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Produced in International Media Production Zone


Simon Calder cycles his way round Holland

Inside the finest rooms in the Indian Ocean


CARNIVAL QUEEN Under the wraps of Rio de Janeiro’s fantastic facelift


Why Spain’s ‘third city’ could be its finest

On the trail of spectacular wildlife and luxe lodgings

Kanoo World Traveller JAnuARy 2012

contents TRAveL BITeS 05 check in

We round up the latest travel news to put you in-the-know for 2012.

13 Where to stay

We head for La-La Land for hotel stays of celebrity proportions.

14 Picture this


Take a look at this month’s trio of eyeopening natural wonders.

21 essential selection

Rob Orchard delves in to the best rooms the Indian Ocean has to offer.

66 Visit: tokyo

Jade Bremner explores the weird and wonderful sights of Japan’s capital.

68 Visit: st Petersburgh

Wrap up warm and make for this historic (and beautiful) Russian city.

71 comPetition

Win a welcome break at the new Royal Radisson Hotel, Dubai.

72 suite dreams

Fancy spending the night in a Missonidesigned suite – aboard a super-yacht?



FeATuReS 33 holland Simon Calder takes a (tiring) bicycle tour via Amsterdam, kids and all.

38 rio de janeiro

The Brazilian capital is about to recieve a facelift – and become as beautiful as its people, predicts Adrian Mourby.

44 canary islands

Star-gazing, trekking and building (black) sandcastles in La Palma.

48 kenya

Laura Binder goes wide-eyed at the natural wonders (and sublime lodgings) of Africa.

56 Valencia

Why the Spanish city is stepping out of Barcelona and Madrid’s shadows.

On the cover: Masai warrior at sunset, Masai Mara, Kenya. Photolibrary



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January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 3

CheCk In | news


BE INformEd, BE INspIrEd, BE THErE


the St. RegiS Doha This month we’re waxing lyrical about an all-new (and very beautiful) hotel in Qatar: The much-anticipated St. Regis Doha. Steeped in Middle Eastern grandeur, the hotel’s 336 rooms and sizeable spa make for a formidable venue overlooking the Arabian Gulf. A location, incidentally, that lends itself perfectly to exploring the city’s culturerich sights: “Arts and culture connoisseurs will enjoy easy access to the Katara Cultural Village and the nearby Museum of Islamic Arts,” tells general manager Tareq Derbas. “For an authentic Arabian market experience, visit Souq Waqif; located along the Corniche, it’s home to many local restaurants, art galleries and stores that sell handcrafted items, souvenirs and garments.” If you prefer some time

in the sun, though, the hotel’s 160-metre stretch of beach (it’s dotted with private cabanas) will certainly do the job. But what of the hotel’s interiors? “Inside it’s steeped in Middle Eastern mystique, presenting seductive interiors inspired by the towering sand dunes and ancient architecture that surround the two towers of the hotel,” says Derbas. For the best views in the house, we favour its second-floor rooms – each of which come with an open terrace. Plaudits also go to the St. Regis brand’s famous butler service: “All our guests are provided with their own butler,” says Derbas, “offering complimentary beverages, unpacking and packing services and garment pressing.” What more could you need?

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 5

St. BarthS

My PeRfect tRiP… St. Barths Hot off the opening of the Dubai outpost of celeb-favoured nightspot Mo*Vida, owner Marc Merran shares his favoured place to get away from it all... st. Barths is the ultimate party island, and a place I can’t resist returning to – you can go nuts there, depending on your mood! my funniest travel memory is from a trip to st. Barths last year. It was New Year’s Eve and I had a headache so my wife gave me a sleeping tablet and I was fast asleep by five minutes past midnight!

On the road to nowhere If the offer of getting away from it all – and we mean really getting away from it all – appeals, the birth of two new eco-cottages known as Croft 103 will be bliss personified. A project brought to life by husband and wife team Fiona and Robbie MacKay, it’s purely for couples, located by a loch, and promises luxury and privacy with an eco-friendly approach. “Both buildings are a blend of stone, glass and local wood, which we milled ourselves,” says Fiona Mackay. “We wanted to create something completely bespoke, individual; architecturally beautiful and that would blend into the fantastic wild landscape.” When it comes to the location, you’ll need more than a good map

to find it: “It’s remote; on the shore of Loch Eribol (Britain’s deepest sea loch) in front of the majestic Ben Hope,” navigates Mackay. “It’s truly untouched and idyllic with unspoilt panoramic views and nature in abundance – something happens when you get there. Your wee world changes and you never want to leave!” Carbon negative, wind turbinegenerated electricity and sheep’s wool insulation makes each abode as guilt-free as it is luxe (full glass frontages, custom-made beds, stone showers and huge tubs). “There is nothing to beat sitting in a piping hot solar bath under the stars watching the northern lights.” raves Mackay.

The spot I would most recommend others to eat in when in st. Barth’s is Isola. It’s an Italian restaurant that’s just full of A-list stars and some of my great friends. Everytime I’ve been it’s been really great meeting new people – and the food is great, too. The island is 24/7 fun – there are 60 clubs and restaurants located in a small area, so there’s always somewhere to go – it’s a real party island! my best-kept secret from st. Barths is Gouverneurs Beach. This is natural sunbathing – there aren’t even any toilets there! It’s home to breathtaking views and simply stunning blue waters – it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. my three must-have items when travelling have to be my iPad, panama hat and sunglasses. When I want to relax, I also love making for the maldives – I love the simplicity of the food and the tranquillity. There I enjoy the sun by day and chill and relax in the evenings. And when it comes to the best travelling companions... it has to be good friends – anywhere would be boring without them!

hot offerS

City sliCkers This month Kanoo Travel and American Express Vacations bring a trio of 5 day/4 night offers...

athens & beyond – $640 This ancient city is chock full of sights, and this tour takes you on sightseeing trips of Athens, Argolis and three Greek islands, both by foot and by boat.

singapore – $530 From the land to the ocean, this Asian adventure shows you all sides of the city, from architecture (note City Hall) to beachlife (Sentosa Island) and wildlife (Singapore Zoo).

kuala lumpur – $345 Arrive at the capital of Malaysia, experience a familyfriendly day at Genting Outdoor Theme Park then drinkin a panoramic tour from Southeast Asia’s tallest tower.

6 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


NEW HOTELS FOR 2012 The end of 2011 saw the once Chedi Phuket reopen as The Surin Phuket ( Set on one of the most popular Thai islands, the 108-cottage resort has had a facelift from Paris architect and famed interior designer Ed Tuttle, and the results are superb. Most of note are its more spacious, more colourful rooms and all-new beach bar and chillout lounge. It may be temporary, but Mexico’s pop-up hotel is well worth an, albeit fleeting, visit. Papaya Playa Project ( sees 99 ‘eco-cabanas’ (pictured) dot a stretch of Tulum beach until May, 2012. Essentially temporary beach huts, they’re nonetheless sure to attract more than your average backpacker, thanks to their fluffy towels, mosquito nets draped over beds and ocean-facing hammocks. Meanwhile, the St Regis Bal Harbour Resort (stregisbalharbour. com) opens January 19 on Miami Beach. Make a beeline for Florida and you can meander to the famous South Beach (a great spot for peoplewatching) and peruse the revered Bal Harbour Shops – when you’re not making the most of its slick interiors and headturning, nine-acre oceanfront gardens, of course. In Bahrain, the spa at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa ( is now open, making it the first to offer thalassotherapy in the GCC. For spa-lovers, it’s bliss personified: 2,000square metres, two floors, 14 treatment rooms and a menu that utilises natural sea products and myriad other features to boot.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 7


New destinations for the New Year Looking for a new holiday spot for 2012? KWT brings you 10 of the world’s top emerging destinations we bet you’re yet to tick off your travel list...

3. the falklaNDS The Falklands archipelago is formed by some 740 islands – and if you’re yet to visit one, add it to your wish list. Here, Falkland pebbles and even semi-precious stones can be found on its northern beaches, while wild flora and fauna are set against mountainous backdrops and coastal stretches – a rambler’s haven. Wildlife enthusiasts should make for its immaculate shores to spot myriad breeds of penguin – Kings, Rockhopppers (pictured right), Gentoo and Magellanic among them – or hop aboard a boat tour to spy whales and dolphins. For history-enthusiasts, meanwhile, the imminent 30th anniversary of the Falklands War makes it a poignant time to peruse the numerous museums and sites dedicated to the 1982 conflict. (The Falklands Islands Museum tops the tourist trail.)

4. uRuguay

1. NoRtheRN PoRtugal

2. BuRMa

While you may have already visited Portugal for its lust-worthy Med cuisine (not to mention fine grape), it is the country’s first official capital, nestled in the north, that’s capturing globetrotters’ attention: Guimarães (pictured opposite). Culture vultures in particular will love its history-rich land – so rich, in fact, that it scooped the title of the new European Capital of Culture. A day-today exploration will reveal medieval streets and monuments that harbour tales of the past. What’s more, you’ll find yourself close to Porto – Portugal’s second largest city and under UNESCO World Heritage protection. Of its top sights, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is a must (its modernist design of sharp, white lines is well worth a snapshot). What’s more, that mild Med climate makes sightseeing a joy – break for a classic ‘pastel de nata’; a small custard tart.

Setting foot in to Burma (above) is like stepping back in time and reemerging in ancient Asia: men wear skirt-like ‘longyi’; grand British mansions parade from a colonial era; and women’s faces are masked by traditional, colourful make-up (‘thanaka’). Thankfully, then, Aung San Suu Kyi (the country’s pro-democracy leader) called for tourism to return, and a multitude of operators make trips through its streets an easy one. Whether you’re inclined to opt for a guided tour or not, the most luxurious of the cruises – the Road to Mandalay river cruise by Orient-Express – is well worth forking out for: you’ll be whisked by boat from Bagan – an ancient capital which appears at its best by dawn, when a mist breaks over thousands of pagodas (tiered towers). Yangon is also worth a trip for Shwedagon Paya alone; 99 metres tall and decked in bright, yellow gold.

8 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Of all of South America, Uruguay is unlikely to be your first port of call, but it’s slowly capturing travellers’ attention – and rightly so. If the prospect of winter sun isn’t enough to draw you here, its party atmosphere certainly will: its capital, Montevideo, hosts the world’s longest carnival, a vibrant affair that goes strong for 40 days, no less. Expect singing, dancing and drumming on the streets, brought to life with headturning outfits of glitter and feathers hugging impossibly gorgeous locals. It begins and ends with a street parade – so try and arrange your trip to coincide with its beginning or tail end. Indeed, it seems that Montevideo has anticipated an influx of jet-setters with not one but two new five-star hotels: the Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco and Spa and Pestana Montevideo Hotel.

5. caMBoDia If there’s one place to have surged up the new destinations chart in 2011, it’s Cambodia. Though some would argue it was a step behind Vietnam, the ‘Kingdom of Cambodia’ has responded to its surge

CheCk In | news

in popularity with a cluster of high-end resorts: November saw Phnom Penh come to fruit in the form of Colonial-style buildings bunched together amid tropical terrain. Just last month, meanwhile, we reported the emergence of Song Saa – Cambodia’s very first private-island resort, where two sister islands on the previously untouched Koh Rong archipelago are now dotted with 27 villas, which perch over either beach, sea or fauna, and all of which are decked out in stylish, beach-inspired aesthetics. With such lavish new haunts, try not to fall prey to the temptation of staying put (Song Saa’s private butler service makes it all too easy to lounge around), and make time for its original draw – the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat.

