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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE

ocToBER 2011

A S BL TAY U RE AT T So HE RT R , F AD UJ IS AI So RA N H

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Produced in International Media Production Zone

Harlem Shuffle

How New York’s former no-go area became its trump card

Bohemian Rhapsody

Adrian Bridge tours the enchanting city of Prague

Newfoundland Life on the edge of the western world

Stellar bites in the world’s top hotel restaurants

cuBa

Fiona Dunlop explores the north coast


For a truly memorable Eid Al Adha, head to Dubai’s iconic Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel. Conveniently located in the heart of new Dubai, The Gate is the ultimate family escape, providing a little something for every member of your family. From fantastic shopping and entertainment at Ibn Battuta Mall, a large variety of dining options, complimentary pool facilities on the Palm Jumeirah and complimentary access for the little ones to the adventurous Kids Club. Our special Eid rates start from AED 845*, making your stay with us a true celebration. For reservations, please contact the hotel direct or call toll free: UAE 800 4934, Bahrain 8000 1991, KSA 800 124 2929, Kuwait 2 225 3228, Qatar 800 2001 and quote ‘Eid al Adha’. *Terms and conditions apply.

Experience Eid in Dubai for only AED 845.


Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel Operated by Mรถvenpick Hotels & Resorts Adjacent to Ibn Battuta Mall PO Box 211508, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Phone +971 4 444 04 40, Fax +971 4 444 00 01 reservations.ibnbattuta@moevenpick.com

www.moevenpick-hotels.com


Kanoo World Traveller OCTOBER 2011

contents TRAVEL BITES 05 check in

Travel news, gadgets and events from across the globe...

17 Where to stay

Explore vibrant Sydney and rest up in one of these gorgeous venues.

18 Picture this

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Incredible stills captured in the most unusual places...

23 essential selection

We round up the world’s best hotel restaurants for to-die-for dinners.

66 city Guide: Venice

Laura Binder takes to the liquid streets to explore the fabled ‘City of Water’.

68 city Guide: BanGkok

Thailand’s bustling capital offers boxing, cabaret and floating markets.

71 comPetition

Win a weekend stay for two at the Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah.

72 suite dreams

Style and splendour at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

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FEATuRES 32 cuBa Fiona Dunlop finds vibrant life in the isolated port of Baracoa.

38 harlem

This NYC neighborhood is no longer a place to avoid, says Chris Coplans.

44 neWfoundland

Simon Calder spots whales (and shed loads of ice) in the Canadian province.

52 PraGue Adrian Bridge takes an inquisitive stroll along the Velvet Revolution trail.

58 rodriGues Discover Prince William’s gap year hideaway, 650km east of Mauritius.

On the cover: Baracoa, Cuba. Corbis/Arabian Eye.

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Managing Director: Victoria Hazell-Thatcher

Group Editor: Laura Binder

Production Manager: Haneef Abdul

Publishing Director: John Thatcher

laura@hotmediapublishing.com

Group Advertisement Manager: Cat Steele

Advertisement Director: Chris Capstick

Group Deputy Editor: Jade Bremner

cat@hotmediapublishing.com

chris@hotmediapublishing.com

jade@hotmediapublishing.com

+971 4 446 1558

+971 4 369 0917

Designers: Adam Sneade, Sarah Boland

Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in Kanoo World Traveller.

Jan-Jun 2011 22,953 BPA Consumer Audit Produced by: HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 3


check in | news

CHECK IN

BE INformEd, BE INspIrEd, BE THErE

china

Banyan Tree Macau The Banyan Tree group has added a new string to its bow, with the opening of its first property in China’s former Portuguese enclave – Banyan Tree Macau. Head for a taste of the Orient (it’s now the third most-visited country to France and the USA, after all) and you’ll find yourself amid a glittering all-suite resort with a bevy of spacious villas whose sliding glass doors open directly on to private gardens and pools. Not only that, but it’s the first resort of its kind in Macau to boast indoor relaxation pools in every one of its 227 opulent boudoirs. When you’re not taking a dip in your suite, you can make for the rooftop where the hotel harbours an ultra-cool wave pool –

perfect for lounging by while drinking-in the city sights below. And, as it takes pride of place in the $2billion Galaxy Macau complex, its shared facilities mean you’ll have your pick of some 50 lounges and eateries come mealtimes. However, put the hotel’s signature eatery Belon at the top of your list: designed to evoke an underwater world, you’ll descend down a glass stairwell before reaching a lounge area that’s lavished in jellyfish, wave patterns and oversized shells. And if that doesn’t float your boat, make for the nearby Coati entertainment district before heading back to the hotel and retiring in the sublime sanctuary of your suite... banyantree.com

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 5


london

wheel luxury If the sight of a Jaguar evokes an appreciative purr from you, you’ll be in good company at London’s 51 Buckingham Gate, where its all-new Jaguar Suite is officially open for reservations. Automobile aficionados will find a virtual treasure trove of Jaguar-themed materials inside, including those hoisted from actual models, and a rather cool custom-made wallpaper that sets the whole thing off to purrfection… 51-buckinghamgate.co.uk If you like the idea of staying in a themed suite, take a sneak a peek at this little line up… James Bond Suite, Hotel Seven, Paris Designed by Agence Bastie, Suite 007 brings the man of international travel a haven in which to mimic Bond’s debonair style. Retro lines, masculine finishes, gun-stemmed lamps, a kingsize bed and silver and black hues form a sixties-inspired setting Sean Connery would be proud of. sevenhotelparis.com Eloise Suite, The Plaza New York Designer Betsey Johnson delves into Kay Thompson’s fictional tale ‘Eloise’ to bring guests a two-bedroom suite of pink and black. Its design revolves around the book’s heroine, six-year-old Eloise, who moves into The Plaza in the 1950s with pet pug Weenie and a turtle called Skipperdee. Theplaza.com

Treat a fellow globetrotter to a set of 12 Luxe City Guides in one funky package. Opt for a continent set, like Asian Grand Tour, or tailor the gift to their personal travel wish-list by choosing from 33 cities. And, with a crimson interior, gold logo and vibrant linen covers, planning that next big trip never looked better… From $75. 6

Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

Hard Days Night Hotel, Liverpool This one-of-a-kind hotel pays homage to The Beatles in their hometown with each of its 110 rooms decked out in Fab Four-inspired artwork. Eat in Blake’s (named after the artist Peter Blake, who created the Sergeant Pepper album), tinker on a baby grand in the John Lennon Penthouse, and then head to the nearby Cavern Club where it all began. harddaysnighthotel.com


check in | news

new retreats

OCTOBER HOTEL OPENiNgs If you’re looking for a desert-island getaway with bags of luxury, the Aydeniz Group’s first outpost in The Maldives should fulfil any Robinson Crusoe fantasies. The Ayada maldives (Ayadamaldives. com) is a 112 villa resort on the previously undeveloped island of Maguhdhuvaa where you’ll find thatched villas poised on stilts over a turquoise ocean, plus family-friendly extras with a kids’ club and babysitting at your disposal. Turkey welcomes rixos Elysium suites Taksim (rixos.com), Istanbul’s first hotel with duplex suites. Created by famous architect Ali Esad Göksel, the hotel’s 141 rooms bear modern and minimalist interiors, while authentic décor inspired by the Ottoman Palaces - prevails throughout. Explore fascinating Istanbul before eating authentic Lebanese fare in the hotel’s Layali restaurant, or savour a Far Eastern massage in its spa. From October 31 you can book a stay at the Hyatt regency’s new danang resort and spa (Danang.regency.hyatt. com) in Vietnam, which places you in the hub of a cultural city home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites – so take a camera. Alternatively, stay put in the 200 room hotel (or reserve one of its 27 three-bed villas), recline on its stretch of cotton white beach, gaze at the East Sea and Marble Mountains beyond, and end the day with a feast in one of its international eateries.

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 7


turkish delight If you’re travelling to the Turkish capital this month, you won’t want to miss its premiere art show, Istanbul Biennial, which runs until November 13. Ranked among the most important world art events of the year, Istanbul’s 12th edition promises an art-fuelled fest of some 110 artists’ works, shown across 50 exhibitions. Set along the scenic Bosphorus river, the Biennial’s theme revolves around the late Cuban-American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose work will also be on show. Other headturning displays include Wael Shawky’s Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File, which sees puppets retell the story of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, while Kezban Arca Batibeki’s Dream and Reality presents a cage filled with retro memorabilia intended to represent what it is to be a Turkish woman. 12b.iksv.org

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Kanoo World Traveller October 2011


check in | news

chicago

GoinG Public

After a different hotel experience for your next getaway? Take a look at an all-new brand to debut in Chicago... This month sees the launch of all-new hotel brand PUBLIC, the brainchild of Ian Schrager who gave birth to the boutique hotel concept back in the eighties. Opening on October 11, PUBLIC Chicago is the brand’s debut property and it takes up residence inside the former (and famous) home of the city’s Ambassador East Hotel. Schrager hopes that PUBLIC will appeal to guests “keen to be involved in something special and distinctive”, while at the brand’s heart is a real desire to offer genuine value. “I was inspired to launch PUBLIC to rid the world of infuriating hotel charges”, affirms Schrager. “It’s very much a modern idea; giving guests what they want in a special, personal way.” In real terms you can expect service that aims to make guests feel valued and comfortable,

and at an accessible price tag of just $135 per night. Expect, too, a design style that’s “a reaction to overzealous design (and) a desire to return to a universal language of good taste”. The result is pared-down, gimmickfree surrounds with timeless interiors in muted hues, and ‘chat rooms’ with cosy names like the Living Room and the Library. which exude a stylish 1950s feel. In the latter, guests can relax with expertly-mixed tipples come nightfall, or savour exotic bites by the Michelinstarred chef Jean-George Vongerichten . “We are trying not to be hip, we are in fact anti-hip, and therefore by definition, we are,” says Schrager, who confirmed to KWT that the Middle East is very much part of PUBLIC’s future plans. Watch this space. publichotels.com

A RARe Find

Those in an artful state of mind should hot foot it across to the Big Apple in November, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be showcasing some truly unique gems: a vast exhibition of over 1,000 historic pieces of rare Islamic art, to be precise. Once there, you can peruse more than 15 galleries, highlights of which include excerpts of the Qur’an that date back to medieval times... metmuseum.org

If you struggle to keep up your fitness routine while travelling, or resent having to squeeze clumpy running shoes into your weekend bag, Reebok’s new malleable and feather- light RealFlex may be just the ticket. The near-weightless trainers have 76 independent sensors on the outer sole, which can tackle virtually any surface your travels present, be it volcanic rock, pavement, sand or forest terrain. reebok.com

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 9


travel tales

My perfect trip...

