W O R L D
Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
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Rick Stevesâ€™ Europe
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Welcome to Canadian World Traveller
n this issue, our travels begin with a visit to India’s province of Nagaland, India, at the truly one of a kind ‘Hornbill’ Festival. Our trip continues in Asia, where we visit Suzhou, the
‘Venice’ of China, explore the historical treasures of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) in Bangkok, and then finally get into the spirit of Naha, Okinawa. In Europe, we roam through the sometimes overlooked ruins of medieval castles with Rick Steves and then head south for some Spanish delights on the island of Ibiza. Close by in the Middle East, we enjoy some of the best that Turkey has to offer and then discover the magnificent scenery of Israel’s Dead Sea region before moving on to experience the old and new in Qatar. In the Americas, we travel to the ever popular Myrtle Beach, discover the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, enjoy a frolicking family vacation to some of Florida’s legendry attractions and travel to a wellness retreat at the Sparkling Hill Resort in Okanagan, BC. In our Cruising section we find out that cruise travel is outpacing general leisure travel, as well as the best times to sail to the most
Canadian World Traveller 5473 Royalmount, Suite 224 TMR (Montreal) , Qc Canada H4P 1J3 Tel.: (514) 738-8232 www.canadianworldtraveller.com Email: email@example.com Publisher Editor-in-chief
Michael Morcos Greg James Contributing Editor David J. Cox Graphic Artist Al Cheong Advertising Leo Santini Marketing Tania Tassone Distribution Royce Dillon Contributors: Ruth Atherly, David J. Cox, Susan Campbell, Cherie DeLory, Steve Gillick, Alan Luke, Dwain Richardson Jennifer Merrick, Habeeb Salloum & Rick Steves. Front Cover Photo by Michael Morcos: Nagaland, India
popular worldwide destinations. We then set course for a relaxing Caribbean windjammer cruise on the S/V Mandalay. Finally, we visit many wonderful Norwegian communities with Hurtigruten Cruises.
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C a n a d i a n Wo r l d T r av e l l e r C o n t e n t s
Cruise Section 8
Tu r k e y
Sail Windjammer's S/V Mandalay
Rick Stevesâ€™ Europe
42 When is the Best Time to Cruise?
Stay & Play 60
Myrtle Beach South Carolina
Hornbill festival and so much more in... Article & Photography by Michael Morcos
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
ndia is a land rich in many things. An ancient culture, filled with color, flavor, sights and sounds that can overwhelm the senses. It is a special part of the world that needs to be visited by any serious traveller looking for exotic culture and a glimpse of a disappearing world. As with many parts of the world, India has its hidden gems. The Hornbill festival is one such gem and this is surely not the India that most will associate with!
The festival is named after the Hornbill bird. Hornbills are found in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia and are striking with their long, down-curved bills that are frequently brightly colored. The Festival is an annual event, and is well worth the December visit. As the majority of people of Nagaland depend on agriculture, most of their festivals revolve around this theme. The Hornbill Festival, also called the 'Festival of Festivals' in the northern state of Nagaland, was created as a grand celebration for the many tribes who live in this northern part of Nagaland. The Naga people consider their festivals sacred, with each tribe having their own and participation in them is essential. Knowing this, and to encourage interaction between the tribes and boost Nagaland cultural heritage, the Government organizes this Hornbill Festival every year to bring the tribes together and invite tourists to enjoy the pageantry! The festival runs for 10 days and is the major attraction in both the city of Kohima and in the state of Nagaland. Sixteen different tribes are present at the festival, all from the state of Nagaland and each with their own sections. This is a very colourful event, and the outfits were authentic and worn on a daily basis just the way they were for all past generations.
Visitors are treated to each oneâ€™s unique traditional dress (headdresses and native costumes) and got to taste their traditional foods and drinks, including the hot peppersâ€Śoh the peppers! During the festival there is a hot pepper eating contest. The Nagaland pepper is the self-proclaimed hottest pepper in the world as per the locals. Open to everyone brave enough to enter, the contestants have to eat a large handful of peppers in a certain amount of time. The set-up is ready for anything, with judges, timers and glasses milk on the tables. They even had a doctor and nurses backstage, as there were many contestants who were violently ill and had to get mouth washes and one even had to get a needle injection! In the contest I witnessed, most contestants were in tears, lots were vomiting and a couple were even in convulsions. This was certainly not for the weak; but the winner walked off with a pocketful of money! . For those who survived the peppers, there was delicious Handia (Rice beer) awaiting them. All natural, it is made using ranu tablets, which are essentially a combination of about 20 herbs that act as a fermenting agent. The ranu tablets are mixed with boiled rice and left to ferment. The drink is served cool and was a big hit at the festival The Festival was amazing, very colourful, and was like stepping back in time. The many tribes present are friendly and get along with each other, but that was not always the case. Many have had rivalries and wars against each other. Some were even head-hunters! That practice was only outlawed in the 1970s, and the elder men of the Konyak tribe (fierce head-hunters in the past) have tattoos all over their signifying their triumphs in war and the defeat of their enemies.
Nowadays, the battles are just as fierce, just not as deadly. The tribes now take turns singing, dancing and playing traditional instruments at a small stadium set up for guests with seating for visitors. Aside from that, there were other feats of strength and skill, including games like tug of war between the different tribes. They each also had areas set aside for selling wonderful, hand-made jewellery and weaved baskets with naturally sourced material. Walking around the grounds, what struck me most was how this way of life is almost non-existent in this rapidly changing world, and very hard to find anywhere today. The state of Nagaland is very different from the rest of India. It is in the far Northeast and is located in the part of India that is called the seven the Seven Sister states (states of Arunachal, Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura). These states cover a about seven percent of India's total area, and although there is ethnic and religious diversity within the borders, their political, social and economic spheres are quite similar. Furthermore, the Nagaland people are less like the Indians and more like the Burmese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese and Nepalese as they are located very close to Burma which is only 20 kilometers away. The state has been trying for decades to leave India to form their own country. Back to the festival. It is truly something to behold, and the closing ceremony has fireworks and the biggest bon fire I have ever seen - 12’ high and wide…A sight to behold
Kohima has a page in history from a sad chapter in India that took place during the war with the Japanese. It was in Kohima that the Japanese invaders were finally stopped, but at a great cost of human lives. Had the ‘Allies’ at the time not withstood the onslaught from the East, the Japanese would have broken through the lines and would have gone across into the heartland India. The Kohima cemetery in the middle of town is well kept and is a testament to the many British, Indian and Nagalaner soldiers who laid down their lives. It was quite an emotional and sad visit as many of the men buried there were as young as 15 years old.
Khonoma We also visited the small community of Khonoma. The drive was part of the fun as there was an incredible view around every corner of the winding, twisting dirt roads. Over hills and mountainous terrain, reaching the town is a treat for sightseers and nature lovers. Once in town, the citizens continue to live as they have done for centuries the only difference now is there is one paved stone road and electricity! Life is very slow here and the people truly live off the land. The main food is rice which is grown in magnificent rice paddies between two hills. We saw people washing clothes at a community water fountain gushing with pure, clean mountain water, and others tending to the livestock or weaving things from grass. Though we were surrounded by beauty, the trip was a little melancholy, as the town was another way of seeing the ever disappearing history of the past in Nagaland.
Kohima During the festival, we took a couple of days to explore some nearby towns.
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
To p Fi v e M u s t - S e e S i t e s i n
isiting China tops the bucket list of many North American travelers and according to the latest survey from The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), China will see a 8.7 percent growth in tourism by 2023. While planning the ‘dream’ trip can be a thought-provoking, complex process with so many cities and iconic sites to experience, Suzhou is a hidden gem that offers the perfect combination of rich culture and heritage, classical gardens, friendly locals, and authentic experiences.
Given China’s rapid economic growth and urban expansion, there are few opportunities to experience traditional China, yet Suzhou presents that possibility. With its narrow streets and winding waterways, this city truly lives up to its nickname as “Venice of China.” At the heart of the city is the old town district, the layout of which has remained unchanged over 2,500 years. No matter what time of year visitors plan to experience Suzhou’s distinct cultural heritage, the city’s four seasons are welcoming. To help build the ultimate Suzhou itinerary and achieve the perfect ‘Bucket List’ trip, the destination’s top five experiences include:
Be One With Nature with the Famous Suzhou Gardens The famed Humble Administrator’s Garden is considered to be one of the best representations of China’s classic landscape architecture. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the garden is the largest in Suzhou and is home to a number of scenic spots including Lan xue Tang (Hall of Orchid and Snow), Daoying Lou (Tower of Reflection) and Yuanxiang Tang (Hall of Distant Fragrances). Classic zigzag bridges frame the garden with each area having a story to tell, reflecting the purpose and philosophy behind the structure.
Navigate The Grand Canal Like the Great Wall, Suzhou’s Grand Canal is noted as one of the most magnificent and wondrous constructions in ancient China, offering a profound look into China's fascinating, historical past. The Grand Canal, approximately 1,200 miles in length, is the longest man-made waterway in China, far surpassing the Suez and Panama Canals. With 27 sections and 58 historical sites, it was successfully inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014. Running from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in the south to Beijing in the north and connecting different river systems, it has contributed greatly to the Chinese economy in past dynasties.
Although more than 2,000 years old, some parts of the canal are still in use for transportation. Boating on the old Canal is one of the best ways to get a panoramic view of the landscape of typical water towns, which include ancient dwellings, stone bridges of traditional designs, and historical relics. Visitors can take in the Suzhou ‘way of life’ and appreciate the surrounding scenery by enjoying tea and local cuisine at one of the many traditional tea houses along the canal.
Live The Local Life Of A Water Town The ancient water town of Tongli is located on the bank of Taihu Lake and east of the ancient Grand Canal, just more than 11 miles from Suzhou. As one of the six famous water towns, it occupies an area of 81.5 acres and is surrounded by five lakes. The town is divided into seven parts by 15 brooks and by 47 bridges. Among the bridges, the most famous are Taiping (peace), Jili (luck), and Changing (celebration), which have been important landmarks and are regarded as sacred by locals. It’s customary whenever there is an important life occasion such as a wedding for the bride and groom to walk over the three bridges to bring them peace, fortune, and happiness in their lives. The area contains hundreds of gardens, temples, mansions, and the former residences of dignitaries built from 1271 to 1911 during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Among the three most famous gardens are Tuisiyuan, constructed between 1885 and 1887 by an imperial scholar, Chongbentang, and Jiayin Tang.
Tour Iconic Chinese Landmarks One of the 10 great temples in China is the Hanshan Temple, which is located just outside the city center of Suzhou. The scents of street food and the clamor of the city are replaced by fragrant incense and a respectful hush inside the yellow Temple walls, which is broken only by the sounds of the famous chiming bell. Visitors can immerse themselves in the ancient history of the Liang and Tang dynasties as they explore the buildings, climb the pagoda and read the ancient inscriptions. A popular activity is to take in the scenery atop Maple Bridge, a site made famous by the Tang dynasty poem: A Night Mooring by the Maple Bridge.
Explore The Old & New in Suzhou Suzhou is home to more than 730 cultural relics under government protection. More than 60 classical gardens are well preserved, and nine of them are listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. The protected landscape of small bridges, flowing water, winding canals, narrow streets, white walls, cultural relics, and classical gardens make it a unique city. The State Council has placed it among the top 24 cultural and historical cities to visit in China. The best examples of Suzhou’s deep rooted history can be found by walking neighborhoods and visiting key streets such as Pingjiang Road and Shan Tan Street. To grasp the flavor of the ‘new’ city take a ride on Asia’s largest Ferris Wheel located in the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), which boasts a Cultural Convention and Exhibition center, shopping, restaurant and is also home to new hotels such as the Hyatt Regency and the soon to. Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Roaming the Ruins of Europe’s Medieval Castles
Castle ruins can offer jaw-dropping views, like this one at Château of Peyrepertuse in the French Pyrenees. Photo: Rick Steves, Rick Steves' Europe
by Rick Steves ost of Europe’s castles have long been discovered by travelers. These can be fun, offering battle re-enactments, sound-and-light shows, catapult demos, dress-up costumes, fake garden parties, wagon rides, medieval banquets, tourist accommodations, and even Disney-esque amusement park rides.
But beyond the touristy castles are the ones I prefer—the forgotten ones. These are evocative, stony husks without plaster or furnishings—where you’ll see broken stairways and open skies rather than rooftops. Their massive chunks of stone no longer guard anything from anyone. The lichen grows on walls seemingly to cushion stones for a fall they’ve been expecting for centuries. Castle ruins invite you to fill-in-the-moat, ramble the ramparts, and let your imagination roam. Climbing through waist-high weeds on rubble corralled by surviving walls, you can break off a spiky frond and live a sword-fern fantasy. In France’s Dordogne region, I like to hike to Château de Commarque near Sarlat. It’s a 20-minute walk through a forest of chestnut trees to a clearing, where the mostly ruined castle appears like a mirage. The owner, Hubert de Commarque, bought the castle in 1968 and has been digging it out of the forest ever since.
Along Italy’s Amalfi Coast in Ravello, the ruins of the 13th-century Villa Rufolo impressed Richard Wagner enough to place the second act of his opera Parsifal in a setting inspired by the villa’s magical gardens. With its commanding coastline view, the ruins create an operatic experience that doesn’t even need music. In the scenic foothills of the French Pyrenees lies a series of surreal, mountain-capping castle ruins. Like a Maginot Line of the 13th century, these sky-high castles were strategically located between France and the Spanish kingdom of Roussillon. The most spectacular is the Château of Peyrepertuse, where the ruins seem to grow right out from the narrow splinter of cliff. The views are sensational—you can almost reach out and touch Spain. Medieval fortresses are rotting away throughout Britain, their stones picked over and carted away to build other things. In Scotland, St. Andrews Castle is an evocative empty shell that invites you to fill-in-themoat, and the ruins at Urquhart Castle, on
the Loch Ness, are gloriously situated with a view of virtually the entire lake. The grassy hilltop at the textbook motte-and-bailey Norman ruins at Pickering, in the North York Moors, is perfect for understanding the fort’s strategic location. Along the coast of Northern Ireland, the romantic remnants of Dunluce Castle perch dramatically on the edge of a rocky headland. On a stormy night in 1639, dinner was interrupted as half of the kitchen fell into the sea—taking the servants with it. That was the last straw for the lady of the castle, who packed up and moved inland. Ever since, the forces of nature have had their way. Thanks to invading French armies, there are lots of ruined castles in Germany’s Rhineland. One massive edifice, Rheinfels Castle, sits like a dead pit bull above the village of St. Goar. It withstood a siege of 28,000 French troops in 1692. But in 1797, the French Revolutionary army destroyed it. Once the mightiest of Rhine castles, it offers the best ruined-castle experience on the famous river.
The advent of powerful cannons—near the end of the Middle Ages—changed the very architecture of castles. Cannon balls were great levelers. Instead of soaring tall (and vulnerable), castles had to be built squat and stocky. But whether you like your castles intact or in rubble, what’s always free to soar is your imagination. And when that kicks in, then humble and forgotten ruins can rival Europe’s great and famous castles.
Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at email@example.com and follow his blog on Facebook. © 2016 Rick Steves' Europe. All rights reserved.
I’ve clambered through Rheinfels, climbing a dark spiral staircase, as bat dung drifted softly down around me. Standing gingerly at the top of the stairs, I looked out at empty space instead of a floor. Across the expanse was the most finished element of the castle: the still-tidy square holes into which handhewn floor beams had been stuck. What became of the beams and all they supported? Light filtered from slits in the wall. Archers used these narrow breaks to shoot at invaders. Peering out, I surveyed the overgrown terrain beyond the castle; green and brushy today, but once shaved clean to create a no-man’s land, where no enemy could find cover as he approached. At Rheinfels and some other castles, you can crawl through (claustrophobic) underground tunnels leading away from the shell of the castle. This is where explosives would be packed, ready to surprise invading forces and blow them to smithereens if they dared approach the walls. Ruined castle appreciation isn’t for everyone. Some might say it’s a guy thing...to peer, wonderstruck, over the shoulder of a guide who lowers a lamp on a rope into a dungeon that has only one way in or out— a mean-spirited hole in the ceiling. Stories of knights sleeping in wooden boxes filled with hay in dank, ground-floor rooms evoke an era when life was nasty, brutish, and short (like a lot of the people). Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Good to Go! Great Travel Gear and Gadgets
Weâ€™ve asked our globetrotting contributors what they must have when on the go; here are a few of their suggestionsâ€Ś
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Ibiza Article & Photography by Michael Morcos rom Madrid to Barcelona and on to the Mediterranean coast, Spain has a diverse choice of destinations for the world traveler, and it is hard to decide where to go!