6. fiNlaND Seeing the Northern Lights is an once-in-alifetime pursuit and one of Finland’s remotest snow-covered regions, Nellim, has been tipped as the best spot from which to spy this year’s aurora borealis, in March 2012. (Nasa predicts it will be the best display in half a century.) Set on the icy shore of Lake Inari, to say that Nellim is remote is an understatement (its village is home to one store, one coffee shop and a marina). It’s this sheer lack of pollution, then, that lends Nellim sublime visibility for light-hunters. There are more deluxe spots to stay close by, though: Igloo Village Kakslauttanen boasts thermo-glass igloos, while the Ruka Village Hotel has hot tubs outside, so you can gaze at the stars from a relaxing, bubbling spot. The snow bunnies among you will have plenty of opportunities to bounce around too; this part of the world is a hotbed of ice-themed activities, our favoured pick of which is chasing the lights by dog sled.

Lake Bled, a glacial lake in a piercing blue hue) and you’ll be on a journey of spirals, hair pin bends and even a figure-of-eight-loop.

8. taNzaNia Just last month, Tanzania rejoiced in a special anniversary – 50 years of independence – and it’s a date that goes hand in hand with significant upgrades, making travel in the country that bit easier. The name of the game here is, of course, an exploration that marries wildlife-spotting with landscape to make your jaw drop. Serengeti (one of the world’s major wildlife reserves) and Ngorongoro (the world’s largest volcanic crater and home to the highest density of big game in Africa) are two esteemed safari spots where you can spy wild animals roaming the East African plains: the Big Five are all but a guarantee. Tanzania is a destination for adventurers too – its rust/green terrain is the motherland of Mt Kilimanjaro, offering challenging treks, while, for those after a more low-key pursuit, the beaches of Zanzibar are something else.

want an entirely new hotspot, check in to The Ocean Retreat on the east coast; an intimate resort for a maximum of 10 guests and where, in season, you can see whales and dolphins glide by your ocean-facing room.

10. NoRth-WeSt iNDia A sense of peace and calm seems to radiate over this region of India, making it ideal for those after a cultural experience of a calmer ilk. Of the new elements to draw first-time visitors is its Duronto Express train, which bridges the gap between Amritsar and Chandigahr and will take you between the two in a non-stop flurry of green and yellow (its carriages are famously bright). Elsewhere, Kashmir is also calmer than in years gone by and well worth a visit, not least for its many fine vistas.

9. taSMaNia Wildlife, luxurious cutting-edge resorts, culture in abundance and pristine beaches are what’s placed Tasmania firmly on our radar this year. Whoever you travel with, there’ll be plenty to keep you occupied in this wild state of Australia. Bush-walking is as authentic an Ozzie experience as it gets, while wild fishing and dolphin watching place you in catch-your-breath range to the island’s wildlife. The stunning landscape can be drunk-in from luxury haunts like Saffire and the Southern Ocean Lodge – but, if you

7. the BalkaNS Slovenia, Montenegro and Croatia’s Dalmation Coast all top the highlights of this sight-rich destination. For those after an altogether different sightseeing trip, it’s also an experience best savoured from a train cabin – after all, its heritage rail, which preserves railways of the past, is a staple of the region, the most notable example of which is Sargan Eight at Mokra Gora, Serbia: regarded as one of Europe’s finest examples of railway engineering. Step aboard for a closer glimpse of the top sights, (we favour

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 9




12-15 6 3

3 ST KITTS CARNIVAL is a great excuse for a party in the capital of Basseterre, where it seems the festive season just isn’t long enough. This colourful event brings lashings of party spirit in the form of infectiously fun parades, no-holds-barred dancing and, best of all, the crowning of the carnival king and queen.

6 ART IN THE WINDOWS takes hold of virtually every empty window in Naples’ Borgo Sant Eligio, when it invites hundreds of artists to showcase their photos and paintings in shops and piazzas, making a truly headturning stroll.

11 KUKERI FESTIVAL Sees men draped in full sheepskins, weird and wonderful masks and jingling copper belts – the norm at this time of year in Bulgaria, when the rural villages perform an ancient ceremony (dances and songs galore) to ward off evil.

20 11


12-15 SNOW ARENA POLO WORLD CUP in Austria brings the ‘sport of kings’ (and an injection of glamour) on to Kitzbühel ski resort’s blankets of snow, where well-heeled spectators (furs and all) gather to watch six international teams compete.

20 SEMPER OPERA BALL is the highlight of every Dresden-based socialite. Elegant ladies in floor-length gowns parade on the arms of tuxedo-clad men and, while VIP tables are available (at a hefty price), those on a budget can join a 10,000 strong throng who dance in the huge square outside.

24-29 ABU DHABI HSBC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP sees the true pros tee off on what is one of the biggest games on the PGA European Tour calendar. Four days, 30,000 viewers and off-course entertainment make it a must-see event for golfing fans worldwide.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 11




‘La-La Land’, the ‘City of Angels’; whatever you call L.A. one thing’s for certain; it’s a seriously cool spot for a USA break...











Figueroa Hotel

ndrian Los Angeles Its neon red sign in Hollywoo style lettering makes this 19 hotel everything you’d hop for from classic L.A. Inside meanwhile, a Moroccan them pervades, from its colour pal to its lighting, well-worn sto and fauna-flanked pool; a gr spot to sup icy beverages Laid back and very cool.


OR g foot through this hotel’s e mahogany doors makes eel like an instant celebrity. ct, from its interiors (plush cs and bespoke furntiture) s hangouts (the open-air ace at Skybar is a revered t) it’s got to be one of the est spots this side of town.





The Standard Downtown LA

Hilton Checkers Los Angeles

LA Sky Boutique Hotel

Le Parc This place is so cool, it almost hurts: Slick, slightly ‘out there’ design features and a rooftop lounge GQ described as ‘the best in the world’. This downtown haunt dates back to the 1920s, promising guests an old school ambience, with modern touches (note its rooftop pool). Twenty-eight rooms, a sea of sky blue hues (hence the name) and al fresco detailing throughout its lobby, make this an eye-catching stopover. Tucked away in a quiet spot of West Hollywood, this intimate hotel is about to emerge from a $5million makeover, injecting yet more style into the area.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 13

Picture this

raPa Valley

Sarek National Park, Sweden What you see before you is part of Europe’s largest stretch of wilderness: the 35km long Rapa Valley, with a 700ft near-vertical drop from edge to valley floor (gulp). The largest of its kind in Sarek National Park, its pristine waters snake between the famed mountain ranges and cut a contrast to its rainforestlike vegetation. Unsurprisingly then, Rapa Valley (or ‘Rapadalen’ in Swedish) makes for a lump-in-the-throat sight in the flesh, and one that’s beheld time and again by avid trekkers (it’s considered the most beautiful river delta in Sweden) who traverse the unmarked paths around it in a bid to drink-in the sight of what’s become known as ‘Europe’s Last Wilderness’. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye

Picture this

lesser Flamingoes Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Rarely do you see all-natural hues as vivid as fuchsia but, in Kenya, Lake Nakuru transforms into a sea of prawn cocktail-pink as thousands – sometimes millions – of long-legged flamingos flock to its warm shores, where their favoured delicacy is rife; algae. But, don’t assume the mighty birds are all the same – two species parade here, the Greater Flamingo with its black-tipped bill and, pictured here, the Lesser Flamingo, with its brilliant red bill and pink plumage. While the lake’s surface is often hard to decipher amid the shifting pink mass, the best viewpoint can be gained at the park’s Baboon Cliff. A stellar photo opportunity if ever there was one... Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye

Picture this

boiling mud Pots Rotorua, New Zealand

If you head not to the town of Rotorua in New Zealand, but to the lake of the same name on the country’s southern shores, you’re nostrils will be met with the scent of... rotten eggs. While it may not seem the most attractive prospect, the landscape (at the heart of the North Island) is well worth a look; a hotbed for geothermal activity in the form of erupting geysers, volcanoes, steaming vents and, of course, mud pots which bubble away like a witch’s cauldron. That scent, incidentally, is a product of the geothermal activity that releases sulphur into the atmosphere (we suggest taking a nose peg). But, it’s not all bad; the bizarre landscape lends itself to some truly au natural cleansing treatments; try a mud or steaming sulphur bath. Image: Getty / Gallo Images

EssEntial sElEction | thE BEst Rooms in thE indian ocEan

essential selection

The Best Rooms in the Indian Ocean

Looking for the finest accommodation in the most captivating region in the world? Rob Orchard says look no further...

Taj Exotica Maldives the Rehendi Presidential suite When it comes to the Taj Exotica Maldives’ presidential suite, it’s hard to pinpoint its finest feature. Plaudits go to the sheer magnitude of space – 500 square metres, no less, all of which is immaculately furnished and, perhaps best of all, includes a glass-walled bathroom, providing a worldclass view over the ocean as you soak in the tub. Step outside, meanwhile, and there’s plenty more to rave about: namely, its stunning private pool with spacious sundeck – make a beeline for its hammock and take a siesta as it sways gently over the lagoon. Oh, and for good measure, there’s a private butler permanently on call. We told you it was hard to choose… and while you’re here... Don’t miss a sunset cruise on the resort’s speedboat – very James Bond.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 21

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Water villa There are few feelings in this life more exquisite than stepping on to the private sundeck of your Water Villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (below and right): in front of you there’s nothing but the turquoise waters of the island’s glorious reef – take a few steps down and you’re in the water, idly flipping your way over the coral and teeming sea life – while behind is the resort’s superb stretch of golden beach. Meanwhile, the water villa itself is filled with all the luxurious trimmings you could imagine, from Bvlgari toiletries to a sleek Nespresso Machine. If you’re looking for a soothing, inspiring getaway, this is your place. And while you’re here... Make sure to book in for a relaxation session at the imaginative ‘Ice cream spa’ – as delicious as it sounds.

22 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

EssEntial sElEction | thE BEst Rooms in thE indian ocEan

Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort, Mauritius Villa Beautiful decoration is of prime importance in the Villas at the Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort (pictured left); a pleasing blend of African and tropical themes pervade throughout the pair of large bedrooms, the bathrooms (trimmed with black stone) and children’s room to create a warm, open space that makes you instantly feel at home. Behind the villa you’ll find a delightful gazebo and a private pool – a prime spot to put your feet up and allow the 24-hour butler attend to your every whim. And while you’re here... Hit the Heritage Golf Club for 18 holes on the Peter Matkovitch-designed course; nestled between the ocean and the mountains it’s a truly stunning site on which to perfect your swing.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 23

EssEntial sElEction | thE BEst Rooms in thE indian ocEan

Hotel Sofitel SO Mauritius Bel Ombre Villa Beaulieu Whether you’re wandering through the fragrant haven of your private garden, taking some pre-dinner exercise in your 27 square-metre pool or chilling out in a sink-straight-in sun lounger while gazing out to sea, you’ll adore the Villa Beaulieu. It’s filled with smart extras too – including Kenzo-designed amenities, an iPod dock and free wifi – and it’s brilliant for families, with two big bedrooms and tons of space. And while you’re here... Be sure to reserve an evening for a long, laidback dinner at Le Flamboyant, a restaurant by the hotel’s main infinity pool, where you’ll find a thrilling mix of French and Mauritian dishes.

Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, Seychelles Ocean Panoramic Villa When they say ‘panoramic’, they’re not kidding. Your view at Maia is of a heart-breakingly beautiful vista that drops sharply away from the edge of your designer infinity pool and reaches out towards the infinite horizon, where nothing but the sweep of a beach-lined bay breaks the sea. Sitting out here under the thatched roof of your veranda, you’ll start plotting ways to stay forever – and that’s before you’ve witnessed the sunsets; an extraordinary riot of colour that really shouldn’t be missed during your visit. And while you’re here... Take a personal Hatha Yoga class in your villa, a truly invigorating experience when paired with the spotless views all around you.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 25

Shangri-La Maldives

Lux* Belle-Mare, Mauritius

Tree Top Villa Bringing an imaginative, verdant twist to the classic Maldives experience, the Tree Top Villas at the Shangri-La Maldives (pictured) are truly secluded, surrounded by rich green vegetation. Each of the villas are built on stilts, meaning you’re literally up among the treetops – which also means doubly stunning vistas of the water. Here, the sound of tropical birdsong fills the air as you take a leisurely dip in your private infinity pool. Life does not get much better than this. And while you’re here... Enjoy a first class dinner at Dr. Ali’s restaurant, which focuses on fine food from the Gulf, the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean – we defy your mouth not to water.

Maharajah Suite With its gorgeous Indian-themed decor and its world-beating private rooftop terrace – equipped with whirlpool and solarium, naturally – the Maharajah Suite is a sight for sore eyes. If you’re visiting with a group, you can get a Junior Suite directly connected to it, making family celebrations simple. Take a few steps away from its lavish interiors, meanwhile, and you’ll set foot on the beach’s cotton-soft sands, the lush grass of the gardens or dip toes in to a vast, 2,000 square-metre pool. And while you’re here... Work your way through the resort’s seven eateries – we love the super-fresh seafood at Langoustier.

26 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa King Presidential Villa Set on beautiful Silhouette Island, the Hilton’s Seychelles offering has a lot going for it. But perhaps nothing is quite as exceptional as its 1,090 square-metre King Presidential Villa; a hillside haven with unobstructed ocean views. Here you’ll find two gigantic bedrooms, outdoor dining area (perfect for entertaining), and a handsome private terrace. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the Seychelles’ largest private swimming pool. Private beach access and butler service complete the dream-like package. And while you’re here... Dedicate an evening to Grann Kaz, a restaurant set in a plantation house five minutes from the resort – one of the loveliest dining spots in the archipelago.

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EssEntial sElEction | thE BEst Rooms in thE indian ocEan

Banyan Tree Seychelles

Angsana Velavaru, Maldives

Intendance Pool Villa Built into the granite side of a hill overlooking the gorgeous Intendance Bay, the Intendance Pool Villas (pictured) consist of a series of ‘luxury areas’ connected by stairs and walkways which bring together your sundeck, private jet pool, living pavilion, horizon-view veranda and villa – all designed with a colonial-style aesthetic. You’ll spend your visit idly floating between them, soaking-up the fresh air, sunshine, views and lush tropical greenery. For extra indulgence, request the mountaintop Intendance Pool Villa which comes with its very own massage pavilion. And while you’re here... Spend a morning soaking up the atmosphere in the sweet-smelling botanical and spice garden.

InOcean Villa Angsana pitches their 11 InOcean villas as offering the opportunity to ‘Relive a picture postcard fantasy’. They’re not wrong. Everywhere you look is perfection – from the huge, deep blue infinity pools which juts out into the ocean, to the outsized open-air hammocks (big enough for the whole family to laze on) and the sleek modern decor of the living room. Combine that with the overwhelming natural beauty of Velavaru itself and you’ve got a true slice of perfection. And while you’re here... Book in for a heavenly two-hour bamboo massage on one of the 12 rooftop spa pavilions, where you can listen to the waves as your troubles are kneaded away.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 31

water way to holiday | holland

Water way to holiday The Zuider Zee may have lost its salt, but it provides the perfect platform for an active family holiday around the historic heart of the Netherlands, says Simon Calder


n the scale of parental recklessness, could it rate alongside leaving the children in charge of the ingredients of a thermonuclear device or at the controls of a 747? Eight days ago, a wobbly parade of youngsters, ranging from seven to 13, were instructed – along with their parents – to cycle 15 miles into the centre of a leading European capital at the height of the rush hour. Not only did all three dozen of us make it, but the journey into Amsterdam proved the crowning

achievement of a barge-and-bike holiday that unlocked the sub-sea-level secrets of Holland. The journey ended, as it began, aboard the Amsterdam in the middle of Amsterdam. The latter is Europe’s most engaging capital; the former is a former cargo barge, built in 1924 and converted 70 years later into a hotel ship. She spends the winter helping to soak up the surplus demand for accommodation in the city, moored handily between an old East Indiaman, a floating Chinese restaurant and the copper-burnished hulk of the New Metropolis. But between March and October she meanders around the

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 33

maritime highways of the Low Countries, conveying three dozen people – and their bicycles – around the wild heart of the Netherlands. The IJsselmeer Family Cruise, the holiday I bought, is a procession around the periphery of the body of water that you and I probably know as the Zuider Zee – the ‘South Sea’. Since the completion of the Afsluitdijk in 1932 to heal the broken shoulder of the Netherlands and seal off the North Sea, it has effectively been an artificial lake, known mostly as the IJsselmeer. The first day set the scene for the rest of the week: sailing, cycling, exploring. The Amsterdam quickly shrugged off the suburbs, and emerged into a world dominated by a huge sky, punctured by slender masts reaching for the heavens. The clouds jostling in the west rippled Impressionistically on the water surface of the Markermeer (the hydrology is complex hereabouts). The narrow band of land visible on either side is enlivened by the odd church spire, and the knowledge that some of the reclaimed shoreline had not existed for as long as I have. The first port of call, Hoorn, has evidently existed even longer than me: a 16th-century tower with defensive pretensions stands between the harbour and the town. On a warm summer’s evening the citizens spill out onto the streets: either to loll on deck-chairs and gossip outside their houses (front gardens are a rarity in Dutch towns) or to converge on the cafes on the main square. Like most of the ports visited, Hoorn comes with an impressive pedigree. It was once a port for the Dutch East India Company, the world’s first multinational. The first group cycle ride was a mere 10-mile circuit, evidently designed to allow the two guides (Gwen, a teacher, and Louisa, a student) to assess levels of skill and stamina. Happily for young or untoned limbs, the Netherlands does not require mountain bikes. (Its highest point, in the far south-east of the country, is a peak of barely 1,000ft that is shared with Germany and Belgium.) The IJsselmeer itinerary circles the soggy pancake at the nation’s centre, so brows are never furrowed at the prospect of gradients. Nor are parental nerves strained at the prospect of collisions on the relatively rare occasions where gentle, well-surfaced bike paths intersect with busy roads. You soon learn to look out for shark’s teeth. Not the fearsome fish, but the triangular white markings that signify who has to give way: see “vvv” and it’s you. But usually it’s the car drivers who must wait, patiently. And they do. Holland has an even lower road fatality rate than the gratifyingly safe UK. It shares that honour with Iceland and Malta, but unlike those islands it has a huge population of cyclists. A steady 10mph on the flat leaves you free to feel the breeze brushing your cheeks. You let your eyes rest on the scenery: avenues of beech or oak carving through meadows populated by contented cattle or posturing herons. Your ears tune in to a soundtrack where birdsong 34 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

is usually more prevalent than motor transport, except on a few rare occasions when the procession strays near a rowdy highway – such as the Houtribdijk, a 20-milelong dyke that begins at the port of Enkhuisen. We were quickly whisked away by boat into a tourist attraction that celebrates Dutch pragmatism: when they didn’t like the lie of the land, they redrew the map. Everything you need to know about Holland is contained in the Zuiderzee Museum: activities from sailmaking to worshipping are celebrated in buildings rescued from the region and reconstructed as a village devoted to livelihoods – and lives – lost in the remarkable history of the Netherlands. A single timber building on the edge of the complex reveals much. Even though it does not even make the official guide, it is a repository of innovation. It was a hut for drying seaweed, which was used variously as medicine, stuffing for mattresses – and building dykes. Now, it is a gallery, full of dazzling light. And the building material? Every timber was salvaged from wrecked ships. While adults ponder the strange way in which tragedy fuels creativity, their offspring are more interested in the austere classroom, the freshly smoked herrings and the

Opening page: Classic houses along a canal. This page, clockwise from top left: Windmill and flower field, Holland; Amsterdam’s historic houses; a couple at one of Amsterdam’s canalside cafes; The favoured mode of transport – a bicycle.

water way to holiday | holland

‘a couple of miles from the centre of a European capital, you can drift through dreamy farmland and pretty cottages...’

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 35

36 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye / Shutterstock / Netherland’s Board of Tourism Text: Simon Calder / The Independent / The Interview People

water way to holiday | holland

sweet shop, dispensing liquorice as salty as the Zuider Zee used to be. Later, we sailed across the Zee to Urk – a port that, on a Sunday evening, is about as far as you can get from the fleshpots and “coffee shops” of Amsterdam, even though the Dutch capital is less than 40 miles away. Until the tide went out, permanently, in 1932, it was an island – and a deeply religious one at that, rather like the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The ultimate lock-in was inevitably going to irk Urk’s inhabitants, particularly when the North-East Polder was created beyond the crumpled skirts of the town. Today, a line of 21st-century windmills flutters northwards, beneath the monument of a mother mourning a lost sailor. “Daddy, don’t kill the duck.” Fortunately for the mallard in question, he had plenty of time to waft out of range of my flailing paddles, and seven-year-old Poppy found other navigational issues on which to heckle me. Water was a prominent feature throughout the trip: the Amsterdam glided through much of it, and provided a springboard for an impromptu mass leap into the lake with the exhilaration of summer as the barge was moored at the town of Zwartsluis (no, I hadn’t heard of it, either). Bikes also enable you to get much closer to the water than the motorist can manage, deep into the heart of the Weerribben National Park. And when the path finally trails off, you swap wheels for paddles for an hour or two in a kayak, to explore the mysteries of the largest freshwater wetland in north-west Europe. We paddled amid (and often into) the reeds and lilies; smelled the sweet, earthy aroma of the swamp; and (as my losing battle with the fundamentals of hydrodynamics continued), failed to identify most of the flowers and butterflies and birds that clog this corner of Europe’s most crowded major nation. The Netherlands is a complex, compact mix of nature and artifice. The trip gives you plenty of time to discover towns that are notable by their absence from the indexes of guidebooks. As we cycled to the barge at the end of the duck-stalking day, Daisy, aged nine, wearily asked: “Is this the same town as last night?” It wasn’t, but I understood her uncertainty at seeing yet another pretty assemblage of cottages ranged around a petite port, with the church tower risingV Vabove. There were some great urban treats, though: in Elburg, the entire population was on the streets; not demonstrating, but buying and selling in the annual municipal flea market. The list of Dutch towns I had hitherto overlooked continued to the last day. Naarden, off my map until eight days ago, is a bastion town as entrancing as any in Aquitaine, with a Grote Kerk that is indeed a great church in at least two respects: the amazing Biblical scenes on the vaulting, and the clean, free loos. Muiden – a 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam – turns out to be the home of Holland’s most-visited castle.

Opposite page: Harbour and sailboats at Hoorn.

