Vacations Winter 2023

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WINTER 2023 Hiking in Cinque Terre Slow travel in Patagonia Discover Mazatlan, Mexico's rising star Cruising the Nile GREAT ESCAPES

The world awaits, and we’re eager to help you travel again.

We’ll be there for you to safely explore the beautiful wonders of the world, make new connections and enjoy life at its best.

Our promise:

• To be your inspiration, insider knowledge, advice answers and right hand.

• To ensure there’s always a team standing behind you that you can count on.

• To relieve you from stress so you can fully enjoy your vacation.

• To create personalized experiences and custom touches just for you.

• To make you feel welcome, wherever you choose to go.

With our expertise, you’ll never feel more connected to the world.

TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK, CHILE

Credits

PUBLISHER

Ensemble Travel Ltd.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR & MANAGING EDITOR

Valérie Lenoir

EDITOR

Michele Sponagle

PROOFREADING

Isabelle Labrosse

ADVERTISING

Franca Iuele

CONTRIBUTORS

Lois Alter Mark

Jade Braham

Ann-Marie Cahill

Vanessa Dewson

Lisa Kadane

James Krick

John M. Smith

Sharon McDonnell

Chaitali Patel

Darcy Rhyno

Chris Robinson

Edgary Rodríguez R.

Toby Saltzman

Michele Sponagle

CREATIVE DESIGNER

Bertrand Richer

Fleur de Lysée

Ensemble

Ensemble Vacations (Winter 2023).

All rights reserved, Ensemble Travel Ltd. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without written permission of the publisher.

Ensemble Vacations® is published on behalf of Ensemble Travel Ltd. member agencies.

ENSEMBLE VACATIONS®

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Editor’s Letter

Most Canadians have a bit of a love-hate relationship with winter. Some like the idea of cozying up in a warm sweater with a cup of hot cocoa and heading outside to ski, to skate or to play pond hockey. Meanwhile, others think of winter as a bleak, cold season they must endure until it’s spring. The good news is no matter how you feel, it’s a prime time for a great escape.

Exploring somewhere new or soaking up some sunshine at your favourite ocean-side resort is good for the soul and the body, too. Taking a break from your normal routine has ample benefits, from improved heart health to stress reduction. As Canadians, we tend to focus too much on work and many (almost 50 per cent, according to one survey) don’t use all the vacation days their employers provide. Only one-quarter took all their holiday time.

If you’re one of those people with leftover vacation days, you’ll find that the winter issue of Vacations magazine offers hundreds of ideas on what to do with them. Our contributors have literally travelled the world in search of fantastic destinations worthy of becoming your next great escape. If you’d like to shake up your list of favourite go-to spots, you’ll discover some new contenders near and far.

Well within reach for a week-long vacay, we’ve highlighted Mazatlan, Mexico’s hottest new resort area; Anguilla, a wee island next to St. Maarten with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and a truly delectable cuisine scene; and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where adventure seekers can spend their days snorkelling, hiking and more, surrounded by incredible beauty.

If you’ve got a bit more time available, dream bigger and head to less-travelled parts of the world. We’ve got stories about glamping in the Australian Outback, slowing down and disconnecting in the peaceful cities and towns of Patagonia and feeling the island vibe of the Seychelles. Fans of cruising are in luck, too. Consider an itinerary with an exotic slant –a voyage along the Nile, Antarctica, Saudi Arabia or Indonesia.

Ready to book or need more ideas for your great escape this winter? Talk to your Ensemble travel advisor and make it happen.

Happy travels wherever you go, Michele

CERTIFIED REFORESTED
MICHELE
SPONAGLE EDITOR EDITOR@ENSEMBLETRAVEL.CA
4 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023

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Detours

TRAVEL NEWS

From e-bike tours to skipgen trips, get hip to what’s shaping how we travel PACKING LIST

Eco-minded essentials for your next trip On your next vacation, take along these items designed to be kinder to the environment. From bags to shampoo, we’ve got the goods on how to shop mindfully to help the planet

HOT LIST

The U.S. Virgin Islands push visitors out of their comfort zones with land and sea activities for the timid and the fearless

SPOTLIGHT

Mexico’s rising star Travellers discover why Mazatlán is emerging as one of the country’s top sun destinations Features EXPEDITION

EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES

Road trip to the past

The King’s Highway to Petra reveals ancient treasures, rich culture and life rooted in tradition

WELLNESS

42 The spa towns of the Czech Republic

The country's spa towns tap into the healing properties of water, indulgent treatments and a culture of healthy rejuvenation

SOLO

TRAVEL

Hiking in Cinque Terre

Italy’s five colourful fishing villages on the Ligurian Coast enchant year-round and offer hubs for exploring its challenging routes

LUXURY

Travel in the slow lane

Higher education

Baltic cruise provides indepth lessons on art, nature and history in a culturally vibrant region of Europe

Bon Vivant

60 Meat and greet One writer’s pursuit of the perfect Argentinian steak, from traditional ranches and grasslands to elegant restaurants and a chef’s home

Falling into the leisurely island rhythm of the Seychelles, where luxury means savouring life and natural beauty

RIVER CRUISE

Cruising the Nile

The legendary river connects visitors to ancient wonders and the gifts of modern Egypt

A matter of taste

Take a bite out of Anguilla, a top contender for the ‘Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’ title, with everything from grilled lobster tails to callaloo stew

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Finding peace In Ushuaia, the city at the end of the world, exploring the Argentinian Patagonia presents travellers with opportunities for adventure and solace UNIQUE ACCOMMODATIONS
Glamping with the stars Forget about camping. The best way to experience the Australian Outback is in luxurious tents surrounded by nature and a starry night sky ANCESTRY
Finding the Celtic spirit A road trip through the historic towns of West Wales reveals legends and mysteries surrounding ancient lands CRUISE
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Featured Contributors

Based in Prince Edward County, Ontario, John Smith is a freelance travel writer and photographer who enjoys travelling the world and writing about his adventures. He has written weekly travel features for a group of community newspapers, presented several travelogues, and is the author of two cycling books – Cycling Canada and Cycling the USA. He looks forward to each new adventure and destination with eager anticipation.

Edgary Rodríguez R. loves wandering in unfamiliar places and getting lost among their people. She’s a Venezuelan journalist currently based on a Spanish island — fulfilling her dream of living next to the sea. When she travels, she looks for surprising details; and when she’s at home, she writes about journeys, wellness, culture and lifestyle. Her ideal destination includes breathtaking views of natural and man-made scenery, but as she’s not picky, she’ll relish any escape.

Ann-Marie Cahill is a writer with a taste for adventure. Growing up on the Great Barrier Reef, she now runs against the flow and dreams of escaping the sandy beaches for dark sky parks and cozy hot chocolates. Her philosophy is to pack light and travel hard, filled with memories and not souvenirs. It’s hard to make a real escape with oversized luggage.

Based in Wales, Jade Braham is a travel writer and photographer whose work has been published in numerous magazines Her perfect great escape is a destination that allows her to search for unknown ancient histories, folklore and cultural activities that provide insight into a country’s authentic identity. Her recent adventures include tracing the Knights Templar in Portugal, hiking the French Alps, taking helicopter rides over Mauritius’s volcanic landscape and wine tasting at president John Adams’ ancestral home.

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Travel moves us

TRAVEL NEWS

What’s trending in 2023

From e-bike tours to skip-gen trips, get hip to what’s shaping how we travel

Trip stacking – booking multiple holidays in case one got cancelled – was all the rage in 2021. In 2022, revenge travel took off with a vengeance as pandemic restrictions eased and TOALs (trips-of-a-lifetime) looked within reach. For 2023, consider these five travel trends.

SMALL-SHIP CRUISING GOES BIG

Access to smaller ports and more remote destinations, exclusive shore excursions that are included in the price, and ships that feel like floating boutique hotels: these are a few of the reasons cruisers choose to set sail on small ships. In fact, river cruises are the fastestgrowing segment of the cruise market, with destinations like France enjoying a tidal wave of bookings on both the Seine and Rhône Rivers for 2023, according

to Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways. Also buoying the popularity of Avalon’s river cruises are its Active & Discovery itineraries that let guests customize their days in port with hikes, bike rides, walking tours, wine tastings and even chocolate making. Small-ship expedition cruises to far-flung lands such as Greenland or Norway’s remote and rugged coast are experiencing a bump, too, as people no longer put off dream trips.

LET THE KIDS GO “GRAMPING”

Grams and Gramps whisking the kids away for a week to Disney World or Hawaii isn’t just a dream. It’s becoming a trend based in reality. Called skip-gen travel (where the middle generation is left out) or, ahem, “gramping,” this trend sees grandparents now having enough time and disposable income. And perhaps more important, still being active, able and willing to spend a vacation with the wee ones and give mom and dad a break. An American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) survey revealed that 32 per cent of grandparents have taken a vacation with just their grandkids. Other data shows 72 per cent of grandparents said this kind of travel makes them feel younger. Sounds like a win-win for everyone!

DETOURS
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GET ROLLING ON AN E-BIKE

Bike tourism has raced ahead after many people rediscovered the freedom of two wheels during the pandemic. Speeding its surge are electric-assist bikes (e-bikes), which have revolutionized cycling trips by allowing travelling companions to pedal together regardless of ability or fitness level. E-bike options have become the norm on day tours in cities around the world. What’s more, companies have been quick to hop on this

trend, and plan to have e-bikes available everywhere they run multi-day cycling trips, from Argentina to Zambia (route permitting). Currently, companies are seeing a rise in the popularity of easy routes in Europe. These itineraries have more flexibility and free time built in so riders can go at their own pace and take time to explore without worrying about saving energy to tackle the hills.

REMOTE DESTINATIONS NOW WITHIN REACH

Anyone who dreamed of escaping to the planet’s far corners over the past three years can make that a reality in 2023. Remote destinations and hiking trails rank as “hot trending” and in high demand, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s industry snapshot from May 2022. Think the Trans Bhutan Trail in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the Transcaucasian Trail in Georgia and Armenia, or the Lycian Way in Turkey. Intrepid Travel is seeing this resurgence first-hand – the company’s active trips are up 130 per cent from 2019, says Matt Berna, Intrepid Travel president for North America. Indeed, Intrepid’s active hiking and camping itineraries in Asia, Africa and South America are so popular, the small-group adventure travel company has curated a selection of new trips with Wildland Trekking that explore the beautiful backcountry in national parks closer to home, such as Death Valley, Yellowstone and Zion in the United States.

