iconic Inveraray Castle on the shore of Loch Fyne, Scotland’s longest sea loch. It is the ancestral seat of the duke of Argyll. Another hour’s drive brings you to Ballachulish, one of Scotland’s most scenic coastal spots, also suitable for a night’s stay. Portree, the biggest town in the Isle of Skye,

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outlook traveller • MaY 2018

is another three hours away. Known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles, the ragged coastline of the Inner Herbrides is spectacular. Then, I suggest you spare a day each for Culloden and the medieval fortress of Blair Castle before making your way to St Andrew’s, the home of golf. Next, head to Edinburgh, about 90km/1.5 hours away. You should devote at least a day to Scotland’s capital. Fly to Belfast (it’s quickest), where you will, of course, want to see the Titanic Belfast museum. Make your way to Dublin next for spectacular local sights. Then head to Blarney Castle, where it is obligatory to kiss the Stone of Eloquence, before heading to the beautiful town of Killarney on the shores of Lough Leane. In Ireland, don’t miss the stunning Ring of Kerry drive, which

is a winding route with gorgeous mountain and coastline views. You should also include the Cliffs of Moher, an imposing 200m wall of sandstone. The city of Galway is another 90km away. Make a pit stop here before heading to Dublin for your flight back home.

I am planning a tour of Eastern Europe in June and am interested in visiting Croatia, Budapest and Prague. I can’t decide how many days to spend in each place. In Croatia, I would like to visit Dubrovnik, Split, some islands and Zagreb. I’d like to travel between countries by train and fly back to Delhi from Prague. Can you tell me what sights I should include in these cities and the number of days I need for each country? Finally,

does the Schengen visa cover Croatia as well? harminder dhanoa

You didn’t tell me how long you intend your whole holiday to be. Still, I’d say that about eight days in Croatia and three days each in Budapest and Prague should give you a rather nice holiday. If you intend to fly back from Prague, then you’d better start at Dubrovnik. Two nights here will allow you to explore the Old Town, Gundulic Square Market and Banje Beach, and go up Srdj Hill for vantage views of the city. It should also allow you a day trip to the nearby Elafiti Islands. Your next stop could be Korcula for one night, which is accessible by ferry. You could rent a scooter or bicycle and explore the scenery and vineyards. Another short ferry ride will take you to Hvar for a two-night halt. Explore the town, its 16th-century Fortress Spanjola, and make an excursion


of it to the nearby Pakleni Islands. You should then take the ferry to Split for a night’s halt, where you can visit Diocletian’s Palace and the buzzing Pazar Market. You have a choice between taking a bus or train to Zagreb. The bus option (as long as you take the direct one) has a few advantages: better frequency of departures, a shorter trip (roughly five hours to the seven by train) and a scenic drive. The train could be more comfortable, however, and there is even an overnight one, if you’re willing to sacrifice the scenery. After Zagreb, take an intercity train to Budapest. The city has beautiful architecture, and every view is improved by the stunning Danube and the bridges across it. You must take a river cruise, and visit the Hungarian Parliament building, Matthias Church and Buda Castle. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a walking tour of Budapest’s fascinating cave systems. Trains from Budapest to Prague leave at regular intervals, and you should be able to find one that suits you. Medieval buildings, quirky art and beer are what draw travellers to Prague. You should start with a tour of the Old Town and Josevov, the old Jewish quarter. Saunter across Charles Bridge, and visit Prague Castle, which also houses the St Vitus Cathedral. Croatia is not part of the Schengen Agreement but allows holders entry as a courtesy, so you won’t need a separate visa.

I would like to go to Himachal Pradesh for a week-long driving holiday with my parents beginning May 20. We are considering two choices. The first is to drive from Delhi to Shimla and then to Kalpa and Sangla Valley. The second is to drive from Delhi to Manali and from there to Lahaul and Spiti and

back to Delhi. Which would you recommend in terms of natural beauty and driving experience, as well as accommodation and infrastructure? Ritika Ghosh

Both these routes are scenic and worth the drive. Seeing your departure is planned so early in the season, your second option— Delhi to Spiti via Manali—is a bit uncertain. Much depends on the roads and passes being opened by then; Rohtang La has opened, but there is no news yet about when Kunzum La will, although it should by then. If you finalise this option, check for latest updates closer to your departure. Contact the blogger Vargis Khan (vargiskhan.com); he’s well informed and tends to respond quickly. You’ll need to book your permit to cross Rohtang La in advance (see admis.hp.nic.in/ ngtkullu/Home/InformatoryScreen). Your first option, Delhi to Kalpa/Sangla, would be a somewhat easier drive, as the roads are all-weather. Having said that, mountain roads are always unpredictable and closures are frequent. You should be able to complete Delhi– Shimla–Narkanda–Sarahan– Kalpa–Sangla–Narkanda/Chail– Delhi in the seven days available. There are some narrow stretches, but those can be manoeuvred with careful driving. Fuel is available at Rampur and Reckong Peo, as well as with local mechanics.

My sister, a senior citizen, and her daughter are planning to visit Switzerland between June 3 and 13. They will be landing in Zurich and leaving from Geneva. I have been

SHUTTERS

A woman in her farm at Kaza village; and (below) Matthias Church on Buda Castle Hill, Budapest SHUTTERSTOCK

told that there are many places that can be visited with Zurich as the base: Les Diablerets, Lucerne, Grindelwald, Interlaken, Schaffhausen, etc. Is this right? Can these places be reached using public transport? How long should they stay in Zurich and how long in Geneva? Can Black Forest, Drubba, in Rhineland, Germany, be done as a day trip? Would it make sense to buy a Swiss Rail Pass? Do keep in mind that we are looking for a budget trip. DibyenDu Ghosh

I’m not sure that using Zurich and Geneva as bases is the best way to go about it. They are expensive, and travelling for day trips unnecessarily adds to travel time. Certainly, a day each in both cities to bookend the holiday and make for easy airport transfers is called for. A day trip to Black Forest can be done from Zurich (see viator. com), but for the rest, they should consider basing themselves for at least a few nights in Lucerne or Montreux. Lucerne gives them access to Mt

Rigi, Mt Pilatus and Mt Titlis, to Zurich, Bern, Basel, Grindelwald, Interlaken and Schaffhausen. Montreux is within easy reach of Geneva, Vevey, Lausanne, Zermatt, Villars, Glacier 3000 and Verbier (see luzern.com/en and montreuxvevey.com). Switzerland has one of the best transport networks in the world, and some research and planning will make it easy to get around by train, bus and ferry (see sbb.ch/en for schedules and fares). A Travel Pass is always handy but exactly which one depends on the details of the trip. The Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited access to the Swiss Travel System’s network for 3, 4, 8 and 15 days, and allows free entry in over 480 museums and exhibitions. They could also go in for the more flexible Swiss Travel Pass Flex, which lets you choose your travelling days: 3, 4, 8 or 15 non-consecutive days within a month. There is also the Half Fare Card. This website has all the details and a practical guide to help you plan: myswissalps.com. Travel confusion? Email mpolo@outlook india.com. Please note that Marco will reply to questions only in the magazine.

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outlook traveller • MaY 2018

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edited bY M anek s. kohli

NORTH SOUTH EAST WEST

A depiction of the Aurora Station orbiting the earth

14 outlook traveller • MaY 2018


16 SOUVENIR 18 fINd a daNcINg gIRl IN a mUSEUm 20 pRabhaS IS ThE maSTER Of dISgUISES 22 INSTaTRaVEl 24 SaN fRaNcIScO bay cRUISE 26 gEaRbOx

out of this world

2021: A SPACE ODYSSEY

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ould those with extraterrestrial ambitions reach orbit even before Elon Musk manages to take them there? Maybe, if they are blessed with a gigantic allowance. A company called Orion Span has come up with an offer that is literally out of this world: four people will spend 12 days aboard the luxury space hotel Aurora Station, about 320 kilometres above the earth’s surface. Whether they choose to spend that time gazing down at the blue marble from their suite, photographing their pin-sized hometown, or registering the cold abyss around them for thousands of miles, the experience will, without doubt, be unearthly. With a 90-minute orbit around the earth, guests on Aurora will also experience multiple sunrises and sunsets a day. Launching in 2021 and hosting its first guests in 2022, Aurora Station will be available to astronauts, space researchers as well as space tourists. It also has an ‘Authentic Astronaut Experience’ that seems right out of The Martian: you can grow food in space, partake in space research, and even experience a virtual reality simulation. The pricing starts at $9.5 million per person, including space flights to and from Aurora Station. So, if you’ve ever had celestial dreams and can afford to make them a reality, visit orionspan.com to reserve a spot on the waitlist (after an $80,000 deposit). Each individual will also have to undergo a three-month space-training programme. outlook traveller • MaY 2018

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NSEW ● souvenir

souvenir

for christ’s sake

PUNEET K. PALIWAL

app watch

NOTEBOOk

16

good to note I am In the mIddle of a whirlwind tour of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman. The closing hour is nigh, so my guide wants me to hurry. He swiftly ushers me from one point to another, briskly narrating the history of the place. I feel slightly nauseated—I like to gather as much information as possible, but this is a bit overwhelming. So I pull out my phone and launch Zoho’s Notebook app. I tap on the ‘pen’ icon and a new window opens, with a solid colour background that changes every time. Before I start typing, I click on the ‘recorder’ icon. I can now take notes and simultaneously record his narration. In the same window, I can also click and add pictures of the mosque’s features. Each such window or ‘note card’ is saved in a ‘notebook’ I title ‘Oman 2018’. Everything gets backed up automatically to Zoho’s server, and I am able to access my files across platforms. In fresh note cards, I can even doodle, add check boxes, attach external files and scan documents. Back in India, as I hear the voice notes and go through the text and pictures, I am able to get the steadily paced, detailed experience I had hoped for, vicariously. This no-ads app is available for free on both iOS and Android. n manek s. kohli

outlook traveller • may 2018

• THE SOUvENIr BUyEr IS NOT UNlIkE A HUNTEr, looking for the next kill. As the hunter matures, he requires ever more exotic prey to achieve the same high, and fridge magnets and cardboard coasters will simply not do. When, by a lovely twist of fate, I found myself in rio de Janeiro last year, my inner souvenir hunter was on high alert. Nothing is more emblematic of rio than the statue of Christ the redeemer, and it has, of course, inspired a million souvenir replicas. But none of that tourist tat for me, thank you very much. luckily, I landed this exquisite piece from the workshop of the Brazilian artist Carlos Sobral, who’s made a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic with his artworks made of polyester resin and recycled materials. Sobral’s creativity flowered in the 1960s as part of the Hippie movement, when he created leather bags out of tyres and jewellery from metal corroded by acid, and peddled them at art and crafts fairs. The turning point came in 1976, when he chanced upon resin jewellery made by Argentinian artisans. They were a bit cagey with their secrets, but Sobral figured it out eventually. Thank n amit dixit the lord for that. 

sleepinginairports.net

For someone who’s spent more than her fair share of nights stranded in unfamiliar airports, Sleeping in Airports seems like a godsend. The website offers some neat tips on how to spend a night at an airport, with extensive information on how to find the comfiest spots, and even details of lounges and airport hotels for those of us who aren’t ready to stoop to the sofas just yet. Users can even review airports they’ve been to and share personal experiences with future travellers to let them know what the on-ground situation is like. While the overall layout of the website is bland and almost uninspiring, some of the tips are accompanied by little cartoon illustrations that can probably coax a chuckle out of you. The website publishes annual best and worst lists based on user ratings of criteria like comfort, customer service, ease of transit, cleanliness, food options and, most importantly, ‘sleepability’. With a regularly maintained blog in addition to updates on new developments at airports worldwide, Sleeping in Airports can be your one-stop guide to surviving a night at any airport in the world.  n anushka nair

siteseeing


T: 9622997222, 91 9906986782 ,+91- 9622433776 Log on to www.thegranddragonladakh.com for packages

EXP er I en C e TH e MY r IAD HUES OF MOU n TAI n S WITH US With the breathtaking peaks of the Himalayas as a backdrop, The Grand Dragon Ladakh is a gracious combination of old world charm and modern luxuries. Stylish interiors, fine flavours, and the traditional warmth of our service take your experience of Ladakh to another level.


NSEW ● updates

delhi

pOT Of OlD Y

ou may recall the Dancing Girl (pic), an Indus Valley Civilisation sculpture in bronze, from your history textbook in middle school. Now imagine it standing beside a 4,400-year-old gypsum statue of a woman from Iraq. That is exactly how things are at the National Museum in Delhi, which is currently hosting the exhibition ‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’, a magnificent showcase of over 200 objects covering trade, religion, the rise of empires and more. These are exceptional artefacts and art pieces from the collections of the National Museum itself; British Museum, London; Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai; and over 20 museums and private collections across India. It is a perfect illustration of India’s influence on global culture. The exhibition is open throughout May and June from 10am to 6pm daily (except Monday) and an entry ticket costs the same as a museum ticket (`20). Visit indiaandtheworld.org.

SHUTTERSTOCK

himachal pradesh

INTO THE WOODS H

ikers rejoice—Shimla is set to reopen three of its old trails snaking their way through the iconic Glen Forest, which is already quite popular for casual strolls and picnics. The Himachal Pradesh Forest Department has revealed that two of these paths (Brass Path and Whispering Path) have already been restored, with a third (Jaldhara) in the works. Visitors can enjoy the emerald landscape for as little as `20; and if they’re not particularly handy with a map, they could take a guide along (`150 for groups with up to five people; `20 for each additional person). One could perch on one of the newly built photography towers for a bird’s-eye view, or enjoy a siesta on the many benches that dot the trails. In short, a buffet of opportunities lies in wait.

saudi arabia

lIfTINg THE vEIl A

lways wanted to visit Saudi Arabia’s archaeological and historical sites, such as Mada’in Saleh (pic) and Old Dir’aiyah? Good news: the state has loosened its notoriously selective visa rules. Earlier, only businesspeople, citizens, those visiting relatives, and Hajj and Umrah pilgrims were allowed across the border. Now, for the first time, tourist visas will become a reality and you can finally visit these sites. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage has forwarded the

new visa regulations to the government for approval. Additionally, women above 25 can now avail of a 30-day single-entry visa without a male chaperone. Following in Oman’s footsteps, Saudi Arabia has also developed an electronic visa transaction system. This Middle Eastern nation has been attempting to put the right foot forward on many occasions lately. The visa update comes soon after the country announced that women will be allowed to drive from June onwards; the movie theatre ban has also been lifted. SHUTTERSTOCK

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outlook traveller • may 2018


NSEW ● fellow traveller is where the heart is. Back home, I find small towns very peaceful. When my father and uncle were still in the film business, we had a tradition of travelling to the temple town of Srisailam to screen every film before its release. I still go there often. What do you pack in your luggage? Basic necessities—clothes, shoes and, these days, caps, sunglasses and other stuff so that I am not recognised. And what do you bring back from your holidays? Mostly photos, but also gadgets. I enjoy cooking every now and then, and like experimenting with flavours, so I pick up a lot of spices. I picked up several condiments and masalas for chicken recipes, from Dubai.

pRAbHAs ACTOR

THE WARRIOR WAY

Name some places you’d like to visit? I recently went whale watching in California. I want to do that again. I definitely want to visit the poles and also spend some time in China— maybe visit a Shaolin school. n

aarti kapur singh

What does a holiday mean to you? I think it is a chance to switch off from anything regimented or hectic. All professionals, wherever they may be working, are perpetually chasing something. A holiday is an opportunity to journey within. It is also a chance to chill, to relax. It is when I switch on my rest mode. What do you do when you visit a new place? I do read up about what to do—even if I am going there for work and know there may not be time to roam around. I also visit cafés and restaurants. But now I do that with a cap or bandana to help me go incognito. Which are your favourite destinations? Los Angeles is great for partying, and also for its sights and sounds. I like Dubai because of the sheer scale on which the city is built. It is completely futuristic but with a warm, oldworld ethos. I like all of Europe too, especially Bulgaria. The Serengeti in Tanzania is always my first choice when I want to connect with nature. At the end of the day, however, home SHUTTERSTOCK

When my father and uncle Were still in the film business, We Would travel to the temple toWn of srisailam to screen every film before its release 20 outlook traveller • MaY 2018

SHUTTERSTOCK

Top to bottom: Prabhas wants to visit a Shaolin school in China; he wears caps to disguise himself during vacations; and the Serengeti is his go-to wildlife destination


Holidays with a Difference

Interact with local communities, witness the creation of splendid arts and crafts and marvel at the beautiful and varying landscapes of these off-beat destinations. From solar-powered farmstays and restored heritage homes to eco-friendly jungle lodges, meet the people who've made it their life's mission to promote sustainable practices and responsible tourism


NSEW ● instatravel

#insiderseurope #wonderfulwest #citieswithsoul five instagrammers we really like right now

Simon Larsen (@simonlarsen) from Copenhagen, Denmark, is an art director, something that is evident from the impressive aesthetics of his pictures. He is a self taught photographer, though he is far from the ‘amateur’ he claims to be. His photographs depict typically Scandinavian landscapes and architecture, and feature colour tones of blues and greys.

Mustafa Seven (@mustafaseven), a native of Sivas, Turkey, is a celebrated photojournalist who specialises in street photography. His photographs of Istanbul have been published in a book titled Instagram, and he now conducts workshops on street photography in collaboration with educational institutions. Through his photographs, he seeks to document the essence of Istanbul and its diverse populace.

Sara White (@sara_) is a Canadian girl who fell in love with Rome, decided to settle down and call it home. Her photographs capture the essence of daily life on the streets and everything else around her. Her work is an embodiment of the quintessentially Roman way of life and is perhaps reminiscent of what made the city capture her heart in the first place.

Uwa Scholz (@uwa2000) from Berlin is a mobile photographer, and her work is stunning, enough to earn her a spot on our favourites’ list. Her photographs, mostly in black and white, feature clean, sharp lines and a lot of pedestrian silhouettes in the distance. Like the others on this list, Uwa adores her home city, and her work reflects an aura that only a local could find and capture. Gunnar Freyr (@icelandic_explorer), a creative entrepreneur who threw in the towel on corporate life to seek out his Icelandic roots, shares snippets of his journey with his followers. A self-taught photographer, Gunnar loves capturing the wild side of Iceland because he believes that the isolated landscapes resonate most with who he is. His photographs range from wildlife and landscapes to lifestyle projects.


NSEW ● Recommendation

TOUR OF THE MONTH

PHOTOGRAPHS BY AMIT DIXIT

Row, Row, Row YouR Boat I

f you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to...ditch the flowers and take a bay cruise instead. Yup, sometimes the touristy stuff is good. On a recent trip to the Golden State, I found myself on board Red and White Fleet’s hour-long Golden Gate Bay Cruise. And I loved every minute of it. I also realised that I wasn’t immune to goosebumps when greeted with a namaste on American soil (or, technically, just off it, since I was boarding). Founded in 1892, the family-owned Red and White Fleet is one of the earliest sightseeing cruises in the Bay area and, I was told, the only multilingual one. The headphone audio tour 24

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features as many as 16 languages including, you guessed it, Hindi. The riveting narration, which includes interviews with Chinese immigrants who came to San Francisco in large numbers and today form an essential part of the city’s fabric, is the perfect foil to the sights as you glide past them: the San Francisco skyline; the Golden Gate Bridge wrapped eerily in a fog; Marshall’s Beach just beyond the Bridge, on which you might spot nude sunbathers on a clear day; and the shudder-inducing Alcatraz Island, still claimed by Native Americans as their own land. With 8 to 12 departures daily, there’s no #FOMO. n amit dixit

The Bay Cruise costs $33 for adults (18+) and $23 for youth (5–17). The Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise is 30 minutes longer and goes under both the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. There’s a Sunset Cruise and a bunch of land tours on offer as well. See redandwhite.com.