By this stage the guides’ energy was fading: “There’s the toilets,” (points right). “There’s the town,” (points straight ahead). “There’s the castle,” (points left). On the basis that I had 28 minutes and counting to inspect the fortifications, I negotiated a deal with the helpful lady for cut-price admission to this handsome fortress, where the Dutch interpretation of heritage is to provide video games where the aim is to drop rocks on invaders. As a stream of Airbuses and Boeings invaded the airspace above the castle on their final approach to Schiphol airport, the final approach to Amsterdam began: across the middle of a golf course here, threading through perfumed pine woods there. The narrower your field of vision, the more joy you find in the detail – though the 21st century is never far away. Beneath a motorway, across the main Amsterdam-to-Hamburg railway line, and, ooh look, a beach. Splash. We lined up beside a canal. Gwen stood on a concrete platform and lectured us on how to survive the final assault on Amsterdam. “Keep right. These drivers have had a hard day and don’t like a bunch of tourists getting in their way.” The last ride was a study in man-made miracles: the mighty earthworks that the Dutch use to overcome the design flaw of living below sea level, the giant canals that carve up the country, and the spectacular bridges that leap across them. The straggle of cyclists caught up with itself in a car park alongside the derelict Café West-Indeë. The graffiti on the wall read “Not a dime in my pocket, but a dream in my head.” With all the children counted back in, we weaved for the last few hundred yards along quaysides and across bridges, and trickled to a halt beside the Amsterdam, in Amsterdam. I ended the trip amazed how, a couple of miles from the centre of a European capital, you can drift through dreamy farmland and pretty cottages; how, in just a week, people from disparate lives and nations become so firmly bonded; and how, in the course of 5,000 cyclist-miles, no-one had got a puncture. January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 37

Her Name is rio

Brazil’s hottest city is getting a facelift. Now we’ll really be able to admire its beauty, says Adrian Mourby

38 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Rio | BRazil

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 39

Opening page: Rio de Janeiro at sunset. This page, clockwise from top: Modern Art musuem; Drum troupe performing in a Samba parade; Performer at the Summer Carnival; Tram Carioca viaduct; Cafe at the Lapa Aquaduct.


ne hundred years ago, a madman began his grand design to put Rio de Janeiro on the map. Augusto Ferreira Ramos wasn’t genuinely insane, but that’s what many claimed. As a professor of engineering, he was convinced it was possible to build a cable-car route from the suburbs of Brazil’s capital up to the top of the huge granite rock known as Morro da Urca. Urca is one of two volcanic pegs that guard the entrance to the great bay on which Rio de Janeiro stands. From there, a second cablecar could link to the Morro do Pao de Acucar, which we know better today as the Sugar Loaf. No one prevented Professor Ramos but no one thought he’d manage it either. Morro da Urca is 215 metres above the city, the Sugar Loaf is 396m high. Yet, within a year Ramos had done it. Sweet little canary-yellow cars were swaying their way up to the summit and he’d already started the second phase, to connect across the great chasm to the Sugar Loaf. The views were stupendous and the local postcard industry went into overdrive. Everything else we think of today as Rio de Janeiro came afterwards – the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Carnival as we know it, the Copacabana Palace, Oscar Niemeyer and all those girls from Ipanema. Today, Professor Ramos’s achievement is celebrated by a statue of him on the summit of Morro da Urca – a small, benign man in bow-tie and trilby, who smiles at those who wrote him off and who are themselves forgotten now. I take a photo of the statue and then pause in the heat to admire the view as jets bank in front of Morro da Urca and the Sugar Loaf. What a place to fly in to. The city of Rio spreads itself around a number of these old volcanic plugs, like moss infilling a rockery. The only problem with Rio is what happens to you between flying in past the Sugar Loaf and reaching the increasingly well-restored city centre below. There is a road from Galeao International Airport that spoils it all. The Elevado da Perimetral is old, rusty and cantilevered. It cuts like a two-tiered Berlin Wall through the city’s historic district. I came in this way and was amazed at what I saw below; colonial Rio bisected by an ageing 1960s monstrosity. 40 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Rio | BRazil

‘When I visited, the dance floor was busy, the band was pumping out samba… It was everything I had imagined when I first picked up my ticket for Rio’

Later, I stood below the avenue and wondered at what the city planners had been thinking. I had my back to Placa Tiradentes, a popular gathering point during Rio Carnival. It’s named after a bearded Brazilian revolutionary whose aim was full independence from the Portuguese. In 1792 he was betrayed, executed and ritually dismembered, but since the 19th century Tiradentes has been a national hero. He is also, curiously, patron of the military police in Minas Gerais, the city of his birth. Opposite me stood a whitewashed building similar to some of the old palaces I’d seen in Tenerife – low, colonial, pan-tiled and balconied. This was the Paço Imperiale, now half a kilometre from the sea and kept away from it by the noisy Perimetral. Today, it’s an art gallery, restaurant and bookshop, yet back in the time of Napoleon, this was the harbour-front palace from which the Portuguese Empire was ruled (at least in theory). King John VI of Portugal lived here from 1808 after fleeing Lisbon following Napoleon’s invasion. It was the British Navy that brought him over, along with his mother, Maria a Luoco (Mad Maria). She was installed at a safe distance across the street, in a Carmelite convent that still stands today. In the confused mix of postNapoleonic politics after the dust had settled in Europe, King John’s son, Prince Pedro, was in this palace in 1822 when he proclaimed Brazil’s independence, and it was from here that the fledgling country was run. Even today, many Brazilians speak proudly of the fact that their newly independent country was a liberal monarchy long before it was a republic. The old harbour has long since been filled in to create a square. Looming over it are two towering Baroque churches that are rather squashed together: the Cathedral of Our Lady of Carmo and the Church Ordem Terceira. In the middle of the square, facing the sea, stands a mounted statue of General Manuel Luis Osorio, hero of Brazil’s war against Paraguay (1864-70). Sadly, all the lettering was smashed off in the days before inner-city Rio cleaned up its act, so I had to take the words of a dapper old man who looked rather like Professor Ramos that this was, indeed, Osorio.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 41

Opposite page: A cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain.

‘The city of Rio spreads itself around a number of [these] old volcanic plugs, like moss infilling a rockery’ The general and his horse stand facing a Baroque fountain by Master Valentin where people used to do their washing. It produces no water now. Worse, however, is the fact that statue, fountain and palace – not to mention St James’s Fort nearby – no longer face the sea at all but the Elevado da Perimetral. I know it’s a useful road because my taxi used it to bring me into town, but really, it looks horrible and it cuts off what locals call the Cultural Corridor from the sea, which was the reason these buildings were called into being in the first place. Fortunately, the city, with its eye on the 2014 World Cup, is doing something about this insensitive piece of urban planning. The road is going underground, thus opening up the historic centre of Brazil’s great trading port to the bay. Better still, a whole dockland redevelopment is planned – on rather European lines – to reclaim the old port and make it worth visiting. I negotiated my way under the Perimetral to find a number of impressive warehouses that used to serve the White Star Line on the other side. They remain undemolished and there is an absolute jewel of an Art Deco harbour building. In front of it, an ugly old concrete jetty extends far into the bay, but it is being transformed by the great and highly idiosyncratic Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. His characteristic white-ribbed structure will be the port’s signature building, Museu do Amanha (Museum of the Future), to be completed next year. By 2014, visitors and locals will be able to walk from the narrow Cultural Corridor to this $2.8bn (£1.75bn) waterfront redevelopment and the historic centre will be reborn. The project has been dubbed “The Marvelous Port”, a reference to Rio’s long-term nickname, Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City). With a characteristic touch of the dramatic, and uncharacteristic modesty, Calatrava has declared that his building will not dominate the landscape as his work has in Tenerife, Liege and his home city of Valencia. “I do not want to compete with all that Rio already has,” he says. Retracing my steps, I passed by the fountain and the nameless general and ducked under the Arco do Telles, a simple passageway under a house owned by the Telles family. It led to a narrow cobbled street, Travessa Do Comercio. There used to be many winding streets like this before the city had its Baron Haussmann moment in the 19th century and labyrinthine Rio was replaced by an attempted grid. 42 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Travessa Do Comercio used not to be at all safe and in its shadows and blind alleys you can see why. But nowadays this is prime touristtrap territory and tables were already being set up for lunch. I looked for the house (No 13) where Carmen Miranda was brought up, after she arrived from Portugal in 1910. To my surprise there was no plaque to the lady with the tutti-frutti hat. The streets kept twisting at right angles and eventually I came out at the church Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Lapa dos Mercadores, one of two in Rio dedicated to the 17th-century cult that came over from Portugal. The current structure dates from 1870 but was closed for many years during the bad times. It’s recently reopened and is wonderfully gilded inside. Nearby, at the western edge of the Lapa district, stands my already-all-time-favourite restaurant in Rio. Every visitor should go to the Rio Scenarium – three huge dark solid Gothic-style houses put together in a street, Rua do Lavradio, that was once a byword for drugs, robbery and murder. A few years ago, the owner, who had been renting the property as a warehouse for film props, turned it into a bar-cum-restaurant, its walls decorated with photo-montages of Brazilian movie stars, fridge doors, bicycles, clocks, Chinese lanterns, you name it. Security was tight – it still is – but the experiment worked, reclaiming this part of Lapa for fun. When I visited, the dance floor was busy, the band was pumping out samba and people were hanging over the internal balconies laughing and drinking. It was everything I had imagined when I first picked up my ticket for Rio. When all this is finished: when they’ve renamed the General; put up a plaque at Travessa Do Comercio; opened more places like Rio Scenarium; and, most importantly, got rid of that awful elevated highway, Rio is truly going to be Cidade Maravilhosa. It will always have its eyesores. The infamous Cathedral Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (built 1964-79) has been voted one of the ugliest buildings in South America. Standing 75m high, it looks like a giant furnace out of Blade Runner and can be picked out, clearly, from the summit of Morro da Urca. If Professor Ramos had seen that, he may not have bothered to complete his bold cable-car initiative. But such mistakes are in the past. Rio is now heading in the right direction. I can’t wait to see it once it’s finished.

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: Adrian Mourby / The Independent / The Interview People

Rio | BRazil

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 43

Star Struck

From volcanoes and ancient forests to the stars in the night sky, there’s plenty to lure adventurous families to the steep little island of La Palma

The moon’s all splodgy.” Our road-trip to admire the constellations above La Palma should have been an enlightening one. After all, this is the place where, way back in 1988, the Spanish government enacted legislation to protect the night skies. No industry above 1,500m is allowed on the steep sides of this tiny Canary Island; street lights glow orange rather than white at night; electro-magnetic interference is strictly controlled. The edict even extends to the north coast of neighbouring Tenerife, which is visible from the eastern shores of La Palma and a potential nuisance when it comes to light emissions. The reason for this? A huddle of star-gazing scientists who lurk with their telescopes near the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente, the huge crater that dominates the island. They’re trying to discover the secrets of the universe, you see. And for that they need dark. Lots of dark. But dark wasn’t our problem. The Spanish government has other things to worry about these days, and heavy clouds in the Canaries may well be beyond its remit. Nevertheless, inclement weather can be a blight for amateur astronomers. Two evenings of phone conversations with a very patient Carmelo González Rodríguez from local company Astrotour had elicited the same response: there was no point venturing out with a telescope.

