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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE

FEBRUARY 2010

HOT TO TROT SIX KEY STEPS TO GET READY FOR THE GLORIOUS DUBAI WORLD CUP

Making tracks AN EXQUISITE TRAIN TRIP ROUND THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

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Film location hotspots for your holiday

LORD OF THE RINGS GLADIATOR BRAVEHEART MAMMA MIA QUANTUM OF SOLACE THE BEACH

TOTAL GUIDE

South America

A vast and beautiful continent awaits: let us guide you to Brazil’s guaranteed sunspot, the secret route to Machu Picchu and the best steak in Buenos Aires

WINRY

U A LUX K AT E A E R B TRE N A Y BAN L WADI A (P63)

Eating out in Girona

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Bahrain for the Grand Prix

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KWT 6 The good life in Hong Kong


Desert Pool Villa, Ban yan

Tree, Bahrain

FEBRUARY 2010 KANOO WORLD TRAVELLER

CONTENTS 7 14 16 26

AGENDA New launches, new hotels, new promotions... HOW TO DO... All you need to know for a perfect Dubai World Cup ESSENTIAL SELECTION Holidays cropped from movie scenes PICTURE THIS A lovely travel image to inspire you

48 SCOTLAND

Take the slow train into the Scottish heartland for a perfect walking holiday.

24 NORWAY

The beautiful island retreat that’s a favourite of tourists and cod fishermen.

29 SOUTH AMERICA

60 HONG KONG

An insider’s guide to the world’s most exotic continent

The best hotels, restaurants and shopping in the city.

13 FRANCE

Wind your way along France’s Grande Corniche

57 BAHRAIN

It’s that time of year again: get ready for the Grand Prix with our top recommendations.

54 GIRONA

This oft-overlooked Spanish gem has a huge amount to offer. , Hotel Arcs de Monells

Girona

Produced by: Hot Media Publishing FZ LLC Managing Director: Victoria Hazell-Thatcher Editorial Director: Rob Orchard Publishing Director: John Thatcher Advertisement Director: Chris Capstick Contributing Editor: Ele Cooper Art Editor: Jenni Dennis Designer: Yvonne Bommes

Advertising enquiries chris@hotmediapublishing.com +971 4 369 0917 Editorial enquiries editorial@hotmediapublishing.com +971 4 364 2876 Cover: Courtesy of Photolibrary Additional images from Photolibrary, iStockphoto and Design Hotels

Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from Hot Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. Hot Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in Kanoo World Traveller magazine. ‘South America’ and ‘Girona’ features reprinted with kind permission of Sunday Times Travel.

May 2009 22,620 BPA Consumer Audit


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AGENDA NEWS

13 DRIVE TIME 14 DUBAI WORLD CUP 16 ESSENTIAL SELECTION 26 PICTURE THIS

AGENDA

WHAT’S IN

WHAT’S NEW

WHAT’S ON

THE LINER OF BEAUTY

Extraordinary news out of Florida, as The Oasis of the Seas (oasisoftheseas.com), the largest ship of all time, takes to the ocean. Cruisers will be able to enjoy seven separate ‘neighbourhoods’ onboard, as well as a huge ‘park’ with 12,000 plants and trees, dotted with outdoor acres. Just to get the size of this thing in proportion, it’s five times larger than the Titanic. No fewer than 37 restaurants and lounges are available to the 6,292 guests, along with a miniature golf course, spa, ice-skating rink, theatre with 1,380 seats and four simming pools. If you feel like a treat, you can book the duplex Royal Loft suite, complete with vast balcony and grand piano. And if you’ve got your kids with you, you can give them a ‘tag’ which will display their location on a ship smartphone which you can rent for around $20 a day. KWT

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AGENDA NEWS

NEW OPENING

BUY THE BOOK Comedian Stephen Fry and zoologisy Mark Carwardine set out on a journey first taken two decades earlier by Carwardine and their mutual friend Douglas Adams. The original trip was in search of the world’s most endangered animals – and now Fry is along for the journey to see how the animals have done in the time since then. ‘Last Chance to See’ is a mixture of hilarious travelogue and touching commentary on disappearing species: a great read.

ROMANY HOLIDAY SWISH SWISS STAYS An exciting launch for Oman this month, as the Swiss-Belhotel Resort Masirah, located on an island 15 kilometres off the mainland, opens its doors (swiss-belhotel.com). It’s a small resort but a beautiful one, with lovely beaches, excellent water sports and, perhaps most excitingly of all, turtle breeding grounds where all four local species of the creature come to nest each year. Grab one of their four special chalets and get ready for plenty of sunbathing, swimming and trips into the surrounding hills.

BATH TIME

NEW OPENING

Next time you fancy a UK break, put the city of Bath on your list. As well as being blessed with exquisite Georgian architecture, ancient Roman ruins, thermal springs and recentlyrenovated Roman bath rooms (romanbaths.co.uk), it now has a brand new boutique hotel. Opening this month, The Halcyon (thehalcyon.com) has only 21 rooms, it’s within short walking distance of all the main attractions and it’s set in a Grade I-listed townhouse. Breakfasts are organic, there are hotel bikes and boats for hire and the overall ethos is ‘heavy duty luxury at a light-on-the-wallet price’. Nice! 8

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Ever felt like indulging your Wind in the Willows fantasies and hitting the open road in a Romany-style caravan? Now you can – on your next trip to the UK, rent a beautiful, individually-decorated caravan from gregsgypsybowtops. co.uk, which you can tow along behind your car.

TRIPADVISOR TROPHY Big news for the Al Manzil Hotel in Dubai (southernsunme. com): in January it was ranked at the top of the Popularity Index on TripAdvisor, and placed at the head of all the city’s hotels, based on feedback on the site. We’ve long been fans of the place and we’re glad it’s getting the recognition it deserves.


AGENDA NEWS

5 OF THE FINEST…

SKIING SPOTS 1 ZERMATT

The most tranquil resort in Switzerland, Zermatt eschews the flashiness of its neighbours in favour of a more peaceful setting. It’s famous for enormous snowfalls, making it a good bet for reliable skiing.

2 ASPEN

The great Colorado resort is surrounded by four separate mountains, giving you a multitude of different slopes to pick from. This is a place for star-spotting after slaloming – it’s a real favourite of US celebrities.

3 KITZBÜHEL

A Tyrolean resort in the Austrian alps, Kitzbühel is a centuries-old village where people have been skiing for almost 120 years. It’s a flashy sort of place, home to the great annual Hahnenkamm race and kitted out with excellent accommodation.

4 CORTINA

Italy’s Cortina resort is home to pristine Alpine snow and slopes, plus a small, traffic-free town with a host of brilliant restaurants and cafes and some of the best shopping at any resort.

5 WHISTLER BLACKCOMB

Whistler Blackcomb in Canada is the site of the Winter Games this year and is a massive favourite among serious skiers. It’s particularly good if you fancy trying your hand at the high-octane pursuit of heli-skiing and has the biggest vertical drop in the North American continent.

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AGENDA NEWS

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DATE FOR YOUR DIARY

Looking for something unusual to do in March? How about the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament? It’s taking place from March 22 to 28 in Thailand’s Golden Triangle, on the banks of the Ruak River, which separates the country from Burma. It’s a charity event organised by the Anantara Resort Golden Triangle (goldentriangle.anantara. com), with profits going to the National Elephant Institute. Book yourself a break at the resort and you’ll have a pitch-side seat…

PRESLEY PROMOTION Lovers of The King will be delighted to hear about the latest package on offer at the Loews Vanderbilt hotel (loewshotels.com) in Nashville Tennesse. In this year, which would have marked his 75th birthday, they’re offering an Elvis In Music City promotion: a two day stay in a room with an iPod filled with Elvis songs, a stack of DVDs of his films and a dedicated cooking class to help you make key King dishes like fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches. Most excitingly, you’ll also be taken to the studio where Elvis recorded for your own private recording time in the booth. Perfect for the Jailhouse Rocker in your life.

FRENCH FANCY Here at Kanoo World Traveller we hear about a lot of crazy new travel products. It seems that these days if you want to stand out you need to find an offbeat hook to shout about. But La Villa Hamster (uncoinchezsoi.net) has to be the single oddest launch we’ve heard about. This gîte in Nantes, France, encourages guests to dress up in fur hamster costumes and accommodates them in rooms scattered with woodchippings and equipped with containers of grain, water tubes and a human-sized hamster exercise wheel. The idea, according to the owner, is to create an ‘unformatted’ and funny experience. Apparently it’s already a big success. Very strange.

TRAVEL BY NUMBERS

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The cost in riyals of the upgrade offered to female guests at the Grand Hyatt Muscat (hyatt.com) under their new service for single female travellers, who will also receive special amenities including fresh flowers and special bathrobes. Good deal!

TREAD LIGHTLY Anyone travelling through Europe on a skiing holiday this winter should make sure to check out snowcarbon.co.uk, a cool site which shows you how to get to any and every resort by train – cutting down on those needless and carbon-producing short hop flights.


AGENDA DRIVE TIME

DRIVE TIME

TWO DAYS

THE GRANDE CORNICHE, FRANCE

Fly into Nice, jump into your classic French rental, and get straight out on the Grande Corniche, which takes you all the way to the edge of the Italian border and the lovely town of Menton. The Grande Corniche was initially built by Napoleon to help him with his Italian campaigns but has since become a byword for glamour, as well as being such a ‘driver’s road’ that it was the inspiration for the RollsRoyce Corniche. You can get from one side to the other in just a few hours, but you’d be mad not to take your time and stop en route at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Cap Ferrat, La Turbie, Monaco and Eze. Aside from the towns, the views en route include the Maures, the Alps, wonderful curving slices of Côte d’Azur coastline and trees and flowers clinging to precipitous slopes. Monaco harbour, Monaco


AGENDA HOW TO DO...

HOW TO DO…

DUBAI WORLD CUP

The world’s richest horse race has a new venue this year – the state-of-the-art Meydan Racecourse. The big day – a culmination of a season which started on January 28 – takes place on March 27, 2010: here’s how to make the most of it.

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5 1 PICK YOUR HOTEL For sheer, unfettered glamour to match the smartness of the event itself, make yourself a reservation at Madinat Jumeirah, (jumeirah.com) the resort of choice for in-the-know racegoers. Get yourself a lovely suite overlooking the beach but beware: you may find it difficult to tear yourself away to get to the race track. If you’re coming over with kids, check in to the family-centric Jumeirah Beach Hotel (jumeirah.com).

2 PICK YOUR TICKET Tickets should be on sale shortly: there are a whole range of different options, starting at the free admission area, and ranging 14

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up to premium seating in the Grandstand with a guaranteed seat opposite the finishing line. Meydan Racecourse is easy to find – you come off at the second interchange of Sheikh Zayed Road, onto Al Meydan Road, then follow signs to the Meydan Racecourse.