NSEW ● Gearbox

RECYCLE CYCLE BAUME AND MERCIER CLIfTON CLUB BURT MUNRO TRIBUTE As an ode to the Kiwi racing legend Burt Munro, Swiss watchmakers Baume and Mercier have released the Clifton Club Burt Munro automatic chronograph. It comes in a limited edition of 1,967 pieces, commemorating the year Munro set his iconic record. A standout feature is a big yellow ‘35’, Munro’s lucky number, on the seconds counter. The red leather straps give this timepiece a sporty-chic vibe, and the bright colours make it an ideal summer accessory. `2,19,561; baume-et-mercier.com

CORNELIANI ‘SNEAK UP’

LIGHTSPEED BAMBOOCHI Lighter than aluminium and stronger than steel, for nature-loving fitness enthusiasts, LightSpeed Motors’ new Bamboochi electric bike is the stuff of dreams. With a frame made of bamboo, every piece is custom built, allowing the structure to align perfectly with the rider’s body. The sleek bamboo frame (less than 16kg) is shock absorbent, supplemented with carbon fibre parts, resulting in a pleasant ride. Additionally, the bikes can be washed down, and are dust-proof and waterproof. While technology isn’t always sustainability friendly, LightSpeed Motors tries, by giving you the option of a recyclable e-cycle. What makes the Bamboochi bike stand out even more is the lucrative EMI plans (with no down payments). This way, you save on fuel while saving the environment. From `1,00,000; lightspeed.bike

MACE BRAND SAfETY PRODUCTS At a time when personal safety is one of the most hotly debated topics in India, this line of pepper sprays, stun guns and personal alarms by Mace Brand—which has recently entered the Indian market after a JV—is more than welcome. While the stun guns are exclusively for police and armed forces personnel, the pepper sprays and personal alarms make for handy carry-ons. The pepper sprays come in many colour options and packaging styles, allowing you to choose a product that matches your aesthetic. The personal safety alarms are compact and discreet, and can easily be attached to bags, belts, keys, etc. These products will undoubtedly make travel easier for countless women in the country. From `499; maceindia.in 26

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Sneakers are the perfect year-round companion, and the luxury menswear brand Corneliani, in their endeavour to give this evergreen footwear an upscale twist, have launched the ‘Sneak Up’ collection. It takes the classic white leather-suede sneakers and presents them in muted tones such as blue, brown, grey, and lines and zigzag patterns. You’re certain to make a fashion statement with every step. Approx. `35,000; corneliani.com

VICTORINOX SPARTAN AND HUNTSMAN WOOD While functionality has always been a key feature of Swiss pocketknives, the new Victorinox Spartan and Hunstman Wood, designed for everyday carry, are also super sleek and stylish. The varying grain on the durable walnut scales means that every piece is unique. Whether you want to go camping, or need a portable toolbox, these pocketknives, with blades, saws, reamers, corkscrews, scissors and more are sure to come in handy. `2,680 for Spartan Wood; `3,850 for Hunstman Wood; victorinox.com


travel promotion

zurich treat

balmy weather, idyllic scenery and dynamic food make zurich the ultimate summer vacation destination GAETAN BALLy

A view of the city; and (left) a water fountain in Zurich NOE FLUM/ZürICH TOUrISM

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n the heart of Europe and the centre of Switzerland, Zurich is an exhilarating blend of idyllic sceneries and fleeting city life, which is evident from the striking contrast between the sleepy, quaint Old Town and the dynamic, ever-evolving urban quarters. Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest metropolis has a little something on offer for everyone, from elegant museums and art galleries, to a bustling nightlife that boasts of the world-renowned Street Parade. Balmy temperatures around 21 degrees in the summer make this Swiss gem an ideal vacation spot for families to escape to from the sweltering Indian summer. Food for the soul While all of Switzerland offers delightful culinary experiences, in this matter Zurich is a wonderland in its own right. It is home to Haus Hiltl, Guinness-certified as the oldest surviving vegetarian restaurant in the world, established in 1898. Art connoisseurs have the opportunity to dine at the legendary Kronenhalle restaurant, while gazing at the works of Picasso, Chagall and

Miró, among others. Another gastronomical delight to look forward to in Zurich is Food Zurich, a glorious, 11-day summer food festival in the month of May that attracts foodies, amateur cooks and gourmets alike. The world-famous chocolate manufacturer Lindt is headquartered in Kilchberg, just a short, day trip from Zurich. Natural beauty In summer Zurich, the beautiful lakeside city, has an astounding number of bathing facilities, 25 to be exact. These badis are gorgeous, open-air, lakeside bathing areas, some of which provide breathtaking views of the Alps. Nature lovers a seeking fresh air and green pastures can delight in the expanse of forest and parkland that surrounds the city and adventurers can rejoice for Uetliberg, Zurich’s own mountain, with a host of activities like hiking, sledding and biking, among others. Uetliberg’s peak, the Uto Kulm, offers a birds-eye view of the city, Lake Zurich, and even the Limmat Valley, nearly all the way over to the Alps.

In the city The city is equally suitable for a family vacation, with numerous attractions that enthral children of all ages. The Zurich zoo is one of Europe’s best animal parks, and focuses majorly on preservation efforts and educating visitors. The spectacular, interactive FIFA World Football Museum captivates fans of all ages with its displays of over 1,000 items of exclusive memorabilia and apparel. Walking around in the summer can make one thirsty. Don’t be worried, Zurich has you covered. There are over 1,200 free water fountains scattered around the city to quench your thirst. The cultural history exhibits at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, the Zurich Opera House and the scores of art galleries in the city are testament to its reputation as one of Europe’s most vibrant art and culture hubs, and among the leading art centres worldwide. Head to Zurich this summer to experience the wonders of the city yourself! For more information: Zuerich.com and MySwitzerland.com/ Zurich


just back goa Clockwise from here: the façade of the Royal Enfield Garage Café; the interior with plenty of bikes; and a chicken dish served there

The ArT of riding

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Precious Kamei discovers the world of art that runs parallel with the love of motorcycling in goa

o many, riding is synonymous with something that is rough and tumble, and an affirmation of masculinity. For a long period of time I too shared a similar outlook. But now, with riders taking the road, men and women alike, spreading the spirit of adventure and travel one throttle at a time, it was not tough to disengage myself from any inherent biases. I experienced a newfound respect for the riding community on my recent 28

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visit to the Royal Enfield Garage Café in Baga, Goa. I arrived just in time for their annual worldwide event, One Ride, one of the world’s largest community rides, on April 8, 2018. My first and only stop was the Royal Enfield Garage Café. Clouds rumbled, threatening to burst any time, and I was surrounded by riders creating their own thunder on the road astride their Royal Enfield bikes. And just like that, over 300 bikes, and I as a pillion rider, took to the road that afternoon. As the RE riders explored

every nook and cranny of North Goa, I was in my own world, trying to come up with possible explanations for this riding culture and for a vehicle that made a lot of noise. I knew then that I needed to go back to the place where I had first landed—the Royal Enfield Garage Café. Back at the café, my hosts were preparing to fill me up on everything about what they call ‘ pure motorcycling’. The café, located right beside a lagoon, a mere 10 minutes away from Baga beach,


was not only about the brand Royal Enfield or motorcycles, it was beyond that. The Garage Café in itself was a cultural hub—for riders, artists, food connoisseurs, those who customise bikes, and people like myself, who don’t follow this particular culture but are open to learning. The café had three parts—an exhibition area, motorcycle accessories and workshop area, and a bar. The exhibit grabbed my attention. All around the café were Portuguese artworks, and displayed items ranged from customised bikes to the 125cc Flying Flea from WWII and the iconic Cast Iron 350, one of the last cast iron engines seen in a Bullet. The exhibit was a tribute to the art of motorcycling. As I took a walk around, I came across a black-and-white photo gallery by Ronny Sen, aptly titled ‘The Highway Star’. His work was mainly to showcase the Indian highway from the lens of a motorcyclist, seeing India as a rider sees it. In a little cosy corner of the exhibition area, I came face-to-face with a hand-built classic miniature motorcycle by the RE industrial design

studio in Chennai. Each miniature part had been created using the same process as it would have for a real motorcycle. From the buffed tank to the key, the model was a fine example of a passion for art and the use of real materials. I was later told it had taken them two years to complete the model. The Bullet, with a production run since 1931 and still going strong, ran parallel with the Portuguese art on display. The pinstripe work on the Bullet, done by a dedicated community of free-hand artists, got a tribute on one of the walls in the café. But bikes were not the only art on display. It reflected in their food as well. Outside the café I noticed a sign that said ‘Garage Café at J&A’s’. The food from the kitchen of Jamshed and Aisha was the binding force that brought together riders and others under one roof. Their main goal

was making food that would suit everybody’s palate. Garage Café was a place for the biking community to feel a sense of family, a sense of belongingness. And to bring this emotion to their food, Jamshed and Aisha, avid riders themselves, have gone in-depth into the culture. Jamshed introduced me to the large plates of calamari, prawns and chicken liver. “Food here is served with style and integrity, without any pretension.” Generous portions supported his claim. At the café, it was a country-style kitchen because motorcycling is a country thing. I had come to Goa with preconceived notions about motorcycling. However, seeing how riders and artists associated themselves with motorcycles under the rubric of creative expression, made me realise that we need more such places like the Royal Enfield Garage Café. outlook traveller • may 2018

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The view of the property from the swimming pool

hotels

check out 32 JW Marriott Jaipur resort & spa 34 CHiKKaNa HaLLi estate resort 37 NoVoteL KoCHi iNFoparK 38 CaLCutta BuNGaLoW 40 personal choice BeYoNCé

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the Royal Weekend Be treated like royalty when you stay at JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa, finds Sharmistha Chaudhuri

W

e ‘commoners’ often wonder what it might have been like to be a royal. The stories we’ve heard, the books we’ve read or the films we’ve seen all paint a picture that seems far from reality. Jaipur in general harkens back to the royal life of the past, with the city’s iconic pink walls, the royal havelis that have been converted to heritage hotels, and iconic architectural gems. Returning to Jaipur after many years, 32

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I was greeted by the familiar pink walls, while the traffic on the streets piled on. As we left the rush of the city to get on the National Highway, the empty road invited us with open arms. With the Aravalli Range giving us company, we cruised along. In the distance, a sparkling white structure, in stark contrast to the brown hills in the background, caught my eye. It was my destination. As we turned into the gateway, I was treated to a full view of the JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa.

This is JW’s ninth property in the country, having opened its doors four months back and already having become a hot wedding location. My first impression was that it was ‘grand’, but a sort of ‘contemporary grand’. Let me explain. Unlike most luxurious heritage properties that are renovated, this one has been built from scratch. There is a newness which is indeed refreshing. To give visitors a feel of olden-day royalty, the property has borrowed elements from the past. Local


artisans were employed to create a piece of royal grandeur that can be experienced alongside modern facilities. The whole property is painted in shades of white, with royal blue and green designs. There is a play of gold and silver on doors that glint in the afternoon sun. Traditional tikri (mirror art) designs and jalis (lattice screens) add to the aesthetic appeal, while marble fountains sprout up all around. Among the many categories of rooms the property offers, I stayed at a royal pool room, one of their most popular ones. Access to your own plunge pool in the soaring heat of Rajasthan indicates a weekend where one alternates between the water and the comfortable bed. There is simply no reason to go to the common swimming pool in the heart of the resort. Dipping my toes in the water, my stomach rumbled. I sought out Sukh Mahal, the popular all-day dining restaurant, which is done up in pleasing shades of white, bronze and black to reflect different shades across the day. Here, one can opt for buffet or à la carte. If you opt

to order separately, do try the laal maas  (local meat curry) and daal panchmel  (made with five lentils). Both tasted fine, though I prefer my mutton more spicy. For a peek into the lives of the local women weavers, one can head to nearby Manpura village with the Jaipur Rug Foundation, which the resort will happily arrange. These rural women are artists and entrepreneurs. A fixed income provides them economic stability, while the work gives them dignity. For dinner, if you want to eat a royal meal on silverware in candlelight, book a table at Mohan Mahal. Inspired by the iconic Sheesh Mahal, Mohal Mahal took two years to create, with over 3.5 million pieces of mirror. There are no lights, just candles and on a water body in the centre. The soothing sound of water is the perfect accompaniment to the traditional thali (`3,500 plus taxes). You’d better be starving all day for this experience. The non-vegetarian thali had three appetisers, soup, bati and churma (local specialities), mutton and chicken curries from the

Clockwise from top left: the comforts of a private pool; Sukh Mahal provides all-day dining; dinner at Mohan Mahal; and inside a royal pool room

region, and then three kinds of dessert. The downside to this experience is the massive quantity of food which diners often don’t want. To round off a relaxing weekend, try the spa. Opting for 60 minutes (`6,000 plus taxes) of massage, my body felt pampered. While certain sections of the resort, such as the rooftop dining restaurant, is still not open, and small kinks that need to be worked out, overall, it’s relaxing, quiet and luxurious; elements that make for a pampered royal weekend.

The informaTion

LOCATION Off NH11. The airport is 32 km away; approx. 40 mins ACCOMMODATION 200 rooms (including 22 terrace rooms, 16 studios, 41 pool rooms, 1 palace suite, 1 presidential suite) TARIFF `15,000 approx. onwards CONTACT +91-142-6666000, marriott.com

outlook traveller • May 2018

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[ check out ]

coffee country Nandini Mehta is charmed by Coorgi hospitality at the Evolve Back Chikkana Halli Estate Resort

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nd this is the coffee flower.” Yesudas, the resident naturalist, points to white blossoms on a bush. “What do you think it smells of?” “Coffee,” we chorus back. “Wrong!” grins Yesudas with the air of a conjuror who has pulled off a clever trick. The coffee flower, we discover, has a strong jasmine-like fragrance—the first of many botany lessons at Evolve Back’s Chikkana Halli Estate Resort in Coorg. I had arrived the evening before, greeted by a spectacular evening sky of 34

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violet, orange and pink that gradually deepened into inky-blue darkness. The lush landscape and serene ambience of the resort, sitting in 300 acres of coffee and pepper plantations, revealed itself the next morning. Sandwiched between the Kaveri river and the Dubare Reserve Forest, the estate comprises two large lakes, paddy fields, an organic vegetable farm and a forest of ancient mahogany, giant rosewood, various ficuses, teak, bamboo and some rare plant species. I’m intrigued by the mathi (Terminalia tomentosa) with its scaly crocodile-skin trunk that

stores rainwater (another botany lesson). Within the resort, cobbled pathways wind through the undulating terrain, lined with flowering shrubs and trees, most of them indigenous—kokum, tamarind, jackfruit, coconut, allspice and wild fig. Placards inform us that visiting celebrities—among them Aishwarya Rai, Rajnikanth and L.K. Advani—have planted some of them. There are 63 cottages and villas of different sizes in the resort, blending into the surroundings. They have thatched or Mangalore-tile roofs, terracotta flooring and façades made of local reddish laterite


The Heritage Pool Villa's living room (here) and its courtyard (facing page)

stone. The interior carries the same aesthetic, combining local materials and traditions, with discreet luxury and care for the environment. I revel in my gorgeous Heritage Pool Villa, built in traditional Kodagu (Coorg) style. It has beautiful mahogany furniture, the kind found in a colonial planter’s bungalow—19th-century dressing table, desk and four-poster bed (complete with 21st-century pillow menu and 800-thread count sheets). Planter’s chairs in the verandah overlook the private pool and jacuzzi in the enclosed garden. In the airy, high-ceilinged living room are paintings of local plant species on the walls. As part of the resort’s responsible tourism initiatives, there are no mineral water bottles—the villa has its own reverse osmosis water supply. Toiletries are in refillable ceramic bottles, and bath water is recycled for

watering the grounds. Evolve Back, earlier known as Orange County, is a family-run resort with a nearly century-long association with the Chikkana Halli Estate. The estate chairman’s grandfather, Emmanuel Ramapuram from Kottayam district in Kerala, bought the estate, its coffee plantations, bungalows and other buildings from a British coffee planter, Percy Glover Tipping, in 1926. In 1994, his grandson, also called Emmanuel, ventured into the hospitality business, starting with 10 cottages. He named the resort Orange County, as Coorg was then renowned for its oranges. The orange plantations are gone now, destroyed by disease. The family has two other resorts, in Kabini and Hampi, so Orange County as a brand name for all its resorts no longer seemed appropriate. ‘Evolve Back’ conveys a return to a way

of life when the environment was pure, humans lived in harmony with nature, and hospitality was straight from the heart. Waste management gets high priority in the Evolve Back resorts. In Chikkana Halli, kitchen waste is turned into biogas; biogas sludge used as organic manure; plastic bottles sent on to a plant in Bengaluru where they are used in making road tarmac; and there is a large sewage treatment plant. Emmanuel Ramapuram is a chemical engineer, and supervises the efficient working of all these systems. Employing locals, using local produce, and educating children of employees are part of Evolve Back Resorts’ mission to be true to what the Ramapurams call the ‘spirit of the land’. So are the half-hour evening shows that give guests a glimpse of the region’s culture. I went to the shows reluctantly, expecting the usual outlook traveller • MaY 2018 35


touristy clichés, but was enthralled by the acrobatics of the Haalu Kuruba tribals’ Kamsale dance, and the Puja Kunitha ritual where the dancer carries a 27-kg altar to Chamundeshwari on his head. I discover much of the history of Chikkana Halli and the Ramapuram family in the Reading Lounge, a long room perched high on stilts, overlooking paddy fields and forest, with deep armchairs and shelves stacked with books and magazines. I lose track of time here, enjoying the view and the estate’s excellent Sidapur coffee. It makes me late for my appointment at the Vaidyasala for an Ayurvedic oil massage. To the accompaniment of a Sanskrit prayer and soothing music, I first get a head, neck and shoulder massage, then four hands ease all the kinks and aches out of my limbs. I finish with a steam bath inside in a wooden box, with my head sticking out. Despite the four cups of coffee before the massage, I can barely make it back to my room. Early next morning, I explore the nearest village, Karadi Godu (literally ‘Bear’s Nest’). It stretches along the banks 36

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of the clear and tranquil Kaveri. I do a slow circuit on the water in a coracle—a shallow round vessel made of metal—and, thanks to the eagle-eyed Murthy, another naturalist at the resort, spot an amazing variety of birds: Malabar hornbill, white-throated kingfisher, brahminy kite, golden-backed kingfisher, racquet-tailed drongo, coucal and coppersmith barbet. Back at the village, women are setting out for their day’s work in the plantation. They wear thick long-sleeved jackets, knee-high socks and sturdy shoes to protect themselves from the pit vipers and scorpions abundant in the coffee bushes. They carry thermos flasks of strong black coffee to sip through the day. The robusta coffee bean, for which this estate is famous, has a much higher caffeine content than the more aromatic arabica bean with which it is blended. The women laugh as they urge me to try their robusta brew— “Madam, you will want to dance all day!” I do, and chase it with a ‘downer’ of milky chai at Mohamad Ali’s tea shop in the village before heading back to the resort for breakfast. Like all meals here,

Clockwise from top left: a private pool villa; a coffee plant up close; lakeside dining at the Peppercorn; and the coffee lounge

it is lavish and delicious: a south Indian vegetarian spread as well as the ham, bacon and sausages that the colonial planter might have started his day with. Lunch is similarly sumptuous, and then high tea with cakes, cookies and sandwiches. As a memorable finale to my stay, dinner is at the most romantic spot in the resort: the candle-lit Peppercorn restaurant by the lake, where I feast on a Coorgi speciality, pork pandi curry. Bursting with the flavours of the estate’s own pepper, ginger and tamarind, it most deliciously captures the spirit of the land.