January 44 January 20122012 Kanoo Kanoo World World Traveller Traveller 44

“It is difficult to predict, particularly at this time of year,” said Carmelo. If he’d been an astrologer rather than an astronomer, he’d probably have suggested that our stars weren’t quite in alignment. Neither fate nor fact was enough to deter us. That night, in the hope that meteorological conditions would improve, I drove my family westwards from the seaside resort of Los Cancajos to the isolated Llano del Jablo viewpoint, high above the small town of El Paso. Upon arrival – and having disturbed an amorous couple who drove their steamed-up Renault away in rather a hurry – we discovered a sign pointing to Polaris (431 light years away) and a curious wooden wheel which could be rotated to confirm the names of the constellations, had they been visible. Sadly Carmelo’s advice proved accurate. White cloud obscured the Milky Way. Even the moon was, as my six-year-old son pointed out, splodgy. One of the challenges La Palma faces as a tourist destination is that very little, including the skies above, is laid out for you on a plate. Benign weather is the reason many families visit the Canary Islands, and last year the prospect of year-round sunshine drew 1.44 million British holidaymakers to Tenerife, the largest island in the archipelago. La Palma, a third of Tenerife’s size, pulled in just 1 per cent of that total, a mere 14,876 UK visitors.

Star Struck | canary ISlandS Opening page: GTC Telescope. This page, from top: Timanfaya National Park; Las Palmas.

La Palma’s relatively high rainfall delivers an alluringly verdant landscape, but it no doubt plays a part in the island’s isolation from mass-market tourism. As does the island’s imposing topography. It’s one of the steepest in the world, the northern half jutting fiercely from the Atlantic. The route from the capital, Santa Cruz, along the LP-4 road to the Institute of Astrophysics observatory and beyond to the island’s highest point, the epic Roque de los Muchachos (2,423m), is dramatic. It passes through pine forest and lava fields on its journey above the clouds. But it’s also tortuous: a tightly knotted ribbon of hairpin bends and switchbacks. In La Palma you won’t find the tourist-friendly beaches of Tenerife’s Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos, dressed in imported white sand. Instead, the sand here is volcanic and black – which can provide an alarming contrast if you’ve neglected your tan. There’s no equivalent of thrill-a-minute water parks, no soothingly chic spa complexes. The majority of the coastal real estate is given over to banana plantations rather than hotels. Four-fifths of La Palma’s income comes from the crop, the plants themselves corralled behind walls and within polythene tents like hungry Triffids. But, of course, these are all reasons to visit La Palma, rather than stay away. A visit here is, literally, a chance to be one in a hundred, rather than one of the multitude. Los Cancajos is a tidy if unremarkable throng of apartments and aparthotels that lies just south of Santa Cruz. It’s the only substantial tourist town on the east coast (La Palma’s sole all-inclusive complex, The Princess, is tucked away down on the south-west shore). The resort contains a few restaurants and shops and a fine stretch of beach. Here cube-like blocks of black concrete have been placed alongside the lava as shelter from Atlantic swells – as if the organic shapes of the coast have given way to a parallel, pixelated version. It was immediately clear that a lack of water parks would be no deterrent to the children’s enjoyment of La Palma. An afternoon spent building black sandcastles was followed by a snorkelling session in an Atlantic Ocean that was still relatively warm even at the beginning of November. Our hotel, the Hacienda San Jorge, possessed the pre-eminent position in Los Cancajos, its back door leading straight to the beach. Inside, it was arranged around four sides of a tropical garden that contained exotic flora, including a couple of examples of the Canary Islands’ iconic Dragon Trees which looked disarmingly like huge loo-brushes. The rooms here – comfortable rather than stylish – each come with a balcony and have tiny kitchens for those intent on self-catering. Alternatively, copious buffet dinners are offered in the long dining room, or under the shade of a huge rubber tree (ficus elastica according to one of the handy botanical plaques), with views of the salt-water swimming pool. The pink and yellow buildings are pleasantly low-rise and low-key, the staff hugely friendly and obliging – and the clientèle is made up almost exclusively of German hikers.

‘More than 1,000km of marked trails run through these wildly varying landscapes, the majority comprising challenging treks’

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 45

‘the sand here is volcanic and black – which can provide an alarming contrast if you’ve neglected your tan’

46 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Star Struck | canary ISlandS

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Official Tourist Office of the Canaries Text: The Independent

Opposite page, clockwise from top: Pic del Teide volcano; A Canary Island beach; Erupting Geyser at Timanfaya National Park.

Hiking is La Palma’s big secret. Or at least it’s a big secret from everyone except the Germans. The entire island was declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 2002, offering protection to areas including pine forest, myrtle heath, lava fields and the striking rock formations of the Caldera de Taburiente itself. More than 1,000km of marked trails run through these wildly varying landscapes, the majority comprising challenging treks through the mountainous interior. Many require either the services of a guide or a taxi to get you back to your starting point (various “taxi stops” are marked throughout the island, so that you can arrange a ride home). Perhaps the most striking terrain of all is the Bosque de Los Tiles in the north-east, a primeval strip of ancient laurel forest positioned at just the point where the trade winds dump their moisture on the island. Heavy with damp, dark undergrowth and set round a series of deep ravines, it’s the sort of place where dinosaurs probably still roam, ploughing through the greenery and quietly digesting tourists. The perfect place for a brisk walk, I thought. The best-known trek here is the walk to the Marcos and Cordero springs which, for reasons that later became clear, begins with a taxi ride. Slightly resentfully, I handed over €60 to a cigar-chomping driver at the visitor centre, so that the four of us could cram into the back of his ancient 4x4 minivan alongside a Spanish and German couple. I assumed, naively, that we’d be in for a brief trip up a hill, from where we would potter back down through the rainforest. Fifty minutes later, having jostled our way over the steepest, most pot-holed track I have ever endured, we reached the starting point for our walk. In the process our driver had virtually expired in fit of hawking, snorting and violent expectoration, while his vehicle had fared little better. Our children, meanwhile, had fallen asleep on the back seat, lulled by all the furious juddering. Sixty euros well spent. The journey through Los Tiles is exhilarating and exhausting in almost equal measure. It starts right among the clouds, passing beside the tiny channel of water that runs from the mountain springs. Then it takes in a series of 12 head-height, pitch-black, damp tunnels (bring a torch) before hikers are required to clamber and crouch their way through a final water-filled conduit at the base of a cascade. It’s all quite an adventurous undertaking when you’re travelling with a six-year-old and his nine-year-old brother.

Finally, you trek down the side of a ravine, along an empty river bed filled with boulders and back through a narrow valley of vast ferns and slender laurel branches. The last viewpoint at Topo de las Barandas is like a still from Jurassic Park: a basin of limitless green. It’s not family friendly – the hike took us five hours and we arrived back hot, wet and hungry – but it’s certainly exciting. Of course, no one wants to be intrepid every day. We spent happy hours at La Fajana Piscinas in the north of the island, where low-lying lava has been tastefully enhanced with concrete to construct sheltered pools fed by the Atlantic Ocean. At high tide it’s an unnerving place to swim, as waves crash over the low barriers. The pools at Charco Azul, just to the south, are arguably even more picturesque, hemmed by phalanxes of banana plants. Near El Pilar, we came across Acropark, a high-ropes course which had opened just a week earlier, tucked among pine trees. There were no other guests when we visited, so the boys were allowed to scamper around it twice, immediately becoming experts at using the life-preserving carabiner. Close by, a visitor centre marks the beginning of one of the greatest hikes on the island, the Ruta de los Volcánes (Volcano Route). This runs down the island’s centre to the southern tip, a march across a crater-strewn landscape that was far beyond our capabilities. Instead we attempted our own mini-version. We drove south to Fuencaliente and took a walk along the rim of the Volcá San Antonio, the interior of which was prickled with young pines. Urged on by our children, we then mounted Marina and Celia, two local camels, who conveyed us all to a viewpoint overlooking the impressive Volcá Teneguía, which lies just to the south. In 1971, Teneguía was the scene of La Palma’s last eruption, as the volcano sent streams of lava down towards the coast, adding a few extra acres of banana-friendly terrain to the island’s outline in the process. We even managed a dose of civilisation, buying €1.30 bus tickets for the 15-minute journey from Los Canjacos to Santa Cruz. Here a pedestrianised, cobbled main street runs past smart shops, and slender alleyways reveal glimpses of the ocean. Despite being the capital city, Santa Cruz is a modest sort of place, its pleasant colonial core defended from urban sprawl by the volcanic crater that rises behind the steeply-raked streets. But something drew us back to La Palma’s heart. From the national park visitor centre, the road winds upwards to the Mirador de la Cumbrecita, a saddle of land overlooking the 8km-wide indentation of the Caldera de Taburiente. From here, an hour-long walk to the viewpoints of Los Roques and Lomo de las Chozas reveals a lost world shielded by rock walls and vivid with the bright green of Canarian pines, a plunging scoop so vast that it traps its own clouds. We visited twice, once at the beginning of our stay and once at the end, striding along forest paths coated in pine needles, the views of the Caldera spread out below us. As for our attempt to see the rest of the universe, in the end there was no need for that night-time drive across La Palma. The skies finally cleared at around midnight – and from the balcony of the Hacienda San Jorge, I looked up to see a cloudless sky glittering with light. Our stars had finally aligned. January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 47

Where the Wild things are

How man’s hunt of the Big Five led to diminishing species, spawned specialist sanctuaries and - happily for us - luxury lodges for the modern jet set. Laura Binder follows the tail of a safari evolution... 48 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Where the Wild things are | Kenya


s morning reared its head, my travel companion and I sat down, as always, to a breakfast of coffee, muesli and eggs. Except, that was as normal as this particular morning got. For as we sat enjoying our food, it became apparent that we had a dining companion: what started as a large, thickly-lashed, unblinking eye in my peripheral, became a long, elegant neck prying through a tall window next to me, before a grey tongue emerged, wrapping its way around the contents of my hand. Said tongue belonged to a Rothschild giraffe, and this

marked the beginning of my first stop in East Africa; Giraffe Manor, a colonial manor house in Nairobi’s suburb of Langata. It’s an experience not to be sniffed at – and it sure does wake you up in the morning. Far from domesticated pets, though, (with names like Daisy, Betty and Laura, it’s easy to forget) every inch of the giant’s patchwork-skin is wild animal – as I’m reminded on a tour of the ivy-clad bolthole. “If a giraffe comes up to the house, walk slowly inside or, if you get stuck, make sure you have a piece of garden furniture between you both – giraffes can run 30mph and kill a lion with one kick.” Right, then. January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 49

It was this beautiful animal’s dwindling status on the endangered species list that prompted Giraffe Manor’s owners – Betty and Jock Leslie-Melville – to use it as a breeding ground on which to rear and reintroduce the Rothschild to the wild – an effort that began in the 1970s and continues today using funds from this private hometurned boutique hotel. (And, with a 25% survival rate of calves, it’s a harder process than you might think.) It’s with some guilt-free comfort, then, that you can while away the day at this grand 1930s property knowing you’re contributing to the greater (giraffe) good. So novel is the experience that you may be tempted, as I was, not to leave its walls, rather, sit on the grass deck with a tome from the manor’s library, drink in hand and giraffes roaming before you (though don’t expect to get any actual reading done). Perfecting the art of ‘just being’ couldn’t be easier. When the next morning rolled in I went to the window, held my breath, and drew back the curtains of my Scottish hunting lodge-style suite (green/red fabrics, mammoth bed, antique furniture) in the hope of meeting Opening page: Zebra and Waterbuck graze. This page, clockwise from top; Rhino and her calf; Samburu people; Dik-dik; Grey Crowned Crane. Opposite page; African elephants on Samburu ground.

