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JANUARY 2017

King of the Mountains —

WHERE

Arlberg, Austria

The region’s most famous Alpine villages—St. Anton, Zürs, Lech—are about to become one massive, 87-lift ski area, one of the largest in the world. And though bigger will indeed be better, these storybook hamlets haven’t lost their small-town charms.

WHAT

Tom Robbins is the travel editor of the Financial Times in London. “What really sets the Arlberg apart is the sense of history and tradition. The place is run by farming families, rather than bland corporations,” he says. WRITER

PHOTOGRAPHER

Andrew Phelps has spent the past 25 years living in Austria. “The luxury level is over-the-top,” says Phelps of the Arlberg. “You can order champagne and have the waiters break the bottle open with the edge of your ski.” 82

Among the Whales —

WHERE

Tonga

In the waters of the South Pacific, Maggie Shipstead enters the domain of some of the world’s largest creatures and discovers that, sometimes, beauty can conquer fear.

WHAT

WRITER

“I’ll never forget the ghostly shapes of the mother and calf appearing through the blue as I swam toward them,” Shipstead says. Her most recent piece for T+L was on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Sean Fennessy was particularly impressed by the gentleness of the whales. “Some passed within a meter of us, but we never felt in danger.”

PHOTOGRAPHER

Swimming with whales in Tonga, page 82.

88

A Tale of Two Cities —

WHERE

New York City

The city that never sleeps has a mystery and a timelessness after dark. Those qualities are captured in images by the photographer Franck Bohbot, from his new book Light on New York City, and in an ode to the city by Rowan Ricardo Phillips.

WHAT

WRITER “Turning images into language is a great gift of (or perhaps to) our humanity: the act and art of making— there’s nothing quite like it,” says Phillips, whose most recent book of poems is Heaven.

Hailing from Paris, Bohbot lives in Brooklyn, New York. He’s currently working on a short film, as well as exploring other cities to document in his next Light On installment.

PHOTOGRAPHER

90

Fish, Farm, Fork —

WHERE

Islands

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin

A dynamic new generation of farmers and chefs is reinventing what it means to eat local in the Caribbean.

WHAT

Boris Fishman is writing his third novel, Oksana’s Kitchen, the story of his family’s Soviet life and immigration to the United States told through food. WRITER

PHOTOGRAPHER

Katherine Wolkoff lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is working on a series of photos influenced by Japanese woodblock prints. ON THE COVER Skiing in Austria’s Arlberg region, page 74. Photograph by Andrew Phelps.

C LO C K WI SE F RO M TO P LE FT : S E A N FE N N ESSY; PAU L KR A N Z L E R ; S U E K WON ; STE PHE N HILG E R ; CO U RTESY O F M AG G IE S HIPSTE A D

Contents

74


Contents JANUARY 2017

8 12 16

T+L Digital Reader Favorites Editor’s Note

Where to Go in 2017 19

From familiar places that have found a new groove to farflung getaways that are finally within easy reach, here are the buzziest destinations to visit this year.

Beyond 40

44

48

Exploring the holy village of Moulay Idriss, Morocco, which only recently began allowing non-Muslim visitors after sunset. How using Instagram helped chef Lauren Bath pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer. A journey with chef Michael Beary through the Mexican state of Oaxaca in search of the world’s finest chiles.

T+L’s Guide to Expedition Cruising 51

The biggest trend in cruising right now is small boats that promise big adventures by taking you to remote regions that are inaccessible to larger ships—or even to other forms of transportation. We take you from the unexplored coast of Australia to the backwaters of Russia and Alaska, and along the way chart the next great expedition itineraries and the newest ships on the horizon. Plus, find tips on booking, insurance, wildlife, and more.

Moulay Idriss, Morocco, page 40.

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CÉLINE CLANET

104 Worth Flying For: Swimming in the Zambezi River’s Devil’s Pool, Zambia


T+L Digital

t ravela ndlei sure t ravela ndlei sure t ravellei sure t ravell e i sure t rave l a n d l e i s u r e t rave l l e i s u r e t rave l a n d l e i s u r e m a g

JANUARY 2017

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VISIT

TANDL.ME/TRAVEL2017 In this issue we give you 19 standout places to visit in 2017, but we don’t stop there. Find 31 more emerging destinations—including Nashville and Laos—in our full list of this year’s 50 must-visit spots around the globe, with tons of tips on what to see and do once you get there.

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Start 2017 off right by heading to travelandleisure.com for roundups of the best spas, latest treatments, and most relaxing wellness retreats. Plus, we’ve got tips for staying healthy while traveling, from in-room hotel workouts to products that aid jet lag, dehydration, and more.

F ROM L E F T: C OU RT ESY OF MI AVA N A ; C OU RT ESY OF L A N S E R HOF T EG E R N S E E

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU


THE WORL D’S NEWEST O CE A N CRUI SE LI N E… I S NO W THE WORL D’S BE S T O CE A N CRUI SE LI N E.

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VIKING STAR, NORWEGIAN FJORDS


We launched Viking Ocean Cruises® to reinvent the category. And it didn’t take long for us to rise to the top. If you prefer an elegant, serene ship ambiance, more time in each port and an inclusive experience complete with exquisite dining and thoughtfully curated shore excursions, the world’s best ocean cruise line was created for you.

Visit vikingcruises.com, see your Travel Agent or call 1-877-523-0571. From Travel + Leisure Magazine, August 2016 © Time Inc. Affluent Media Group. Travel + Leisure® and ‘World’s Best Awards’ are trademarks of Time Inc. Affluent Media Group and are used under license. Travel + Leisure and Time Inc. Affluent Media Group are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Viking Cruises.

CST: #2052644-40


Reader Favorites JANUARY 2017

World’s Best Cities for Culture

These are the cities that resonated most with our readers for their rich history and immersive experiences—and they are all miles and continents apart. To vote in this year’s World’s Best survey, visit tandl.me/wb2017.

Kyoto, Japan Rome Jerusalem Florence Paris Venice Barcelona Charleston, South Carolina 9 Lhasa, Tibet 10 New Orleans

Tokyo may be Japan’s humming capital, but Kyoto is arguably its spiritual center, a city where ritual and tradition inform the culture. Staying at a ryokan, or inn, like the centuries-old Hiiragiya, offers a unique window to the past, as guests take multicourse meals in their rooms and sleep on futons over tatami-mat floors.

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RAY MON D PAT RI C K

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Carpe dirt.

Introducing the new Golf Alltrack with 4MOTION® all-wheel drive. Soon to be everywhere. Let’s rethink dirt. Because with dirt also comes green grass, tall trees, and roads far less traveled. That’s why we equipped the Golf Alltrack with 4MOTION all-wheel drive and an Off-Road Mode*, so you can go out there and seize the beauty of this dirt-covered world, get your wheels muddy, and wash off all that civilization. After all, dirt is the greatest of cleansers.

vw.com

*Optional accessories shown. Always ensure that your vehicle is equipped with appropriate tires and equipment and always adjust your speed and driving style to the road, terrain, traffic, and weather conditions. See Owner’s Manual for further details and important limitations. ©2016 Volkswagen of America, Inc.


World’s Best Awards JANUARY 2017

Each year, we ask Travel + Leisure readers to share their opinions about the top hotels, resorts, cities, cruise ships, airlines, and more around the globe. Your votes determine some of the industry’s most important rankings and help fellow travelers decide where to go and what to do. So visit tlworldsbest.com now through March 6, 2017, to make your voice heard. As thanks, you’ll be entered into our giveaway.

GRAND PRIZE A $10,000 dream trip for two, to be planned by a Travel + Leisure A-List agent OTHER PRIZES Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Wireless headphones for 12 winners Nikon KeyMission 360 camera

[ OR ONE OF FIVE OTHER PRIZES ]

Victorinox Spectra Expandable hard-sided luggage set His and hers Baume & Mercier watches

Dusk along the Danube River in Budapest.

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NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The World’s Best Awards Giveaway is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older at time of entry. To enter and view Sweepstakes Facts and complete Official Rules, which govern this Giveaway, visit www.TLWorldsBest.com. Giveaway begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time (ET) on 11/7/16 and ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on 3/6/17. Void where prohibited by law. Sponsor: Time Inc. Affluent Media Group.