3 PICK YOUR HAT A vital choice for the ladies, this. You’ll want something extravagant enough to attract the attention of the judges who patrol the showground, looking for the best- dressed attendees and awarding prizes. But you’ll also want it to be sophisticated enough so you don’t get laughed and pointed at or described by

everyone as ‘that woman with the whole peacock on her head’. If you wait until you get to town before picking up your headgear, we can strongly recommend shopping at BurJuman mall, which always lays on a great selection of headpieces.

4 PICK YOUR SUIT Gentlemen should wear either national dress or a smartly-cut suit. If you go for the latter, make sure you have purchased all the necessary accessories – the cravat, the top hat, the binoculars elegantly slung about the neck – if you’re to stand a chance of being singled out by the competition-judging fashion squads.

5 PICK YOUR HORSE For a bit of fun, enter into the free ‘Pick 7’ game – you pick out 7 horses you think will win and if you’re right you could win a prize. You can also take part in a car raffle each night, with winners announced on the same day.

6 PICK YOUR DINNER After a long day of racing, it’s time for a relaxed dinner with friends – a chance to recount the equestrian drama and enjoy a good feed. Head back to the Madinat Jumeirah for a world-beating steak at MJ’s, a first class steakhouse, or Zheng He’s, the best Chinese restaurant in the city.


Stylish suites Spectacular view Heart of the city

CRYSTAL SKYLINE Ideally located in Port Saeed, Deira just five minutes’ walk from the shopping, entertainment complex and Metro station, Deira City Centre and ten minutes from the Dubai International Airport,with specious and modern rooms and suite overlooking the picturesque Dubai Creek. For reservation call: +971 4 2094 241 E-mail:reservations@cop-dubai.com

Deluxe One bedroom Suite AED 525 Executive Deluxe, Two bedrooms Suite AED 700

Rates are per room per night and subject to 10% municipality fees &10% service charges Rates are valid until May 10th, 2010 and subject to availability Rates are only applicable for minimum of 3 nights stay

GAZEBO CHOICES

A Member of Millennium Hotels & Resorts More than 120 Hotels worldwide www.millenniumhotels.com

www.CopthorneHotelDubai.com


AS SEEN ON SCREEN You’ve seen them on celluloid, now see them up close: here’s our pick of where you’ll find the most intriguing – and attractive – movie backdrops in the world…

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Skopelos


GULF AIR F1 GRAND PRIX 12 TO 14 MARCH, 2010

3 days / 2 nights accommodation including race ticket from BHD192 Two nights’ accommodation (minimum stay required), daily buffet breakfast, and season ticket to Grand Prix Races. Price per person on twin sharing basis Kanoo Holidays terms and conditions apply to all bookings

FOR RESERVATIONS CONTACT: Saudi Arabia: 03 8822206 (Al Khobar) 01 4772228 Extn.311, 314 (Riyadh) 02 2632875 (Jeddah) UAE:

04 3341444 (Dubai) 02 6313900 (Abu Dhabi)

Qatar:

4413441 (Doha)

Bahrain:

17 828797

Muscat:

24700249 / 279 KWT

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AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Mount Ruapehu

Tongariro National Park, Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand

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MAMMA MIA!

If we could watch this movie without the Abba-made-worse music, the vapid and mystifying plot, or the hideous precocity of Meryl Streep’s on-screen daughter Sophie we’d be big fans. Gold star for choice of locations, gamma minus and See Me After Class for everything else. SCENE 1: Here’s the first big let down. ‘Villa Donna’, the site of the emotional and choral meltdown, doesn’t exist – it was shot at Pinewood Studios. However, the island where Sophie posts her invites is Skopelos, one of the lovelier Sporades islands. SCENE 2: Sophie and her fiance gurn their way through Lay All Your Love On Me. Put your fingers in your ears and enjoy the ravishing views of Kastani Beach on Skopelos. SCENE 3: Streep is reunited with her chums: cue lots of screaming and jumping up and down during which more compassionate viewers will fret about the impact on Julie Walters’ ageing hips. The backdrop? Damouhari, a port at Pelion on mainland Greece.

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LORD OF THE RINGS

Fancy heading to Middle Earth? To get inside Peter Jackson’s epic Rings trilogy you’ll need to make for New Zealand… SCENE 1: Remember The Shire, that idyllic slice of countryside where the pint-sized hobbits hang out? It’s Alexander Farm in Matamata in Waikato, an area now renamed ‘Hobbiton’, which you can visit through hobbitontours.com. SCENE 2: Rivendell is located in the lovely Kaitoke Regional Park on the North Island, a picture-perfect spot where the Fellowship first comes together around the ring. SCENE 3: A trip to Mount Doom doesn’t have to be a Frodo-style slog – simply head to Mount Ruapehu, a beautiful volcano on the North Island, to experience the goose-bump scenery and the peak where Sauron and the marauders of Mordor met their final match.

A trip to Mount Doom doesn’t have to be a Frodo-style slog – simply head to Mount Ruapehu on the North Island

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AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Schloss Velden

The Palio horse race in Siena

Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Someone tries to assassinate M. Poor Judi Dench! Still, you can understand her minders being distracted, with the Palio going on in the background

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BRIDESHEAD REVISITED

Evelyn Waugh’s tale of art, heartbreak and aristocratic intrigue is a cinematic classic: here’s where it was filmed… SCENE 1: The magnificent Brideshead itself is set at the Castle Howard in Yorkshire in the UK, which was designed in part by Nicholas Hawksmoor. The place is open to visitors so you can take a stroll around and soak up the atmosphere. SCENE 2: On arriving at the University of Oxford, our hero Charles goes to the imposing Radcliffe Camera library, and settles in to his rooms – notionally at Merton College although actually filmed at Lincoln College. SCENE 3: In Venice, Lord Marchmain welcomes his guests to the Palazzo Contarini Polignac next to the Accademia. And later in Morocco, Charles sees Sebastian at the Riad Zitoun el Jedid in the Bahia Palace, which is open for public visits in the daytime.

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QUANTUM OF SOLACE

Daniel Craig, the new face of 007, barrels across the world being tremendously tough, bumping off bad guys and trying to impress Gemma Arterton, with plenty of inspirational scenery along the way. SCENE 1: Bond zooms along a lakeside with Mr White, bound for MI6 central. The lake is Lake Garda, and he speeds past Navene towards Salò while trying to shake off his pursuers. SCENE 2: Someone tries to assassinate M. Poor Judi Dench! Still, you can understand her minders being distracted, what with the Palio horse race of Siena going on in the background. This dangerous but captivating mediaeval horse pageant takes place annually – get to the Piazza del Campo as early as possible so you get a decent spot. SCENE 3: Bond makes for metropolitan Bolivia, represented in this film by, er, Panama. He stays at the exquisite Andean Grand Hotel, which doesn’t exist – it’s actually the National Culture Institute in Panama City. He later heads out to a Bolivian village in, ahem, Chile, and a patch of the Chilean Atacama desert, home to the hideout of Dominic Greene.


AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

The Battle of Stirling Bridge, great symbol of Scottish pride, was shot a) in Ireland and b) without a bridge

Glen Nevis

Ait Benhaddou in Morocco

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GLADIATOR

The swords ‘n’ sandals classic, featuring a buff Russell Crowe capering about the Roman Empire trying to avenge his family, was set in a series of picturesque locations… SCENE 1: Germania, the location of the opening sequence battle was actually set in the highly civilised surrounds of Surrey in the UK, at The Bourne, near the town of Farnham. Presumably after unleashing hell, Crowe retired to his hotel for a lovely cream tea. SCENE 2: Maximius is down on his luck and has been sold as a slave in Africa. The location? The awe-inspiring Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, not far from Ouarzazate. It’s an absolute must-visit for anyone heading to the country. SCENE 3: Having stabbed his way to ‘Rome’, our gladiatorial hero is seen bounding about the remains of Malta’s Fort Ricasoli. Be prepared to see a somewhat less complete set when you visit – a lot was added in with CGI.

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BRAVEHEART

Radically inauthentic and yet guiltily pleasurable, this kilt-toting William Wallace jamboree was a feast for the eyes if not for the brain or the historical accuracy glands. SCENE 1: Wallace kills Mornay and pegs it off along the ‘Mamores’ mountains: if you fancy following in his panicked footsteps, head for Kinlochleven, where the trail begins, eventually winding up in Glen Nevis. SCENE 2: Bill’s big showdown, the Battle of Stirling Bridge, great symbol of Scottish pride, was shot a) in Ireland and b) without a bridge. The location was Curragh Plain in County Kildare, a beautiful swathe of lush Irish countryside. SCENE 3: In an upsetting turn of events, our hero gets captured by the English at Edinburgh Castle. This didn’t happen – he was actually captured at Robroyston near Glasgow. And in the film you don’t see Edinburgh Castle anyway, you see Dunsoghly Castle in Finglas, just north of Dublin. Otherwise, top marks, Hollywood.

Bruges

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IN BRUGES

Unlike most of the films in this feature, In Bruges doesn’t callously lob in locations in different countries and pretend they’re Belgium. You’ll not find any gratuitous shots of Spain, Germany or Ecuador in here: it’s about Bruges and it’s shot in Bruges. It’s also exceptionally funny, with some lovely backdrops. SCENE 1: The two antihero hitmen stay at the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel on Wollestraat (relaisbourgondischcruyce.be), a jaw-droppingly lovely central hotel. SCENE 2: Ken the Killer wants to get a view over the city, so he climbs the mediaeval Belfry which leers over the Grote Markt, one of the city’s two main squares. SCENE 3: Ray goes out for dinner and ends up getting into a fight with the couple at the neighbouring table. The location? The Cafedraal restaurant on Zilverstraat (cafedraal. be), set in a 15th-century building and equipped with a lovely terrace. A great place for a meal – provided you don’t get punched by an assassin. KWT

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AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

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ROBIN HOOD, PRINCE OF THIEVES

Mix Kevin Kostner making a half-hearted stab at an authentic accent, a Bryan Adams charttopper and the story of Britain’s favourite bandit and you’ve got the formula for this huge celluloid hit, peppered with attractive countryside. SCENE 1: The Hood is happy to be home, and kisses the sand at Seven Sisters beach in East Sussex, a popular holiday spot. SCENE 2: Oh no! Robin’s country seat, Loxley Castle in Nottingham, has been ravaged and his old retainer blinded. Maybe he could have averted all the pillaging if he’d arrived home a bit earlier – but for some reason he chose to get to the Midlands via Hadrian’s Wall, on the border with Scotland. The crumbling ruins depicted are to be found at Wardour Castle, not far from Stonehenge. SCENE 3: Nottingham Castle, home to the villainous (but fundamentally much more interesting than Hood) Sheriff, played by Alan Rickman, is actually the castle of Carcassonne in southern France (pictured). KWT 23 Carcassonne


AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Hat Maya on Phi Phi Leh Island

Leo makes it to The Beach, otherwise known as Hat Maya on Phi Phi Leh Island not far from Phuket

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THE BEACH

Leonardo di Caprio stars in this story of the creation and destruction of a ‘perfect’ community on an idyllic beach in Thailand: it’s effectively a two hour-long promo for the country. Except for the part with armed gangsters at the end, which puts a bit of a dampener on things. SCENE 1: Leo is in Bangkok, on the Khao San Road. It’s not very nice. It’s also not the Khao San Road, it’s the Prachacheun Road in Krabi.