AUTHENTIC, HANDS-ON TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

From kneading pasta dough in the home of a local in Bologna and crafting a unique gin in England, to making batik in Bali, more travellers are incorporating hands-on experiences into their holidays. These kinds of meaningful and engaging activities go deeper than simply bagging a city’s top sights via proof-on-Instagram and are part of the “slow travel” movement that has been growing for the past two decades. A survey by Hidden Scotland, an online travel resource, found that 83 per cent of respondents prefer slow travel to “tick box” tourism and like to take their time exploring a destination and being immersed in the local culture. We like the sound of that, especially in Scotland, where living like a local means starting the day with a warm bowl of porridge and a wee dram. Sláinte!

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PACKING LIST

Eco-minded essentials for your next trip

On your next vacation, take along these items designed to be kinder to the environment. From bags to shampoo, we’ve got the goods on how to shop mindfully to help the planet

HAPPY EARS ECO-FRIENDLY EARPLUGS

KOBO CLARA 2E

For reading by the beach at your five-star resort, this travel-sized eReader is ideal. It’s waterproof and has an exterior made from 85 per cent recycled plastic (including 10 per cent ocean-bound plastic like water bottles). The latest Kobo has more storage, longer battery life and Bluetooth wireless technology. Pair it with a protective SleepCover ($34.99) also fabricated from recycled materials.

$159, Kobo.com

Tuck a pair of earplugs in your carry-on bag for quieter flights and daytime naps poolside while you soak up the sun. It reduces noise by 25 decibels on average. Made in Sweden, this pair uses recycled plastic trash sourced from the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. Launched in 2020, the soft earplugs (available in small, medium and large) fit securely into ear canals and are comfortable enough for sleeping.

$42.50, Happyearsearplugs.com

MATT & NAT TATUM VEGAN BACKPACK

The Montreal-based company is completely vegan and crueltyfree. For the last 15 years, it has been creating linings for its bags out of 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles – using about nine million annually. This stylish backpack has plenty of roomy pockets, padded and adjustable straps, and a drawstring. For shore excursions, shopping trips or a night out, it is a fashion-forward accessory you’ll love to own or to gift a special someone.

$155, Mattandnat.com

JACK59 SHAMPOO BARS TRAVEL TRIAL PACK

If you’re trying to fly dry and not bring liquids with you, solid shampoo and conditioning bars are a handy option. Those from Jack 59 don’t use plastic, silicone, sulphates or parabens and come in recyclable packaging. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, the Indigenous-owned company also has a zero-waste production process for its hair and personal care products made with ethically sourced, organic botanicals.

$26, Jack59.ca

DETOURS
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IT’S YOUR HEART THAT TAKES YOU PLACES

Please Contact our Travel Advisors Today. Ask about Canadian Resident rates and our Exclusive FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities. EXQUISITELY CRAFTED CUISINE. CURATED TRAVEL EXPERIENCES. SMALL SHIP LUXURY.
We make your travels to the world’s most magical destinations possible. But it’s your endless passion for discovery that leads you there.

HOT LIST Adventure awaits

The U.S. Virgin Islands push visitors out of their comfort zones with land and sea activities for the timid and the fearless

Now that the winter season is here, my thoughts turn to a Caribbean escape, even if just for a brief change of scenery and temperature. One of my favourite destinations for this is the U.S. Virgin Islands, made up of three major islands – St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, plus several tiny islets and large rocks that merely jut out of the water, about 50 islands and cays altogether. They’re a magnificent destination, not only because of the numerous spectacular beaches you’ll find but also for the fantastic variety of activities offered.

Even though I find it difficult to remove myself from soaking up the sun on the beautiful white-sand beaches, I do make time for outdoor adventure. Here are a few worth doing.

DETOURS
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BOATING

Whether you wish to rent a power boat for a day of touring, charter a sailboat, enjoy some leisurely kayaking, or try your luck at deep-sea fishing, the U.S. Virgin Islands have it all. Fishermen often find tarpon, mackerel, grouper and snapper near the islands, but they need to go further out to pursue wahoo, tuna and marlin.

SEA TREKKING

Sea Trekking is a guided underwater journey, an experience that allows participants to walk right on the ocean floor, available at St. Thomas’ Coral World Ocean Park. It’s a wonderful way for even non-swimmers to get an up close and personal view of the spectacular aquatic life and magnificent coral beds of Coki Bay. Wearing a specially designed sci-tech helmet to keep your head and face dry, you’ll walk along the underwater trail while hanging on to a railing.

CYCLING AND MOUNTAIN BIKING

St. Thomas offers a gentle, self-guided cycling trip along the waterfront to Lindbergh Bay Beach. For a strenuous, challenging mountain biking route, featuring both double and single track, cycle uphill on mountainous St. Croix. For a gentler cycling trek on this latter island, you can ride from Frederiksted along the coast to the remote Hams Bluff.

SNORKELLING

At St. John’s Trunk Bay, you’ll discover a fascinating underwater trail with submerged markers. An even better snorkelling area is found near St. Croix at Buck Island Reef National Monument, featuring a well-marked underwater trail and a spectacular coral reef.

HIKING

Since Virgin Islands National Park covers two-thirds of the island of St. John, this is the best destination for the serious hiker. You’ll find several trails in the park, including routes to Bordeaux Mountain, Reef Bay, Caneel Hill and Francis Bay. On St. Croix, a rather challenging trek will take you through lush rainforest to the Carambola Tide Pools, another popular hiking destination. Upon arrival at these large, naturally formed pools, reward yourself with a swim or a snorkel.

ZIPLINING

The adrenaline-charged Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline Tour is located high up in the rainforest of St. Peter Mountain on St. Thomas. It offers participants breathtaking views of Magens Bay. “Limin” means “hanging out” in the local jargon. Here, you’ll literally “hang out” in the trees as you soar through the air from eight different platforms.

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SPOTLIGHT

Mexico’s rising star

Travellers discover why Mazatlán is emerging as one of the country’s top sun destinations

It’s the bottom of the seventh. One on base, two out. At the plate, a Venados batter wallops the next pitch over the left field fence. I jump to my feet, joining thousands cheering the home team hero who just gave them a two-run lead over rivals, the Yaquis.

This could be a scene from any Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium, but the mariachi band playing behind me and the fiery spice on my hotdog say Mexico. Here in the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium, the Mazatlán Venados (Deer) host games from October to January.

DETOURS
MAZATLAN'S COLOURFUL OLD STREETS IN CENTRO HISTORICO
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Baseball isn’t what jumps to mind when considering a winter getaway, but Mazatlán’s unique attractions and recent improvements make it a top emerging sun destination. Mazatlán is Mexico’s only colonial city on a beach. In the Golden Zone resort area, 14,000 hotel rooms just became available. And as a culinary destination, Mazatlán calls itself the shrimp capital of the world.

To test the claim, I take the Pata Salada Food Tour by Tomatl. Former chef Paola Osuna leads a small group around town, first to La Palapa Efren, a six-table kitchen overlooking Mazatlán’s shrimp market a few blocks from the shrimp fishing fleet. I bite into a cheesy taco gobernador as Osuna fills us in on the origin of this local specialty. The combination of shrimp and Oaxaca cheese dressed with a salsa of poblano peppers, tomatoes and cilantro is named for a former governor of Sinaloa (home state of Mazatlán), who ordered it on every visit. Strolling the streets through Mazatlán’s colonial heart or Centro Historico, we pass heritage buildings painted in sunny yellow, salmon and periwinkle. During the pandemic pause, the city carried out US$400 million in infrastructure upgrades. The recently renovated Plaza Machado, named for the wealthy merchant who financed the construction of its cathedral in 1837, is lined with restaurants and shops, shaded by palm and orange trees. Because Day of the Dead is approaching, families are building elaborate shrines near the cathedral of flowers, food, prayer flags, eggs painted like skulls and photos of the departed.

THE WATERFRONT PROMENADE
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CLIFF DIVER

From Plaza Machado, it’s a pleasant walk to the El Faro lighthouse built in 1890, overlooking the harbour entrance. The climb up 336 steps to the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas is worth it for the view through the glass floor lookout installed in 2021 and views of the city along the seven-kilometre seaside boardwalk or malecón linking the Centro Historico to the Golden Zone.

Back at street level, I hail a pulmonia to my hotel. This open-air taxi is unique to Mazatlán and resembles a golf cart with a back seat. After a siesta and a reinvigorating swim, I catch another ride for an evening on the town. Given the significant expat community here, friends gather in the Centro Historico most evenings for coffeehouse open mics, karaoke and standup comedy.

At a café, I strike up a conversation with a Manitoban who has lived downtown for the past 11 years. “We’re absolutely in love with Mazatlán, especially this area, Centro Historico,” she says, adding that she enjoys the casual feel of the

city. “On Friday night, people sit with their families on the malecón, listen to music and watch cliff divers.”

As much as it has to offer, there’s one new addition that will supersize Mazatlán as an emerging destination: the opening of its world-class aquarium expected in 2023. With three levels, 19 exhibition spaces and a huge ocean tank, it will be the largest aquarium in Latin America and the only one in the world to focus on the Sea of Cortez, the enormous gulf between the Baja California peninsula and mainland Mexico. Mazatlán sits at its mouth.

Back at the baseball game, the Yaquis score in the eighth inning to pull within a run, but the Venados relief pitcher holds off the rivals in the ninth for the win. I cheer the Deer to the last pitch. On my way out, I pass the mariachi band, still performing, again confirming that this was no ordinary game. The Venados playing in Teodoro Mariscal Stadium is major league entertainment in a top-notch, emerging destination.

© DARCY RHYNO OPEN-AIR TAXI KNOWN AS PULMONIA DAY OF THE DEAD FAMILY SHRINE GOBERNADOR TACOS
ENTRANCE TO THE
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GOLDEN
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Finding

peace

In Ushuaia, the city at the end of the world, exploring the Argentinian Patagonia presents travellers with opportunities for adventure and solace

Located at the southernmost point of South America, the Argentinian Patagonia charmed me as soon as I saw the mountains from the air – with the flight acting as an invitation to reflect on the immensity and beauty of the Andean range.

When the plane landed in Ushuaia, I knew Patagonia would become one of my favourite places on the planet, where a sense of peace comes just by thinking about the seagulls circling over the scenic bays.