S IM ON WATS ON

L’Occitane en Provence Beauty Favorites Collection


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has it,

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can start at the start of the week.

In the Napa Valley, there’s no such thing as a Monday—there’s only today. And today, you can do anything. Wander through beautiful vineyards or a Main Street gallery, enjoy a full body massage or a full-bodied red. Whatever you choose, the day is yours for the making. START YOUR JOURNEY AT VISITNAPAVALLEY.COM

#VISITNAPAVALLEY


Editor’s Note JANUARY 2017

I

From my travels

@nathanlump nathan@travelandleisure.com

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F ROM TOP : C OU RT ESY OF N ATH A N LU MP ; BR IA N D OBE N

write this note on a plane, bound for one of my favorite places in the world, Mexico, just days after the U.S. presidential election. New leadership in the White House—whatever the party affiliation—necessarily redefines our country’s place in the world, and that is a subject I care deeply about. When we travel we serve as ambassadors of a sort: we become in the eyes of others an individual embodiment of the beliefs and values of the place we come from. I have my concerns about what it will be like to travel as an American in 2017, but I am as excited as ever to get out there and keep exploring. The January issue marks our annual look at the destinations around the world that we believe are your most compelling choices in the year to come. In these pages you’ll find places both near and far that offer fresh reasons to go now: swimming with humpback whales in the South Pacific, skiing through Alpine villages, cruising Alaska’s remote waters. I plan to travel even more in 2017, in part because I believe it is vitally important for us to keep engaging with the world, with people whose lives are different from our own. I have written many times about how travel opens minds and hearts, expands our thinking, breeds tolerance—all things that are fundamentally good for societies. This year, my own resolution is to take seriously my role as an ambassador when I travel, and to make a point of visiting the places I know the least, so that I can meet a wider range of people and better understand their points of view. I hope you’ll join me. The world needs travelers more than ever.

On a recent trip to China, I found myself with a free weekend, so I hopped on a plane for Xi’an, a classic destination that had eluded me. The ancient Terracotta Army is justifiably famous; my guide from Imperial Tours (imperialtours.net) arranged for me to be the very first to enter the site that day, and for a few blissful minutes we had the place all to ourselves. Another highlight: the Great Mosque (above), a beautiful complex that marries Islamic artistic and Chinese architectural styles, and tells a fascinating story of the multicultural history of this Silk Road town. I slept at the Sofitel Legend People’s Grand Hotel, which reopened in 2014 and manages to be both opulent—gleaming marble and crystal for days—and thoroughly comfortable (sofitel. com; doubles from $224).


HERE +NOW

Where to Go in

2017

The Atix hotel, in La Paz, Bolivia.

We know that technology and globalization can make the world feel small and thoroughly explored. But we also know that the world is big and that there are always places to discover—and rediscover—for yourself. From familiar getaways that have found a new groove to far-flung corners that are finally within easy reach, these are the buzziest destinations to visit this year. Find our full list of 50 at tandl.me/travel2017. Photograph by Nick Ballon

19


HERE +NOW WHERE TO GO IN

2017

1

City on the Rise

Big in Bolivia

O

2

3

Packing for La Paz 4

La Paz, as seen from the Atix hotel.

5

1. Issey Miyake mosaic coat, $2,375 (issey miyake.com). 2. Yosuzi rabbit-felt fedora, $460 (net-a-porter.com). 3. Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask, $62 (fresh.com). 4. Jason Wu saddlebag, $1,195 (saksfifth avenue.com). 5. Valentino ballerina shoes, $945 (Valentino stores, 855-436-8686).

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F ROM L E F T: N IC K BA LLO N ; P H IL IP F RI E D M AN ( 5) . ST YL IST : B IL L L AU G HL IN AT M A R K E DWA R D INC.

nce beleaguered by frequent strikes, roadblocks, and a paucity of amenities, the backpacker haven of La Paz, Bolivia, has emerged as a true culture capital. Infrastructure has played a key role: in 2014 the city introduced Mi Teleférico, a network of aerial trams that transport riders across the city in minutes on routes that once took an hour by bus. For less than 50 cents, travelers can ride from Zona Sur up to the windswept Altiplano in El Alto, where architect Freddy Mamani is designing whimsical, New Andean–style homes for the newly wealthy. The first rumblings of a renaissance came in 2013, when Noma cofounder Claus Meyer opened Gustu (restaurantgustu.com; tasting menus from $59), a fine-dining restaurant where—in classic Noma fashion—local ingredients like caiman and fermented Amazonian honey get haute-cuisine treatment. It’s the flagship of a larger culinary revitalization project that includes 10 cooking schools in low-income areas, a collective of street-food vendors, and a bar devoted to regional craft brews, Tarija wines, and Bolivian spirits like singani. Since then, the La Paz restaurant scene has exploded with surprisingly diverse ventures from Gustu alums: elevated vegan fare at Ali Pacha (alipacha.com; tasting menus from $22), locally inspired pastas at Propiedad Pública (591-2-277-6312; entrées $9–$11), and house-roasted, single-origin coffee at Typica (fb.com/typica.cafe). The city’s latest upgrade came with the arrival of its first Design Hotel, the Atix, which opened in the upscale Calacoto neighborhood last fall (atixhotel.com; doubles from $161). If a stellar Bolivian restaurant and a bar featuring cocktails by award-winning mixologist David Romero aren’t enough of a draw, each of the 53 rooms doubles as a gallery, displaying works by Bolivian artists like Gastón Ugalde. It’s a microcosm of the city’s thriving contemporary art scene: galleries like Mérida Romero (fb.com/meridaromeroarte), Mamani Mamani (mamani.com), and the reopened Salar Galería de Arte (salart.org) showcase much of the country’s top talent.


Summer in winter. With 825 miles of beaches and average temps in the 70s, get to know the warmer side of winter.


HERE +NOW

WHERE TO GO IN

2017

Machneyuda, one of the best restaurants in Jerusalem.

Hot Tables

Feast of the Future

Lively drinking and dining scenes have put three destinations on the culinary map.

Typically more of a pilgrimage site than a sybaritic city, Jerusalem has now emerged as a culinary force to rival Tel Aviv. At the sprawling Mahane Yehuda Market, food-and-drink spots have popped up in former produce stalls, many of which stay open long past sunset. The Jewish diaspora and Middle East merge at restaurants like Ishtabach (972-2-623-2997; entrées $9–$18)—try the Kurdish shamburak, a pastry with brisket, potatoes, and chimichurri—and Machneyuda (machneyuda.co.il; entrées $21–$44), known for its standout beef tartare with plums. Stay at the new boutique Brown Jerusalem Hotel (brownhotels.com; doubles from $265), which opens soon in a restored Ottomanera villa and will serve drinks in an underground water cistern.

BELGRADE / SERBIA Since the end of the Yugoslav wars, Belgrade has attracted steady investment—its graffiti-covered neighborhoods are now full of restaurants and bars. You’ll find hearty platters of ćevapi—smoky sausages without casing—and stuffed somborka peppers at Sokače (381-11-328-7939), paprika-laden kebabs at Tri Šešira (trisesira.rs; entrees $8–$15), and pan-Latin tapas at Toro (richardsandoval.com/ torobelgrade). But the biggest draw is the growing craft-beer scene (the city has 37 breweries). Don’t miss the Kabinet Supernova IPA at Prohibicija (fb.com/ prohibicija.beograd) in the bar-filled Savamala district, as well as Kas’s full-bodied pale ales and Salto’s IPA at Bajloni (bajloni.com), set in a former brewery.

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VALLE DE GUADALUPE /

MEXICO

This wine region 80 miles south of San Diego is known for its red blends, but most bottles can’t be exported, so a visit is the best way to try the coveted pours. Start at Decantos Vinícola (decantosvinicola.com), which uses a flavor-preserving antigravity decanting method for its rich Malbecs. There are several new design-forward hotels here, too: chef Javier Plascencia runs Finca La Divina (fincaladivina.com; doubles from $200), a four-room B&B with a pool. It’s just a few miles from his acclaimed Finca Altozano restaurant and Lupe, his torta truck, housed in an Airstream. And in the summer, haciendastyle El Cielo Winery (vinos.elcielo. com) will open a 58-suite hotel where you can sip its traditional varietals with abandon.

