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Traveller Fall/Winter 2013-14

Venice Split Dubrovnik Pa r g a Itea Delos Mykonos Dikili Istanbul Marseille Dubai Cameroon New Zealand N e pa l Bolivia

y Alread Ten Years!

Come With Us And See The World!


A word from the editors

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elcome to the Fall/Winter 2013 Issue of Canadian World Traveller, which is being distrib-

uted across Greater Montreal, as well as in select locations in the Greater Toronto Area. The magazine is now in the tenth year of its publication. This issue, as well as all of our previous 40 issues, are archived on our website at www.canadianworldtraveller.com. In addition, an electronic version of Canadian World Traveller is distributed by email to over 9,500 travel specialists across Canada. Please help preserve the forests of our beautiful planet by recycling this magazine after reading it or better still share it with others. In this issue we discover the beautiful Mediterranean aboard Ponant Cruises’

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Canadian World Traveller

super-yacht L’Austral. We start our trip with window shopping in magnificent Venice before visiting the charming Croatian towns of Split and Dubrovnik. We then set sail for the less travelled coastal cities of Parga, Itea and Delos and finish our Greek odyssey in Mykonos. Our cruise then continues to Turkey. First we explore the quiet town of Dikili before ending our grand voyage in the intriguing world-class city of Istanbul. On the other side of the Mediterranean we discover postcard-perfect Marseille before returning back to Asia to visit exotic Dubai. Our trip then brings us south to visit Cameroon which truly has ‘All Africa in One Country’. Our next stop is to the top of the world as we explore mysterious Nepal. We continue our journey by going down under (the equator). First we travel to participate in what is uniquely New Zealand before scaling new heights in Bolivia. Happy Travels!

4055, Ste-Catherine Street West, Suite 158 Westmount, Qc Canada H3Z 3J8 Tel.: (514) 667-2293 www.canadianworldtraveller.com Email: info@canadianworldtraveller.com Publisher Editor-in-chief Graphic Artist Advertising Marketing Distribution Contributors

Michael Morcos Greg James Al Cheong Leo Santini Tania Tassone Royce Dillon Natalie Ayotte Habeeb Salloum Amar Bahadur Shrestha

Ruth Atherley A. M. Macloughlin Steven Sanders Front Cover Photo by Michael Morcos: Cathedral of Saint Domnius Tower, Split, Croatia Disclaimer: Canadian World Traveller has made every effort to verify that the information provided in this publication is as accurate as possible. However, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury, or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from the information contained herein nor for any information provided by our advertisers.

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hy spend days recovering when you can take this homeopathic remedy during the flight and feel fresher upon arrival at your destination. 32 tablets in each packet - sufficient for 45 hours flying time.

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Canadian World Traveller Fall / Winter 2013-14


Office National du Tourisme Tunisien 1155, Rue University, Suite 1014 Montreal , QC H3B 3A7 TĂŠl. : (514) 397-1182 Email : tunisinfo@qc.aira.com Site Web : www.tourismtunisia.com


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Mediterranean Cruise Aboard L'Austral

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Dikili Natural Beauty and History

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Istanbul Window Shopping inV e n i c e

Split First Port of Call

the Crossroads of Europe and Asia

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Postcards from Sunny

Marseilles

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Dubrovnik The Pearl of the Adriatic

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Exotic Dubai From the Traditional to the Ultra-Modern

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Cameroon All Africa in one Country

The Unspoiled City of Parga

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Itea

Between the Sea and mountains

Delos

The Sanctuary of Apollo

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Nepal At The Top of the World

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42 Top Five Things You Can Only Do In

New Zealand 17

Mykonos

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Bolivia Landlocked and Lush The Heart of the Cyclades


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Mediterran Aboard L'Austral by Michael Morcos and Natalie Ayotte

Venice

Split

Dubrovnik

Pa r g a

Itea

Delos

Mykonos


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ean Cruise As the European summer draws to a close, the thoughts of many living on the old continent are of the back to school rush and the looming Christmas period. The crowds from around the world disperse, and while most of Europe begins to wrap up the southern countries enjoy a late burst of sun like nowhere else. The Mediterranean shimmers to a different light whilst the shadows of the picturesque houses along the Adriatic lean further and further away. Romantic is Europe’s forte, and Southern Europe in September and October is perfect getaway, where one can witness the slow pace of the continent that few tourists see. You can travel across Europe by any means without much difficulties – train passes are reasonably priced and even road trips are made easier by the lack of borders between countries. Therefore Europe overland has been the rage for some time. To try something different, I chose the sea option. Cruise liners have been shaking up their packages since the drop in figures after the 2008/2009 recession, and Compagnie du Ponant – based in Marseille, France – is now running a four strong fleet of luxury vessels which are much more resembling to a luxury yacht than a cruise ship. Founded in 1988, the cruise line company is now worldwide and has been the talk of the industry in Europe after significantly raising the standards of what one can expect.

Dikili

Istanbul

The company mainly caters to the French and European market, although there is a growing interest from North America and beyond. French cuisine is the name of game, and Compagnie du Ponet sure know how to do this well. The array of options on the menu made me wish I had more time, as some of the dishes just provoke a second and third tasting throughout the trip. The atmosphere is relaxed and caters for those looking for space, personalized service, and socializing only when desired. Pricing is all inclusive, and includes all meals, open bars and fully stocked mini bars, 24 hour room service and all port charges and taxes, allowing the company to remove any added inconveniences that may arise when one simply just wants to enjoy. Cruises depart from various cities throughout Europe, and I was embarking from one of the continents classics. www.ponant.com See Mediterranean Cruise on page 10

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Window Shopping

Our boat departed from northern Italy in beautiful Venice, where we arrived four days prior in order to wander the mazelike streets with little rush. Venice is a charm and always entices me back, and September is an ideal time to visit. Our bags were already packed and ready for the cruise, so while Venice wasn’t about stocking up on souvenirs before our trip had even begun, one simply can’t help but peer through the windows of the endless boutique stores that squeeze themselves into the narrow alleys and streets wherever they can fit. Stores offer Venetian masks, hand printed fabrics, glass beads and Venetian handicrafts ranging from miniature gondolas to replicas of the Piazza San Marco – I had accidently made my stay in Venice a window shopping expedition, with sudden space in the suitcase for one or two memories to be taken away. www.canadianworldtraveller.com

In Venice it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). The maze of streets in between can become confusing, however there are arrows on most street corners which guide you to at least one of the two locations mentioned. After a night’s sleep we took a Gondola ride to soak up the magic. I requested that the Gondolier steer us through the sleepy, narrow streets instead of galloping along the Grand Canal, which is beautiful from north to south, but can become a waste unless a turn is made into the alleys. From there on Venice is just magic, and remarkably quiet. One of my biggest advices for Venice is – after seeing the main touristic sites – simply allowing yourself to get lost. Take a map – or maybe not – and simply wander deeper and

deeper into the streets, away from the Grand Canal and Main Square, and enjoy Venice to yourself. Even during the high summer season, you can find staggeringly quiet corners of the city, where echoing footsteps can be heard amongst the gentle splashes of water against the old houses. After enjoying Venice in a different light, it was time to set off. Air France has daily flights to Venice from France and departures from major Canadian cities. Air France and the SkyTeam Alliance offer 15,000 daily flights to 1,024 destinations in 178 countries and connections from the best hubs in the world. www.airfrance.com Mediterranean CruiseSee Mediterranean Cruise on page 12