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Where the Wild things are | Kenya

those heavy-lashed eyes again – I did. It never tires. The only thing that could drag me away was the lure of the next dot on my map; Laikipia, to a safari lodge with its own conservational tale. To reach it, I forwent a more amicable 30-minute charter flight for a five-hour drive and glimpse of the ‘real Kenya’. My driver, Kenyan-born Michael, narrated the simple scenes we passed; local people tending to their modest shack-like homes; tin shops affectionately named in candy coloured paints; sprawling coffee farms and, every now and then, a flash of brilliant purple and coral blossoms parading through a mass of green trees. When I woke up from a snooze, we were on off-road territory, somewhere between Mount Kenya and the rolling peaks of the Aberdares. But, after asking whether we were lost (and wondering whether that was a lion rustling in the tall grasses) we emerged at Solio Lodge, to a smiling staff and a simple, heart-warming greeting: ‘welcome home’. Here, my new abode was a luxurious, modern cottage (one of just six that dot a slice of the Solio Game Reserve) and, inside, I was dwarfed by

soaring thatched roofs, and silenced by the view from its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, where dainty zebra and antelope played. With a log fire in the bedroom (at an elevation of over 6,000 feet, nights are pleasantly chilly); huge open shower (surely enough room to bathe a small herd?) and gloriously-deep tub, all next to wraparound windows, the best point from which to spy the wildlife takes some thought. It’s a design that’s mimicked on a larger scale back at Solio’s beautifully cosy main lodge (the setting of daily, candle-lit meals of truly delicious, home-cooked fare) where a couple of other guests invited me to make my first steps in to the wild for a bush brunch. We delved in to endless greenery to find a table – manned by waiters – awaiting our arrival, set up with a feastworthy spread of fruity salads, pesto pasta, meats and Kenyan cheese. It’s here that I met Mark, a seemingly quintessential Englishman who is, in fact, a game guide and fourth-generation Kenyan. “Of course there was a time the original owner’s wife wouldn’t let a soul on the land,” he told me, “it was just for her and her friends only.” The land (all 17,500 acres of it) was sold in 1965 to a Texan, Courtland Parfet, who made his fortune from chewing gum and had a penchant for hunting – shooting everything on the land, including its last rhino. His French wife, however, had a passion for conservation and persuaded him to put all of the swamp areas aside as a sanctuary. “From there, it became the first private sanctuary in the country; most likely in the world,” recounted Mark. After being granted permission to look after game, Parfet caught rhino, as did another prominent hunting family, the Carr-Hartleys, who captured (by lasso, no less) 80 white rhino from South Africa and brought them to Solio. “They were left undisturbed and bred incredibly

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 51

‘Today, Solio Lodge is officially the best place in the continent to spot both black and white rhino in their natural habitat’ well,” Mark recalled, “they went on to restock many of the reserves across Africa.” Today, Solio Lodge is officially the best place in the continent to spot both black and white rhino in their natural habitat – a source of excitement for my partner, a second-time safari-goer who was yet to spot the muscular mammal. “Kenya has rhino today, I believe, because of this particular lodge,” affirmed Mark. With the Parfet and Carr-Hartley legacies now in the hands of sons Ed Parfet and Mikey Carr-Hartley, Ed consented to Mikey’s grand designs for Solio Lodge little more than one year ago. And it’s a venue that’s proved good enough to draw even the most seasoned safarigoers; like my other lunch companion, ‘Midgie’, a pintsized eighty-something whose frame cheats the reality; she’s a real powerhouse. This is a woman who, before the 1977 hunting ban, tracked and shot every one of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, water buffalo, rhino). Of course, while the roaming mammals are now safe from professional trophy hunters, the rhino remains under threat from poachers who trade its valuable horn on the black market; a product that can reach one-and-a-half times the amount of gold, around $60,000 per kilo. “The future now is a bleak one – the Chinese have moved in in a big way, and the ivory trade is up 20%,” said a solemn Mark. “If it continues, it’s feasible they could be wiped out in months. In the meantime, it’s little places like this that can draw money in, put rangers in place and not only secure the future of the rhino, but wildlife in the main.” It was time for me to see the real thing: and there were two men who were going to help me do it. Cue Fred at the wheel of our stellar 4x4, a former teacher and Masai Mara guide (think of Morgan Freeman’s calming aura and dulcet tones and you’re on the right track) and our young spotter ‘Blackie’, hailing from one of the country’s 42 tribes and able to spot a monkey at a thousand paces (how, I’m still baffled). Binoculars at the ready and camel-hued outfits donned, we headed in to the Solio Game Reserve. I was primed for a long day, but, within half-an-hour we were surrounded: rhino. Giraffe. Warthogs. Zebra. Waterbuck. It was like being dropped in to a real-life Disney film. Surmising that I couldn’t tell the difference between a black and white rhino, (they’re the same colour, after 52 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

all) an uncontained giggle from Blackie indicated we were in the company of the more aggressive black rhino. “We have been chased for miles by one before,” smiled Fred, “that’s an easy way to tell the difference!” Sturdy, bulbous, dinosaur-like, it was both amazing and a force to be reckoned with. Each drive revealed a new surprise: sleeping lionesses and her cubs, all-but-concealed in the sand-hued grass; sleek cheetahs that stalked the grounds by nightfall; two mighty rhino sparring in a valiant effort to protect their brood; giraffe ambling amid rhino like a scene from Jurassic Park (my travelling companion’s incessant humming of the theme tune did, admittedly, seem apt); and lines of comical warthog zipping along the ground, tails erect like antennae. “They do this by nature, so that the babies may spot their mothers in the long grass,” Fred told me. Unfortunately, others were fond followers of the hairy hogs, too: “To the lions, they are a delicacy,” he chuckled. Three days on, my partner and I left what had become a home-from-home, for the north Kenyan pastures of Samburu. The 30-minute flight from Solio’s private airstrip (an irresistible prospect second time around), was a headturning trip: crossing the Equator, the lush green plains of Solio morphed in to a tapestry of coral, orange, gold and rust hues, before we touched down to hot, dry climes and a vast sand-covered wilderness: a genuinely soul-stirring sight. My Samburu guide, Andrew, was the man at the wheel here, shrouded tip-to-toe in traditional tribal dress; bright blue and red cloths and a multitude of beads and jewellery to make a girl jealous (try as I might, he wouldn’t part with them). Touring rocky roads in an open-sided 4x4 toward Mount Kenya’s jagged peak and over the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, which runs through the region like a pulse, gave a glimpse of another world: no barriers, but raw, natural land interrupted only by wandering locals and villages where modest huts form circles, children play barefoot and young boys are tasked with herding the family’s livelihood; bleating goats. It’s with mutual curiosity that I, they, waved and smiled at every passing. Such drives were laced with Andrew’s tales; a man who’s managed to unwittingly walk in to the path of a lioness and her cubs (the soul provocation for attacks on humans, I learned), be chased by a water buffalo (“it threw our friend up in to a tree”) and come face-to-face with a leopard protecting its young (“I have never seen such fury, I thought ‘that’s it, I’m gone’.”) Whether such close encounters are a quality you want in a guide, I couldn’t decide. Nonetheless, he was a man of experience and, in response to my longing to see an elephant, trumped all my expectations.

Where the Wild things are | Kenya

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54 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Where the Wild things are | Kenya Previous page, top to bottom: Solio Lodge; A tented suite and plunge pool at Sasaab. Opposite page: A Rothschild giraffe at Giraffe Manor.

Images: Robin Moore/The Safari Collection Opening image only: Corbis/Arabian Eye

‘what started as a large, thickly-lashed, unblinking eye in my peripheral, became a long, elegant neck prying through a tall window next to me...’

The first came in Dumbo-like form of a young pup, ambling on big, flat feet through thickets of leaves, with a toddler-like sway. Within minutes, not one, but five, 10, 20 or more of every size emerged on the tail of the next, before we were driving as part of the herd. It was an experience fuelled by equal measures of jaw-dropping wonder and adrenalin. When the car engine stopped, I turned to see why: a bull, the herd’s protector, sizing up our vehicle. Instinctively, we fell utterly quiet. It moved, slowly, curiously to the side of the car, where I was sat, at exact eye-level with its deeply-lined, grey face. Hands-over-mouth, heart-beating hard, I realised just a few steps forward would bring his huge, ivory tusks or prying, muscular trunk through the car’s open side. After a few minutes (I held my breath for each), he moved on, pausing to scratch an itch – which entailed straddling an entire tree and almost flooring it in the process. Andrew breathed a heavy sigh of relief – always a good sign. “If he had taken exception to us, he would have just flipped the car,” he said. Right, then. Still, it was another memorable way to start a day. Such exhilaration was challenged only by our arrival to the stunning Sasaab; another lodge touched by the talents of its owner, Mikey Carr-Hartley. This place has real wow factor. Its main, Moroccan-style lodge unravels beneath pillars, etched with mother-of-pearl, and its elevation affords priceless vistas of the Samburu plains and famous river (a sight I later drank-in from the lodge’s turquoise infinity pool). My ‘room’, meanwhile, brought a new meaning to ‘posh camping’: immersed in the rugged landscape, I climbed up a rocky pathway to set foot on its white stone floor, open walls all around, and a four-poster bed shrouded by nets. But it was the private plunge pool that provoked a delighted gasp – the perfect place to seek relief from the sun, and witness elephants crossing the river while you’re at it. Like those lodges that had gone before it, Sasaab marries its refined luxury with a more responsible agenda: aiding the conservation of the Grevy zebra

(an animal that’s forgone the most drastic drop of any African mammal) and vulnerable lions, as well as the region’s indigenous people through community projects funded by guests. Schools benefit from stays with new desks, art supplies, and learning materials; women are given a livelihood making bracelets and beaded bottle covers for the gift shop; and work with Westgate Community Conservancy health care projects brings vital preventative programmes to fruitition. In fact, you can visit a local school – as I did, sat perched on a bench at the back of a maths class, amid beautiful, wide-eyed children. It’s a contrast to my former stays in Nairobi and Laikipia, where I felt far from a real, local way of life, and a contrast that continued in the region’s wildlife. “Samburu land has its own special Big Five,” Andrew told me. “Beisa oryx, Reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Gerenuk and Somali ostrich.” Fresh finds that injected new anticipation in to our next game drives where, in addition, I marvelled at the almost mythical-looking Dik-diks – tiny deer-like creatures, with stubs for horns, huge black eyes and the twitching nose of an anteater. “They pair for life, so you will always see them in twos,” Andrew told me, “but when one dies, the other will pass from stress; a broken heart.” It’s such creatures, which look plucked from fairytales and birds – some in electric blue hues, others with yellow, feather-duster like tufts and ducks with red-striped faces – that make safaris here so unique. Parking up in yet another spectacular setting – by the river’s edge, with a breakfast fit for a king and, across the water, the sight of dozens of monkeys, babies and all, scampering along in tribe-like style – proved yet another lump-in-the-throat moment. It’s this raw, natural landscape that no doubt first drew the British to colonise Kenya; that enticed people to take home trophies of its astounding life; that prompts generations to fight for its species; and what makes these evolving lodges an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Kenya, we agreed, sat there in the bush, gets under your skin.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 55

The ForgoTTeN CiTy Valencia has sat in the shadow of Barcelona and Madrid for far too long. That’s why it has got such an authentic atmosphere

56 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

The ForgoTTen ciTy | Valencia Opening page: City Hall Square. This page: Plaza de la Virgen.


hy is it that Valencia never enters our thoughts when we think of Spain? Barcelona, yes. Madrid, certainly, but Valencia? In more than two decades of racing around the major cities of Europe Spain’s third city has barely registered on my radar. My friend Stephen has been living here for nearly three years and he is equally puzzled. “Valencia has a very low profile and I don’t understand why,” he says. “It’s been all about the buzz of Barcelona, Madrid and other cities.” Stephen and his partner, Claire, chose to move to the city on the basis of quality of life for their young family. “Obviously, number one is the micro-climate. Having the beach, the sea, 300 days of sun – you can’t help but go around with a smile on your face.” The beaches are a revelation. The broad golden swathes of Las Arenas and La Malvarossa stretch for 3km up from the port, seemingly to the horizon. They have the sweep and generosity of Miami Beach. It is hard to imagine them becoming over-crowded. I can’t think of a city beach in Europe that compares; up the coast, Barcelona’s much celebrated Port Olimpic seafront is certainly popular but is largely artificial. Valencia’s beaches are less showy, less developed and seem a more organic part of the city.