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JERUSALEM / ISRAEL


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HERE +NOW WHERE TO GO IN

Weekend Getaway

2017

Rotterdam Uncovered

Known for its pulsing student nightlife and alternative vibe, Rotterdam is starting to steal Amsterdam’s spotlight. Here’s how to spend three days in this dynamic Dutch city.

Start your weekend off by checking in to the Mainport (mainporthotel.com; doubles from $165), a wellness-oriented hotel where you can book a room with a Finnish sauna, or the CitizenM Hotel Rotterdam (citizenm.com; doubles from $92), which feels like your design-savvy friend’s living room. Wander north for some shopping in Oude Noorden, a vibrant residential area with experimental fashion and homedesign boutiques. Grab a pre-dinner drink at Brouwerij Noordt (brouwerijnoordt.nl), a brewery with 20 beers on tap situated in a former firehouse. Continue the tasting tour with a 15-minute bike ride to Roffa Streetfoodbar (roffafood.nl; entrées $9–$28), a smokehouse that serves bread, beer, and cheese from some of Rotterdam’s best producers. The brisket— slow-cooked over oak for 24 hours—is not to be missed.

F R I DAY

The lobby lounge at the CitizenM Hotel.

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Art is everywhere in this city—more than a thousand pieces adorn the public spaces. Walk along the Rijnhaven for a glimpse of Bobbing Forest, a surrealist installation of floating trees by art collective Mothership, then head to De Markthal (markthal.nl), a vast, mural-covered space where vendors sell aged Goudas and cinnamon-kissed stroopwafels. It’s also home to De Tijdtrap, an exhibition of medieval artifacts excavated from the ground on which the building now stands. Save room for dinner at Fenix Food Factory (fenixfoodfactory.nl; entrées $3–$27), in buzzy Katendrecht. In the winter, a hip crowd hovers indoors over cured meats and pear cider. In warmer months, benches overlooking the canal are the setting for long, boozy evenings.

S U N DAY

Ballroom’s lamb meatballs.

F ROM TOP : R I C H AR D P OWE R S ; IN G MA R SWA LU E

Stroll to the nearby Het Nieuwe Instituut (hetnieuweinstituut. nl), a museum dedicated to Dutch design and architecture. Afterward, cruise the river in a water taxi to spot a few examples in person, like the Erasmus Bridge and De Rotterdam, a striking skyscraper by Rem Koolhaas. This summer, cool off with a dip at RiF010 (rif010.nl), an artificialwave park in the Steigersgracht canal. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, take in the skyline while dining on dishes such as veal tartare with langoustines and pata negra at HMB Restaurant (hmb-restaurant. nl; small plates $5–$24). Cap off the evening with a bespoke G&T at Ballroom (ballroom rotterdam.nl), where your ideal elixir is crafted with one of more than a hundred gins.

S AT U R DAY


HERE +NOW WHERE TO GO IN

Happenings

2017

Right Time, Right Place

MONTREAL in

JANUARY This month, the Canadian city kicks off a year of events in honor of its 375th birthday (375mtl. com). Even subzero temps can’t stop the celebrations: until March 11, the city holds Les Hivernales, a carnivalesque series of wintry games and events. Later this year, look for art pop-ups, symphony performances, and the unveiling of the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne, an urban boardwalk that will connect Mont-Royal to the St. Lawrence.

Travelers hoping to see East Africa’s waning population of mountain gorillas will be able to do it in style starting this summer, when Wilderness Safaris’ first Rwandan property, the upscale, six-villa Bisate Lodge (wilderness-safaris. com; villas from $1,400 per person), opens near Volcanoes National Park.

RWANDA

JUNE in

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JACKSON

QUEENSTOWN

JULY in

There are two new places to stay in New Zealand’s adventure capital (ski season starts in mid-June, but there’s bungee jumping and jet boating year-round). Bed down at the boutique Hulbert House (hulberthouse.co.nz; doubles from $672), with six suites in an 1888 Victorian villa, or the 69-room QT Queenstown (qthotelsandresorts. com), which is slated to land on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this year.

HOLE LAKE in

AUGUST The total solar eclipse on August 21 will be the first in almost 40 years to be visible from the continental U.S., with a path of totality that slashes across the States from Oregon to South Carolina. For prime viewing, head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming (wyoming stargazing.com)— spectacular scenery, expansive vistas, and minimal light pollution make it an ideal vantage point.

LUCERNE in

SEPTEMBER The ultramodern Bürgenstock Resort (buergenstock.ch), which opens in mid 2017 with four hotels and a spa, is one of the biggest developments to come to this part of Switzerland. Get there quicker via the 36-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel (the world’s longest train tunnel), which has shaved 40 minutes off the trip from Milan. And don’t miss Mount Pilatus—its popular cog railway is now included in the Swiss Travel Pass.

F ROM L E F T: P E R RY MAST ROV I TO / G E T TY I MAG ES ; T HE A FR I CA I MAG E LI BR ARY /A L A M Y ; CO U RTESY O F Q U E E NSTOW N W INTE R FESTIVA L; D E A N FIK A R /G E TTY IM AG ES ; CO URT ESY OF BÜ RGENSTOCK H OT ELS AG

The openings, events, and festivals worth planning a trip around this year.


Where the memories they make last infinitely longer.

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Whether your plans call for a romantic retreat, a family adventure or an urban escape, we invite you to experience our collection of extraordinary destinations. From the legendary shores of Hawaii to the charm of the South Carolina coast, Montage Hotels & Resorts provides the perfect backdrop to create memories that can be cherished long after you return home. (866) 551-8244

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HERE +NOW WHERE TO GO IN

2017

Return Trips

Bermuda Reborn

A high-end hotel boom is helping this sunny British territory shed its stodgy reputation. Even if you’ve been there, done that, it’s time to plan your next visit.

The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, in Bermuda.

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MORE SPOTS TO REVISIT Philadelphia

The first unesco World Heritage city in the U.S. is celebrated for its history, but its future looks even brighter. Young people have flocked to the city, helping its food and craft-beer scenes thrive. With the spring debut of the Museum of the American Revolution (amrev museum.org) and hotels from W, Four Seasons, and Study, this may be Philly’s best year yet.

Provence

A wave of modish auberges is changing Provence’s staid image. In St.-Rémy, a landmark mansion is now the Hôtel de Tourrel (detourrel. com; doubles from $244), a sevenroom inn dotted with Eileen Gray designs. At Villa La Coste (chateau-lacoste.com), near Aix, the estate’s contemporary architecture is a fitting home for artwork by Damien Hirst and Louise Bourgeois.

Okavango Delta

It’s now possible to spot the Big Five in Botswana. Buoyed by the antipoaching efforts of the government and local conservationists, the impeccably renovated Sanctuary Chief’s Camp (sanctuary retreats.com; from $1,180 per person, all-inclusive) has reintroduced rhinos to the delta. For lovers of wildlife and luxury, there’s never been a better time to go.

C O URT ESY OF H A MI LTON PR IN C ESS

A

fter being hit hard by the financial crisis, Bermuda is shaking itself out of stagnation and attracting a new generation of travelers. In 2014, the island won a bid to host the 35th America’s Cup, the highprofile international sailing race, which takes place this June. The promise of a flood of wealthy visitors—and a loosening of restrictions on foreign investment—has sparked a spate of development. Big news is the $100 million overhaul of the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (thehamiltonprincess.com; doubles from $279), the island’s 132-year-old grande dame, whose revamped rooms have a fresh, contemporary look. The hotel has also added a stellar art collection, a spa, and a restaurant serving locally sourced fare from James Beard Award–winning chef Marcus Samuelsson. Elsewhere on the island, a St. Regis, a lavish Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and the Ariel Sands resort (backed by actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones) are in the works.