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Split First Port of Call With a population of less than 200,000, one of my first questions after discovering the tranquil seaside city of Split was why more people hadn’t made Croatia’s second largest city a more permanent base. With a wonderful climate reaching almost 3,000 sunlight hours a year, locals have long hailed Split as the world’s most beautiful city. Along with the welcoming weather, history buffs will be thrilled by what remains of the past eras, as Pharaonic Egypt, Ancient Rome, the Renaissance and the present exist side by side in perfect harmony. Arriving to the city by water is majestic in its own right, but arriving in the late summer made disembarking even more special. I was pleasantly surprised by Split from the first minute. A museum in itself, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to Diocletian’s famous Palace. Built in the 4th century AD, the historic center of Split is built around the ruins of this Roman Palace. Wander around the narrow streets within the ruins, follow the signs at the end of each passageway and mix with the locals in the courtyards – some of them packed, others deserted

o and mysterious, while narrow streets leading into the shadows invite the daring. Peristil Square is the main square of the palace, and can be used as a meeting point to gather ones bearings. Diocletian’s famous Palace serves as the heartbeat of Split, however away from this there were a few treasures to take in before leaving. Split is home to two original Egyptian sphinxes, imported from Egypt by Diocletian. One is housed in the aforementioned main square of the palace, while the other can be found in St. John’s Church. Riva is the city’s main promenade, and for those looking for a taste of nature, head to the hill of Marjan, situated to the west of the city. Perfect for relaxed walking, jogging and biking, Marjan means ‘the lungs of the city’ and building work in the area is strictly forbidden. A panoramic view of the city waits at the hills moderate summit of 174 m. Split is perfectly sized for boat cruises. Of course, one could spend many days here exploring, however the city is small enough to be taken in quickly. What is for certain is that the taste I got for Split has made ensured I will be returning with a more open schedule in the future.


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Dubrovnik The Pearl of the Adriatic After a calm, overnight sailing a little further down the Adriatic, we arrived in the aesthetically pleasing city of Dubrovnik. Known throughout the world as the Pearl of the Adriatic, this walled city built on a rock has preserved its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque heritage despite a damaging earthquake in 1667. Palaces, monuments and white stone churches take you on a journey through the various periods and are in perfect harmony. Long considered as a rival to Venice, traces of its illustrious past are to be found throughout the city, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. I had a Sunday morning and afternoon to discover some of the city’s highlights, and began by exploring the city walls on foot, said to be the finest preserved city walls in the world. Built in 13th and 14th centuries to protect the city from attacks, walking amongst the walls – some of which are 25 m high – to the Minčeta Tower will prove to be a highlight of your trip. Pile gate - the city’s wonderfully crafted entrance point - is where many start their exploration of the city, and crossing the drawbridge is a must for any visitor. Other points of interest should include a visit to the Franciscan Monastery and Museum and the 15th century Rector’s Palace. I finished the day by heading up to Mt Srđ by cable car, where one can gaze in awe at a city blessed with remarkable beauty, both naturally and man-made. Viewing the early evening sun over Adriatic is a perfect way to end any day in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. See Mediterranean Cruise on page 14

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G r e e c The Unspoiled City of Parga In the heart of a sheltered cove on the north western shores of Greece in the Epirus province, Parga was Venetian from the 15th to the end of the 18th century. During that period it belonged to Ali Pacha, a high official of Suleiman the Magnificent. Its imposing Venetian citadel built on a steep rocky promontory dominates the town, the port and the sweet smelling pines which surround it. Today it is a lovely seaside resort, crammed between mountains and shimmering waters and buzzing with high spirited locals who dock their boats along the bay whilst the seaside bars, tavernas and restaurants are awash with conversation and local music. With tourism only just beginning to spread to Parga, the city feels completely Greek, the locals are friendlier and crowds are not a problem – yet. With an afternoon to discover the city’s charming cobbled streets, I set off to the Ali Pasha Castle, which is a short 20 minute bus ride from the town center. The views from the top are worth the ride and the ruins of the castle are there to be

explored. Those who have no problems with walking can hike back down to the center, which is all downhill and is just 4 km long. Nearby, the old Greek Fortress, built in the 14th century is also worth a visit. The fortress guarantees spectacular vistas of the city and the nearby beaches, whilst keeping in touch with the history of the region. Back in the city, Parga is buzzing with local life, and I spent an hour with some appetizers admiring the view of the waters, before boarding our ship for the night. The nearby beaches of Valtos and Lichnos are magnificent, almost to the point where they are underplayed and under promoted, however the city is still catering for locals only who don’t need signs and tour guides – something the modern traveler takes great pride in discovering.


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c e Itea Between the Sea and mountains Located at the base of Mount Parnassos, the quiet seaside town of Itea is one of those towns that has convenient access to both sea and mountains. A local hinted that during the autumn, one can ski in the morning and be back on the beach by the afternoon. During the summer however, locals and tourists alike get their outdoors fix by trekking throughout the nearby hills and mountains, which are full of history themselves. Mount Parnassos is mentioned several times in Greek mythology, and is said to house the cave of the Greek God Pan, as well as the hiding place of the Prince Orestes, who was fleeing from the Erinyes after he avenged his father’s murder by killing his own mother. The highlight of any visit to From Itea is surely the Delphi Valley, which doubles as an archeological site and modern town. Located on the other side of Mount Parnassos, we enter the immaculately preserved sacred site whilst clinging to the side of the mountain are the white ruins of Apollo’s famous sanctuary which rise up out of the pines. While Apollo was born on the Island of Delos, Delphi was his home. A grandiose impressive work of art linking the Ionian and Aegean seas, the Corinth Canal is the fruit of a dream dating back to ancient times. The emperor Nero had at one time envisaged its creation. Also wort a visit is the Stadium of Delphi, said to be the most preserved stadium in ancient Greece, and built for the Pythian Games which took place every four years in honor of Apollo. See Mediterranean Cruise on page 16