NOTTING HILL

Hugh Grant is a self-effacing book store owner living with a social misfit who nonetheless snags the most coveted film star in the world (played, oh-sopostmodernly, by Julia Roberts). SCENE 1: Portobello Road and its market form the backdrop for much of the action, including the vital romance catalyst – the drink-spilling episode on the corner of Westbourne Park Road. The market is definitely worth a visit, particularly at the weekend when the antiques sellers set up their stalls. SCENE 2: Grant and Roberts, aka William and Ana, hit Nobu at the Metropolitan Hotel on Old Park Lane for dinner (noburestaurants.com). SCENE 3: William bursts into the Lancaster Room at the Savoy and pops the question to the megabucks film star. She accepts. Ah! 24

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Portobello Road in Notting Hill

SCENE 2: Leo and the French couple he’s brought with him have to jump through a beautiful waterfall to get to the beach. It’s the Haeo Suwat Waterfall at Khao Yai National Park in the north east of the country – get there by taking a bus from Bangkok. SCENE 3: Leo makes it to The Beach, otherwise known as Hat Maya on Phi Phi Leh Island not far from Phuket. If you’d like to visit you can get over from Phuket by ferry – the crossing takes about an hour and a half.


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PICTURE THIS

MORTSUND, NORWAY The hauntingly beautiful Lofoten Islands, which include Mortsund, are home to many placid lagoons and islets scattered with brightly-painted stilt-houses known as ‘rorbus’. They are used by cod fishers from across Norway who occupy them for three months at a time, during the high winter season when cod from the Barents Sea flood in to the area. Nowadays they are also rented by tourists looking for a tranquil break with the snow-capped mountains at their back and nothing but the occasional fishing boat to break up the views. KWT

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IMAGE: PHOTOLIBRARY

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SOUTH CALIFORNIA AMERICA

TOTAL GUIDE

South America

Your big adventure starts with a little planning – and we’ve made it easy! 30 SHINING EXAMPLE When it’s pouring in Brazil, one place guarantees sun

40 BACKSTAGE PASS A fresh perspective on Machu Picchu – minus the crowds

34 THE BIG FIVE Tackle the main attractions with our quick-fix travel kits

44 STEAK CITY! Ready to eat? Time to steak-out Buenos Aires

South America feature reproduced with permission from the Sunday Times Travel

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Sugar loaf, Rio de Janeiro


Shining example Sometimes – even in Brazil – the sun refuses to make an appearance. Except in Búzios, learns Katie Bowman, where it’s sure to be glorious weather

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took in a Scarlett O’Hara-style breath – needlessly dramatic for the situation, but satisfying nonetheless. It was too ambiguous for my other half to read, though: ‘Is it sunny?’ he demanded. ‘Oh goodness, it’s raining, isn’t it? Go on, tell me – just put me out of my misery.’ I opened the second shutter to give him a look. A beautiful, clear day was breaking in Búzios – as if a photographer had put the ‘blue sky’ filter over our window and a set designer had stopped by with a cloudmachine, poofing a smattering of wispy cotton-wool balls into the air. You might think blue skies are ten-a-penny in Brazil – but no. We had been chasing the sun across the country for 10 days now, enjoying a flooded Salvador City, torrential Bahian downpours, and statues shrouded in fog. Brazil’s rainy season had arrived two months late. Or, as one taxi driver succinctly shouted to us over his stereo: ‘The weather – he don’t like you!’ So, on that first morning in Búzios, we smiled inanely at fellow guests and enthused to waiters about everything: the fried eggs; the fresh orange juice; the flawless weather. But we shouldn’t have been so surprised. The weather was the reason we were here. Back in Rio, we’d shivered around the pool with an Argentinean couple and two nip-tucked lawyers from São Paulo. ‘Tomorrow we leave for Búzios,’ they’d declared in the drizzle. ‘It could be raining in Rio, but when you drive down the highway, the clouds break and the sun comes out. We don’t know how it works, but it does.’

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I imagined them in blacked-out SUVs, fleeing to a chic compound of palatial holiday homes and five-star hotels, but the waiter had more to say. ‘I surf in Búzios every weekend; I stay in a guesthouse right by the sea.’ He scanned us up and down, noting our pale English skin. ‘Don’t expect any British people though. This is where South Americans go for the weekend. You’d better brush up on your Portuguese.’

“It could be raining in Rio, but when you drive down the highway, the clouds break and the sun comes out” A two-hour taxi drive later, and I was practising my Portuguese – on the beach. Búzios is a sleepy, little fishing village that juts into the Atlantic on a peninsula (at least, it was until Brigitte Bardot pitched up with her Brazilian boyfriend in 1964, bringing South America’s rich and famous with her). Thus you have swathes of surfing beaches on one side – rugged Tucuns and Geribá – and sheltered coves such as Tartaruga (for turtlespotting) and laid-back Azeda on the other. We chose Praia Azedinha (little Azeda) – the Brazilian beach-goer’s ultimate destination –reached by a steep sandy path through spiky yucca and overgrown grasses. But the real challenge that separated the devout from the part-time beach goers was that the bay can hold only 20 or so Praia Dos Ossos, Búzios


SOUTH AMERICA

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“When it came to food, sunbathers called the waiter who took orders for oysters, grilled fish and fries” sunbathers at high tide; the cowardly flee as the sea comes in. We were one of the hardcore 20, determined that our first day of sunshine in Brazil would be perfect. On our left, Carioca girls drank cold juices beneath giant straw hats – filling the sky with the sing-song cadence of Brazil Portuguese. To our right, two buff Argentinean boys discussed Ronaldo’s footwork, throwing about hand gestures and moving their feet as if they had a ball. Between kicks, they shovelled fist-sized prawns into their mouths. Here, on Brazil’s most exclusive beach, snacks don’t mean packed sandwiches and canned Fanta. Two upturned rowing boats had been painted and turned into serving stations, with bottles of fresh juice lined up along the hull. When it came to food, sunbathers simply called over the waiter who took their orders for garlicky oysters, grilled fish and fries – and rowed out to sea, where the chef cooked up the whole lot on a fishing boat. Night fell, gladrags were unpacked, and we joined South America’s designer crowd. Rua de Pedras, the main street, was their 32

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flagstoned catwalk: parents pushed advertbeautiful toddlers in posh prams; cane-thin teenage girls ate doughnuts from street kiosks; and handsome couples samba’d fearlessly, confirming my belief that every Brazilian is given a pat on the bottom and an injection of confidence at birth. We spent the weekend much as we did that first morning: days on the beach, shrimp for lunch and laidback dinners. We gadded about in a buggie, a little roofless 4WD – the vehicle of choice for Búzios regulars. Slowly, but surely, we turned a little browner too, and it was impossible to think it could be raining anywhere in the country (but it was – floods and storms played out on the TV news). The lesson of our trip? Research the weather before you go to Brazil. In fact, before you go anywhere in South America. There is a reason this continent is home to the world’s largest rainforest. And if it does rain? There’s always Búzios. WHERE TO STAY Casas Brancas in Búzios (casasbrancas.com. br; rooms from $360, room only) is a stylish but unpretentious boutique hotel built on the hills overlooking Ossos beach; there are just 32 rooms. Or try chic Abracadabra (abracadabrapousada.com.br; rooms from $180, room only) and Aqua Barra (insolitos. com.br; rooms from $168, B&B). In Rio, check in to the Copacabana if you have limited time – it’s a spectacle in itself (copacabanapalace. com.br).

Clockwise from this image: Beach at Geriba, Pedra da Tartaruga Beach, Casas Brancas, Copacabana Palace, Abracadabra


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Shine on

Four more chic, sunny beaches…

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Bahia, Brazil It’s easy to find your own corner on this 1,100km coastline. But there is one stretch that shines: Corumbau is so remote that guests must take a chopper from tiny Porto Seguro airport or a speedboat along the shore to get there. The place to stay is Fazenda São Francisco, a collection of private villas around a glossy slate pool.

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Punta del Este, Uruguay At the base of a two-kilometre-long peninsula, the Conrad Resort burbles with glamour year-round. But come summer, the glitter-set from Argentina and Chile descend on the beach and you can revel in generous helpings of South American posing. The Conrad is the de facto social centre of the whole scene.

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El Rodadero, Colombia Santa Marta was the beach of choice when the Spaniards first settled, and remains a firm favourite among Colombians. Further south, El Rodadero beach draws a fashionable crowd, but prices skyrocket in summer (our winter). Stay in Santa Marta instead, saving your pennies for much-coveted deckchairs on El Rodadero.

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Los Roques, Venezuela Descent into the only inhabited island on this archipelago is so dazzling you’ll squint at the iridescent waters from behind plane windows. Days are spent nursing cold juices on the secluded sands, night-times in the largely Italian-run posadas.

Los Roques

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The big five Itching to sail the Amazon? See the Galapagos Islands? Cross the Atacama Desert? The main attractions are a cinch, with Chris Haslam’s quick-fix guides

The Amazon ‘Colossal’ doesn’t begin to describe this mighty river. To give you an idea: half the rain that falls on the entire South American continent drains into the Amazon basin – that’s equivalent to 20 per cent of all the fresh water on the planet – and at no point, anywhere along its length, is the Amazon crossed by a bridge. It’s also one of the world’s most evocative names, enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, conjuring visions of steaming jungle, sultry heat and the madness of Fitzcarraldo. If you’ve only got limited time to spare, board a three-day cruise from Manaus in Brazil. But if you want a full-on adventure, begin your journey in Iquitos, Peru, where the river is narrower, and tourist hordes are non-existent. FULL-ON ADVENTURE, RIGHT. WHAT ABOUT THE CREEPY CRAWLIES? The Amazon basin is home to a startling number of creatures who see you as dinner – from bullet ants, tarantulas and scorpions, to anacondas and jaguars. Travel on a river boat, though, and the irritations will be limited to

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mozzies. The downside to this, however, is that the odds of spotting other fauna are somewhat slim. CAN I GET CLOSER TO THE ACTION? You can, but you need to get off that comfy boat and spend a few nights ashore, where the sunshine rarely reaches the earth and rain throbs like a strange city at night. Head up the rarely visited Las Piedras river, a tributary of the Amazon in Peru’s remote Madre de Dios region. Take day hikes through the dense jungle, or ride shotgun in a pirogue boat up narrow, tea-brown tributaries festooned with rare orchids… You’re likely to find caiman, giant river otters, spider monkeys and the Amazon of your imagination. AND IF I WANT TO GO DEEPER STILL? Head over the Serra do Imeri and into Venezuela, where you can probe the upper reaches of the Paragua river, a tributary of the Orinoco. You’ll be led by members of the Shirian tribe – you’ll sleep in their villages, and join them hunting and fishing in jungle that has yet to be mapped, learning first-hand the threats to their fragile lifestyle.