HERE +NOW WHERE TO GO IN

2017

REEL WORLD

Cincinnati has become a popular filming location— here are the latest real-life places to hit the big screen. UNION TERMINAL

Cincinnati Takes Center Stage

T

The Ohio city is attracting everyone from tech start-ups to filmmakers.

Locals zip across state lines on a daily basis, and he Queen City’s transformation is most the best new place to bed down is actually a 10-minute evident in its Over-the-Rhine district, first drive across the river, in Covington, Kentucky. The settled by German immigrants in the boutique Hotel Covington (hotelcovington.com; 19th century. Once a dodgy neighborhood, it doubles from $200) occupies the former headquarters has renovated buildings and warehouses of Coppin’s Department Store, and the original 1907 that are now apartments and offices for tech architecture serves its new purpose beautifully: upon companies. On Vine Street, young brands entering, you get a sweeping view of reception, the like interiors shop Elm & Iron (elmandiron. lobby, and the bar with its 20-foot ceilings, thanks to a com) sit alongside Cincinnati institutions like sloping floor originally designed to let shoppers see the Holtman’s Donuts (holtmansdonutshop.com). entire department store when they walked through its There are larger changes throughout the city: Madison Avenue doors. the new Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar Clockwise from Filmmakers are also increasingly links the northern fringes of OTR with top left: The lobby of drawn to Cincinnati, thanks to its Art Deco downtown and the Ohio River, and Ziegler the Hotel Covington, buildings and its tax incentives. OffPark, with a deepwater pool and redesigned in northern Kentucky; camera, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and public spaces, will be unveiled this spring, the hotel’s Coppin Ellen Page have all been spotted dining in followed by the reopening of the city’s hisrestaurant; Cincinnati’s hot spots like Boca and Sotto and checking toric Music Hall and the inaugural Blink Over-the-Rhine in to the art-filled 21C Museum Hotel. Cincinnati light and art festival in October. neighborhood.

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JEFF RUBY’S STEAKHOUSE

In the upcoming The Life and Death of John Gotti, starring John Travolta and Kelly Preston, the restaurant moonlights as midtown Manhattan’s Sparks Steakhouse for one noteworthy scene: the infamous assassination of Paul Castellano, which started a mob feud. jeffruby.com.

HILTON CINCINNATI NETHERLAND PLAZA Scenes in Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s forthcoming The Killing of a Sacred Deer, with Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell, were filmed in the lavish Hall of Mirrors at this landmarked hotel. hilton.com.

F ROM TOP : C OU RT ESY OF H OT E L C OVI N GTO N ( 2 ) ; MI KE P OG G IO LI

Close to Home

The Art Deco landmark features in the film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s thriller A Kind of Murder. The movie, starring Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson and in theaters now, is set in 1960s New York, but Cincinnati proves to be a worthy stand-in. Over-the-Rhine’s 19th-century beer tunnels were also transformed into a speakeasy for some scenes. cincy museum.com.


01 Week 01

$ Forecast Sales

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HERE +NOW WHERE TO GO IN

2017

Fast Track

Getting Here Just Got Easier

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KANAZAWA, JAPAN

OSLO

PANAMA CITY

CAMBODIAN COAST

This city on the western coast of Honshu has seen a boost in visits since a bullet-train extension shortened the trip from Tokyo to just 2½ hours. Go for the old wooden teahouses of the Higashi Chayagai district, the beautiful samurai residence in Nagamachi, and the contemporary art museum. Then have your pick of sushi that’s just as good as, and much cheaper than, what you’d find in Tokyo. Try it at Sentori, Kagayasuke, or Omi-cho market—a favorite of sushi master Masa.

Some 28 million additional visitors will pass through Oslo’s airport in the next 12 months, thanks to its new swooping, Scandichic wing. Many of these travelers are here to participate in one of the world’s most thriving coffee cultures. Two great spots are in the Grünerløkka area: Supreme Roastworks (srw.no), where a world-champion brewer helms the bar, and Tim Wendelboe (tim wendelboe.no), whose owner is so obsessed with quality beans that he bought 17 acres of Colombian farmland.

After nearly 10 years of construction, the Panama Canal expansion has opened. Giant cruise ships—like the Caribbean Princess—can now pass through via the 180-footwide locks. Princess (princesscruises.com) is one of the first lines to take advantage, with six sailings in 2017. On land, a sleek W Hotel will open downtown and a new boutique property, La Concordia—where rooms have private balconies and claw-foot bathtubs— is near completion in historic Casco Viejo.

Cambodia has some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning islands, but getting to them has always been arduous (a flight to Phnom Penh, a four-hour drive, then a choppy ferry ride). Luckily, there are now direct flights into the coastal Sihanoukville airport via Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. That means a smoother journey to the island escapes coming this year: the wellness-minded Six Senses (sixsenses. com) on Krabey Island and the Alila Villas eco-resort (kohrussey. com; doubles from $350) on Koh Russey.

By Lila Battis, Jane Broughton, Govind Dhar, Adam Erace, Nicholas Gill, Adam H. Graham, Mary Holland, Selena Hoy, Diana Hubbell, Carrie Hutchinson, Raphael Kadushin, Melanie Lieberman, Eimear Lynch, Archana Ram, Aoife O’Riordain, Krista Simmons, Paola Singer, Sara Toth Stub, and Stephanie Wu.

C O URT ESY OF N O MU RA HOU S E

Infrastructure and transportation updates have made travel to these four destinations a much smoother process. Go now, before the secret’s out.


CÉLINE CLANET

BEYOND A mosaic floor at Volubilis, a partially excavated Berber and Roman city in Morocco that dates back to the third century B.C.


BEYOND Pilgrimage

History on a Hill The holy village of Moulay Idriss only recently opened to non-Muslim visitors, which is why it is one of Morocco’s most authentic and untrammeled outposts. Anna Heyward takes a look around.

I Dinner on the terrace at Scorpion House, a private rental house with sensational views.

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n the early spring, when I visited Moulay Idriss, the climate was at its most Mediterranean. The four-hour drive from Casablanca took me through forests of cork oaks, their bark stripped to arm’s reach to make corks for wine bottles. The greens of the countryside were muted and slightly dusty, the air was soft, and there were olive trees everywhere. Approaching the town from the west, I saw a cluster of colorful boxes framed by bare mountain peaks. Reachable by just a pair of roads, Moulay Idriss spreads across two foothills of Mount Zerhoun, at the base of the Atlas Mountains. Edith Wharton came here in 1919, taking the same route I did. In her travel book, In Morocco, she described the “piled up terraces and towns of the Sacred City growing golden in the afternoon light across the valley.” Moulay Idriss was, until recently, off-limits to non-Muslims between 3 p.m. and sunrise—Wharton had to continue on to nearby Meknes to spend the night. This was because of the town’s holiness: it is a pilgrimage site, the burial place of Moulay Idris Al Akbar, a great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. In 2005, Muhammed VI, the current king of Morocco, issued a decree to open the town to non-Muslim visitors as part of his plan of Western-oriented reform. Photographs by Céline Clanet


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BEYOND Pilgrimage

From left: A donkey in one of Moulay Idriss’s many narrow painted alleyways; a guest room at Scorpion House.