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G r e e Delos The Sanctuary of Apollo With zero habitants and very little shade, the bright and tiny island of Delos – meaning ‘brilliant’ - has long been considered as one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece. The island was once a thriving port and by 100 BC it had become the financial and trading center of the Mediterranean, and filled with marble statues and temples representing various Greek Gods, while the population rose to 30,000 as workers and families flocked from Rome, Egypt and Syria, establishing a harmonious culture for many years before several attacks and invasions practically wiped out the population. After many attempts to protect and stabilize life on the Island, Delos became uninhabited by the 18th century, a state in which it remains today - however it’s intrigue and historical importance are reason enough to visit. Upon arrival, Agora of the Competialists (150 BC) is normally the first ruins travelers encounter. Meaning ‘the gathering place’, this open yard is where locals and market traders haggled at the stores set up by Roman citizens and

newly free slaves. At the center of the square remain two large shrines, built and dedicated to Hermes and his mother Maia. To the left of the Agora one can find the Sacred Way, which leads to The Sanctuary of Apollo. The paved road is still dotted with marble bases that once housed the statues given to the island by local kings and generals. Whilst little remains of the three great temples which make up the Sanctuary of Apollo, it is still the most important site for visitors today. More inland, I browsed through a selection of impressive artifacts and various statues at the site museum, which includes the several statues of Artemis which were found in the Temple of Artemis, to be found on the north of the sanctuary. As the island of Delos covers just 5 sq. km, it can certainly be explored in an afternoon or morning stop over. We spent the morning here before the short 2 km boat trip to the queen of the Cyclades.


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c e Mykonos The Heart of the Cyclades With its white mills and quaint little port where boats bob lazily at the foot of the terraces, Mykonos never fails to inspire. Upon arrival I could swear I was looking at a classic postcard from Greece. After wandering the island’s labyrinth of whitewashed alleyways I was surprised by many things on an island that is famed for its nightlife. While the center of the main town – also called Mykonos – can be loud at night, the majority of the island is sleepy and romantic. One of the most romantic spots is the colorful “Little Venice” district where the houses are built right on the sea giving it a special ambiance – it’s also known as one of the best sunset spots on the city. Let yourself be tempted by the numerous taverns which line its seafront opposite the old port. I headed up to the looming windmills which can be seen peering over the lower hills upon arrival. Along with the typical architecture they are one of the most recognized images of Mykonos, and were more impressive than I imagined up close with their well-preserved ice white coating. Built in the 16th century, the windmills have been an iconic image of Mykonos ever since due to the islands year round wind combined with its ideal location. Their importance however did begin to decline with the improvements in technology since the First World War. From here you can also take in a beautiful view of Little Venice.

Museum of Mykonos before it closed, which houses an impressive collection of everyday items from 25th-1st century BC, before exploring the nearby Mykonos Town Hall. Away from the island’s main town, Ano Mera Village is worth a visit and is located 8 km from Mykonos town. Ano Mera is the most populated town on the island and offers an authentic experience of life on this enchanting island. Locals take their time arriving to work; local bakers catch up with friends on the street corner whilst office workers discuss the latest news with taxi drivers who are in no rush to drive off for their next ride. I opted for Sunset at Paraportiani, avoiding the crowds at Little Venice and taking a more private view form one of the most photographed spots on the island. Mykonos is an island to salver, to sit back and enjoy, to people watch and to feel the island life from the local’s point of view.

See Mediterranean Cruise on page 18

I just about made it to Archaeological

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T u r Dikili Natural Beauty and History A small and peaceful port on the shores of the Aegean, Dikili has retained its picturesque charm. The town’s center is lined with pine trees, old cobbled streets and cute restaurants, bars and tea shops, whilst children playing on the rough beaches have seemingly more space to wander than they would in the more touristy parts of the country. A hot spot for Turks looking for a quiet vacation spot, yet still relatively undiscovered by the masses, Dikili is beginning to grow fast; apartment buildings are rising out of the hills while boutique hotels and villas are becoming popular business. In and around the town Dikili shares an intense mix of natural beauty and history. A simple drive around the town’s outskirts offers breathtaking views unrivaled throughout the country. The nearby thermal springs are a great draw along with the Crater Lake in Merdivenli village, while the unexplored site of Atarneus offers potential ancient findings dating back to prehistory. From here we head out to explore Pergamum, one of Turkey’s finest archae-

ological sites, not just because of the many and varied ruins but also for its splendid hilltop location. At one time a serious rival to Athens, Alexandria and Rome, Pergamum’s library was the second largest in the ancient world and offers visitors the rich heritage of its architecture in an intimate setting. The Book of Revelation mentions Pergamum as housing the Throne of Satan, and the city it once was, was regarded as one of the eeriest cities in the Roman Empire. Back in the center of town, a stop off the Merkez Mosque is worth the visit, and offers the chance to see a scarce example of wooden architecture dating back to the 1700s.


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k e y Istanbul the Crossroads of Europe and Asia The crossroads between Europe and Asia, where east meets west; Istanbul’s location between the continents spawns new nicknames on a seemingly annual basis. We finished our cruise here, which only led to another adventure that very few cities can offer. Istanbul is just one of the many sides to Turkey, and goes against the grain to what can be expected in most parts of the country. After a relaxing cruise I knew traveler within me would want something to sink its teeth into, and a few days in Istanbul provided the perfect finish. Whilst the capital status belongs to Ankara, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and also one of the world’s largest based on both size and population, with around 14 million people residing here. The sounds of mopeds and scooters battling with the frustrated traffic is a 24 hour affair, the smells of herbs and spices being cooked up on the streets and in the bazaars sizzles through the night and the people work hard yet party even harder as socializing and family outings are common sites amongst the locals. New York has the nickname of the city that doesn’t sleep, despite the fact that most establish-

ments are closed at 2:00am. At 2:00am in Istanbul the night is still young, if it even ages. Istanbul quite simply doesn’t sleep. A brief description of Istanbul could leave many observers pondering. In a city so crowded, how is the safety? Hygiene? Crime? All of these points spring to mind when a booming metropolis catches the eye. It is safe to say that Turkey’s largest city is an exception to the rule. Istanbul is filled with people all day and all night, that’s for sure. The people however are amongst the many bright spots this city has to offer. With a thirst for a happy life, quality service, family and friend’s time and plain old talking, the people of Istanbul embrace and give back, and a sociable tourist can find himself swapping contacts details several times during a short trip. We stayed at the Premist Hotel in Old Istanbul, which proved to be a perfect location and close to almost everything in the city. We were greeted by immaculately dressed porters and soothing mannerisms

See Mediterranean Cruise on page 20

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which dissolve the heat and the outside world. After studying the city beforehand I decided that once rested, I wanted to head straight to Hagia Sophia, also known as the Church of the Holy Wisdom, and acknowledged worldwide as one of the world’s truly great buildings. Rebuilt between 532 and 537 after a destruction and fire destroyed the original two respectively, Hagia Sophia originally dates back to the 4th century, and is regarded as one of the best remaining examples of Byzantine architecture found today. The churches principle dome is held on pendentives:, each of which is intricately decorated. The domes incredible weight goes through the pendentives and onto four huge piers at each corner, which allows for the dome to seemingly float on top of the four arches. Hagia Sophia is an inspiring place which one could visit time and time again to immerse themselves in

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the history of the changes the structure has endured. Heading across the park to the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly albeit unofficially known as the Blue Mosque, Istanbul offers another view of the city’s grand history. It was built to rival the Hagia Sophia, and its blue tiles from which the mosque gained its unofficial name sharply contrast against the white marble, whilst the blue tips of the six minarets stand out above and beyond, piercing the clouds. The buildings inch perfect proportions can be viewed from inside the courtyard when entering from the Hippodrome. The interior is arguably overshadowed by that of Hagia Sophia, however the tinted windows do create a wonderful effect throughout the room while the tiles that run along the walls are one of the standout points from the inside.