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Torres del Paine If you only have the time or money to visit one place in Patagonia, make sure it’s this gawpingly beautiful upland of precipitous granite peaks, azure lakes, sparkling waterfalls and glittering glaciers, seemingly conjured out of the Chilean steppe by a spell. Exploring this Patagonian playground involves yomping through fairytale forests, deep bogs, rocky gullies and torrents of icy meltwater, carrying your pack on your back and camping out in one of the world’s most enchanting wildernesses. Getting here’s quite an adventure in itself: a flight to Santiago in Chile then an internal flight to Punta Arenas; or one to Buenos Aires, then El Calafate in Argentina and over the Chilean frontier by road. Best time to visit is during the austral summer, from October to March – you’re far south of the equator here. ISN’T PAIN(E) THE KEY WORD HERE? It depends on how you feel about trekking for six to seven hours a day, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get the vistas without the 36

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blisters by staying on the luxury Estancia Cerro Guido, just outside the park gates. Forays into the Torres are made by 4WD rather than on foot, and short strolls to see the main sights are punctuated with leisurely picnics and nights in a comfy hotel rather than a damp, chilly tent. I THINK I’D PREFER A MORE EXTREME ‘RAY MEARS’ TRIP! Try hiking to the base of the terrifyingly sheer Torres and into the Tolkienesque French Valley for memory card-choking views of peaks such as Needles, Mascara, Hoja and Cabeza de Indio. Heading on, you’ll reach the showstopping French Glacier, before marching on to Lago Grey, where icebergs float in the turquoise waters. IS THERE ANYTHING EVEN MORE CHALLENGING? How about a 120km hike that adds a new twist to the classic anti-clockwise route around the massif? It takes a detour to reveal superb, sunlit views of the north side of the Paine massif.


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Galapagos Islands On the equator, some 900km west of Ecuador, you’ll find these mesmerising isles. They’re home to hundreds of unique species, among them blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, giant tortoises and tree lions (no lie: ask your guide), all delightfully indifferent to your presence – and therein lies the thrill. Most trips follow an eight-day itinerary: climb, hike, kayak and snorkel by day; sail by night, arriving at a new island every morning. Expect to burn your feet on hot lava, to get alarmingly close to hammerhead sharks and to endure utter disdain from those boobies. Expect also to pay: it’s never been a cheap destination, but you’ll have had your money’s worth by the end of the first, astonishing day. I’M NOT A GOOD SAILOR. ARE THERE ANY LAND-BASED TRIPS? In a word, no, but don’t let your lack of sea legs put you off. The secret is to visit during the wet season between January and May. Don’t worry, that means

40-minute downpours followed by blue skies, spectacular sunsets, and seas at their calmest and warmest. This is also low season, which translates into fewer tourists. If mobility is an issue, be aware that getting from boat to island and back usually involves an inflatable dinghy and a wade through shallow surf. CAN I AVOID THE CROWDS? Yes – one way is to choose a small boat. These trips offer more time ashore, a smaller guide-to-client ratio and more freedom of choice than the floating palaces. A MORE LEISURELY TRIP FOR A KEEN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER? The best solution is to join a photographic expedition led by a photographic guide, when you’ll have as much time as you need to get that one-in-a-million shot. You don’t need super-advanced gear either – a 70-200 f/2.8, a 24-105 f/4, a wide angle and a 1.4 converter or Nikon equivalents will be more than enough.

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Atacama Desert Trapped between the High Andes and the Pacific, there are places in Chile’s Atacama where rain has never fallen. Here the dead don’t decay, turning slowly instead into mummies of sun-blackened leather in a landscape of disturbing silence and surreal beauty. Wander the Dalíesque salt stacks of Valle de la Luna as the setting sun paints Licancabur volcano-pink and you could be on Mars. Wallow at midnight in the geothermally warmed waters of Laguna Sejar as a billion stars burn above and you could be in the skies. WILL THE ALTITUDE BE A PROBLEM? The Atacama is both high and dry, and the main town of San Pedro de Atacama is 2,400m above sea level.

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Some excursions in the area will take you up to 4,000m or more, so breathlessness, headaches, nausea and disturbed sleep patterns (the locals call it puna) are par for the course. While a slight lack of oxygen probably enhances your appreciation of the staggering beauty, the sensible thing is to acclimatise by limiting your movements for the first few days. HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED? Most tourists spend three or four days here, based in San Pedro, as part of a Chilean itinerary that proceeds to Patagonia. The Atacama’s must-sees include a sunset hike through Valle de la Luna, a visit to Padre le Paige’s archaeological museum to see those

mummies, an excursion to the salt flats and, on your last day, when you’re acclimatised, a 3am excursion to the geysers at El Tatio. They’re best seen as dawn backlights the fumaroles, smoking through the earth’s crust. WHAT IF I WANT TO SEE MORE? Spend eight days in San Pedro and you’ll have time to acclimatise fully, see all the essential sights and explore the places other tourists rarely reach. These include high-altitude lakes such as Lagunas Miscanti and Miniques, where snowcapped volcanoes stand reflected in the sapphire waters; the Banos de Puritama (volcano-heated pools); and a day trip into Bolivia to see flamingos on the blood-red Laguna Colorada.


Lake Titicaca Titicaca is more than a mere lake – measuring 190km by 80km, it’s an ocean kidnapped by mountains. Lying between Bolivia and Peru at the breathless altitude of 3,800m, Titicaca provides landlocked Bolivia with an excuse to spend money on a navy. It’s also home to the Uros people, who live on the astonishing floating reed islands that speckle the deep-blue lake. You can approach Titicaca from Peru, or the Bolivian capital of La Paz. FLOATING ISLANDS! ARE THEY SAFE? The Uros seem to think so: they built the islands to escape the Inca, and have lived on them ever since – although they haven’t succeeded in fending off the tourist invasion. Visiting the islands – huge beds of reeds with huts on top – is

a must, but it can be unsettling. As the hordes arrive on boats from Puno, the town on the shore, the Uros slap on fake smiles, set up souvenir stands, and face the onslaught with a stoicism born of generations of suffering. ARE THERE ANY OTHER ISLANDS THAT AREN’T QUITE SO TOURISTY? Unfortunately, nowhere on Lake Titicaca has escaped the effects of tourism, but other islands still radiate beguiling otherworldliness – even if they don’t float. You can spend the night on Isla del Sol, the backpacker’s favourite, on the Bolivian side. For fewer crowds, you should stick to Peruvian waters: on Taquile and Amantani you eat and sleep with local families in their homes. Neither of these islands

has electricity, so bring a torch, and if you decide to stay on Amantani, expect your host family to dress you up in traditional clobber and drag you along to a dance in the village hall. IS THERE ANYTHING A LITTLE MORE COMFORTABLE? You could opt to stay on the ‘secret’ third island: the privately owned, backpackerfree zone that is Isla Suasi. A short-butstrenuous hike to the summit reveals spectacular views rarely seen by other holidaymakers, and if you’ve energy to spare (you won’t), you can hop into a kayak for a paddle around the island. The only building here is the Casa Andini hotel – it has sensational lake vistas and log fires to keep out any night-time chills.

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Backstage pass You too could have a crowd-free view of the iconic Machu Picchu ruins, says Vicky Baker. Just take the path less travelled

T

he brochures lied. ‘Nothing can prepare you for seeing Machu Picchu,’ they promised. But the truth is – after relentlessly flaunting that famous close-up of the bright green, terraced ruins against a sugarloaf peak – they’ve been preparing us for years. Visiting Machu Picchu today can feel disconcertingly like stepping into ‘that picture’. Or, at least, onto a mass photoshoot of people trying to recreate it. But am I suggesting you should strike it off your wish list? That glossy photos are a worthy substitute for the real thing? Absolutely not. To see the ruins in the flesh beats a thousand pictures. You just need a little insider advice – somebody to show you how to get in by the back door. This is how I found myself gazing on the ancient site from a rarely seen perspective on a neighbouring Andean range. I was on the Salkantay trek, sometimes known as Machu Picchu’s ‘back-door’ route, and it was a diversion I got used to explaining. ‘The Inca Trail?’ was the reflex question everybody asked when I announced a trekking holiday in Peru. ‘Not The Inca Trail, but an Inca trail,’ I replied, rolling my eyes at their lack of imagination. ‘Don’t you know there are 30,000km of these trails threaded across Peru, Ecuador and Chile? The Inca Trail is just 40km of it.’ OK, I didn’t actually do that. I didn’t know myself there were that many until I was enlightened by my guide, Dameiro. Thirty thousand kilometres: that’s like driving east 40

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to west across the US 10 times. Which throws up a whole heap of trekking possibilities. The Inca Trail’s main selling point is that it’s the only route to take you straight to the heart of the ruins. The drawback is that you can expect to pitch your tent next to the world, his wife and his baseball-capwearing granny – and expect a commuterlike race to the Sun Gate on the final day. Even after entry limits were introduced in 2005 to reduce overcrowding, more than 400 people are still setting forth every day. Travellers are now being advised to book up to six months ahead, and last April came the unprecedented announcement that the route had ‘sold out’ until September. Sound like the dream escape you were imagining? Hardly. That’s why I can now recommend the Salkantay route. No waiting lists here. It’s just your average unpopulated trek through nine biospheres, culminating in a tourist-free view of Machu Picchu. Not only that, it comes with comfort: the chance to skip the under-canvas experience altogether and bag yourself a proper bed. The six-night, 70km lodge-to-lodge experience has been devised by Mountain Lodges of Peru (MLP) and includes en-route stays at four of their specially built luxury properties. Out go musty sleeping bags, torch-lit toilet trips, and minus zero mornings, in come hot showers, kingsize beds and gourmet cuisine. ‘That’s not real trekking!’ the indignant backpackers cry. But when the mercury drops and rain starts lashing, the lodges have had many a camper come knocking, willing to pay any price for a comforting bed. ‘Sometimes we’ve broken the rules for them,’ View over Macchu Picchu

Palm Springs


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“We approach a clearing through a cloud forest, looking out over an Andean range” says MLP’s Gonzalo Fossa, ‘but generally we can’t take walk-ins.’ Happily, we’re sure to be tucked up warm and cosy tonight, and knowing this helps spur us on. Due to the altitude in these parts, what should have been a fairly gentle 12km hike has left our entire five-person group gasping for breath (our unfeasibly fit guide and mule drivers excepted, of course). Somehow, we manage a collective final push when the first lodge – a thatched polygon made from adobe bricks – miraculously appears in the valley below. Inside, the woodfire smoulders, the sofa cushions are plumped, and afternoon tea has been brewed – tea for the traditionalists (and those with a little altitude sickness) and hot chocolate with marshmallows for those out of energy. Not that there’s ever a calorie shortage on this trip, with three full meals a day (featuring quinoa risotto, grilled local trout, and if you’re feeling daring, roasted guinea pig), plus plenty of snacking opportunities in-between. Reassuringly, as much as we’re revelling in the VIP treatment, nothing can overshadow the spectacular nature on our doorstep. The lodge stands right opposite the face of the unconquerable, snow-capped peak of Salkantay Mountain, at 6,000m one of the highest in the Peruvian Andes. And what a way to admire it – from an outdoor hot tub. The lodge’s decor is part stylish boutique hotel, part rustic guesthouse, with intriguing Peruvian curiosities thrown into the mix (carnival masks, woven dolls and various Inca relics). Its tagline is ‘slick design, cosy trimmings’, but it’s also got a blissful lack of pretension that soon has us slouching around in our socks, feeling as if we’ve hired 42