The informaTion LOCATION Karadigodu Post, Siddapur, Coorg; 271km/5.5hr from Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru ACCOMMODATION 63 cottages and villas TArIff from `36,000 per night (for County Cottages); tariffs are considerably reduced for a 3N/4D package) CONTACT +91-8274258481; evolveback.com


Clockwise from top left: the infinity pool at the hotel; one of its 128 lavish rooms; and the sleek lobby area

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DesigneD to Please Ranee Sahaney’s first sojourn to Kochi presents her with a mélange of comfort and the city’s charming scape, visible from the newly opened Novotel Kochi Infopark Hotel

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eads of moisture barely settle on my brow as, in the still of the night, a tender breeze tangles with my hair and the floral arrangement on the al fresco dinner table. In the gentle candlelight glow, aromatic fragrances reach us from the delicious spread of smoky honeyed chicken, tender prawns and mysteriously sauced mushrooms at the barbecue. Our senses heighten as the stewards, laden with succulent temptations, bend over solicitously, focussed on ministering to our individual needs. Distracted periodically from these indulgences, atop the terrace of the newly launched Novotel Kochi Infopark Hotel, we have a breathtaking view of the dancing lights of the city as they fade into the distant horizon in the velvet of the night. Clearly, good food, attentive service and the comfort of each guest (be it a business traveller or a family) are intrinsic to the cavalcade of features that are

distinctive of the Novotel experience, a mid-scale offering from the Accor chain. Excellent references, I would say, when it comes to catering to Kochi’s burgeoning IT hub, where the new property has settled in. You have a choice of 128 rooms (including eight suites), access to the lovely infinity pool and gym, the multicuisine restaurant—The Square—and two bars, one of them the poolside Sun Deck Bar. Apart from all these, it offers three meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 200 guests. Unable to savour another morsel, I slip away to my room and am instantly gathered into the embrace of its muted décor and deep serenity. I can literally feel the fractious clamour of my frayed nerves (thanks to a missed flight and a drive through Kochi’s rush hour) fade away as I settle against the many comfy pillows and turn in for the night—my first ever in this legendary harbour city. Morning finds me up early and drawing

open the curtains to the splendour of Kerala’s ubiquitous verdure. The shower (an uncomplicated affair, thank goodness!) is refreshing, and readies me for the buffet spread at The Square, at the lobby level. While launching the hotel, a smiling JeanMichel Cassé, the Chief Operating Officer for India & South Asia, Accor Hotels, remarked: “We are excited to be associated with the Muthoot Pappachan Group for Novotel Kochi Infopark, given their 131 year-old legacy of trust, service excellence and their extensive experience in the hospitality industry.”

The informaTion LOCATION Kakkanad, Kochi. 26km/40mins from Cochin International Airport ACCOmmOdATION 128 rooms (superior rooms, premier rooms and suites) TARIFF From `5,399 doubles, taxes extra CONTACT +91-484-6766666; accorhotels.com

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[ check out ]

homey history

Clockwise from top left: iron work and period furniture recreate an old world charm; the doorway to the Jatrapara room; The Baithak-Khana or reception; and the interior of one of the rooms

Ever wanted to stay in a quintessential north Kolkata neighbourhood? Calcutta Bungalow will help make your dream a reality, says Uttara Gangopadhyay

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can’t tell you if 5, Radha Kanta Jeu Street has a ‘calling bell’ or not. The metal rings against the dark wooden door looked so tempting that I rattled them until a face, with surprise writ large on it peered out to see who it was. The door opened and I stepped in. Tucked inside a quiet, north Kolkata neighbourhood, the Calcutta Bungalow is the newest addition to the city’s heritage lodgings. The nearly century-old building—sporting a mix of colonial and local architecture, reminiscent of 20thcentury Calcutta—would have given way to a modern high-rise, if it wasn’t for two friends, Iftekhar Ahsan and Chris Chen. With their own funds, the duo bought the decrepit house in 2015, its insides piled with rubble and furniture scraps, and decided to convert it into a bed-and-breakfast facility while keeping its inherent character intact. “Restoring old buildings is not easy,” said Iftekhar, as he showed me around. They had to ensure that the building was structurally strong, and sought help from 38

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conservation architect Akhil Ranjan Sarkar. The hunt for original building materials and people who could work with them was a challenge. They found a master artisan from Murshidabad who could work with chun-surki (lime plaster and powdered brick). The iron-work, as well as furniture and bric-a-brac were either sourced from old homes or made to order. Like a typical north Kolkata home, the building has a small open courtyard. Its three storeys include bedrooms done up in light colours, a reception, a recreation room, and a dining hall. Each room has a character synonymous with Kolkata’s distinct neighbourhoods, enlivened through framed pictures, posters and bric-a-brac—Potuapara (artists’ colony), Boipara (about books and publishing), Dorjipara (tailors’ hub), Jatrapara (famous for traditional theatre), etc. Guests will be encouraged to have breakfast together in the dining hall. The lighting arrangement is innovative, the bulbs are placed inside old loudspeakers.

There is an old weighing scale in the corner, once common in marketplaces. While the ground floor adda-khana serves as the audio-visual and recreational room, the terrace is a café with a corner for cultural activities. “We also plan to have a souvenir shop, stocked with Calcutta memorabilia,” said Iftekhar. At a time when heritage lovers are ruing about the loss of Kolkata’s built inheritance, the Calcutta Bungalow shows how private entrepreneurship can help preserve Kolkata’s urban heritage. It is slated for an early May opening.

THE INFORMATION LOCATION: 5, Radha Kanta Jeu Street, Shyam Bazar; 12km/40mins from Kolkata airport ACCOMMODATION: Six bedrooms with double/twin beds, air-conditioning, wi-fi, television and other facilities TARIFF: The inaugural price is `5,000 per room (with breakfast) CONTACT: +91-9830184030 bungalow@calcuttawalks.com


hotels hotel. It is an unusual and perfect mix of art deco with a spirit that is modern and contemporary. I came to learn that this place was also a favourite with Salvador Dali. The rooms are so luxurious—the pastel-toned satin and Louis XVI chairs are decadent. It’s grand but not stuffy. I loved signing my name on the frosted mirror in the entrance hall. The Valmont Spa is also extremely comforting.

[ personal choice ]

BEyonCé actor & singer Which is your favourite hotel and why? Le Meurice in Paris has a special place in my heart. Located on the Rue de Rivoli between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, it’s in, I think, the best location in all of Paris. Le Meurice is the ideal home base to discover the city. The other advantage is that it has soundproof rooms, so I can croak, sing and shout without getting conscious at all. Jay (husband, Jay-Z) records a lot of his music there and even shot ‘N***as in Paris’ with Kanye (West). That is how much we love the place.

What about the food? Le Meurice has two main restaurants— the Restaurant le Meurice overlooking the Tuileries Garden, and the Restaurant Le Dali. My favourite dishes are the steamed organic vegetables with salt crystals, and the roast sea bass with a mixed citrus sauce. The Bar 228 with its leather armchairs and dark woodwork furnishings is an ideal place to sip on a glass of bubbly and nibble on cheese. Why would you like to recommend Le Meurice? I wouldn’t! I would love you to go check it out yourself and tell me more because my stays have been brief. I would love to just park myself there for a good number of days and live the spoilt tourist life. n

aarti kapur singh

What is so special about Le Meurice? The first thing that impresses you is the atmosphere and the character of the

WATCH THIS SPACE

n Design Hotels recently unveiled its first property in the Middle East— Form Hotel Dubai, located in Al Jaddaf Culture Village. With a concept that focusses on health and wellbeing, it combines contemporary design elements with local inspirations and features art deco-inspired furniture. Prime facilities include a rooftop pool, private yoga sessions, curated spa kits, three restaurants and cultural tours. From approx. `4,600 doubles, taxes included. Visit form-hotel.com n Trident Hotels has recently unveiled the ‘Trident Holidays’ offer for its properties in Agra, Udaipur, Jaipur and Kochi. This 2N/3D package is suitable for short family getaways since it includes happy hours, 25% discount on spa therapies, kids club facility and special entertainment activities, complimentary room for up to two children, and 50% discount on the third night at Trident, Jaipur. Prices range from `9,500 to `14,500. See tridenthotels.com n This summer, Alila Diwa Goa is the place to visit for a wellness getaway. Their packages include ‘Detox Detour’ (for emotional and health-related issues) and ‘Waste Management & Vitality’ (for weight and fat loss), among others, that one can avail for 3, 5, 7, 10 and 14 nights (depending on the package). They include accommodation, assessments, consultations, Ayurvedic treatments, etc. From `82,000 per person, taxes extra. Visit alilamoments.com

[we like] THE KUMAON, biNsAr ● A privAte mountAin retreAt hidden in the shadow of the revered nanda devi range, the Kumaon is located in the Kasar devi ridge, just above the historical city of Almora. designed by the Sri Lankan architects pradeep Kodikara and Jineshi Samaraweera, the retreat, inspired by tropical modernism and unique mountain architecture, offers 10 suites, a sun lounge, a gourmet restaurant and a library. the Kumaon has been constructed with great care and sensitivity to the environment, and allows guests to immerse themselves completely in the surroundings. Ancient temples dedicated to uma and Shiva are scattered across the nearby valleys. the terrain is heavily forested, with a number of village trails that you can explore, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a leopard at sunset, heading out on a hunt. tAriFF Approx. `13,500 onwards ContACt +91-9411736084; thekumaon.com

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[ fresh sheet ]

The Oman appeal

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his one is a beaut—milk-white lobby gridded with pillars reminiscent of Al Alam Palace; a design theme that inspires adjectives like ‘chic’ and ‘classy’; a pristine beach with an infinity pool and people lounging in bliss; restaurants and bars aplenty to spoil you with the choicest of choices; and enough things for you and your children to do. The Kempinski Hotel

Muscat in the Al Mouj area of Oman’s capital, with its 310 rooms and suites, depicts the city at its best. It borrows many elements from the culture of this friendly Middle Eastern country, especially with regard to décor, colours and penchant for frankincense, and tops it with the first-rate facilities and service standards of a typical Kempinski hotel. Add four

[ fresh sheet ]

gifts, make-your-own-cocktail sets, wines, candles, chocolates, flowers—in short, the works. I stayed at one of the river-facing suites with a spacious sitting room and an adjoining bedroom with an attached bathroom. From rugs to art, the interior had a very strong traditional Portuguese influence, mixed with THE Park Hotels’ signature cool contemporary style that never goes out of date. The property targets both business and leisure travellers, and offers all sorts of modern amenities, including a meeting space, a 24-hour restaurant (Saltwater), lounge access and pool. It’s not just about the stay; there are a range of activities

nO kids On The blOck

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t’s adults-only at THE Park Baga River Goa. It promises experiences that are ‘Anything but Ordinary’. An hour’s ride from the airport, the hotel is just 10 minutes away from Baga Beach and has a scenic lagoon view. Perfect for couples and honeymooners, the 28-bedroom property, also the brand’s first adultsonly hotel, is guaranteed to impress with its personalised services like intimate in-room dining, spa treatments, romantic

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Clockwise from left: the opulent Kempinski Hotel Muscat; its all-day dining restaurant, The Kitchen; and the palatial lobby

themed restaurants and six themed bars and lounges, a platter of meeting and venue rooms, an adorable kids’ club and easy transfers to all of Muscat’s heritage and urban gems to the mix and you have the perfect gateway to the country. Book till August 31, 2018 and get an introductory 10 per cent discount. From approx. `17,300, taxes extra; kempinski.com

guests can enjoy, like photography and cookery workshops, art classes, yoga, kick-boxing, sailing and river cruises, to name a few. Rooms from `12,000 per night; theparkhotels.com. n

precious kamei


travel promotion

Wild Wild West

Bestowed with a wealth of biodiversity, Gujarat offers nature lovers some incredible opportunities to spot elusive wildlife

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he deciduous forests of Saurashtra, the grasslands at Velavadar, the rich tree-scapes of the Dangs, the vast open spaces of the Rann, four major rivers, a coastline over 1,600 km long, and a third of India’s wetlands-Gujarat’s uniquely varied terrain has bestowed upon it a wealth of biodiversity that has made India’s western-most state its most sought-after by wildlife spotters. With four national parks and nearly two dozen sanctuaries, you could come back, year after year, but you’ll never run out of experiences that

stay with you a lifetime. Here are three places you should explore:

Gir National Park Nowhere else in Asia will you find the majestic Panthera leopersica, better known as the Asiatic Lion. The king of the jungle once faced faced extinction. However, over the past few decades, an unprecedented conservation effort has led to a resurgence of the species. Today, Gujarat’s home to over 500 lions and while Gir National Park might be their original home, they can be found all over

the Saurashtra region. You could also see leopards, chitals, chinkaras, sambars, crocodiles, and birds. In all, you’ll find approximately 39 species of mammals, 37 species of reptiles, 300 species of birds, and 2,000 species of insects. When to go: Mid October–mid June, but it’s best to visit from December to April. Also see: The legendary Somnath Temple, crocodiles at the Kamaleshwar dam reservoir, Kankai and Tulishyam temples, and Gir Bhimchas, which according to lore, was created by Bhim. Getting there: Gir National Park is 55km


from Junagadh City, 156km from Rajkot, and 348km from Ahmedabad. Visitors can also take regional rail services or state buses from Junagadh. The main entry point is Sasan Gir and the closest airport is at Rajkot. More information: girlion.in

Blackbuck National Park Head over to golden savannahs of the Blackbuck National Park to catch a glimpse of the regal spiral-horned antelope. Once the private grassland of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, the national park might be small (34sq km), but contains the largest population of the endangered species, almost 3400 of them, which means sightings are guaranteed. Another reason for a trip to Velavadar is the park’s other residents. Not only do you stand a chance encountering jackals, foxes and wolves, but the wetlands in the southern part of the park are a great place for birders. You might even be lucky to spot the rare Lesser Florican.

When to go: October to end February is the best time to visit. Closed during the monsoons (June 16– October 15). Also see: Jain temples at Palitana, Hanuman temple at Sarangpur, and the world-famous Indus Valley Civilisation archeological site at Lothal. Getting there: Black buck National Park is 145km from Ahmedabad and 72km from Bhavnagar, which is also a major railhead. SVP International Airport at Ahmedabad is the closest airport. The gateways to the park include Valabhaipur and Adhelai. More information: gujarattourism.com

Wild Ass Sanctuary A three hour drive from Ahmedabad gets you to this barren wonderland that’s home to the endangered Asiatic wild ass, locally known as the ghudkhar. Capable of galloping at speeds of up to 70 km/h, the wild ass is the undisputed draw of the sanctuary that bears its name. But this sanctuary, spread across 4953.70 sq km, has other notable residents as well—

the chinkara, nilgai, wolf, Indian fox, jackal, hyena, wild boar, and the desert cat share the same space. Being on the migratory path of many bird species, the Wild Ass Sanctuary is also a great destination for birders. You might spot the houbara bustard, eagle, pale harrier, black shouldered kite, the heron, the flamingo, and great crested grebe, the white-browed bulbul, and many more. If you’re still looking for more reasons to visit, the the clear skies and lack of light pollution make this a stargazing heaven. When to go: October-March is the best time to visit Also see: Mardak bet, a hill that becomes an island in the monsoons. Time your visit to coincide with the Rann Utsav and you’ll also experience the best of Gujarat’s vibrant culture. Getting there: The Wild Ass Sanctuary is 130km from Ahmedabad and 175km from Rajkot. Dhrangadhra, 16km away, is the closest railway station, while the closest airport is at Ahmedabad. More information: gujarattourism.com


city shanghai

I N S I D E R ’S EUROPE

All the

SWEDE things

PHOTOGRAPHS: GETTY IMAGES

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Modern architecture in West Harbour district in Malmö

south of thE touristy thErE skånE, just a littlE morE EvEryonE drEams of aspots, wEdding onis an nordic and hikEr-friEndly, andcan justbE asacharismatic. nitin Exotic land, but planning onE Chaudhary, our man in swEdEn, has all thE dEtails hErculEan task. Sumeet KeSwani outlook traveller • SePteMBer 2017

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city shanghai

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ay Sweden and the first thing that comes to mind is frigid winters. For a few months every year, though, the snow melts and the frost evaporates, the greys and the blacks metamorphose into striking colours, trees begin to bear leaves again, and the sun remains a constant on the horizon. A remarkable transformation takes place each spring and summer in Sweden. Short-lived, albeit playful, summer hatches an escapist mood, and is much yearned for by the Swedes. Tourists travelling to Sweden between June and August will find packed outdoor cafés, streets throbbing with performers, and stately parks interspersed with picnicking families. First-time visitors usually gravitate towards Stockholm and its idyllic archipelago. With its cobblestoned Gamla Stan, royal palace, museums (the Nobel Museum and ABBA The Museum, for instance) and an abundance of blue waters surrounding its city islands, Stockholm is a safe bet to experience the allure of Sweden. However, it is the less visited, low-profile, southernmost part of country—the Skåne region—that offers a wider spread of Nordic charms. Skåne—Scania in English—is Sweden at its most continental, a gentle reminder of what’s to come further south in Central Europe. It covers 3 per cent of Sweden’s area but is home to 13 per cent of the

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country’s population. Its counties are separated by sweeping stretches of land full of blooming yellow rapeseed flowers in the summer. Elsewhere, there are untarnished white sandy coastlines and numerous trails that snake through the forests. Skåne provides alternating, at times contrasting, views of Sweden compared to the capital. It is not a weekend destination to be browsed in a rush, but meant to be savoured piecemeal over at least a few days, if not a few weeks. Skåne has a substantial number of museums, art galleries, nightlife options and other cultural spots. Its most important city is the capital Malmö, which, together with the rest of Skåne, was once a part of Denmark. That was before it was ceded to Sweden in a war in 1675–79. Today, Malmö is better known as the home of one of the best football clubs in Sweden, Malmö FF, which was home to Sweden’s megastar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Coupled with the Danish capital Copenhagen through the partially underwater