One of the most popular trends these days is to put personal wellness first, to disconnect from stress and slow down. Travelling to a remote location can do just that. To obtain

it, you just need to choose the perfect place. For me, it was Ushuaia – a city far from the hustle and bustle of the bigger ones and only 1,000 kilometres from Antarctica. I enjoy big cities, but it’s the small locations with natural beauty that steal my heart.

In the city at the end of the world, as Ushuaia is also known, you can walk through the charming streets without fear of getting lost. The city of about 70,000 inhabitants is big enough not to feel crowded and small enough to explore at a leisurely pace. To get the longed-for calm that many travellers seek in a fast world, you can get delightful spa treatments, attend a meditation retreat or simply connect with nature.

EXPEDITION
SEALS ON A ROCKY ISLET IN THE BEAGLE CHANNEL
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I chose the outdoors to find my balance. In Ushuaia, it meant listening to the sound of the ocean waves, wandering in the forest, feeling the breeze on my face and flying thousands of kilometres to venture into the icy waters of the Beagle Channel. After landing, I walked to the bay, sat on the sand and witnessed one of the greatest scenes – the sunset, which turned the water of the channel into shades of gold.

The next day, during the catamaran trip, I decided to leave the comfort of the indoor seats and stay outside on the almost-empty deck. The breeze was cold, but the views were worth it. As the city gradually fell behind,

passengers were welcomed to mountain chains, small human settlements, islets with wildlife and plenty of water –perfect to inspire a state of serenity.

You could do as I did, a four-hour catamaran trip to see the Bird Island, Sea Lion Island, Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse and Martillo Island. Or you could go trekking, canoeing, flying in a helicopter or take other tours – such as a visit to Harberton Ranch to explore the nature trails and see the penguins up close. For that option, a visit during the months of October to April is best since both the magellanic and gentoo species arrive to nest during the warm season.

© ANDRÉS CAMACHO PHOTOS / USHUAIA MUNICIPAL TOURISM © ANDRÉS CAMACHO PHOTOS / USHUAIA MUNICIPAL TOURISM PENGUINS ON MARTILLO ISLAND BEAGLE CHANNEL ADMIRING AN EMERALD LAKE
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When you choose activities, try not to miss Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse –the majesty of the structure in the middle of the sea is a postcard-worthy image. You may want to call it (as many people do) The Lighthouse at the End of the World after the 1905 Jules Verne adventure novel, but it’s not the right name: Verne got his inspiration from the San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse, also in Argentina.

At the sailing’s end, the sunset greeted us to remind us of the charm of the city, too – with museums, restaurants and a mall with a privileged view, allowing us to get away to rest our minds, but at the same time feeling we are still

surrounded by people. However, if what you want is solitude in the middle of nature, this will never be a problem in Ushuaia.

I ventured to Tierra del Fuego National Park – a unique experience in a protected territory of more than 600 square kilometres, with impressive lakes, mountains and bays in a vast Andean-Patagonian Forest. Most visitors can take a catamaran, a car tour or the tourist train to visit the park. These are excellent options for those who are afraid of getting lost or don’t want to walk too far.

For my part, I decided to arrive by bus and walk without timetables

© ANDRÉS CAMACHO PHOTOS / USHUAIA MUNICIPAL TOURISM LES ÉCLAIREURS LIGHTHOUSE
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LUPINS BLOOMING IN USHUAIA

along forest trails with breathtaking views. I didn’t have a guide. I just followed the bus driver’s instructions and calculated the time so as not to miss the last bus back to the hotel. (Between the park and the city, it is about 20 minutes by car, but walking is almost four hours.)

I felt that this is the place where time stands still. The best part of the journey was understanding the vastness of the forest and experiencing no anxiety, just silence and a feeling of wellbeing. The crowning touch was the viewpoint towards Lapataia Bay. I saw the tourists arriving at the park by catamaran and, above them, a double rainbow that reminded me how after the longest and most challenging paths (in this case, a beautiful one) lies our reward. Perfect to achieve a greater peace of mind.

Our Experts Suggest

EXPEDITION CRUISING

If you’re up for an adventure, expedition cruises are a great way to really experience out-of-the-way destinations like Ushuaia and Antarctica without needing to do all the planning yourself. Because expedition ships are on the smaller side, opportunities to connect with fellow cruisers are aplenty, even for solo travellers. And with an emphasis often on nature and culture, expedition cruising offers many learning opportunities with onboard lectures, expert naturalists, local guest speakers and more. You could even contribute to conservation efforts yourself.

Curious to know more about expedition cruising? Talk with your travel advisor to look at options to fit your style.

Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 23
YENDEGAIA NATIONAL PARK

Glamping with the

stars

Forget

about camping. The best way to experience the Australian Outback is in luxurious tents surrounded by nature and a starry night sky

Imagine yourself stretched out on a comfy bed with nothing between you and the sparkling dust of the Milky Way galaxy above. This is my happy place. I can lie here for hours, gazing at the majestic southern skies and feel at peace in the Australian Outback.

My childhood was filled with extended road trips across Australia, traversing long distances between small townships, and nights camping under the stars. Few things in our travelling lives can beat this fantastic feeling. If you have an opportunity to upgrade your Outback experience from camping to glamping, say yes.

As much as I loved adventures with my family during the day, nothing was more exciting than the soft fall of dusk and waiting for the stars to appear above us. Sometimes, we stayed in roadside hotels, but I was happiest when we camped near Dubbo, and I spent the night under the biggest sky I had ever seen.

Fast forward 25 years. Now I am the driver on epic road trips. I can still hear the call of the Outback like a siren –a voice on the wind rolling over the dusty red roads telling me it’s time to return. It’s the same voice that’s calling to many travellers, encouraging them to go glamping

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in the region and immerse themselves in nature.

Hands down, the Australian Outback is the most magnificent stargazing adventure you will ever experience, thanks to the low levels of light pollution. The Northern Hemisphere has famous constellations, but the Southern Skies glitter with the tail of the Milky Way galaxy, Magellanic star clouds, and the Jewel Box, a 160-million-year-old star cluster. You don’t need any special equipment to spot most of these. A good set of binoculars can provide enough detail, but often I find myself staring up at the sky and enjoying the natural beauty.

Glamping is the perfect travel experience to immerse yourself in the outdoors without sacrificing any of the luxuries. It’s the ideal way to dip your toe in the world of camping without being overwhelmed by all the preparation needed. You can take all the best parts of camping – the outdoors, the open space, the serenity, and then make it a little more comfortable.

Unique stargazing tents like Mirumiru Bubble Tents are perfect. These heavyduty camping domes look like igloos with a transparent roof for an unobstructed night sky view from your bed. Or you can soak in an outdoor bathtub to catch a meteor shower or see planets twinkle far off in the distance. The swags create a thick comfy bed with warm cozy blankets for when

the
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Glamping is the perfect travel experience to immerse yourself in the outdoors without sacrificing any of the luxuries.
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KINGS CANYON

weather cools. Everything is ready to go from the minute you arrive.

I think I fell a little in love with glamping in the Australian Outback purely from these tents. The best part is the location – Tenterfield, New South Wales. It’s along the same central highway from my childhood, and yet still close enough to Sydney and Brisbane to make it a worthwhile visit. Here, you can do bush walks and explore the same small towns I did as a kid.

Bald Rock National Park is the best bush-walking destination, just 30 kilometres from Tenterfield. Named after the largest granite monolith in the Southern Hemisphere, the mighty Bald Rock towers 260 metres above the sweeping bushland. As a child, I would climb the summit with my family and feel like I was on top of the world.

Australia’s second-largest granite boulder is also nearby but gives you a slightly different experience. The Mount Mackenzie Scenic Drive follows around the high country encompassing Tenterfield, passing by sheep and cattle

who don’t appreciate the amazing views as we do. Giant granite boulders mark the road to the lookout at the top of the tablelands. It’s the ideal place to stop for a picnic and simply take in the breathtaking vistas.

When you’re ready to come back down to Earth, Tenterfield hosts a sweet collection of cafés and museums. The Railway Museum was always a family favourite, while Sir Henry Parkes School of Arts Museum is filled with inspiration from the natural surroundings.

When it’s time for sleep, the outback has other glamping spots, like Longitude 131o and its luxury camp overlooking Uluru. It has 16 tented pavilions in the Central Desert’s redrust dunes. Or keep cool in air-conditioned glamping tents for couples or families at Kings Canyon, complete with outdoor decks and en suite bathrooms.

When asked about travel in Australia, I always say to get out of the city. Jump in the car, or take the bus, train, or whatever will take you outback. Make yourself comfortable. Find a place to glamp and soak up the starfilled sky.

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POOL AT LONGITUDE 131°
PLUNGE
YOURSELF AT MIRUMIRU
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PAMPER
BUBBLE TENTS LUXURY BATHROOM AT LONGITUDE

Touring. Beyond.

THE WORLD BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOKS

If you’re ready to say goodbye to the ordinary and hello to the extraordinary, Globus will help you explore the world’s most iconic sights and uncover towns, villages and coasts without crowds while engaging in tradition-rich customs, tasting centuries-old specialties and discovering you along the way.

Globus has a collection of Undiscovered tours in Italy, Scotland, Ireland & the Mediterranean that take you off-the-beaten piazza and on the cobblestones less-travelled.

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Finding theCeltic spirit

A road trip through the historic towns of West Wales reveals legends and mysteries surrounding ancient lands

Ifind myself facing a 4.9-metre-high, steel statue. His broad shoulders disappear beneath a “warrior” cloak. A sword juts out at his left, and his right hand clasps a spear and shield.

This is Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan, known locally as the ‘Welsh Braveheart.’

He and I are standing on the undulating bailey of Llandovery castle. It was here that King Henry IV ordered the disembowelment and dismemberment of Llywelyn’s body as punishment for supporting Owain Glyndŵr’s war against the English monarch. To his left are the crumbling remains of the twin-towered gatehouse.

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Further afield lie the rugged fringes of the Brecon Beacons National Park, within which an expansive tarn called Llyn y Fan Fach houses the mythical Lady of the Lake. She is one of the many Gwragedd Annwn – beautiful women who dwell deep in the mountain lakes of Wales and woo mortal men.

This diverse history contained within such a small radius is what I love most about living in South Wales. On my eight-day trip through the country’s western reaches, I leave behind my ‘Welsh Braveheart’ to travel the pastoral roads of Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, known as Celtic Routes. I’m on a mission to find my “Celtic Spirit,” a connection that brings me closer to the land of my ancestors, their myths and legacies.