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a country villa with friends. Of course, building in such wild surroundings as these is always going to be controversial and MLP defends the development by insisting they’ve helped breathe new life into the area. Before they arrived, many local residents had no option but to migrate to cities. Now they can take on new jobs and rebuild a life in the area where they grew up. Indeed, each lodge is managed by a local family, with an additional twist: managerial roles go to the matriarch ‘to break from machismo’. MLP has also befriended two local shamans – Victor and Juan – who accompany us for two days and provide what turns out to be one of the unexpected highlights of our holiday. Dressed in vibrant ponchos and ear-flapped chullo hats, the pair take us to the banks of a translucent glacier lake to demonstrate a traditional offering to pachamaman (Mother Earth). The ceremony involves collecting an assortment

Clockwise from this image: the Inca Trail, stone house ruins, Lama of Macchu Picchu, Inca Doorway


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of talismans (anything from a biscuit and a llama foetus to a small plastic car), wrapping them together into a parcel, touching it to our heads one by one, and then burning it over an open fire. Why the car? ‘It’s a wish,’ explains Victor. ‘I really want one.’ I’m not sure if Victor gets his car, but he does succeed in bringing us luck for our travels. The trek continues without a hitch, taking in steaming hot springs, hostile mountain tops, remote coffee plantations, fertile valleys dotted with orchids – and, thankfully, no other tourists. At one point, our path is carpeted with butterflies and we struggle to know where to put our feet. Of course, the route – which is described by MLP as ‘moderate to challenging’ and sees us walking five to seven hours a day – is hard going at times, too. It culminates in the 4,500m Salkantay Pass, where icy rain chills our bones and we do battle with the Siete Vueltas (seven switchbacks), a punishingly steep climb that has been ominously muttered about since we set off. But finally, on day six, the big moment arrives. We approach a clearing through a cloud forest, looking out over a parallel Andean range, and there it is: the ancient Inca city sitting high among mottled green peaks. OK, it’s remote, and you have to squint a bit, but it’s the world wonder all right. It feels like we’ve taken the traditional photograph and zoomed right out. From the snow-dusted peak hovering above, to a waterfall flowing below that looks as though someone has yanked a ringpull off the mountainside, the vision in our viewfinders simply won’t fit into one lone image. This, it seems, is one Machu Picchu experience we’ll just have to commit to memory. KWT

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Steak city He went in search of steak and found it. But has Nick Middleton bitten off more than he can chew in Buenos Aires?

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La Boca, Buenos Aires


Clockwise from this image: A gaucho in Buenos Aires Province, a bench in the street in Caminito-La Boca, an Evita Peron postage stamp, tango, Government House on Plaza de Mayo

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f there is one place on the planet you can find a decent slab of beef, it’s Buenos Aires. Wanting to sample the very best, we’d asked around for the finest parrilla (steakhouse) and been met with blank looks. It was an impossible question to answer. There are just too many. In the end, we followed our noses – tantalising whiffs from vast carcasses spread-eagled over open charcoal pits seeped out from every parrilla we passed. These establishments served ‘proper meat from happy cows’, and so far we were impressed. It was hard to find a bad one. The next day, down in La Boca, a rundown district famous for its brightly coloured houses, we dined within sight of heroic mannequins. Peering over a balcony near the Caminito, a pedestrian thoroughfare where young couples dance the tango for tourists, were three local deities: Carlos Gardel (‘songbird of Buenos Aires’), Eva Perón, and Diego Maradona. Gardel, the godfather of tango, had magic in his voice; many thought Evita harboured magic in her soul; and Maradona possessed magic in his feet. Two of these national icons are dead. That seemed strangely appropriate in a city pervaded by an aura of faded grandeur, where the mothers and grandmothers of those who disappeared during the so-called Dirty War – the 1976-1983 period, when the generals ruled the roost – continue to protest in Plaza de Mayo. In those days, the urbane lifestyle had been stymied by a 10pm curfew – this in a city where 11pm is considered early to eat out. We saw the full faded splendour later that night, upstairs in a grand hall above a cake shop, the Confitería Ideal. Couples of all ages slid with liquid legs across the dancefloor – the poise and passion of the tango a stark contrast to the synthetic delights of Tierra

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“In a steakhouse in other parts of the world you might get to choose from three or four cuts, perhaps up to half a dozen if you’re lucky. La Brigada’s menu offered more than 20 variations on the theme.” Santa. The waiters all wore black bow ties and grabbed orders from an old 10-door wooden fridge; I counted 12 light bulbs in a crystal chandelier, only two of which were working. The band turned up at 1am, by which time the place was full. Like the city itself, the evening combined the romance of forgotten Paris with a crumbling majesty otherwise found only in certain corners of Eastern Europe. For many, tango and steaks are the only decadent things left, at least for now, and both are great levellers. Prior to the Confitería Ideal, we’d eaten dinner at La Brigada. This parrilla was tucked away down a sidestreet in bohemian quarter San Telmo. The restaurant also happened to double as another monument to Argentine idols, its interior plastered with football mementos: match-day programmes, signed shirts and old football boots. Heroes past and present were there: Maradona, Batistuta, Ardiles. The barrel-chested, mullet-haired, mustachioed proprietor looked as if he’d walked off the training pitch in 1979 and forgotten to take a shower; he was still

wearing his football shirt and beaten-up trainers. He showed us to our table, which displayed the customary condiments: chimichurri (vinaigrette of parsley, paprika, garlic, olive oil, and wine vinegar) and salsa criolla (diced tomato, onion and red peppers). He handed over the menus. They were bound in leather with the cow hair still attached. Squeezed in between the football paraphernalia on the walls were framed diagrams of cows showing where different cuts were located on the beast. In a steakhouse in other parts of the world you might get to choose from three or four cuts, perhaps up to half a dozen if you’re really lucky. La Brigada’s menu offered more than 20 variations on the theme. On advice, we ordered ojo de bife (literally eye of beef) and tapa de bife, which was thinner and looked a bit like what we’d call a rib-eye but wasn’t. When they arrived, the waiter asked if we’d like half each. We did, so he produced a spoon and fork from his apron and did the honours. Yes, you read that right. He cut both steaks in half with the spoon. WHERE TO STAY The grand Alvear Palace Hotel (alvearpalace. com; rooms from $500) offers high style and opulence. Or try the traditional Hotel Castelar (castelarhotel.com.ar; rooms from $200). WHERE TO EAT La Brigada, Estados Unidos 465. Choose from a whopping 20 cuts of steak; menus from $30. Los Gauchos, 372 Chile. It might be basic but many think this serves the best meat in town; from $5. El Mercado, Martha Salotti 445, Dique 2 Puerto Madero Estate. For meat in chic surroundings, try this restaurant in the Faena Hotel; steaks from $28. KWT

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Making tracks for the Highlands It’s all about the journey on the West Highland Railway says Tim Woods

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s the train trundles around the northern end of Loch Lomond, the speed seems to drop to little more than walking pace. But none of the passengers are complaining – there’s all the more time to gaze at the deep-blue waters of the loch, glistening far below the towering band of mountains that mark the start of the Scottish Highlands. In fact, people who like their transport fast and efficient should give Scotland’s West Highland Railway a miss. When the views are this good, the train drivers give you time to admire them. I had been lucky enough to grab a window seat from which to gaze – not always easy amid the many tourists and their oversized cameras. The train passes some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Britain – the

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Arrochar Alps, the Bridge of Orchy Hills and Scotland’s highest, the mighty Ben Nevis – peaks that attract climbers and tourists from far and wide. It’s no surprise this route right through them was awarded the title of ‘Top Rail Journey in the World’. It is tempting to simply sit back for the whole 264.3km from the city of Glasgow to the coastal town of Mallaig, the stop-off for Skye and the Western Isles. But the wild Scottish Highlands demand a deeper exploration, and nowhere is more enticing than lonely, windswept Rannoch Moor, which is where I jumped off the train. The station sits on the edge of 145 square kilometres of emptiness, a forbidding expanse where solid ground gives way to lochs, burns and peat bogs. The landscape is strewn with huge rocks and boulders and crammed between these is a dense blanket of ling, bog myrtle,


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KWT 49 The Scottish Highlands


Clockwise from this image: Corrour Station with the mountain of Leum Uilleim behind, The Moor of Rannoch hotel, The Uisge Labhair rushing into Loch Ossian, fly agarics mushrooms, Loch Laidon. All photos by Tim Woods

“The wild Scottish Highlands demand a deeper exploration, and nowhere is more enticing than lonely, windswept Rannoch Moor” sphagnum, and the yellow-flowered Rannoch Rush, which is only found here in Britain. Huge herds of red deer wander across this open country, and a whole host of rare birds find refuge in the moor’s isolation – curlew, grouse and red breasted merganser hide in the undergrowth, and eagles and buzzards patrol the skies above. The myths and legends of Rannoch Moor add further to its mystery. Geography books will tell you that it was formed by the melting of a huge glacier some 20,000 years ago, but the museum at the station has a different explanation. Local legend tells that in times past, the Formorians, two giants who lived on the moor, terrorised the people of Rannoch. To end the mayhem, a young man from Rannoch challenged them to see who could throw a boulder the furthest. The giants competed fiercely for two days and nights – leaving the boulder-strewn landscape that 50

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exists today – before they collapsed and died from their efforts. The winning throw is said to be the stone which sits at Bridge of Gaur on Loch Rannoch. If all this sounds an unlikely setting for some rest and recuperation, fear not: less than a minute from the station is the Moor of Rannoch Hotel (moorofrannoch.co.uk/), where I was headed for the night. It’s the perfect base from which to explore the moor, with everything the traveller requires – roaring log fires, a selection of beautifullykept rooms, and a first-rate menu that includes Scottish-reared venison, lamb and beef. The conservatory in which meals are served overlooks Loch Eigheach, and it is hard to imagine a more fitting backdrop for tucking in to some hearty Scottish dishes. This extremely warm welcome is provided by Rob and Liz, who are also experts on the best walks in the region. It’s worth seeking

out a bit of local knowledge around here; the moor is not a place to take on lightly and every year, even seasoned walkers get lost in the mist, or sink into one of the deep peat bogs – easily done when they are up to 95% water! Many visitors opt for walks around the village, or around nearby Loch Laidon. But I was keen to explore a little further and, on Rob’s advice, headed for Stob na Cruaiche, which borders the moor on the northern side. It was an excellent choice – from the summit, mountain lovers can pick out a host of famous tops. To the west, the hills of Glencoe were darkening in the autumn shadows, with Ben Nevis rising above them all in the far distance. Looking south, flat-topped Schiehallion was clear in the distance and in between, the lochs within the moor sparkled against the deep brown carpet of the moor. Rannoch may be small, but its eight full-time residents generate their fair share of gossip. As I waited for the train heading north next morning, Gracie, who works in the station tearooms, filled me in with all the latest events. A particular source of irritation,