Ibiza Fortune smiled on us and after a stop in Mallorca when we took the short flight to Ibiza. What a difference! Where Mallorca has much more grandeur, historical sites and is considered as a center of commerce and politics, Ibiza is laid back, relaxed and a party town! Ibiza started out as a poor, small fishing and farming community. Over time, the island became a popular spot and got its party reputation from the 1960s, when “hippies” arrived, bringing peace and free love to the beaches and quiet villages of the island. Though it is still know today for its’ parties, it is only at night now, as during the day peo-
ple enjoy the sun, sand, great weather and wonderful food.
Old Town Our first day we enjoyed a guided tour through the old town of Ibiza, Dalt Vila, declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1999. Unmistakably Mediterranean, the cobbled streets and white washed buildings act as the backdrop for this playground for many musicians, artists and movie stars. Our good luck continued as the Las Dalias Hippy Market in Sant Carles was open while we were visiting. This authentic market started in the early seventies and has held onto the “groovy vibe” ever since. There were even many old hippies dressed as they did back then, which gives visitors a glimpse into the past. It was a great atmosphere and one of the major draws in Ibiza. Plenty of great artist and their crafts were on display and for sale and we bought an airbrushed painting of The Buddha and a CD of a local
band. Their music was fantastic! After our tour, we were free to explore the numerous shops and restaurants in the old quarter. Funny enough, we had the streets almost to ourselves as most visitors did not come out until the afternoon, no doubt as most were sleeping in to save energy for their evening in the old port, where the chic night clubs only open up late in the evening!
The Ramparts Surrounding this city of delights are the massive walls, some reaching over 25m in height, and their accompanying seven bastions. Impressive even today, these Renaissance-era ramparts that were designed to withstand heavy artillery are spectacular at night, with floodlights providing a dramatic look. Built to repel pirates, the ramparts now are a pedestrian walkway where visitors can enjoy great views of the Port area and closeby islands.
A tour of the countryside Our visit continued in the town of Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera and getting there along the winding coastal road with breathtaking views from up high was a wonderful trip in itself. The town has many features for a visitor, including the well-known old church and a breathtaking coastline. Our highlights included a memorable lunch at Bar Costa, a restaurant smack on the beach with a view of the clear blue waters and a packed beach of sunbathers. For lunch we had the restaurant’s specialty of Spanish paella with fresh sea food straight from the ocean coupled with great local wines.
Kayaks and bicycles The day would become even more memorable as we went on a kayak ride along the coastline, and there is no better way to enjoy the beautiful coastline of Ibiza, with the bonus of a great workout to burn off those delicious meals. We enjoyed the recommended rides around the famous rock at Benirras beach, where the views are nothing short of spectacular and the rides are tailored to your skill level. Our sporting tour continued with a guided bike excursion around Es Broll de Buscastell, and discovering the site of an ancient freshwater spring. This wonderful ride travels through one of the largest wetlands in Ibiza and weaves through a system of mounds, valleys and vales, a veritable explosion of nature! We also had the pleasure of riding along the country side. It was like being in a fairytale. The olive groves, farms, cows, sheep, forests, fresh air made the experience much more than just great exercise going up and down hills.
cultivator of grapes and wine rather than a simple producer. Our trip consisted of several stops for wine tasting, our favorite being the Bodega Sa Cova in Sant Mateu d’Albarca.
We were treated to a “small winery with a big heart” located in the centre of the island, a lovely example of Ibiza’s special place in Spanish culture. The owner showed us around the facilities and then offered us samples with local specialty finger foods. Excellent wines and gracious hosts made for a wonderful wine experience!
At the beach Platges de Comte, or ‘Cala Conta’, is a special treat for visitors. With sandy beaches, views of the coastline and beautiful turquoise waters, it is one of the best beaches on Ibiza Island. As clear as glass, the water is calm and safe for children, and more experienced swimmers can venture further out, but must be aware of the currents offshore. There are three sandy areas including a small cove reached by a rocky stairway. Though smaller than the big beaches of the mainland, the water is so inviting that very few people remain on the beach anyway!
Sunset in Ibiza Sunset and dinner at the Ses Roques restaurant was a great way to spend our last few hours of our short tour of Ibiza. Located in one of the most beautiful parts of Ibiza, the terrace offers amazing views, with foods both delicious and unique. Authentic and local, I recommend the true flavors of the Mediterranean - fish and seafood , rice, meat , and their salads … The sunset was truly marvelous, and the terrace becomes a romantic retreat for lovers and partners to celebrate the setting sun and the end of a fabulous visit.
Elaborar de vino Winemakers in Spain speak how they elaborar (to elaborate) wines rather than produce them when describing their winemaking philosophy, as they feel the winemaker acts as a
You can read about our Ibiza accommodations in the Stay & Play section of this issue on page 62.
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Photo: Myrtle Beach Tourism
O n a n d O f f t h e B e a t e n Tr a c k i n
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Article & Photography by Jennifer Merrick
ach year, close to a million Canucks flock to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, many returning year after year. What’s the attraction? For some, it’s the golf. “It can’t be beat in terms of value and quality,” says Don Wood, an avid golfer from Kingston, Ontario, who has been coming to Myrtle Beach on a regular basis for 20 years. His wife, Joni Hartman, loves the beautiful beaches and the fact that ocean-front accommodation is reasonably priced. “Every once in a while we try some place else, but we always come back to Myrtle Beach.” Personally, I don't play golf; and since I was travelling in December, it meant that I wasn’t going to be frolicking on the beaches. Besides, I was with my 14-year-old son, and looking for a vacation that was both exciting enough for him and relaxing for me. A tall order to fill, but Myrtle Beach delivered with fun tourist thrills, off-the-beaten-track activities and peaceful surroundings for a muchneeded break.
Tourist Thrills The 196-ft-high SkyWheel was an ideal first stop on our Myrtle Beach vacation, giving us a bird’s-eye-view of its famous boardwalk and beach in the comfort of glass-enclosed gondolas. Afterwards, we strolled along the classic beach town promenade, stopping to listen to a band playing in the parkette. The beach beckoned, and we casually beachcombed for treasures, scanning our eyes over the endless white sands looking for shells and fossilized shark teeth. Thoroughly touristy, but a whole lot of fun, Broadway at the Beach is a 350-acre site teeming with attractions, shops and restaurants. We ventured into a shark tunnel at Ripley's Aquarium, and marveled in amazement as these prehistoric predators glided above us, along with giant stingrays, snappers, sawfish and a sea turtle. The jelly fish also captivated us with their graceful dancelike movements in the lit up, floor-to-ceiling tanks. As we were visiting off-season, there were no crowds and we would have stayed longer, but my 14-year-old was starving (as teen boys always are). A hamburger and milkshake at Johnny Rockets hit the spot, though we both got a bit of a shock when the waitresses burst into a rendition of “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. Apparently singing is what they do at this popular American hamburger chain. But the song was fitting, as we did just that exploring WonderWorks, a hands-on science attraction (impossible to miss because the
building's upside down – yes, you read that right). With rope obstacle courses, laser tag, a hurricane simulator and fighter jet rides, it's perfect for kids of any age to burn off energy and have a blast. www.broadwayatthebeach.com Even after this nonstop activity, my son still had enough pep left in him to beat his mom at a game of mini-golf at Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf, and spend all of his allowance on kitschy souvenirs. “Don't grow up, it's a trap,” says his newly-purchased T-shirt.
Civil War Treasures Delving into your kids’ interests and exposing them to local culture is one of the greatest benefits of family travel. Knowing my son’s love of history, especially when it involves war and weaponry, the Civil War Museum was an obvious choice. It turned out to be very much off the beaten track - even our GPS brought us to the wrong address. We did eventually find it, but I have to admit, I was a little worried about the place I had taken my son to when we first approached. The “museum” had a shooting range, sold guns and displayed a NRA support sign on its door. In fact, at first glance, there was nothing about it that resembled a museum. But when I tentatively asked about this, the manager unlocked a door, switched on the lights, and lo and behold, there was an impressive
array of Civil War artifacts, including maps, flags, medical kits, clothing, guns and swords. At the back were remains from a sunken battle ship that the owner found. The owner found? It became clear that there was quite a story behind the collection. Owner Ted L. Gragg, a Civil War enthusiast, had spent his life searching for the lost Confederate battle ship, CSS Peedee. He was rewarded with its discovery, and founded the museum to house his rare and historically significant collection to ensure that the treasures wouldn’t languish in a warehouse. Out front in the store section, where you can actually buy authentic Civil War relics, my son held a sword and a powder pistol, enjoying this all too much for his mother’s liking. Visitors have the opportunity to fire powder pistols for a fee, and the manager was in the process of making a phone call to see if my 14-year-old could have a go, but I stopped it. I’m all for exposure, but my Canadian sensibilities could only be pushed so far. Instead, he tried out the laser shooting range and played Wild West with a huge smile on his face. www.myrtlebeachindoorshootingrange.com
Peaceful Waters "I rarely go downtown unless we have outof-town guest,” said Paul Laurent, our guide from Black River Outdoors. "This is what I love.” We were kayaking at Huntington State Beach Park, 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach. Looking around, it was easy to see why Paul was so passionate about the area. The grassy coastal scenery was idyllic, and the only other people we saw were a few fishermen and oyster diggers. As we paddled through the calm marshy water, we immediately spotted a Great Blue Heron, the first of many birds on our twohour excursion. We learned about “pluff” mud, which according to Paul, "everyone remembers their first experience with.” It's not quicksand, but one step and you might end up knee-deep or worse in the shiny, dark ooze that can suck you in and swallow your shoes. Then there was the story about Pirate Drunken Jack, who got stranded on an island, now named after him, with a supply of rum. He never got out alive despite shallow water within walking distance from mainland. Perhaps he got stuck in the pluff mud? The tides started to change the marshy landscape, and we headed back to shore. Once again my son was starving, so we ventured into nearby Murrells Inlet for a seafood lunch and to explore. The boardwalk here was
more low-key, though, like its Myrtle Beach counterpart, it had several drinking and eating establishments along it. The birds liked it, too, and almost every wooden post had a feathered friend perched on it, claiming it for their own. Our favourite was the giant pelican who wasn't the least bit shy about us standing next to him. www.blackriveroutdoors.com This was another side of Myrtle Beach -- one that I didn’t expect. I now understand why it’s such a popular destination. Your vacation here can be whatever you want it to be, whether you’re a golfer, beach aficionado, shopper or a nature-loving mom travelling with her thrillseeking, always-starving teenager. If you go:
Southern Bites Yes, there are plenty of fast-food type joints with feasts of fried everything and happy hour specials, but you can also find more upscale dining and local culinary treats to savour. If you’re on vacation, why not indulge a bit, and Thoroughbreds is just the place to do that. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, reminiscent of a grand house, especially in our seat by the fireplace in the library. But it was the food that would be remembered. The house specialty, New York striploin encrusted with coffee and cracked peppercorn, was so tender it hardly needed a knife, and the broiled scallops melted in your mouth. The Caesar salad was prepared table-side, and my son loved it despite the anchovies and asked if I could make it like this at home. That might be difficult. www.thoroughbredsrestaurant.com Bonjour y’all is the fitting slogan for Croissants Bistro & Bakery that pairs European cuisine and Southern home cooking. Creative sandwiches on homemade French bread and Southern classics with a twist have made this place a local favourite. My son declared that his aptly named “Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf” sandwich was indeed much better than mine. And after enjoying the shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese grits, I contemplated moving to the South. www.croissants.net
Blues, Legends in Concert and the Palace Theater all host live productions. We were lucky enough to snag tickets for the Carolina Opry Christmas Special at the Calvin Gilmore Theater. In its 30th season, it is the show to see, and tickets sell out fast. After experiencing it for ourselves, I understand why. The beloved variety show has Southern comedy, along with heart-warming classic songs performed by a large cast of talented artists. We left the theatre humming, basking in the Christmas spirit. The Carolina Opry showcases crowd-pleasing performances throughout the year. www.thecarolinaopry.com Knights on horseback, jousting and sword fighting, falconry, and a four-course meal eaten without cutlery…. What kid could resist Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament? Certainly not mine, and we thoroughly enjoyed cheering on our knights and our meal at this family favourite. www.medievaltimes.com
Accommodation With one of the highest hotel/motel per capita on the East coast, there is no shortage of accommodation and many offer significant discounts, especially during shoulder and off-season. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites and were extremely satisfied with their large family-friendly suites with kitchenettes and hearty breakfasts. The balcony with the ocean view was a highlight of the trip. There is nothing like the sound of ocean waves. Ahhhh. www.hilton.com
Live Entertainment As over 15 million visitors vacation in Myrtle Beach each year, it’s not surprising there are so many music, dance, comedy and dinner shows plus concerts to keep them all entertained. The Alabama Theater, House of Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
A r o u n d T h e Wo r l d
(in 10 pages)
500th Anniversary of the German Beer Purity Law
Thrilling and Harmless Shark Encounters Return to San Diego Brewing the traditional way
Between July and September, the largest annual aggregation of leopard sharks in the world gathers just off the coast of La Jolla, San Diego’s “Jewel by the Sea” renowned for its turquoise coves, white sand beaches and vibrant La Jolla Underwater Park teeming with marine life. At this serene coastal setting, visitors might imagine the dramatic sight of sharks cruising through the sandy shallows sparking panic. However, it’s quite the contrary. When the sharks arrive to La Jolla Shores—recently named the #8 Best Beach in the U.S. by the TripAdvisor 2016 Travelers’ Choice Award—snorkelers, swimmers and kayakers by the dozens head out to the open water to encounter these magnificent creatures up close.
Hops, malt, yeast and water – and nothing else. For around five centuries, the German Beer Purity Law has determined what can and can't go into German beer. It's the oldest food regulation in the world still in force today. The origins of the reinheitsgebot, as it's known in German, are a matter of some dispute. While Bavarian brewers claim it dates back to a document from 1516, their Thuringian colleagues point to a local trading regulation passed in 1434. Not that it makes any difference to the quality of the beer. The reinheitsgebot is rigorously adhered to everywhere in the country.
The following are some fun facts about leopard sharks as well as snorkel/kayak tour offerings and beachfront hotel and resort properties for convenient overnight stays for visitors wishing to experience this remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime natural phenomenon.