I begin at the isolated Llyn y Fan Fach, where tussling winds spread rapid ripples across a 10-hectare lake. The

amphitheatre-like escarpment towers above it, while the heavy fog squatting metres above the water clings to my bare arms, pulling me towards the water’s edge.

As if by magic, the fog departs, revealing the tarn’s position at an altitude of 510 metres within the 480-million-yearold Fforest Fawr Geopark. A path leads to the Picws Du summit, where I spot the route that the Lady of the Lake’s magical cows (who also came from beneath the lake) took to reach Dinefwr Park – their current home, according to legend. Back at the lake, I hear an unexpected splash and see the head of a woman appear above the surface of the water. For a second, I’m sure the Lady of the Lake is before me, but alas, it’s just someone who has ignored the “no swimming” rule and taken a dip.

Excited by this encounter, I trace the cattle’s route to Dinefwr, where aggressive snorts and the occasional

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bellow from a mother to her calf bring me face-to-face with these iconic white creatures. One nods in the direction of Dinefwr’s ancient deer park; and, upon entering, I witness a large herd leap through thick clusters of ferns.

Above the foliage rises Dinefwr Castle –the main court of the ancient kingdom of Deheubarth, whose people shaped the Wales I know today. Two more strongholds, Dryslwyn and Carreg Cennen, lie within 16 kilometres, but a passerby suggests that I travel to St Davids and the 14th-century tomb of Lord Rhys, the ruler of Deheubarth.

The clangs of St Davids Cathedral bells greet me, reminding me how this has been a place of service and pilgrimage for centuries. Today, locals still march through its doors, where a greeting sign reads: “Welcome, Pilgrim to St Davids.” Lord Rhys’ tomb is overshadowed by an interior loudly devoted to Wales’s patron saint. The woody smoke of candles left in his honour and the lovingly gilded shrine have an essence of the sublime, honouring David’s role as the father of Welsh Christianity.

But I have my most Celtic moment in North Pembrokeshire at Castell Henllys Iron Age Village – Britain’s only reconstructed settlement to exist on the same spot where tribes lived 2,000 years ago. Here, I follow the Barefoot Trail, traversing the same terrain as Celtic warriors. I remove my shoes, plunging my toes into cold, squelching clay,

rough flint gravel and serrated wood chips. By the end, I’m thrilled to detect the peaty fragrance and cooling air of a nearby river in which to wash off my muddied feet.

Then later, my fingers are red and tender from attempting to build a Celtic roundhouse by weaving smooth hazel branches through wooden posts –one of the hands-on activities offered to guests. In the interest of my fingers, I revert to a gentler pursuit – making Celtic bread by mixing flour with water before kneading and splitting dough into smaller pieces for cooking.

The sweet aromas of baking bread and smouldering fire linger on my clothes and follow me to Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber and Carn Ingli, called the 'Mount of Angels.’ At Carn Ingli’s hillfort, legend claims that angels whisper secrets to those sleeping on its 347-metre summit.

Try as I might, I have no luck hearing from these celestial beings, so I head to Strata Florida Abbey, an important Welsh Cistercian church. Above it is Penlan Hill, which boasts a giant sculpture of a pilgrim walking. I glance away to marvel at the abbey’s decorated tiles, but when I turn back, I’m struck by the figures of fellow visitors moving around the statue. My mind convinces me that the pilgrim, too, appears to be moving, igniting my belief that Wales is a land where myths and magic are real. It feels like I’m finally in touch with my Celtic spirit.

© DISCOVER CARMARTHENSHIRE © DISCOVER CARMARTHENSHIRE GRAVE OF POET DYLAN THOMAS, LAUGHARNE LLYWELYN AP GRUFFYDD FYCHAN STATUE
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COWS GRAZING IN THE CARMARTHENSHIRE HILLS

Highereducation

A Baltic cruise provides in-depth lessons on art, nature and history in a culturally vibrant region of Europe

CRUISE
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Sitting on the outdoor terrace of the Leim mountain goat farm, 400 metres above western Norway’s gorgeous Aurlandsfjord, I’m thinking that this “restaurant” should win the prize for best scenery.

Here, I sample goat milk 13 different ways – pancakes topped with cherry jam and brunost, the country’s beloved nutty-tasting, brownish-orange cheese, creamy goat cheese flavoured with herbs and garlic, and feta-like cheese. It’s an apt reward for an almost two-hour hike uphill after our boat ride from Flåm to Skjerdal.

About 70 goats, the source of such bounty, graze near us on the steep hillside dotted with grass-roofed houses. The owner of the property shows us how she makes cheese the old-fashioned way. All of these moments make my lunch one there to remember.

The experience is just one of the highlights of my Baltic cruise – something I’ve always wanted to do since my mother’s family hails from the Baltic States. Taking this cruise appealed to me because the itinerary included

Norway (though it’s actually on the North Sea). Having visited it before, my soul yearned to see Norway’s pure nature again.

After strolling Bergen’s Bryggen wharf district past wooden buildings dressed in bold primary colours, I hear a live concert of music by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, right next to his country home in Troldhaugen. I admire scenic views of the lake through floor-to-ceiling windows behind the piano in the concert hall, a serene backdrop for hearing selections from his most famous composition, Peer Gynt Suite.

I’m someone who wants to learn something new every day. By God, was I ever in the right place. I’m riveted by the ship’s lectures. I listen intently as I hear about the history and legends around amber, called the “gold of the north,” mankind’s first precious gem. The fossilized resin millions of years old was prized by the ancient Egyptians (and found in King Tut’s tomb), Vikings, who saw it as a sacred stone, Slavs (to whom it represented the sun), Greeks,

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Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 33
FLÅM, NORWAY

Romans and Etruscans. Not to mention author Michael Crichton, whose Jurassic Park novel featured marauding dinosaurs that grew from embryos preserved in amber.

The Baltic is the only place in the world where amber is found in the sea; elsewhere, it’s mined. The lecture provided a great background as I browse amber jewelry shops spotted from Stockholm to Gdańsk, Poland, which has its own Amber Museum and a street lined with amber stores. Formerly called Danzig, Gdańsk was one of the surprises of my trip. It was one of the wealthiest cities in the Hanseatic League, a network of merchant ports that dominated trade in northern Europe for centuries (so rich, in fact, a liqueur flecked with gold, Goldwasser, was invented here in the 16th century). The city is packed with majestic Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque façades, meticulously reconstructed after the Second World War. Its shipyards are where the Solidarity movement was born in 1980.

But more surprises abound. In Aalborg, Denmark, I find “singing trees” on my stroll around the city: push a button and hear a song from a musician who performed here and planted a tree, from Tom Jones to Sting, in its Park of Music. In Stavanger, Norway, it’s a street of houses painted in unexpected shades of hot pink, lavender and lime green in an area called Ovre Holmegate.

The city approved the colour scheme proposed by artist Craig Flannagan, who said he was inspired by the 1980s cop show, Miami Vice. Stavanger’s contrasts are startling. On one hand, its old town has the biggest collection of old wooden houses in Northern Europe, white houses with dark blue accents and potted plants in front. On the other, it has the most electrifying street artwork I’ve ever seen, like a giant deer head composed of junk like metal pipes, rubber and radios, designed for Nuart, a major 10-day street art festival where artists worldwide come to decorate the walls of buildings. I’m discovering these things on my own, thanks to maps we get on arrival.

Back onboard the ship each day, I love hearing from other passengers about their excursions, like food lover’s tours of Stockholm and Copenhagen, touring castles and riding Norway’s famous Flåm mountain railway, considered one of Europe’s most scenic train rides. I’m sorry I missed them. No matter. There’s always next time. I still have so much more to learn about this intriguing region.

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HOME OF COMPOSER EDVARD GRIEG

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Road trip to the past

EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES
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The King’s Highway to Petra reveals ancient treasures, rich culture and life rooted in tradition

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Being something of a Middle East travel junkie, I am obsessed with its history, culture and diversity. It has led me to explore it quite extensively over the years. I was shocked to discover I had missed an ancient trading route, one of the arteries of the Levantine world leading to the famed hidden capital of Petra.

The King’s Highway is an ancient route dating back to pre-Biblical times that crosses from Egypt to Syria. The best-preserved section of this route through history lies in the Kingdom of Jordan.

Many people imagine Jordan is largely made up of sweeping sand dunes crossed by camels and their Bedouin herders. However, they may be shocked

to discover that Amman, Jordan’s capital (and the starting point for a road trip) resembles a Mediterranean metropolis. Although this was not my first visit there, it wouldn’t be complete without taking in the sights of the Roman ruins. The amphitheatre and the citadel above them have jaw-dropping, 360-degree views of the surrounding hills and its souqs whose sights and aromas offer an authentic taste of Arabian culture.

When it comes to food, Amman doesn’t disappoint. It has become a fine dining hub with many high-end restaurants offering some of the best Levantine cuisine in the world. However, for an original taste of Jordan, I found the humble Al Quds falafel shop offers a fantastic taste of an Arabic

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staple. The delicious street snack was ideal as I prepared for the next stage of my journey in the footsteps of kings. The journey out of Amman on the King’s Highway takes you through several villages and towns still following a traditional way of life that has existed for centuries. Whilst the modern world is certainly present, you get a sense you are travelling through the veins of history when driving down the highway.

I reached the city of Madaba not long after leaving Amman. It’s an absolute treasure trove of places to see, including a Byzantine mosaic that took my breath away. It depicts a map of the Holy Land as seen in the 6th century. It’s a fascinating glimpse of the past.

A short drive out from Madaba, getting to Mount Nebo means a slight deviation from the highway, but worth the detour. This is where Moses reportedly first saw the Holy Land revealed to him. It is now marked by a Byzantine chapel with spectacular views down to the Dead Sea and to Israel beyond.

Arriving next in Kerak, I found a small city built around Kerak Castle, an absolutely pristine example of a crusader fortress and one of the greatest examples of medieval castles still in existence. Dating back to the 1140s, it was built by the Kingdom of Jerusalem to guard its supply route between Egypt and Damascus.

As the highway took me south from Kerak, I noticed the change in the terrain. The trees and foliage of Amman

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JORDAN

gradually gave way to the desert with sand-covered plains stretching out on either side as far as the eye could see.