The Turning Torso skyscraper in Malmö, designed by Santiago Calatrava (left); and students resting on the lawn in front of the vinecovered Lund University Library


Öresund Bridge, Malmö has seen an economic boom that led to its transformation from an old industrial town into a knowledge-driven economy. Malmö is popular for its cosmopolitan nightlife, daytime cafés serving artisanal brews, and the Turning Torso that dominates its skyline. One of the best ways to study Malmö is to walk across it, something that could take up to half a day while giving perspectives into the layered society that Malmö has become with the parallel, albeit contrasting diffusion of new wealth and influx of poor immigrants. A suitable place to start such a walking tour is Malmö’s Western Harbour, which overlooks the Öresund Bridge, while yachts shilly-shally in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea touching it. The rich of Malmö live here, evident in the expensive residential buildings that span its promenade alongside the 190-feet-tall

Turning Torso, the tallest building in Scandinavia. From Western Harbour, walk alongside the moat-ringed Renaissance castle of Malmöhus, into the elegant spread-out parks, Slottsparken and Kungsparken, before heading to the medieval centre of the city, Gamla Väster, which houses several art boutiques and is a fine place to experience the aesthetic side of Malmö. The gingerbread houses of Gamla Väster are home to the middle-class of Sweden. A 10-minute walk further towards the outer periphery of the city leads to the poorer immigrant quarters. Sweden has an open immigration policy, but the huge intake has resulted in the ghettoisation of some parts of its cities despite considerable efforts towards integration. Malmö, in many ways, is like

St Ibb’s Church overlooking the small village of Kirkbyn in Ven (left); and hiking through a beech forest on the Skaneleden Trail

outlook traveller • May 2018

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Sweden a vast open-air museum, offering glimpses into its many societies coexisting alongside one another. Lund, another important location in Skåne, the second oldest city of Sweden, is marked by an impressive cathedral called Domkyrkan. Domkyrkan was constructed in 1100 AD and saw a visit by the Pope in 2016 when Catholics and Lutherans together commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Lund in also a university town. Its university is not only the oldest in Sweden, but also a churning pot of innovations, including the first artificial kidney, ultrasound and Bluetooth. No wonder that some of the world’s leading technology companies, including Sony and Ericsson, have set up offices within walking distance of the prestigious

Bike stands in front of a Ystad city sign; and (right) Absolut’s internationally branded ‘Limited Edition’ vodka at the company’s plant in Åhus

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university. With its old buildings, photogenic cobblestone streets and youthful vibe thanks to a huge student population, Lund is an excellent base for a couple of days in Skåne. While both Malmö and Lund have a mix of history and city life, Skåne is scattered with several smaller towns that offer a peek into the Swedish countryside. Standout mentions are Båstad and Torekov, further north of Malmö along the west coast. In terms of architecture, there may not be much to see in these towns, except rustic halcyon villas with unobstructed views of the ocean. Life moves at a calm pace, and a day or two here is a fantastic opportunity to slow down, eat lengthy meals with a glass of locally made gin, and go for a dip in the ocean. Perhaps that is why famous Hollywood actors and football players also find their way here during the summer months.

outlook traveller • May 2018

For nature lovers, Skåne has plenty of activities— hiking, kayaking, diving, fishing, camping, biking and even horseback riding. Thick deciduous forests carpet the whole region, while several lakes punctuate it, opening opportunities for both day trips and longer hikes. To top it, the Swedish law of Allemansrätten (the freedom to roam) allows anyone to camp in an open area, including a private farmland, for a night, making it easier for trekkers to access nature in its most raw form. While paddling in the canals of Malmö is popular with the locals, the county of Blekinge on the east coast of Skåne provides an ideal platform for planning a kayaking trip across its archipelago. Blekinge comes from the Swedish word bleke, which roughly translates into ‘calm’. Sprinkled with pine trees, some of its islands are uninhabited, while others have few rustic wooden cottages painted in the Swedish flag’s yellow and blue, or more commonly red and white. The waters are calm and ideal for long cruises between the islands. Some of the islands have stunted rocks, pre-fitted with nuts and bolts to practise basic rock climbing. For a more intensive experience of rock climbing and trekking, the Kullaberg Nature Reserve on the eastern peninsula in Höganäs county is ideal. Climbers prefer its bony, rugged cliffs and steep precipices, and there are several opportunities for first timers to take some lessons here. Recently, Kullaberg got a bicycle trail—the Kattegattleden—a route of roughly 370 kilometres. Kullaberg is also ideal for spotting some wildlife, including foxes and the elusive red deer. The trails are well-marked, and the staff at the visitor centre can suggest good hiking routes in the region. The most interesting highlight of Skåne is its Skåneleden Trail. At 1,000 kilometres long, it burrows into beech forests, curves alongside lakes, circumvents towns, and runs parallel to the rapeseed fields and the coasts of this region. This trail has a cult status among


SkĂĽne is to be savoured piecemeal over at least a few days if not weeks

A rock climber on a sheer rock face by the sea in the Kullaberg Nature Reserve outlook traveller • SePteMBer 2017

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Sweden walkers and hikers in Sweden. It is rarely covered in one summer; rather, it is best taken in in smaller bits over several years. Skåneleden consists of five separate trails, which are further divided into 89 sections. The entire trail is clearly marked, and there is little chance of getting lost. For those interested in doing only one section of Skåneleden, the 70-kilometre-long Kullaleden trail is recommended. It has been certified by the European Ramblers’ Association as one of the best hiking trails in Europe. The route has campsite options, and access to these facilities is free. Skåne also has 400 kilometres of coastline, dotted with some untouched beaches. The bathing season is not long, usually between May and July. The temperature in these months could be in the high twenties. The popular city beaches include the unspoiled one at Ribersborg in Malmö and the beach in the city of Helsingborg. In Ribersborg is a kallbadhus (cold bath house), which is a traditional Swedish sauna with open-air swimming in the waters of the Baltic. In Helsingborg, the beach overlooks the Danish coastline. On the east coast, the town of Ystad has a white sand beach and a luxurious spa hotel to complement it. The shallow waters of Lomma beach in Bjärred county on the west coast make it a favourite for families with young children. Then there is the delightful little island of Ven, which, like the rest of Skåne, comes with a split personality, given the shared history with Denmark. Ven is called Hven by the Danes, and people come to this island off the west coast to indulge in its good food and rich wines, ride around on tandem bikes and do

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PHOTOGRAPHS: SHUTTERSTOCK

A monument dedicated to sailors in Helsingborg; and (below) young men playing beach volleyball in Båstad

kitesurfing. During summer, regular ferries run from the city of Landskrona to Ven. Though less than 500 people live on the island, it is a top draw when it comes to owning a summer house. A solitary trail curves around the island, running parallel to the coast, along which the sea-facing villas queue up like chocolate squares lined next to one another. Far off in the blue water, expensive yachts of all shapes and sizes lie scattered in relaxed informality, like pieces of broken china littered on the floor. Complaints vanish in Ven, and life seems all right, at least while you are here. The food landscape in Skåne is carved out of locally produced and sustainably sourced ingredients. Lately, Nordic cuisine has gained fame, thanks to the world-famous Danish restaurant, Noma. This cuisine, also central to Skåne, is defined by slow food, prepared fresh, and simple. While there are many fine-dining restaurants, some of the best places to taste local fare are the food markets—called saluhalls—of Malmö, Höganäs and Lund. Malmö’s saluhall is converted from an old warehouse, and is lined with farm shops selling fresh juices, jams and ciders, along with organic cheese, fish and vegetables, while Lund’s is perfect for trying some local cheese. It’s difficult to go wrong with food in Skåne, even for vegetarians. There is a considerable immigrant population in Skåne and its influences are visible in the food as well. Malmö arguably is the falafel capital of Europe and several kiosks serve this beloved snack. It’s an affordable meal, easily available on the streets,


and perhaps that explains its popularity. Swedes love their coffee, and Skåne is also home to some of the best artisanal cafés in Sweden. That’s a good reason to take a Swedish coffee break, called fika. Some of these popular cafés are Lilla Kafferosteriet and Solde in Malmö, Java and St Jakobs in Lund, and Flickorna Lundgren in Kullaberg. While Skåne is the birthplace of Absolut Vodka (from the small village of Åhus in the east) and Spirit of Hven Gin (organic gin, distilled in the island of Ven), and Akvavit has long history here, it is now gaining fame for its microbreweries also. Popular ones include Helsingborgs Bryggeri and Stockeboda

Gårdsbryggeri, located in the Österlen region on the east coast. Many of the breweries arrange guided tours and beer tastings on a regular basis. What makes Skåne notable for visitors are the short distances between places. This not only makes the region accessible (more so given its proximity to Copenhagen’s airport) but also allows one to accumulate multiple experiences even in short stays. Skåne is slowly being discovered. Its sights and landscape, art and culture, food and drinks all fuse together into an education into the Swedish way of life—one defined by gentle pace, slow food and deep history.

Palsjobaden, located along the seafront north of Helsingborg city centre, where you can enjoy a sauna, the sun and a dip in the sea

# THE INFORMATION GettinG there Air India runs daily direct flights from Delhi to Copenhagen and Stockholm, from where Skåne is easily accessible. From Copenhagen, take the train (`800 one way). From Stockholm, take either a train or a flight to Malmö. The fares are comparable (`5,000–8,000 one way). The towns and villages in Skåne are connected via trains and buses from both Malmö and Lund. Where to stay It is worth experiencing at least one night each in both city and

village settings. Speak to the friendly local tourist information staff for tips. Airbnb is the cheapest and easiest option. Scandic (from `5,000 doubles; scandichotels.com) is a hotel chain present in all major locations across Skåne. In the countryside, there are excellent B&B options. In Kullaberg, the locals prefer Rusthållargården (from approx. `16,000 doubles; rusthallargarden. se) in the village of Arild. In Båstad, Skansen (from `15,000 doubles; hotelskansen.se/en) is where most celebrities end up. In the town of Torekov, Torekov

Hotell (torekovhotell.se/en) is in the secluded countryside and regularly organises training and spa weekends. In Ystad, don’t miss out on the luxurious Ystad Saltsjöbad Spa (spa packages from approx. `14,000 per person; ysb.se), which, in addition to stay options, also has excellent food and rejuvenating spa treatments.

What to eat & drink For vegetarians, Skåne has multiple options. Saluhalls (food markets) in Malmö (malmosaluhall. se), Lund (lundssaluhall.se) and Höganäs (hoganassaluhall.se) are

the best and cheapest options to sample local fare. Lunch options in Malmö include Spoonery (try their vegetarian hotpot, `600 per dish), while for fine dining, the hip Bastard Restaurant (bastardrestaurant.se) is the place to go. In Lund, Govindas (veganistan. se/lund/govindas) is a vegetarianonly option, and is always crowded with students. Swedes love their coffee, and Lilla Kafferorsteriet, Hollandia and Solde in Malmö are some of the popular coffee shops. In Lund, Java and St Jakob’s are popular cafés. n nitin chaudhary outlook traveller • May 2018

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city shanghai

I N S I D E R ’S EUROPE

the Sacred & the Profane Galicia has that particular dichotomy fiGured. in this sleepy corner of spain, with a local Guide for company, amit dixit finally sees the liGht

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EvEryonE drEams of a wEdding on an Exotic land, but planning onE can bE a hErculEan task. Sumeet KeSwani

The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia outlook traveller • SePteMBer 2017IMAGES 57 GETTY


spain Pazo de Rubianes: (clockwise from right) traditional musicians; the plush interiors of the manor house; albariño wine; and the garden maze

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t was a little after noon that Marian, a Galician as blue-eyed as they come, picked me up for lunch from the Santiago de Compostela airport. Our meal at Solleiros, chef Ana Portals’ suave take on Galician food, was the first of many excellent ones, a propitious start to a trip that proved to be fulsome in every way. A bit earlier we had parked our car a distance away and ambled into Santiago’s pedestrians-only old town. My first sight and enduring memory of Santiago de Compostela will always be of its historic grand square, the Praza do Obradoiro, and the impressive buildings enclosing it. To the north lay the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, constructed in 1486 as a religious work by Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabel and considered to be the oldest continuously running hotel in the world; the Pazo de Raxoi (the seat of government in medieval times, now the city council’s office) to the west; the Colexio de San Xerome (the university) to the south; and, rising in the east, the reason for all of this to exist: the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the culminating point of the second holiest Christian pilgrimage in Europe, next only to the journey to Rome. They call it the Camino, or ‘the way’. Only philistines like me fly into Santiago; the devout walk. There are over 20 routes but the most prominent ones are Camino Francés (French Way), Camino Primitivo (Original Way), Camino Portugués (Portuguese Way), and Camino del Norte (Northern Way). The baroque façade we were admiring— although somewhat concealed by scaffolding from the restoration work underway—belonged to the 18th century, but a church came up here as early as the 9th century, when the remains of St James, it is believed, were discovered here. Even in an increasingly faithless world, the pilgrimage, which originated about then, is going strong, as could be evidenced by the scores of tired but happy pilgrims sprawled in the square, taking a well deserved rest after walking hundreds of kilometres to reach Santiago. Construction of the present cathedral began in 1075 and it was consecrated in 1211. Originally a Romanesque structure, Gothic and baroque elements were added over the centuries. All of this information came from Marian, the last word on all things Galician, and I was glad that, over the next few days, she would be my guide, philosopher and friend as we whizzed around this ancient land, a glass of wine never far from reach. Apart from working as a tour guide, Marian also taught English and, like me, had studied literature in college. In fact, her alma mater was the University of Santiago de Compostela, and she got me a peek into her department 58

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outlook traveller • may 2018

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library. Established in 1495, it is one of the oldest universities in the world in continuous operation. With departments spread across the old town, we were always surrounded by the infectious energy of the young. Later, we worked off that sumptuous meal with a tour of the cathedral’s rooftop, a rather unusual way to begin one’s acquaintance with a building; the interior I would see only much later. Marian was a believer, vivacious and full of hope, and served as a healthy counterpoint to my bottomless cynicism about the world. When I retired for the night, I found my room appropriately monastic, although entirely comfortable. The hotel offered a 24hour breakfast buffet—you never knew when a hungry pilgrim would land up—the highlight of which was the delectable Santiago tart, made with almonds traditionally brought by the pilgrims as an offering. Galicia still lives in its laidback villages and, next morning, we sped past lush vineyards, sprawling farms and sturdy stone houses to explore its rural heart. Our destination was the Pazo de Rubianes, a manor house belonging to Spanish nobility. It happened to have a massive vineyard attached to it, where they made wine from Galicia’s distinctive albariño grape and offered generous tastings. The grounds were a botanical 60

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Clockwise from top left: the Monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil; the Parador de Pontevedra; and the coastal town of O Grove

wonderland bursting with camellias from around the world, and old -growth camphor and eucalyptus trees. There was a friendly dog. And a hedge maze. The family was away and they let us have a look at the plush interiors. We headed off to explore a string of sleepy coastal towns, laid like pearls along Galicia’s Atlantic coast. At O Grove there wasn’t a single foreign tourist in sight, just Spaniards who had come to Galicia for its good value and legendary hospitality. We were going on a small cruise around the bay to inspect the mussel farms. While we waited for our ferry, we ordered café con leche, which in Spain can be had hot, cold or warm. There were little witches on keychains for sale. Across a bridge was the Isla de la Toja, with the prettiest church I ever saw, covered with scallop shells from head to toe. The scallop is a symbol of the camino, possibly because pilgrims collected them as souvenirs in the early days. Today, the many paths can be easily identified by the scallop symbol. The ferry tooted off to the mussel platforms in the bay. Once we’d admired them, trays of the steamed crustaceans began to appear. I readily polished off mine. This was a grievous error, for it was their cue to bring in another tray. And then another. And another. Eventually, they took pity on my turgid condition and produced a outlook traveller • may 2018

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Choir chanting at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral; and Marian Santiago, guide extraordinaire

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bottle of liqueur. Well lubricated, we lurched into the village of Combarro, noted for its traditional seaside homes, the casas marineras, and the striking hórreos, raised granaries, lining the waterfront. More historical immersion awaited at Pontevedra, our stop for the night. Literally ‘old bridge’, it references a Roman bridge across the Lérez which had existed near the still extant 12th-century Burgo Bridge. Pontevedra was once the leading city in Galicia and has a beautiful old town to prove it. We stayed in a parador, part of a chain of state-run luxury heritage hotels, where sallow-skinned staff ushered American tourists to their hard beds. Occupying Spain’s northwest coast, Galicia is an ancient land, inhabited since the Stone Age. The Galicians believe they are Celtic in origin. The soulful music played by the buskers in the archways of Santiago will put any doubts to rest. Faith runs strong here, Christianity melding with older, pagan beliefs. There’s much talk of supernatural stuff and miracles. At Pontevedra, I found myself inside the chapel of a Dorothean convent where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared as an apparition before Sister Lucy several times between 1925 and 1926. My faithlessness was beginning to crumble. Next morning, we drove away from the coast and into the mountains. Galicia is devastatingly beautiful, and now it was showing off quite shamelessly. We stopped at a lookout. The Balcóns de Madrid offers a jaw-dropping view of the Sil Canyon, the river meandering at the bottom of the gorge. We didn’t miss the socalcos either, the steep terraced vineyards distinctive of this area which is called the Ribeira Sacra. That’s ‘sacred shore’, and here you’ll find, ranged along the rivers, the largest concentration of Romanesque churches and monasteries in all of Europe. We took in several over the course of the day. Even lunch was at Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil, a former monastery, now lovingly restored and run as a parador. By evening, we were back in the familiar comforts of


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Santiago de Compostela, just in time for my epiphany. I suspect Marian was unsure if I should attend Mass at the cathedral. But she made a choice and I, deemed worthy, found myself inside the cathedral, in the warm embrace of a ceremony that was underway. This was the swinging of the botafumeiro (‘smoke expeller’ in Galician), a metal incense burner hung from a pulley mechanism installed in 1604. It is swung with precision by eight men in red robes, called tiraboleiros, who raise it higher and higher, and further and further, spreading the fumes across the cathedral. On occasion, it has been swung enthusiastically enough to fly right out of the cathedral. Marian whisked me away and into the crypt, the still centre of the holy storm. There was a metal casket, the reliquary. That’s when it hit me. The tidal waves of love that wash over Santiago de Compostela cosset it from any disbelief, so whether the remains of St James are indeed interred here is no longer relevant. I’m an easy convert, I guess. More importantly, thank you, Marian, for believing. As I left for the airport in the predawn darkness the next morning, I was caught in a sea of students, drunk and lively, just starting to return from their nightly bacchanals. The holiest of holy cathedrals was only steps away. Nothing was out of place. Galicia has it figured, this fine balance between pleasure and prayer. And, for that, it will always be one of my favourite destinations.