Despite the lifting of restrictions, the tourism infrastructure that is so ubiquitous throughout the rest of the country has been slow to arrive here, and the place feels suspended in time. Centuries before Moulay Idriss became sacred to Muslims, Romans occupied the region. To reach the town from Rabat or Casablanca, you must navigate around Volubilis, the ruin of an ancient Roman city about three miles away whose unesco listing describes architectural influences that “testify to Mediterranean, Libyan and Moor, Punic, Roman, and Arab-Islamic cultures as well as African and Christian cultures.” The farmers in the area The Details tell stories about turning up bits of antiquity—broken Hotels, relics and Roman stones—when tilling the earth. The attractions, logic of Moulay Idriss, when seen from Volubilis, becomes and more, clear: it’s a raised, defensible outpost, surrounded by page 99 arable land, which allows occupants to see intruders approaching. The town’s history has imbued it with its own patchwork quality. After the Romans left, it became the seat of an Islamic dynasty. Then, following the French conquest of Morocco, it was remade as a weekend destination for the ruling class. One reason the Romans chose Moulay Idriss was for its potential for making olive oil, which is today the town’s primary product. Once a week, a member of each family takes a bushel of olives and a jug to the local press, watches the machine churn, then collects the oil to bring home. With just under 12,000 residents, Moulay Idriss is by no means a large town, but it feels even smaller than it is. When I arrived, I went to Dar Zerhoune, a five-bedroom inn that opened in 2009 with a multistory interior divided up by wooden beams and balconies. Its owner is Rose Button, a British expat who was one of the first non-Muslims to buy property here. As you look out onto the mountainside from the rooftop terrace, it’s easy to think of Wharton again: “The light had the preternatural purity which gives a foretaste of mirage: it was the light in which magic becomes real, and which helps to understand how, to people living in such an atmosphere, the boundary between fact and dream perpetually fluctuates.” The only other Westerner in town is Mike Richardson, who left the London food scene to set up Café Clock in Fez, then bought a weekend home in Moulay Idriss. After renovating it to emphasize its open

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fireplaces, terraces, and picture windows, he opened it to guests as Scorpion House—or Dar Akrab, in Arabic—in late 2015. It hangs on a cliff just below the city’s lookout spot. The terrace where cocktail hour takes place at sunset is an excellent place from which to study the panorama of the adjacent hill and discover that various sections of town are each painted their own pastel shade. It’s also a good vantage point for observing the “promenade hour,” which in Moulay Idriss begins at about 4 p.m. and continues until nightfall. As the streets fill up, so do the windows. “People here love to sit and watch,” one local told me. When darkness arrived, Richardson and I stayed out on the terrace under a single light, eating rabbit that he had stuffed with merguez sausage and dates. Moulay Idriss was built for donkey traffic. It is threaded with arteries that are less streets than openings just wide enough for a pack animal loaded with goods. One afternoon, lost in the maze of streets, I had to ask two young engineering students for directions. As they walked me home, they explained that development in Morocco follows a particular process that has remained unchanged for decades. The king arrives in a region, the people make their requests, and he allocates a budget. Several months later, he comes back in disguise to see whether what he commissioned is actually being carried out. I asked what sort of disguise. “In glasses, or with his trousers torn,” one said, in


From top: A young friend of the owners of Walila Farm on the property’s terrace; the ancient Roman city of Volubilis; pumpkin and vegetable soup at Walila Farm.

The farmers in the area tell stories about turning up bits of antiquity when tilling the earth.

a manner that suggested the answer should have been obvious to me. I went the following day to the town’s hammam. It is heated with burning olive wood, the scent of which floats into the street. Inside, though, the atmosphere is less like a spa than a communal bath full of screaming women. They brew afternoon coffee there while holding what could be called the town congress. I got so caught up in their interaction that I found it hard to leave. One of the area’s best-kept secrets is Walila Farm, positioned between Volubilis and the two hills of Moulay Idriss. Built in 1920, it was once the weekend home of Michel Jobert, the French foreign minister under Georges Pompidou and François Mitterrand, who wrote a novel about the house. It had fallen into disrepair when Azzedine Zayr, a Moroccan who had spent many years working as a chef in Belgium, bought it in 2000. His renovation turned it into one of the most tranquil guesthouses I have ever visited. The Jobert family remains present in every detail, from the original tile work and furniture to the books in the library. Gardens and a copse of pine trees surround the house, with fields beyond where Zayr grows ingredients for the Europeaninflected traditional Moroccan dishes he serves to guests. Wild orange blossoms were flowering between the organic, hand-farmed crops when I visited. Zayr crushed a fragrant handful and held it up to my face to inhale, releasing a delicate perfume. Later that afternoon, he put the blossoms in a tea for me. As we sat in the garden eating a veal tagine, quinces, and dates from the trees that shaded us, a lamb grazed near a chunk of Roman stone that had rolled down the hill from one of Volubilis’s crumbling columns. If you walk to the top of Zayr’s land, you can look down on the valley and the slip of a river and see the same sweep of muted greens and patches farmed by hand and donkey that the Romans would have seen. This is a place where time unfolds and history passes, changing nothing.


BEYOND Mastering the Journey

After finding a following for her stunning travel images, chef turned photographer Lauren Bath traded her apron for a new life exploring the world one shot at a time.

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auren Bath’s life can easily be divided into two parts: before December 31, 2012, and after. That New Year’s Eve, she was working as a chef in the kitchen of Café Marina, a casual Italian restaurant on the Gold Coast, in Australia, and it was a particularly rough night. “I had a few drinks with friends after service, and was just over everything,” Bath says.

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“The next day, I rode out my hangover, and on January 2, 2013, I told my boss I wanted to quit.” Good thing she had a backup plan. Over the course of the previous year, Bath had quietly become one of Australia’s most successful Instagrammers, teaching herself the tools and tricks of photography with a professional camera and then posting three to four pictures a day

Bath captured the Vermilion Lakes in Banff, Canada, on a campaign for Travel Alberta.

S E A N BY RN E / C OU RT ESY OF L AU RE N BAT H

Coming into Focus


‘Traveling makes you more accepting of other people. It helps you understand other cultures.’

C O URT ESY OF L AU RE N BAT H

Right: On location in Venice for Zonin1821, Italy’s largest privately owned winery. Below: Bath visited the Swiss Alps, where she photographed a friend atop this cliff.

on the social media platform. “My friend Garry and I would practice. We’d do a sunrise shoot on Wednesday, then research a technique like water-droplet or macro photography and learn it together. It became an addiction,” she says. Bath knew she was on to something when her account, where she was posting beautiful beach pictures of the Gold Coast, started growing by 1,000 followers per day. By the end of 2012, as New Year’s Eve approached, the total was nearly 200,000. That’s when she decided it was time, in her words, to “go rogue and become a full-time Instagrammer.” Doing so allowed her to indulge her love of travel, a passion that, like photography, Bath discovered later in life. Her father, a professional chef, and her mother, an excellent home cook, gave Bath the love of the trade that led her to the chef’s life. (“Hospitality is such an invigorating industry,” she says. “You form these friendships and people become your family, but the hours are terrible.”) Then, several trips to Thailand and Bali changed her perspective on the world. “I loved the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, and all

the Thai street food. And in Bali, I stayed in a little budget hotel in Kuta for a few months. It cost $7 per night—I negotiated that rate—so I could afford to leave half my stuff there and go explore the other side of the island. It was total freedom.” Now, her travel schedule is so action-packed, those unscripted moments can feel few and far between. And she’s okay with that. “I do believe in the energies and the universe. I had a gut feeling this would work out. Being on the road is amazing, but I’m also running a business, and it’s hard. However, I’m in this for the long haul.” As of press time, Bath’s followers have soared to more than 460,000, and she is now a highlysought-after travel photographer and social media influencer, advising tourism boards and hotel brands on how to navigate the digital world—and capturing stunning images for them along the way. In four years, she’s worked on 150 campaigns and visited destinations as varied as Oman, Finland, Canada, and Argentina, in addition to exploring all corners of her home country. Within six months of quitting her job, she was earning as much as she had been in the kitchen. “I’m not the same person I used to be, when I was a chef,” she says. “Traveling changes you fundamentally. It makes you more accepting of other people, it helps you understand other cultures. There’s not even a piece of me that has any prejudice anymore. You can’t learn that sort of thing—you have to experience it.” — Jacqueline Gifford


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terms of safe, liquid savings.” She made sure she set aside several months of expenses, as her advisor suggested suited her needs, and then set up a separate travel savings account. Before long, she was able to fund her trips through revenue from her blog, Bucket List Journey. Now, with a new book, Bucket List Adventures: 10 Incredible Journeys to Experience Before You Die, she continues to rely on her advisor. “I want to protect what I’ve worked so hard to build.” Today, even her most spontaneous trips are made possible by continuously fine-tuning her plan. “When an opportunity presents itself and I initially say no, I ask myself if that negative is fear talking. If it is, I immediately turn that no into a yes,” she says. “Knowing that I can afford it helps me to be fearless.”

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BEYOND Travel Diary

Hot on the Trail

Chef Michael Beary heads to the Mexican state of Oaxaca to find—and revive— some of the world’s finest chiles.