New Caledonia Olympic and World Champion mountain biker Julien Absalon reveals his favourite place in the world... I love it because it’s far away from everywhere i know. It’s far away from Europe, from America, and for this reason it remains beautiful with great untouched coral reef and marine life. The island is only 460 kilometres in size, so it’s easy to get around, but the landscape differs greatly. Aboriginals still live in the north part of the island. I previously travelled by horseback to the north and spent two nights with native people, which was amazing. It’s still part of the French colony so it is really easy for me to communicate here, even in rural areas. It is a great place to mountain bike. If you start in the south and head north, after three or four hours it’s like you’ve travelled to another country because the landscape changes so much. In the north there is dense tropical forest, while the south is covered with rich red earth, full of iron, nickel and other minerals. There is only one city on the island so hotel options are limited. I have slept in the wild on one trip in the forest and on another trip I stayed at Club Med opposite the Pacific Ocean. I’ve also stayed on some of the small islands in the north, which are not built up at all and the only way to reach them is by boat. I found what I think is the best beach in the world there, with white sand and clear waters where you can see the fish from wherever you are standing. Plus, there are hardly any tourists. I ate a lot of fish here, plus you find Indian flavours and dishes from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and, of course, France, due to its colonial influence. One of the best things to do is visit the local market where they cook up fresh produce with local flavours right in front of you. The island is a haven for aquatic sports such as scuba diving and windsurfing. I travel nearly every weekend, at least 50 per cent of the year, so my best piece of travel advice when going to New Caledonia or elsewhere is to bring personal items with you to make it feel like home wherever you are.

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Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

winter escapes this month’s trio of top offers from Kanoo travel kenya $1,600 PER PERSON (TWIN SHARING) Take a truly memorable trip this season, with one night’s bed and breakfast in Nairobi followed by five nights on safari. Game drives will be taken in style – in a stretch, seven-seater 4x4 which affords guaranteed window seats for spotting the big five.

bangkok $330 PER PERSON (TWIN SHARING) Head for the bustling city and bright lights of Thailand’s capital on a four-night break, staying in the five-star surrounds of Pullman Bangkok King Power.

london $1,070 PER PERSON (TWIN SHARING) Shop, sightsee and eat in Michelin-star eateries during a four-night stay in the Big Smoke. The Grosvenor JW Marriott hotel will be your base, a luxury abode that’s a stone’s throw from the sights. food festival

Gastro stars

Last year 600 restaurants designed 50,000 menus especially for the London Restaurant Festival, where foodies flocked for a taste of the city’s finest fare. This year, organisers aim to top that that with yet more mouthwatering menus. What’s more, a whole host of inventive events are scheduled, from a food debate hosted by Sunday Times restaurant critic AA Gill; the ‘Gourmet Odyssey’, which transports diners via a red London bus to myriad restaurants for multiple courses; and a culinary quiz called Starter For Ten. But the Festival’s highlight has to be the ‘Pop-Up Restaurant in the Sky’, which will see 10 guests take to the skies nightly in one of

the London Eye’s capsules, where they’ll savour courses cooked by some of the UK’s most renowned chefs - Angela Hartnett, Jason Atherton, and Hélène Darroze among them. From October 3-17, for event tickets visit the website londonrestaurantfestival.com


Novelty stays

A HeAd for HeigHts The owner Gosse Beerda designed the interior and his basic philosophy was that the industrial atmosphere should be maintained. That’s why, for example, you’ll find walls covered with steel plates. Aside from that, it’s been made in to a very cosy and comfortable place to spend the night. The facilities will surprise you. The room has a well-designed bed, rooftop balcony, seating from Charles Eames and a shower bath for two – you can even take a shower beneath five different coloured lights which are all touch screen operated. Hostesses show guests around on arrival in order to make you familiar with where everything is and how to operate the crane, as well as our touch screen electronics. You don’t have to clamber down for breakfast it’s brought to the crane daily at 8am and the rest of the time guests eat out. Ever holidayed in a 150-feet-tall 1960s crane? Neither have we. It’s the latest offering from a Netherlands trio who revamped a steel machine into a fully-fledged boutique hotel. Manager Carla Comello provides an insight in to the Harlingen Harbour Crane... My husband Willem Koornstra came up with the idea. He had helped an acquaintance, Gosse Beerda turn a life boat into a hotel room and, while doing so, came up the notion of doing the same with the harbour and crane. Gossee loved it so much he bought the crane which we now run as a hotel.

Best Buy

Vintage Pin-ups Next month offers the rare opportunity to pick up an early 20th century vintage travel poster at Christie’s auction house, London. Quirky and kitsch, these colourful prints are sure to make an eye-catching addition to any globetrotter’s home. Selected prints hail from routes to Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, along with Middle Eastern scenes which capture camels and shisha pipes. Lot items will start at $950. Bidding paddles at the ready... christies.com

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Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

You can make the steel crane rotate 360 degrees and that way you can decide on the view you want: the monumental city centre on one side or the harbour or the beautiful Waddensea on the other. There is just one room which stands 17metres above the pier on which it’s situated. From here you and your companion are alone to look down on the port below. The crane has been here since 1967 and has ridden out innumerable storms so it’s a very safe place in which to stay.

Fear of heights is hardly ever a problem because when you’re inside you feel very safe and secure and you don’t have to look straight down if you don’t want to! Harlingen is a small but lively town, where you can head out to see more than 500 monuments, beautiful historical harbours, nice shops and restaurants, a museum and several annual festivals. It’s also the terminal for the ferries to Vlieland and Terschelling, so you can reach these picturesque islands in the Wadden sea in 45minutes.

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What in the World? weIrD, wOnDerful anD, er, wOOlly... OCtOber brInGs a COlOurful hOst Of events On all COrners Of the GlObe

7–15

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20-24

12-16 11

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1–3 OktOberfest six million visitors descend on Munich

11 ChOn burI buffalO raCe this event sees buffalo

to quaff barvarian beverages and bites amid a wave of traditional German amusements which date back to its 1810 – quaint flea circuses and marching bands among them.

go head-to-head in a running race, cheered on by gleeful locals and tourists who can go on to compete in a buffalo fancy dress contest, or the weirdly popular Miss farmer Pageant.

2 bOOrOwa IrIsh wOOlfest swarms of cotton-wool-like sheep shimmy through this austalian town for its celebrated running of the sheep – a time-honoured mutton migration that draws pipe players, street performers and 10,000 spectators.

7–15 hull faIr Carousels, candy floss stands and heart-stopping rides parade at europe’s largest travelling fun fair, where centuries-old tradition meets white knuckle additions to make stomachs turn.

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Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

12–16 rajasthan InternatIOnal fOlk festIval jodhpur’s stunning Mehrangarh fort sets a mystical backdrop (400 metres high) to enchanting recitals of traditional dance and music.

20–24 DubaI fashIOn week, uae the city’s emirati and ex pat designers showcase haute couture and more besides in a four-day event that promises glitz, glamour and inspiration for avid fashion followers.


CRISTALLO HOTEL SPA & GOLF

THERE IS NO HIGHER PLACE.

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 - info@cristallo.it


check in | where to stay

Where to stay...

sydney

Explore Australia’s cosmopolitan city, bursting at the seams with entertainment, history, parks and beaches, before resting up in one of these stylish venues... START

Hotel

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Water view

Apartment

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City view

Business

Pleasure

Swissôtel Sydney

Harbour Side Apartments

swissotel.com If you’re in town on business, this location is paramount. Set in the heart of the CBD and close to Central Railway Station, you can escape to the iconic Queen Victoria Building at lunchtime and unwind after work with a stroll through Hyde Park before grabbing a bite on Pitt Street.

harboursideapartments.com.au Slap bang on the waterfront, these short stay, serviced apartments make a great alternative to hotel rooms, offering a home away from home. Each comes with panoramic views, swimming pool access and barbecue facilities so you can eat Aussie-style.

Chinese flavour

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Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Westin Sydney

Manor House

shangri-la.com This hotel not only offers a taste of the east but a spectacular view of the pacific, best experienced from the cloud-skimming Altitude Restaurant.

fourseasons.com Set on famous George Street, this hotel’s incredible location gives you ready access to Sydney’s restaurants, historic sites and unique energy.

starwoodhotels.com This hotel’s historic clock tower shines like a beacon amid a sea of modern skyscrapers, while inside it’s the picture of luxury.

manorhouse.com.au Chintzy and cute, rooms here come with ornate ceilings, deep bathtubs and antique furniture for a distinctive, olde-world charm.