I was now beginning the final leg of my three-day adventure to find the lost capital. Very little can prepare you for what awaits when you enter Petra. The initial trek took me through the Siq, a narrow canyon with dramatic, sheer cliffs on either side. This canyon then opened up to reveal a truly breathtaking sight – the Treasury, made famous by Indiana Jones films. It marks the entrance to the ancient city which stretched back some seven kilometres. Upon seeing the lost city for the first time, you certainly understand why it is referred to as the one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. I found Petra has an overwhelming array of places to explore with the ‘Rose City’ hiding something new around every corner. I couldn’t take in all that Petra offered in just one day. Fortunately, the area boasts some unique accommodation options, including a stay in a cave inside Petra itself or sleeping in a luxury bubble tent in the desert hills above the site.

Over the course of my road trip, I discovered Jordan is one of the most fascinating and culturally rich countries in the region. And there is no better way to experience it than by travelling the King’s Highway as the titans of history have done for centuries before.

Our Experts Suggest

DISCOVERING JORDAN’S MAGIC

If you’d rather be accompanied by an expert local guide on your journey through wonderful Jordan, Intrepid Travel offers an eight-day Premium adventure exploring the country’s most spectacular sights. From days spent uncovering the secrets of Petra – one of the most striking sites in the area –to taking in all the colours of sunrise in the Wadi Rum desert and so much more, prepare to be swept away by the vistas and Jordan’s storied past. And beyond the landscapes and history, this itinerary promises authentic encounters with local people – full of heart and deep-rooted tradition. Soak in the Bedouin culture as you enjoy a traditional dinner cooked in a zarb (underground oven) and take part in a Beit Sitti cooking class and dinner in Amman. More once-in-a-lifetime, authentic experiences await. Contact your travel advisor to start planning your journey.

© VISIT JORDAN THE MEMORIAL OF MOSES AT MOUNT NEBO © JORDAN TOURISM BOARD
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THE TREASURY, AN ELABORATE TEMPLE IN PETRA

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with local experts on a Princess® cruise

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And with your Princess Premier fare, you’ll savor everything from two dinners at onboard specialty restaurants and top-shelf beverage package to multi-device Wi-Fi and photos – all included!

*Fares are per guest and apply to minimum lead-in balcony categories on a space-available basis at time of booking. Fares are non-air, cruise- or cruisetour-only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. Fares and other values quoted in Canadian currency, unless otherwise indicated. 1Certain restrictions apply, refer to your travel advisor for complete terms, conditions and definitions that apply to Princess Premier.

2Up to $85 USD Onboard Spending Money per stateroom is applicable to first/second-berth guests only. Third/fourth-berth guests are not eligible. Onboard spending money may be used on a single voyage only, is not redeemable for cash, cannot be used in the casino and expires at the end of that voyage. Offer is not transferable and may not be combinable with other select offers or other onboard credits. Onboard spending money is quoted in U.S. dollars and is based on the ship’s onboard currency. Void where prohibited by law. ©2022 Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. Princess®, MedallionClass®, and the Princess logo are trademarks of Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Ships of Bermudan and British registry.

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of the Czech Republic spa towns

The country's wellness destinations tap into the healing properties of water, indulgent treatments and a culture of healthy rejuvenation

We are gathered around a fountain, one of 15 found in Karlovy Vary. We take turns filling small porcelain cups with a handle that doubles as a straw. I fill my spa cup only a quarter of the way, still a little wary about drinking water directly from an underground spring. As the warm, bubbly mineral water hits my taste buds, I remind myself that people have been drinking from these springs for centuries. Their healing properties still draw thousands of visitors to this part of the Czech Republic every year. And now that three of its spa towns have been recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage List of the Great Spa Towns of Europe (Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně), more wellness seekers are coming. Làzně means “spa” in Czech but since it’s so close to the German border, you may also hear these towns referred to as Karlsbad, Marienbad and Franzensbad. Together,

they create the West Bohemian Spa Triangle. Drinking the mineral-rich water is not the only way to get its health benefits. Bathing in the naturally carbonated water is thought to decrease blood pressure, ease inflammation and improve circulation.

After sitting in a long metal tub filled with bubbly water for 20 minutes, my skin felt soft. When the spa attendant came back to my private room, she guided me to a bed where I was wrapped in a sheet and told to relax for another 10 minutes. I happily obliged. If I didn’t feel like getting wet, I could have had a dry bath where I would lay down, fully clothed, inside a long bag sealed around your chest and pumped full of carbon dioxide to be absorbed through my skin.

One session of either treatment isn’t enough to feel any long-term health effects, so most guests stay for two

WELLNESS
The
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to three weeks. (Czech citizens can have their stays covered by their health insurance.) Many spa hotels have medical doctors on staff along with other healthcare practitioners. They have a very holistic approach to treating the mind and the body, prescribing walks in the parks or nature reserves nearby, like the Kladská peat bog. Its peat is also used in treatments and spa products.

Walking along the colonnades where the fountains are found, I’m transported back in time and can easily picture people in Victorian dress milling about, spa cups in hand, nibbling on the thin, tasty spa wafers for which the region is known. But inside the spa hotels, you will find cuttingedge modern amenities. For example, the Savoy Westend Hotel in Karlovy Vary boasts a 3,000 square-metre wellness centre with more than 300 treatments as well as a pool, salt cave and steam bath.

Another popular option is the historic Grandhotel Pupp, established in 1701. Brass plaques by the entrance list the dates and names of famous people who have stayed there, from Beethoven to Morgan Freeman. It was also the filming location for James Bond’s Casino Royale (2006). Meanwhile, King Edward II of England went for treatments at the Ensana Nové Lázně Health Spa Hotel in Mariánské Lázně.

Today, you don’t need to be royalty to be pampered. Like at most spa hotels, an initial medical consultation will help narrow down which treatments would be most beneficial or with a room-only package, you pick them à la carte.

Whether you are looking for a place to heal, recuperate, or simply relax, the beautiful historic spa towns of the Czech Republic are the perfect spots for a European wellness getaway.

© CZECH REPUBLIC TOURISM © CZECH REPUBLIC TOURISM © CZECH REPUBLIC TOURISM Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 43

Hiking in Cinque Terre

As soon as hikers begin climbing the ancient stone steps that straddle the mountain between Riomaggiore and Manarola, they’re committed. It’s like Italy’s version of a Stairmaster, ascending 235 metres in under a kilometre, passing terraced vineyards and offering up vertiginous views of the pastel-hued buildings clinging to the seaside cliffs below.

I stop along the route multiple times to guzzle water and wish I had hiking poles for the steep descent that waits after the summit. Hiking in Cinque Terre is beautiful, but it can be a beast.

I’ve travelled to Italy’s northwest coast following a few days in Bologna to repent after feasting on pasta and Parmigiano-Reggiano, all washed down with multiple glasses of Sangiovese. Trekking between the five fishing villages that are part of Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has long been on my bucket list. Cinque Terre is crowded in summer, so I’ve chosen to come in early winter for this solo adventure. Though regional trains run less frequently between November and March, and there are fewer options for bars and restaurants due to seasonal closures, the days are longer and turn sunny. It’s a wonderful time to visit.

“You’re hiking by yourself?” questioned my mom, not one to travel overseas alone. I tried to reassure her. It was Italy after all and there would probably be places along the path to stop for lemon granitas (there were).

The truth is, I’m far from an anomaly when it comes to striking out alone. A whopping 76 per cent of Canadian women have travelled solo, according to one survey. That number has likely risen since the pandemic. In fact, Google searches for “solo travel” have quadrupled in the past two years. It’s not just gen zeds or millennials travelling unaccompanied either. Gen Xers are well

Italy’s five colourful fishing villages on the Ligurian Coast enchant year-round and offer hubs for exploring its challenging routes
SOLO TRAVEL
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represented. Like me, 60 per cent of travellers under age 55 go alone because we like the feeling of freedom and independence.

When I make it to Manarola in time for happy hour, my accomplishment hits home. I savour sardine bruschetta and an Aperol Spritz on the patio at Nessun Dorma restaurant and rest my legs as the setting sun illuminates the town.

I’d expected to feel empowered on this trip, but I wasn’t counting on the difficulty of some of the trails. Two of Cinque Terre’s easiest routes are closed and not expected to reopen until 2024. This is why I ended up on the Via Beccara, an “expert excursionist” route, for my first day hike.

The following day, I take the train to Monterosso al Mare, the furthest north village and begin walking south along the easier Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path). When fully open, it links all five towns in just 12 kilometres. More stone steps arc upwards toward the next village, Vernazza, and I’m soon rewarded with panoramic coastal views.

This trail was originally a mule path dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, when Cinque Terre was part of the Republic of Genoa. It was a vital communication and travel

link between the remote villages until the railway was built in 1874. With its cliffside towns that defy gravity, the wide stone paths connecting them, the vineyard plots and olive groves sculpted into the steep hills (held in place by an extensive network of low stone walls called muretti), the entire area is an engineering marvel. It somehow melds seamlessly with the natural environment, rendering it utterly picturesque.

I pause multiple times to take in the wondrous sights around every bend. I capture a rainbow over Monterosso, listen to an accordion player busking along the path and peer down at the waves crashing onto rocks far below.

When I finally reach Corniglia, the middle village perched high above the Ligurian Sea, I’ve walked over seven kilometres and close to 20,000 steps. I collapse into a patio seat at Ristorante La Posada and dig into a bowl of spaghetti topped with fresh mussels, scallops and shrimp.

Knackered, I opt for the train back to Riomaggiore (rather than hoofing it to Manarola first on another “expert” alternate route). I find a seat at La Conchiglia, a trendy sunset spot, and toast a successful solo trip with a glass of the local white blend. I’ve earned it after all.

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THE TRAIN TO MONTEROSSO AL MARE TASTY
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46 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023
MANAROLA VILLAGE
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Travel in the slow lane

Falling into the leisurely island rhythm of the Seychelles, where luxury means savouring life and natural beauty

‘Paradise’ is a word used liberally when referring to the Seychelles, a sprinkling of islands just south of the equator in the Indian Ocean, and it’s easy to see why. An archipelago of 115 islands, nature clearly puts her best foot forward here. With blindingly white beaches, the ocean a collage of blues and greens, forest covered islands and dramatic sunsets, the first people to arrive on these distant lands in the 18th century couldn’t have been faulted for thinking they had indeed chanced upon paradise.

Colonized by the French and then the British, Seychelles got its independence in 1976. Today, the Seychellois are a mix of people with African, French and Asian lineage.