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The West Highland Railway for Gracie at least, was the Harry Potter film crew that had recently passed through to film the Hogwart’s Express scenes on the nearby viaduct. “They come in here, wanting tea and sandwiches,” she told me, with a doleful shake of the head. Not an unreasonable request in a tea room, I thought, but kept quiet as she gave me a complimentary top-up. Rannoch’s hospitality extends to everyone who doesn’t dress as a wizard, it seems. The next stop along the line is Corrour Station, and upon arrival, it makes Rannoch seem like New York. There is no village at Corrour, just the station and a hostel on Loch Ossian, which is where I was to spend the night. But before that, I wanted to further explore the mesmerising peaks and ridges of the Scottish Highlands. The ground is a little firmer here, making it easier to wander a bit more freely, and there are fantastic routes in all directions from the station. A popular walk is a complete circuit of Loch Ossian, which takes you round to the Corrour Shooting Lodge at the loch’s far end, beneath the shadow of Beinn na Lap, which

rises on the northern side. This is the real heart of the Highlands – there’s nothing for miles around except for mountains, moors and the ever-present streams and lochs. I dozed indulgently in the autumn sun by the Uisge Labhair waterfalls, before lazing back towards the hostel. Loch Ossian Hostel is a former boathouse from which the well-heeled gentry once took steamboats across the water to shoot on the estate. Now converted to provide shelter for hikers, it certainly matches the warmth of welcome at the Moor of Rannoch, with an even larger log fire on which to warm the feet. The food is a step down, though - the menu consists of what you have brought with you (or what you can catch in the loch). But the setting more than makes up for it – why look at a loch during dinner when you can eat with your toes dipped in the water? The sun setting behind the Nevis Range painted the evening sky in a flush of oranges and purples and when my slowly freezing toes could take no more, I went back inside to warm them by the fire and relax until the train rattled by next morning.

“Let the Iron Road to the Isles – Rathad Iaraim nan Eilean – make tracks for you to follow”

The story of the West Highland Railway began in 1889, when the North British Railway Company finally gained permission to build a line between Glasgow and Fort William, overcoming the fierce opposition of landowners, rival railways and steamboat operators. Overall, it required the efforts of 5,000 workers before the line officially opened on 11th August 1894, later being extended to Mallaig on the coast. Originally built to serve the isolated communities of the northwest of Scotland, the line is now primarily used by hikers and tourists. Some come to explore the hills, others just to relax in the tranquil villages along the way. But either way, discovering the Western Highlands by train is an unforgettable experience. Car-free walking in Scotland Taking the train not only enables you to concentrate on the views – it’s also better for the environment. Car Free Walks (carfreewalks.org), has top car-free routes across Scotland and the rest of the UK. KWT

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CONCIERGE TAHITI

CONCIERGE TAHITI GIRONA MANAMA HONG KONG

THE 30-SECOND CONCIERGE

BORA BORA LAGOON RESORT AND SPA, TAHITI

Image courtesy of Orient Express

So tell me about Bora Bora… It’s one of the islands of Tahiti and is famed for its lovely lagoon and for Motu Toopua, the sliver of ages-old, extinct volcano which overlooks it. And what is there to do on the island? A lot of serious relaxation. There’s wonderful diving and snorkelling to be done in the lagoon. For an extra special experience, get taken out to the Lagoonarium, an aquatic park complete with coral gardens and underwater caves. Take a full day excursion and stop at lunch for picnic on a neighbouring island.

Anything else? Absolutely: as well as swimming, sunbathing and indulging in spa treatments at the Marù Spa, set in the canopy of two banyan trees, there are sunset cruises to take, and there’s lovely local shopping, with items like wooden handicrafts and Tahitian pearls on offer. You can also get out into the lush country on a hike with a local guide. And you shouldn’t miss a trip in one of the local ‘Outriggers’, Polynesian racing canoes. Any cool events going on? Absolutely. Every month there’s a different celebration, festival or sporting competition. boraboralagoon.com KWT

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SPAIN

Colourful houses along the Onyar River Below: Pont de Besal

Visit Girona

You can have your break and eat it in this laid-back Med city says Sally Howard Girona may not have the outrageous attitude of Barcelona, its cousin along the coast, but as the old Catalan adage runs: ‘The good marmalade is often found in the smallest pot’. Girona’s charms are life’s simplest: the handsome pink and yellow waterfront facades reflected in the idle River Onyar; getting lost in its wonderfully dishevelled backstreets… In Girona, you’ll find the blueprint for the perfect weekend in Spain. WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED Hotel Arcs de Monells C/Vilanova 1, Monells 54

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(hotelarcsmonells.com) In a rural hamlet in Greater Girona is this lesson in how to rework a historic hostelry to dramatic effect. A modernist wing has been grafted expertly onto a turreted medieval tower; its restaurant (a destination joint for fine Catalan cuisine) oozes atmosphere, all low brickwork arches and a wood-decked terrace. Rooms from $300, room only. Hotel Ciutat de Girona C/Nord 2 (hotel-ciutatde girona.com) Edging the Onyar River in the old town, this is one of Girona’s few modern operations,

decorated in gunmetal grey with oodles of airy space, marble floors and a certain Barcelonan pizzazz. Rooms from $250, B&B. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Hotel Carlemany Plaça Miquel Santaló (carlemany.es) Expect clean lines, warm leather and mod cons aplenty at this glass-fronted joint, east of the city ramparts. The ever-smiling staff are primed for anything, from a midnight inroom delivery of pa amb tomàquet (tomato-andgarlic dressed bread) to a good restaurant recommendation. Rooms from $150, B&B.

ASK THE LOCAL Olga Daimiel is a native Gironan who recently returned to her city after several years in Barcelona and the UK Gironans don’t do bad food. Even if we’re just having a quick bite (and in a slow city there’s rarely a need to rush), we go for top quality. Try König (Espai Gironès; 00 34 972 439123) for its German salad, melting mozzarella sticks and patatas bravas. With friends, I’ll have an early-evening coffee in Plaça de la Independencia before going on to eat at Draps (C/Cort Reial 2; 00 34 872 080430). It’s great for its huge sharing plates – try the molten chocolate pudding for four. On Sundays, I’ll go to La Vall de Sant Daniel, a lush green valley 10 minutes’ drive away, with a picnic. Hotel Històric C/Bellmirall 4a (hotelhistoric.com)

This boutique hotel is laden with history: an architectural layer cake,


CONCIERGE GIRONA

Clockwise from this image: Hotel Arcs de Monells, Narrow street in old town, Hotel Historic

TOP OF THE POPS: Lluís Llach’s L’Estaca – emotive late-’60s folk riffing on antiFranco and pro-Catalan themes from the local legend, who retired last year (watch him perform on Youtube.com). CLOTHES ENCOUNTERS: You know you’re in Catalonia when all around you is a sea of greyish light brown – the staple Catalan dress code. (Basically, clothes that once were black but have turned the colour locals refer to as ala de mosca – ‘fly-wings’.) DON’T MENTION: Local taxes – or Madrid. Catalonians foam lengthily on the bugbear of subsidising Spain’s poorer provinces. including parts of a 3rdcentury wall, Roman aqueduct and 9thcentury house. Book the spacious lone suite for sweeping views: rooms from $110, room only. WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Sant Pau C/Nou 10, St Pol de Mar (ruscalleda.com) A female riposte to Ferran Adrià, Carme Ruscadella is Spain’s Michelin-starred chef del día. Her fantastical culinary touch doubly repays the trip to this unassuming suburb south of the city. Choose from a menu of quirky concoctions

including squid with tomato, spleen, pepper and ink, and Quesuco de Liébana cheese, served with pepper ice cream. Mains from $40. Cal Ros C/Cort Reial 9 (00 34 972 219176, calrosrestaurant.com) Beneath the arcades at the north end of Plaça de la Llibertat, Cal Ros marries antique stonework with icewhite table linen, and has been satisfying local appetites since the 1920s. Top marks for the gamey oca amb naps (goose with turnips) and the veal escudilla (stew). Mains from $25.

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Mimolet Restaurant Pou Rodó 12 (mimolet. net) This sharp-edged modern restaurant, named after the pungent cheese, has acres of pale woods and cool stone floors. Dishes include plump local shrimp in crunchy sea salt, and Catalan tomato soup, luscious with slow-ripened produce. Mains from $21. Bronsoms Av Sant Francesc 7 (00 34 972 212493). Set in an 1890s former family home, this place retains much of its intimate character. It’s

a Girona institution for arroz negro (an ebonyblack rice, squid-ink and fish dish), and its daily menus that allow the freshness of the day’s market produce to shine. Mains from $15. from $18. SHOPPING Centro Comercial Girocentre and the pan-Spanish El Corte Inglés, south of the old quarter, are great for quality domestic clothing lines, including the local classic looks, in all imaginable shades. On Tuesdays and

Saturdays, Parc de la Devesa is colonised by stalls selling local foods, handicrafts and clothing. Pick up some of the melting nougat speciality turron. The nearby hamlet of La Bispal indulges Spain’s nostalgia for a bucolic past in its rows of rustic artisan’s shops selling jewellery, scarves and ceramics (most will ship).

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CONCIERGE BAHRAIN

GRAND PRIX SPECIAL

Waterfront and Bahrain Financial Harbour Right: Formula 1 racetrack

Visit Bahrain

Planning a trip to the island nation for the Grand Prix? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit… All eyes turn to the island of Bahrain this month as the country gears up for the Bahrain Grand Prix (bahraingp.com) on March 12-14. It’s an event which has put the nation into the global spotlight since the first Grand Prix in 2004. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Formula One, ‘Race Number One’ will be the very first race on the 2010 calendar, giving fans the chance to be the very first spectators to witness this year’s new

teams, drivers and cars in action at the Bahrain International Circuit. The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will be celebrating this anniversary with entertainment, including one of the biggest gatherings of living Formula One Champions, a huge collection of racing memorabilia, adrenaline pumping support races, a huge variety of family fun and the kick-off to the brand new, mind blowing 2010 Formula One

season. With the likes of Sir Jack Brabham, Mika Hakkinen, Jody Scheckter, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to name but a few of this year’s VIP list, spectators will be able to witness a living display of motorsport history throughout the ages as the Champions of the past take to the track in their winning cars to complete a lap of the Bahrain International Circuit’s Formula One track.