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hen Michael Beary opened Zocalito, his Oaxacan restaurant in Aspen, Colorado, more than 15 years ago, he quickly found that many of the ingredients he needed weren’t available in the United States. Even in Mexico, some heritage chiles—such as the achilito, which once featured prominently in many Oaxacan salsas—were nearly impossible to find. “They had become so rare, even local chefs were using generic substitutes,” Beary said. So he started making trips to the remote Oaxacan valleys where the terroir lends these peppers their particular flavor. “My project is to get to the farmers, so I can pay them what the middleman would take,” said Beary, who hopes his purchasing power can convince growers to keep producing traditional peppers. He imports chiles and other Oaxacan items like chapulines (grasshoppers) for his restaurant; in 2012 he launched an online store (zocalito.com) that makes them available to professional and home cooks around the world. — Kelly Bastone

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1 Initially, I looked for rare chile varieties here, at the Central de Abastos Market in the city of Oaxaca, and I still get some of my taviches there. But to find my best peppers, I had to work directly with farmers. 2 Felix Antonio Gomez (left) is one of only six growers who plant the chilhuacle—its name means “old chile” in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs—in the Cuicatlán district of Oaxaca. He has the best land and the best plants, which usually produce outstanding chiles. I’m interested in the larger ones you get from the third or fourth pickings, which have been left on the plant longer. After the chiles are harvested, Oaxacan

growers often dry them in the sun, but at this altitude there’s heavy dew that doesn’t allow them to dry sufficiently. So I bought a $20,000 dehydrator and brought it to Oaxaca. Now we can do 2,000 pounds in 10 days. I dry them to a precise wateractivity level, so no mold can grow. 3  Markets like this one near the Zócalo, the city’s central square, are quintessentially Oaxacan. One of my favorite things to buy in this area is the roasted chapulines in the

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Benito Juárez market, which are a popular snack. I always buy from Daniela Santiago Cruz, who’s got the freshest ones in Oaxaca. They’re typically sold in three flavors—garlic, lime, or chile pequin—but for mine, I have her combine all three flavors. We serve them on our guacamole, and people go nuts. 4 At his house in Cuicatlán, Felix’s

Photographs by Lindsay Lauckner Gundlock

wife, Mayra, prepares dishes like chile caldo, a soup made with meat, calabaza, and corn that features fresh chilhuacles negros. The freshness of the chiles is key, as it provides the soup with its bright flavor. 5  These chilhuacles negros enjoy the greatest fame, because they’re used in mole negro, one of the most popular Oaxacan dishes. Red chilhuacles, meanwhile, are used in mole coloradito. The yellows are less known, and really scarce. They’re made

into mole amarillo, which I pool beneath my chiles rellenos. Mayra learned to make mole negro from Felix’s grandmother, and she still does it the traditional way, using only chilhuacles instead of the cheaper stand-ins most people now rely on. Even Oaxacan restaurants that say they serve mole negro generally use only a few chilhuacles, if any. 6  I always stay at the Hotel Parador San Miguel, where Nancy Galvez is the chef. I brought her some of Felix’s fresh chilhuacles amarillos. Dried ones are hard enough to find, but fresh ones are nearly impossible to get because they’re available only during harvest in the towns where they’re grown.

7 This molino (mill) is one of the few commercial-scale machines in Oaxaca, where the chiles are ground to your specifications. Corn, beans, chocolate, chiles—there’s a different molino for each one, with stones inside that are handcut to mill a particular food. There’s no other kitchen tool that can approximate it. I couldn’t find one of these in the United States, so I bought one on one of my trips, disassembled it, and flew it home as checked luggage. The TSA people thought I was crazy, but now I use it at Zocalito to grind corn and beans for sopes and tamales. I’m the only producer of powdered pasilla de Oaxaca in the U.S.


T+L’S GUIDE TO

EXPEDITION CRUISING

AU S CA P E / U I G / G E T T Y I MAG ES

The True North sails the King George River on Australia’s Kimberley Coast.

The ships are small, but THE ADVENTURES ARE BIG . Exploring the world’s remote waters on rugged, high-tech vessels is the new frontier of cruising, with more and more companies introducing itineraries to take you through polar ice, along inaccessible coastline, and into waters you never knew existed. travelandleisure.com

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T+L CRUISE GUIDE

WILD AT HEART

Australia’s Kimberley Coast is an isolated region of dramatic waterfalls, tides, and cliffs— all best experienced by ship. Ian McGuire discovers one of the world’s final frontiers.

s our helicopter flew low over brown bush cut by dried gullies and speckled with eucalyptus, I asked the pilot, Rob Colbert, if, in all the years he had been flying over the Kimberley, he had ever seen anyone on the ground. He shook his head: Never. I wasn’t surprised. The land flashing below us looked raw and untouched, magnificently empty. A few minutes later, we landed near a sand-colored rock formation, which was different from the hundred we had passed. Rob led us forward, and as the path climbed, he directed our gaze to a long, flat overhang, something like a shallow cave with a broad extended roof. There they were: Aboriginal rock paintings depicting the wandjinas—mythical, ghostlike beings with white mouthless faces and large staring eyes—that had been executed perhaps 4,000 years ago, but were as bright and striking as if they had

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been made only last week. They were breathtaking in their boldness and power. Suddenly this landscape, which had seemed fiercely beautiful but also strangely inhuman, felt different to me, and much richer. The Kimberley was not empty or uninhabitable, I realized, but rather haunted by the presence of an ancient people, the original Australians who had for thousands of years found a way to flourish. At 164,000 square miles, the Kimberley is about the size of California, but with a population of less than 40,000 and only a handful of paved roads. Even in a country like Australia, which has more than its share of vast empty spaces, the

C O URT ESY OF N O RT H STA R C RU IS ES AU ST RA L IA . L E T T E R IN G BY M ATT LE HM A N

Passengers take a tender boat to one of the Kimberley’s many waterfalls.


T+L CRUISE GUIDE

EXPEDITIONCRUISE GLOSSARY ZODIAC A motorized inflatable boat used both as a tender and a touring vessel. Zodiacs don’t require a pier to dock, allowing cruisers to land in undeveloped destinations. In the Galápagos, they are often called pangas.

The True North stops at King Cascades.

T+L T I P S

MA R K STOT H A RD. A L L IL LUST RAT I ON S BY Z AC H G RA H A M

Make Your Trip More Eco-Friendly Though newer ships are being designed with fuel efficiency in mind, they’re still not 100 percent emissionfree. Consider buying carbon offsets or supporting sustainabledevelopment and renewableenergy projects. TerraPass sells offsets for flights, and myclimate.org has a program for cruisers to donate to nonprofits.

region is considered to be a true wilderness and a place set apart. One of the best ways to see it is by cruise ship, since much of the terrain along the coast remains inaccessible by car. My helicopter adventure was actually an excursion organized by the True North, the sole vessel of the Australian-owned North Star Cruises. This 36-passenger expedition ship sails regularly between Broome and Wyndham, with cruisers leaving the comforts of their plush cabins to explore the shore on tenders or via helicopter. The experience on board rivaled a five-star hotel, and passengers (mostly couples) could be found sipping martinis in the lounge or feasting on miso-glazed salmon and soba noodles paired with fine wines at dinner. The energy of the all-Australian crew was infectious. The True North has been cruising the Kimberley Coast for more than a decade, and I quickly realized I was in the hands of experts who understood this landscape intimately. Passengers could do as much or little as they wished, but most, like me, were inspired to try everything. On some days, our group took tenders through shallow, silt-gray channels past dense mangroves and towering escarpments. With the help of our guide, Andy Lewis, a naturalist, we spotted crocodiles and turtles, azure kingfishers and white-bellied sea eagles. We saw the huge and magnificent Montgomery Reef emerge out of the sea at low tide like a legendary lost city and then, when the tide turned, disappear again beneath the waves. Back on dry land, we clambered up scree slopes thick with eucalyptus and past silvery baobab trees and bushes of delicate Kimberley heather. In the north of England, where I live, most of my swimming takes place in indoor pools or in the cold waters of the North Sea. So it was a rare pleasure to hike, on multiple occasions, to midnight-blue swimming holes fed by waterfalls and surrounded by cliffs of dark rock. The more adventurous among us searched out high ledges to jump from, but I took it easy and floated on my back, looking up at the ragged circle of cloudless blue sky, letting all my cares drift away. Not every day was so peaceful. I hadn’t held a fishing

WET LANDING When passengers aren’t able to step directly from their Zodiac onto terra firma (what’s known as a dry landing), they may need to disembark in shallow water that’s usually ankle or knee deep.