During our trip, my husband, daughter and I discover that no matter where you come from, eventually everyone becomes an islander. For the brief 13 days we spent there, we did, too. Our days fell into a rhythm suited to island life. There was time for everything. The only distractions were not things to do but the sheer magnificence of our setting.

In Praslin, the second biggest island, the family-owned Coco de Mer Hotel and Black Parrot Suites became our adopted home for a week.

Located on the less crowded southwestern edge of the island, our room opened onto a grassy patch studded with bendy palms and the unending ocean beyond.

LUXURY
© MICHEL DENOUSSE
© TORSTEN DICKMANN
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CATAMARANS AT ANSE GEORGETTE, PRASLIN ISLAND
WALKING ON VALLÉE DE MAI NATURE TRAIL Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 49

One morning on a nature walk with the hotel’s gardener Jamie, we hiked deep into the steamy forest flanking the property. Our city-bred daughter has all her senses on high alert as we walk past palm spiders the size of a side plate and crunch our way on layers of fallen leaves with skinks running amok. It takes some gentle coaxing to get her to bite into the blush pink, watery coco plum fruit that Jamie calls nature’s marshmallow.

A little further, he crushes a cinnamon leaf and holds it up to our nose. Instantly, we recall the octopus curry

served to us at dinner the previous night. Talking about trees, we quiz Jamie about the palm tree outside our room with gigantic fronds and a smooth curvaceous fruit. He breaks into a shy smile and tells us that our hotel gets its name from this tree endemic to the Seychelles.

Once found abundantly across the island of Praslin, now the best place to see the coco de mer trees is the Vallée de Mai nature reserve, one of the smallest UNESCO Heritage Sites in the world. Walking past palms towering more than 30 metres, some completely blocking out the sun, we learn

© MICHEL DENOUSSE © MICHEL DENOUSSE HOLDING THE FRUIT OF A COCO DE MER TREE
50 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023
VIEW OF PETITE ANSE, MAHÉ

that the reason for Jamie’s shy smile is the unusual shape of the coco de mer seed. The largest nut in the world, female seeds are shaped like a well-rounded woman’s derriere and the male seed like a phallus.

Although a speck in the vast ocean, Seychelles offers up surprises around every corner. We get to Anse Lazio, touted to be one of Praslin’s best beaches, and find it blissfully empty. Hawking of any kind is banned on Seychelles’ beaches and this is probably why they feel like well-kept secrets that we stumbled upon by accident.

At Anse Georgette, another of Praslin’s beach gems accessible only via a long walk through the plush Constance Lémuria, we are welcomed by a raging ocean and a sharp evening sun. The slanting rays make everything more vivid. Under low-lying takamaka trees, we spread our towels and bask in the sublime beauty of our surroundings. And just when I thought life could not get any sweeter, Gregory, who runs the fresh fruit stall at the fringe of the beach, offers us half a coconut.

Before I can dig in, he brings out a dented plastic jar and scoops out a spoonful of thick nougat the colour of amber. His grandmother’s specialty, the chewy nougat, made from fresh coconut, mashed banana, brown sugar and spiked with heady vanilla, strikes all the right notes. Gregory urges me to take more but I politely decline, only to run back later sheepishly asking for another helping. I don’t know if it was the ingredients or the setting, but everything tasted better in the Seychelles.

In Mahé, the largest island and home to the capital city of Victoria, we check into the sprawling Constance Ephélia, the largest resort in the Seychelles. With an array of amenities and two beaches (one part of the Port Launay Marine National Park), Ephelia leaves no stone unturned. But as our holiday comes to an end, I realize that true luxury goes deeper than material comforts. It is having the time to genuinely slow down and savour life. That Seychelles makes this easy to do, may just be why it’s called paradise.

© TORSTEN DICKMANN © MICHEL DENOUSSE WATERFALL IN VALLÉE DE MAI NATURE RESERVE
Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 51
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RIVER CRUISE EXPLORING THE RUINS OF THE ANCIENT KARNAK TEMPLE 54 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023

Cruising the Nile

The legendary river connects visitors to ancient wonders and the gifts of modern Egypt

There’s a common Egyptian blessing, “May you always drink from the Nile.” While taking that sentiment literally may not be the best idea, I wish instead that you could cruise it like I did this summer.

Home to the only remaining ancient wonder of the world, Egypt was always a bucket list destination for me. For years, I dreamed of seeing the Great Pyramids and taking a deep dive into the country. I knew I had to see it on a cruise ship. I couldn’t imagine visiting without experiencing it travelling on the very river that helped build Egypt.

The Nile is such an integral part of the country that many experts have been quoted as saying, “Without the Nile, there is no Egypt.” Herodotus, considered the father of history, wrote that the land of ancient Egyptians was “given them by the river.” I was finally getting to explore that gift by sailing on Viking’s newest ship, Osiris (named after one of the most important Egyptian deities), built specifically to navigate the Nile.

My trip begins on land in Cairo, where my first view of the Nile was through the floor-to-ceiling windows in my hotel room at the Ritz Carlton. I couldn’t believe I was staying next to this legendary river and that it was surrounded by – surprise – the neon lights of a bustling city. I don’t know if I was expecting to see baby Moses floating in a basket or Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile steamboat, but I was not prepared for the sight of the grandeur of the Nile City Casino. This was just one of many contrasts I would discover in this surprising and fascinating country.

Wasting no time, our first tour took us right to the pyramids. Simply jaw-dropping. It was surreal to see them in person and impossible to fathom that these gigantic, manmade masterpieces have been standing for more than 4,500 years given the fact my refrigerator couldn’t even last a decade.

We got tickets to enter the Great Pyramid, but I spent only a few minutes inside. Although I found it stifling, some in our group crawl through the long, narrow corridors to reach the King’s Chamber.

Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 55

When we headed over to the Sphinx afterwards, I felt the same sense of awe when I strolled through the streets of Rome many years ago and came across the Colosseum for the first time. The fact that human beings had the vision and skill to create things like these continues to give me hope for the future.

Later, I visited the Egyptian Museum, home to more than 120,000 items. They tell the remarkable story of the

influential ancient civilization. I took dozens of pictures so I could examine their details once back home. I was amazed by the tales told through an intricate language of symbols and drawings. I could have spent a full day exploring this museum alone.

The next morning, after a short flight to Luxor, we embarked on the Viking Osiris to continue our journey through Egypt. Paying homage to its home country, the

© VIKING CRUISES
LUXOR TEMPLE
VIKING OSIRIS SHIP CRUISING THE NILE

ship’s walls are filled with exclusive photos of the country in the early 1900s taken by George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who was the benefactor of Howard Carter. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb and it was enlightening to spend time at Carter House, where he lived and worked during his historic expedition.

Visiting the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings was sobering – a study in everything from archaeology and engineering to communication and religion. In the Valley of the Queens (the resting place of the pharaohs’ wives), I’m lucky to see the tomb of Queen Nefertari, rarely seen by visitors. Passengers were given a special pass to access it. The magnificent royal burial grounds are works of art in their own right. They are thought-provoking in what they reveal about the ancient Egyptians’ attitudes toward death and the afterlife. They stick with me once I got home.

Our Experts Suggest

In addition to Viking Cruises, there are many other cruise lines sailing down the legendary Nile River with purposebuilt cruise ships.

 Avalon Waterways offers two itineraries on the Nile: the 10-day Taste of Egypt and 14-day Taste of Egypt with Jordan. Onboard the 120-passenger MS Farah, you’ll be treated to an elegant, first-class experience featuring beautiful staterooms with French balconies, onboard cooking classes by the chef, and relaxing spa services with à la carte massages included.

 AmaWaterways takes you through history onboard its 72-guest AmaDahlia on a Secrets of Egypt & the Nile itinerary – a 7-night cruise, plus 3-night pre-cruise and

Although we spent many hours at tombs and temples, including Karnak, Luxor, Dendera and the Ancient Temple of Esna, it never got, well, old. These excursions were eye-opening, thanks to Viking’s resident Egyptologist, Hanan Elbeih. She shared stories behind everything we saw, bringing history to life and showing us why these relics remain relevant.

On this trip, I learned about hieroglyphics, mythology, ancient and modern Egypt. As the ship sailed down the Nile, I admired the scenery from my veranda and tried to imagine what it looked like centuries ago. I thought a lot about ingenuity and beliefs – and what we can continue to build on today that will still be there for generations to marvel at thousands of years from now.

My Nile River cruise turned out to be one of the most meaningful trips I’ve ever taken. My only disappointment was that the highly anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) had not opened yet. That’s okay. It just gives me an excuse to come back.

1-night

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post-cruise stays in Cairo. Marvel at the scenic Nile River views from your signature view-enhancing twin balcony, soak in the heated sundeck pool and enjoy regionally inspired entertainment throughout your journey.
Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 57
THE GREAT PYRAMID
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SLOW TRAVEL

Meat and greet

Argentina has taken the popular farm-to-table movement to a whole new level. In the bustling capital city of Buenos Aires, I explored the food scenes in many neighbourhoods. I snacked on pastries at the elegant Café Tortoni and dined at the long-established Le Famiglie, where tuxedo-clad waiters served huge portions of Argentinian meat and fish. And I explored the amiable chaos of the Mercado de San Telmo, where locals go for the freshest produce and empanadas stuffed with meat and vegetables as well as dulce de leche, a creamy caramel desert.

Indisputably at the top of the food chain in Argentina is beef. The average Argentinian consumes nearly 60 kilos

of beef a year and it is affordable to most. To be invited to an ‘asado’ is to witness the art of grilling beef to perfection and to be embraced by the warmth of family and friends bonding over the barbeque.

Several Argentinian chefs open their homes to recreate the asado experience for travellers. Others preside over a pairing of a tango show with an asado at their intimate restaurants. One local chef suggests that I should make a trip to an estancia, a traditional ranch on the Pampas grasslands, before coming to a private dinner in his home. In these pastures that lie south and east of the city, I’ll understand why beef is sourced there and why it is so revered.