ASK THE LOCAL Tom Durden is a marketing manager who has lived in Bahrain for the last five years and loves the country and the lifestyle it offers… The Bahrain Grand Prix is the single most exciting event in the country’s social calendar. Everyone gets so excited and absolutely everyone attends. One of the nice things about it is the other events which take place there between Grands Prix – like drag races, V8 supercars and GT races – which are great fun to watch and which are helping to bring up a new generation of Bahrainin racers. When it comes to other entertainment in Bahrain, I always enjoy taking visitors to the Adliya area of town, where there are dozens of high standard independent restaurants to choose from. KWT

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CONCIERGE BAHRAIN

Clockwise: Banyan Tree Al Areen, Grand Prix Crowd, Arabian Archway, Crowne Plaza, Sunset over Bahrain harbour, InterContinental Regency

SCHU IN The first winner of the inaugaral Bahrain Grand Prix was Michael Schumacher. RECORD-BREAKER The Circuit cost $150 million to built and was put up in a record time of only 16 months. TOTAL HUMMER The Circuit’s 4x4 desert obstacle course is the location of the world’s second-ever Hummer Academy. WHAT A DRAG! The Circuit is also home to a dedicated drag strip, alongside a first class Kart Zone. WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED InterContinental Regency Bahrain King Faisal Highway, Manama (ichotelsgroup. com) The InterContinental Regency has a great location, right in the heart of the city and a few minutes’ walk from the Bahrain Souq, the National Museum and the Financial Harbour. It’s also equipped with some of the ritziest rooms in the country, boasting lovely views and top facilities. There’s a spread of fine restaurants, including popular Lebanese spot Al Berdaouni and all 58

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day hangout Le Bistro, alongside a great health club. An excellent choice.

enjoying a lazy dinner on the terrace at seafood haven Tamarind.

Banyan Tree Al Areen (banyantree.com) This out-of-town spot is a great place if you feel like some serious relaxation in between watching the racing. It’s a dedicated spa resort where you’ll stay in a spa villa with your own pool and private garden and make full use of the superb spa facilities and therapies. The place is particularly well known for its hydrotherapy treatments and its lovely restaurants – spend your evenings

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Crowne Plaza Bahrain King Faisal Highway, Manama (ichotelsgroup. com) A pleasant hotel in the Diplomatic Area, the Crowne Plaza has everything you need to enjoy a comfortable stay. It’s just ten minutes from the airport, and offers sleek, plush rooms at more-than-reasonable rates. In the evenings you’ll relax over dinner at the Mosaique restaurant or chill to the inhouse band.

WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Plums Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel & Spa (ritzcarlton.com) For a carnivorous treat book a table at Plums, a beautifully-decorated steakhouse where Japan-sourced wagyu is the order of the day, alongside slabs of Australian Gold sirloin. Expect cut-like-butter meat with some superb dauphinoise potatoes and plenty of gourmet mustards. Beautiful. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Mezzaluna Adliya, Manama (00 973 17 742 999)

A restaurant set in an old-fashioned local house, serving excellent French food in a low-lit, chilled-out atmosphere. The perfect antidote to overly-polished hotel restaurant offerings. SHOPPING If you feel like a trip into olde world Arabia, head for Manama Souk and haggle your heart out over lovely handicrafts. There are also some modern malls – you’ll enjoy Dana Mall and Seef Mall in particular, both stuffed with both designer and high street stores.


CHINA

The city skyline Left: The Peak

Visit Hong Kong

This vibrant tiger of a city has so much to offer to city-breakers, from super food to stunning views. Hong Kong has long been a favoured haunt of in-the-know travellers. It’s a city with real attitude, at times majestic and imposing, at times brash and commercial, but always invigorating and never dull. It’s the sort of place where you can wander round and lose yourself in the life of the streets – just a few steps away from 21st century hotel slickness you’ll be sitting in tiny little alleyway cafés eating noodles and dim sum cooked just inches away from you, or browsing little stalls loaded with local trinkets. A sea 60

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of humanity sweeps through the streets at busy times of day, carrying you along in its wake, through neon boulevards, up twisting hillside slopes and to the heights of Victoria Peak, where the whole dizzing citiscape snaps into view. WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED Four Seasons 8 Finance Street, Central (fourseasons.com/ hongkong) The views from the floor to ceiling windows that line the rooms and suites of the Four Seasons in Hong Kong

are astonishing – out over Kowloon, Victoria Harbour and the Peak. You can choose from two different styles of décor and furnishings - western or contemporary Chinese, but either way your room will be filled with high tech trimmings. Relaxation comes in the form of the wellknown Spa at Four Seasons, with its 17 treatment rooms, its Finnish sauna and flotation tank. Four Seasons is also home to two three-starred Michelin restaurants (see Where to Eat for details of Caprice).

InterContinental Hong Kong 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon (hongkong-ic. intercontinental.com) This is one of those hotels you’ve almost certainly seen pictures of somewhere, thanks

to its extraordinary Presidential Suite, which comes complete with a 2,500 square foot terrace with an infinity pool which gives you the most incredible views over Victoria Harbour. If you don’t

ASK THE LOCAL Gary Barvis has lived in Hong Kong for three months, and works in the luxury paper industry. I’ve only been here for a short while but I’ve already found some favourite spots in the city. I love going to watch the horse racing at Happy Valley, and visiting the Hong Kong Museum of Art. My kids, Elestair and Alphonse, love spending the day at Disneyland, which is filled with exciting rides and really well thought-out. Elestair can get a bit overexcited, but she can work off her excess energy with hikes in the fresh air at Aberdeen Country Park. There’s always plenty to do…


CONCIERGE HONG KONG

Clockwise from this image: a bird’s eye view, the streets at night, InterContinental Hotel, an InterContinental suite, Ocean park cable cars

LOWERED EXPECTORATIONS Spitting in public has been illegal in Hong Kong since 2003. NAME GAME The ‘Soho’ area of the city was so named because it falls South of Hollywood Road. ISLE STYLE There are 235 separate islands in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the largest of which is Hong Kong itself. BIG BANG Every day at 12 noon, a gun, the Noon Gun, is fired at the entry of Causeway Bay, a tradition dating back to the 19th century. feel like springing for the Presidential treatment don’t worry – the regular Harbourview suites are also phenomenal, with rooms equipped with Bose home entertainment systems and 24-hour butler service on hand. When it comes to dinner time, you can choose from the wonderful inhouse branch of Nobu and Alain Ducasse’s dreamy Spoon restaurant with its super French food. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Crowne Plaza Hotel Hong Kong 8 Leighton Road,

Causeway Bay (ichotelsgroup.com) Causeway Bay is one of the prime business and shopping districts in Hong Kong – and Crowne Plaza is a grand place to stay so you can be close to the action. The rooms are slick and smart and the 28th floor pool is another great place for soaking the views while doing a few laps. WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Caprice The Four Seasons With its inspired food and gorgeous décor, featuring imposing

chandeliers and a show kitchen, Caprice offers the height of indulgence. Start your meal with périgord black truffle tart with Brittany artichokes and aged parmesan or langoustine ravioli in shellfish bisque. Follow up with lamb with barigoule vegetables and Provençal aubergine in basil infusion or a Normandy sole fillet with baby leeks and carrots in seaweed butter meunière. It’s all superb – as is the mango cannelloni with fressinette banana they serve for dessert. Make sure to leave room…

The Pawn 62 Johnston Road thepawn.com.hk This converted former pawn shop has become a major favourite among the many British expats in the city. It’s built up a loyal clientele who flock in to enjoy dishes like wild mushrooms on toast with truffle butter, char-grilled lamb chops with minted mash, pot roast vegetable and rosemary gravy and of course that old British stalwart, fish and chips, with peas and homemade tartare sauce. Wise diners will make a beeline for sticky toffee pudding

with toffee sauce and butterscotch ice-cream for dessert, almost certainly followed up with a plate of montgomery cheddar with tomato and onion chutney and homemade oatcakes SHOPPING There’s a huge number of different shopping experiences on offer in Hong Kong. You should definitely go to the Stanley Market for a fun outdoor experience, but if it’s designer shopping you’re after, you should head to Kowloon and Elements, which is stocked to the roof with big names. KWT

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Feeling excited about your holiday? Check through our list of the most popular Kanoo Travel offices, find one near you and head down or call up to turn your getaway dreams into reality... BAHRAIN Abu Obeidah Avenue Wroad No. 302 Manama Tel. 17 576950 Mahooz Tel. 17 828754 Awali Branch Sitrah Avenue Road No. 4522 Awali Tel. 17 756487 Al Moayd Tower Manama Tel. 17 220220 Kanoo Holidays Mahooz Tel.17 828802 Kanoo Travel Refinery Tel. 17 755012 Airport Office Bahrain Tel. 17 321325 Egypt Air Manama Tel. 17 220747 Lufthansa Mahooz Tel. 17 828763 Air India Manama Tel. 17 220788 Cyprus Airways Manama Tel. 17 220 849 British Airways Manama Tel. 17 220701 Qantas / Jetabout Manama Tel. 17220743 Thai International Mahooz Tel. 17 828771 Air Canada / Austrian Airlines / Polish Olympic Airways / Sudan Airways / Sas / Swiss Int’l / Tunis Mahooz Tel. 17 828770

EGYPT Alexandria Booz Allen 1 Youssef El-Shazly Street Roushdy, Alexandria Tel. 002 03 5459265

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Alexandria 14 May Str, Sayadlia Building Symoha Tel. 020 03 424 1050 Aswan Abtal El-Tahrir Street Corniche El-Nil Tel. 002 097 2306983 Heliopolis Business Travel Centre 33 Nabil Elwakkad St Heliopolis Cairo Tel. 002 02 4130375/6 Cairo Halliburton C/O Halliburton Overseas Ltd Kilometer No 10 Land No 30 Ein Sokhna Road North Kattamia Cairo Tel. 002 02 27591690 Cairo 07 Dr. Kamal Hussin Heliopolis Cairo Tel. 002 02 26251307 Cairo Schlumberger C/O Schlumberger Zeiny Tower 25 Misr Helwan Road Maadi Tel. 002 02 7684700 Ext.. 1014 Cairo U.N.D.P C/O U.N.D.P., 4th Fl, World Trade Center 1191 Cornich El Nil Tel. 002 02 25804491 Cairo Kasr El Nil 15 Kasr El Nil Street Down Town Tel. 002 02 25747991 Cairo Nile Hilton Nile Hilton Hotel Down Town Tel. 002 02 25785001 Cairo 1 Wahib Doss Str. Office No 9 Maadi Tel. 002 02 27513930 El Areesh Mfo C/O Mfo Northern Sinai Tel. 002 068 3502868 Luxor Winter Palace Hotel Tel. 002 095 2378333

FRANCE Foreign Exchange 11 Rue Scribe Paris 75009 Tel. +33 1 5300 9897 Foreign Exchange 11 Cours de I’Intendance Bordeaux 33000 Tel. +33 5 5600 6336 Bureau de Change Kanoo Printemps Dept. Store 64 Boulevard Haussmann 75009 PARIS Tel. +33 1 4282 4181

Umalquara Street Hayfer Makkah Tel. 02 544 7741 Kanoo Travel Sharafiya Tel. 02 643 9426 Kanoo Travel Taif Tel. 02 736 4211 Kanoo Travel Rabigh Tel. 02 423 2785