For those looking to delve deeper into Istanbul’s intriguing history, look no further than Topkapi Palace museum, which was home to the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years. Here you can view the magnificent courtyards – two of which were exclusive to royalty and VIP’s only - and learn of the endless and balmy stories that surrounded the rulers. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum which sits behind Topkapi Palace can – and should - be visited on the same day. Around three to five hours is sufficient to cover the two depending on your interests. The Archaeology Museum is three museums in one complex: The Archaeological Museum (in the main building), the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art. All three are worth your time and we spent a few hours exploring the vast array of of Turkish, Hellenistic and Roman artifacts, Mediterranean CruiseSee Mediterranean Cruise on page 22


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including Glazed tile images from the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, 800,000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations and medals, as well as the Statue of Alexander the Great. Those going to Turkey will no doubt have heard of the famous Turkish Delight, a sweet treat which is made by mixing honey and grape molasses together with some little flour, beet sugar and also starch, to create a soft jelly like texture which is covered in various shells including walnuts, pistachio and coconut. We headed to the oldest Turkish Delight maker in the city, Haci Bekir, who have been producing the famous sweet for 5 generations since 1777. The store is still in the exact location and building it was when Bekir Affendi opened the doors over two hundred years ago. Here one can not only buy and taste this local treat, but also learn how to make it. Whlst my efforts didn’t match that of the experts, we came away with great memories, souvenirs for the family and a sugar hit to help us march on through this wonderful city. We rounded off a long day with a wonderful meal in the Fenerbahce district of the city. With fantastic views along the marina we encountered Divan restaurant, one of Istanbul’s most highly regarded restaurants. Offering fine international cuisine and well renowned for its service, it’s difficult to find a disappointed punter in the house, as Divan serves up nothing less than the freshest produce and arguable the best restaurant view in the city. A late night stroll around the very touristy but nevertheless entertaining Taksim Square didn’t disappoint, which is a huge plaza surrounded by shops, bars and

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restaurants and hotels. The square is a popular location for public celebrations and events like New Year’s Eve, and is near to the second oldest subway line in the world after the London Underground. With little time remaining, and after finishing up by visiting the Grand Bazaar, strolling the magnificent Istiklal pedestrian street and eating ate at the under the bridge restaurants at the lively harbor, we went off the beaten track and headed to the Asian side of Istanbul, which unfortunately doesn’t receive the touristic attention the European side, but is littered with delights of its own. Start with a pick-me-up at the famous coffee shop at Moda pier, which overlooks the Marmara Sea before exploring the nearby Kadıköy Daily Market which offers local fresh produce, handicrafts and a row of books stores and pastry shops. For those who enjoy a photo opportunity, head to the harbor where you can find magnificent views of the city. After a rollercoaster ride around the city of two continents, we were taken by limousine back to airport by our package providers TravelXclusive, whose professionalism and attentive personal care made both the planning and exploring of Istanbul all the more memorable, and ensured that this visit to the old city certainly won’t be the last. www.travelxclusive.com

Air France has daily flights to Istanbul from Paris and departures from major Canadian cities. Air France and the SkyTeam Alliance offer 15,000 daily flights to 1,024 destinations in 178 countries and connections from the best hubs in the world. www.airfrance.com


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Postcards from Sunny

Marseilles by Natalie Ayotte


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Through rolling hills of charming design and a classic, distinctly French aura, Marseilles has just as much clout as Paris and perhaps even a little more beauty. It’s difficult not to feel completely at ease strolling the city streets, as the spirit and ambiance of this fantastic destination is almost always sophisticated, relaxed and aesthetically beautiful. Recently names the European Capital of Culture, Marseilles offers travellers a perfect introduction to France and all its culinary, artistic and entertainment facets.

Seeing Le Panier by foot Steeped in historical magic, this old quarter of Marseilles boasts beautiful old-world features that can give a new guests a great overall feel for this city. Best experienced by foot, La Panier has been around for centuries, undergoing several transformations during world wars and changes in local culture. Today, people can roam the streets in search of art, admiring religious masterpieces of architecture and simple witness the world float by in a cozy cafĂŠ.

Shopping exploration Not only is walking around Le Panier a wonderful time in itself, this neighbourhood is also bursting with boutique shops, stores and places to pick up souvenirs. Purchase some French fashion or artisan chocolates, then wander into one of the ice cream stories to indulge in a leisurely afternoon.

See Marseilles on page 28

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Noted modern touches Most travellers venture to Marseilles for its traditional look and feel, but this awardwinning destination is also making leaps and bounds in the world of innovation and progression. Although massive churches, enclaves, museums and independently owned restaurants are still the norm, nestled between these staples of Marseilles are new skyscrapers changing the overall city landscape. Piers once abandoned are now home to glass buildings and futuristic silhouettes.

A classic cuisine When it’s time for a full meal, this city presents locals and tourist alike with a wide range of delectable French cuisine, as well as many other options in various disciplines. However, if a fan of fresh seafood, the traditional bouillabaisse made with five types of fish is a must-try on any Marseilles getaway. Pair this at the beautiful harbor side Miramar restaurant with starters such as foie gras with truffle or a dessert of dark chocolate mousse. Finish with some hearty local wine and choose from a selection of cigars at your leisure.

Marseilles progression France is full of old chateaus and stuffy inns that are centuries old. While experiencing these might be worth it for a few days, Marseilles also had plenty of more modern selections for the artistic traveller with a keen eye for design. For instance, Mama Shelter has everything guests need to have an unforgettable and cozy stay, from on-site fresh restaurants to free

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movies. Rooms have been created in simple design to promote a flair for present day Marseilles and its love of stylish, yet uncomplicated space. Catering toward couples, families and everyone in between, Mama Shelter is an ideal choice for a new kind of accommodation in the city.

Immerse in artistic expression No real French holiday can be complete without a visit to the local museum, often full of incredible masterpieces from around Europe in beyond. Recently, the National Museum in Marseilles, or MuCEM, has had a restoration and now sits on the waterfront and seems to blend in with its naturally beautiful background. Design allows for lots of natural light that seamlessly highlights the collection of paintings, statues, artifacts and more form around the Mediterranean and the world. Not to mention, the new part of the building is connected to an old fort, further illustrating the great strides this city had made to connect old with the new. Leave a bit of time for the lines to enter this museum, then don’t miss each special section, including architecture, religious icons, domestic items and much more.