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 17


Picture this

Baikal lake Siberia, ruSSia

At 25 million-years-old, this is not only the oldest lake in the world but the deepest at 1,700 metres. What’s more, it’s home to one fifth of the world’s freshwater reserve. This chilly scene is a snapshot from the making of Russian film ‘Serko’, based on the true story of a teenage Cossack who makes the treacherous 4,000 mile long trip on horseback to St Petersburg. Delve beneath its icy maze and you’ll find some parts frozen solid as far as 10 metres down while other slices are wafer thin or dissolve to reveal spine-tinglingly cold waters. With nothing for miles around, this repetitive yet mesmerising landscape can play trickery on the daring explorers who claim it appears to move, causing them to lose direction. Which may explain why locals are said to disappear yearly into its spooky ink-blue abyss... Image: Corbis/ArabianEye.com


Picture this

Spitzkoppe Mountain Namibia

Formed after the collapse of a colossal volcano whose piping hot magna splurted out and covered the landscape, this uniquely-shaped mountain was born 100 million years ago. Its distinctive shape parades in the Namib Desert where its smooth, swooping contours are the product of centuries of erosion. Translated as ‘sharp head’ and nicknamed the ‘Matterhorn of Africa’ The Spitzkoppe attracts parties of climbers who scale the bizarre granite rock formation and clamber across its face – look carefully and you can even spy bushmen’s artwork on its rust-hued surface. Bed down in a tent come nightfall and start a new day by exploring the desert’s show of other strange rock shapes, some of which are reminiscent of toes, a whale and a bony finger... Image: Corbis/ArabianEye.com


essential selection | Great Hotel restaurants

essential selection

Great Hotel restaurants Jade Bremner serves up her pick of hotel-housed eateries

Moo, Hotel omm Barcelona, spain Catalan cuisine as imagined by renowned chef Felip Llufriu is what keeps the hordes at the door here. One for those after a more adventurous dining experience, treat your taste buds to trendy dishes, such as caramelised apple with foie gras and vanilla oil to start, lamb shoulder with garlic purÊe and Manchego cheese for mains and juniper ice cream to end your flavoursome journey. What’s more, half portions are offered to promote experimentation. hotelomm.es


signature, Mandarin oriental tokyo, Japan With sprawling vistas across the neon city, Signature hovers on the skyline on the 37th floor, but its setting is not the only experience to give you goosebumps; its high-end dining is sensational too. Affluent jet setters swoop in from far and wide to savour an eight-course truffle menu, washed down with a bottle of million yen grape, while head chef Olivier Rodriguez conjures up taste sensations from seared foie gras with cinnamon to miniature pigeon breast drizzled with bitter chocolate and almond. Those with a sweet tooth, meanwhile, shouldn’t miss out on his delicate mango soup with lychee jelly and lime sorbet. Enjoy such fine flavours amid the mellow ambience of the main or private dining rooms, while the city busies on below. mandarinoriental.com/tokyo

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Le Manoir, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, UK

Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée, Hôtel Plaza Athénée Paris, France

Delve into the heart of the picturesque Oxfordshire countryside and you’ll find this charming estate (above) amid manicured lawns, aromatic orchards, seasonal flowers and a vegetable and herb garden where fresh produce is plucked daily. Le Manoir’s stellar consistency has seen it hold two Michelin stars for 27 years and counting. In that time its owner Raymond Blanc has served up some of the finest creations ever to grace a dining table: pick from faultless concoctions like tuna ceviche with sea scallops and fennel salad to oscietra caviar and lime dressing or, for meat-lovers, roasted free-range duck breast served with turnip gratin, caramelised chicory, yuzu orange curd and jasmine tea sauce. It’s enough to make your mouth water... manoir.com

After reaching its tenth anniversary, this world-renowned Parisian restaurant, chock full of regal furniture and with soul-stirring views of the famous Eiffel Tower, has gone back to basics. Alain Ducasse, a chef with no less than nine Michelin stars to his name, has counteracted the restaurant’s percieved pomp and glory by presenting a new, simpler (but no less delicious) take on haute cuisine. For diners at the upmarket eatery it means delicate, natural and contemporary French flavours expertly rustled up in the imaginative form of cockerel pie with Madeira reduction, lobster and sea potatoes or duckling and turnips. Divine. plaza-athenee-paris.com

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essential selection | Great Hotel restaurants

Restaurant Le Meurice, Le Meurice Paris, France

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Four Seasons Hotel New York, USA

Chandeliers dripping with crystals, ornate alcoves and renaissance paintings adorn this restaurant’s grand dining room – opulence so rich you may mistake your gold-licked surrounds for those of the Palace of Versailles. Such an extravagant scene, created by celebrated designer Philippe Starck, requires a truly accomplished chef to compete for diners’ attention. Thankfully, then, Le Meurice is in safe hands. Yannick Alléno presents a diverse menu to match its eclectic surrounds, including inventive dishes like wild duck with 10 spices and anchovies (so fresh it will send your taste buds on an oceanic journey) with decorative sweet pepper, cucumber gelée and couscous, topped with a pinch of purple basil. lemeurice.com

After a brief break from the restaurant business chef Rubuchon has returned with a bang, offering French dining at the Four Seasons New York – with a Japanese twist. The fourth branch of the L’Atelier empire stakes its claim on the Upper East Side where you can expect small but immaculately presented plates in the form of frog’s-leg croquettes with parsley and garlic, blue fin tuna with sun-dried tomato mash and lobster stuffed full of ravioli. Though, diners take note, to experience this seductive dining experience you can’t book ahead; all food is served in an informal lounge setting overlooking the chefs at work and, if you’re lucky, Rubuchon himself. fourseasons.com/NewYork

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 27


essential selection | Great Hotel restaurants

Iggy’s, Hilton Singapore hotel, Singapore Named after owner Ignatius Chan, this modest yet sleek restaurant seats just 40 guests, or you can opt for an exclusive feast in one of its two private dining rooms. Come here to splurge on playful creations which accentuate the vibrant colours of its ingredients. ‘Iggy’s Pop’ arrives in pink, orange and white on a black slate, while the ‘winter ice cream’ dessert arrives like a mini avalanche on your plate, sprinkled with snow-like coconut powder. But that’s just the desserts. Tuck into the delicate Hokkaido scallop, garnished with celery and meat foam or try the lightly steamed needle fish which you’ll find draped across a pink drizzling of garlic. Iggys.com.sg

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 29


Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, InterContinental Dubai Festival City, UAE

NoMI, Park Hyatt Chicago, USA

Gallic great Pierre Gagnaire brings his culinary wizardry to an equally decadent setting (above), where mirrored corridors lead you into a dining room peppered with pink glass chandeliers, inch-thick purple carpets, grand damask chairs and walls adorned with shimmering Mother of Pearl. His sixth restaurant – it’s no less inventive than those that have gone before it – also pushes the boundaries of regular dining by fusing French cuisine with the art of molecular gastronomy. Sink your teeth in to unlikely marriages of fillet of French river trout cooked meunière with liquorice, or the salpicon of Omani prawn with popcorn soup. An unmissable, multi-sensory experience. diningdfc.com

Make for the hotel’s seventh floor where you’ll be met with natural tones in the form of fig-hued wood, rich leather chairs and a mosaic floor underfoot, plus rolling panoramas of Michigan Avenue and its famous lake. Here the young-but-accomplished chef Ryan Laroche gathers regionally-sourced ingredients (many from the nearby Green City Market ) to create mindboggling dishes, from blue crab omelettes to Atlantic cod with foie gras and cherry lacquer and an English pea soup. Plus, the eatery’s relaxed approach means you’ll sup your soup amid a lively mix of business associates, tourists and casual city-goers all sharing a mutual appreciation for fine food. nomirestaurant.com

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www.VisitGoldCoast.com


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CUBA | the CAriBBeAn

lost

in time

Beyond ‘thAt’ BAy in CuBA’s eAsternmost provinCe, the isolAted port of BArACoA reveAls five Centuries of history

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t strategic spots along the near-deserted road, locals dangled bunches of tiny bananas, strings of mandarins, cucuruchos (cones of pineapple and coconut paste), recycled bottles of wild honey, solid lumps of cacao and bags of coffee beans. Pulling in, I ended up having a chat, added a few pesos to their income and learnt how desirable a bar of soap was. This basic yet rare commodity costs a fortune: a whispered “Jabón, jabón” became a leitmotif of the trip. I was driving over La Farola, Cuba’s highest mountain road and an engineering feat of the brave new Cuba of the early 1960s. Although the road was nothing like as bad as I had been warned, it took nearly five hours to drive the 230km from my starting point, Santiago, to my destination on the north coast – Baracoa. The route curled through the unlikely tourist destination of Guantánamo province, passing the arid scrub and cacti of the desolate coastal strip around ‘that’ bay and its anachronistic pockets of US-controlled land. Then the rolling sierra took off and morphed into dense forest for mile after spectacular mile. At the first high point, I looked back to see the distant blur of red-tiled roofs of the American facility, a chilling sight in view of its remaining detainees. Far down the slopes was an occasional wooden shack, but the otherwise limitless, undulating green was a reminder of how vital Baracoa’s sea access had

been before La Farola was built. August marked the 500th anniversary of this first Spanish settlement on Cuban soil, which was a curtain-raiser to the virtual extinction of the island’s Taíno inhabitants and the genesis of an Afro-Hispanic culture unlike any other. Centuries later, in 1959, the Cuban Revolution added another dimension. Giant cut-out figures of Che are likely to greet you from hilltops; affectionate references to ‘Fidel y Raul’ decorate shop walls; endless political slogans dot the roadside. Back in 1515, the conquistador Diego Velázquez transferred the Cuban capital to Santiago, and Baracoa became a backwater. Pirate attacks nonetheless demanded that the town retain muscular forts, which now respectively house a dusty municipal museum, a restaurant and a hilltop government-run hotel called El Castillo. With unbeatable views over the bay and the Atlantic, it’s definitely the best place to stay. In indigenous Taíno, Baracoa means ‘beside the sea’, but the town also wallows in a lush hinterland of coconuts, cacao, bananas and coffee, nurtured by the highest rainfall in Cuba. You see this best on the road east to the dramatic canyon of Yumurí, which, after crossing the Río de Miel (‘honey river’), passes bucolic farmland edged by deserted beaches. Together with the north-eastern trade winds, rain brings endlessly inspiring skyscapes, which, whatever their mood, frame the iconic sil-

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houette of El Yunque – ‘The Anvil’. This limestone outcrop allegedly inspired Columbus’s 1492 diary entry describing “a high and square mountain that looks like an island...” He continued lyrically: “I have never seen a more beautiful place. Along the banks of the river were trees... flowers and fruit of the most diverse kinds, among the branches of which one heard the delightful chirping of birds.” Today, you could add to those warbles the clip-clop of pony-cart taxis, the rattle of bullockcarts, the ring-ring of bicycle and pedi-cab bells, the throb of antiquated motorbikes with sidecars, and the splutter and belch of American cars from the 1950s (nearly all resprayed in a lurid mint green or fearless turquoise). And at night there’s the inevitable blast of live son and changüí – the local cubano music. Architecturally, it’s a bizarre juxtaposition of vividly painted clapboard beside ornately stuccoed and colonnaded beauties from Baracoa’s big 1930s comeback, when bananas became the ‘green gold’ that reaped fortunes. On the seafront, incongruous Soviet-style blocks overlook a devastated stretch slowly recovering from a hurricane in 2008, but the action all happens a block or so inland.