The dramatic Sil River canyon in the Ribeira Sacra, Ourense

# THE INFORMATION GettinG ther e I flew Turkish Airlines to Madrid via Istanbul. The connections were extremely convenient. From Madrid, I flew Iberia to Santiago de Compostela. Air India flies non-stop thrice-weekly to Madrid. wher e to stay In Santiago de Compostela there are many options to choose from. I highly recommend the three-star Hotel Praza da Quintana (from ¤105 per night; Rua da Conga, 9, praza-quintana. santiagodecompostelahotels.net). It’s just steps away from the cathedral. But the most coveted hotel in Santiago has to be the Parador de Santiago de Compostela, historically the Hostal dos Reis Católicos (from ¤200, but pilgrims with official credentials get a discount; Praza do Obradoiro, 1). In fact, all across Spain, you can experience history

by staying in a parador, a state-run heritage hotel. In Pontevedra, there’s the distinguished Parador de Pontevedra (from ¤100, Rua do Baron, 19), occupying a former palace of the Counts of Maceda. In the middle of the Ribeira Sacra, there’s the Parador Santo Estevo, a Benedictine monastery dating from the 6th century (from ¤133). See paradoresofspain.com.

wher e to eat It’s easy to eat well in Galicia. Here’s a very small list of recommendations based on personal experience: > Solleiros Praza de San Miguel dos Agros, 9 Santiago de Compostela > A Horta do Obradoiro Rua das Hortas, 16 Santiago de Compostela > A Maceta Rúa San Pedro, 120 Santiago de Compostela

> Ribadomar Rua Valle Inclan, 17 Cambados (Pontevedra) > Taperia Loaira Plaza da Leña, 2 Pontevedra > Monasterio de Santo Estevo Nogueira de Ramuin

what to see & do > SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA Apart from the cathedral, which also has a museum, there are numerous beautiful churches and parks across town. Advance booking for the roof visit is recommended. > PAZO DE RUBIANES This Galician manor house and vineyard is a must-visit (Rua do Pazo, 7, Rubianes, Pontevedra, pazoderubianes.com/en). > COASTAL TOWNS Visit sleepy fishing towns like Combarro, Cambados and O Grove. > RIBEIRA SACRA For vineyards

and monasteries in a dramatic setting. Monasteries include Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil, Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil and San Pedro de Rocas. Don’t miss Balcóns de Madrid, the most emblematic viewpoint of the Ribeira Sacra, at an altitude of 500m on the Sil canyon. > PONTEVEDRA For the old town. > GALICIA BY TRAIN Several tourists trains ply all over Galicia. These include the Lighthouse Route Train, several wine trains as well as the Historic Pazos and Gardens of Galicia train. > A CORUñA The only major destination in Galicia I couldn’t cover. Besides being home to Zara (and Marian!), and boasting an Indian restaurant or two, it has the Tower of Hercules, an ancient Roman lighthouse. Visit turismo.gal for more information. n amit dixit outlook traveller • may 2018

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Marta Galli gives us the low-down on her favourite spots in the city she currently calls home 64

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Fornasetti store The Fornasetti store, which was inaugurated in 2016, is located in what was once the home of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the founder of Futurism. The store features the production of Piero Fornasetti, a Milanese designer and decorator, and a one-of-a-kind visionary who created more than 10,000 pieces in his lifetime. His legacy of unmistakably original, whimsical and imaginative style has been carried forward by his son Barnaba. In the store, you can find things like cabinets decorated with malachite motifs, trays covered in butterflies and the famous series of black-and-white plates known as ‘Tema e Variazioni’ dedicated to the endless faces of the designer’s muse, which have become collector’s items. (Corso Venezia, 21/A)

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Piero Fornasetti’s ‘Tema e Variazioni’ at the Fornasetti store

Over the years, this historical bar founded in 1947 has become a sort of Milanese institution. It is especially famous for its signature cocktail, the Negroni Sbagliato (‘sbagliato’ means ‘wrong’), which is served in a peculiar large glass, one of the bar’s trademarks. This is a cult spot for true cocktail connoisseurs. It has an extensive list of quality drinks and also happens to be the place where apertifs became popular with the hoi polloi at a time when they were exclusive to expensive hotels. It is also a charming bar where you can spend outlook traveller • SePteMBer 2017

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ITALY time talking to the owner Maurizio Stocchetto. Today, the best way to describe it would be ‘radical chic meets working class’, and it is packed to the gills during Milan Design Week, when designers come here late at night and don’t leave until early morning. (Via Plinio, 39)

Fondazione Prada This multidisciplinary arts space created by the fashion designer Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli stands on the outskirts of Milan with its towering ‘haunted house’ clad in gold leaf. A former distillery dating back to the 1910s, the complex was beautifully updated by the architect Rem Koolhaas in 2015. It was completed last April with the opening to the public of a 60m-high tower in exposed white concrete featuring works from the Prada Collection. The dramatic display includes art by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Michael Heizer and Carsten Höller, paused at the sixth floor by a restaurant with a view that is a homage to Philip Johnson’s iconic Four Seasons restaurant dismantled two years ago in New York. Fondazione Prada’s Milan venue is also currently hosting the ‘Post Zang Tumb Tuuum’ exhibition till June 28, a must-see show focussing on Italian art and culture between 1918 and 1943. I never miss a chance to take a break at the Bar Luce café created by the movie director Wes Anderson, offering a postmodernist take on the traditional Milanese pasticceria. (Largo Isarco, 2)

Pinacoteca di Brera Housed in the same building as the Accademia de Brera, the school of arts in the bohemian district of Brera, the Pinacoteca is the place to go in Milan for an immersion in classic Italian art. Its permanent collection covers the 14th to 19th century, and features many works by Andrea Mantegna, including The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Piero della Francesca’s Pala Montefeltro (both dating to the 1470s), Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child, and other masterpieces by Raffaello, Bramante and Caravaggio. Also on display are more modern works, but it is safe to say that the old masters steal the scene. (Via Brera, 28)

Wait and See Milan is the city of fashion, of course, and the obvious area for high-end brands is the elegant clutch of streets north of the Duomo known as the ‘quadrilatero’—Via Montenapoleone, Via Borgospesso, Via Della Spiga and Via Sant’Andrea. But I actually prefer the more eccentric selection at Wait and See (Via Santa Marta, 14), which the designer and fashion consultant Uberta Zambeletti curates from her travels around the world. The little boutique is hidden in what is the most ancient and maze-like area of the city, a district called ‘5 vie’ (5 streets), which is the also the perfect place for a retailfocussed stroll with interesting shops, workshops and traditional trattorias where one can take a break for a cosy lunch.

DELFINO SISTO LEGNANI E MARCO CAPPELLETTI

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Clockwise from here: Francesco Hayez’s masterpiece, The Kiss, at Pinacoteca di Brera inspires many intimate moments; Uberta Zambeletti, designer and fashion consultant at Wait and See; a Versace boutique at the quadrilatero; the surrealistic Project Atlas exhibition at Fondazione Prada; and a citrusy cocktail at Bar Basso


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Via Sottocorno This street is my so-called ‘gourmet destination’, in other words, where I find my favourite restaurants in town, boasting a mix of good food and splendid décor. Ristorante Da Giacomo, Giacomo Bistrot, Pasticceria Giacomo, Rosticceria and Tabaccheria are all from the stable of Giacomo Bulleri, a chef who came to Milan from Tuscany about 50 years ago. I often choose the most basic foods: the simple spaghetti al pomodoro at the Bistrot is fabulous, and what I like the most at the Ristorante is that you always get a slice of delicious pizza as a starter. When it comes to dessert, I go for double chocolate although the most famous cake here is called Bomba di Giacomo (Giacomo’s Bomb), a decadent delight with Chantilly cream and strawberries. And if I want to take home some of the ingredients the chef has scoured Italy for, I stop in at Tabaccheria, or head to Pasticceria for the sweets. The interiors are by the famed architect and scenographer Renzo Mongiardino and his pupils Roberto Peregalli and Laura Sartori Rimini. (Via Sottocorno, 5–6, 36)

Villa necchi campiglio One thing I love about Milan is its selection of grand private homes that have been turned into museums. There are a few, including Poldi Pezzoli, Bagatti 68

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Valsecchi and Casa Boschi di Stefano, but the one I like the most is probably the Villa Necchi Campiglio. The Italian film director Luca Guadagnino chose this as the setting for his 2010 movie I Am Love featuring Tilda Swinton. The home was originally built for an upper-class family (in the business of manufacturing sewing machines) by the rationalist architect Piero Portaluppi in the 1930s with lavish materials combined in a minimalistic aesthetic. It stands in its garden with a

Clockwise from above: Gicomo Bistrot has a homely interior; Pasticceria Giacomo is decorated like a vintage pastry shop; and Villa Necchi Campiglio


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ITALY phOTO cOuRTESY BASTIAnELLO

Clockwise from top left: Bastianello serves the best cappuccino in town; a fresco at the San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore; and the Six Gallery is Milan’s go-to offbeat haunt

swimming pool like a modernist fortress surrounded by opulent palazzos. (Via Mozart, 14).

Bastianello Go to Bastianello (Via Borgogna, 5) for possibly the best cappuccino in town (if you like super-creamy foam, this is the place for you). With an ornate aesthetic that extends throughout the place, even down to the tableware, this kitschy pasticceria might be a bit overdressed, but it can’t help put you in a festive mood from morning to aperitif, which is also a popular time of day here thanks to the outdoor patio. On the weekends, I sometimes hop from café to café—and the city centre is filled with historic ones with that grandmotherly allure that makes them so precious— because having a quick coffee at the counter is a quintessential Milanese experience.

san Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore From the outside, this 16th-century church is not particularly interesting, but inside, it is truly spectacular. The building is next to the archaeological museum, which, in the past, was a Benedictine convent, while the Cenacolo Vinciano, the famous Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci at Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, is just 10 minutes away. What makes this church a hidden gem is its abundance of Renaissance frescoes exploding in a triumph of colours and a marvellous decorated vault that has earned it the title of ‘Milan’s Sistine Chapel’. These frescoes were done by Leonardesque painters, including an extensive collection by Bernardino Luini. The overall scenic setting is quite remarkable. (Corso Magenta, 15)

six Opened last year, this is still a kind of secret downtown address where the cool crowd heads for shopping and dining. Behind a large doorway on a side street, one finds a design gallery, a bistro and a poetic flower shop housed in what was a former monastery. The space has 70

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been renovated to offer an underground vibe with a sophisticated touch. The Six Gallery is the brainchild of husband-and-wife architects David Lopez Quincoces and Fanny Bauer Grung. It features an inspiring mix that ranges from affordable pieces to iconic ones, bringing together Venetian glass by Yali, chairs by Gio Ponti, and the architect’s brand new furniture collection, which just launched in April. It’s the perfect destination after 5pm. End the day with one of the seasonal dishes at Sixième bistro and a cocktail before or after dinner. (Via Scaldasole, 7)

ALBERTO STRADA


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GOING DUTCH When in amsterdam, do as amsterdammers do. Rupali Ghosh has some tips

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Queen Maxima attends the opening of the new season of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam

EvEryonE drEams of a wEdding on an Exotic land, but planning onE can bE a hErculEan task. Sumeet KeSwani outlook traveller • SePteMBer 2017

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hile in Amsterdam, take time out from the usual Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank Huis and Canal District routine to do a few of these real Amsterdammer things:

Eat at RoomsERvicE in HotEl DRoog Amsterdam, like most European cities, has its share of charming, quirky, hipster or just plain elegant cafés, but one of the city’s most exciting and stylish places

museums and buying Delft ceramic ware. If there’s time for only one supermarket trip, give the ubiquitous Albert Heijn a pass and visit Marqt (marqt.com) instead. A Dutch organic and sustainable small supermarket chain, it has all the usual produce, dairy, etc, but also really wonderful cookies and artisanal chocolates, including an entire section of superfood cookies and treats that don’t taste like sandpaper. Note that Marqt usually doesn’t accept cash payments, but all major credit cards are accepted.

Topshop and Foot Locker. The area is also home to a few wonderful vintage kitchen shops that sell everything, from beautifully engraved antique silver spoons to post-War Dutch ceramic butter dishes and cream jugs. Prices range from several hundred euros to under ¤100.

takE in a sHow at tHE BostHEatER If you happen to be in Amsterdam during the summer, a visit to the Amsterdamse Bostheater is certain to give you some

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to brunch at has to be Hotel Droog. The iconic Dutch concept design store has an excellent café-restaurant, Roomservice, overlooking the canal and a sprookjestuin (literally, fairy garden). It is open daily from 9am to 7pm for a drink, late breakfast, early lunch, high tea or anytime-dinner. Still not tempted? It has free wi-fi and fantastically designed products that decorate the space and are also for sale. Recommended sandwich: grilled vegetables and hummus. Simply super lekker! See droog.com.

go sHopping at maRqt Grocery shopping is probably not most people’s idea of a fun thing to do on vacation. However, in Amsterdam it could be a nice break between visiting 74

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gEt lost in HEt spui Sometimes the best way to get to know a city is by getting a little lost in its streets. And few cities are more fun to get lost in than Amsterdam. I suggest the neighbourhood of Het Spui for this. And if you’d rather not, get on tram 5, towards Centraal Station, and get off at Het Spui. The word ‘Spui’ comes from the original name of the waters that until 1425 formed the southern border of the city of Amsterdam. Today, the neighbourhood is an eclectic mix of bookshops, including two large English language bookstores (the American Book Center and the British chain Waterstones), little cafés, frites shops, the Amsterdam Museum and a pedestrian-only street given over to high-street stores like Zara, Desigual,

unforgettable memories. A large open-air theatre (openluchttheater) in the middle of the sprawling Amsterdamse Bos, a landscape park, it is the venue of choice for music and theatre productions during long summer evenings. Shows get sold out quickly, so plan your visit well in advance. You can book at bostheater.nl.

takE tHE kiDs to tHE vERzEtsmusEum If you’re in Amsterdam with kids eight years and older, then don’t leave the city without a visit to the excellent Verzetsmuseum. Verzet is the Dutch word for the resistance, and this museum, in its children’s section, tells the story of the Netherlands during World War II through the individual


Clockwise from here: the Foodhallen; Amsterdamse Bos landscape park; Hortus Botanical Garden; and meal preparation at Hotel Droog

interactive stories of four survivors of the war, including Anne Frank’s less famous cousin, Eva. It is an educative experience, with tours in English, Dutch and other European languages. Find out more at verzetsmuseum.org. DICK VAN DE BERGE

MARIA CAVALI

Enjoy a night out at thE FoodhallEn Like the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Amsterdam now boasts its own gourmet indoor food market in the Foodhallen (foothallen.nl). Located in a renovated tram depot, this huge loft-like space offers a number of food stalls, selling everything from artisanal burgers and craft beer to sushi, and bitterballen elevated to Michelin-star levels. Good music, a very cool vibe, hipster-chic fellowdiners and communal tables all make for a very enjoyable evening out.

CatCh a ConCErt at ConCErtgEbouw If Western classical music is your thing

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Clockwise from top left: the organ at St Bavokerk; a biker in Spui Square; Verzetsmuseum; Delft houses in a row; a cosy outdoor café terrace in Amersfoort; and the Foodhallen MARIE CHARLOTTE PEZE

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Hotel Kurhaus in Scheveningen, located near the beach

and you would love to see a concert at Amsterdam’s celebrated Concertgebouw without breaking the bank, do what thrifty Amsterdammers love doing: watch a Gratis Lunchconcerten, performed every Wednesday at the Concertgebouw (except in July and August), starting at 12:30pm, at the Grote or Kleine concert hall. Find more information at concertgebouw.nl

Go for a stroll in the hortus Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe, open every day from 10am to 5pm. Carnivorous plants, a medicinal garden, greenhouses and endangered plant species are sure to provide entertainment to grown-ups and kids alike. The Hortus café, located in an old monument known as the Orangery, is one of the city’s most charming outdoor cafés and a good enough reason on its own to visit the gardens. For more information, go to dehortus.nl.

take a day trip >If you’re done with the canals and coffee shops of Amsterdam and have a day free, go visit Scheveningen, one of the eight districts of Den Haag or The Hague. A modern seaside resort easily accessible from Amsterdam, Scheveningen has much more than an excellent beach and an incredible museum hidden in the dunes. Plan your visit at denhaag.com/en/scheveningen. >Just 15 minutes from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station is the picturesque town of Haarlem. Home to the Frans Hals Museum and the historic Grote Kerk, a favourite thing to do here is to visit on a Saturday when the sprawling square surrounding the cathedral is turned into one of the Netherland’s best and most colourful street markets. >A short drive out of Amsterdam is the charming medieval town of Amersfoort. Known as the birthplace of the artist Pieter Mondrian, his home for the first

eight years of his life is now a museum, Mondrianhuis. It’s worth a visit if you are a fan of his vivid primary-colour art. Visit the New York section of the museum to see Mondrian art on Converse sneakers (not for sale of course!). Walk around the old town centre and through the narrow cobblestoned street lined with craft and antique shops, and cafés selling hand-churned ice cream and freshly brewed coffee. >Like your beer? Then visit Delft but think outside the box, and leave the blauwe ceramics for another day. Instead, head just for the beer. This picturesque town once had over 200 breweries, and a local historian, Aad van de Hoeven, wrote a book that eventually led to the Delft Beer Historical Society organising its famous walking tours (and tastings). For more information, visit bierhistoriedelft. nl (in Dutch, though you get an email address where you could write for more information in English). outlook traveller • may 2018

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Enchanted

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Island

Gustasp & Jeroo IranI navigate through the corridors of a centuries-old gothic abbey and roam the streets that surround it, on an island in northwestern france

T

he deeply evocative Sanskrit word maya described our feelings most succinctly. Was that soaring edifice on a rocky island in the sea an illusion? Or was it a sorcerer’s castle, swathed in an early morning veil of mist? Or could it be the palace of a wicked witch who haunted our darkest childhood fantasies? Le Mont-SaintMichel, a Gothic medieval abbey located on a 264-feet rocky isle just off the coastline of Normandy, France, seemed to pull us forward irresistibly and yet filled us with a sense of foreboding. As we walked towards the Bay of Mont-SaintMichel in which the abbey is located, the over a thousand-year-old offshore Benedictine monastery seemed to move farther away. It is perhaps the indefinable aura of unattainability that clings to this remarkable monument that has held devotees and travellers in thrall for centuries. The abbey evolved into one of the great centres of learning in Europe, and soon became known as merveille de l’Occident— the marvel of the Western world. The epithet is well deserved, for the abbey was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site way back in 1979, and is among the first to figure on the list. (Indeed, UNESCO has 78

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The Bay of MontSaint-Michel glowing in the springtime sun

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Top to bottom: a magnificent stained glass window at MontSaint-Michel’s Saint-Pierre church; boxes of souvenir cookies at a gift shop in the area; and the colourful Grande Rue street

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declared it a technical and artistic tour de force!) And a marvel it is—it seems to rise majestically from the heart of the islet, moulded to its sharp, edgy contours as if it belongs there. The minuscule population (comprising largely of monks) is overwhelmed by 2.5 million tourists a year and a sprinkling of pilgrims. In the days of yore, the abbey’s relative inaccessibility was heightened by the fact that the bay turned into a quicksand mudflat at low tide, and at high tide, the sea rolled in at the speed of a ‘galloping horse’ which made it resemble some mythical hard-to-reach eyrie. Weary pilgrims would cross the mudflat quickly in what were called hip boots, related our guide. In the late 1800s, an ugly causeway was built for easier access, silting up much of the bay. Soon the once-isolated island seemed to merge into the mainland, destroying much of that hard-to-define appeal it drew from that unique sense of remoteness. Today, a low curving bridge on stilts has replaced the causeway and connects the abbey with the mainland, allowing water to ebb and flow around the monument and enhance its maritime aura. We walked down the narrow main street of the village that the serene abbey has birthed and sheltered beneath its ramparts. There, unlike the abbey itself, restaurants serving the local staple, omelettes and crêpes, and shops hawking tourist memorabilia were wreathed in the smell of commerce, jolting us back to the 21st century. The abbey’s stone steps were worn smooth by pilgrims and wayfarers from centuries past who had trudged up, propelled by deep faith and a sense of awe as they gazed at the gilded statue of Archangel Saint Michael, glowing like an avenging angel atop the soaring edifice. Most legends have their roots in a dream and so does the abbey. It goes back to the eighth century, when a local bishop had a vision of Archangel Saint Michael instructing him to build an abbey at the site. It all started with a small church and over the centuries, the vision was transformed into reality. Granite was ferried across the bay and hauled uphill; monastic buildings and a collection of vast chambers were built at a dizzying height. These seemed to enhance rather than detract from the cohesiveness of the structure. This is the original labour of love, we thought, as we drifted through the largely empty Gothic rooms impregnated by piety and a strange sense of eeriness. Was that a meditating monk, sitting in a nook by the window? Were we imagining the chanting of hymns


The garden cloister of MontSaint-Michel is reflective of its Gothic architecture

soaring to the highest point of the abbey—the bronze, sun-stunned, winged statue of the archangel with sword raised? Or was the resonant singing for real? It was only when we would gatecrash a room full of awestruck tourists that the abbey’s grip on our wayward imagination would loosen. It was the slender spires and flying buttresses of the abbey church on top that drew us. From there we drifted into the tranquil cloisters where silence wrapped around us like a second skin and, seeing us,

a few monks slipped away into the dark interiors, as elusive and ephemeral as shadows. By the time we were down on terra firma, it was dusk. The abbey lights came on, making this historic pile glow like a stranded extraterrestrial ship that had been snagged one foggy night on the rocky island. The abbey glimmered thus till midnight, after which the lights faded almost as though, this, one of the most other-worldly sights that France has to offer, was taking a curtain call.