The Marseilles Cathedral One of the best ways to experience a new place is to get an overall lay of the land. Climb to the top of Marseilles Cathedral and soak up panoramic views of this giant urban sprawl. Those who have visited Notre Dame in Paris will be delighted to see no long lines and instead will have ample time to explore undisturbed.


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Marseilles nautical side It would be a shame not to climb aboard a sea-faring vessel at least once while in Marseilles. This can be done in the harbours or along quieter sides of the waterfront, but for a real adventure, sail out to the Calanques. These tower limestone rock formations cut through the blue sky and turquoise waters to create iconic looking natural wonders. They can be reached in a day through a guided boat tour. Upon arrival, soak up the sun and majestic views that stretch nearly 20 kilometres along the city’s water edge. Those feeling more adventurous can try some snorkeling or scuba diving nearby to catch a glimpse of the amazing marine life that call the calanques home. While above the water, keep an eye out for other forms of wildlife, such as the largest lizard in Europe- the Montpellier snake.

Out all night in Cours Julien Touring, dining and boating during the day is a thrill, but Marseilles also shines bright at night. The trendiest spot to enjoy fun after the sun goes down is Cours Julien, where guests can spend hours marveling at all types of offered entertainment. Live music and theater are some of the biggest draws, either in large venues features popular rock bands or at more intimate fringe preforming spaces highlighting more local talent of the stage. DJs and other acts spin well into the night at bars and clubs, celebrating the city’s subculture among its young people. Although it’s mostly off the beaten path, more chefs, artists and other creative types are turning to this neighborhood to showcase their skills.

If in the neighbourhood during the day, make some time to peruse the markets full of fragrant flowers and other wares. Small streets also are covered in some impressive street art, splashed with incredible colours and creativity. Make sure to buy some signature olive oil soap as well in La Licorne that is a specialty in the area.

Libation-themed day trips Of course the city has so much to do there is no reason to leave – besides the copious amounts of scenic vineyards that make for excellent day trips. Travellers can learn about the different varietals and the process winemakers have been perfecting in this region for years. Try areas such as Coteaux d’Aix, Luberon and Provence.

Lasting Memories Marseille’s reputation is ever evolving, with many die-hard travellers falling in love every day. Experience best of both French world with centuries old decadence as well as amazing modern feats of present-day constructions. Most locals have a great sense of pride in their city by the water, which spills over into the hearts of its visitors as soon as they arrive. www.tourismepaca.fr www.visitprovence.com www.marseille-tourisme.com

Air France has daily flights to Marseille from Paris and departures from major Canadian cities. Air France and the SkyTeam Alliance offer 15,000 daily flights to 1,024 destinations in 178 countries and connections from the best hubs in the world. www.airfrance.com

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Exotic Dubai

From the Traditional to the Ultra-Moder by Habeeb Salloum


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Perhaps no other city in the world 31 has so many distinctions as the cosmopolitan city of Dubai, the commercial heart of the United Arab Emirates. Due to the romantic setting of its waterways and shorelines covered in dhows (traditional Arab sailing ships), some travellers label it ‘The Venice of the Gulf’; and, being the second gold trading centre in the world after Singapore, it’s also known as ‘A City of Gold’. Dubai enjoys the world's highest per capita consumption of gold with an average of 36 grams per person.

One city, many names The architecturally stunning buildings, urbane aura and flower-filled parks have led to its other names: ‘Pearl of the Gulf’, ‘A Model of 21st Century Sophistication’, and ‘the Internet and Media City of the Gulf’. Yet, no matter how people refer to it, Dubai has a great deal to offer visitors.

A melting pot of culture Located on the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf, the city has been a meeting place of people since ancient times. Today, there are 150 ethnic groups of people from countries spanning Far East to the Americas, all living and working without much friction in this tolerant urban centre. Dubai is one of the fastest developing commercial and tourism pivotal points in the world. The population of more than two million is throbbing with life, yet retains a relaxed and sophisticated ambience.

Old and new together For centuries, a leading trading hub, this once sleepy Arabian Gulf town has been transformed, in the past few decades, into one of the most opulent and beautiful cities on earth. However, with a culture deeply rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia, Dubai still retains its unique Arab flavour and personality, evolved to fit into an international lifestyle. The city is separated by a 14 km (8.7 mi) long natural salt water inlet called the Creek which divides Dubai into two parts: Deira, the so-called new section (today, there are much more progressive sections); and Bur Dubai, the old. Ancient blends with the ultra-modern along the water. Traditional souks and wind-towers (called alfajas) vie for attention with towering skyscrapers, elegant villas and lush green parks. It is a kaleidoscope of contrasts and an urban centre of refinement. See Dubai on page 32

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Dubai

On top of the curve

Step back in time

Continued from page 31

As a result of government and private investment, Dubai boasts a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities. This includes 457 world-class luxury hotels and other 21st century structures, such as desalination plants and telecommunication systems. The city’s skyline features some of the wildest architecture in the world, almost fantasy buildings that seem to float in the air like the sails of an Arab dhow. A combination of massive investments has produced stunning hotels with first-class service, pushing Dubai to take off like no other tourist destination in modern times in 2012, 10 million visitors vacationed in the city - expected to increase to 20 million in 2020.

Historic sites are also well worth a look even in such a modernized city. Most of Bur or Old Dubai has been renovated as a ‘heritage district’. At the top of the monuments from the past is the Dubai Museum, housed in the restored Al Fahidi Fort - a must for any traveller. Colourful and evocative dioramas complete with life-size figures and sound and lighting effects, vividly depict the atmosphere of everyday life in pre-oil days. Galleries recreate scenes from traditional Arab homes, mosques, souks, date gardens and the most spectacular of all - the portrayal of the underwater world of pearl diving.

Yachts and gold For visitors, a great way to begin exploring this futuristic city is to hire an abra (a small wooden boat) and explore the Creek, the historic focal point in Dubai. There are about 150 abras navigating the Creek which take riders across for less than 30 cents, or can be hired by the hour. The colourful scene of men loading and unloading hundreds of dhows which still ply the ancient trade routes from India to East Africa is like living in the past. On the Deira side, the broad, necklaceshaped promenade is surrounded by stunning, newly-built skyscrapers and the breath-taking Dubai Golf & Yacht Club. Travellers can wander the narrow alleyways which have survived the building boom of recent years. In the Spice Souk, the scents of the Orient can be savoured, and in the hundreds of Gold Souk shops, gold can be purchased at a very low price. The extensive landscaped Creekside Park and the rebuilt historic area at the mouth of the Creek are found opposite on the Bur Dubai side.

Shopping for days For sophisticated shoppers, the city is saturated with some 30 large plazas. Highend merchants offer internationally famous name brands. Annually, they put on a month long ‘Shopping Festival’ in January where all products are sold at 50% discount to buyers from across the globe. Gold merchants, keeping alive the label for Dubai, ‘City of Gold’, give away kilos of gold in prizes during the festival.