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Every street tells a story of past glories. At the excellent paladar (privately run restaurant) El Colonial, chandeliers illuminate sweet, fresh lobster in a divine coconut sauce. Yet, despite this decorative nostalgia and Cuba’s economic woes, the town seems to thrive on an energetic individualism, peaking at night. Brilliant musicians– legions of them – play at the funky Casa de la Trova beside the gutted cathedral, which is undergoing a painful renovation. More local still, the beaten-up El Patio heaves with dancers and drinkers. One evening, a veteran guitarist in an immaculate white guayabera even lured me into the Casa de la Cultura to lend a hand on percussion in his otherwise masterful son band. After a few days, I felt as if I knew everyone, and they certainly knew me. There was Ramón, the dynamic postman, with his sideline of a secondhand book exchange; the peripatetic cigar-seller (whose price for the local Guantánamo smoke plunged dramatically as the nights went by); and the willowy Afro-Cuban with a heavily bandaged arm who seemed to crop up at every nocturnal venue, talking wildly. More measured in style was René Frometa, an 82-year-old painter. He turned

Opening page: Vintage Cuban car, Baracoa. This page: A local girl. Overleaf, clockwise from top left: Mural of Che Guevara; Local Baracoan; Cacao tree; Baracoan beach.


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CUBA | the CAriBBeAn

Images: Corbis / arabianEye.com, Photolibrary Text: Fiona Dunlop / the Independent / The Interview People

‘the town [Baracoa] wallows in a lush hinterland of coconuts, cacao, bananas and coffee, nurtured by the highest rainfall in Cuba’

out to be guardian of the legacy of his adoptive mother, a Russian aristocrat (‘La Rusa’, now the name of the hotel she opened in 1953, where she later hosted and supported the revolutionaries Fidel, Raul and Che). Dragging myself away from the charms of this time-locked, end-of-the-world place, I headed west to Playa Maguana in search of a swim. This lay a 25km crawl along a spectacularly cratered road that crossed several rivers, including the broad, crystalline Río Toa. En route, hitchhikers piled in to my hire car – a very Cuban form of public transport. In the background the hills were clad in a tangle of vegetation. The area is now a national park named after the great Prussian naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt. Egrets and hawks winged past while children splashed in the shallows. The idyll continued at Villa Maguana, a small-scale wooden lodge on the curve of a blissful white sand cove, where hummingbirds, coconut palms, giant scarlet hibiscus, a coral reef washed in a palette of blues and the lull of gently rolling surf all compounded the Caribbean magic. Nothing is perfect though, and the sleepiness of the hotel service soon forced me to venture out in search of better food and sharper attention. On

the neighbouring beach, I discovered a laid-back chiringuito, where I arranged dinner with the owner, Pablo. Later that evening, the headlights of my car picked out the thatched bar in the pitch black, moonless night: no sign of life. Cuban indifference? Unlikely, given the lure of the convertible peso, the curious home-grown hard currency. Suddenly, out of the night, appeared an apologetic Pablo. Action followed: lights, crackling music, chilled drinks, a family of pigs snuffling round the edge of the deck and a strutting cockerel. The surreal performance continued as a dreadlocked groover appeared from nowhere to dance salsa with her, then an older Cuban leading a goat on a string shuffled in for a drink. My beaming host finally materialised bearing plates of perfectly grilled dorado, rice, fried plantain and a salad of home-grown tomatoes. Afterwards, I wandered on to the shadowy beach to look upwards at a dense scattering of stars glinting above the palms, the same constellations that guided Columbus and then Diego Velázquez to these shores 500 years ago. For them, it was the beginning of an adventure. For me, it was the end: a typically haphazard Cuban finale full of warmth and theatricality, and hard to forget.

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THe Harlem re-sHuffle It was once a no-go area, but the New York neighbourhood has been rejuvenated and now attracts tourists for the right reasons, says Chris Coplans

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Harlem | New York

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Opening page: Traffic in front of Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Graffiti art uptown; local boys; a classic ‘brownstone’

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t’s a sultry summer night and my cab drops me outside a Manhattan hotel. I thread my way through a gaggle of leggy, uptown girls to the lobby. Inside, I pass a wall of sound flooding down from the adjoining bar area and hit the reception desk. A super-chilled, dressed-down staff member greets me with a nonchalant: “Whazzup?” and before I have time to whip out my credit card, I’m rapping with Flavor Flav of Public Enemy. Where am I? Some achingly trendy new design hotel in TriBeCa or the Meat Packing District? No, I’m in Harlem, at the newly opened Aloft Hotel. Over the years, Hollywood has done its best to cook up Harlem as a modern Dante’s Hell, simmering in a ready-made sauce of 2D ghetto stereotypes. Live and Let Die, Carlito’s Way and a string of 1970s ‘Blaxploitation’ movies such as Shaft, Across 110th Street and Black Caesar helped to seal the neighbourhood’s fate as a nogo area. There were no hotels in Harlem, just a few tired B&Bs and dubious boarding houses. For years, curious tourists have come uptown on safari; often no more than whistle-stop ‘gawk at the locals’ trips, rather than being attempts to engage with the community. However, Harlem was declared an Economic Redevelopment Zone in 1996. When President Clinton located his offices on 125th St in 2001, the so-called ‘second Harlem Renaissance’ gained momentum; now the opening of the Aloft gives another boost to the area. The hotel’s super-cool bar is rapidly becoming a Saturday night fixture, attracting downtown hipsters and uptown locals. The rooms are bigger than in many new $400-a-night downtown boutique hotels, with plenty of hanging space, a large shower and a media hub to dock your pod, pad, phone and other devices. The real selling point, though, is that Aloft gives its visitors the opportunity to experience Harlem’s vibrant culture first-hand. The hotel is located one block south of the neighbourhood’s pulsating main artery, 125th Street, where the

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sidewalk overflows with food stalls, street performers and hawkers of everything from voodoo dolls to comic books to shades. This frenetic thoroughfare is also home to Harlem’s most famous landmark, the Apollo Theater. Over the years, stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, James Brown, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder launched their careers here. The theatre’s amateur night has been going since 1933 and is still held on Wednesday evenings. One of 1965’s winners was a young man named Jimi Hendrix. Across the street and a block west is the Studio Museum, where African-American art has been promoted for over 30 years. The museum’s director and chief curator, Thelma Golden, tells me: “Harlem is home to a number of fantastic works of public art celebrating both the neighbourhood’s rich artistic heritage and pioneering African-Americans,” and points me in the direction of some of Harlem’s most interesting examples. I zigzagged through the not-so-mean streets to see Elizabeth Catlett’s Invisible Man: A Memorial to Ralph Ellison near the writer’s former home. At the north-east corner of Central Park, where the new Museum of African Art will open next year, is New York’s first sculpture to be dedicated to an African American, Robert Graham’s 30ft bronze entitled Duke Ellington. Here the Duke, suited and booted, stands imperially next to his grand piano, atop a raised plinth, held up by a bevy of voluptuous nymphets. One of the best ways to experience Harlem is a walking tour led by a local. I’ve joined jazz, rap, hip-hop and even a Black Panther tour over the years. Harlem Heritage Tourism & Cultural Center offers an array of options. Although Harlem is best known as a focal point of African-American life and culture, it is also home to a large and exuberant Latino population, particularly in East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio. El Museo del Barrio is a few blocks south of the


Harlem | USa

‘One of the best ways to experience Harlem is a walking tour led by a local. I’ve joined jazz, rap, hip-hop and even a Black Panther tour over the years’

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Images: Corbis / arabianEye.com, Shutterstock. Text: Chris Coplans / The Independent / The Interview People


Harlem | USa

Opposite page, clockwise from top: Halal butcher; Harlem streets; Harlem street signs. This page; George Washington Bridge

Duke Ellington sculpture on Fifth Ave at 104th Street and displays an eclectic collection of Hispanic and Caribbean art. There is also a pleasant courtyard café in which I kick back for a while, before strolling across the road to Central Park. Eating is a great obsession of Harlem. Once again, Thelma proved invaluable here, directing me to some of Harlem’s wonderful culinary experiences. She tells me that the Senegalese capital Dakar is among her favourite cities. A good substitute for being there is Les Ambassades, on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, a restaurant in the heart of one of New York’s most vibrant West African communities. It offers an eclectic range of French and African dishes from the largely Senegalese kitchen. Thelma also sends me to “the best velvet cupcakes in the city” at the charming Make My Cake on the corner of St Nicholas Avenue at 166th Street. These are voluptuous cupcakes for those with a passionate disregard for their girth, not the prissy little things you get in Greenwich Village on your Sex and the City tour. If 125th St is the traditional Harlem, then Lennox Avenue between 125th and 126th is very much the emerging ‘New Harlem’, with an arty vibe and ‘Village’ sidewalk culture. There is also a cluster of superb restaurants. Marcus Samuelsson’s new place, Red Rooster, wouldn’t look out of place in Greenwich Village. Next door is another superb restaurant, Chez Lucienne, where I attack a mindaltering burger on their sidewalk terrace while watching Harlem go by. On the same block is Harlem’s best-known restaurant Sylvia’s, which has a roaring gospel brunch going on a Sunday afternoon. When the Clintons first moved to Harlem, the talkshow host Craig Kilborn quipped: “Clinton says he feels safe in Harlem. It’s the only place in the state that Hillary is scared to look for him after dark.” Nowadays, even Hillary feels safe in Harlem, so maybe that’s why Bill has moved his office downtown.