# THE INFORMATION GettinG ther e Paris (approx. 300km) is the most accessible airport, as it boasts of many direct and connecting flights from major Indian cities. Pontorson (9km) is the nearest railhead, connected by a regional train from Paris. Another option is to take the high-speed TGV train from Paris Montparnasse station to Rennes, and then a bus to Le Mont-SaintMichel (approx. 60km). GettinG around Self-drive car rental from Paris

is the best option (around ¤30 for 24 hours). A number of tour operators, including Viator (viator.com) and Paris City Vision (pariscityvision.com), offer roundtrip day tours from Paris starting at ¤135. Alternatively, one can opt for Responsible Travel’s (responsibletravel.com) 6D/5N cycling tour of Brittany and Normandy which includes MontSaint-Michel (¤695).

wher e to eat There are cafés and brasseries within the walls, as well as a few

outside. Mont-Saint-Michel caters to all palates and budgets. For a quick snack visit La Sirène and for fine dining go to Le Relais Saint-Michel.

visa A non-immigration French Schengen visa costs ¤60. The validity of a visa can be from a few days to two years, depending on the discretion of the visaissuing authorities. curr ency ¤1 = approx. `76.

wher e to stay The majority of hotels are located outside the walls of the citadel, while a few are inside. Options include Hôtel Du Guesclin (from ¤100; hotelduguesclin.com), Hôtel Mercure Mont Saint-Michel (from approx. ¤100; accorhotels.com) and Le Mouton Blanc (from ¤180; lemoutonblanc.fr). contact Atout France, the country’s tourism department, at in.france.fr. n gustasp & jeroo irani outlook traveller • may 2018

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cover story Estonia

Here Comes

the Sun

SongS, danceS, traditional food and SuperStitionS—SharmiStha Chaudhuri experienceS midSummer celebrationS in the baltic countrieS

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itting on the edge of my bed, I took the wreath of stale flowers off my hair. A sigh escaped my lips as I rubbed my eyes and stifled a yawn. It had been an extremely long day, oscillating between happiness and despair. In between unpacking my bag and inhaling the lingering smell of the wildflower wreath, I felt drowsy— the glasses of kvass (local drink

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made of rye bread) I had chugged may have been a tad strong. But it didn’t matter; I hummed to myself, looking out of the window. It was close to midnight, but Tallinn’s Old Town was abuzz, celebrating not nightlife but, in fact, daylight. I was in Estonia with a plan to go all the way down to Croatia over five weeks. A European summer is what one dreams of, and this time I was going to explore the eastern part of the continent. However, after spending a night on the floor of a really cold airport outside London for an earlier than early morning flight to Tallinn, if you’re given a scare at immigration, you do tend to hyperventilate. The last thing you want is the immigration officer telling you to “please step aside”. I learnt an important lesson that day—always check your visa with care before departure. Thankfully, the confusion was cleared up and I was allowed to enter the country as long as I promised to cut my trip short or have an extended chat at the Indian embassy in Helsinki, the capital of neighbouring Finland, just a ferry ride away. Estonia is often described as the Silicon Valley of Europe. With more start-ups per head than anywhere else in the world and free public wi-fi, it was here that Skype was born. Breaking free from the former USSR in 1995, Estonia had no choice but to adapt to technology. The government realised it was the only way forward to compensate for a small workforce and the lack of


Midsummer festivities in the Baltic countries are celebrated with music (facing page) and traditional dances

Midsummer ranks even higher than Christmas in the Baltic region outlook traveller • May 2018

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Estonia Clockwise from here: St Olaf’s Church may once have been the tallest building in the world; the bonfire is central to midsummer celebrations; and women dressed up for the festivities

physical infrastructure. For Estonians, the internet is entwined with their national identity. The bus ride from the airport to the Old Town was about getting acquainted with the city. With free wi-fi, phone connectivity wasn’t an issue, and while I looked at alternate routes and airline tickets for my journey onwards, I thought the city was unusually empty. Was I imagining things? “No, not really,” said Joe, the receptionist. “You do know it’s midsummer eve, right?” Seeing my blank face, he tried again, “You know the summer solstice…” Of course I knew what the summer solstice was, but it had slipped my mind that it was today. Everyone knows of midsummer celebrations in the Scandinavian countries. It’s probably the most important holiday here, where darkness and long winters linger. The arrival of summer is much appreciated, and celebrations of the summer solstice predates even Christianity. In the neighbouring Baltic countries, the midsummer is celebrated with equal gusto, as I found out. While locals head out to the countryside, tourists descend to witness the traditional celebrations. Tallinn’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wonderfully preserved medieval architecture, was abuzz. Along its cobbled alleys, as in most old European towns, Tallinn looked pretty as a postcard. A sense of modernity intertwines with the medieval Gothic architecture here. A flea market had been set up at the Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) where one could find wooden spoons to scarves, magnets to kvass, all under the shadow of the spiralling town hall, one of Tallinn’s most recognisable landmarks. Passing by restaurants and cafés and you head towards Toompea Hill, which houses most of Tallinn’s historic monuments, such as the magnificent St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the 13th-century Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin. Saint Olaf’s Church nearby was, in the 16th century, the tallest building in all of Europe. Just walking along the Old Town, seeing monuments juxtaposed with modern cafés serving food made from traditional recipes like elk and ox, and climbing up steps to see a sweeping panorama of the skyline made me realise how alive the city was. It was strange to register the time as I made my way to the bus stop outside the Old Town. My watch said evening but the natural light refused to corroborate. To experience St John’s Eve (also called Jaanilaupäev or Jaanipäev; celebrated on June 24), it’s best to go to the Open Air Museum. Like all traditional festivals, midsummer celebrations have strong folklore roots. Picking up a wreath of wildflowers and placing it on my head, I got a nod of approval from a smiling old woman at the entrance 84

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PHOTOGRAPHS: GETTY IMAGES

of the museum. Walking along the lush green forest, I came across exhibits that showcased Estonian traditions. The place was buzzing with activity. Going a little further, I came to a large clear area where a bonfire was being stoked. The jaanituli (bonfire) is one of the most important aspects of the celebrations. It is said that if you jump over the bonfire, it guarantees a life of prosperity and no misfortune. The fires also keep mischief-making spirits away to ensure a good harvest, as agriculture was important in earlier times. Superstitions play a huge role; it’s even said that sacrificing something like a twig or branch to the fire can grant you all your wishes. Then there is the folklore of the fern flower—that those who find it, will instantly gain wealth. The celebration is also tied in with the country’s victory in the War of Independence (1918–20). The faint music that filled the air got louder as I walked towards another clearing, through a muddy path with a green canopy covering the fluffy white clouds in the blue sky. Men and women dressed in traditional folk attire, in shades of white, red and black with intricate patterns, were dancing in a circle. They went round and round in pairs, dizzyingly coordinated to perfection as folk music blared around us. The fun and laughter was contagious and before I knew it, I was tapping my feet to the beat. People jostled for place with their mobile cameras out, trying to capture the perfect shot for social media. The best part, though, was the display of food. Estonians love their meat, but with new food trends on the rise, there are ample meat-free choices. I surveyed the situation and chose traditional sausages, barbecued meat with potatoes and fresh salad, washing it down with kvass. Midsummer celebrations are called by different names across the Baltic. It’s Jani in Latvian and Jonines in Lithuanian, but the traditions are similar. The importance of the fire, the search for the flower, the long weekend celebrations with near and dear ones away from the cities—midsummer ranks even higher than Christmas in the region. To be able to stay awake through the longest day is a plus as it leads to basking in the morning sun and rolling in the magical properties of the morning dew, but I was too tired. Making my way back to the hotel, the emptiness of the city streets was a stark distraction from the joyous celebrations. While Riga, the capital of Latvia, and Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, too would be similar during midsummer as I would later come to realise, I was glad to have stumbled upon these traditional celebrations accidentally. There’s sheer joy in marvellous discoveries, even more so after a harrowing start. As I burrowed under the covers, the sky showed no signs of darkening. A wildflower was carefully tucked away between the pages of my travel journal where it would forever remain. A memory, never to be forgotten. outlook traveller • May 2018

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COVER STORY Luxembourg

Castle The Little

From the Battle oF the Bulge to quality hiking and rock climBing, luxemBourg may Be one oF Western europe’s most underrated destinations. take it From a resident, says ApoorvA prAsAd


Adolphe Bridge at twilight in Luxembourg City

photoGRAphS: GEttY IMAGES

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Luxembourg Panoramic view of Luxembourg, with the Alzette river, St Jean du Grund Church and Abbaye de Neumünster in view; and (below) looking across the old town from inside Bock Casemates

I

wasn’t quite sure where exactly Lorenzo wanted to go. He was staring down at his phone, furiously barking inconsistent instructions at it. “Take the next left… Oh no that’s not it. Wait, I think you can go around this exit on the right, and then go left up on that bridge there”. “Where exactly are we going?” I asked again. “You’ll see”, he replied, with a mysterious grin. I tried to follow his instructions, not really minding the mystery as long as we were outdoors. Soon, he had me pull over by the side of the elevated bridge. On our left, a used-car store and a sex shop. I laughed out loud. He noticed and said, “No, that’s not it.” On our right, a slightly grubby field and a small copse around a stream flowing under the bridge. Leaving the car in the parking lot of the sex shop, we vaulted over the metal barrier of the bridge and scrambled down a disused trail, past discarded car tyres and random junk. The field across looked like it once contained a factory, but had now been abandoned for years. The mystery deepened. The trail became increasingly muddy as it twisted to become parallel to the stream, becoming just very slightly pastoral, with weeds and straggly wild flowers growing on its edges. A fly or a bee buzzed past my ear. I felt vaguely worried—semi-urban adventures hadn’t been my thing since I broke into an abandoned clubhouse with friends to smoke a cigarette back in middle school. “And voila!” Zo looked at me proudly. He stood precariously in his Converse shoes, balancing on leaves at the edge of a muddy bank above a grubby river. Just across, a few metres away, he pointed

at a rusting metal pillar, quite overgrown with weeds, brush and sad-looking low trees. “It’s the tri-border. The point between Luxembourg, France and Belgium!” I was not impressed. That, in a nutshell, is how the average Western European perceives Luxembourg. It barely registers on their radar. When it does, it’s usually “oh, it’s so boring”. As someone who spent the first part of his childhood in very small and out-of-the-way places, I find that pretty funny, because Luxembourg City is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is—abandoned industrial zones aside—gorgeous. I have a phenomenal view from my apartment of the old walled city rising above the deep Pétrusse and Alzette gorges. An unbroken line of beech, oak, wild cherry and other tall trees march away to my left and right along the Pétrusse valley, and continues as far as my eye can see north and northwest, towards (eventually) Germany. One of my favourite things about living here is the fact that I can walk out of my apartment, head down into either Pétrusse valley or the Grund, and feel transported. Alternating between verdant forest, high rocky cliffs and ruined fortifications, it’s hard to imagine that I’m literally in the

Verdant forest, rocky cliffs and ruined fortifications, it’s hard to imagine I’m in the middle of a European capital 88

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Luxembourg


Vianden Castle and its picturesque setting

Even after a year, I still discover new paths and trails, ruins and historical sites


Luxembourg

middle of a major European capital. A very short walk across the Old Bridge (Al Bréck in Luxembourgish—yes, it’s a language), and I can walk along the Chemin de la Corniche, what’s sometimes touted as the ‘most beautiful balcony in Europe’, towards the rocky promontory of the Bock, the site of Count Siegfried’s castle in 963 AD. A hundred metres straight below, the Alzette wanders along between the Neumünster Abbey (‘new’ because it was rebuilt in the 1600s after the old one burnt down), medieval townhouses and apple orchards. Heading down, I walk along the river to the Clausen district, past Amazon’s European headquarters, towards the Pfaffenthal district. Just across and on the other side of the valley, quite stunning from above, are the reconstructed ruins of the Fort Thüngen, into which is incorporated the Mudam—the Museum of Modern Art. It’s quite a stunning feat of architecture, blending the modern with the old. Even after a year, I still discover new paths and trails, ruins and historical sites. Luxembourg is a small country, 2,500 sq km the shape of a pear, bang on the point where France, Belgium and Germany meet. Once upon a time it was 92

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much larger, a four-petalled flower, but it steadily lost territory in the last several hundred years. A little chunk of the Netherlands isn’t too far away—in fact, the Dutch acquired Luxembourg after the latter lost their past grandeur, territory and influence, so much so that the two flags are nearly the same. The Dutch still like to invade in droves as soon as the sun is out, to go climbing on the sandstone cliffs of Berdorf. Second funny story. A few months ago, the famous 1970s climber Henry Barber contacted me to ask for climbing tips for India. We got chatting, and I told him I lived in Luxembourg. He said, “Luxembourg? But that’s got amazing climbing. Berdorf is magical, it’s one of my favourite places, with little caves and stuff.” So don’t take it from me, take it from a legend. As with much of Europe, there’s evidence of human occupation since Palaeolithic times in what is today the country of Luxembourg. It was later occupied by Celtic tribes, then by the Romans, which is possibly when Luxembourg (Lucilinburhuc, literally, ‘little fortification’) got its name. Since then, its lush valleys and hills have been dotted with historical sites. One day, with my aunt visiting from the US, we

The Mudam’s building was designed by Ieoh Ming Pei


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drove up north to Vianden Castle, a stunningly wellreconstructed European monument. It stands on a rock a hundred metres above the river Our, flowing through the Ardennes. Once a Roman castellum, it went through various periods of construction and subsequent ruin, and even served as a centrepiece during the Battle of Vianden, when four Luxembourgish partisans held

off hundreds of Waffen-SS troops in World War II, just before the Battle of the Bulge. I’m still discovering much of this little country. Even though it’s small, it is a Schengen state— Schengen being a village in Luxembourg where the free-movement treaty was signed—and it’s so easy to wander off for a hike into the Ardennes in any direction.

Pretty buildings in the Pfaffenthal district

# THE INFORMATION GettinG there There are no direct flights to Luxembourg from India, but it is well-served by major airlines via their hubs, including Lufthansa, KLM and Swiss. A good option is Turkish Airlines, which flies via Istanbul and is well-priced (approx. `45,000 round trip). There are also multiple TGVs daily from Gare de l’Est in Paris, a quick two-hour train ride. Plan to spend two or three days in the city, but explore the rest of the country by car. There are pretty forest hikes, rivers and streams, castles atop rock formations and so on. You’re also not far from Trier

in Germany and other interesting places to check out.

Where to stay Unless you’re willing to cough up every day for expensive taxis, stay as downtown as possible when in Luxembourg City. This will give you a chance to get around on foot. Kirchberg and Cloche d’Or are brand new, modern districts, which is not what you’re coming to Luxembourg for, so no point staying there, unless you want easy parking for your rental car. Try to avoid hotels just opposite the train station (Gare) as the area can feel grungy in the evenings. Prices for good hotels

start from around ¤150 a night. Also try Booking.com and Airbnb for apartment rentals.

Where to eat The country has several Michelin-starred or listed restaurants, so definitely look up viamichelin.com. As for secret spots and cheap eats, I (only half-jokingly) think that Risso, a low-key pizzeria on Rue d’Anvers, in the city, serves one of the best Napolitano-style pizzas north of Naples. They won’t give you a table without a reservation even if you talk to them in Italian, and no, they will never turn down the TV when a football match is on. But the pizza is excellent.

other tips >Taxis in Luxembourg are hellishly expensive, and there is no Uber. Walk or use the bicycle-sharing system, or get adventurous with public transport. >If you’re game to try the buses, download the Mobiliteit app (mobiliteit.lu) for schedules and route planning. It’s not always possible to buy tickets on the bus, so download the M-ticket app and hook up your PayPal account to it, or remember to buy your ticket beforehand. >Rent a car at the airport, but remember that city parking isn’t cheap. n apoorva prasad outlook traveller • MaY 2018

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THE PCJ OSM AWARDS GALA NIGHT

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(Clockwise from top left) HI! Shilpa Shetty (standing) greets Athiya Shetty while Rajkummar Rao looks on. BOTH EYES OPEN Priya Prakash Varrier poses for a selfie. OUTSPOKEN Rana Ayyub receives her award from Harsh Mander. HASH BLUE Rina Dhaka presents Sanjay Thumma with his prize. HUMBLE Danish Sait gets his trophy from OSM project editor Vaibhav Vishal. MUTUAL ADMIRATION Vinod Dua presents Rajkummar Rao with his award.

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Title Partner

Our Sponsors:

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outlook traveller • may 2018

Red Carpet Partner


(Clockwise from top left) I SEE An attentive Rajkummar Rao watches events. ROCK, GOLD & SPLENDOUR (above) Models showcase the latest collection of PC Jewellers at the OSM awards. TETE-A-TETE Sunil Sethi, president, FDCI, (right) gets comfy for a chat with Sudhakar Pai, MD, Kurl-On. EARNEST A student from Sathyabhama Institute of Science and Technology speaks about social media. GADGETS & HUSTLE Rapper Divine gets his award from Rajiv and Ruchitra Makhni. PROXY Actor Ramesh Aravind receives the Supernova award on Kamalahaasan’s behalf from Indranil Roy. GLAMOUR OVERLOAD Malini Agarwal and Shahnaz Hussain present Santoshi Shetty with her award.