China Tourism Introduces New Brand Logo China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) has made “Beautiful China” the tag line of its tourism and introduced a
800th anniversary of one of the Dresden Kreuzchor
new global brand logo. With an overall look as a stamp, the
The Kreuzchor originated back in the 13th century as Dresden's counterpart to Leipzig's St. Thomas Choir. It developed from a Latin school, attendance at which was a prerequisite for participation in the Latin church services. Today, the choir's repertoire ranges from Schütz and Bach via Haydn and Mendelssohn to Theodorakis and other contemporary composers, and its membership numbers around 150 boys and young men. The choir often works with the Dresden Philharmonic and the Sächsische Staatskapelle, and it provides soloists for the opera and undertakes concert tours to the Americas and Asia.
new logo integrates modern messaging with the ancient Chinese art form of calligraphy. The hieroglyph in the background means “travel” in ancient Chinese language, which shows a flag guiding a couple around. The blue color represents the sky, delivering China tourism’s concepts - vitality, harmony and green travel. The red color gives tribute to the Chinese civilization that has been going on for thousands of years. Illustrating an international vision, the “Beautiful China” logo represents China’s promising and welcoming tourism industry.
www.germany.travel Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Maharajas Express World's Leading Luxury Train
The Cook Islands Located in the South Pacific between Samoa and Tahiti, the Cook Islands are made up of 15 tropical islands spread across over two million square miles of ocean. Fewer than 15000 inhabitants call the Cook Islands home, proud to be a sovereign country in free association with New Zealand. No commercialization exists here and no chain hotels, restaurants or stores of any kind are found in the Cook Islands. Boutique family owned and operated hotels and resorts choices in the Cook Islands range from first class indulgence to “live like a local” holidayhomes and everything in between.No hotel is taller than a palm tree. Excellent restaurants are everywhere - Thai, seafood, island, Chinese, Italian - to suit all tastes and budgets. There are a myriad of options for the adventurous: paddle boarding, kite surfing, diving, snorkeling, interior-island hiking tours, swimming in crystal blue lagoons, and lively local craft and food markets held weekly. Tipping is not expected and tax is included in menu prices.
haraja Express – one of the most luxurious tourist train in India was voted as "The World's Leading Luxury Train" for three years running at The World Travel Awards in 2012, 2013
and 2014. www.the-maharajas.com
G Adventures Adds Three New Travel Experiences to Help Empower Women New campaign aims to raise funds for additional women’s projects G Adventures is proud to announce the launch of three new G Adventures for Good community development projects designed to support women in Morocco, Australia and Belize. The launch coincides with the United Nations’ International Women’s Day March 8, and kicks off a month-long campaign by the small-group tour operator called “Planet Her”, which aims to raise awareness and funds for additional projects that will benefit women around the world. The new social enterprise projects announced recently are being integrated into G Adventures’ itineraries, giving travellers access to three unique experiences: In Meknes, Morocco, the Morocco Community Lunch and cultural exchange
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
helps to promote women’s rights, gender equality, and access to the formal economy for rural women in the region. On several G Adventures tours, including the eight-day Morocco Kasbahs and Desert Tour and the nine-day National Geographic Journeys tour, travellers visit the village of M’hoya where they receive a warm welcome from a group of women who serve up a delicious traditional lunch and offer basic lessons in Arabic. In Queensland, Australia, G Adventures travellers have the opportunity to learn about and support the Aboriginal Jirrbal community in Tully, where tourism dollars have helped transform an old railway station into a café and vocational training centre for youth and women. The new Café Chloe, run by four Jirrbal women with G Adventures partner Ingan Tours, offers travellers lunches and training workshops in weaving and Aboriginal arts. In Southern Belize, G Adventures travellers are invited to purchase handicrafts and try their hand at ancient pottery making techniques with a group of female Mayan artisans. The Belize Pottery Cooperative was formed by the local San Antonio Women’s Group to encourage women in the region to share their traditional knowledge with visitors, and earn income that support their families.
Getting into the Spirit of Naha, Okinawa’s Capital City Article & Photography by Steve Gillick anding in Naha Airport can be a hairy experience. I don’t mean it’s dangerous. I mean that when you get into the airport, the baggage conveyor belt is adorned with two large hairy Shisa, the spirit guardians that can be found just about everywhere on the island. These fierce-looking lion/dogs are almost always found in pairs with the closed-mouth male holding in the good spirits and the openmouthed female warding off evil spirits.
And we were about to discover that the spirit of Okinawa’s capital city was exciting, enthralling, colourful and even a bit intoxicating. Okinawa, part of the Ryukyu Island chain is about a 2 ½ hour flight from Tokyo. The 49 inhabited, and 111 uninhabited islands of Okinawa enjoy a subtropical/tropical climate that allows for beautiful, relaxing beach resorts. Okinawa Island is the largest in the chain with Naha lying in the south central area. In the north are resorts, attractions (such as the impressive Churaumi Aquarium) and small villages where Okinawa’s centenarians live. South of Naha you can explore culture and crafts at Okinawa World before wandering about the Gyokusendo Cave with its 1000’s of stalag-
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
mites and stalactites. Then at the southern tip of the island the Himeyuri Peace Museum and Peace Memorial Park commemorate the 200,000 who lost their lives in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. Naha got its name from “Naba” a mushroom shaped stone that lay in the heart of the city. While the stone no longer exists, if you’re looking for mushrooms, you came to the right place. One of the city’s top attractions is the vibrant Makishi Public Market featuring freshly caught fish and seafood and local vegetables. The Goya resembles a cucumber with warts. Its ultra-bitter taste enhances the flavours in dishes such as chanpuru, the local stir-fry, and the national dish, Okinawa Noodles, where thick wheat noodles sit in a savoury broth, topped with seaweed, pork, fish cake and scallions. While exploring the market, we had to do an about-face as we spotted packages of flattened pig faces—a popular spicy treat. While tempted, we preferred to snack on Okinawa’s famous, thick and rich ice cream. Behind the market is the 400 year old Tsuboya Pottery District where the narrow street wends its way past shops and cafes selling everything from sake cups to plates, bowls and decorative art.
Afterward a stroll on Kokusaidori, the main street is the perfect place to shop, relax in a restaurant or bar, or sample some intoxicating spirits in the form of Awamori, a unique Okinawan beverage distilled from Thai Rice and averaging 30-43% alcohol. It’s best consumed straight-up, on ice, or with Shikuwasa juice (sour lime). Back on the street there are cartoon (manga) statues and other surprises that may include an impromptu traditional dance performance or a sanshin (the Okinawa 3-stringed guitar) recital. Shuri (Red) Castle lies just outside the city centre. Originally built in the 14th Century, this former Royal Palace was re-built several times over the years before being completely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa. Reconstructed in 1992, the Castle is a picture perfect attraction for those who love history, art, architecture and the romance of the past. When you’re thinking of enhancing your experience in Japan, consider Naha and the islands of Okinawa. You’ll be in for one spirited adventure.
Dead Sea Adventures Come Alive in Israel
Article & Photography by Steve Gillick
ourists have been flocking to Israel’s Dead Sea region since Biblical times to witness historical events, appreciate stunning natural attractions and pursue serenity and health. This is the area where Lot’s wife looked back at the fire consuming the sinful city of Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt. This is the area where in 73 CE (Common Era) at Masada, 960 Jewish Zealots took their lives rather than submit to capture and slavery by the Roman army. And this is the area where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden in the Qumran Caves, only to emerge two thousand years later when a Bedouin shepherd discovered them. And with discovery and adventure in mind, we travelled south from Jerusalem where almost immediately, the landscape changed from neighbourhoods of trim white buildings, to the bleak, dry, soil of the low hills and distant mountains of the Judean Desert. Heading to the lowest point on the planet at 424 meters below sea level, we had started at 786 meters above sea level in
Jerusalem and in less than one hour we arrived at the monument marking ‘sea level’. Just beyond the spot where a local Bedouin entrepreneur and his camel stood ready for photos, a dramatic sculpture by Or-nah Ran, entitled ‘Awakening’, stretched into the sky with a poem paying homage to the desert, “…magic of sleep and dream, beauty of silence, delicate fragility…”. There is no place to better appreciate that silence and fragility than a visit to Masada. A cable car carries visitors 100 meters to the flat top of the plateau where they explore the buildings, storehouses, residences and synagogue, as well as the three-level palace of King Herod the Great, complete with surviving mosaics. But it’s those quiet moments, staring from the heights of Masada where the stark nature of the Judean desert can best be appreciated. And directly below the cliff are the actual outlines of the Roman encampments and the so-called Roman Ramp that allowed the soldiers to finally overtake the fortress.
below sea level, this is the lowest mountain on earth. From the summit lookout, the views across the Dead Sea to Jordan’s Moab Mountains are spectacular, especially as the setting sun casts a net of colour across the vista. Our final stop for the day was at Ein Bokek, the hotel and resort district right on the shores of the Dead Sea. This is the place to stock up on health products, skin creams and bath salts before heading to the hotel spa. Our treatment consisted of a mud bath where the attendant slathers hot mud all over your body, wraps you in a cocoonblanket to keep in the heat, and then 30 minutes later you ‘float’ out of the change room, totally energized and refreshed. Others headed to the Dead Sea to float in the thick, salty, mineral rich waters. Early the next day a rich golden sunrise transformed the mountains from pre-dawn grey, to a deep royal red, emphasizing that the Dead Sea Region, wrapped in history, adventure and natural beauty, is an experience like no other.
www.goisrael.com Yet, only 20 kilometers away is the oasis of Ein Gedi (literally the Spring of the Goat) where the Nature Reserve and National Park offer year-round spring-fed streams, lush green vegetation, walking trails and glimpses of the Nubian Ibex and Rock Hyrax. We continued south to meet Barak Horwitz of Camel Lot Tours and head up to the summit of Mount Sedom. At 200 feet Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
S a i l i n g B a n g k o k ’ s C h a o P h r a y a R i v e r t o t h e Te m p l e o f t h e D a w n by Habeeb Salloum "Is this not better than suffering in the pollution and traffic-clogged streets of Bangkok?" Ling, one of our group of five, appeared to be content as the invigorating Chao Phraya River breezes, carrying drops of water, soothed our bodies. I wholeheartedly agreed, breathing in deeply the freshcool air. We had just hired one of the many-docked hang yaos (curved-tailed water taxis) riverboats powered by noisy engines. Our point of departure had been the Oriental Hotel pier from where we were sailing up the Chao Phraya to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) - the river's supreme landmark. I sat back enjoying the exhilarating sense of speed and the refreshing moist-air spray produced by the rooster-tails of our hang yaos. The Chao Phraya, meaning ‘supreme commander’, on which we were sailing, is Thailand's main river. It meanders from the Himalayan Mountains then crosses the rice bowl of Asia, ending its journey, flowing through Bangkok to the Gulf of Thailand.
Phraya at one time was criss-crossed by klongs (river canals), but now hardly any remain. Most have been covered and converted into streets. On both banks and in the sluggish waters, there was a panorama of action. People were fishing and washing their clothing and dishes from steps leading to the river. At the same time, children were bathing and splashing in its waters while a short distance away a number were dumping into it their refuse. All around us boats were transporting inhabitants and visitors back and forth on rough-splashy rides. It was early morning and the sun was illuminating the Temple of the Dawn when we reached its pier It glittered brilliantly, sending its reflection into the river. We had come at the right time of the day. The hang yao's owner said that the temple is at the epitome of its magnificence when viewed from across the Chao Phraya at dawn or when lit-up in the evenings during public holidays.
The river, teeming with life, always hums with never-ending activity. For centuries it has been Bangkok's main highway and its throbbing heart. A good number of hotels and most of the cultural, historical and commercial structures are located only a short distance from its banks.
Even though dwarfed by the city's modern skyscrapers, Wat Arun lies across the river from the Grand Palace - an impressive temple-complex of awe-inspiring size and unusual architecture. Called by a number of travellers, the 'Eiffel Tower of Bangkok', it is considered to be one of the city's most striking structures.
In between these landmarks rise both eyecatching temples and the run¬down shacks of the poor. Currently almost the only waterway in Bangkok, the Chao
Named after Aruna, the Indian god of dawn, Wat Arun is an extraordinary piece of religious architecture whose history goes back almost two hundred years.
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Constructed of brick, it is covered with millions of pieces of broken-coloured Chinese pottery, cemented in the bed of stucco covering the brick. Cups and plates of all kinds are fragmented and affixed to the plaster in flower patterns of various sizes and shapes, creating a unique look of charm and beauty. The main part of the temple is a 86 m (282 ft) high central prang. The tallest prang in Asia, representing Mount Meru, the Buddhist centre of the globe, it is surrounded by four smaller prangs, symbolizing the oceans of the world. Each one of these prangs is surmounted by a trident and rests on a number of terraces, supported by countless angels and demons. We climbed halfway up the central prang's very narrow and steep staircase. From this height there was a fine view of Bangkok and the nearby glimmering roofs of the Grand Palace. It was a memorable and picturesque finale to an exciting river tour sailing Bangkok's Chao Phraya to the Temple of the Dawn..
Pa c i f i c
W O R L D
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Sail Windjammer's S/V Mandalay Cr uise - page 38 Cruise Travel is Outpacing General L eisure Travel - page 40
Cruising Norway with Hurtigruten When is the Best Time to Cruise? -
Photo Courtesy of Hurtigruten Cruises
Rh么ne Rhine Nile
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Come With Us & Sail The World!
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Voted #1 "Best Boutique Cruise Line" by USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards Variety Cruises owns and operates 11 upscale and casual MEGA-YACHTS between 4 and 5 stars with capacity of up to 72 guests. The cruise line was established upon the philosophy of connecting local communities and international travelers in a sustainable, non-intrusive way by restricting the cruise operations to small sized upscale yachts that continue to exclusively dock in small as well as secluded ports of call otherwise unreachable by larger cruise lines. Over the years the small ship cruise experience formula continues to improve and adapt with the times and destinations, yet what still remains at the core is the people that add color to every Variety Cruise moment, including the team, guests, and the local communities they visit.
Discover the Caribbean like never before on the S/V Mandalay The S/V Mandalay sails weekly, boarding in Grenada on Sunday and returning on Saturday. Aside from weekly cruises to and from Grenada, the S/V Mandalay offers special cruises taking in different Caribbean Islands, such as St. Lucia and St. Maarten throughout the year! The S/V Mandalay is also available for private charter. The Captain can arrange a personalized itinerary to meet your charter needs including stops in the Grenadines, which may include, Grenada, Carriacou, Union Island, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Bequia, St. Vincent and possibly some other stops along the way!
Names World’s First Purpose-Built Liner for Chinese Market Norwegian Joy
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled the English and Chinese names for the world’s first purpose-built cruise liner for the China market. The most innovative ship ever styled exclusively for Chinese guests has been named ‘Norwegian Joy’. The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the experience that the ship will offer, a promise that guests will ‘Experience Paradise on the Sea’. Norwegian Joy - With a capacity of 3,900 guests, the new Breakaway Plus-class vessel will debut in China in Summer 2017. Norwegian Joy is designed specifically for the Chinese traveler, with cuisine and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests.
Already in the midst of the most significant expansion in the company’s celebrated history, Crystal Cruises’ next step in expanding its award-winning fleet is truly an historic endeavor. Together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal announced it will save “America’s Flagship,” the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. The epitome of American post-war innovation and design, the SS United States was launched in 1952 and captured the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage – a record to this day that still stands. She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four U.S. presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers. In order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices. The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
Announces World’s First Discovery Yacht Offering A Level Of Ultra-Luxury Not Seen On Other Yachts
The two-year $125 million investment includes significant renovations of most public spaces along with a complete redesign of several categories of suites. Seven Seas Navigator, the line’s most intimate ship carrying just 490guests, will be the first to receive this luxurious upgrade, followed by Seven Seas Voyager in late 2016 and Seven Seas Mariner in the spring of 2017. Seven Seas Navigator will emerge essentially a brand new ship following the upcoming dry dock, with all suite categories, all lounges, the library, casino, boutiques, reception area, and signature restaurants Compass Rose and La Veranda having recently been completely renovated.
Viking River Cruises Launches Six New Ships
Viking Longships integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco. Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites – the largest river cruise suites in Europe – as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Staterooms include comfortable amenities such as hotel-style beds, heated bathroom floors, mini fridge, and both U.S. and EU outlets. Additionally, all Longships have sustainability upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.
This christening event marks another year of impressive expansion for Viking, occurring just two years after the company set a second GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ for the most new ships launched in a single day, and just one month before Viking Ocean Cruises launches its second ship, Viking Sea. Of the six new Longships, four will be deployed on Viking’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers; the remaining two will sail the Seine River on Viking’s Paris and the Heart of Normandy itinerary. Later this spring, Viking will also debut a seventh new river ship for 2016, Viking Osfrid, which is inspired by the Longships design and specifically built for the Douro River, bringing the company’s total number of ships in Portugal to three.
Viking River Cruises has recently welcomed the latest additions to its fleet with the christening of six new Viking Longships® during a waterfront celebration in Amsterdam. Viking honored six of its key partners by naming them as ceremonial godmothers for the six new ships.
Pa u l G a u g u i n
World-class innovation meets luxury with the Eclipse. A “6-star” ship, the ultra-luxury mega yacht will carry 228 guests in 114 allveranda suites: from the spacious 344 sq. ft. Verandah Suite to the over-the-top 2,500 sq. ft. two-bedroom Owner’s Penthouse Suite.