‘Lennox Avenue between 125th and 126th is very much the emerging ‘New Harlem’, with an arty vibe and ‘Village’ sidewalk culture’

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NewfouNdlaNd | CaNada

Life on the edge Simon Calder heads to Newfoundland; the eastern edge of the western world

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o this is how the western world ends: a grassy hillside tumbling down to a shore of ancient sandstone sculpted by the Atlantic. But as you face the ocean from the edge of North America, you are unlikely to be deep in contemplation about the great continent at your back, of Manhattan and mountains, of Disneyland and desert. Your attention is, instead, seized by the extraordinary performance taking place offshore. Beneath the lighthouses deployed to protect shipping from being speared by Cape Spear, a troupe of fin whales is, frankly, showing off. They spout, then surface, sleeker than submarines. One giant mammal surges almost clear of the water, taunting sightseers who will later discover their cameras have caught only the perfect splash, roughly the size of, well, whales. Nature even lays on an amusing maritime sideshow in the shape of a squadron of rotund puffins: imagine a squadron of potatoes with wings flapping frenetically as they struggle to lift clear from the surface of the sea. Yet Cape Spear is only one of the joys that awaits on this Newfoundland shore, the eastern edge of the western world.

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Opening page: Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Gros Morne National Park; A resident Puffin; Grazing moose; Traditional coloured houses. Next page: White Bear River Falls.

The first pleasure: within an hour of arrival you can clear immigration, collect your luggage, pick up a rental car, get lost a couple of times (local signage ranges from rudimentary to baffling), discover how forgiving the local motorists are when stuck behind a confused visitor, and clunk to a halt in North America’s easternmost car park. You will find plenty of space. The exceptionally friendly locals are mainly descended from Scottish and Irish folk – and the province’s weather emulates the Celtic fringe of Europe, too: summer visitors need not arrive overburdened with sunscreen. This southeastern corner of Newfoundland is far more developed than the rest of the island – yet it has a forlorn air, a place adrift. The island remained a colony of Britain, separate from Canada, until 1949 – which is roughly the era in which much of Newfoundland seems, endearingly, to be lodged. The fishing villages that dot the coast are untarnished by time, and their cottages in primary colours brighten the bleakest day. Outside St John’s, you will struggle to find a café or restaurant that you can walk to from your B&B, or which opens much beyond 7.30pm. Do tourists steer clear because facilities are few, or is an indifferent infrastructure the result of global indifference towards Newfoundland? Who cares, when you find yourself at the place where it all began, at 10am on the last Monday of July, with not another soul in sight. The Colony of Avalon, founded in 1720, occupies a beautiful bay cradled by a headland that, predictably, sports a lighthouse. This wasn’t quite the first settlement in Newfoundland, but it was where the Europeans first took root – and possession of the island and its fishing grounds. In 2011, an archaeological dig is taking place (though evidently not at 10am on Mondays) to unravel the secrets of Sir George Calvert’s colonial adventure. The name that had been taken from English legend was eventually bestowed on the whole crumpled southeastern corner of Newfoundland. The Avalon Peninsula is a land of pine forests draped across hills and lonely moorlands speckled with lakes, and embraced almost completely by jagged shores.

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For those with more than a week or less than a rented Chevrolet Impala, the way to experience the shoreline is on the East Coast Trail, a long-distance footpath that starts in St John’s and rambles south. To sample one of the finest stretches, make for La Manche Provincial Park, about halfway down the coast. The path carves through thick forest, then suddenly opens up to reveal a couple of surprises: some shattered concrete slabs are all that remain of a fishing village obliterated 45 years ago by a winter storm; the channel that gouges deep inland, along which the destruction arrived. Today (or at any rate, last week) the mosaic of rock and forest and water presents a placid picture, best observed from the wooden suspension bridge that straddles the ravine and is designed to be just wide enough for two people to squeeze past, in the statistically improbable event that they should meet. The trail that slinks north from the far side could seduce the most reluctant rambler, though the same signposting syndicate appears to have been deployed on the East Coast Trail as on the parallel Highway 10. In Newfoundland, the term ‘get lost’ is laden with meaning as heavy as an overweight puffin. You feel adrift from the rest of the world. You will also be transported, technologically, to a time before mobile phones: for the best part of a week, the only communication from my mobile was the message ‘No Service’, and the effect was blissful disconnection. Curiously, though, Newfoundland has primacy in global communication. Cabot Tower, a turreted pepperpot perched on the edge of St John’s, was named for the first transatlantic traveller to reach this part of Newfoundland (the Vikings had inhabited the far north of the island centuries before John Cabot turned up in 1497). When, in 1901, Guglielmo Marconi wanted to test transatlantic wireless telegraphy, he climbed the stone steps to hear the joyful ‘dot-dot-dot’ of the letter S arriving from Poldhu in Cornwall. This single Morse consonant dashed the hopes of the transatlantic cable companies, whose submarine wires came ashore, predictably, in Newfoundland. The first such cable rusts gently west of here on the


NewfouNdlaNd | CaNada

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‘The Avalon Peninsula is a land of pine forests draped across hills and lonely moorlands speckled with lakes, and embraced almost completely by jagged shores’

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NewfouNdlaNd | CaNada

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NewfouNdlaNd | CaNada

Images: Corbis / arabianEye.com, Shutterstock Text: Simon Calder / The Independent / The Interview People

Opposite page: A sailboat passes through an iceberg arch. This page: A pod of killer whales.

shore of Trinity Bay, in the deliciously named town of Heart’s Content. The wireless revolution proved more profitable for Newfoundland than the cables had done. Marconi’s mighty contrivance was seized upon by the transatlantic shipping lines. Passengers were soon queuing to pay 10 cents per word to have urgent messages transmitted to the first wireless station that could be contacted on the westward voyage to New York: Cape Race. That this slab of rock high above the ocean supports a lighthouse is no surprise. But what may amaze you is the blanket of fog that fills the cove beneath it, with wisps of mist drifting off on the breeze. The Cape has claimed dozens of vessels and thousands of lives, notably the SS Anglo Saxon. In 1863 she strayed too close to the shore, and 237 souls were lost. Even more poignant was an event half a century later in which the wireless station at Cape Race was an unwitting accomplice. Shortly before the Titanic struck an iceberg on 14 April 1912, 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, the liner’s radio room had made contact with Cape Race. Dozens of passengers wanted to send telegrams to friends and family in the US, to announce their impending arrival in New York. According to evidence at the subsequent US Senate Inquiry into the disaster, this lucrative business meant that crucial messages from nearby ships warning of ice were not accorded the importance that could have saved the ship. The testimony of Cyril Evans, the young wireless operator of the Californian, is as chilling as the fog that billows around Cape Race. He related his final Morse conversation with Titanic thus: “At 9.05 New York time I called him up. I said ‘Say, old man, we are stopped and surrounded by ice.’ He turned around and said ‘Shut up, shut up, I am busy; I am working Cape Race’.” Shortly afterwards, Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, with the deaths of 1,517 onboard. Cape Race was the last place to receive a radio message from the doomed vessel. Like so much of Newfoundland, the heart-stopping beauty of the Cape is tangled with heartbreaking tragedy. But just offshore the whales dance on.

‘In Newfoundland, the term ‘get lost’ is laden with meaning as heavy as an overweight puffin. You feel adrift from the rest of the world’

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Prague | CzeCh rePubliC

Bohemian Rhapsody Adrian Bridge takes a stroll along the Velvet Revolution trail in Prague

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still experience a frisson of excitement whenever I see the gold-plated roof of the National Theatre in Prague, at its brilliant best just after nightfall. It is a magnificent building in a city that is dripping with magnificent buildings (Gothic, modernist, art nouveau, baroque…). But the National Theatre is the one that caught my eye on my first visit, and the one I always look for when I return. It is at the end of Narodni, a lively tram-lined street that runs from Wenceslas Square down to the River Vltava. Stroll down Narodni to pick up the pulse of Prague and then pause beside the theatre. Look across the flowing water. There, high on a hill in all its illuminated glory, is Prague Castle, the fairy-tale Prague Castle (or, to Kafka fans, simply ‘The Castle’). It blew me away on that first visit and it has blown me away ever since. Of all the revolutions that swept central and Eastern Europe in the autumn of 1989, the one that came to a head that November in Prague was undoubtedly the sweetest. As elsewhere in the region, the overthrow of communism in what was then Czechoslovakia was achieved, essentially, by peaceful means. Protesting students – joined by artists, intellectuals and, finally, factory workers – took to the streets (Narodni in particular) to call for change. By November 17, the number of protesters had swollen to 300,000 and, in a massive act of defiance, Alexander Dubcek, the leader of the crushed 1968 Prague Spring, was invited to appear on a balcony in Wencelas Square. He was hailed as a returning hero. It got better. Dubcek was joined on

the balcony by Václav Havel, the dissident playwrightphilosopher who, having served time in prison, was about to be swept into power as president and invited to take up residence in the castle itself. It was the ultimate fairytale ending in the ultimate fairy-tale setting: Havel himself could not have made it up. In the immediate aftermath of what was dubbed the Velvet Revolution, not only was there nowhere more fair on Earth; there was nowhere more sexy. Prague was the place to be. From being a little-visited Bohemian backwater, it became the glittering jewel in the central European crown. The city has paid a price for such beauty. In the 20 years since 1989, Prague has emerged as a serious player in the premier league of city destinations that includes London, Paris, Rome, Dublin and Barcelona. It now attracts some four million visitors a year and its narrow cobblestone streets and winding medieval alleyways lose much of their charm in the swarm of tourists who come to pay homage. Nowhere is the crowding more acute than on the Charles Bridge, the wonderful stone structure that dates from the 14th century and links the splendour of the Staré Mesto with the subtler pleasures of the Malá Strana. Returning to the city, I found crossing the bridge an ordeal. Nor was there much relief in the atmospheric lanes of the old town, in which shopkeepers try to tempt passers-by with matryoshka dolls featuring English football teams. The Czech capital has become a mainstream world destination with all the pros and cons that that entails. Rather like Venice, it sometimes