The string of cafes and paella restaurants that fringe the beach are busy with families, getting their fingers stained with saffron as they pick though mariscos and chicken bones. An accordionist wanders by, scattering little melodies. Amid fits of giggles, a group of comfortably upholstered women egg each other on to dance in formation on the paved promenade. Valencia has been slow to grasp the transformative effect that international sporting events can have. The 1992 Barcelona Olympics showed the way, but it was another 15 years before Valencia came looking for the sporting limelight. The city hosted the America’s Cup in 2007 and has been home to Formula One’s European Grand Prix since 2008. Though both events have contributed to raising profile and capacity, the past four years have also coincided with a general downturn in tourism to Spain. Valencia still awaits the gold rush. However, all that simply means one of the great cities of Europe is still in astonishingly pristine condition. The most common riff I pick up from visitors, locals and foreign expats alike is that Valencia remains essentially Spanish. The Spanish way can, of course, be beguiling, but I learn soon enough it can also be bull-headed. La Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange), a Unesco World Heritage Site, is a stunning example of late Gothic exuberance – the Sala de

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 57

‘The beaches are a revelation. The broad golden swathes of Las Arenas and La Malvarossa stretch seemingly to the horizon’

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The ForgoTTen ciTy | Valencia

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 59

Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Plaza del Ayuntamiento; Valencian prawns; Plaza de Toros; Team Headquarters at Port America’s Cup. Following page: Palau de las Arts Reina Sofia in the City of Arts and Sciences.

‘The string of cafes and paella restaurants that fringe the beach are busy with families, getting their fingers stained with saffron as they pick though mariscos’ Contratacion, with its soaring candy-twist pillars, is as imposing as the interior of any medieval cathedral. La Lonja is on every visitor’s mustdo list. I enter at 1.45pm and, after a few minutes in the grand Sala, I try to make my way to the rest of the building. A hatchet-faced official blocks my access. It’s the witching hour – 2pm – siesta. She will not be moved. No pasaran. “It’s bureaucracy; it’s arrogance; it’s typically Spanish,” says Stephen with feeling. “There’s still the ‘I can’t do this – it’s siesta time. Come back at five’.” As it happens, I can’t come back at five and have to be content with admiring the exterior – which has its consolations. The medieval stone masons were determined to prick the grandiosity of the architecture with a scatological sense of humour, channeled through the playful gargoyles. Cheerful irreverence is also on display in the Calle del Trench nearby. A shop called The Dog’s Cojones is vending T-shirts two doors from a general store called Lovely Family. Across the road a shop front is occupied by multiple stockinged mannequin legs, while another offers devotional plaster cherubs and, er, water filters – it is retail anarchy. Lunch is al fresco at Ocho y Medio in Plaza Lope de Vega – it specialises in superior paellas and surreal menus. One of the dishes is rendered in English as ‘Paella with Stroke’. I play safe and opt for ‘Smooth Rice with Chick and Black Truffle’, which turns up as a risotto with baby pigeon. There is so much to love in these Valencian improvisations and raw edges that I have forgotten my frustration. Munching on baby pigeon (which tastes surprisingly livery) my reveries are interrupted by a large tour group from a cruise liner. The guide barks a commentary at them through a loud hailer completely 60 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

leaching the little plaza of its sleepy charm. As they are marshalled out of the square, the group seems like a premonition. Valencia suffered a great flood in 1957, when the River Turia caused havoc in the city. The authorities responded by re-routing the water course out of town. The dead river bed was finally reinvented in 1980 as a green ribbon running for 9km through the city. Locals still refer to it as the ‘River’ – and in a sense it still flows, with formal gardens morphing into forested glades, playing fields, children’s adventure playgrounds and picnic venues as it progresses through the city. The Turia Gardens are bookended by two of Valencia’s most striking attractions. At the eastern end is the City of Arts and Sciences, the sprawling cultural complex designed by the city’s most famous son, the architect Santiago Calatrava. The buildings demand visual metaphors – a swan, an armadillo, a stegosaur, a giant eye, a whale ribcage, a grove of palms and a harp. It is a flamboyant theme park of civic space containing an opera house, a science museum, a planetarium and Europe’s largest aquarium. It is a great adventure in itself and requires another weekend to see it properly. At the other end of the Turia is the Bioparc; it is nominally a zoo, but that’s like saying an F1 Grand Prix is just a car race. It occupies 100,000sq m and brings Africa to the heart of the urban sprawl. Not just African animals but entire ecosystems. Species are grouped together as you might find them on the great plains – zebras, impalas, blesbok, marabous, crowned cranes and giraffes all roam the one hectare savannah enclosure together. Some vistas are engineered to make it appear as though predators are sharing the same spaces as their prey. Lions prowl within yards of impalas with no discernible fences or bars. To avoid tears before

The ForgoTTen ciTy | Valencia

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62 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

The ForgoTTen ciTy | Valencia

bedtime animals are kept in their enclosures through cleverly concealed ditches and ‘natural’ barriers such as rock walls and water obstacles. It may be the Bioparc’s cleverest illusion that the animals seem extraordinarily content. A baby warthog leaps and jinks with joy before digging holes under a boulder; chimps are totally engrossed in grooming each other; elephants roll magisterially across a colossal enclosure featuring en-suite waterfall and a ‘forest’ of concrete baobab trees; ringtailed lemurs are fascinated by the visitors wandering through their Madagascar – so much so it’s hard to distinguish who is watching whom. Feeding time is one of the undoubted highlights of life in the city. It is difficult to eat badly and only a brave foreign chef would consider setting up shop here. German incomer Bernd Knoller opened his first restaurant in the city nearly two decades ago. Three years ago, his Riff Restaurant received the recognition of a Michelin star. “I cook Valencian food,” he insists, “but I cook my Valencian food.” The first course at dinner sets the bar high; chilled oyster served with a warm oyster mayonnaise topped with a granita of seaweed. I suspect it’s designed to silence sceptics in one mouthful. Other dishes that lean on Valencian traditions include a salad of chipirones (small squid), aïoli, morel mushrooms and watercress and a course that is billed only as ‘Dirty Rice’. The last is a delicate risotto flavoured with fish stock and locally sourced olive oil (“to sweeten it”) and dusted with desiccated squid ink. The fishy ingredients taste as if they were swimming around just hours ago. And indeed they were. “I buy at the fish auction down in the port,” says Bernd with infectious enthusiasm. “It’s late in the afternoon every day. It’s very mad – like a school class with very upset kids. I like it very much.” I like it too. And amid the clatter of lives being lived well – and the sunshine, squid and siestas – there will be an incipient smile on most faces.

Images: Corbis /Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock Text: Sankha Guha / The Independent / The Interview People

‘The buildings demand visual metaphors – a swan, an armadillo, a stegosaur, a giant eye, a whale ribcage, a grove of palms and a harp’

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 63

city slickers

Explore the bright lights and sights of one of these thriving metropolis’ DESTINATIONS



BAHrAin (3 nigHTS & 4 DAyS)



DUBAi (3 nigHTS & 4 DAyS)


BreAKfAST & TrAnSferS

MAlDiveS (4 nigHTS & 5 DAyS)



SingAPore (4 nigHTS & 5 DAyS)















MAlAySiA – KUAlA lUMPUr (4 nigHTS & 5 DAyS) inDiA – golDern TriAngle (6 nigHTS & 7 DAyS) Sri lAnKA (4 nigHTS & 5 DAyS) greece – ATHenS (4 nigHTS & 5 DAyS) TUrKey – iSTAnBUl (4 nigHTS & 5 DAyS) THAilAnD – BAngKoK (4 nigHTS & 5 DAyS)

Prices are per person (starting from), sharing a twin room and in US Dollars. Prices are subject to availability and based on a minimum number of nights stay as specified above. Price includes accommodation for specified nights with meals and return airport transfers (where mentioned). Package offers include a detailed itinerary with sightseeing tours. These rates are applicable during January 01 till March 31, 2012. More details and other information are available upon request. Surcharge may apply for any arrival/departure airport transfers between 2000-0600hrs. All prices are subject to change at any time without prior notice, Kanoo Holidays terms and conditions apply to all bookings. 64

Kanoo World Traveller May 2011


mozambique | ToKyo | sT peTeRsbuRG | maldives

the 30 second concierge

mel sTaley, vamizi island, mozambique How do I reach the island? By private charter from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania or Pemba in Mozambique: you’ll cruise overland, over the Rofuma River on the Tanzania/ Mozambique borders, before going to Mocimboa de Praia to clear customs and then taking a stunning 10 minute flight towards Vamizi, flying low over the archipelago where you’ll see pods of dolphins, turtles and flying fish. What will I find when I touch down? Fourteen individual, private sea-facing villas, strung along one of the world’s finest beaches. Their interiors are influenced by local culture and design, in the form of locally-sourced textiles and fabrics and bespoke furniture made on the island, like our Swahili-style daybeds and sun loungers. How would you suggest I spend my days here? Vamizi is not just a beach; there’s truly something for everyone. You can

choose from a range of activities, from world-class diving and fishing to snorkelling, sailing and kayaking or dhow sailing and beach walks. You can even get involved in conservation programmes, be it whale watching or releasing turtles into the wild. But, if all that sounds too strenuous, relax on a sunbed with a good book and listen to the chatter of Samango monkeys. Is there anything I can do away from the island? Overnight trips to Ibo Island are possible (though guests rarely want to leave here); a historic place that’s home to pristine beaches and where you can take a cultural tour of the isle. Where are the best spots to savour the fruits of the region? Our main restaurant serves surf-fresh seafood daily. Dining can be a candlelit dinner on the beach, picnics or in-villa dining, with classics like barbecued Mozambican prawns and yellow fin tuna sashimi.

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 65


ToKyo Delve into Japan’s capital, says Jade Bremner, and experience a landscape of neon lights, raw food and curious culture…


mid an ultra-modern skyline, centuries of history and over 30 million Japanese natives, you’re likely to witness businessmen gobbling sushi for breakfast; ‘Cosplayers’ reenacting battles in the city’s parks; slot-machine junkies wasting days on end in Pachinko parlours (aka arcades); and wannabe starlets quite literally singing their hearts out in an ‘empty orchestra’ (karaoke booths – there’s stacks of them). In Tokyo the adventure never ends, and those who dare can try anything from a night spent in a capsule hotel, to eating a viper. Take a trip to this endlessly fascinating city and see for yourself how deep the rabbit hole goes...