Scenic has announced the launch of the world’s First Discovery Yacht, the Scenic Eclipse. Three years in planning, Scenic’s recently-established Ocean Cruising Line heralds a new direction for the award-winning luxury travel operator, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. The Scenic Eclipse will embark on her maiden voyage on August 31, 2018, sailing from Istanbul to Venice, followed by discovery voyages to The Americas; Antarctica; Europe and the Mediterranean; and the Arctic and Norwegian Fjords.
ANNOUNCES $125 MILLION FLEET-WIDE RENOVATION
Sail Windjammer's S/V Mandalay
Ahoy to Happiness on the High Seas! by Susan Campbell
f you were born to be barefoot like me, you’ll rejoice at the opportunity to explore the Caribbean sans footwear aboard the S/V Mandalay.
night at a place of your choosing and the launch will drop you off and pick you up at a specified time. (Dinner cost and taxis not included.)
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…”
Why barefoot is better…
Funny how I still remember all the words to the poem ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield though I’d not heard it since grade school. But it evoked such a strong calling to the sea for me that I committed it to memory back then. So when I recently had the chance to actually sail on a tall ship- the Windjammer SV Mandalay through the West Indies- it actually felt like a homecoming.
Where the winds takes you… The Mandalay is a 236-ft. wooden vessel called a “windjammer” that sleeps up to 58 people. But as to where you are going? That’s not always set in stone. Captain Sly has one hard and fast rule when it comes to destinations: you are not to ask where we are going or when will get there! So much depends on the wind and the weather, but the itinerary for this region is basically to get onboard in St. Maarten and then sail to St. Barths, Anguilla, Nevis, St. Kitts, and an uninhabited satellite island like Tintamarre near St. Maarten and then dock back at Great Bay. I already knew all of these islands very well from past travels except for St. Barths. So while there, after our beach time at beautiful Colombier, I sought out “Le Select” the famous café that was apparently Jimmy Buffet’s inspiration for his “Last Cheeseburger in Paradise” anthem. But I prefer to be in the sea, so I didn’t do many excursions all week. I’m a snorkel fanatic, so I was delighted that each stop included beach time somewhere and a chance to do so. (They will rent you equipment for the week.) And there was usually a great beach bar nearby like “Sunshine’s” in Nevis where you can see the resident monkeys while you enjoy their famous “Killer Bees” (potent rum cocktails). Or the legendary Elvis’s Beach bar in Sandy Ground, Anguilla for great fare and cocktails. But though some of the beaches were secluded and accessible only by boat, we were also well taken care of by our fabulous bartender “Mash-Up” who brought drinks ashore. Excursions included activities like horseback riding, snorkel safaris aboard a catamaran, ATV tours, guided island explorations by bus or van and more, all run by local operators. You also have the option to dine ashore each
If you’re the kind of traveler that likes to get all gussied up for dinner, then this is not the cruise for you. But for me, the beauty of being able to go barefoot at all times and relax in such a cottage country style of vibe with fellow passengers was incredible. Rolling out of bed each morning for hot coffee and warm pastries on deck with my fellow tribe of pajama-clad travellers was awesome. “Boat hair, don’t care!” became our slogan. And makeup? Forget about it! It was so rejuvenating. All meals were served community style at big tables where you could play musical chairs at different meals to get to know everyone better. Food wise, it was never super fancy, but seriously impressive was the quality of the comfort fare they managed to serve to our band of ravenous scallywags from that tiny galley. Our chef “Boston” was awesome. And the games also really bonded everyone together. Battle of the sexes, scavenger hunts and the like… we were pitted against each other for fun and prizes on deck almost every day. Another great bonding time was the daily rum swizzle and snack party at happy hour, and the gala barefoot masquerade party was definitely the highlight of the activities. Costumes are supplied, and dancing with absolute abandon is de rigueur. (Ask Captain Sly to do his Michael Jackson routine, and make sure your camera is well charged for taking that video!)
Some highlights… It was the most poignant moments that really cemented my relationship to the sailor’s life, the ship, and the sea on this voyage. The raising of the magnificent billowing sails to “Amazing Grace”- and an interesting story behind that song’s ties to the sea will be shared by the captain- was one of those moments. And the guests are encouraged to help hoist them as well.
passengers on their snazzy decks as we threatened to attack them were hysterical. We were all pirates that day.
Is the barefoot sailor’s life for you? Like the tides, this type of small ship cruising has its high points and low points, and seasickness can be an issue so you should bring something just in case. I was lucky to get my sea legs rather quickly, and enjoyed the journey immensely. And be forewarned there is no W-Fi! In our constantly tethered-to-tech world, the enforced digital detox was tough for me at first. But you can easily find free Internet at local beach bars when you go ashore each island. And though the tropical weather and the stunning beauty of the islands are definitely a big part of the allure, I found that it was the people-crew and guests alike- that made this trip ultra special. It’s a wonderful stress-free way to see the Caribbean. And as Masefield’s poem goes…
“I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife; And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.” So thanks S/V Mandalay and crew, hope to set sail with you again soon as now I am chronically afflicted with ‘Sea Fever’.
This event occurred four instances during our sail, but my favorite time was in middle of the night in the pitch dark with stars as big as golf balls that seemed right within my grasp. I could see how the ancient mariners could easily set their course accurately through celestial navigation, no GPS required. Another moment was the official firing of the “cannon” on a cruise ship as we entered St. Barth’s harbor. The cannon is tiny, but the blast is LOUD and the startled looks from the Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Cruise Lines International Association Reveals Why ...
Cruise Travel is Outpacing General Leisure Travel
Silversea Cruises Ship - Silver Shadow
Cruise travel is becoming the vacation of choice around the world, quickly outpacing leisure or land-based travel. In fact, according to research from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), over the ten years from 2004 to 2014, global cruise vacations have grown faster in popularity than global land-based vacations by a 23 percent margin. Additionally, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) 2016 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, the industry shows no signs of slowing down with 24 million passengers expected to sail in 2016, up from 23 million in 2015. Travel agents are also predicting a higher demand for cruise travel. Eight out of 10 CLIA Travel Agent Members stated they are expecting an increase in cruise sales in 2016 over last year. “Cruise lines are constantly updating their offerings and providing almost unlimited itinerary options for travelers so it comes as no surprise that cruise travel is outpacing alternative vacation experiences,” said Cindy D’Aoust, CLIA’s Acting CEO. “A cruise vacation delivers amazing experiences in locations around the world at a tremendous value.” From the ease of travel to expanded destinations, here are the
10 Reasons Why Cruise Vacations Are On The Rise: 1. Cruise Vacation Variety: Over the past 15 years, cruise vacation options have continued to evolve and, today, there is a cruise for every kind of traveler. Ranging from family cruises complete with kidfriendly brand experiences to high-end pampering at world-class spas, there’s a cruise experience for every travel desire.
3. On the River and Beyond: River cruising is experiencing a big boost in cruise popularity and allow travelers to reach inland destinations that were never thought possible. River cruises now sail to more intimate spaces and lands previously thought hard to get to by cruise. 4. A Tailored Trip: Cruises offer each traveler the chance to customize a trip specifically to personal travel preferences. Whether travelers are hoping to relax by the pool or explore ancient ruins, there’s a cruise and itinerary available.
5. Cruise to Every Corner of the World: Cruising not only allows travelers to travel to multiple destinations but also makes touring foreign countries accessible and less intimidating. A cruise can take travelers to foreign lands without the worry of navigating airports, restaurants or tourist sites. 6. Never a Dull Moment: Many cruise lines offer a variety of on-board activities to keep travelers entertained, day or night, as they travel from port to port. From simulated surfing and sky diving to wine and chocolate tastings, the offerings are diverse and abundant.
9. A Healthier Vacation: With a growing emphasis on health and well-being, cruising offers a wide variety of health benefits. From the purity of ocean air to on-board fitness options, there’s a way for everyone to stay healthy in both mind and body while on a cruise. 10.
See the World, But Unpack Once: Cruising gives travelers the chance to see, do and experience all areas of the world. While one can pack as little or as much into their trip as they’d like, their suitcase only needs to be unpacked once.
Cruise Lines International Association
7. Multi-Generational Cruising: It’s hard to please everyone when it comes to vacationing, but cruising is designed to appeal to every age from toddlers to seniors. From family reunions to the family vacation of a lifetime, cruise experiences are the perfect multigenerational travel solution. 8. Staying Connected at Sea: While many
state the “Return on Experience” offered by a cruise vacation is better than other vacation options. In addition to meals, accom-
like the appeal of being disconnected while on vacation, there are those that want or need to be connected while at sea. Today’s cruises offer a myriad of Wi-Fi, onboard texting and data options.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
2. Best Bang for Your Buck: Cruise travelers
modations and on-board activities that are typically included in the price, cruises also allow travelers to see multiple destinations in one trip, and for one cost.
Cunard Cruise Line Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Photo: Hurtigruten Cruises
Nor way: “Green” & Serene Article & Photography by Alan Luke & Jacquie Durand
ne century ago, Roald Amundsen completed his journey through the Northwest Passage. Several years prior, fellow Norwegian Richard With, initiated a coastal steamer cruise along the country’s shoreline. Today, the Hurtigruten (derived from “hurtigrute” meaning “fast route”) cruise line plies the pristine passages for patrons worldwide.
A steamship company based in Stokmarknes had been compiling information pertaining to the viability of an express service between Trondheim and Hammerfest, Norway. In 1893, Captain Richard With received governmental approval to provide a weekly summer sailing along this route, as well as between Trondheim and Tromso during the winter season. Initially passengers and mail were on board and then cargo was transported. The
advent of this Coastal Express hastened visitations from international travelers to areas previously inaccessible and expedited organized tourism in the region. The Hurtigruten route currently encompasses 35 stops, extending from Kirkenes in the northeast and Bergen in the south. Boarding the Polarlys, one of eleven Hurtigruten ship in regular service I felt like an arctic explorer embarking on his first voyage. I commenced my six day environmental excursion at Kirkenes to witness how clean and “green” Norway truly is. Environmental-friendliness begins with the vessels themselves. Using a more diesel-like marine distillate produces fewer emissions. The fleet also practices recycling and each has their own sewage plant on board. A water filtration system that utilizes carbon filters produces the bottled water available during meals. Norway is at the forefront of developing environmentally safe solutions to sustainable concepts for the production of clean water. The solutions are flexible and can be tailored to high-tech environments such as cruise ships and modern residential developments. Industrial consortium, Ecomotive Group of Norway, specializes in the design of sustainable water and sanitation systems based on resource recycling. Ecological sani-
tation systems have become available, transforming waste into a valuable resource for agriculture. An official Nordic environmental label is an abstract Swan symbol. The eco-label takes into consideration a product’s impact on the environment throughout the product’s life cycle, a criteria that is revised regularly. The Swan’s mission is to contribute to reducing the consumer burden on the environment to promote a green society. Through eco-labeling, Swan encourages manufacturers to develop environmentally-friendly products and services. Our initial stop was at the fishing community of Vardo. A well-preserved octagonal fort dating from 1738 is situated in the town making it home to the world’s northernmost fortress (Vardhohus Fort). I was introduced to the turf roofs which provided practical insulation for the sod-shingled structures in the former military grounds. For centuries the grassy roofing has been an enduring tradition utilizing sustainable natural resources. A few days later the medieval city of Trondheim provided me with a view of an attractive, half-timbered turf roof where copper miners used to reside in the 1650s. In many regions of Norway, one can experience authentic nature-based “down-to-earth” cabins.
Stopping at Honningsvag, we boarded a bus to the northernmost point on the European continent, North Cape (Nordkapp). A large steel skeletal globe monument sits adjacent to the jagged cliffs. The facility houses a tunnel displaying historical exhibits, a cinema, bar, restaurant, gift shop and post office. A brochure on North Cape Hall states: “Show respect for nature! Building stone cairns erodes the soil and destroys vegetation.” Our next port-of-call was the northernmost town in the world established in 1789. Hammerfest is home to the exclusive and internationally renowned Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society. The Society preserves the town’s long tradition with hunting and fishing in the Arctic. “The Gateway to the Arctic” sculpture is representative of the city’s Arctic history. Meridian arches are crowned with the Hammerfest coat of arms while polar bears on ice floes flank the entrance to the Radhus (Town Hall). In Tromso, the capital of Arctic Norway, I located evidence of Hurtigruten’s founder, Richard With in the form of a local square that bears his name. Our vessel passed the MS Richard With en route to this “Paris of the North” from which many arctic explorations originated. Roald Admunsen’s statue stands in front of the Polarmuseet (Polar Museum) which showcases explorers, hunters and fishermen who made the Arctic their environment of choice. I felt I should honor the town that is home to the world’s northernmost brewery and undertook an environmental exploration to glean cultural impressions at the Skarven, Tromso’s premier tavern. I enquired of the barkeep why Tromso was considered to be the “Paris of the North”. “Many years ago visitors were surprised by the lifestyle and fashions so far north that we developed a reputation that continues today,” he said proudly. With the tavern’s nautical decor, amiable ambiance and the hypnotic warmth of the blazing fireplace, it was easy to recognize the popularity of this Arctic watering hole. Continuing southward we arrived in Harstad and visited the Trondenes Historical Museum. This turf roofed museum lies in a region that was the center of power for the Vikings during the Medieval Ages. Myriad artifacts and displays depict centuries of history. After a bus tour of the region we re-connected with our ship as it sailed to the next port. With perfect timing, we traveled over the Sortland Bridge as the Polarlys sailed underneath it. Our next harbor hop took us to the Coastal Express Museum in Stokmarknes. The significance of the Coastal Steamer on settlement and trade along the Norwegian coast is exhibited in the museum as it takes you on a journey through more than a centu-
ry of coastal voyages. In honor of the birthplace of the Coastal Steamer, a bronze bust of Richard With who initiated the “world’s most wonderful voyage”, is prominently placed near the museum. The onboard essentials are the contributing factors that make this adventure truly wonderful. This includes breakfast and lunch buffets with an a la carte dinner. Indigenous edible entities included fish fare such as “bacalao” (boneless, skinless, salted cod) and “finnebiff” (dark brown reindeer stew). There are an estimated 180,000 reindeer that roam the Norwegian terrain, many of which are privately owned. The annual slaughter in September maintains the ecological integrity of the herds. The Polarlys with 225 cabins is just over 11,000 gross tons and can carefully meander along the Norwegian coastline of more than1,300 nautical miles into a series of fjords. Heading into the 1.25 mile (2 km) long Trollfjord, the ship comes dangerously close to the sheer walls of the submerged glacial valley and then proceeds to make a 3-point turn to negotiate the passage back on course. Further along our ship became enveloped in fog. Asked if navigating with zero visibility was scary, the captain replied “I’m never scared, it just makes it more of a challenge.” “Being equal to the challenge, I imagine careening off a fjord wall would upset the ecological balance of things,” I said. “Our navigational system and the eco-system always work in harmony,” he responded confidently. A bus tour on two of the Lofoten islands took us across the rugged landscape to various fishing villages. The sea has been a valuable resource for the nation providing fishing with 80% of the cod harvested being exported. This bountiful sea has both claimed and sustained lives. “The sea giveth and the sea taketh away,” explained our guide.” “If it wasn’t for the sea, the Vikings would have needed to carry their longboats,” she quipped. Arriving at the fishing village of Henningsvaer, we drove past the wooden cod racks which hang the wind-blown fish that are dried for three months by the arctic air. To create this stock fish (torrfisk) some locals dangle cod outside their windows and on their clothes lines. Although the wealthy reside in houses painted in (zinc-based) white paint, the dwellings of ochre and red coloration are common to the less well-to-do owners.
homes can get a little funky in the summertime heat,” I commented. Our guide euphemistically added that “there are so many smells competing for your attention that it is just another note in the symphony.” After the ship arrived at Sandnessjoen, we had time for a brief walking tour before we were back on board and cruising past the Seven Sisters Mountains. South of Bronnoysund, we passed by another readily identifiable mountain. Mount Torghatten has a hole about 85 feet (26 meters) high by more than 43 feet (13meters) wide going all the way through it. Before we arrived at our final destination, Bergen, it became apparent that one could comfortably commune with nature exploring this clean and serene coastal scene. Our cruise ship tour manager, Bjorn further conveyed to me that this is “a voyage where you get to see Norway in its purest state and your body and soul have a chance to catch up.” One may viscerally envisage oak timbered Viking vessels being propelled by sturdy synchronized oars as the glacially gouged rock walls dwarf the dauntless longships. By 2030, it is estimated that Norway will become a nation with virtually no industrial carbon dioxide emissions. This is due to their perpetually progressive environmental legislation enacted. They maintain impressive “green” projects, sustainable resource concepts and intrinsic practicality. Ironically, the formerly ozone-depleting aerosol can was a Norwegian invention.
www.glpworldwide.com www.hurtigruten.com www.visitnorway.com
The use of sustainable resources is evident in the ochre derived from plants to produce paint. Ferris oxide is also utilized from minerals, cod oil and copper dust, as well as animal blood and a cod liver oil mixture. These create a reddish paint to apply on houses and fishing cabins (rorbu) that are available as cottage rentals to the public. “I imagine the
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
When is the Best Time to Cruise?