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resembles a vast Disney theme park – medieval made easy. That said, as in Venice, it is still possible to get away from the crowds and recapture some of the magic that drew us all there in the first place. Start early (you can have the castle to yourself until about 9am). Get off the beaten tracks (and the bedlam) of the centre (there are lots of side streets to explore). Go out of season (November, January or February). Get a good guide. I wanted a guide because I was curious to see what traces there were of the Velvet Revolution for visitors to the city today. Is it something Czechs still celebrate or have they all moved on, caught up in the race to embrace the tourist dollar? Olga, my steer to the city, began by taking me to see a familiar face: John Lennon. In the years following his assassination, a small wall in the sleepy riverside district of Kampa became something of a shrine. Rebellious, long-haired types (long hair was considered anticommunist) would scrawl slogans such as ‘peace and love’ next to an image of the bespectacled Working Class Hero, only to have it all painted over by zealous officials. The next day (or night), the long-haired types would repaint the slogans – which would then be covered over again. It was a strange game of cat and mouse. But the wall has stayed and is now a popular attraction (as we left, our places were taken by a group of tourists rather glamorously travelling in a convoy of open-top vintage Czech cars from the Thirties). We paused at one or two of Kampa’s fine churches and then proceeded to one of the city’s favourite playgrounds: Petrin Hill, a lovely park complete with mini replica of the Eiffel Tower. At the foot of the hill is a starker reminder of the past: the Monument to the Victims of Communism, a collection of sculptures

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‘Prague’s tourist authorities are even promoting the home of dumplings as a gastronomic destination’


Prague | CzeCh rePubliC

Openning page: Old Town Square. This page, clockwise from top left: Prague Astronomical Clock; View over the Vitava river; The Dancing House; Local carnival.

depicting scarred and mutilated fragments of the human body (crushed and destroyed under the weight of the system) and inscribed reminders of what actually happened (4,500 deaths in prison; 327 executed trying to escape across the Czech border). Rather bizarrely, as we were there a father asked his two young girls to pose for photographs beside the human fragments. By and large, Prague’s tourist authorities prefer to focus on the city’s other attractions – its music, architecture and Bohemian bravado. And while wanting to boost visitor numbers yet further, they are aiming less at the stag parties that used to be so prevalent here and more at a higher-spending class of visitor, attracted by a host of new five-star hotels. They are even promoting the home of dumplings as a gastronomic destination – the city’s Allegro restaurant, in the Four Seasons hotel, has the only Michelin star in the former Eastern bloc. Olga admitted it had been hard to keep up with the pace of change. “I used to be able to name all the hotels and restaurants in the city – now there are new ones every week,” she said. But she still has her favourites. We crossed the river at the Legii Bridge (it is far less crowded than the Charles Bridge and offers equally splendid views) and stopped for coffee at the revamped Café Slavia (one of Havel’s haunts). We then headed up

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Prague | CzeCh rePubliC

Text: Adrian Bridge / The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People Images: Corbis / arabianEye.com., Czech Tourism, Prague Tourrism, Mandarin Oriental Prague, Augustine Hotel

‘From being a littlevisited Bohemian backwater, Prague became the glittering jewel in the central European crown’

Opposite page: Mala Strana near Charles Bridge. This page from top: Augustine Hotel suite living room; Mandarin Oriental, Prague’s Lazar Suite living room.

Narodni, passing the Reduta jazz club where Bill Clinton (never one to miss an opportunity to look cool) once came to play the sax and drink with the philosopherpresident. A little further on, commemorating the protesters of ‘89, there is a plaque inscribed with the date 17.11.89, above which are several hands making the twofingered gesture of peace. At the lower end of Wenceslas Square, Olga pointed towards the Staré Mesto and urged me to visit the Museum of Communism (“it’s right next to McDonald’s”) and another of her favourites, the Municipal House, an art-nouveau treasure trove containing a café and two restaurants (I skipped the museum but went to the Municipal House. She was right. Despite the unpromising name, it is stupendously classy). Our tour was nearly done: under the all-embracing gaze of King Wenceslas himself (his statue occupies pride of place at the top of the square) we proceeded to the spot where, in January 1969, in protest at the crushing a few months earlier of the Prague Spring by Soviet tanks, the student Jan Palach burned himself alive. Flowers marked his sacrifice. Along the way we passed that famous balcony (now, rather incongruously, above a Marks & Spencer store). I tried to picture the moment when Dubcek and Havel appeared before the crowd. Czechs don’t usually display much emotion, but Olga was clearly moved. I recalled when we first met asking her three questions in rapid succession: Do you come from Prague? Were you here in 1989? Were you in Wenceslas Square? She had beamed from ear to ear. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

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The Secret of Happiness Colonial remnants and beautiful beaches aren’t the only attractions in Rodrigues. It’s also got the most infectious feel-good factor, says Adrian Mourby.

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n my first night in Rodrigues I stayed with Lelio Rosseti and his wife. Lelio had to excuse himself from time to time to watch the Queen’s state visit to Dublin on satellite television. Twenty-five years ago, Mr Rosseti had worked for the Post Office in Britain, and at dinner, under the stars, he told me of his admiration for Margaret Thatcher. He also explained to me how, in 2009, he organised the celebrations for the bicentennial of the British landing on Rodrigues. “Lieutenant Colonel Keating called the French governor down and told him that from now on he’d be working for Britain and, because the French had no weapons with which to fight, he said yes and that was the end of that!” Lelio laughed with me at his island’s good fortune at being spared armed conflict. The very civilised terms of surrender allowed Rodrigues to remain French-speaking. This is a French island in the middle of the Indian Ocean that for 159 years was run by the British. In 1968, there were protests on Rodrigues when Mauritius, the big sister isle 370 miles away, forced through independence. Rodrigues is different, very different. I realised this as soon as I arrived by plane from Mauritius. Over there, a security officer had confiscated my duty-free drink even though it was still in its tamper-proof bag.

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Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

“You could have opened it and resealed it,” he insisted. “No, I couldn’t. That’s why they’re called tamper-proof.” But after skimming in over Rodrigues’ red corrugated rooftops, all that changed. Suddenly, there were no officials. In fact, there was no one. As I stood outside the baking hot airport looking for my lift, an amiable man with a shaven head sauntered over. We spoke briefly in French. He asked if I were Adrian Mourby. I told him “No, my name is Adrian Mourby.” Neither of us could understand the other. Jean Paul proved to be great company, and once we switched to English he never stopped laughing the whole time I was on Rodrigues. Jean Paul could find anything amusing. He would drive straight at pedestrians he recognised, pretending to run them down. This made him laugh, too. As we headed up the northern coast road, I got my first real glimpse of Prince William’s gap-year hideaway. This island is very green, even in winter. Its bays are newly planted with mangroves to prevent erosion and, out to sea, there were men apparently walking on water with spears. This wasn’t such an optical illusion as it appeared. Rodrigues is surrounded by a reef that creates a very, very shallow lagoon. These guys were wading out on the horizon illegally fishing for octopus before the next tide. We passed a few dead


RodRigues | mascaRene islands

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 59


‘The quality of life on Rodrigues is not just the people, it’s the landscape in which those people live out their lives’

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Kanoo World Traveller October 2011


RodRigues | mascaRene islands Opening page: Setting sail in the Indian Ocean. This page: An island water taxi. Next page, clockwise from top left: An accordion musician; man weaving straw hats; locals dancing the Sega.

octopi along the road, each drying on an improvised cross. No one steals them, Jean Paul told me. Rodriguans may fish illegally, but they don’t steal from each other. We also passed the prison, which is on a beautiful headland and decorated with ildish murals urging you to lower carbon emissions. I’d been booked to stay with the Rossetis at Villa Mon Trésor but first there was a lunch of octopus waiting for me at Pointe Vénus. This open-sided hotel is built on the spot where, in 1761, a French abbé made the first record of Venus tracking across the Sun. There is a little bust of him as you enter the hotel. The general manager, Marc Bogé, joined me as I sat and enjoyed the hotel’s ocean view in splendid isolation. Marc is a small, friendly Frenchman who came on holiday from Champagne many years ago and stayed. “Don’t you miss Champagne?” I asked. “Only the kind you can drink.” Unusually for a general manager, Marc was proud of the fact that his hotel was empty at lunchtime. “Here, everybody goes out during the day. On Mauritius, people stay in their hotel, on the beach. Visitors who come here want to explore.” He praised the island’s quality of life and its people. “They are the quality of life,” he said. They’re certainly amiable. After Jean Paul had dropped me at Villa Mon Trésor and shared a few jokes in Creole with Lelio, I wandered down to look at the sunset,

which was as good as they claimed it to be: you normally get reds and yellows like that only with Photoshop. A number of people – black and white – had turned out to chat on the broken concrete picnic benches by the shore. They seemed far more interested in gossiping than in watching the stunning pyrotechnics on the horizon. The next morning Jean Paul came to collect me for a trip to the Ile aux Cocos, which is a bird sanctuary (coco being Creole for egg). On a beach below Pointe du Diable I met my host for the day – Joe Meunier, known on the island as Joe Cool. Joe has a big smile and bad teeth, a look I was beginning to recognise on Rodrigues. “When God made me, he said: ‘Joe Cool, you are not an Englishman but I will give you a little English’. He gave me a little Italian, too.” Joe was wearing a dazzling red and yellow Hawaiian shirt and his boat had an awning in the same colours. Though the Ile aux Cocos is only 2km from the shore, it took us more than an hour to get there because when the tide is out the lagoon is so shallow that boats have to follow a scooped-out channel that runs for kilometres along the coastline. Also in the boat were a young French-speaking husband and wife from Réunion and two Sri Lankan couples who lived on Mauritius many years ago. Our very international party disembarked in front of a white tin-roofed shack. On its veranda sat the island’s

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 61


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Kanoo World Traveller October 2011


RodRigues | mascaRene islands

Images: Corbis / arabianEye.com Text: Adrian Mourby / The Independent / The Interview People