SURVIVAL SUIT Also called an immersion suit, this full-body flotation device keeps the wearer dry and protects him or her from hypothermia. In colder climates, they may be worn during kayaking trips or on Zodiac excursions.

ICE-CLASS CRUISE SHIPS Vessels with strengthened hulls designed to operate in varying amounts of sea ice. They range from ships that can navigate Arctic waters year-round to others that can sail only in lighter ice conditions.

ICEBREAKER This heavy vessel, with a hull designed to slice through sea ice, is often used to keep shipping routes open in the polar regions. A select few offer trips for tourists to destinations that others can’t reach—like the North Pole. — Yolanda Crous

travelandleisure.com

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Historic Key West Inns

6 hotels in Old Town. Key West style with modern interiors. Walk to Duval fun! 800-549-4430 historickeywestinns.com

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

Exclusive and elegant. Thirty ocean front suites, perfectly appointed in authentic thatched bungalows. Consistently named among the world’s best. 800-343-8567 littlepalmisland.com

Sunset Key Cottages, A Luxury Collection Resort An exclusive tropical island sanctuary of charming cottages, Latitudes beachfront dining and unforgettable sunsets await you, a boat ride away. 305-292-5300 sunsetkeycottages.com

Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Situated on 1,100 feet of private beachfront, our Key West landmark provides an elegant yet simple hideaway for travelers. 305-296-3535 casamarinaresort.com

Ocean Key Resort & Spa

Elegant interiors and stunning views. Superior fine dining, tranquil SpaTerre and the world famous Sunset Pier. Waterfront in Old Town. 800-328-9815 oceankey.com

Key West Marriott

This Marriott features exceptional suites, upscale amenities, complimentary Wi-Fi, complimentary transportation on the island and one of the finest restaurants.

866-679-5490 or 305-296-8100 keywestmarriott.com


We all need a net.

If you’re at the end of your rope, there’s no place like Key West to unwind. The pace is slower. You can be yourself. Anything goes. Come marvel at our sunsets. Bury your toes and troubles in the sand. This is Key West. Where you can do it all or just hang out. fla-keys.com/keywest 1.800.527.8539


T+L CRUISE GUIDE

rod in years, but after listening to some of the tall tales coming back from the daily fishing trips about the famous Australian barramundi, I felt I should give it a go. There were four of us cruisers on the tender that afternoon, and the other three seemed to know what they were doing. I was fortunate that our captain, Shaun Hutton, was a man of patience. It all sounded simple—drop the lure and hold on. It was a beautiful day, warm but not hot, a clear blue sky... what could be more relaxing? Then I got a bite, and things suddenly became very hectic. Before I knew what was happening, I was on my feet and the rod was bent nearly double in front of me. By the time the fish’s silver flank flashed into view, I’d been through a grueling upper-body workout. When Shaun pulled the fish into the boat, he told me it was a queenfish, not a barramundi, but my delight was undimmed, and in the photographs (I made sure there were plenty of photographs) I look as gleeful as a child. On the last afternoon, I spent an hour or so beachcombing in the suitably named Tranquil Bay. I found conch shells and intricately patterned fragments of white coral skeleton and walked over high dunes to a long saltwater lagoon. But it was the rocks, not the water, that caught my attention. They weren’t yellow, umber, or orange this time, but pink, violet, and purple. Lying at the foot of a low cliff, lopsided, crammed with subtle inner stripes and swirls, they resembled a Zen garden raked and tended by the motions of the

SHIPS AHOY

The growing popularity of destination-centered voyages has spurred many lines to order new expedition vessels. Here’s the latest wave.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC QUEST In June, Lindblad Expeditions will debut this 100passenger vessel— the first of three new ships coming in the next three years. The Quest will make its inaugural voyage along British Columbia’s coast and Alaska’s Inside Passage.

CELEBRITY XPLORATION AND CEBRITY XPERIENCE Last year, Celebrity Cruises purchased the Galápagos tour operator Ocean Adventures and its two ships. Following multimillion-dollar

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The Kimberley was not empty or uninhabitable, I realized, but rather haunted by the presence of an ancient people.

tide. As I bent down and traced the patterns of erosion on their surface, I noticed the ways they had been sharpened to a fine point or bored into by the actions of wind and water. I felt that this must be art, not nature— that the rocks were too well composed to be the result of mere chance. Indeed, the landscape of the Kimberley was almost too beautiful to be believed. More than once, as I turned a corner and saw an entirely unexpected view, I was struck by the uncanny thought that what I was looking at must be man-made, that it was so perfect it had to be unnatural. Whenever this happened, I had to stand there, shake my head, and let the visual clichés drop away before I could see the landscape for what it was: not a copy, but an original, not something remembered or dreamed about, but something I had truly never encountered before. northstarcruises.com.au; seven nights from $9,825 per person, all-inclusive.

renovations, the 16-guest catamaran Xploration and 48-guest ship Xperience will launch in March, joining the line’s existing Galápagos ship, the 100-guest Xpedition.

SILVER CLOUD In August, Silversea Cruises will begin refitting this 296-passenger ship (the same one the U.S. Olympic basketball team called home during the Rio Olympics), converting it into a 200- guest luxury ice-class vessel that will operate mainly in the polar regions, starting in November.

PONANT EXPLORERS French luxury line Ponant is ponying up for four new 184-passenger expedition yachts, dubbed the “Ponant Explorers,” to roll out in the summers of 2018 and 2019. Passengers will be able to pick among sailings to warm-weather destinations like Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea.

CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR Crystal Cruises’ 100-suite expedition yacht, arriving in 2018, will come equipped with two helicopters, two submarines, and

underwater scooters. Dynamic positioning technology will allow the ship to hover over delicate coral reefs without the need to drop anchor.

SCENIC ECLIPSE Scenic’s over-thetop expedition vessel will be kitted out with a submarine, two helicopters, kayaks, and sumptuous staterooms. Debuting in August 2018, the ship will offer both classic sailings in the Med and expedition voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica. — Y.C.


Something exciting for people with dry eye disease : )

What is Xiidra? Xiidra is a prescription eye drop used to treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.

Important Safety Information Say hello to Xiidra

(lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) 5% Xiidra (pronounced ZYE-druh) is the first prescription eye drop approved for the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. Dry eye is a very common eye condition. Get to know Xiidra – ask your eye care professional if it’s right for you.

Check it out at Xiidra.com

The most common side effects of Xiidra include eye irritation, discomfort or blurred vision when the drops are applied to the eyes, and an unusual taste sensation (dysgeusia). To help avoid eye injury or contamination of the solution, do not touch the container tip to your eye or any surface. If you wear contact lenses, remove them before using Xiidra and wait for at least 15 minutes before placing them back in your eyes. It is not known if Xiidra is safe and effective in children under 17 years of age. Please see the following page for Brief Summary of Safety Information and discuss with your doctor. Visit Xiidra.com for Full Prescribing Information. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

©2016 Shire US Inc., Lexington, MA 02421 1-800-828-2088. Marks designated ® and ™ are owned by Shire or an affiliated company. S11704 07/16


Patient Information

Xiidra™ (ZYE-druh) XIIDRA (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) 5% Brief Summary: Read this information before you start using Xiidra and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your medical condition or your treatment. What is Xiidra? Xiidra is a prescription eye drop solution used to treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. It is not known if Xiidra is safe and effective in children under 17 years of age.