Article from www.cruisecritic.com Photo Courtesy Crystal cruises t's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska (or the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii or Europe)?
The answer depends on many variables. Fall foliage enthusiasts, for instance, will find September and October the best time to take that Canada/New England cruise, whereas water sports-lovers (and families) much prefer to sail the region in the summer when school is out and temperatures are warm for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. The first step is to consider the factors that influence your timing. Do you need to schedule around school breaks -- or want to avoid kids? Is a holiday week the best time for your cruise? Is your main goal to escape frigid tem-
peratures at home? Or maybe you have lots of flexibility (or a tight budget) and don't mind making a few trade-offs in timing for a steal on a cabin. Your answers will influence which sailing season is your best bet. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season). Not so long ago, high season tended to be when the weather was best in a particular area (and when all the Northerners flocked to the sun). But as more and more families take to cruising, the summer months have become a peak-demand period, regardless of the weather (at home or in the region). Families especially need to book high-season sailings as early as possible because some cruise lines limit the total number of children per sailing, and each ship has a limited number of cabins that can accommodate three or more people. Slow and shoulder seasons yield the most bargain opportunities in year-round destinations. In places like Alaska and Bermuda, where you have a five- or six-month sailing season, the off-season is a few weeks after cruises begin and before they end. For regions like the Panama Canal and Northern Europe, almost all sailings are priced "in season." The following is a partial list of cruising regions and the best time to cruise them.
Alaska High Season: June through August Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: Temperatures are at their warmest (highs: 50s to 70s Fahrenheit), plus the further into the summer you are, the better your chances of seeing wildlife on the various expeditions. The downside: Demand is so strong, you need to book months (better yet, a year) in advance to get the best land and tour packages. Keep in mind, with so many ships sailing Alaska now, there can be a tremendous amount of congestion in small-town ports. To minimize joining the masses, select a ship that sails during the week. For a pricing advantage, northbound glacier routes tend to be cheaper than southbound. Low Season: May and September Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: Shoulder-season perks include smaller crowds and cheaper prices as a result of the weather gamble (highs: 50s to 60s) and the possibility of snow. May sailings typically encounter less rain than summer cruises, and the scenery is arguably more beautiful with more snowcapped mountains; September cruisers benefit from end-of-season souvenir bargains and a possibility of catching the northern lights. A few caveats: Shore excursions have a greater chance of being canceled than in high season, especially boat and helicopter tours. In addi-
and a challenge getting to ports of embarkation as the ship alters course to avoid the storm. Even if your cruise isn't impacted, you can still experience rain and rough seas.
Europe River Cruises High Season: April to October
tion, Denali National Park has been known to close in September due to snow.
Caribbean High Season: Late June through August; Christmas and New Year's weeks; February to mid-April Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: The two main groups of cruisers sailing in the peak season are families off from school and Northerners seeking a respite from the cold. School holidays are a great time to sail with kids -- children's programs are in full swing and they're available even on lines that don't normally cater to kids. Plus, it's easy for children to make friends onboard. Keep in mind that prices are higher, especially when you add winter flight delays that can be time-consuming and costly (though four-season cruising to the Caribbean from multiple homeports in the Northeast, Southeast and Gulf Coast means residents of those areas can save money by driving to their departure ports). Plus, the summer cruise season coincides with hurricane season, though the storms don't start to peak, usually, until mid-August. During spring break, when thousands of people are flocking to Florida resorts and cruise ports, you will have to think about booking your airline tickets almost farther out than your cruise; prices can be high. People looking for peace and quiet away from kids will want to avoid break weeks like the plague, as ships are at their highest capacity, which means crowded ports and mega-ships run amuck with rowdy kids and teens. Low Season: Late April through May; September to early January (excluding holiday weeks) Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: The biggest benefits are the great weather and smaller crowds, usually at hundreds less per person than you'd pay at peak times. The fall especially is a great time for last minute availability and bargains. Hurricane season (June through November) still poses a threat; if a storm is brewing somewhere in Florida or the Caribbean, it can mean a change in ports of call
Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: A flotilla of specially designed river ships and cruise barges offers a unique and port-intensive experience for travelers who want to see more of Europe's heartland, especially in spring and fall. Spring can mean flowers in glorious bloom (favorites are the spring Tulip Time cruises though the Netherlands and Belgium), but also keep in mind that heavy rains and early-spring flooding can make the rivers swell and the locks impassable. Conversely, summer temperatures can cause the rivers to dry up, making it impossible for boats to move. If these weather events happen, you'll be taken to the sights by motorcoach. While some cruises will tailor port itineraries to families, don't expect to see as many -- if any -- kids there as you do on the bigger ships, even during the summer. Low Season: March; Late November and December Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: Most European river and canal ships operate seasonally and shut down in January and February. When operating, however, the cruise itineraries are not weather dependent, so a March sailing means you get to enjoy the castles, cathedrals and quaint shops without the summer crowds. Many river lines also offer Christmas market cruises in November and December to Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. The weather can be bitterly cold, but for shoppers and Christmas-lovers it's a unique way to experience the charming seasonal markets along the riverside.
Mediterranean High Season: May to September Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: Both European and American families flock to many of the summer sailing dates (especially in August), making for a nice cultural mix of passengers and plenty of onboard, kid-friendly activities. The tradeoffs are bigger crowds, higher prices (both cruises and airfares) and steamy temperatures that may sap your sightseeing energy. You may find restaurants and other establishments closed in August, which is when much of Europe goes on holiday. September is an increasingly popular time to cruise the Western Mediterranean because you can avoid the school kids and still enjoy warm temperatures.
Low/Shoulder Season: October through April Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: Early-spring and late-fall sailings offer the advantage of more competitive fares and fewer crowds in port. Plus, the weather is often mild (though March and November can be rainy). A very few ships actually remain in the region year-round; look for lower fares and cruises to the warmer regions of the Mediterranean, such as Spain, Morocco and the Canary Islands.
Northern Europe High Season: June through August Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: Northern Europe is at its loveliest during the summer months, with ports that line the Baltic Sea and Norway's fjords. Temperatures are balmy (even occasionally steamy), skies are generally sunny, and the cities turn themselves inside out -- life is lived out of doors, whether it's getting out on the water or sipping beers at sidewalk cafes. On the flipside, summer cruises to the Baltic are often among the most expensive Europe cruises out there. Low/Shoulder Season: May and September Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: Kids are back in school, ports are less frenetic, and the weather -- and foliage (whether spring-like or autumnal) -- can be lovely in late spring and fall. Temperatures might be a bit more brisk at those times, but you'll avoid summer crowds, and cruise fares tend to be lower.
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains
Article & Photography by Cherie DeLory
othing but heavy fog is encircling our minivan and I doubt we’re travelling faster than 20 miles in a 45 mph limit. We’re on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwest Virginia, known for its scenic views along the Blue Ridge Mountain range. This National Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It’s 469 miles of winding, cliffside, convertible topdown worthy road trip terrain. “Have you driven this road before?” I ask our driver. I’m a little nervous when she says no.
We seem to be climbing higher, on route to Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed
sites on the Parkway, a restored gristmill and blacksmith shop. Before reaching the mill we stop for photos at the 1,430 elevation mark. At first I am reluctant to pull out my camera, thinking the light rain and thick fog will ruin any chance of capturing an awesome shot. Though I’m inspired after a travelling companion and professional photographer says how some of his best nature shots have been taken in foggy conditions. The fog accentuates the fall colours of the leaves, he explains. He was right. The Blue Ridge Mountains are to the Appalachians what the Alberta foothills are to the Rocky Mountains in Canada. The mountain range spans from Georgia to the south, to Pennsylvania to the north. This is
my first visit to Virginia and the Blue Ridge region, and I quickly become acquainted with the reality of southern hospitality during my introduction to the inviting small towns, wineries, craft breweries, restaurants, and historic and cultural venues. This is a place where an exhuberbant “y’all” is a term of endearment, and buttery biscuits, deep fried green beans, and shrimp and grits is home cooking at its best. We touch down at Blacksburg Regional Airport in Roanoke, a five-minute drive from the epicentre of the city, approximate population of 100,000. Located in the Roanoke Valley, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is a quiet calm protecting its relaxed ambiance.
Roanoke’s Rail Heritage:
of African American Culture, and the Roanoke Pinball Museum.
The former Norfolk and Western Railway (now Norfolk Southern) was headquartered in Roanoke. Visit the Roanoke Hotel for a reminder of the glory days of luxury hotels and their proximity to rail travel. A travelling companion recommends the peanut soup (yes, as in peanut butter), served in the elegant Regency dining room. Built in 1882, this tudor-style accommodation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Double Tree by Hilton hotel.
Two miles from the city center is Historic Grandin Village. The 1920s era main street is lined with vintage shops, and a cycling depot should you wish to bike or hike in nearby Explore Park. Fans of DIY Network’s Salvage Dawgs can visit Black Dog Salvage. The warehouse and shop is a patinated hodgepodge of reclaimed stained glass, wrought iron, windows, door knobs, and custom designed furniture, too.
memorial in the world that commemorates all allied soldiers who died in the invasion.
Before stopping for a fresh seafood lunch at Clam Diggers Market, Pub & Eatery, we visit Thomas Jefferson’s plantation and retreat property at Poplar Forest, in Bedford County. The first octagonal home in America is one of two homes the former president designed and lived in, and is the more modest of the two.
Sharp Top Summit: Five minutes from downtown Roanoke will land you in Mill Mountain Park, gateway to the foot trails leading to Mill Mountain, Roanoke’s highest peak at 1,703 feet. Reach the top and you’re that much closer to the Roanoke Star, the towering bright light overlooking the community. The world’s largest star was originally constructed as a Christmas decoration but endures year round. In front of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, located in Roanoke’s historic Norfolk and Western Railway Freight Station, stands a whimsical metal sculpture depicting the word love in the image of a steam locomotive, appropriately anchored by a railway tie. The LOVEwork art, designed by local artist Eric Fitzpatrick, is a clever nod to the region’s rail heritage and the state’s tourism message, “Virginia is for lovers.” The museum holds the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the South, including the only Class J 611 locomotive still in existence, as well as a comprehensive collection of aviation, Greyhound, and automotive transportation. O. Winston Link Museum, housed in the former passenger station of the Norfolk and Western Railway, is another must-see for insight into Roanoke’s rail history. It features a vast collection of American photographer and rail hobbyist, Ogle Winston Link’s photographs and sound recordings of steam locomotive transportation in the late 1950s. Other museums worth visiting include the Taubman Museum of Art, which features a Norman Rockwell exhibit, Harrison Museum
After a delicious steak dinner at Bootleggers Cafe, located in the old Coca Cola bottling plant in the small town of Rocky Mount, we walk across the street to the Harvester Performance Center, a live music venue that seats 475 people, to see country music star David Nail.
Flights of Fancy: Back on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stop at Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant, an hour’s drive from Roanoke in rural Floyd County. The sprawling river and mountain views are erased by the fog, but once inside we discover inviting, cozy spaces accented with stone, beams, and wood panelling, with a roaring wood-burning fireplace; the perfect ambiance to enjoy lunch and a wine tasting. Additional stops where we wet our whistles are the Parkway Brewery Company in the town of Salem, where we’re served a beer flight to sample a few craft brews. The Flying Mouse Brewery in Troutville is minutes from the Appalachian Trail and directly on the TransAmerica 76 Bicycle Route. Wineries are Fincastle Vineyard & Winery (elegant B&B is attached in 1926 farmhouse), Ramulose Ridge Vineyards, and Hickory Hill Vineyards & Winery in Smith Mountain Lake. ln the town of Bedford we visit The National D-Day Memorial. I’m reminded that the mist and rain accurately depict the conditions on Juno Beach in Normandy, France on June 6th, 1944. The Bedford community suffered the country’s largest per capita losses that day. This is the only D-Day
The Peaks of Otter Lodge gets my vote for best room with a view. Every room brings the outdoors in with a huge picture window overlooking Abbott Lake, and a walkout balcony for breathing in the tranquility. Its namesake, the Peaks of Otter, are three mountain peaks overlooking the town of Bedford; Sharp Top (3,875 feet), Flat Top (3,994 feet) and Harkening Hill (3,372 feet). We conquer Sharp Top with some help from our shuttle bus driver who delivers us to the mid way point. We’re fortunate to have a clear day and optimal views that capture the characteristic blue tinge of the peaks. Next we visit the historic town of Buchanan in Botetourt County. This town celebrates its Civil War heritage by including four landmark sites on the Civil War Trail. You’ll need time to explore, so an overnight stay at the unique Buchanan Rail Car Inn gives new meaning to the sleeping car. The converted vintage 1934 Hiawatha dining car is now an exclusive railcar with elegant bedroom, bathroom, living and dining room. The following morning on the way to the airport, I spot a deer nudging out from the woods. It makes me wish I had more time to climb the Peaks of Otter and explore the trails surrounding Abbott Lake; a peaceful place for nature lovers, to be sure. It’s easy to linger in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains.
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Tu r k e y
Special Eight Page Section on Turkey by Dwain Richardson
goturkey.com Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
urkey, officially known as the Republic of Turkey, borders on two major continents: Europe to the west and Asia to the east. Some of its neighbouring countries include Syria, Greece, Iraq, Armenia, and Georgia. Turkey is also surrounded with major bodies of water, such as the Black Sea (north), the Mediterranean Sea (south), and the Aegean Sea (west). In addition, the country boasts the Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles. These bodies combined make up the Turkish Straits, which divide Europe from Asia.
graphical location, the snow immediately melts. In easternmost areas of Turkey, snow piles up a great deal because of cold temperatures. Along the Anatolia Peninsula, for instance, temperatures soar between -30°C and -40°C. This is one area where snow will linger the longest (a minimum of 120 days in the year).
Like most European and Asian countries, Turkey is deeply steeped into history. It is possible to trace the first inhabitants— Hattians and Hurrians—in this country from about 6000 B.C.! Some historic sites, such as the Göbekli Tepe temple, have been around for a longer period of time (10,000 B.C.). What’s more, the country passed through many historical periods, namely the Neolithic and Hellenistic eras, followed by the Antiquity and Byzantine eras, and eventually the Seljuk and Ottoman eras.
This European destination boasts of many kinds of tourism: namely, coastal, health, and thermal (also known as alternative tourism ). Tourists can also take advantage of open air sports in the summer and winter. For instance, it is possible to take up winter sports and mountaineering. Turkey is home to exotic and natural environments, making it possible to be an ecotourist during your stay. For a more romantic getaway, hop aboard one of many cruise ships from the Mediterranean Coast, Istanbul, Antalya, Pamukkale, or any other port area.
With respect to the country’s geography, most of Turkey belongs to Asia (97%), while the remaining percentage falls under European jurisdiction. Its area takes up 783,562 square kilometres; of this area, 755,688 square kilometres are in southwest Asia, while the remaining 23,764 square kilometres are in Europe. Turkey also has a rich and varied landscape, especially on Asian territory. The eastern and southeastern areas of Turkey are characterized by plateaus and coastlines as well as mountains and rivers (Euphrates, Tigris, Aras). Given that Turkey has many bodies of water and has an ever-changing landscape, it is not uncommon for the country to be the site for earthquakes or volcanoes. The climate along the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, especially in coastal areas, is generally temperate. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild and wet. Coastal areas along the Black Sea boast of an ocean-like climate; summers in this region are wet and warm, and winters are either cold or cool, and wet. This area receives the most abundant rainfall—an average of 2,200 millimetres of rain per year. Areas along the Sea of Marmara, however, transition between a Mediterranean and ocean-like climate. Summers are either warm or hot, and are generally dry. Winters, on the other hand, are cool or cold, and are mostly wet. The country receives snowfall, but depending on geo-
Turkey welcomes approximately forty million tourists each year. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Turkey is the sixth most popular destination.