‘This island is very green, even in winter. Its bays are newly planted with mangroves to prevent erosion and, out to sea, there were men apparently walking on water with spears’

three silent wardens in their vests keeping an eye on the lagoon. While Joe energetically unloaded lunch I was taken for a walk through the reserve by Marie Paul who works for Discovery Rodrigues. We saw white fairy terns and noddy birds. The noddies were unfazed by us, squabbling on the lush green paths right in front of me. The fairy terns, big-eyed and vulnerable and as white as balls of cotton wool, had wedged themselves into forks in the mapu trees where each was sitting on an egg. Marie Paul explained that they don’t build nests. We walked the length of the island (maybe a kilometre) and then back to where Joe was handing out rum. All the time we were walking, I had been struck by the clouds that were stacked scarily high above us. I have never seen the sky go up that far before. I was struck, too, by the contrast between the tiny waves that lapped against the scuttling yellow crabs in front of me and the distant roar of the Indian Ocean crashing against the reef. This was a truly paradisiacal island. Like the Maldives, but real. The Sri Lankan ladies made lunch a jolly affair. Once Joe had cleared the plates away Sue wanted Sega, which is a kind of local dancing common to the Mascarene islands. “We saw Sega on Mauritius last week. But it wasn’t real Sega,” she complained. “For real Sega, you do not need music, just a knife and a bottle and some spoons.” The next day dawned hot and bright with Jean Paul ready to take me to the François Leguat Tortoise Reserve, named after the first European to try to live on Mauritius back in 1691. He and his companions left after two years because they’d made the mistake of not bringing women with them. Lonely and not a little frustrated, Leguat wrote a detailed record of the island, describing how there were valleys on Rodrigues so full of giant tortoises that you walked across on their backs. Unfortunately, during the 19th century, the seamen of the Royal Navy ate them all, wiping out two species. Now they’re

being reintroduced from Madagascar. Since 2008, more than 1,500 aldabra and radiated tortoises have been bred on Rodrigues, but the stars of the show are the oldsters. I met one called Adrian who was 80 years old and weighed 170kg (almost 27 stone) and looking damn good on it. Must be that quality of life that Marc was talking about. I hope that at 80 I’ve still got something of his slow swagger. That night, I saw Sega for the first time at my new hotel, the Mourouk Ebony, which overlooks the lagoon on the island’s south side. After we had all eaten our octopus salad on the red-roofed veranda, the chairs were cleared away and seven musicians played for a team of eight dancers. The music mixed French accordion with goatskin drums and various other forms of percussion (no spoons on this occasion). The male dancers wore orange floral shirts and the women had full-length party dresses. The whole thing was rather like country dancing, energetic waltzes and polkas and a lot of extra crashes and bashes from the orchestra. I don’t think Sue from Carmarthen would have approved. As I wandered back to my little room I couldn’t help feeling that real Sega would be between family members or youngsters courting, or servants wanting to let off steam. These four couples had all the motions with none of the emotions.Then I looked up at that massive navy blue sky above and saw the clouds still hanging there, towering white in the moonlight. I have seen depictions of clouds like that in early 19th-century maritime paintings of the kind Lt Col Keating would have surely known. I always thought them fanciful. But in a landscape like this, without street lights or any other forms of pollution, the skies of our seagoing ancestors are up there still. The quality of life on Rodrigues is not just the people, it’s the landscape in which those people live out their lives.

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 63


EID AL ADHA HOLIDAY SPECIALS

Amazing Offers at Affordable Prices

DESTINATION

SAR

BHD

AED

QAR

OMR

REMARKS

BAHRAIN (4 Days / 3 Nights)

783

--

760

760

80

Breakfast

DUBAI (4 Days / 3 Nights)

520

53

-

505

53

Breakfast

MUSCAT (BeACH ReSoRT) (4 Days/3 Nights) eXPeRIeNCe JoRDAN (5 Days / 4 Nights)

2110

215

2050

2050

-

Breakfast, Dinner and Transfers

2352

240

2284

2284

240

Package

BeIRUT (4 Days/3 Nights)

660

67

641

641

67

Breakfast & Transfers

eGYPT NILe CRUISe (7 Days / 6 Nights) Valid for Expatriates

3260

333

3165

3165

333

Package

SHARM eL SHeIKH (4 Days/3 Nights)

1316

134

1278

1278

134

Breakfast

JUST CAIRo (4 /Days/3 Nights)

830

85

806

806

85

Breakfast

JUST ISTANBUL (5 Days / 4 Nights)

706

72

686

686

72

Breakfast & Transfers

1974

202

1917

1917

202

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2235

228

2170

2170

228

MALDIVeS (5 Days/4 Nights)

2856

292

2773

2773

292

Half Board & Transfers

BeST oF SRI LANKA & MALDIVeS (7 Days / 6 Nights)

3600

368

3496

3496

368

Package

JUST KUALA LUMPUR (5 Days / 4 Nights)

905

93

879

879

93

Breakfast & Transfers

SINGAPoRe (4 Days/3 Nights)

1184

121

1150

1150

121

Breakfast & Transfers

LoNDoN (5 Days/4 Nights)

1895

194

1840

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194

Breakfast & Transfers

INDIA – THe GoLDeN TRIANGLe (7Days/6 Nights) SRI LANKA-HILL CoUNTRY & BeACH (7 Days / 6 Nights)

Package

Currencies: SAR= Saudi Riyal; BHD= Bahraini Dinar; AED= UAE Dirhams; QAR= Qatar Riyal; OMR= Omani Riyal

• • • • • • •

12

Price includes accommodation for specified nights with meals, including return airport transfers (where mentioned). ‘Package’ offers include a detailed itinerary with sightseeing tours. These rates are applicable during the Eid Al Adha holidays period, until 10th November, 2011. More details and other information are available upon request. Prices are per person, (starting from), sharing a twin room, and in currencies mentioned above. Prices are subject to availability and based on a minimum number of nights stay as specified above. If any arrival / departure airport transfers are between 2000-0600 hours, a surcharge may apply.

All prices are subject to change. Kanoo Holidays terms and conditions apply to all bookings.

Kanoo World Traveller May 2011

Code: 038EA0911SA For more information call or contact any Kanoo Travel or Kanoo Holidays office.


concierge Miami | Venice | Bangkok | hong Kong

The 30-second concierge

luis pagan, Mondrian souTh Beach, usa What is the most striking space in this design-concious hotel? I’d have to say the lobby with its floor-to-ceiling windows that look out to the pool and bay, paired with the iconic, signature ‘floating staircase’ by international design star Marcel Wanders; it’s hard to match. Another amazing spot is the Sunset Lounge – get there at the right hour and look across Miami’s skyline, it’s the most magnificent setting in South Beach.

architecture, restaurants, bars, and shops. Hop on a daily tour and you can hear all about the history of the famous architects who adapted Art Deco movements from Paris to New York and transformed the look to reflect Miami’s colourful culture. But the most fun way to explore our beautiful city is to take the Biscayne Bay Boat Tour which takes you on a relaxing ride where you can see homes of celeb residents like P. Diddy and Al Capone.

I want to go all out on my stay, which room should I reserve? One of our Deluxe Bay View 2 Bedroom Suites: inside it’s a private world of inventive design and sublime luxury by Marcel Wanders. He combines a sophisticated colour palette of greys, golds, black and white with custom furnishings for a provocative space that both stimulates and soothes.

Where are the best spots to eat both in and outside the hotel? Inside, snag the very best seat (booth #2) at Asia De Cuba and try the Tunapica appetiser or, for an entree, the Braised Short Ribs. Delicious. There are some excellent secret gems in the South Beach and Miami area, too. Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is friendly, fun and unpretentious. Locals love it and tourists will never forget it – their branzino is amazing. Also try Jimmy’s Kitchen, a casual diner that’s already elevating to the next level. Their ‘mofongos’ are too good to be true. mondrian-miami.com

I want to explore Miami – what are the must-see attractions? The Art Deco District is the most known and recognisable area for iconic

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 65


italy

Visit venice

This ancient, floating city shows no sign of resting on its laurels yet, finds Laura Binder…

acqua alta when the square is immersed in water. Foodies should make a beeline for the Rialto Markets (3) which have showcased fresh, seasonal fare for 700 years. And who are we to break a delicious habit of a lifetime? Don’t miss Pescaria’s fishmongers who pile moscardini (baby octopus), granseole (spider crab) and more on canalside stands.

t

ake a turn around Venice and its nickname ‘la Serenissima’ (the most serenely beautiful one) needs no explanation. in fact, its crooked streets will leave you drenched in history – for this is a city that was built on water as far back as 421 and served as the greatest seaport in medieval Europe. it may be sinking (24cm in the last century) but its passionate Venetian residents show no sign of surrendering to this steady descent, nor the more frequent ‘acqua alta’ (high tide). On the contrary, filled to the rafters (even in wintery January) foodies can quaff heart-warming risottos elbow-to-elbow with tourists and locals in authentic eateries, while art-lovers will be wide-eyed at the timeless works which caress the city. its liquid streets simply must be explored by Venice’s symbolic gondolas which skim through the Grand Canal and narrow waterways in swan-like form – as they have done for ten mindboggling centuries. there’s nowhere else quite like it. So, go ahead, drink it in… 66

Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

MUST-DOS Bask in the pomp and glory of Ca’ Rezzonico (or Museo del Settecento Veneziano) (1), a period palace-come-museum where art-lovers can behold works by 18th century greats, peruse pastel portraits of high society and look skyward to admire the former residence’s crowning glory: ceilings laden with masterpieces by Giambattista Tiepol. Soak up the city sights from what Napoleon called ‘the finest drawing room in Europe’, St Mark’s Square (2) (or ‘San Marco Piazza’). Here atmospheric cafes and animated waiters provide an engaging scene in which to break from a day’s sightseeing. All the more enchanting at

Stroll from Rio Ca’ di Dio to the Palazzo Ducale in San Marco (4) to experience the city’s waterside walkway and picture its former state as an ancient docking spot chock full of traders, sailors and servants from around the Med. Today, gondolas still skim the water here, while aging mansions serenade as boutique hotels for charming overnight stays. Leaving Venice without a gondola ride is like forgoing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Succumb to the temptation and sail along the Grand Canal (5), while serenaded by a gondolier and snap the sights as you move idly on. All the more irresistible come nightfall when you can hop off for dinner or simply drift beneath a star-lit sky... Spend an evening in prison. Yes, really. Collegium Ducale (6) is a converted cell where a six-member orchestra sends the sound of Bach and Albinoni through sky-high windows. Keep an eye out for opera listings – a soul-shaking experience when heard in a stone chamber.


venice | italy

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Opposite page: Gondolas in Grand Canal. This page, from top: Hotel Cipriani terrace overlooking St Mark’s Square; Caffè Florian; Gondola service by Rialto Bridge.