BON VIVANT FAMILY AND FRIENDS GATHER FOR A TRADITIONAL ASADO 60 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023
One writer’s pursuit of the perfect Argentinian steak, from traditional ranches and grasslands to elegant restaurants and a chef’s home

The next morning, I make the two-hour journey east of Buenos Aires to San Antonio de Areco and entered another world – the Pampas. The vast plain stretches west to the Andes and south to Patagonia. Spanish conquistadores brought cattle here in the 1500s to the bovine equivalent of heaven on earth. Huge estancias were founded and cowboys called gauchos created a distinct lifestyle that has remained relevant into the 21st century. San Antonio de Areco is a centre for gaucho culture. The small, pretty town proudly celebrates it with festivals, like the Fiesta de la Tradición

Several estancias in the area allow visitors. I head to Estancia El Ombú de Areco, located up a long, tree-lined avenue that leads to a graceful 19th-century mansion.

I’m welcomed with a gourd filled with mate. I sip the hot bitter tea through a silver straw and learn that no gaucho would venture out without this iconic beverage. My gaucho guide, Juan, pairs me with an appropriate horse that proves to be responsive and full of friendly mischief.

Juan is a true rider of the range, kitted out in a beret, breaches and silver knives. We ride across expanses of grassland waving in a stiff breeze – the wide vista made

TYPICAL PARRILLADA, A LATIN AMERICAN BARBEQUE COWS IN THE PAMPAS
© TRAVEL BUENOS AIRES Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 61
CAFÉ TORTONI

even more dramatic by periodic sunshine bursting through the swiftly moving clouds. Large groups of Aberdeen Angus cattle wander freely in this simple landscape of earth and sky.

Back on the veranda of the mansion, I enjoy an extended lunch of empanadas and a Creole barbeque of mammoth proportions, accompanied by a local Malbec wine. An impressive display of horsemanship and gaucho skills gives the impression that man and beast are one single organism. I stroll to the edge of the garden and look out over the Pampas, which seem to stretch forever. I feel like I am on an island shore in a sea of grass, and I begin to understand why I needed to experience this.

I’m anxious now to see how a chef will prepare the beef. I head to a chef’s home on a backstreet in Palermo, an upscale Buenos Aires neighbourhood. In the living room, I join 10 other diners, a cosmopolitan gathering from Switzerland, the United States, Germany and China. We are united in our quest for the ultimate Argentinian steak experience. Over hors d’oeuvres of cheeses, olives and sausages paired with a sparkling Rimé Extra Brut from Argentina’s west, we are given explanations of the gastronomic delights that await us. The group bonds

in broken English as the traditional bonhomie of the asado works its magic.

Upstairs, the dining room is open to the kitchen. I’m able to watch the preparation of all the elements of the asado. Sitting around a single long table, we learn to pace ourselves. Dishes appear from the flames of the parrilla (grill) and zigzag down the table, paired with modest wines from Argentina’s western vineyards. A Batracio white from the Cafayate Valley, a Bodega Mevi Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza, and my favourite, a Malbec from Mariflor (also near Mendoza), which positively explodes on my palate alongside the beef.

Dishes in all their Pampas glory challenge my preconceptions of what beef can taste like. Morcilla (blood sausage) followed mollejas (sweetbreads) and costillas (ribs). Chinchulines (chitterlings, or if you really want to know, grilled small intestine) are particularly good and something I would have never ordered from a menu.

And then came the star of the meal – a succulent steak of such a size that not one of us could finish it all. It was magnificent and the taste was supremely different from mass-produced beef. We’re told that because the steak was Pampas-fed and roamed freely, it was a happy animal. In turn, I am a happy man with hardly any guilty feelings at all.

© ESTANCIA EL OMBÚ © TRAVEL BUENOS AIRES © TRAVEL BUENOS AIRES GAUCHO SHOWING HIS IMPRESSIVE SKILLS MATE, TRADITIONAL TEA LOVED BY THE GAUCHOS
62 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023
THE STAR OF THE MEAL, A PAMPAS-FED STEAK

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WORLDLY DELIGHTS

A matter of taste

Take a bite out of Anguilla, a top contender for the ‘Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’ title, with everything from grilled lobster tails to callaloo stew

The reggae beat of Boss and the Home Power Band ramps up Anguilla’s island vibe as warm breezes waft onto the beach, mingling sea air with fragrant fusions of Caribbean flavours. I’m enchanted by the music, the starlit night and the culinary talents of chef Bruno Carvalho who is joking with guests while grilling lobster tails for a buffet already brimming with specialties for his sea-totable menu.

It’s Caribbean festival at Zemi Beach House, culminating my spectacular week in Anguilla, deservedly dubbed “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” While tasting seafood ceviche, filets of sea bass and red snapper filets, and bites of Wagyu beef, I reminisce how Anguilla’s exclusive cachet has long intrigued me with the Caribbean’s most luxurious resorts, fine epicurean experiences and the best beaches.

Soon after arriving at this tiny island by boat from St. Martin, I begin to understand its allure to global cognoscenti, celebrities and gourmands. Merely

26 kilometres long and 6 kilometres wide, Anguilla is a ribbon of tropical joy. Its vibrant culture, music and culinary style is rooted in its native Caribbean, African, Spanish, French and English heritage.

To maximize my Anguilla experience, I choose resorts in two different areas, each with a world-renowned beach. I learn its culinary delights surpass traditional fare – such as callaloo greens stew, saltfish and pigeon peas with rice, with delectable creations by celebrated chefs at renowned resorts and eateries.

On Anguilla’s southwestern tip, Belmond Cap Juluca dazzles with its idyllic setting of white, Moorish-style villas curving around a crescent of sugar white sand bordering Maundays Bay. While the resort is famed for exquisite dining at Pimm’s, arguably one of the Caribbean’s most romantic restaurants, I choose Maundays Club for local entertainment and chef Cesar Soto’s innovative Peruvian tapas.

BON VIVANT
© ZEMI BEACH HOUSE 64 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023

My taste buds soar with piquant ceviche with shrimp, octopus, tuna and salmon, mains of seared scallops served in oyster shells, and chicken croquettes with mirasol chili. At breakfast the next morning, the only thing better than my smoked salmon eggs benedict is the stunning view of azure surf lapping onto the beach.

Easy to explore, Anguilla is ringed by 33 beaches. At its rugged western tip, the Anguilla Arch, chiselled by aeons of thrashing waves, spans a cerulean cove, my imagined haven for frolicking mermaids. In Anguilla’s capital city, The Valley, food stands and trucks serving tasty barbeque bites, from jerk meats and conch fritters to lobster tacos, are scattered along its streets.

At Crocus Bay, I stop for lunch at Da’Vida Bayside Grill. After devouring crisply fried Johhnycakes and a seafood sampler of mahi-mahi, lobster and calamari, I can’t resist tossing my sandals and curling my toes into the sand while drinking a luscious Anguilla Sunshine, Da’Vida’s signature concoction of Malibu rum, peach schnapps, orange and pineapple juice.

Sandy Ground, Anguilla’s main harbour, bustles with bars, their reggae soundtracks playing on the breeze. Among Anguilla’s original beach bars, Johnno’s creates a heady medley of rum punches. At Elvis Beach Bar, built in a vintage racing boat that harkens to Anguilla’s boatbuilding heritage, there are Mexican-Caribbean delights,

© BELMOND CAP JULUCA © BELMOND CAP JULUCA © BELMOND CAP JULUCA © BELMOND CAP JULUCA © BELMOND CAP JULUCA Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 65

including ‘goatchos,’ nachos with tender morsels of goat and cheese.

From Sandy Ground, a 15-minute boat ride swept me to Sandy Island. At first sight, the tiny cay appeared like a silvery white mirage floating on turquoise waves. Scattered with lounges and picnic tables, the pristine cay’s centrepiece is a barbeque kitchen where local chefs prepare sirloin steak, lobster and crayfish. Returning from this blissful beach day, I stop for a refreshing mango punch at Malliouhana, a sublime resort known for fine dining.

One memorable evening, I indulge at Mango’s Seaside Grill. One of Anguilla’s finest restaurants, its seaside atmosphere and eclectic menu epitomize the local style. Delicious choices include rum-glazed chicken and spicy filets of wahoo and red snapper.

By now, based at Zemi Beach House on the north coast overlooking the vast swath of white sand beach fringing Shoal Bay, I’m unabashedly smitten by Anguilla. The dreamy resort, opened in 2016 and set amid fragrant tropical gardens, is perfect for families and active types who enjoy snorkelling amid coral reefs and abundant marine life. After breakfast, which started with a puff of caco bread made from sweet potatoes – and lunch of yellowfin tuna pizza, I need an energetic swim before visiting Zemi’s famed Rhum Room for a tasting flight showcasing the resort’s prized rum collection.

Zemi may be renowned for the Stone Restaurant’s sea-totable cuisine, but I gravitate to music and aromatic scents of the Caribbean feast. Savouring a delectable spoon of seafood bisque, I think, if a Caribbean island could be called “delicious,” Anguilla would be it.

© BELMOND CAP JULUCA
ANGUILLA
66 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023
© BELMOND CAP JULUCA ©
TOURISM

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ALASKA

ALLURE & ANCIENT ROUTES

Experience amazing fjords: Sognefjord, Trondheimsfjord and Hardangerfjord. Stop into legendary Nordic towns and scenic villages along the way. VOYAGE OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN 14 DAYS | JULY 1, 2023 | ROTTERDAM SM $4,586 CAD Per person, double occupancy, Verandah VD. Taxes and fees additional $200 CAD per person. ITINERARY • Amsterdam, Netherlands • At sea • Eidfjord, Norway • Skjolden, Norway • Andalsnes, Norway • Trondheim, Norway • At sea • Hammerfest, Norway • Honningsvag, Norway • At sea (2 days) • Bergen, Norway • Stavanger, Norway • At sea • Amsterdam, Netherlands EXCLUSIVE OFFER • Ensemble Host • Private Cocktail Party • Private Ensemble® Experience Shore Event in Honningsvag Indulge in experiences that are as lavish and lovely as the vistas that surround you. Glamorous Monaco sets the tone for the journey ahead that opens the door to the French Riviera, Italian classics and jewels in Greece and Turkey.
10 DAYS | JUNE 27, 2023 | SIRENA $4,699 USD Per person, double occupancy, Verandah VD. Includes taxes and fees. ITINERARY • Monte Carlo, Monaco • St. Tropez, France • Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy • Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy • Trapani, Sicily, Italy • Valletta, Malta • Rhodes, Greece • Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey • Volos, Greece • Piraeus (Athens), Greece EXCLUSIVE OFFER • Ensemble Host • Private Cocktail Party • Private Ensemble® Experience Shore Event in Livorno Vacations® • Winter 2023 • 69
ITALIAN