Are you worried about potential language barriers? Most Turkish locals speak English, while some get by with French, German, and Russian.
Across Turkey The Hills Are Alive in Cappadocia! Tourists will be enamored by honeycombed hills beautiful boulders. Most architecture in this area is made of soft stone and rocks, including the Göreme Open-Air Museum and refuges of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli. It is even possible to stay in an underground hotel! Ideal for anyone interested in having a 21st-century accommodation experience. Cappadocia has a rich historical background, and is also known for its hiking paths. And if you love landscapes, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking lunar views, characterized by orange and creamcoloured valleys. There is much to see and do while in Cappadocia. Visit the Göreme Open-Air Museum, one of Turkey’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, and take in the Byzantine monastic settlement as well as a 17th-century pilgrimage site with its numerous rockcut churches, chapels, and monasteries, noteworthy of Byzantine art. For an addi-
tional 10.00 TRY ($4.61 CAD), check out the Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church), an 11thcentury compound known for its domeshaped structure with one main apse, two small apses, and four columns, all decorated with frescoes from the Bible’s New Testament. Some of the scenes visitors can see include the Last Supper, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Crucifixion. This is the most famous of all on-site churches. During your visit at this museum, follow a cobbled path from the admission booth and see the Aziz Basil Sapeli, a chapel dedicated to St. Basil—one of Cappadocia’s foremost saints. As you continue your visit, you will be greeted by other churches, including Elmali Kilise (Apple Church), Azize Barbara Sapeli (Church of St. Barbara), Yilanli Kilise (Snake Church), Azize Katarina Sapeli (Church of St. Catherine), and Çarikli Kilise (Church with Sandals), all representative of biblical frescoes and tributes to patron saints.
The Ihlara Valley trail begins in the Ihlara village and ends in Selime, a village in the Güzelyurt district. You will be greeted with many churches along this forty-kilometre trail. As you continue your trip to Selime, however, you will be taken aback with many fields where farmers will till their ground and shepherds graze their sheep.
Getting Around Cappadocia Tourist buses end service in Nevşehir, located outside Cappadocia. Shuttle buses will then take you to your final destination, whether it’s Ürgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, Çavuşin, Nevşehir, Ortahisar, or Avanos. You can also take a taxi. Of course, you can walk around Cappadocia. Roads are in good condition; getting around Cappadocia is easy if you decide to drive by car or motorcycle.
Other Things to Do in Cappadocia
On your way out the Göreme Open-Air Museum, stop by the cordoned-off Rahibeler Manastiri (Nunnery). This nunnery was seven storeys high; a dining hall and small fresco chapel now remain. When you finally exit the museum, be sure to visit the Tokali Kilise (Church of the Buckle), located across the street from the Open-Air Museum. This is the biggest of all churches, known for its underground chapel and restored frescoes.
• Get aboard a hot air balloon and see the many landscapes from the air.
The Old Village, located in Ürgüp, boasts of traditional stone architecture. Be sure to drop by visit this neighbourhood if this architecture interests you.
• Learn basic culinary techniques while preparing meals with the villagers.
Do you like the military? You will want to see the Uçhisar Castle made of volcanic rock. No matter where you are, you can see this castle from miles away. Tunnels galore! Villagers considered this castle a place of refuge for many centuries, especially when armies captured surrounding plains. If you want to soak in the sunset, climb through the castle’s mazy core to reach its vantage point. Because the Uçhisar Castle is a major attraction, be sure to arrive as early as possible to avoid the sheer volume of tourists. If you like to hike, the Ihlara Valley will certainly peek your interest. Ideally, you should begin your hike in the early morning if you want to follow the entire trail (a four-hour hike). And be sure to get some shade, since it is often hot and humid, especially during the summer.
• Watch a traditional Sema, a performance combining dance, cultural attire, and music (part of the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity). • View fairy chimneys in Devrent Valley and monk’s chapels in Monk Valley.
• For night owls, have a beer in one of many Cappadocia bars, or spend the night dancing at a restaurant or disco club.
Denizli: Home of the “Cotton Castle” and Hierapolis The “Cotton Castle” (Pamukkale in Turkish) is another UNESCO World Heritage site located in southwestern Turkey. You will find many terraces made of travertine tile (form of limestone deposited by mineral springs; tile can either be tan, cream-coloured, or rusty). The castle is 2,700 metres long, 600 metres wide, and 160 metres high. This is a natural bathing spot for visitors; water comes from hot springs, making it warm and rich with minerals. Hierapolis is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site and popular tourist attraction. Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Because Hierapolis means “sacred city,” you will be greeted by a thermal Sacred Pool, giving you the opportunity to swim with antiquities, see the Pamukkale, and see many museums from a distance. Some of the many sights to see in Hierapolis include the Pamukkale Museum. Many displays and collections await, especially coins, jewellery, sarcophagi, and architectural fragments. You can also see many statues and reliefs. Ruins also characterize this World Heritage site: most ruins hail from the Roman era, since consecutive earthquakes ravaged Hellenistic remains in 17 AD and 60 AD. Byzantine walls surround the site, too. The nymphaeum is behind the Sacred Pool. This monumental fountain provided water to the city, and dates back to the fourth century AD. The Temple of Apollo is next to the nymphaeum, and is the patron god and the city’s founder. The foundations of the Hellenistic temple remain, while the rest of the structure is Roman (the new temple was reconstructed in the third century AD). The Temple of Apollo had originally been built over Platonium, an active planar fracture. Platonium is south of this temple, a sacred cave some thought was the entrance to the underworld—the place where the Roman god Pluto (Greek god Hades) lived. Because the cave still emits poisonous vapors into the air, no entry to Platonium is permitted. Be sure to stop by Hierapolis’s theatre, built around 200 BC. Twenty thousand audience members once filled the theatre. Nowadays, only thirty rows remain.
Getting to and from Denizli You can get to and from Denizli by train (three trains operate between Izmir and Denizli daily). One train leaves Istanbul in the evening and arrives in Denizli in the mid-morning.
Other Things to do in Denizli •Visit the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum, a must-see for tourists who appreciate Romano-Greek history, stamps, and jewellery. A sphinx will greet you as you walk through the doors. Why not rest a while in the Pamakkule area? •Have a shopping craving? Take a stroll through Forum Camlik. Restaurants, shoe
stores, fashion outlets galore! Teras Park is also a popular shopping centre. Historic ruins set this centre apart from others in the country. •Buy handmade clothes and purchase textile products from any local market or shopping centre.
İzmir: Turkey’s Metropolitan Hub İzmir (formerly Smyrna) is one of Turkey’s metropolitan cities, and is the third largest port city located in the country’s west end. The city boasts of its many heritages, especially Levantine, Greek, Armenian, and Jewish. Cultural activities boom in this portcity area; the main activity is the International Arts Festival, taking place in June and July. Former industrial buildings have turned into cultural and community spaces. The Kemeralti Market is by far a must-see for those who like to shop until they drop. Tourists can pick up bargains in leather goods, clothing, and jewellery. Flower and bead markets are also must-sees, and while you’re in the market, have a cup of coffee and baklava in one of many coffee shops. You can also have a sip of coffee in the Kızlarağası Han caravanserai, located in Anafartalar Caddesi, the market’s main bazaar area. Hisar Camii is the largest mosque located in the main bazaar area. Watch out for blue and gold motifs on the domed ceiling and carved roses and grapes under the women’s gallery and on stone staircases. A must-see. Do you like waterfronts, bars and restaurants, fashion and nightlife? The Kordon is for you! This is where you will find many pedestrian paths, restaurants, bars, even the new Arkas Art Centre, home of exciting art exhibits, are located. Like visiting Old Montreal, Old Quebec, and other historic areas, you can get around the Kordon by horse coach. All it costs is TRY 20 ($9.16 CAD) for four people! Like Cappadocia, İzmir has many churches for visitors to see. Some of the most noteworthy churches are the Church of St. Polycarp, honouring Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, St. John’s Cathedral, and St. John’s Anglican Church. Take a stroll between Alsancak and Basmane, the city’s town centre. This former Greek neighbourhood is now the home of Kültürpark, the sight of much
greenery, pedestrian pathways, and special attractions. Keep an eye on a fifty-metre parachute tower, a Ferris wheel, contemporary sculptures as well as exhibition halls for special events such as the International İzmir Festival.
While in İzmir, visit some heritage buildings in Çeşme, especially the fortress and museum. The 16th-century fortress is now home to the annual Çeşme International Festival held each July. It also hosts many cultural activities, such as concerts and art exhibits. The city’s archaeological museum, located inside the fortress, displays many objects, including paintings and archives. You can also find exhibits dedicated to marble objects and ceramic artefacts. Religion is a common theme across Turkey, and Çeşme is no exception. The city is home to a number of 19th-century mosques and churches. Chief among them are the Hadji Memiş Aga and Hadji Mehmet Aga mosques, as well as the Haralambos Church. After a day of walking around town and visiting several attractions, you probably want to rest a while. Perhaps you’re up to swimming or other water sports. Çeşme and surrounding areas have no shortage of beaches, lakes, and seas, and it’s possible to do go windsurfing or diving. Located seven kilometres from Çeşme, the Alaçati harbour is the ideal location for windsurfers and sailors who flock the beaches between May and October. Enjoy the many yearly sailing and surfing competitions while you’re here. Lastly, take a bite into local cuisine. Seafood is the Çeşme specialty. Any meal goes well with lobster, mussels, octopus, or sea breams. If you crave sandwiches, taste the İzmir kumrusu garnished with meats, cheese, and vegetables. Speaking of vegetables, taste enginar (artichokes dipped in olive oil). What’s for dessert? Try şeker işi, a sweet pastry served with a local fig marmalade.
Ephesus: Connection with Sacred Heritage This is an ancient city nestled in the country’s central Aegean area. Any remains found date back to Greek and Roman Empire history. This Turkish region is known for its sacred heritage, since many prominent sacred figures are associated with religion, chief among them St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist, and the Virgin Mary. The Temple of Artemis was one of many Seven Wonders of the World; nowadays, all that is Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
left are its foundation ruins dating back to the Hellenistic era. Other sacred sites include the House of the Virgin, Temple of Hadrian, Isabey Mosque, Church of Mary, Ancient Synagogue, Cave of the Seven Sleepers, and the Theatre of Ephesus. Ephesus is both an area for tourists (especially from Mediterranean Europe) and pilgrims.
Nowadays, Pergamon is an archaeological site housing works from the Hellenistic and Roman eras. When you visit the Acropolis, you will notice monumental tombs built for the Pergamon kings during the Hellenistic period. Of the other remaining attractions in this former city, the library of Pergamon is worth a visit, as are the Temple of Trajan, the Theatre of Pergamon, and the Altar of Zeus. The entire Pergamon site was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.
Other Things to do in İzmir ÖLÜDENIZ: Paraglide Away • Tour Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary. • Visit Ancient Smyrna for a half day. • Take a full-day tour of Pergamon and Asclepion.
Pergamon: Connecting History with Archaeology and Mythology Pergamon was an ancient city located in present-day Bergama. It was the former capital of the Asian province during the Roman era until Ephesus acquired this status. How did Pergamon come to be? Following Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC, his generals divided all the conquered territory. Following a series of conflicts, Pergamon eventually became part of a territory Lysimachus controlled (one of the Macedonian generals). Unfortunately, Lysimachus was also dragged into military conflicts, resulting in his death when he confronted Seleucus, Babylon’s GrecoMacedonian administration ruler. Meanwhile, a trusted lieutenant called Philatauerus of Tieium was watching over Lysimachus’s war chest in Pergamon; he eventually pledged allegiance to Seleucus, resulting in Pergamon becoming part of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled Pergamon until his death in 263 BC. Who founded the ruling dynasty of Pergamon? Contrary to public belief, Attalus I founded it (241–197 BC). He won an attack over the Galatians, a Celtic tribe that settled in central Anatolia during the third century BC. Unfortunately, central Anatolia was not immune to Galatian attackers who tried to invade Pergamon. But Attalus I managed to defeat the Galatians and make Pergamon the most powerful capital in this Turkish region.
Looking for a great getaway while in Turkey? Look no further. Even though Ölüdeniz literally translates as “Dead Sea,” it is anything but. Tourists will enjoy a relaxing day on sandy beaches while basking under the warm sun. Ever dream of falling off a mountain? Ölüdeniz is the go-to paragliding capital. The village’s pleasant weather conditions make paragliding in this area safe. And while you’re above ground, look beneath you and be amazed at the beautiful landscapes. Paragliding flights begin and end at Babadag Mountain (1,960 metres in height). Flights last anywhere from twenty-five to forty-five minutes. No need to worry about landing: paraglide instructors will be sure you land safely on a beach. What do you need to wear to fully enjoy this experience? Make sure you wear comfortable clothing (paragliding companies provide you with flying suits and helmets) and a good pair of shoes. If you get thirsty while above land, be sure to walk with a bottle of water. Don’t be blinded by the sun! Sunglasses always come in handy. Paragliding season generally runs from April until November. Flights cost 315 TRY ($144.25 CAD).
Lycian Way: Prepare for a Long Trek The Lycian Way, designed by British and Turkish amateur historian Kate Clow in 1999, is one of Turkey’s long routes (540 kilometres in length). Located in southern Turkey, the Lycian Way begins in Fethiye to the west and ends in Antalya to the east. Want to travel along this route by mountain bike? Mountain bikers will be out of luck, since the hard and stony underfoot paths are not suitable for bikes. This trail has a mixture of Roman roads, old footpaths, and mule trails.
If long treks are not your cup of tea, you can swim, canoe, or paraglide along the Lycian Way. Public transportation is also available to travel from one area to the next. The best time for trekking is in the spring and fall, more specifically between February to May and September to November, respectively. Looking for accommodation or camping sites? You’ll find many village houses, pensions, and small hotels along the way, as you’ll come across a lot of camping sites. If you decide to camp out, you will have no shortage of water sources. For those who are interested, some tourist associations in Turkey plan seven-day tours along the Lycian Way once a month.
Other Things to do in ÖLÜDENIZ • Take advantage of the many natural parks, including Kidrak Natural Park. • Have a swim and take a slide down many water tubes at Water World Aqua Park. An ideal excursion for children!
Like Çeşme, Antalya boasts of land, air, and water sports. But it also boasts of worldwide sport events such as football, volleyball, rafting, and—yes, it’s true! — golf. The Tat International Golf Club, located in Belek, is the go-to destination for golfers. The Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Club and Carya Golf Clubs are also popular spots night and day. Considering that many events take place in Antalya, this city hosts the 2016 Expo beginning on April 23. A number of national celebrations will abound, including presentations on culture through meetings and ceremonies. It will also be possible to take part in many symposia, panels, meetings, and congresses on the environment, agriculture, development policies, and much more. The expo ends October 30. For more information about this event, visit http://www.expo2016.org.tr/anasayfa/EN.
Best Eats No matter your destination in Turkey, no trip is complete without trying out a few dishes. • Menemen: scrambled eggs mixed cooked in sautéed vegetables; served with hot bread.
• Köfte: made of ground beef or lamb; makes for good stews or nice accompaniments with salads, sandwiches, or yogurt.
• Kuzu Tandir: made with roasted lamb; served with rice or potatoes, and yogurt. • Lahmacun: flat and crispy bread garnished with minced meat, salad, and lemon juice. You can replace meat with vegetarian foods (e.g., red beets). Makes for a light lunch or snack while visiting attractions. • Börek: a pastry filled with minced meat or spinach, and cheese. You can roll it or lay it out like you would if you prepared lasagna. Ideal for any meal. • Baklava: a must-eat! Full of nuts and syrup; ideal when eaten fresh. • Güllaç: dessert often served during Ramadan. The base is dough, milk, rosewater, nuts, and pomegranate seeds. Bon appétit, and enjoy your stay in Turkey!