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city shanghai

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All you need to know About the host cities, whAt to do And where to go if you’re trAvelling for the 2018 fifA world cup in russiA. teXt by sharmistha chaudhuri

The

WorldGUIDe Cup PHOTOGRAPHS: GETTY IMAGES

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world cup russia in love with nature, or trek the Zhiguli Mountains. An evening stroll by the riverside is always enjoyable. How to reach: By air or rail from Moscow and other important cities Matches: 6 Costa Rica v Serbia (June 17); Denmark v Australia (June 21); Uruguay v Russia (June 25); Senegal v Colombia (June 28); Round of 16 (July 2); Quarter-final (July 7)

YeKaterinburg

C

ome June 14, the world will descend upon Russia. It’s been four years since Germany lifted the World Cup, beating Argentina 1–0 in Brazil, and the football fraternity is waiting to see what happens this summer. While Russia has always been a favoured destination among true travellers, it’s usually Moscow and St Petersburg that have been on the itinerary. However, there are nine other cities playing host to World Cup football matches, which opens up a whole new travel experience for the fans.

Kazan Located where the Volga meets the Kazanka, this city is a melting pot of cultures. It is also called the ‘sports capital of Russia’, having hosted other such events. Kazan was founded in 1005, which makes it older than Moscow. Fans can enjoy the architecture of the city, steeped in history with its various mosques and churches, and the Kremlin should definitely be on the must-visit list. How to reach: By air or rail from Moscow Matches: 6 France v Australia (June 16); Iran v Spain (June 20); Poland v Colombia (June 24); South Korea v Germany (June 27); Round of 16 (June 30); Quarter-final (July 6)

Samara Not very far from the Kazakhstan 100

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border, Samara is also known as Kuybyshev, in honour of the Bolshevik leader Valerian Kuybyshev. The diverse city, which sits at the junction of the Samara and Volga rivers, is home to Russia’s aerospace centre where the rocket, Vostok 1, that took Yuri Gagarin to space, was built. If the city is not to your liking, head outdoors to the Samarskaya Luka National Park to fall

This city has a very colourful past. It was where the Romanovs, the last imperial family, were executed in 1918. Today, on that spot, stands the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land. The tall, clean structure with its white walls and golden domes is the city’s most popular tourist site. There’s also the Vysotskiy Viewing Platform from where one can enjoy the beautiful skyline after a long day of football. Also worth a visit: the Boris Yeltsin Museum. How to reach: The Koltsovo International Airport is connected to all important cities Matches: 4 Egypt v Uruguay (June 15); France v Peru (June 21); Japan v Senegal (June 24); Mexico v Sweden (June 27)


Important to know when: June 14–July 15 where: Russia Host cities: 11 Stadiums: 12 teams: 32 Defending champion: Germany

Facing page: the Lighthouse Beach in Sochi (top left); the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land in Yekaterinburg (bottom); and football is very popular among youngsters in Russia

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world cup russia SHUTTERSTOCK

Clockwise from left: monument to Admiral Ushakov in Saransk; interiors of the Annunciation Cathedral in Kazan; and nightlife in Moscow

Sochi

Kaliningrad

nizhny novgorod

Apart from Moscow and St Petersburg, Sochi is a place you may have heard of. The city hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, which, again, had its share of controversies. Apart from football, there is art and history to draw tourists. Visit Joseph Stalin’s summer house (dacha), explore the region’s tea plantations, and take in a view of the Black Sea or even dive into its waters. Sochi’s subtropical climate makes it the unofficial summer capital of Russia. Foodies, be sure to try Caucasian cuisine which is extremely popular there. How to reach: The Adler/Sochi International Airport is well connected Matches: 6 Portugal v Spain (June 15); Belgium v Panama (June 18); Germany v Sweden (June 23); Australia v Peru (June 26); Round of 16 (June 30); Quarter-final (July 7)

The tiny city is wedged between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic sea coast and though it doesn’t offer much in terms of tourist attractions, it does pack in a few surprises. The former military zone is popular due to its UNESCO-protected Curonian Spit, a 98km-long, thin strip of sand dune, which is shared with Lithuania. The renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant’s tomb is at Königsberg Cathedral, which is another attraction. The one thing to definitely take back home is amber, which the city is obsessed with. How to reach: By air or rail from Moscow, or ferry from some European cities. Matches: 4 Croatia v Nigeria (June 16); Serbia v Switzerland (June 22); Spain v Morocco (June 25); England v Belgium (June 28)

One of the oldest cities in Russia, it has survived the onslaught of modern architecture. It was previously known as Gorky in honour of the author. The city was closed to the public during the Soviet era, but today visitors can enjoy art, architecture, and food along with some football. The Kremlin, built in the 16th century, is definitely a major attraction, while the Church of Nativity reminds one of a fairytale castle. Don’t forget to walk down Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, the oldest street in the city. How to reach: Strigino International Airport is well connected Matches: 6 Sweden v South Korea (June 18); Argentina v Croatia (June 21); England v Panama (June 24); Switzerland v Costa Rica(June 27); Round of 16 (July 1); Quarter-final (July 6)

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Rostov-on-Don

st PeteRsbuRg

This port city along the Don river is perfect for a holiday. Experience the culture and lifestyle as you discover local delicacies at Rostov’s Central Market. The city has numerous tourist sites to honour renowned authors like Maxim Gorky and Alexander Pushkin. It also boasts of numerous parks and cafés. After a walk and a bite, do head over to see the Bogoroditsa Cathedral. How to reach: The newly constructed Platov International Airport is open for business Matches: 5 Brazil v Switzerland (June 17); Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (June 20); South Korea v Mexico (June 23); Iceland v Croatia (June 26); Round of 16 (July 2)

This city is home to the country’s many royal palaces. Not only is it on the mustvisit list of travellers in Russia, but is also popular among locals. With seven World Cup matches scheduled at the St Petersburg Stadium, fans can take time out to experience the city in their free time. The Hermitage Museum should be a priority. There’s also the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, the Kazan Cathedral and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. How to reach: There are international flights from all around the world Matches: 7 Morocco v Iran (June 15); Russia v Egypt (June 19); Brazil v Costa Rica (June 22); Nigeria v Argentina (June 26); Round of 16 (July 3); Semi-final (July 10); Third place play-off (July 14)

saRansk

Moscow

This city is named after the river Saranka. The capital of Mordovia, Saransk is culturally and historically rich with beautiful mosques and cathedrals. A visit to the Museum of Mordovia Folk Culture or the triumvirate of beautiful squares— Millennium Square, Victory Square and Soviet Square—is a good idea. How to reach: Daily direct train from Moscow, or by air Matches: 4 Peru v Denmark (June 16); Colombia v Japan (June 19); Iran v Portugal (June 25); Panama v Tunisia (June 28)

The most important location for true football lovers, two stadiums will host World Cup matches. While the Luzhniki Stadium will be used for the opening match, a semi-final and the final apart from other group ties; the Spartak Stadium will host five other ties. The city itself is one of Russia’s most famous tourist attractions—from the Kremlin to the Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum to St Basil’s Cathedral, shopping to art, Moscow offers tourists a variety of experiences. If shopping is one of your interests, head to Izmailovsky Market and, of course, GUM, the city’s most popular department store. Even the Soviet-era metro stations are worth social media photographs. Don’t forget to take time out for a dip at the banyas (sauna). And those who enjoy nightlife will find plenty of options here. How to reach: There are international flights from all around the world Matches: 12 Luzhniki Stadium: Russia v Saudi Arabia (14 June); Germany v Mexico (June 17); Portugal v Morocco (June 20); Denmark v France (June 26); Round of 16 (July 1); Semi-final (July 11); Final (July 15) Spartak Stadium: Argentina v Iceland (June 16); Poland v Senegal (June 19); Belgium v Tunisia (June 23); Brazil v Serbia (June 27); Round of 16 (July 3)

volgogRaD The city’s past is hard to ignore. Formerly known as Stalingrad, its siege during World War II was one of the most devastating in history. The Motherland Calls, the tallest statue in Europe, which commemorates those fallen at the battle, is a popular and sacred attraction. Apart from that, take a walk in Komsomol Park or check out Lake Elton. How to reach: By train from Moscow, or fly in to the Volgograd International airport from other cities Matches: 4 Tunisia v England (June 18); Nigeria v Iceland (June 22); Saudi Arabia v Egypt (June 25); Japan v Poland (June 28)

DiD you know? •

Russia is hosting the FIFA World Cup for the first time

A wolf called Zabivaka is the mascot for the mega-event

Football fans won’t require a visa to enter Russia. But be sure to carry your match tickets and other proof in accordance with FIFA’s regulations

The distance between Yekaterinburg, Russia’s easternmost host city, and Kaliningrad, the westernmost, is over 2,400 km. It’s almost like going from Moscow to London!

Almost 50 per cent of the world’s population tunes in to see the World Cup, making it the world’s most widely viewed sporting event

Brazil has won the most number of titles—five. Italy and Germany are close behind, each with four

Of the 20 World Cups held so far, European countries have won 11 while South American sides have won 9

Italy failed to qualify this time, for the first time since 1958

Peru will be playing for the first time since 1982, the longest absence by any side

A World Cup-winning country is likely to have a baby boom nine months after the event! outlook traveller • May 2018

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travel promotion

Wheeling through the eastern ghats

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isplaying muted shades of browns and greens, Araku Valley’s terrain is hard to decipher at first. But as you climb along the Eastern Ghats from Visakhapatnam, you find a distinct cultural and outdoor insignia in the tribal life, the ancient Borra Caves and the coffee plantations. The array of activities that one can do along with Visakhapatnam is immense, making this a great four-day driving trail for travellers. As part of the ‘Wheels of Wander’ campaign by Maruti Suzuki Alto and Outlook Traveller, four friends—Gulnaz, Priyanka, Nikunj and Tarun—set off to explore the region and its treasures. The journey started in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam with a quick glimpse into the famous Submarine Museum, located inside the INS Kursura submarine of the Indian Navy. After 31 years of service, it was stationed at Visakhapatnam and converted into a museum for people to see the inside of this mechanical wonder. Visakhapatnam also offered the friends a chance to explore the sandy stretches, and drive up to the hilltop park, Kailasagiri, the most famous sightseeing spot of the city. 104

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All four of them got behind the wheel on the first day itself and fell in love with their Maruti Suzuki Alto. It wended up the high Kailasagiri Hill with ease, the AGS (automatic gear shift) helping to concentrate more on the road than changing the gear. The power steering added to the smooth ride. At Kailasagiri, the friends could enjoy a sweeping view of Visakhapatnam and the coastline of the Bay of Bengal. A celebratory vibe filled the air on the hill as scores of other tourists were also around enjoying the views. Other attractions included large statues of Shiv and Parvati, and a children’s park on the hill. The next two days were reserved for the Ananthagiri Hills and the Araku Valley that is wedged between them. The winding roads led them to one of Andhra Pradesh’s most significant destinations for travellers. The dramatic Borra Caves are 700 meters long and one of the longest cave systems in the country. They can be accessed via stairwells and are lit up in dramatic colours, leaving jaws dropped. Needless to say, the group was excited to walk between the stalagmites and stalactites, enthralled by the entire experience.

Araku Valley is also home to one of the oldest tribes in India. The Tribal Museum of the town has preserved enough information about their origin. A peek into the history was followed up with a taste of what their life was like. Everyone tried their hand at archery and then settled in for the evening with a performance of the Dhimsa Dance. The performance started on a high note, and moved to a slower rhythm with the setting sun. Last day in Visakhapatnam was reserved for some action-packed water sports. Jet skiing in the warm waters and some more high-octane action ended the trip on a high. A selfie with the bright exterior of the Maruti Suzuki Alto was imperative—after all, it marked the starting of a brand new friendship with the four wheels.


Discovering hiDDen gems along the arabian sea

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ravelling to off-beat places gives one the opportunity to witness nature in all its glory. Whether it is the gushing of the waves, the rustling of trees, serene sunsets or simply some quiet moments spent in a hamlet, these experiences leave one refreshed. Maruti Suzuki Alto and Outlook Traveller chose the Coastal Maharashtra route for the last of the six ‘Wheels of Wander’ self-driving trails, and selected three childhood buddies, Hersh, Rushaad and Sagar to experience the route. A good set of wheels, childhood friendships and a glorious route—recipe for a memorable road trip. The journey started in Pune, with the three friends taking turns to drive the Maruti Suzuki Alto. Even though they had 170 kilometers to cover to get to the first stop, Harihareshwar, they took their time stopping for chai, food and photos along the way. The comfortable seating, power steering and the AGS (automatic gear shift) made sure that the ride was a smooth one. Leaving Pune’s traffic-

clogged roads for the highway and crossing small villages was invigorating in itself. The next day was all about local flavours—literally and figuratively. Hersh, Sagar and Rushaad travelled to Ganapatipule, crossing Anjarle and a scenic fishing village. The village runs along the walls of the grand Swarndurg Fort, and this is where the three friends watched fishermen repair a boat. They also learnt a new skill—casting a net. A home-cooked meal at a homestay was the ideal way to sample the local Malvan food. What a delight it was to get familiar with the place and coastal life, even if for a few hours. The car, too, added to the stunning topography. A bright orange against the blues and greens of the surroundings, it made for the perfect selfie backdrop. Even though Ganapatipule is known for its temples, the boys were elated to be welcomed by the vast, untouched stretches of sand. Their enthusiasm was enough to beat the heat as they enjoyed leisurely strolls on the beach.

Maybe it was the perfect way to calm the nerves for Tarkarli, the water sports node on this route. The Ganapatipule to Tarkarli stretch was the most exciting as the car had to cross a river on a ferry—a first for the boys. The imposing Devgad Fort, offering a glimpse into history, was on the way. But what lay ahead was the high point of the trip. It was finally time for parasailing, jet skiing and a crazy sofa ride on the Tarkarli waters. For Hersh, Sagar and Rushaad, this was one of the most thrilling moments of the journey. The three friends spent the last few hours of the journey on the beach, relaxing to the sound of the waves, and recounting their favourite moments from the trip.

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travel promotion

Driving through goD’s own Country

E

mbarking on journeys, personal or otherwise, is a mix of excitement, fun and a bit of nervousness. Anwesha and Pallav, recently married, felt the same. They were chosen to drive a Maruti Suzuki Alto for the ‘Wheels of Wander’ campaign with Outlook Traveller, to explore the romantic state of Kerala for four days. The trip was planned in such a way that they would get a flavour of different parts of this serene strip of land; dense thickets of Wayanad, the wild forests and inhabitants of Tholpetty, the calm waters of Nileswaram and finally the coastal cities of Kannur and Calicut. Excited about starting their life together and as travellers on the trip, Anwesha and Pallav soothed the nerves with some music in the car. The drive to Wayanad is largely in the company of forests, crossing Bandipur National Park and the extended Nilgiri biosphere, and consists of some hilly terrain as well. Pallav, in-charge of the

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wheel was comfortable driving through the journey, thanks to the power steering, while Anwesha was the designated music lead of the car. Unspoilt and outrageously green, the Wayanad region has a soothing effect on the eyes and the soul. The couple tried their hand at zip lining and bamboo rafting in the region before stopping to eat local food at a homestay. Warm hospitality and excellent food is the stamp of a great Kerala experience. Going local in the state also involves getting the limbs and palate warmed up for toddytapping and tea-tasting experiences. Both done, the couple drove to the next destination, Nileswaram. Far from touristic clichés, Nileswaram offers a paced out time in the backwaters of the Arabian Sea. Here, one can glide through the narrow network of canals, orienting with the life around the backwaters. Anwesha and Pallav, too, settled into a houseboat and cruised with the soft splashing sound of the boat

in the water, trigger happy at the vast photography opportunities around them. The journey progressed towards Kannur, home to the Muzhappilangad beach—the longest drivable beach in India. Choosing to stroll in the sand, the couple made it just in time to let the sun create a romantic setting in hues of orange for them. The last stretch of the journey was a wistful one, with memories firmly etched in the different glimpses of the state. On reaching Calicut, the last node, they had only one thing to say to each other, “When should we do the next trip?”