Near the museum is a concentration of traditional courtyard houses - under renovation - with wind-towers - the only means of air conditioning before electricity. Beyond, toward the mouth of the Creek, is the restored Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House. A fine example of the region's typical architecture, it houses displays of historic agreements, coins and stamps. A little further on are two rebuilt traditional villages, featuring potters and weavers displaying their crafts.

Head out to the wadis These historic relics, with their exotic aura, are complemented by the striking Dubailand, a Disneyland for children, and seven championship golf courses, as well as journeys to the surrounding desert. Tour companies take tourists on safaris to ride the dunes, sand ski, camel ride, explore the wadis (dry river beds) and feast while being entertained under the starry desert sky.

Odd and fun ventures Crowning these activities, will be a visit to one of huge man-made islands in the shape of palms. These three architectural wonders were designed in a shape of a date palm tree with a massive trunk. Called by romantics the “8th Wonder of the World”, they are the first man-made islands in the world. To top all the modern structures is Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world and ‘Ski Dubai Snow Park’ where Dubaians can experience Arctic snow and winter sports under the blazing sun. These and many other fantasy projects ensure that almost all tourists return satisfied from this exotic destination with a modern lifestyle. Combining the magic of the East with the facilities and pleasures of the modern

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world, Dubai stands out as one of the world’s most dominant must-destinations.

373 hotels and hotel apartments in the city.

Facts About Dubai:

7) The best time to travel to Dubai is from the first of the year to the end of February during the month-long ‘Shopping Festival’ with its street parties as well as its shopping sales and bargains, held in a carnival atmosphere.

1) Dubai has good connections with the rest of the world. Some 130 airlines operate from the city to almost 220 destinations worldwide. The airport has been expanded and has become one of the world’s inter-continental transit centres, processing some 58 million passengers. 2) Most western European, American and Canadian citizens can enter the UAE, without a prior visitor’s visa, they can obtain their visas at the entry points. 3) Autos rent at a reasonable price. A small auto, fully insured, costs about $30. per-day - less if you bargain. Roads are excellent, but beware of two legged tigers driving autos. 4) The U.S. dollar is equal to 3.67 UAE dirhams. The rate has remained the same for decades. Exchange cash or traveller cheques at the money exchangers - they do not take commission. 5) A great way of seeing Dubai is to take a tour of the Creek by traditional dhow. Some of Dubai’s major landmarks can be viewed from this waterway. 6) Major international hotel chains are well represented in Dubai. However, there are other very reasonably priced and excellent abodes to be found throughout the city. The choice is wide. There are

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8) No traveller should leave Dubai without going on a desert safari with its sand duning, camel riding and desert feast. 9) For other activities, attend some of the horse racing and camel racing events held during the cool winter months. 10) Dubai is a shoppers’ dream world - its huge modern malls like the Dubai Mall offer the products of literally all the nations on the globe. The most popular gifts visitors take back home are: Arabian coffee pots, silver and wooden miniature dhows, gold jewellery, Persian carpets and Arabian curved daggers.

Attractions not mentioned in the article worth a visit: Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs), a fantasy hotel built over the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Emirates Towers, modern and pleasing architectural structures. Dubai Fountains, ranked no.1 of 185

major attractions in Dubai. Dubai Metro, a modern and classy city transportation system. Dolphin Bay, one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated dolphin habitats in the world. Wild Wadi Water Park, with its 23 water rides, among Dubai's major tourist attractions

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Cameroon All Africa in one Country By Michael Morcos


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With its elongated triangle shape, just north of the equator Cameroon juts into Western Africa’s sharp curve like a piece of jigsaw, hiding amongst its six bordering countries and salvaging a little chunk of the Atlantic Ocean. These geographical statistics have sometimes proven a thorn in the side to Cameroon’s tourism industry. The noisy neighbours have had a tendency to be, well, quite noisy over the years, putting a damper on the region as a whole and forcing Cameroonians and officials to be a little skeptical towards foreign visitors. Those measures have changed over recent years, and the government has made it clear that tourism can prove a vital boost to the country’s wellbeing. Long gone are the days of intense security checks at airports and borders, and visitors are now free to travel Cameroon at will, exploring one of Africa’s most culturally and geographically diverse landscapes, before rounding off the day with a cold and refreshing Cameroon 33 beer. Predominantly French speaking with several English language regions, Cameroon is one of Africa’s most stable countries on both a social and political scale, and is proving itself to be one of the continent’s most rewarding travel experiences.

Begin with Paradise I started my West African adventure in Cameroon’s largest city, and the country’s unofficial economic centre of Douala. The city houses the regions busiest airport and proves a pleasant surprise to first timers

See Cameroon on page 36

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Cameroon Continued from page 35

who are jetting into Cameroon, offering modern facilities and infrastructure around the vibrant and bustling city. Before I had a chance to explore the city, I rested up before taking a trip to one of Cameroon’s most spectacular settings; the Chutes d’Ekom Nkam (Ekom Falls). The drive towards the falls – the setting for the 1984 movie Greystoke – The Legend of Tarzan starring Christopher Lambert - is magnificent in its own right, as we encountered steep roads which time and time again revealed wonderful views of the surrounding hilly rainforests. Upon arrival I was greeted by the friendly village chief and an awe-inspiring view of the falls where one can take some memorable photos and spend a while taking in the surrounding vistas. Having visited some of the most spectacular waterfalls on the planet, Ekom Falls surprised me for its sheer size and the volume of water which tumbles down irrepressibly. There is then a walkway which allows you to hike down and get closer to the falls, along with some improvised but well-functioning hiking trails around the rain forests.

Douala Back in the city, I spent the day exploring freely and felt extremely welcome by the locals who, despite their hard working lifestyle, are always available for a quick chat – primarily in French – should some advice on local street food or directions be needed. Whilst on that subject, Cassava which is the traditional Cameroonian food sold almost everywhere on the streets – looked too good to turn down and I then found myself with daily lunch time cravings after the first taste. One of the

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biggest sources of carbohydrates in the developing world, Cassava is a fleshy root and is known in the region for its tolerance to droughts and ability to grow with little soil. With a sweet taste, the woody shrub forms an essential accompaniment to a typical meal in Western Africa. An afternoon walk around the Cameroon Artisanal Market should not be missed, where you can find authentic hand-made crafts and a plethora of tasty street food which sizzles through air as the locals barter over produce and gifts. A little closer to the centre, Le Palais des Rois Bell (The Palace of the Kings Bell) is a palace constructed by the Germans in 1905 for the then king Auguste Manga Ndumbe, also known as King Bell. With its Pagoda style design and Asian influence, the palace has very few rooms but does house numerous court yards and a loft on the top floor which once offered the best view of the city. A day or two is more than sufficient to explore the highlights of Cameroon’s largest metropolis, with a few more thrown in for those who wish to sample further both the cuisine and the hospitality of the local people.