CELEBRITY CRUISES**

All Included: All guests in an Eligible Booking who choose the “All Included” pricing package will receive a Classic Beverage Package, Gratuities (“Tips”) Included and an unlimited Surf Internet package. EnsembleExtra: Offer applies to 4-night and longer itineraries that depart Jan. 1st, 2022 through Open Deployment. Bookings must be made between by Dec. 31, 2023. $100 per stateroom Shore Excursion credit will be applied in the form of an onboard credit. Offer is $100 Onboard credit “OBC” per stateroom for standard Verandas, Infinity Veranda, Concierge, AquaClass and Suites. Offers are applicable to new individual bookings and to staterooms in non-contracted group bookings, which must be named and deposited. Offer excludes interior and oceanview staterooms. Offer is not combinable with onboard/future cruise bookings, Galapagos sailings or No Perk rate. Single occupancy bookings are eligible for the Offer. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Additional $50 OBC – must book into an Ensemble headquarter group to qualify

CUNARD**

Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses are subject to change. $2,130 fare is based on category BE on Queen Elizabeth® 6/30/23 sailing, on a space-available basis at time of booking. Fares are per person, nonair, cruise-only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. These fares do not apply to singles or third/fourth-berth guests. Up to $300 Onboard Credit per stateroom. Offer is applicable to first/second-berth guests only. Onboard Credit is in U.S. dollars. Void where prohibited by law. Fares quoted in CAD dollars. Please refer to your travel advisor for terms, conditions and definitions that apply to all bookings. Offer may combine with other offers such as group onboard credits, limited time offers and Military benefits. Explore with More has certain terms/conditions that apply through promotion code N1A. Contact your advisor for full details. © Cunard 2022. Ships’ registry: Bermuda

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE**

Prices listed are per person, cruise only, double occupancy, in USD and include Canadian Resident and Bonus promotional discounts, and port security and handle fees. Pricing is subject to change at any time. The category of cabin that to which this price applies may no longer be available. Airfare and transfers are available upon request.

OCEANIA**

*Offers and fares expire on 03/31/2023 and are subject to availability. All fares are per person in U.S. dollars, valid for residents of United States and Canada, based on double occupancy (unless otherwise noted); except fares for Solo category are for a single traveler, and are based on single occupancy, for new bookings only and may be withdrawn at any time. Premium Economy Air Upgrade is only available when air is purchased through Oceania Cruises. It applies to intercontinental flights only and is priced per person, each way, on select voyages from select gateways, open to all categories for Europe embark and disembark ports only and based on availability. Not all amenities will be available on all carriers. Free Internet amenity does not include streaming and includes one login per stateroom, except Owner’s, Vista & Oceania Suites, which receive two logins per suite. OLife Choice amenities are per stateroom, based on double occupancy and subject to change. OLife Choice free shore excursions vary by voyage and exclude Oceania Select, Oceania Exclusive, Executive Collection, Food & Wine Trails, Wellness Discovery Tours by Aquamar, Go Local, and Culinary Discovery Tours. Voyages up to 9 days receive 4 free shore excursions; 10-13 days receive 6 free shore excursions; 14+ days receive 8 free shore excursions. If shore excursion amenity is selected, all excursions must be chosen at least 14 days prior to sailing. OLife Choice beverage package amenity is House Select. Guests in the same stateroom must choose the same OLife Choice amenity, and amenity must be chosen by final payment. Not all promotions are combinable. 2 for 1, OLife Choice and Cruise-Only Fares are based on published Full Brochure Fares; such fares may not have resulted in actual sales in all suite and stateroom categories and do not include optional charges as detailed in the Guest Ticket Contract. Cruise-Only Fares do not include OLife Choice amenities or airfare. All Fares include government fees & taxes. “Airfare” includes ground transfers, and offer applies to coach, roundtrip flights only from the following airports: ATL, BOS, CLT, DCA, DEN, DFW, DTW, EWR, IAH, IAD, JFK, LAX, LGA, MCO, MDW, MIA, ORD, PHL, PHX, SAN, SAV, SEA, SFO, TPA, YOW, YUL, YVR, YYZ. Oceania Cruises reserves the right to assign gateways based on availability for JFK, LGA and MIA. Gateways are subject to change at any time. Free Roundtrip Airport Transfer offer is only available when OLife Choice Airfare is purchased through Oceania Cruises. Roundtrip Airport Transfer is included only for the above gateways. Airfare is available from all other U.S. and Canadian gateways for an additional charge. “Airfare” includes all airline fees, surcharges and government taxes. Airline-imposed personal charges such as baggage fees may apply. The privacy and protection of personal data is very important to us, and we collect, use, share and secure that data as described in our privacy policy, which is available on our website. Oceania Cruises reserves the right to correct errors or omissions and to change any and all fares, fees, promotions and surcharges at any time. Ships’ Registry: Marshall Islands.

PRINCESS**

*Fares are per guest and apply to minimum lead-in balcony categories on a space-available basis at time of booking. Fares are non-air, cruise- or cruisetour-only, based on double occupancy and apply to the first two guests in a stateroom. Fares and other values quoted in U.S. currency, unless otherwise indicated. General Princess Plus Terms (applicable to all portions of Princess Plus) – Available to legal residents of the 50 United States, D.C., Canada, and Puerto Rico. One guest’s participation in Princess Plus may be dependent on the other guest in his/her stateroom’s participation, as determined by booking method. Princess Plus is contingent on ship capacity and only available on select voyages, while capacity lasts. Princess Plus and its parts are non-transferable, are not redeemable for cash and may not be combinable with other offers. Drinks, Wi-Fi, and Crew Appreciation are not applicable to land portion of cruisetours, and expire at the end of each cruise. Plus Beverage Package is valid only for guests who are 21 years or older. Guests under 21 booked under Princess Plus will receive the Coffee & Soda Package and will not receive any refund for the difference. The Plus Beverage Package includes all beverages priced up to $12.00 each as listed on Princess’ menu(s). Any bottle of wine, one-liter bottles of water, canned soda and bottled juices purchased on board with the Plus Beverage Package will receive a 25% discount. The Plus Beverage Package does not include mini bar items, beverages offered via self-service or vending machines, tobacco, food items or souvenir glassware. A daily limit on alcoholic beverages will apply. Bar service charge is only included in the package and is paid on behalf of the guest for qualifying beverages included in the Plus Beverage Package. Exclusions apply, see full terms & conditions for Plus Beverage Package at www.princess.com. Wi-Fi included for one device per guest. All internet usage subject to standard Wi-Fi policies, which may limit browsing of sites due to network security and bandwidth usage. Crew Appreciation paid on behalf of the guest varies based on stateroom type (up to 4 guests per stateroom). Princess Plus does not include other service charges. ©2022, Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. Princess®, MedallionClass®, and the Princess logo are trademarks of Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Ships of Bermudan and British registry. Please refer to suppliers’ websites for complete details, terms and conditions. . Additional surcharhges and agency fee may apply – please ask our Travel Agency for details. Prices stated are per person based on double occupancy and do not include airfare or transfers unless otherwise specified. In cruise

schedules are at the passenger’s expense. Other conditions may apply and may vary depending on the

makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein and to the best of its knowledge, all

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post accommodations
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information
Includes EXCLUSIVE Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge $100 USD per person cruisetour CASH (up to 4 per the stateroom) PLUS up to $60 USD per stateroom onboard credit Princess
cruises are your ticket to adventure amidst the
Land’s glaciers, wildlife and national parks. Voyage through the untamed beauty from the comfort of our world-class ships, exclusive rail service and
Lodges near national parks. GRAND PRINCESS DENALI EXPLORER CRUISETOUR 12 NIGHTS | JUNE 17, 2023 | GRAND PRINCESS Balcony fares from $3,079 USD Per person, double occupancy, including drinks, wifi and crew appreciation. Taxes and fees additional $298 USD per person. Cruise tour code DA4. ITINERARY 5 Ports: Vancouver, Canada •
Alaska
Alaska • Skagway, Alaska • Glacier Bay
Park
Alaska • College
Alaska
Alaska 2 Land Destinations: Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge
Anchorage EXCLUSIVE OFFER 70 • Vacations ® • Winter 2023
bookings,
airfares are included, pre and
necessary due to flight
cruise line or tour
We are not responsible for errors or omissions. The Ensemble Travel® Group
is accurate at time of printing.
Alaska
Great
Princess Wilderness
Ketchikan,
• Juneau,
National
(Scenic Cruising),
Fjord (Scenic Cruising),
• Anchorage (Whittier),

YOUR VILLA AWAITS

As countries start their slow reopenings, our wanderlust and desire to venture beyond our immediate neighbourhoods will grow, too. Yet, we still must be hyper-conscious of the current situation. With enhanced safety and health measures, thoroughly trained cleaning staff, distanced group arrivals, sanitization packages and more, renting a villa is an ideal option to enjoy an intimate vacation with your family, safely away from the crowds.

For more information about the various cleanliness and safety protocols, or to book a stay at one of these villas, contact your trusted travel advisor who is always there for you – before, during and after your travels.

Creating one-of-a-kind getaways and lasting memories at the world's top luxury villas

North America Retreats

There’s no need to travel far for the getaway of your dreams! With everything from mountain retreats in British Columbia to family-friendly vacations in Florida, we’re guaranteed to have the perfect villa for you. A one-of-a-kind getaway may only be a short flight (or drive) away.

Caribbean Escapes

Our portfolio of more than 1,200 luxury villas encompasses the very best of the Caribbean with properties from St. Martin to Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, and beyond. Whether you’re looking for a one-bedroom couple’s retreat or a sprawling seaside estate for the whole family, we have it all.

Luxury Villa Rentals in Over 50 Countries Worldwide

With over 2,000 luxury villas worldwide, we o er a taste of luxury, wherever you go. From the cerulean seas of Southeast Asia to the old-world elegance of Europe – there's a destination waiting to be discovered.

To Learn More, Ask Your Trusted Travel Advisor

We’re ready when you are

Making your wildest travel dreams come true has always been our focus. We know you’re eager to get back to exploring the world, and we’re here to help you do just that.

We hope you enjoy reading through this printed copy of Vacations magazine, featuring stories and images from the world’s most desirable and luxurious destinations. If you’re intrigued by these stories and want to live one of your own, we’re here to design a custom-tailored vacation just for you and help you fulfill your dreams safely and worry-free.