Kitchen confidential

playground, delhi

What does a lounge, a food truck and a speakeasy have in common? That’s a question one may well ask about this JW Marriott New Delhi property. Walk across the foyer, pass Akira Back’s restaurant, and you arrive at their newest venture—Playground. A mishmash of styles, Playground tries to offer different experiences to patrons—from the casual to the elusive. The first thing that caught our eye was the food truck, parked across the lounge. It’s not the truck per se but the vibrant graffiti on it that draws you. Yogesh Saini (of Delhi Street Art) has used blues, pinks and reds to brighten the mood. Unlike in cities such as Austin and New York where such trucks, each with specialty foods, are part and parcel of everyday work life, the concept is still growing here. The one in Playground offers an assortment of snacks on the go. Choose between falafel or hot dogs, or upgrade to Canadian poutine among other options. The second part of Playground is the lounge itself, an expansive space with a bar at one end and walls with splashes

of colour that complement the truck outside. Music plays in the dimly lit space. There’s even a drum set for those who fancy themselves the next Ringo Starr or John Bonham. Last but not least, go behind a wall to the exclusive speakeasy Playground boasts of. Its private entrance and invite-only policy creates a heady atmosphere. The bar inside boasts of coveted bottles and prized malts along with plush leather sofas. Among the small plates and delicious cocktails, we preferred the latter. We do enjoy a good beer (this place lists 40 different kinds), but cocktails are their benchmark. Mixologist Tzvika Furman takes centre stage as he creates new among the old. The Spicy Pineapple Margarita is recommended. The habanero and pineapple together with tequila and pink peppercorns create just the mood one needs after a long week. The Tel Aviv native playfully uses herbs and fruits to create freshness in every glass. Playground prides itself in using exquisite ingredients, flying them in from the source. The Artesanal Burrata served

over heirloom tomatoes and a clear tomato consommé was a refreshing start to the evening. The Balik salmon that followed, served with avocado, rocket leaves and pine nuts, was again incredibly fresh. Our favourite was the gorgeous porcini ragout with pecorino on ciabatta. They call it tapas in reference to the quintessential Spanish small plate, and we would definitely recommend it. It’s vegetarian-friendly and the use of truffle oil heightens the flavours. The prawns (Gambas al Ajillo) and purple potato croquettes fell short of expectations, as did the ‘Hungover Burger’—a massive one-pound tenderloin patty, to be shared after a night of drunken stupor. The smoked pork ribs were ordinary, as were the chicken wings. However, the Valrhona Chocolate Cake more than made up for that. The combination of fudge cake, vanilla ice cream and cookie crumb is a classic, and left a delicious aftertaste as the evening drew to a close. 

n

sharmistha chaudhuri

JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity; Asset Area 4, Hospitality

tasting notes

Artesanal Burrata The humble cheese and tomato combination has been elevated to greater heights

Tapas Mushrooms and pecorino on ciabatta and truffle oil—the combination hits the right notes

Valrhona Chocolate Cake The dark chocolate cake with ice cream and cookie crumb leaves a sweet aftertaste

District, Aerocity; Tel: +91-11-45212121 outlook traveller • may 2018

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An

Evening of

Travel Tales

The Outlook Traveller Awards 2018 were all about celebrating the best of the best in the travel industry. And there were some riveting travel stories too

The storytelling quartet: (left to right) Muzaffar Ali; Aman Nath, Anupamaa Dayal; and Indranil Kar


POwEREd by

AwArds

ASSOCIATE PARTNERS

CElEbRATIONS PARTNER

2018

HOSPITAlITy PARTNER

winners

readers’ awards

T

he stage was set, the lights were lit and excitement brewed as everyone got ready for the 2018 edition of the Outlook Traveller Awards on March 29. The banquet hall at The Grand New Delhi was filled with travel enthusiasts, eminent personalities and, of course, the jury members. Since its inception, Outlook Traveller has brought to its loyal reader base the best in travel—from new ideas and concepts, to old destinations in a new light, treks and trails, accommodation and operators, and, of course, helpful tips so that a traveller has umpteen options to choose from. The Outlook Traveller Awards honour the best of the best—from Indian states to international countries, adventure to wildlife, hotels to luxury camps. It’s a night the Indian travel industry waits for with barely concealed eagerness. The prestigious awards are divided into two—the readers’ choice and jury. This year, the jury members included Aman Nath (chairman, Neemrana Hotels), Manish Amin (co-founder and CIO, Yatra Online Pvt Ltd), Romit Theophilus (director, German National Tourist Office), Milind Bhide (founder, Countryside Holiday Adventures) and Amit Dixit (editor, Outlook Traveller). These eminent individuals deliberated to come up with the winners for 14 categories such as best new tourism initiative and best state and city for tourism, among others. Thanks to Dulux (powered by) and the various partners, Smartwater and Travel Tours (associate), Yatra (online), The Ultimate Travelling Camp (luxury adventure), The Grand (hospitality) and Kingfisher (celebration), the night began with chief guest Muzaffar Ali regaling the audience with his travel tales. The state of Kashmir has always been a muse to the eminent filmmaker, poet and writer, and his stories left the audience with a deep sense of wanderlust. Aman Nath’s anecdotes had a mesmerising effect on the audience. The writer and hotelier, who has multiple interests as he navigates this diverse country where ‘less’ is philosophically understood as ‘more’, had the guests laughing their heads off with his stories. Designer Anupamaa Dayal’s animated speech about the colours of the country and adventure tour operator Indranil Kar’s presentation on the mountains left everyone inspired. And last but not the least, the awards took centre stage. As each nominee was announced, the audience waited with bated breath to catch the name of the winner. Each win was followed by thunderous applause, right up till the last award was announced. As the guests indulged in a lovely dinner spread, the wine and beer flowed freely. Old friendships were renewed and, of course, travel tales were exchanged.

HILL Himachal Pradesh BEACH Goa drIvE Shimla–Keylong, Himachal Pradesh wELLnESS And SPIrItuALIty Kerala IntErnAtIonAL Switzerland IntErnAtIonAL wILdLIfE Kenya IntErnAtIonAL wEddInG Italy IntErnAtIonAL ISLAnd Mauritius IntErnAtIonAL AdvEnturE new Zealand AIrLInE Emirates fEStIvAL Hornbill festival, nagaland rann utsav, Gujarat trAvEL BLoGGEr Archana Singh, travel See write trAvEL InSurAnCE ICICI Lombard


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jury awards State for touriSm arunachal Pradesh City for touriSm Lucknow new touriSm initiative Sunder nursery Park, aga Khan trust nationaL ParK Sunderbans national Park, west Bengal Birding Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kerala adventure touriSm Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir adventure tour oPerator unventured 5

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Luxury tour oPerator abercrombie & Kent outBound tour oPerator SotC Luxury hiLL reSort glenburn tea estate, darjeeling

10 1. The winners pose for a photo-op; 2. Renu Kundaliya, Manager, Trade Sales, MTPA, receiving the award from Gaurav Luthra, President, Corporate Traveller and Head of Products & Supplier Relations, FCM Travel Solutions; 3. Sameer Pathak, GM, Coca Cola India felicitating Husna Tara Prakash of Glenburn Tea Estate; 4. Lisapila Anar, PRO, Government of Nagaland, receiving the award from Parth Udia, Head of Marketing, Akzonobel India (Dulux); 5. Daniele G. Sfregola, Consul, Embassy of Italy, receiving the award for Best Wedding Destination; 6. Vijay Wanchoo, GM, The Imperial, New Delhi receiving the award; 7. ICICI Lombard being felicitated; 8. Ratish Nanda of the Aga Khan Trust being awarded by Rajesh Mishra, Head, Yatra Journeys; 9. Ritu Sharma of Switzerland Tourism with her award; 10. Rajnish Sabharwal, COO, TUTC felicitating Zubair Kutty, Deputy Director, Kerala Tourism; 11. Soman Sreenath Pathy and Kingshuk Biswas of Gujarat Tourism receiving the award; 12. Aarti Shastry of Unventured being felicitated; 13. Rajnish Rai, Head of Sales, TUTC talking about their offerings

Luxury BeaCh reSort The Leela raviz, Kovalam heritage hoteL The imperial, new delhi City hoteL St regis, mumbai Luxury wiLdLife Lodge evolve Back, Kabini


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10 1. The esteemed guests watch intently as the winners are announced; 2. Her Excellency Florence Imisa Weche, High Commissioner Kenya, receiving the award from Parth Udia; 3. A splendid violin performance during dinner; 4. Soman S Pathy of Gujarat Tourism (left), Muzaffar Ali, filmmaker extraordinaire (centre) and Sanjay Bhattacharya, renowned painter; 5. Her Excellency Joanna Kempkers, New Zealand High Commissioner to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ambassador to Nepal, receiving the award for Best International Adventure Destination; 6. The august gathering at the Outlook Traveller Awards 2018; 7. Pamela Kachroo, Assistant Director Tourism, J&K Tourism Development Corporation being felicitated by Aman Nath, Chairman, Neemrana Hotels; 8. Team OT gathers for a photograph; 9. All smiles at the Awards; 10. Aman Nath’s salute; 11. The team from Outbound Marketing; 12. Sameer Chhabra, Vice President, Outlook Group addresses the audience

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Back of the 05.18… Time Traveller Book Reviews Book Time Pass Where on Earth? Picture Post n

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Grumpy Traveller


time traveller Pakistan international airlines, 1960s There was a time when Pakistan ran one of the best airlines in the world. (It was probably the same time India flew a stellar airline as well.) The airline initially began life as Orient Airways in Calcutta in 1946 but shifted operations to a newly independent Pakistan in 1947. In 1955, the airline was nationalised and renamed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). It was the same year the airline started international flights, with a service to London, via Cairo and Rome. It was the first Asian airline to fly the Lockheed Super Constellation and the second Asian airline to acquire a jet aircraft with the induction of a Boeing 707. It was also the first non-communist airline to fly to China. The airline’s slogan, ‘Great people to fly with’, was coined by Pakistani writer and adman Omar Kureishi. It received an extraordinary endorsement from Jacqueline Kennedy, who, after a flight in 1962, hugged the pilot and repeated the tagline. These gorgeous ads, mostly from the 1960s, provide a glimpse into the golden age of aviation, when there was something thrilling about taking a flight. But it’s safe to say that the golden age of PIA advertising is well and truly behind us. Recently, they ran a Facebook post which said “Oh did you say you won’t fly PIA?”, and went on to list all the good reasons one should fly with the airline. (“We are the only Pakistani airline to fly big planes”, “We are the only Pakistani airline with a real business class”, etc, etc). Needless to say, they were royally trolled. Currently the loss-making airline is slated for privatisation. Sounds familiar? outlook traveller • MaY 2018

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Southern Heritage One of my favourite walks in the

books

Western Ghats is to the Naneghat Pass. There’s something unfailingly satisfying about ascending from sea level to arrive at the flat Deccan plateau. So I was

Coromandel: A Personal History of South India By Charles Allen (Hachette India, `699)

pleased to see that Allen enters his chapter on the Satavahanas through Naneghat and the Brahmi inscriptions in its caves. From there he goes on to the 19th-century British officials who documented the inscriptions, the German epigraphist who deciphered the inscriptions as the 2,000-year-old account of Vedic sacrifices performed by Satavahana rulers, the Roman trade that passed through and probably funded the cave inscriptions as well as the Satavahana patronage of a Buddhist revival in the south, and on to recent discoveries of Buddhist sites in Andhra, such as Kanaganahalli, which “will in time become as world famous as Sanchi or Ajanta as one of India’s very few well-preserved early Buddhist sites”. As a cultural history of southern India, Coromandel is meant partly to correct the tendency to equate

India with its north. It’s termed ‘a personal history’, which accounts for the freewheeling narrative style, Allen’s deep engagement with India, and the discretionary omission of large portions of south Indian history. The book begins with prehistory—the hunter-gatherers of India, the advent of agriculture— known through archaeology, language and genetics (though the advances in palaeogenetics in the last few years are not represented). It arrives at the present day via the complex interactions of Jains, Buddhists and Hindus, the evolution of deities and traditions as they played off each other, figures like Agastya and Thiruvalluvar around whom identities were built, the arrival of European colonisers, an account of the formation of Kerala society, a chapter on Islam in the south, and the Dravidian movement of the last century,

all amid the coming and going of rulers and dynasties. Allen writes that colonisation certainly worked to the advantage of the British, but it had some upsides for the colonised, among them the “modern era of Indian historiography and Indian studies”. Coromandel is in part a tribute to colonial British administrators, scholars and Orientalists who began piecing together Indian history. Allen writes engagingly and with a great deal of affection for his subject. He is also a sceptical writer—“History should never be reassuring”—always looking to go beyond legend and myth to arrive at a more nuanced story. Compelling as they are, these stories go off in so many directions that the book seems to lack a continuing thread, a central argument, a resting note. Also, more citations would have been welcome. For example, it is not clear if Allen’s

identification of the Rig Vedic Saraswati river as the Harut comes from his own analysis. The book could have done with some fact checking: there is no Chitaldurga district in Karnataka, Srikakulam is not in northern Odisha, Kappagallu does not mean Peacock Hill, and so on. And I wonder what Allen was getting at when he says M.M. Kalburgi was both a Brahmin and a Lingayat. History is a diffused thing. We may not remember particulars, but everything we’ve read or heard adds to a broad awareness that enriches our experience of place, our sense of how the world came to be what it is. On that account, Coromandel certainly works. There’s much here that probably hasn’t been written about before for a popular audience, and it’s put together with a definite and attractive sensibility. n

srinath perur

On the Shelf A

n ode to nature’s dynamism, Kalidasa’s Ritusamharam, translated by A.N.D. Haksar, is a celebration of the passage of seasons. It is essentially a collection

of short love poems, with changing seasons as the backdrop, and a narrative of lovers reacting to the landscape. The poetry is mesmerising, it teases the imagination with opulent use of imagery—a traveller oblivious to the scorching summer heat, his mind aflame with the fire of longing for his sweetheart; thirsty chataka birds lusting for Ritusamharam: A Gathering of Seasons By Kalidasa; Translated by A.N.D. Haksar (Penguin, `399)

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rain-filled clouds to burst in the monsoon; burning fires in the winter waking dormant desires of separated lovers. One of Kalidasa’s earliest and lightest works, Ritusamharam is a spirited medley of the ubiquitous relationships that nature has with humans and animals alike.


The Grumpy Traveller

enemy at the gates

Something about my face screams Dastardly International Criminal. For rarely have I ever crossed airport security on an overseas trip without being stopped. Carrying explosives, smuggling alcohol, possessing a counterfeit visa—I’ve been accused of a variety of imagined transgressions. It all started the first time I travelled outside India—on a meticulously planned and painstakingly saved-for dream trip to the UK’s Lake District—right at at the immigration counter. “Where did you get this visa from?” The disagreeable gent waved my passport in my face. That was more than a decade ago, a one-off intimidation attempt of a novice traveller. Fortunately, immigration officers are not given to such theatrics these days. In fact, on a trip to Singapore many years later, the immigration guy actually smiled. It scared the life out of me and killed my appetite. (I’m one of those oddballs who loves airline food.)

time pass

tribes of kanha

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y host at Chitvan Jungle Lodge, Kanha, sounded very excited when he told me that the next item on my itinerary was a museum visit. The prospect of visiting museums seldom excites me. What I didn’t know was that this one would change my outlook on communities and destinations in general. The Tribal Museum is located in Baherakhar village of Balaghat district, Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the 118

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initiatives of The Corbett Foundation (TCF) in Kanha that showcases the culture and traditions of the Bhumia, Baiga and Gond tribes. The Baigas and the Gonds used to live amid nature, in harmony with the forests, at Kanha. But their dependency on the woods often led to conflicts with the wildlife, which later led to their relocation and rehabilitation. The resulting change in lifestyle posed a threat to the survival of old traditions. That’s where the Tribal Museum comes in. The museum façade is covered in tribal artwork. At the entrance, a little Baiga hut welcomed me into this alternate universe. Recreated in the traditional way, there was a display of numerous things from the tribals’ everyday lives, from tools to musical instruments. Eerily lifelike dioramas sat

Despite coming from a gene pool of inebriates and alcoholics, I am cursed with being a lightweight in the drinking department. That, though, doesn’t stop me from indulging myself at the booze section of duty-free shops. On my way back from Prague, as I raced for my connecting flight to Delhi from Frankfurt, the security official palmed my litre bottles of absinthe and Bailey’s Irish cream. “Please step this way, sir, er, sorry, madam.” The bottles were run through a variety of tests till they were reluctantly returned. My guess is, they were being checked for explosives— not the first time I’ve been suspected of wanting to blow up stuff. My duty-free haul has been questioned numerous times; I’ve been sent back through SHUTTERSTOCK security scanners twice, sometimes thrice; and random frisking is not so random in my case. I suspect somewhere out there is a Racial Profiling 101 manual with my n payal dhar likeness in it.

PRECIOUS KAMEI

on the floor. Bamboo plays a vital role in these two tribal communities. Hence, a majority of the displays were bamboo-based products— from baskets to fishing equipment and even jewellery. When one thinks of The Corbett Foundation, wildlife conservation comes to mind. But TCF does much more than that by helping preserve the traditions of

these communities, which find themselves far from their original homes. For a traveller, such a museum serves as a great source to learn more about the culture of the destination, even one best known for its non-human inhabitants. And yes, the locally made souvenirs on sale at the museum shop are great takeaways. n precious kamei


®


where on earth?

IT DOESN’T MATTER whether you’re an atheist, agnostic or the most penitent of believers; when visiting this tiny country, you cannot give this monastery a miss. The stark white structure, nestled on the edge of jagged rocks, is home to the remains of Archbishop Vasilije. It’s said his blessings have cured many suffering souls. This architectural marvel has withstood the ravages of time, fire and war over the course of the past four centuries. 4name this monastery and the country in which it is located.

GETTY IMAGES

Winner

march 2018 manish sharma pATNA In March, we featured Man Hanging Out, prague. mail your entries to ‘Outlook Traveller Quiz’, AB-10 Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029 by May 30. Or email us at letters@outlooktraveller. com. Only one entry per person will be accepted. One lucky reader who answers correctly will win the Outlook Traveller Getaways Trekking in the Himalayas written by Harish Kapadia. Traveller

www.outlooktraveller.com

Traveller

Harish Kapadia, one of the most celebrated Indian explorers, has trekked extensively in the Himalayas over the past 50 years. He has crossed more than 150 Himalayan passes and explored many unknown valleys. The author of numerous books, his contribution to our knowledge about the Himalayan Range is significant. He is the first Indian in 125 years to receive the prestigious Patron’s Medal from the Royal Geographical Society. He is also the recipient of the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award for Lifetime Achievement and the King Albert Mountain Award. An honorary member of many mountaineering organisations, he is also the Editor Emeritus of the Himalayan Club. He is married and lives in Mumbai. Visit his website at www.harishkapadia.com

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BaRahi JungLE LodgE – ChiTwan, nEPaL

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Rs 18,000/- Double Occupancy in AC Cottage www.barahijunglelodge.com Above packages include accommodation in mentioned category, 1 shared Jeep Safari/ activities, all meals and all applicable taxes.

Place an ad to promote your property or product. The ad must be accompanied by a picture. Contact: Bharat Chawla, 9899556999, 011 33505500 Email id: bharat@outlookindia.com

Call: +91 - 124 - 2571404, 2570404, +91 8800637711 enquiry@pugdundeesafaris.com www.pugdundeesafaris.com

Contact us for Special Summer Offer

Book this space for

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Rs 8500/-

Rs 8500/-

Place an ad to promote your property or product. The ad must be accompanied by a picture.

Place an ad to promote your property or product. The ad must be accompanied by a picture.

Contact: Bharat Chawla, 9899556999, 011 33505500 Email id: bharat@outlookindia.com

Contact: Bharat Chawla, 9899556999, 011 33505500 Email id: bharat@outlookindia.com

We know India Best


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My Name is Red Photograph by uthamakumar vasantarao Kannur, Kerala

Traveller

www.outlooktraveller.com

Traveller

getaways

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Responsible

Responsible

Escapes

Escapes

Traveller

getaways

Outlook Traveller Getaways presents an exclusive guide to establishments that practise “responsible” tourism ■ Stay in a traditional Ladakhi house in a village or a luxury tent on a hillside near Kohima ■ Savour

delicious Malvani food at a homestay in Sindhudurg or gorge on sadya preparations in Palakkad

Responsible Escapes

■ Interact

with local communities, witness the creation of splendid arts and crafts and marvel at the beautiful and varying landscapes of these off-beat destinations

■ Find

additional information on tour operators in this guide to help you discover similar getaways

other PoPular tItleS from outlook traveller getawayS

froNt Cover Design Deepak Suri

122

outlook traveller • MaY 2018

In Partnership with

In Partnership with

ISBN 978-81-89449-79-7 ■ ` 249

` 249

getaways

Wanted! Your travel photos—from Beluga to Belgaon, Kozhikode to Kraków. Give us your best shot (high-resolution 300dpi/at least 2MB, along with a caption and date) by May 20 and win a copy of Outlook Traveller Getaways: Responsible Escapes. Email your entries to picturepost@outlookindia.com.


RNI NO. DELENG/2001/04324 MH/MR/South-112/2012-14, Posted at Patrika Channel Sorting office, Mumbai-1 on 4th & 5th of POSTAL REGD NO. DL-SW-1/4053/18-20 Posted at NDPSO WPP NO. U (SW)-25/2018-20, Released on 01-05-2018, Total pages: 124 every month, Regd / KA/BGGPO/2513/2018-2020 POSTED AT BANGALORE PSO BG - 560026 Published Date: 29-04-2018, Licensed to post without on 4th & 5th of every month. Licensed to post without Prepayment License No . WPP - 53 Prepayment on every 1st & 2nd of every month.

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