OMAN

Kanoo Travel Medinah Tel. 02 263 3040

Kanoo Travel LLC PO Box 75 114 Jibroo, Muscat Tel. +968 24700249

Air India Jeddah Tel. 02 668 0303 / 669 6571

QATAR

Gulf Air Jeddah Tel. 02 668 0303 / 669 6571 / 646

Old Al Hitmi Street Museum Street, Doha Tel. 04 441 3441 Conoco Phillips Salam Tower Al Corniche Street, Doha Tel. 04 443 7595

SAUDI ARABIA WESTERN PROVINCE Kanoo Centre Medina Road, Jeddah Tel. 02 661 4950 Bab Makkah Jeddah Tel. 02 644 9030 Bamaroof Centre Hail Street, Jeddah Tel. 02 653 0541

Singapore Airlines Jeddah Tel. 02 657 9898 Srilankan Airlines Jeddah Tel. 02 263 2959 Air Canada Jeddah Tel. 02 263 2996, Ext. 190 Kenyan Airways Jeddah Tel.02 263 2959 Ext. 108 Philippine Airways Jeddah Tel. 02 263 2959 Ext. 100 / 122

Khamis Abha Main Road Khamis Mushayat Tel. 07 222 3624

United Airlines Jeddah Tel. 02 263 3021 / 2959 Ext. 196 / 197

Prince Sultan Street Gizan Tel. 07 317 4285

EASTERN PROVINCE

Aboobacker Al Siddiq Street, Medina Tel. 04 823 9120

Airline Centre King Abdul Aziz Street Al Khobar Tel. 03 882 2206

Al Nawa Commercial Centre Al Sinnaiyat, Yanbu Tel. 04 321 3607

Kanoo Holidays, Retail Airline Centre, Khobar Tel. 03 882 2206 / 2601 / 2249

Albishar Commercial Centre King Abdulaziz Street Al Bahar, Yanbu Tel. 04 322 1087

Kanoo Holidays, Wholesale Airline Centre, Khobar Tel. 03 8821626 / 1851 / 8820161

Hertz Khobar Tel. 03 882 2005 / 5597

Dhahran Street Damman Tel. 03 833 7694

Airport Office Dammam Tel. 03 883 2660 / 2660

King Khalid Street Khobar Tel. 03 864 7471

British Airways Khobar Tel. 03 882 2000 British Airways Dammam Tel. 03 835 5714 British Airways Jubail Tel. 03 362 1069 Air India Khobar Tel. 03 882 2478 Air India Jubail Tel. 03 362 3454 Qantas Khobar Tel. 03 882 3711 / 2467 United Airlines / Air Canada / Singapore Airlines / Swissair / Austrian Airlines Tel. 03 882 1518/ 2962 / 2602 / 03 882 4477 / 4442 / 4890 / 4533 Srilankan Airlines Khobar Tel. 03 882 2789 / 2675 / 2792 Gulf Air Khobar Tel. 03 896 8496 / 9393 / 8493

47th Street Rahima Tel. 03 667 0388 Al Quds Street Qatif Tel. 03 851 5009 City Centre Al Mahoob Buidling Hufuf Tel. 03 586 3823 Kanoo Building Corniche Road Jubail Tel. 03 362 2340 Municipal Street Al Khafji Tel. 03 766 0045 CENTRAL PROVINCE Kanoo Tower King Abdul Aziz Road Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 King Faisal Foundation Al Khairia Complex Riyadh Tel. 01 463 4454 Wazir Street Al Azizea Building Riyadh Tel. 01 411 4780

Gulf Air Dammam Tel.03 835 4194 / 4917 / 4952

Batha Riyadh Tel. 01 403 0368

Gulf Air Qatif Tel. 03 852 9384 / 854 5240

Al Kubaih Street Buraidah Tel. 06 325 0888

Gulf Air Rastanura Tel. 03 667 8041/ 7972 Gulf Air Hofuf Tel. 03 585 3358 / 4080 / 2252 Gulf Air Jubail Tel. 03 363 0982/ 84 / 85 /86 Kanoo Tower King Saud Street, Damman Tel. 03 833 9793

Airport Road Hail Tel. 06 543 0430 Sharjah Street Hotat Bani Tamim Al Hotah Tel. 01 555 0304 Silsilah Road Onaiza Al Qassim Tel. 06 362 0080 Main Street Al Khamseen Wadi Ad Dawasir Tel. 01 784 6500


CONCIERGE WHERE TO BOOK

EASY WIN!

Kanoo Travel Naseem Tel. 01 232 8519

Najda Street Abu Dhabi Tel. 02 678 0400

Air India Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 295 / 296

Kanoo Holidays Dubai Tel. 04 334 1444 / 315 6624

Gulf Air Olaya, Riyadh Tel. 01 461 0589 / 462 4902 United Airlines / Air Canada Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 289, 290 Qantas Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 288, 305 Srilankan Airlines Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 292 X 293 Philippine Airlines Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 237 X 238 Air India Buraidah Tel. 06 324 6514 / 325 0888 Gulf Air Hail. Tel. 06 532 0280 Gulf Air Buraidah Tel. 06 324 6514 / 325 0888 Singapore Airlines Kanoo Tower Tel. 4734102 / 4734103

UAE Jebel Ali LOB 16, Ground Floor Jebel Ali Free Zone Tel. 04 881 5050 Karama Al Fathooi Centre Dubai Tel. 04 334 1222 Kanoo Building Khalid Bin Al Waleed Street, Bur Dubai Tel. 04 507 2242 Dubai Internet City Building 12 Tel. 04 390 1992 Deira City Centre Dubai Tel. 04 294 1481

Marine Travel Services Dubai Tel. 04 335 1314 Airport Office Dubai Tel. 04 393 1963 Kanoo Travel Corniche, Abu Dhabi Tel. 02 631 3900 / 631 8187

UK Birmingham American Express Bank House. 8 Cherry Street Tel. 0121 644 5514 / 0121 644 5560 Bournemouth American Express 95A Old Christchurch Road Tel. 0787 260 0528 / 01202 780 752 Brighton Amex House Implant American Express Ground Floor Amex House Edward Street Tel. 01273 525 041 / 040 Bristol American Express 74 Queens Road Tel. 01179 065 107 / 105 Cardiff American Express 3 Queen Street Tel. 02920 649 305 / 02920 649 301 Coventry American Express 5 Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre Tel. 02 47 622 5511 / 0787 260 0528 Croydon American Express 2-4 High Street Tel. 0208 256 0808 / 0805 Edinburgh American Express 69 George Street 0131 718 2508 / 0131 718 2505

Kanoo Building Al Orouba Street, Sharjah Tel. 06 561 6058

Essex Lakeside Bureau American Express Lakeside Shopping Centre West Thurrock Way West Thurrock Grays Tel. 01708 890 654

Green Community Mall Jebel Ali Road Dubai Tel. 04 885 3321

Glasgow American Express 66 Gordon Street Tel. 0141 225 2905 / 0141 225 2908”

Kanoo Travel – American Express Hermitage Building Al Karama Tel. 04 334 9219

Guildford American Express 38-40 High Street Tel. 01483 551 607 / 01483 551 605

Leicester American Express 1 Horsefair Street Tel. 0116 242 1808 / 0116 242 1805 London Haymarket American Express 30 – 31 Haymarket Tel. 0207 484 9674 / 0207 484 9600 London Credit Swiss First Boston American Express Travel Office C/O Credit Suisse One Cabot Square Canary Wharf Tel. 0207 888 4196 London Holborn Bureau American Express 156a Southampton Row Tel. 0787 260 0528 / 0207 837 4416 London Kensington High St American Express 84 Kensington High Street Tel. 0207 795 6703 London Knightsbridge American Express 78 Brompton Road Tel. 0207 761 7908 / 7900, London American Express 1 Savoy Court The Strand Tel. 0207 240 1521 Milton Keynes American Express 670 Silbury Boulevard Tel. 01908 608 877 Manchester American Express 10-12 St Mary’s Gate Tel. 0161 833 7301 / 0161 833 7301 Nottingham American Express 2 Victoria Street Tel. 0115 924 7705 / 0115 924 7701 Plymouth American Express 139 Armada Tel. 01752 502 707 / 01752 502 702 Sheffield American Express 20 Charles Street, Sheffield Tel. 0114 263 9308 / 0114 263 9305 Southampton American Express 99 Above Bar Tel. 02380 716 808 / 805 York American Express 6 Stonegate Tel. 01904 676 505

COMPETITION WIN A STAY AT THE BANYAN TREE AL WADI The Banyan Tree Al Wadi (banyantree.com) has recently soft-opened in Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE and it’s a real winner. This lovely desert spa resort offers the perfect break from the rush of the city: head over and you can relax with pampering treatments at the Banyan Tree Spa Al Wadi, laze in the sun by your own personal pool, or take a short trip to play golf on the nearby 18 hole Al Hamra championship course, built around a lagoon. You can also head out into their private nature reserve to meet the local wildlife or go out camel riding or desert driving. The villas are designed in classic Arabic style, with tented roofs inspired by Bedouin dwellings, and ornate woodwork and carvings. The surrounding area is breathtakingly beautiful and tranquil, with views out over the desert oasis. And when night falls, you can take advantage of the In-Villa Dining service, which allows you to have a barbeque out under the stars, by your personal pool, cooked by your own chef. We’ve teamed up with the Banyan Tree Al Wadi to offer a fantastic prize to one lucky reader: a one-night stay in their gorgeous Al Khaimah Tented Pool Villa, including breakfast for two. For a chance at winning, just send the answer to the following question to easywin@hotmediapublishing.com.

What does ‘wadi’ mean? a) Valley b) Mountain c) Desert KWT

63


CONCIERGE SUITE DREAMS

SUITE DREAMS THE CROWN INN, AMERSHAM, UK

At the far end of the Metropolitan Line, the name London Underground becomes a misnomer. With each stop the city fades further away to reveal the gentle green slopes of the Chiltern Hills. At the end of the line, an hour from central London, is the picturesque Buckinghamshire market town of Amersham and this charming coaching inn. The Crown is the impossibly attractive England of BBC period dramas, a picture-perfect Elizabethan inn with buildings assembled around a cobbled courtyard. Inside it’s all exposed brickwork, low ceilings and welcoming fireplaces. There’s a top restaurant, where chef Mark Bristow creates classic dishes such as fish pie and roast partridge with locally sourced ingredients. The soda bread is so good it’s a struggle finding the room for main courses. We stayed in Room 12, as seen in Four Weddings and a Funeral. It’s easy to understand why the filmmakers picked this room - there’s a magnificent hand-painted wall dating back to 1550. Elsewhere the interior design is cool, contemporary and understated. After a restful night and a hearty English breakfast, it’s time to explore Old Amersham and its timberframed inns, craft shops, museum and 12th century church. You’ll want to postpone the return trip to London for as long as possible… thecrownamersham.com


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To book your flights visit: gulfair.com


Kanoo World Traveller February 2010