Beach Life Life certainly can be a beach in the sleepy coastal town and beach resort of Kribi, which lies just 150km south of Douala. The beaches here are pristine, clean and not jammed with the hordes of holidaymakers normally associated with a beach of this quality. I spent a morning here in complete tranquility, Cameroon 33 in hand, whilst relaxing to the sounds of the


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crashing waves. After a sleepy morning I headed to the nearby Chutes de la Lobé (Lobe Falls), the world’s only spot where you can find a waterfall that enters the Atlantic Ocean through a water cascade. Upon arrival, a late ‘Breakfast of Champions’ was the order of the day, featuring beer and shrimp in a spicy sauce whilst enjoying the sensational seaside views of the cascades before exploring the nearby Grand Batanga Museum to view some of the interesting artifacts on display. We finished the day off with a late afternoon visit to the Camp of the Pygmies, where we were treated to a wonderful lunch and an afternoon of traditional dances and ceremonies from the local people. We were back in Kribi for sunset where we enjoyed a wonderful meal featuring typical Cameroonian fare of Captain Fish accompanied by French bread, maize and yam.

Shadow of the Great Lying amongst the looming Mount Cameroon, I arrived at the tea growing town of Buea, which is the capital of the Southwest Region of Cameroon. Home to several universities and a selection of German colonial buildings, Buea offers tours to the Cameroon Tea Estate (CTE), while further towards the coast in the nearby town of Limbe one can visit the Limbe Wildlife Centre, which is a rescue and rehabilitation centre for animals that face extinction and/or are victims of the bush meat trade, as well as the beautiful Limbe Botanical Gardens where we were treated to traditional African music and dance whilst enjoying a fantastic five star meal.

For those looking to sample some of the history of the region, head further along the coast to Bimbia where you can find the Bimbia Slave Port. Here, locals act out the gone-by days of slavery in a moving yet still entertaining show.

Cameroon’s Capital Whilst the capital doesn’t enjoy the African grandeur of its coastal rival Douala, the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé is an arguably cleaner and more organized version. Close to the Centre Atisanal de Yaoundé, one can pick up handicrafts before taking in some of the various styled government buildings erected in the 70’s that are still around today. Whilst capital cities in this part of the world are making the news for all the wrong reasons, Yaoundé simply stays out of the news due to the tranquility of the city, something rare for a capital city in any part of the world. The main attractions do however lie on the outskirts of the city. Just 30km north, head to Melfou National Park, which rehabilitates and socializes abandoned and orphaned pet animals. The tours which are in both English and French are informative and give visitors an opportunity to get close up to gorillas, chimpanzees and mandrills. The perfect way to end my Cameroon adventure was out in the open air. Close to Yaoundé, we headed to Ebogo where we were given the opportunity to canoe in some of the regions clearest lakes whilst a handful of local children splashed about for a post school swim – an amazing site which summed up my West African journey in a matter of seconds.

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Nepal At The Top of the World by Amar Bahadur Shrestha

M

any know that Nepal is a small landlocked country sandwiched between two large countries, China and India and that its capital is the legendary Katmandu. And everyone knows that Nepal has the highest mountain on earth, the one and only Mount Everest (In 2003, Nepal celebrates the fiftieth year of the conquering of Mount Everest). It is also widely known that Nepal is the homeland of the courageous Gurkhas. However, there are some facts about this small country that should be better known.

The Mountains Nepal has nine mountains that are more than 8000 meters high and nine other peaks taller than 6800 meters. Eight of the world's tallest peaks stand sentinel over this land of beauty. One of the tallest and most beautiful is the Machapuchre Himal in picturesque Pokhara. To have a close and leisurely look at this fascinating mountain, one should spend a few days in

the charming lake city of Pokhara which is just half an hour away by air from Katmandu. As they say, welcome to the tall country.

The Rivers Nepal’s main river systems are Kosi, Narayani, Gandaki, Karnali and Mahakali. They originate in the Himalayas, and are potential energy sources, but at present, one can enjoy the thrill of getting wet, while rafting down the icy waters of the Himalayas. Nepal is wet in more ways than one. This small country produces some of the best-known international brands of beer and liquor. Visitors from countries that have prohibition laws are almost always surprised to find liquor so freely available. Welcome to the wet country.

small kingdom are generally honest to a fault, and quick to have a laugh. The typical Nepali in fact makes the most of every opportunity to enjoy himself. Therefore you will see a lot of festivals in this country. Any excuse will do for having a good time! Welcome to a happy country!

Gurkhas and Sherpas Nepal is home to twenty million people of various hues, the more famous being the Gurkhas and the Sherpas. The Gurkhas are considered to be the best soldiers in the world and the Sherpas, the best mountaineers in the world.Their reputations are well-deserved as witnessed by their exploits and the honours they have received throughout history and in the present-day. Therefore, welcome to the land of the brave and the hardy.

The People

Works of Art

Although industrialization is still slow and poverty levels are high, the people of this

From time immemorial Nepal has given birth to great works of art. The Newar


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community that has inhabited Katmandu for centuries. They were, and still are, fabled artisans. They have created beautiful woodcraft, fascinating bronze and stone work, intricate jewelry in the cities of Katmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Each temple, each town square, every 'durbar', many houses, and numerous statues stand testimony to their immense talent. Welcome to an art lover's paradise.

Animal Sanctuaries & Human Resorts Nepal is also home to a lot of animals, the most famous being the elusive Yeti, the Snow Leopard, the Yak, the Rhino and the Gharial. Of course the visitor has little chance of seeing the mysterious Yeti, but can definitely see the other animals at the half dozen sanctuaries that are also lovely resorts. The best of these, some internationally famous, can be found in the Royal Chitwan National Park situated in the lush forests of the Terai, the plains of Nepal. By air it is barely half an hour from

Katmandu. Here one will also get to know the Tharus, one of the indigenous people of Nepal. Besides the lovely resorts in the Terai, catering to the wild life lovers, Nepal has plenty of resorts located on the hills and mountains catering to the mountain lovers. The best among these are in Nagarkot and Dhulikhel, both quite close to the Capital. Pokhara, some seven hours by road from Katmandu, is according to many, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Fishtail Mountain and the Fewa Lake are its main attractions. Pokhara has numerous world-class resorts as well as economy hotels and lodges with their own unique charms. Welcome to the land of resorts.

Restaurants and Transportation Eating out is a pleasure and there are plenty of restaurants to cater to your particular taste. Of course a tourist should

make at least one visit to a Nepali restaurant if only to drink a little of the local liquor, called 'Rakshi', along with the typical Nepali lunch of steamed rice, lentil soup, fresh spinach, chicken and vegetable curry and tomato pickle. As for travel, a dozen domestic airlines wait to take you all over the country, in airplanes, as well as in helicopters. If you prefer to travel by road, there are hundreds of excellent buses plying the length and breadth of the kingdom. Welcome to the land of comforts.