66 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Tokyo | Japan

MUST-DOS Cos-Cha: Back to School (1) ( is a maid’s

witnessed the commotion, make like a local and indulge in some just-cut sushi for breakfast. Tokyo Tower (3) (tokyotower. is the place to behold the sights and sounds of this mesmerising city. Choose between the Main Observatory (150 metres high), or the Special Observatory (250 metres high), for a sensory overload of glistening skyscrapers as far as the eye can see. Ryōgoku Kokugikan (4) (sumo. is Sumida’s chief sumo-wrestling stadium. Visit its on-site museum to learn about one of Japan’s oldest sports and view photographs of champion, chubby athletes grappling for

cafe – a bizarre trend that sees women dressed in black and white pinafores serving lunch. In fact, maid’s cafes have become something of an institution in the city; there are now over 210 to choose from, and queues for a table can last up to two hours.

Tsukiji Fish Market (2) ( offers a distinctly fishy experience, best savoured at the crack of dawn. Here local traders get stuck into a noisy auction and lob around baskets of eels, abalone, jellyfish, tilapia, tobiko and other freshlycaught delicacies. After you’ve

victory. Book tickets for a live fight before your trip so you can soak up an electric atmosphere at the 13,000-capacity stadium. Akihabara (5) is known for being the ‘nerd headquarters’ of Tokyo. In this area you’ll find stacks of computer games, Anime and Manga products, Pokémon cards, retro video games, figurines and dozens of collectibles. In fact, it’s a shrine to cult memorabilia and makes a great place to pick up unique, Japanese-inspired gifts.

Fiesta International Karaoke (6) ( is in the Roppongi district; a haven for sing-along joints. Fiesta International is a particularly






4 5



good bet for those on holiday, as it offers a choice of over 10,000 international musical numbers and all-night drinks (til closing time, anyway) for $42.

WHERE To STAy Grand Hyatt Tokyo (7) (tokyo. sets up home in what is a prime spot for discovering the entire city – though its plush rooms may make you want to stay put a while longer. Expect modern decor throughout, accompanied by five-star service, international restaurants and views across the sparkling skyline. Capsule Hotel (8) (capsuleinn. com) offers an alternative sleeping arrangement, and has to be tried at least once while you’re in Japan. Here you’ll sleep in one of a dozen capsules, which are stacked on top of one another in a wall. Inside the small tube of a room there’s space for your own TV, radio and light controllers.

WHERE To EAT yoshimura Soba (9) (+81 422 SHIBUYA



10 2


Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Japan Tourism


TOKYO’S... TOp SIGHTS Imperial Palace in Chiyoda which, after being destroyed during WWII, has been rebuilt and still used as an imperial residence today. Ginza offers endless high-end shopping opportunities for those after a luxury fix. Streets here are spotless and teaming with trendy shoppers who you can gawk at for style inspiration. Chinzanso Garden is the place to trade the bustling city for a garden filled with camellia flowers and traditional cherry blossom trees: go from February to March to see them in full bloom. Meiji Jingu is where people go to appreciate nature, harmony and Japanese virtues: locals believe it contains the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoke.

Opposite page, clockwise from top: Waitresses from the city’s popular maid cafes; Signature sushi; Sumo-wrestlers; Chuo-dori, Tokyo’s most fashionable shopping street; Tokyo skyscrapers.

43 1717) is a country-style noodle shop in Kichijoji that makes saliva-inducing buckwheat noodles you’ll not forget. Order them with all the trimmings in a bento box (including tempura and miso soup), dip them in a variety of accompaniments (such as soy, wasabi, ginger and chilli), then wash them down with one of a superb selection of ricebased drinks. Daiwa Sushi (10) (+81 335 47 6807) is a tiny room where you can eat like a local: squash in like sardines at its sushi bar and chow down on fresh pieces of tender sashimi, chopped in front of you and delicately passed over via the chef’s chopsticks. But, be warned; reservations are not possible here and queues can have you waiting an hour – a testament to the food on offer. January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 67


ST PETERSBURG Head to Russia’s capital of culture for an alluring mix of baroque and neoclassical-style architecture, miles of canals and over 200 museums…


t’s hard to believe St Petersburg was originally a swamp owned by the Swedish: seized by the Russian leader ‘Peter the Great’ in 1703, he turned it into what locals now call ‘the window to the western world’ – which would explain the monuments worshiping him across town. Art lovers and historians will also revel in the knowledge that this was the very place where Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Shostakovich composed their masterpieces, and where Russian revolutionists Lenin and Trotsky wrote history. Post-revolution, the city has returned to its former state of grandeur, with locals having swapped soviet cabbage soup for rich stroganoff and lavish Europeaninspired fare. Visit the chilly Russian city today and marry the above with trips to chic cafes, decadent palaces and world-class galleries... 68 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

MUST-DOS The State Hermitage Museum/ Winter Palace (1) ( is a great place to begin your cultural voyage; it’s filled with paintings, graphic works, sculptures and works of applied art, archaeological finds and numismatic material. Yusupov Palace (2) ( is a long, oh-so-grand yellow building that runs along the side of the Moika River. Hire a walkman and listen to a tour tape on how, in 1916, a group of the city’s noble elite conspired to kill Grigori Rasputin, leading to the fall of the Romanov dynasty. Elsewhere, you’ll spy gorgeous, classical-style rooms chock full of rich, antique furniture. Nevsky

Prospekt (3) is the street where well-heeled locals shop for designer clothes – grab a bite in one of its many food emporiums and waste literally hours in its department stores. Seek out the black market caviar-sellers here, too, (Russians are big on the esteemed fish eggs), and catch sight of historic architecture for picture opportunities aplenty. The Mariinsky (4) (mariinsky. ru/en) is the place to see live classical music, operas and Russia’s signature ballet. Sit back on one of its fancy, blue velvet chairs and enjoy a show amid crystal, gold trimmings, giltmoulded decorations and white stone sculptures. Alexander Garden (5) is in the very centre of St Petersburg and dates back

Opposite page: The Winter Palace. This page, from left to right: Shopper on Nevsky Prospekt Street; Lounge in Hotel Astoria; Peter the Great Monument; Gold-plated turret of the Big Palace.

ST PETERSBURG’S... MONUMENTS The Alexander Column can be found in Palace Square; an impressive 47.5 metres tall and made of one solid slab of red granite, it was built to honour Russia’s victory against France.

The Bronze Horseman on Senatskaia Ploschad square resembles a Roman hero on horseback and was built on order of Catherine the Great as a tribute to her predecessor, Peter the Great.

to 1872. Wander inside and you’ll find some impressive statues of Russian cultural figures – look out for that of former Russian General Nikolai Przhevalsky, which people say bears a striking resemblance to Stalin and where devoted communists still place flowers at its base. Davranov (6) ( is where you can book a canal boat tour round the city. Most pass the Moika River and go on to Neva River, so passengers can view the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Cruiser Aurora. The Aurora ship is now a museum, so you can step aboard the vessel that once battled in the RussoJapanese War.

WHERE TO EAT Pyecanya cafe (7)

WHERE TO STAY Hotel Astoria (9)

(Naberezhnaya Kanala Griboedova) is an atmospheric joint with a view of the canal from the Russian Museum. Here you can fill up on a traditional war-time diet of brioche-style rolls and red pickled cabbage – though it sounds unexciting, it’s seriously tasty (and cheap, too).

( is as plush as it gets in St Petersburg. Do as the Russian billionaires do and rest up in one of its tasteful suites, complete with classical trimmings and huge marble bathrooms. At night, dine on traditional haute cuisine at the hotel’s Davidoff Restaurant.

The Idiot Cafe (8)

Corinthia Hotel Saint Petersburg (10) (

(Naberezhnaya Reki Moiki 82) is a cult favourite among artsy types and expats. Games and a shelf full of English books can be found inside, plus four rooms adorned with antiques and trinkets where you can tuck into Russian vegetarian fare.

is the place to splash out: its todie-for Presidential Suite spans 120 square metres, is adorned in royal red and cream hues and includes two bedrooms and a balcony that opens out on to Nevsky Prospect.

The Moscow Triumphal Arch forms a grand structure and a gateway into the Imperial capital, and it marks the Russian victory in the RussoTurkish war of 1828. Impressive stuff.


Images: Shutterstock, Hotel Astoria

The Tsar Carpenter is a detailed green monument, built to tell the story of the young Peter the Great as a boy. Here, he builds a ship with an axe; a skill he learnt in Holland to later teach the Russian navy.





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January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 69

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Win A BREAK AT THE NEW RADISSON ROYAL HOTEL, DUBAI There’s a new hotel on Dubai’s bustling Sheikh Zayed Road; 51-storeys-high and packed to the rafters with leisure and dining amenities (not to mention chic suites with glittering Dubai vistas). Among the Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai’s highlights are its ICHO restaurant, a slick shrine to Japanese cuisine (we love its Teppanyaki chefs, who’ll whisk up fine fare before your eyes); Spa Zen, for those who really want to relax (try one of its couple’s treatment packages); and, for the socialities among you, a rooftop lounge where you can perch cool beverages atop glow-inthe-dark tables and gaze across its infinity pool.

ThE PriZE The Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai is offering readers the chance to win a two-night stay for two, including breakfast. To enter, just email the correct answer to the following question to easywin@ before January 31, 2012.

Q. What is the name of Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai’s luxurious spa? a) Spa Ten b) Royal Spa c) Spa Zen TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prize is non-transferable and must be taken by July 31, 2012. Dates subject to availability and exclude public holidays.

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SuiTe dreamS Told u So, maldiveS

Is there a more high-end suite to curl up in than this; The Owner’s Suite of a 145-foot mega yacht, Told u So? One of five suites on board, no less, we’ve placed dibs on this immaculate beauty, not just for its Missoni-striped furnishings, but for its 270-degree sea views, his and her’s bathrooms, en-suite screening room, private sun terrace and a six-person Jacuzzi. Of course, spending the night here comes at a price – $400,000 per week, to be precise. Stomp up the cash and you’ll set sail on the designer super-boat, which docks in the crystal clear waters of the Maldives from this month to April, before setting sail again and resting in east Mediterranean shores for the summer. But this isn’t the only place to snooze; its deck is something else – a sprawling space of lilac-hued daybeds, plump with Missoni cushions, where you can live the high life supping icy beverages and taking a cat nap beneath the sun or stars. Priceless. 72 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller



There is a magical place below one of the most majestic peaks of the Dolomites mountains, where one can experience the best of every season. This is the Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf, the only 5 star luxury hotel in the Dolomites. Here you will discover suites of unforgettable charm, the most exclusive and luxurious comfort, and the delicate touch of Transvital wellness. And after an intense day of skiing or a gratifying day of shopping, you can relax and let yourself be pampered by the impeccable Cristallo service offered in the various hotel restaurants and in the prestigious Club House of the Cortina Golf Club. Always in surroundings of unrivalled natural beauty. This is what a Cristallo Hotel holiday is about. There is nothing better. Naturally, it is in Cortina.

Via Rinaldo Menardi 42 - 32043 Cortina d’Ampezzo (BL) Tel. +39.0436.881111 - Fax +39.0436.870110 -

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Kanoo World Traveller January2012  

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Kanoo World Traveller January2012  

The Middle East’s highest-circulating travel magazine

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