• Glide along the many bodies of water with boat trips, and enjoy the sunset aboard a cruise. • Night owls will enjoy the many bars at their disposal, including the Ölüdeniz Night Bar, Crusoes Beach Club, Relax Cocktail Bar, and One for the Road.
Antalya: Mediterranean Pearl Rich in Culture, Hotels, and Golf Clubs This is an ideal location for travellers wishing to be surrounded by sea, sun, and sand. Aside from the coastal beauties, Antalya is yet another Turkish cultural hub. Entertainment fills the air year-round. And entertainment doesn’t only take place indoors: It’s not uncommon to enjoy an opera or theatre performance under a starry sky. Of course, festivals will always line Antalya streets. Although it is possible to visit a lot of ancient ruins and historic buildings, many of these establishments have turned into hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, bars, and restaurants. Looking for a souvenir to bring with you on the way back home? Antalya has many shops selling local products and gift items. Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Exploring the Historical Treasures by Ruth Atherley
y husband has had the temple of Angkor Wat (in Cambodia) – the world’s largest religious monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – on his bucket list for as long as I have known him (which is a long time!). We recently had the opportunity to visit Siem Reap and we learned so, so much. Not just about Angkor Wat, but also about the warm and welcom-
ing people of this struggling country and about their not-so-distant violent history under the Khmer Rouge regime. We decided that we wanted to spend more time connecting with locals while in Cambodia than travelling on big tour buses. And as excited as we were about seeing Angkor Wat, we wanted to see things beyond the typical tourist attractions. We chose a BikeHike Adventures tour of Cambodia so that we could have a more immersive experience. BikeHike has a range of tours – strenuous, challenging, moderate and easy. Our tour was “easy” – which means you need to be in good health because you hike/walk for up to three hours a day, but you don’t have to be a serious athlete or fitness buff. This was perfect for us because we are reasonably fit and it was often too hot (it was between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius each day we were there) to do anything but sit by
our beautiful hotel pool in the afternoon. BikeHike’s maximum on any trip is 12 people, with a minimum of two, so it is always a small group and there is no single supplement. It fit our 40-something needs perfectly! Cambodia is an interesting country with a complicated history – and a challenging present. Most visitors to the Siem Reap area
creating our fabulous dinner feast – we had several of the temple dogs come over and spend time with us. It was interesting to see that they looked well-fed and cared for. We were told that the people who take care of the temples also care for the dogs and that made me happy. One of the dogs, a blonde female, was initially a bit shy (unlike three of the others who just threw themselves on us, giving us big doggie kisses). By the time I was ready for my second beer, the shy pup – who I named Pretty – had become my best friend. She stayed by my side the entire time, laying her head on my leg and nudging my hand to be pet. I fell completely in love with her. We were fed an excellent three-course meal – all cooked onsite, in a kitchen set up out of sight behind our tent. Our server, a young man named Sovannasey, happily answered our questions about his life, the country and his culture. An orphan since birth, this young man told us about his life plans, his dreams and his ambitions – and he was really inspiring. He went out of his way to make our overnight in the jungle something special – helping to create a wonderful memory.
of Cambodia come to see the jungle temple of Banteay Chhmar, famous for its signature faces of Jayavarman VII and to see Angkor Wat. Rising well before dawn with hundreds of others, we made our way to Angkor Wat to watch the sun rise over the ruins, which was as spectacular as it was brief – lasting less than five minutes. And it was definitely worth getting up early to see. After the sun rose into the sky, we spent the rest of that incredible
day traipsing around the area’s abundant ruins. We enjoyed seeing some temples off the beaten path, completely on our own, with just our guide. And by the looks of some of them – we were the first to visit those sites in many months. Some were very overgrown with jungle and it felt like we had been cast in an Indiana Jones movie and were the ones discovering the temple for the first time. Often, our guide would call us over and pull back overgrown tree branches to showcase amazing hidden treasures to us. It was an incredible experience.
We have lifelong memories of this trip – visiting the ancient temples, relaxing in our beautiful hotel pool, and connecting with Sovannasey, a young man who has already faced so much hardship and yet has such a positive attitude and is building a bright future for himself. And, of course, I won’t forget Pretty, the dog. I found out as we were getting ready to leave that she belongs to the chef (who takes her everywhere with him) – or she would have been coming home with me…
One of the highlights of the Cambodia leg of the trip was staying overnight in the Cambodian jungle in a luxury tent, in the midst of temple ruins. As we sat on our deck chairs outside our tent with a cold, local beer – and as our chef and his helpers were busy Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Q a ta r K e e p s I t s Tr a d i t i o n s W h i l e P r e p a r i n g f o r t h e O n r u s h o f To u r i s m Article by Habeeb Salloum
hile travelling around Qatar, a land that has leapt quickly into the 21st century, it was apparent to us that the people, even while rushing into the modern world, were still conscious of their history and steeped in tradition. In spite of the oil wealth of the last few decades, Qataris still hold on to the Arab virtues of generosity, hospitality, honour and respect for guests.
Should one be lucky enough like us to be invited to a Qatari home, the friendliness and generosity of the host will be boundless. These traditions, up-to-date tourist facilities and the country's attractive modern architecture, influenced by Qatar's Arab-Islamic past, are drawing an ever-increasing number of tourists.
The appealing virtues of the inhabitants of this 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq mi) peninsula, jutting out 160 km (100 mi) into the Arabian Gulf, have been developed through the centuries. Stone age settlements dating back to 8,000 B.C. have been discovered in a number of places. In the classical age, the Greek historian Herodotus mentions that Qatar's early inhabitants were Canaanites, reputed for their commercial and sea-faring skills. In the 7th century A.D., the country became a part of the Islamic world and has remained so ever since. Beginning in the Middle Ages, Portuguese, Turks and lastly the British fought for control of what was once an almost total desert land. On September 3rd, 1971, Qatar gained its independence and the road to building a modern nation began and has never stopped.
For untold centuries, the vast majority of the inhabitants lived off the sea. Fishing and pearling were the main sources of the country's wealth. As recently as the early part of this century a fleet of over 800 dhows with some 13,000 sailors annually set to sea in search of pearls and fish. However, by the 1930s, Japanese cultured pearls had almost wiped out this industry. The discovery of oil in 1939 came just in time to give work to the mass of people who had lost their livelihood. After independence, this newfound wealth brought an astonishing transformation in all aspects of life. New factories, farmland, roads, schools, mosques and imposing villas became common features throughout the country. In less than a few decades, from an almost total desert land, the country became a rich modern nation with extensive social benefits for all its inhabitants.
Doha, the capital, where over half of Qatar's 2.3 million people live, is a fine example of how the country has been transformed. From a dusty small town, modern day Doha has become a delightful metropolis of luxurious hotels and air-conditioned malls - eyecatching in its beauty. Mile after mile of modern structures, many crowned with colourful domes and minarets and featuring other traditional Arabic patterns, are rimmed by tree-lined boulevards.
Here, a traveller can spend hours amid silks and spices in a world of oriental splendour.
The National Museum, a delightful and renovated old palace built in Arab design; Al Bida Park, an oasis of greenery; the renovated Souq Waqif, the oldest souq in Doha; the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex, a sparkling white attractive Arab-type complex; the Post Office, seemingly out of the Arabian Nights; and the architecturally beautiful mosques, like the Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq and Omar bin Khattab Mosques; give a truly oriental aura to the city. Unlike in the majority of developing nations, the country's engineers have absorbed the benefits of modern construction without rejecting the time-honoured method of building.
After viewing the townâ€™s old minarets, fort and wind towers, Umm Said, 36 km (22 mi) from Doha is the next place to see. The country's industrial capital, it is noted for its fertilizer, iron, steel, petrochemical and oil refining plants. Beyond, near Qatar's southern border, there are mile after mile of huge sand dunes waiting for the sand skiing tourist.
Crowning these appealing structures is the palm-lined 7 km (4 mi) Corniche, stretching along the city's waterfront to anchor at the majestic Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel. Pleasant to saunter or jog along, it imbues the city with a sense of beauty, seduction and open space. When one tires of strolling, a five-minute taxi ride away is Aladdin's Kingdom, an amusement park of greenery, fountains and rides, or the nearby Qatar University with its eyecatching architecture. On the other hand, if a traveller is enamoured with the creatures of the wild, Doha's Zoo, with its large collection of animals, is only half an hour's drive from the city centre. Also, there are oryx farms - a permit is needed to visit these sanctuaries where a large number of this endangered species roams free. If a visitor yearns for the traditional, a short walk from the Corniche is the Moorish-style Al Koot Fort built by the Ottomans and now an exhibition centre for local handicrafts. Outside its doors are the old and new souks with their wealth and variety of merchandise.
Besides Doha and its appeal, there are a number of nearby towns well worth a visit. After bargaining, one can rent a taxi and travel for 20 minutes southward to AlWakrah - once Qatar's main fishing and pearling town and noted for its traditional architecture and museum displaying marine life.
To the north of Doha, Al-Khor, 57 km (35.5 mi) away, is an interesting place to visit. An old port with a harbour full of dhows, the town boasts a museum, an old market place and fine beaches. Another 50 km (31 mi) further north is Madinat Al-Shamal, located on the northern tip of Qatar; and the nearby Al-Zubarah, one of the most important historic sites in the country, known for its archaeological sites and its old fort, now housing a museum. The Qatar National Hotels Company is largely responsible for developing the country's tourist potentials, which annually draw about 1.3 million visitors. The company efficiently administers a number of the country's top hotels and the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Club and the Doha Golf Course and Club, one of the largest in the Middle East with a striking Arabian-style clubhouse. Other visitor drawing sites are a skating rink; Palm Tree Island Development, in the middle of Doha's bay; and some 60 km (37 mi) to the south, the Umm Said Beach Resort. Embellishing these sport outlets are the dhow cruises, desert safaris and hospitality of the people. Gracious to guests, Qataris welcome strangers like long lost relatives, making them feel at home.
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
S w e e t D r e a m s A r o u n d T h e Wo r l d
Luxury Hotels...Grand Resorts...Charming B&B...Opulent Villas...Quai
Nanuku Resort & Spa FIJI
The Leading Hotels of the World Welcomes Six New Members to its Collection The Leading Hotels of the World has recently announced the addition of six new members in Austria, Greece, Spain, and the United State to its collection of uncommon luxury hotels. The newest members join the more than 375 other diverse properties in 75 countries that embody their destinations through design, culture and cuisine. Among the newest members are hotels anchored in ancient city fortresses, and properties with strong art-inspired influences, award-winning chefs, and signature spa facilities, reflecting the collection’s commitment to character and individuality.
A sanctuary for relaxation and discovery set on two of the island’s best beaches, Nanuku offers 18 Balinese-style suite and villa accommodations furnished with relaxed contemporary and Fijian décor and featuring expansive decks, private plunge pools and ocean views. Nanuku’s Club House is the private hub for resort guests and boasts beautifully landscaped gardens and magnificent sea views. The chic Lomana Spa and Wellness Centre includes a fitness center (with personal trainer on standby), a hair salon, the Lailai Children’s Club, and a guest library. Guests may learn skills from local artisans in the Cakava Creative Workshop, from grass skirt weaving to tapa printing. The Kanavata Restaurant and Lounge Bar looks out across an infinity pool to an azure lagoon framed by coconut palms. The Sunset Deck is located poolside, and the Wai Pool Bar serves tropical drinks (including the resort’s legendary Nanuku caprioskas) infused with local ingredients.
The new members:
Palais Coburg Residenz, Vienna, Austria
P l a y
Chromata Up Style Hotel, Santorini, Greece Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge, Mykonos, Greece Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Tucson, Arizona Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Lenox, Massachusetts
S t a y
Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques, Madrid, Spain (opening soon)
Ikurangi Eco Retreat Opens in the Cook Islands Ikurangi Eco Retreat recently opened its doors to Rarotonga and the world. Described as a place “where luxury meets sustainability," Ikurangi offers guests the choice of a luxury safari tent experience or tropical are (studio style) room. Each tent is equipped with a super king bed, electricity, en-suite including outdoor rainforest shower, tea and local coffee, bar fridge and toiletries from NZ based company, Ecostore. For those special getaways, guests are invited to enjoy the Ariki Tent, a luxury safari tent with an outdoor claw foot bath and champagne on arrival. All guests will enjoy complimentary bicycles and a daily tropical breakfast featuring artisan breads, seasonal fruits and cereal. Guests are encouraged to explore the island’s culinary treats for lunch and dinner, however, a private chef can be arranged upon request.
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Prefer red Hotels & Resorts New Independant Hotel Openings For 2016
This new five-star palace hotel housed in a restored neo-gothic building is conveniently located on the Passeo de Gracia, Barcelona’s shopping mecca. Guests will be wowed by the 84 immaculately designed guestrooms and suites with balconies extending city views. Other highlights include a florist, wellness center, and a Mediterranean-influenced cocktail bar and restaurant offering.
An idyllic sanctuary nestled on six oceanfront acres, Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa blends modern comforts with experiences anchored in the Anguillan tradition. The 63-room property is the island’s only resort located on the acclaimed pristine sands of Shoal Bay Beach. When sun-worshipping and bathing in crystal clear waters becomes a tad exhausting, the retreat offers spa experiences such as Taino-inspired healing treatments and small-batch rum tastings in the Rhum Room.
For more of #ThePreferredLife: Travelers celebrating a special occasion should dine at the hotel’s two-Michelin starred Restaurante Lasarte by seven-Michelin-starred chef Martin Berasategui.
For more of #ThePreferredLife: Enjoy an island hopping boat excursion to St Maarten or St. Barths, seamlessly organized by the resort’s friendly concierge team.
The newest resort on Clearwater Beach, Opal Sands presents casual beachfront luxury in a relaxed environment. Each of the 230 guestrooms and suites are spacious and airy with large balconies extending picture perfect ocean vistas. Families can opt for one of the suites, which include a second bedroom, expansive living area, kitchenette, and veranda-style balcony, while all guests can indulge in long walks on the powder-fine sand, pampering at the spa, or cocktails by the outdoor pool.
Designed by the renowned Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, the 30story Hotel Las Américas Golden Tower Panamá is situated in the city’s financial center, steps from La Cinta Costera and the best nightlife in town. Guests staying in one the 285 upscale rooms and suites have unrestricted access to an array of dining outlets including the two-Michelin-starred Erre Restaurant. Other facilities include a spa with Turkish bath, sauna, and a flotarium.
For more of #ThePreferredLife: Travelers can soak up the evening atmosphere on Pier 60, a short walk from the resort, where nightly sunset celebrations include artisans, crafters, and street performers.
For more of #ThePreferredLife: For the best selfies, guests can take the elevator up to the largest executive lounge in the city and strike a pose on the panoramic terrace.
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Can Lluc Ho te l, I b i z a
Ibiza boutique, so very sheik!
hop, skip and jump away from the busy city of Mallorca lies a small island paradise where quiet solitude can be found, even at night, depending where you go. Our stopover here was a treat, as we stayed at a wonderful hotel â€“ the Can Lluc boutique hotel.
Located in the center of the island and away from the hustle and bustle of the town, this family run property is built on a lush plot of farm land that owner Lucas has developed into a country sanctuary for travellers. The transformation he has ushered in has created an area perfect for relaxing and reflecting, yet close to everything due to the small size of the island of Ibiza. The Can Lluc boutique hotel can be found tucked away on a large piece of farmland, which offers space and privacy for guests, as the rooms are available quite a ways apart. The hotel rents semi-detached and independent villas, which are both spacious and modern. They have an open concept with large beds and include sofa beds and a kitchenette for those who want them. My room was in an old two-room farm house, very rustic and decorated with an oldworld charm. The patio was a real treat, with over-hanging trees and grape vines surrounding it, creating a cozy nook where we enjoyed drinks and breakfasts as the days would start, lazy afternoon siestas and quiet evening nightcaps. Although this was an old structure, it still had all the modern amenities including a fabulous shower, Wi-Fi, cable TV and luxurious furnishings befitting the fussiest guests. Afternoon naps in the warmth and shade were wonderful experiences for me, and it was all so relaxing that I at times I did not feel like venturing out to see the island of Ibiza! The owners have worked hard to bring the natural beauty of the island to this small oasis just a few kilometers from Ibiza's lovely coves and beaches. There is a small trail around the property to wonder around the nooks and secluded woods, immersing visitors in the calm, quiet Ibiza countryside. Flowers, plants and life are teeming and the sounds of nature add to the charm of the land.