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Images: Shutterstock; Hotel Cipriani by Orient Express

WHERE TO STAY The Bauers Venezia (7) S. Marco 1459 Bauervenezia.com In Hepburn-esque shades and a black dress, Madonna was snapped leaving this very hotel looking every inch the star. Stay here and you’ll feel like you’ve joined the ranks of celeb royalty too. Chandeliers tinker overhead in boudoirs, handwoven damask fabrics lavish beds and Art Deco furniture dots the grandiose premises with carefree abandon, along with evocative sculptures by homegrown talent. Plus, perched between land and sea, you’re in perfect stead for people and gondola-watching. Rooms from $313 Hotel Cipriani (8) Giudecca 10, 30133 Hotelcipriani.com You may have had your fix of water, but this Venetian haunt’s outdoor pool (flanked by white loungers poised for socialites) is the epitome of glamour. But that’s not the only gem to behold; its eateries are to-diefor too and Fortuny Restaurant

should top your hit list: white linen-clad tables stand on a stone terrace, rimmed with flowers and peers over the rippling blue lagoon. A truly romantic spot for a candle-lit dinner. Try the risotto with scampi from the Adriatic Sea – it’s delicious. From $735.

WHERE TO EAT Caffè Florian (9) Castello 5453, 30122 Venezia Caffeflorian.com Opened in 1720 and stood on St Mark’s Square, Caffè Florian has become something of an institution, not least for its historic former patrons – ambassadors, noblemen, merchants and artists alike all supped espressos here while, as the only café of the time to permit women, it was the stomping ground of a certain Giacomo Casanova. Repeat age-old rituals at any time of day, be it a late breakfast in one of its gold-licked, ruby red banquettes, supping cappuccinos in the open air or dining on classic fare (served

from silver platters) to the sound of its orchestra. Expect to pay a music surcharge for piazza seats (and above average prices) for the pleasure. From $27. MET (10) Hotel Metropole, 4149 Castello, Riva degli Schiavoni Hotelmetropole.com One of Venice’s few cutting edge culinary haunts, you’re in for a gastronomic journey at the Metropole hotel’s Michelinstarred MET. Chef Corrado Fasolato puts a modern (and at times Oriental) spin on traditional Veneto fare, so tastebuds can expect to be thrown by plays on classic dishes, such as pasta with carbonara sauce for strips of cuttlefish serenading as spaghetti dressed in sepia jelly with light, crispy meat. Teamed with equally creative presentation, it’s quite an experience. From $120 per head. WALKING ON WATER? High tide usually strikes between October and March, when parts of the city are covered in sea – though you can continue to wade through tourist trails. ISLAND LIFE: Venice was built on 117 small islands at the mouth of the Adriatic Sea and settlers constructed buildings on stilts and wood barges to stop them from sinking.

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 67


thailand

Visit BangKoK

Jade Bremner dives head first into the Thai capital’s colourful culture, avoiding its famous underbelly...

MUST-DOS The Grand Palace (1), home to the Kings of Thailand, can be visited when its royal owners are not in residence. A spectacular show of 18th century architecture, you’ll find distinctive gold domes and ornate halls inside while outside you can stroll around the palace grounds which are filled with magical statues in the shape of mythological giants and halfbird creatures.

O

pen your mind on arrival to bustling Bangkok where a sensory overload awaits. this portal to South East asia houses all manner of weird and wonderful sights, from roads swarming with frantic tuk tuk drivers (who appear to break the laws of physics with their traffic dodging) to locals consuming bizarre looking creatures on skewers (insects and scorpions among them) from street stands. night cues entertainment in the form of lean thai boxers who floor any stocky Western tourists that dare to get in the ring, plus glittering, kitsch cabaret shows featuring androgynous performers. daylight, meanwhile, brings wild lizards in green parks and floating markets where realms of ripe vegetables hover over rivers. You’ll cross paths with an ever-welcoming thai people as you journey through the capital too and, whether it’s your first or fiftieth trip, it’s a city that can’t cease to amaze... 68

Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

Watch a Thai boxing (2) match at the Lumpini Stadium every Tuesday and Friday. Westerners are offered pricier ringside seats at the gate, but for the full experience sit at the back with rowdy locals who’ll be shouting and waving their betting slips in the air – far more atmospheric. The best way to see the floating markets, without getting caught in a tourist trap, is to rent a boat at Chang Pier (3) and ask to be taken to the less crowded Noi-Khlong Om-Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market where locals sell better quality vegetables, fruit, knick knacks and gifts from their river boats. One ‘experience’ everyone should have is a night out on the Khao San Road (4). A known traveller’s hangout, the streets are lined with fake designer goods by day and a lively atmosphere come sundown when the streets become jampacked with people partying into the wee hours. Treat your body to a


BangkOk | thailand

tongue twister: ‘Bangkok’ is the shortened version of the city’s full name, which holds the record for being the world’s longest place name. We challenge you to remember it: Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit – got that? traditional Thai massage at the Conrad’s (5) beautiful spa which consists of 11 private treatments rooms for men and women, offering a range of deep rhythmic massages of varying pressures to relieve muscle tension and stress – perfect after a hard day’s sightseeing. If you crave a more highend, air-conditioned fix away from the hustle and bustle, try the Siam Paragon (6) luxury shopping centre where you can browse and buy the likes of Hermès, Cartier and Chanel before breaking for a bite at its superb food emporium – it’s filled with international cuisine. There’s a fantastic art scene in Bangkok showcasing inventive artists’ works inspired by the vibrant city itself. To see it, start at 100 Tonson Art Gallery (7). Set in a private house it exhibits both Thai and international contemporary artists or make for the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (8) which focuses upon the country’s heritage through the medium of film, photography, theatre, sculpture and fine art.

Images: Shutterstock; The Sukothai; Bed Supperclub

WHERE TO STAY InterContinental Bangkok (9) 973 Ploenchit Road, ichotelsgroup.com Situated near the airport, this hotel also places you within easy reach of the bohemian area of Siam Square and luxury mall Siam Paragon. Suites at this business hotel are superstylish – and absolutely huge – providing a luxurious haven in which to unwind after busy days

in the city. Rooms from $153. The Sukhothai (10) South Sathorn Road, sukhothai.com If you’ve a hankering after Thai charm, there’s few better spots to stay than this historic hotel. The building dates back to the 13th century and today the pretty boutique venue blends old and new to glorious effect with spacious rooms sat beneath lofty ceilings, sprawling manicured gardens and a gently lapping infinity pool. A real oasis in the midst of Bangkok’s chaos. Rooms from $214.

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WHERE TO EAT Bed Supperclub (11) 26 Sukhumvit Road, bedsupperclub.com/Bangkok Go gourmet at this chic hangout, where you can savour delectable dishes like smoked salmon with pink ginger-guava vinaigrette amid glossy white interiors fit for a fashion magazine. Menus change monthly to keep goods seasonal and fresh and the adventurous eaters among you should opt for the ‘special surprise’ four-course menu, which uses the best ingredients of the day. From $50. Langsuan Road (12) 6 Langsuan Soi Keep things local and low key at this authentic and exceptionally delicious eatery which sees business people queue outside daily to get a taste of the inexpensive treats on offer. Top dishes include tasty green chicken curry, shrimp noodles and local fresh vegetables. From $2.

Opposite page, clockwise from top: Royal Barge; The Sukhothai hotel. This page, from top: Siam Paragon shopping centre; Bed Supperclub’s restaurant.

October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 69


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concierge | book your trip

win a two night stay at Radisson Blu ResoRt, FujaiRah Up for grabs this month is a relaxing break for two, plus breakfast, at the newly-named Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah. The 257 room resort was recently bought by the Rezidor Hotel Group (owners of the Radisson chain) who offer guests excellent levels of service inside the hotel and, outside, 500 metres of unspoilt sand and sea (the longest beach in the emirate no less), flanked by the rolling Hajjar Mountains. What’s more, the hotel has five restaurants, a relaxing spa and four terrace-based pools at your disposal...

For your chance to win, answer this simple question: Q. How long is the beach at the Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah? a) 100 metres b) 10 metres c) 500 metres Email your answer to easywin@hotmediapublishing.com with your name and phone number before October 30, 2011. TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prizes cannot be claimed on public holidays or special events and must be claimed before February 29, 2012. Room are subject to availability.

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October 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 71


concierge | china

Suite dreamS

Those with a penchant for bright lights and city sights will find no cooler platform from which to behold Hong Kong’s own larger than life offerings than here; the InterContinental Presidential Suite’s rooftop terrace. The suite itself is a show of immaculate eastern sophistication (barely-there hues, sink-in beds, pristine marble bathrooms and wraparound windows) but you won’t be able to resist skipping past such sublime interiors to stand on its 2,500 feet terrace. Here you can drink-in the famous Victoria Harbour which ripples before you, bordered by the city’s signature skyscrapers. And the best bit of all? That infinity pool, a show of black glass mosaic where waters slick their way over a stone wall that sits flanked by bronze bird statues poised for take-off. Oh, and there’s space here for 60 guests – should you need it... hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com 72

Kanoo World Traveller October 2011

Image: InterContinental Hong Kong

intercontinental hong kong


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Spend Eid in Egypt… , There’s no place like it ... Shop and party in Ne’ama Bay, discover the treasures of the Red Sea, enjoy the different actives for you and your family.

Discover the magic of the Red Sea and experience the true warmth of hospitality in Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh and Taba.

Sinai and the Red Sea For more info log onto www.egypt.travel


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