Land of Peace Religion plays a major part in the everyday life of all Nepalese and the basic principles of Hinduism and Buddhism epitomizes the ideals that Nepal lives by. Peace, tolerance and universal brotherhood amongst all the people of the world. Therefore, we welcome all the world to the land of peace.

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Top Five Things You Can Only Do In

New Zealand by Ruth Atherley

Travelling in New Zealand provides visitors with the opportunity for unique experiences that you can’t have anywhere else. Kiwis, the affectionate nickname for New Zealanders, are incredibly friendly and are known around the globe for their welcoming ways. Chat with a Kiwi and before you know it, chances are, they’re walking you to your destination, you’re visiting their favourite pub or you are at their house for dinner! The following is a list of the top five things you can only do in New Zealand.

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See a Kiwi in its Natural Habitat Seeing a kiwi bird is something that you can only do in New Zealand. The endangered bird is the country’s national symbol. Flightless and nocturnal, kiwis are the only birds that have nostrils on the end of their large beaks. While they may look quite cute, they can be fierce and are highly territorial. In Wellington, on the North Island, Zealandia has over 100 kiwis living at their eco-sanctuary. Their Zealandia by Night tour gives you a chance to see kiwis in their natural habitat foraging for food. On the South Island, Bravo Adventure Cruises’ Kiwi Spotting on Stewart Island tour also gives you a great opportunity to see kiwis in their natural environment.

See Where a Hobbit Lives For fans of the Lord of the Rings movies, there has never been a better time to check out the Hobbiton Movie Set near Matamata on the North Island. Fans can take a guided tour of the incredible film set that showcases beautiful, completed hobbit holes, the pub and other icons. This is unprecedented access to the Middle-earth location.


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Take a Ride on the Steepest Tree-to-Tree Flying Fox in the World

Hang Out on the Beach with Gannets in Hawke’s Bay

Ziptrek Queenstown offers a range of ziplining tours. Their Kea 6-Line Tour provides an adrenalin-filled opportunity to zipline down a hill for about a kilometer on the steepest tree-to-tree flying fox in the world. This thrill-seeking experience also includes a 20-minute guided hike through an ancient native beech forest.

The Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve is home to 20,000 gannets – the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world. Known to Maori as “takapu,” these birds usually breed on islands; yet each year thousands of gannets are found on the mainland here. This unique experience can be reached by 4WD vehicles, tractor and trailer, four-wheel motorbike, and on foot at low tide.

Eat a Fergburger If there is one thing Kiwis like as much as a glass of wine or a local microbrew, it’s food. New Zealand offers visitors the chance to have some incredible taste experiences – none better than Fergburger. The rapt attention people pay to eating these burgers backs up the local claim that these are the best burgers on the face of the planet. Based in Queenstown, this little burger joint only closes between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. and it’s always busy. Big, juicy burgers, great fries and a cult-like atmosphere of food love create a one-of-a-kind experience. The owner has absolutely no interest in expanding or franchising. This little establishment in Queenstown is the only place in the world you can get a Fergburger.


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Bolivia Landlocked and Lush By Steven Sanders


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With South America being the continent with the highest growth in tourism for the last three years, it’s little surprise the adventurous ones are spreading deeper into this remarkable corner of the globe. Argentina, Brazil and Peru may be the headline grabbers, whilst Colombia, Chile and Ecuador have been welcoming more and more visitors of late, but the good vibes coming out of sky high Bolivia are seeing more backpackers and holiday makers explore this Andean nation than ever before.

Bolivia is different. A country of the strong willed, Bolivians eat very well and take great pride in their food, and their refusal to give in to the commercialism that seems to dominate the modern cities of the world is proof of this difference – McDonalds operated at a huge loss in Bolivia for 9 years until they finally decided to close the doors in 2002. Bolivians simply didn’t want it.

See Bolivia on page 46

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Bolivia

Landing above the clouds

Continued from page 45

Flying into the world’s highest airport in La Paz is a surreal experience. The country’s administrative capital – Bolivia has two capital cities - is perched at 3,650 m meters above sea level, with the jungle of skyscrapers clinging to the mountains making me wonder why on earth anybody would decide to build a sprawling metropolis here. Once on the ground, if that’s what you would call it, the city is a rollercoaster of steep hills, chic coffee shops, and cute museums. For those with a taste for musical instruments, the Museo de Instrumentos Musicales is a must visit, where you can learn all about early percussion and string instruments including the famous Bolivian charango. Mirador Killi Killi offers a city view like no other, taking in the sprawling city and the surrounding mountains, while Plaza Murillo can offer a sense of stability after navigating the steep surrounding streets. As a big golf fan, I couldn’t resist in adding another check to my list by teeing off at the world’s highest golf course at the La Paz Golf Club.

Total Terracotta Sucre - Bolivia’s official capital - is a world away from the lights of La Paz and is arguably one of South America’s most beautiful cities. Almost all of the buildings are whitewashed with terracotta roofing and lined up along tranquil, cobbled streets. Only 270,000 people live in Sucre, yet I found it to be a city worth staying for a good few days to relax, people watch, and take in the majestic views from the hill of La Recoleta. One can also find real dinosaur footprints in Parque Cretacico – which also houses life size replicas, while Castillo de la Glorieta and Castillo de la Libertad show off the city’s wonderful architecture. Heading south from Sucre we arrived in the small city of Uyuni, stop off point for

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the fantastic salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. The city practically functions on tourism, with the main street dedicated to tour companies offering a Jeep service to the salt flats. Prices are incredibly variant, so shop around. Both one and three day tours include a lunch stop-off en route at the Great Train Graveyard, containing some of the continents oldest trains. For those returning to the town for the night and craving a taste from home, Minuteman Pizza – set up and ran by an American expat – is hugely popular amongst tourists and has a renowned reputation for offering the best Pizza’s in Bolivia. I finished my trip with a long weekend in the city of Copacabana, situated on the Bolivian side of the world’s highest navigable lake – Lake Titicaca. The city is small and peaceful but offers some of the best trout you will ever taste, caught daily from the lake. A boat tour to Isla del Sol is a must, where one can relax on the northern shore, swim in the clear lake and visit the Gold Museum which houses Inca treasures discovered in the nearby waters.

What to know Altitude sickness is the biggest worry for travelers to Bolivia. Whilst the majority of people are fine flying directly into La Paz, it is recommended that you ascend at a slow pace. Many who enter Bolivia overland at a slower rate of ascent rarely report altitude sickness. If flying direct to La Paz, taking Acetazolamide the day before your trip up until a few days at altitude can help. Coca tea is the well-known local remedy. While most tourists leave Bolivia with nothing but fond memories, it is advised to exercise caution as you would in any other foreign country, keeping your valuables well hidden and avoiding walking around alone at night. Police are under strict orders not to hassle tourists, so be weary of anybody posing as a police officer and insist on producing documents only at a police station.


Cwt 41 Fall/Winter 2013-14 issue  

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Cwt 41 Fall/Winter 2013-14 issue  

www.canadianworldtraveller.com

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