On the property itself, guests are treated to many facilities and services catering to their every whim.
For after a walk, the outdoor Jacuzzi is just one of the many features guests have access too, as are peaceful spaces with Balinese beds, lush gardens, shaded gazebos and wooded areas. A gymnasium, spa and wellness centre are open for those wishing to work out or be pampered with extra care. Guests can also enjoy a dip into the pool and have a nap beneath a carob tree. Relaxation is the name of the game! Photographers and sightseers will enjoy the landscaping and location, as the hotel is located in the heart of the island and is home to many local flora and fauna. There is a spectacular viewpoint where they can enjoy the sun setting over San Antonio Bay and magnificent views of the island. The owner has recently added a modern restaurant and bar that fits in well with the old structures. Traditional local fare, made with products supplied by local organic vegetable gardens and markets, include fried farmhouse eggs with Can Caus "sobrasada" (a local sausage) and Ibizan potato. For something a little more international, Tartare of red tuna with Szechuan pepper and fresh lime is a restaurant specialty! Needless to say it was as fresh as can be. The restaurant includes a large, fabulous outdoor terrace and dining area where the delicious meal can be enjoyed under a star-filled sky or a buffet breakfast in the morning. All our meals were coupled with wines to please any palate, including a mix of many top brands, many Spanish wines and even a few from Ibizaâ€™s own wineries, which allow visitors to discover the best of the current local wine industry. Getting away from it all does not have to be adventurous nor have to be depriving, and this was a perfect fit to stay on Ibiza, in harmony with nature and close to all the action. You can tell the owner and his family love what they do, evidenced by the service, attention to detail and pride that goes into everything.
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
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Three Hot New Stays in the Sunshine State!
by Susan Campbell
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Travel to Wellness at Sparkling Hill
Article & Photography by Jennifer Merrick
“The cold relieves inflammation resulting in less pain and more mobility,” says Bradshaw. Besides arthritis, it is also used to treat athletic injuries, insomnia, depression, auto-immune disorders and to accelerate recovery after surgeries. Generally, two sessions a day for a minimum of five days is recommended to see significant results, but it can be done as a one-off treatment.
“There’s a huge energy rush,” says Bradshaw. “It’s a rejuvenating experience.” Rejuvenating? Mmmm, tortuous seems a better word for it, but I’m about to find out. The waiver’s been signed, blood pressure taken (a little on the high side, but not enough to get out of the treatment) and earcovering headband, mittens and surgical mask are on. Here we go. The first chamber we enter is a mere -15C, the next one is more like a freezer at -65C and much too soon we’re in the final chamber, chilled to a ridiculous -110C, where we are supposed to stay for three minutes. “Frost bite sets in at five minutes,” says Bradshaw.
Dylan lyrics of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, and amazingly I make it to the end of the three minutes. Not everybody does. Five minutes after getting out, I’m still laughing, giddy as though I drank too much champagne. This euphoria lasts for about 30 minutes. Apparently, it’s not an unusual response. “It’s your body releasing feel-good hormones,” Bradshaw says, and elaborates on the dopamine response and the increased intake of oxygen you experience during the treatment. Of course, maybe I’m just happy to be alive, but whatever it is, I surprise myself by admitting I would actually do cryotherapy again.
A Vision of Wellness It’s so shockingly cold that it almost doesn’t register. We’re going around in circles shaking our arms as instructed while music blares in the background. Despite my skin prickling likes pins and needles are being jabbed into me, I laugh at the ironic Bob
Photo: Sparkling Hill Resort
t is -110 C and hard to even begin to fathom that degree of cold, yet I was about to expose myself to just that level of extreme temperature, wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Why? Because I’m visiting Sparkling Hill Resort in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, and the cold sauna is one of their signature treatments. Also called cryotherapy, it was developed by Japanese and German rheumatologists as a remedy for arthritis, explains Paul Bradshaw, staff kinesiologist, who is leading us through this unusual procedure.
Photo: Sparkling Hill Resort
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If cryotherapy doesn’t appeal to you, the 40,000-ft KurSpa has over 100 different combinations of treatments to choose from, depending on your needs.
67 “We don’t look at the spa and its treatment as a decadent luxury, but as therapeutic,” explains Dean Tarasewich, spa manager. “If you’re in the steams and saunas, you’re sweating out toxins, improving your circulation, relieving pain……it’s all taxing on the body.”
About Sparkling Hill
Truth be told, none of it feels very taxing. The saunas and steams here are more decadent than any I’ve been to, and I’m spoilt for choice. Should I try the sweet-scented rose steam, the salt steam or the herbal dry sauna? Or maybe the classic Finnish sauna, crystal steam room or the aqua meditation room? Even the showers are out-of-this world, and include one that simulates a gentle rain and another, a tropical storm complete with thunder and the scent of an orange grove.
The 152-room resort, owned by Austrian Gernot Langes-Swaroski, the illustrious head of Swaroski cystals, opened in 2010 at a cost of over 120 million. It shouldn’t be a surprise then to find so many of the sparkling gems in the hotel – more than 3.5 million crystals in all. You’ll find them everywhere, from the grand chandelier in the entrance and sculptures in the dining room to the crystal fireplaces in the rooms and tastefully in-laid in door handles and even the backs of chairs.
After we’re steamed and saunaed out, we venture outside to the infinity hot tub and gaze at view of the turquoise Lake Okanagan surrounded by the Monashee Mountains. It’s a truly stunning sight and one you’re never very far from at the resort. Whether you’re drawing open the blinds on the floor-to-ceiling window in your room, stretching in the exercise room, or enjoying fabulous meals in the PeakFine dining room, the view of Canadian wilderness at its grandest greets you.
All amenities, including the steams and saunas are included in every stay and only guests have access to Kurspa (cryotherapy excepted), and use of their facilities. They have a multitude of wellness specials that range from introductory two-night health and wellness packages to weeklong wellness retreats that focus on specific health concerns, including weight loss, cleanse and detox, and an athletic recovery program. One of their most popular is the Stay Young and Healthy for 55+ that focuses on kickstarting a healthy lifestyle and tailors a program for each individual depending on their needs and goals.
Taresewich says that the most satisfying part of his job is seeing how people transform when they’re here. “They come in really wound up from cities and within a short time they’re a totally different person, relaxed and expressing gratitude for their time here.” Personally, I feel calmer than I’ve felt in the long time. I credit it to the combination of nature views, wonderful meals, and the spa, but perhaps there’s something even more? Dr. Ray Lendvai, the resident Naturopath tells me that this is a native healing ground.
“There’s something going on with the rock underneath,” he says. “You feel good here.” Yes, whatever the reasons are, you most certainly do.
About the region Sparkling Hill is situated about 20 minutes from the town of Vernon, a year-round tourist destination in the Okanagan known for its golf in summer and skiing in winter. Wineries, distilleries, orchards and farms, provincial parks and a wide array of local attractions make it a popular mountain escape.
get out of our now uniform fluffy robes and explore the region. We drive up into the Monashee Mountains to Silver Star, a ski resort known for its abundance of powder snow and uncrowded varied terrain. The village itself has instant charm, partly due to the requirement that all buildings are painted at least five colours. The effect of this combined with the blanket of snow creates an enchanting winter wonderland, which is fitting because the skiing here is pure magic. Their Nordic trail system is among the largest groomed trail system in Canada, and their downhill trails have 115 runs on 1,240 hectares of skiable area. Combine this with 700cm of snow annually and an average daytime temperature of -5 and you can’t ask for anything more. What I love as a novice skier is that the long beginner run I choose (Far Out Trail) has both spectacular vistas and very few other skiers on the slopes. I’m able to make my way down as slowly as I want, stopping to take pictures of the snow ghosts (trees completely covered with snow) without worrying about being knocked down. I keep pinching myself to see if this is real. When I rave about this experience at the end of the day, a ski instructor says that this is the rule rather than the exception on the mountain. In fact, he tells me, the uncrowded vastness was the reason he left his corporate job on Toronto’s Bay Street to become a ‘ski bum’ here. Back at Sparkling Hill in the evening melting away my sore skiing muscles in the steam rooms, I dream about moving to Okanagan myself.
www.sparklinghill.com www.skisilverstar.com www.tourismvernon.com www.hellobc.com
On our third and final day we manage to
Photo: Sparkling Hill Resort
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Frolicking in Florida
C h o c o l a t e , L e g o , R a c i n g a n d S e a Wo r l d ! by David J. Cox rlando is a wonderful place with so many activities, parks, attractions, museums and more that it is exhausting just planning what to do! This trip, we decided to forgo Disney and check out some other attractions. Our big days were spent at SeaWorld, where the rides overwhelmed the animals and their amazing water park, Aquatica, where I learned what ‘freefalling’ means. We then pressed the pedal to the metal in go carts, and rode one of the fastest little roller coasters ever at Orlando’s Fun Spot America, followed by a step into childhood at Legoland and topped off with visit to a chocolate lover’s paradise, the Chocolate Kingdom.
King of the Chocolate Kingdom A bit of fortuitous timing and we were able to visit the Kingdom with just our family and 3 other people. The waiting room is an interesting area, with a windowed hothouse area containing several cocoa plants, and shelves chock-full of handmade chocolate treats. The tour is really aimed at families with children, as the first step is a fun video that introduces visitors to a cartoon prince and his pet dragon who will help the human guide explain the history of chocolate! After the video, our guide was inundated with questions from my son, who quickly became the star of the show. Our guide answered every question in a friendly way, never condescending or patronizing. I think he sparked a new passion in my son – chocolate making! The three together (guide, prince and the clumsy dragon) take visitors through each step of the chocolate making process. It starts with the history of chocolate, stemming from the Mayan and Aztec empires in
a memorable and interactive way. There are videos, plaques and displays. The presentation is done at a leisurely pace and we never felt rushed. The best part is that they let you sample the chocolate during each phase! Some highlights include the `chocolate land` diorama, with a 5 foot tall milk chocolate castle, a river of dark chocolate and forests of white chocolate trees. There was also the marshmallow catapult…which can be a little painful if done wrong…as my son`s chin found out! After the history lesson, guests are led into the chocolate factory where the experts are hard at work making dark, milk and white chocolate. The creamy mixtures are hypnotizing as they are slowly thickened. At the end of the tour, visitors get to choose their chocolate bar starting with a choice of dark, milk, or white chocolate, then adding add any 3 of an awesome list of ingredients including peppers, cashews, mint pieces, rice crispies and much, much, more!
A magic visit that my son (and our taste buds) will not soon forget!
Loving Legoland! Legoland is a blast for young and old alike, especially the under 10 set, the real target audience of the Park! The ambiance throws you right into your imagination and childhood. The Miniland area was a real highlight. The replication of famous landmarks were really remarkable, including the Daytona International Speedway, with Lego drag cars and stands filled with Lego characters, the Kennedy space centre diorama was detailed and impressive, as was the Miniland Pirate’s Shores with boats and cannons. My personal favorite was the new Star Wars themed Miniland section, with scenes taken from the 6 films and the Clone Wars series. A hydraulic system that has the Millennium Falcon taking off; a battle scene with smoke and music; dueling Lego Jedi – as adorable as it was impressive. The rides were more fun than thrilling, as they were also geared towards the younger fans, though the Dragon offered a little drop or two that got the heart going!
SeaWorld Though the shows like ‘Shamu’s Miracle’ show and the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin! are interesting and fun, it was the rides that were the highlight at SeaWorld for us. First up was the Manta, a coaster where riders are suspended under the track offering the sensation of flying. It is very daunting and on the climb towards the first drop, and I was not comforted by my son’s words, “see you on the other side”! Next was their roller-coaster / boat ride Journey To Atlantis, where riders begin floating through a canal, up a hill and into a dark passage with Arabian themed scenes, down a dark tunnel and into the first splash pool. That is followed by another climb and a major drop into a pool, then
the ride becomes a super-quick roller coaster until another drop. We laughed and laughed as we rode this one at least 4 times! Our visit was a pleasant one, and though I am not one for captivity, the SeaWorld rehabilitation centre is amazing, as are its many walk through aquariums with glass ceilings. It is quite something to walk beneath a real shark!
SeaWorld Aquatica Aquatica has many of the typical slides offered by water parks, but some are truly exceptional. For the novice, there is the gentle Dolphin Plunge that glides through an aquarium housing a few dolphins, who often swim alongside the clear plastic tube! My favorite was also the biggest thrill slide I have personally done, Ihu's Breakaway Fall water slide. As we reached the ‘launch zone’ my son asked “I wonder which is fastest!”, to which the attendant answered The Blue One! Ever foolhardy, my son entered the torpedo-like chamber first. I will never forget his face as the countdown ended and the floor dropped from under him. Well, I’m sure my face held the same expression as the floor fell from under my feet. The slide starts with a freefall and then the rider starts the slide, gliding at incredible speeds. Seconds later you arrive at the bottom laughing at the absurd speeds of the slide. I cannot wait to do it again! Walhalla Wave is a thrilling family ride, with a maze of twists, turns, and tunnels before hitting the landing pool.
land of big name parks!
We enjoyed the carnival ambiance and were impressed with the rides that were offered. I have ridden many roller coasters, and I think their White Lightning is in solid contention for a position in my top ten. Lasting only about 45 seconds, this super fast wooden coaster is an absolute treat to ride. Tight corners, breakaway speed, that wooden click-click feel that the metal coasters cannot offer – this ride was something special. I think I rode on it a dozen times and could have enjoyed a dozen more, but there were Go Karts awaiting! Renowned for their multi-level Go Karts tracks, Fun Spot did not disappoint. The kids had the opportunity to drive their own Go Karts, which made their day. I heard many a cry of “I’m going to beat you, Dad!” After a short wait, the countdown…3, 2, 1, and we were off. There were two different tracks that we enjoyed. Turns and straight-aways, twists and climbs, the whole family was laughing and trying to win the races! The Park also offered a moderate Freedom Flyer coaster and other amusement park staples, including bumper cars, Ferris wheel and the world’s second tallest SkyCoaster at a dizzying 250 feet tall! A good portion of the day was spent in the arcade as well, with plenty of video games, pinball machines and other fun available. Family fun for everyone!
www.chocolatekingdom.com There are enough fun rides for a day-long stay and luckily, Aquatica also offers a lazy river that puts all other lazy rivers to shame. With a moderate current, visitors can swim, float or laze along Loggerhead Lane. Total relaxation.
www.legoland.com/florida www.seaworldparks.com www.aquaticabyseaworld.com
Orlando’s Fun Spot America I had never visited a Fun Spot before, and I regret it! What a great little treasure in the
Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Clear Blue Skies
E VA A i r w a y s vergreen Group Chairman and Founder Dr. Chang Yung-Fa created EVA Air in 1989. The first flights to Asia were made in the same year—on July 1, connecting to more than 60 major cities. In collaboration with UNI Air and other airline carriers, EVA Air makes connections with China, particularly Taiwan. This is made possible through EVA Air’s recognition as a Star Alliance member in June 2013.
Because Taiwan is the main hub for EVA flights, it’s worth highlighting some of the city’s must-see attractions, including the Chiufen Village, Pitou Cave, Yingge and Sansia to discover ceramic art and pottery, Elephant Mountain, National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Park, Taipei 101, and Shilin Night Market. EVA Air makes stops across Mainland China, Japan, Macau, and North America, including Canadian World Traveller Spring/Summer 2016
Toronto and Vancouver (with approximately five flights to and from Taiwan daily). Choose among one of the following classes when you book a flight: Royal Laurel, Business, Economy, Premium Laurel, Elite. Because EVA Air has a great reputation for flight safety and reliability, it comes as no surprise that this airline has received many awards. Aero International has ranked EVA Air as one of the world’s top 10 safest airlines since 2004. The American Travel + Leisure magazine voted EVA as one of the best airlines in 2010 and 2012. In 2012, airline travellers unquestionably gave EVA a passing grade for best airline staff service throughout Asia. Consider EVA Air whenever you plan a trip across the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. Have a safe trip!