What are the possible side effects of Xiidra? The most common side effects of Xiidra include eye irritation, discomfort or blurred vision when the drops are applied to the eyes, and an unusual taste sensation (dysgeusia). Tell your doctor if you have any side effects that bother you. These are not all the possible side effects of Xiidra. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800 FDA-1088. How should I store Xiidra? • Store Xiidra at room temperature between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). • Store Xiidra in the original foil pouch to protect it from light.

What should I tell my doctor before using Xiidra? Before you use Xiidra, tell your doctor if you:

• Do not open the Xiidra foil pouch until you are ready to use the eye drops.

• are using any other eye drops

• Return unused single use containers to their original foil pouch to protect from excessive light exposure.

• wear contact lenses

Keep Xiidra and all medicines out of the reach of children.

• are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Xiidra will harm your unborn baby. • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Xiidra passes into your breast milk. Talk to your doctor about the best way to feed your baby if you use Xiidra. How should I use Xiidra? Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for additional instructions about the right way to use Xiidra. Use Xiidra exactly as your doctor tells you. • To help avoid eye injury or contamination of the solution, do not touch the container tip to your eye or any surface. • If you wear contact lenses, remove them before using Xiidra and wait for at least 15 minutes before placing them back in your eyes. • Use 1 drop of Xiidra in each eye, 2 times each day, about 12 hours apart. • Use Xiidra right away after opening. Throw away the single use container and any unused solution after you have applied the dose to both eyes. Do not save any unused Xiidra for later.

What are the ingredients in Xiidra? Active ingredient: lifitegrast Inactive ingredients: sodium chloride, sodium phosphate dibasic anhydrous, sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate, sodium hydroxide and/or hydrochloric acid (to adjust pH) and water for injection. Manufactured for: Shire US Inc., 300 Shire Way, Lexington, MA 02421 For more information, go to www.Xiidra.com or call 1-800-828-2088. Marks designated ® and ™ are owned by Shire or an affiliated company. ©2016 Shire US Inc. US Patents: 8367701; 9353088; 7314938; 7745460; 7790743; 7928122; 9216174; 8168655; 8084047; 8592450; 9085553 and pending patent applications. Last Modified: 07/2016 S14721

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General information about the safe and effective use of Xiidra. The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk about Xiidra with your health care provider or pharmacist. The FDA-approved product labeling can be found at http://pi.shirecontent.com/PI/PDFs/Xiidra_ USA_ENG.pdf or 1-800-828-2088. Do not use Xiidra for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Xiidra to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them.

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The Xiidra iinsider card could help you save on your prescription for Xiidra® (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution)* Get yours at Xiidraiinsider.com

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©2016 Shire US Inc., Lexington, MA 02421. 1-800-828-2088. All rights reserved. S16723 10/16 Marks designated ® and ™ are owned by Shire or an affiliated company. *Restrictions apply.

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T+L CRUISE GUIDE

NEVER TOO EXTREME

If you’re traveling to the bottom or top of the world, a pre- or post-cruise extension can take your trip to bucket-list level.

F ROM L E F T: R OD ST R AC H A N / G E T T Y IMAG ES ; ES BE N H A RDT / AC E & ACE ; M IK E HILL/G E TTY IM AG ES

1

Antarctica-bound guests on the Seabourn Quest can book a 14-night pre-cruise package that includes a trip to the southern Ellsworth Mountains, the continent’s highest range. During a stay at Union Glacier Camp, you can ski, bike on the ice, or grab a Chilean beer in the dining tent. Guests then move on to Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile. seabourn.com; from $50,999 per person, all-inclusive.

2

Circumnavigations of Iceland are becoming increasingly popular. And with Lindblad Expeditions, you can go even more remote and tack on a nine-day stay at Natural Habitat’s Basecamp Greenland. Sleep near an ice sheet in the Sermilik Fjord, on the island’s eastern coast, and spend your days boating into the iceberg-filled waters to look for whales and seals. expeditions.com; from $9,995 per person.

3

Passengers traveling to the Arctic Circle with Hurtigruten who begin or end their trip in Tromsø, Norway, can spend the night in a traditional Sami camp on the island of Kvaløya. Activities include storytelling around a bonfire, singing folk songs, and reindeer sleighing. hurtigruten.us; from $538 per person. — Y.C.

WHY THAT TRIP TO ANTARCTICA IS SO EXPENSIVE

If shopping for a trip to the seventh continent is giving you sticker shock, you’re not alone. “These are some of the priciest cruises in the world,” says Jim Taylor, president of Polar Cruises, an agency that specializes in voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica. Here’s why.

SHIPS

Most vessels have strengthened hulls and are able to navigate very rough and icy seas. Only a limited number exist that can travel in the region. Low supply + high demand = $$$.

ENERGY

Ice-class ships use more fuel, which generally costs more in South America’s southern ports. And because Antarctica has no ports where the vessels can resupply, they must carry everything on board.

MAINTENANCE

Thanks to the rough waters of the Drake Passage, these ships undergo a lot of wear and tear. Plus keeping all those Zodiacs in peak condition takes time and money.

CREW

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators requires at least one guide for every 20 passengers on land, and expedition staff tends to be highly educated—many have doctorates. — Y.C.

travelandleisure.com

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INTO THE NORTH

In the remote waters between Alaska and Russia, a confirmed urbanite sails out of her comfort zone—and returns with a fresh perspective. by Daphne Merkin

suppose the real question to be asked, even before taking off for uncharted waters, is what a city-bred person with a love of the arts and a profound uninterest in the great outdoors is doing on an expedition cruise to the remote reaches of Alaska in the first place. It is a question that keeps occurring to me on every leg of this 12-day voyage aboard L’Austral, a cruising yacht from the French company Ponant with a passenger capacity of 264. My 26-year-old daughter, Zoë, and I are to set sail from Nome, Alaska, and on the flight over, I busy myself reading an Insight Guide that Zoë has brought along. All around me I hear smatterings of French, a language I have failed to conquer despite years of study. Meanwhile, I discover that Alaska was bought by the United States from the Russians for $7.2 million in 1867, and that its population now numbers 700,000, almost half of whom live in Anchorage. “It is said,” the guidebook goes on to report, “that Alaska can still astonish the most jaded of travelers” with its “huge, untamed spaces.” I prepare inwardly to be astonished, although I must admit

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that when, three hours into the flight, everyone rushes to the windows to take photos of a vast expanse of snowcapped peaks, I am not quite sure what all the excitement is about. It turns out that we are flying by Mount McKinley, 20,000 feet above sea level, which was soon to be restored to its original name of Denali by President Obama. Nome itself is somewhat barrenlooking, featuring square-roofed houses that sit on brown tracts of land interspersed with patches of shrubby green. Our group of mostly French cruisers is herded onto three yellow buses, then into tenders that will take us to the ship. The weather is overcast, bordering on chilly; it is

DAV I D D E V L E ES C H AU WE R

Ponant’s L’Austral.


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WE HAVE SOME OF THE FRIENDLIEST LOCALS YOU’LL EVER MEET. ( THAT GOES FOR OUR PEOPLE TOO. )

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

www.caymanislands.ky


T+L CRUISE GUIDE

CAYMAN COOKOUT Jan 12-15, 2017

MA R K ME YE R

Taste the finer things in life, expertly crafted by legendary chefs. August, and I am dressed in the thinnest of summer clothes, white linen pants and a T-shirt, as is my daughter, in contrast to the other passengers, who have layered on scarves, sweatshirts, and parkas. As we cross over on choppy gray-green waters, with a few lonely seagulls circling, I can’t decide whether we are intrepid Americans compared with the bundled-up French or merely woefully underprepared. And then, 20 stomach-lurching minutes later, we reach a sleek vessel flying the French flag and get our first look at L’Austral. Everything is done up in shades of taupe, cream, and white, from the public spaces to the cabins, with elegant touches provided by black-and-white Philip Plisson photos and occasional bursts of Swarovski-crystal lighting. The overall effect is serene and generically chic, like a minimalist boutique hotel. There is a gym, a beauty salon, a pool, and a small shop that carries lots of Lacoste shirts and three kinds of binoculars. Zoë and I are ensconced in a suite on Deck 6 that has twin beds, a sitting room, and a bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower that looks out on the water. There is a tiny balcony that accommodates (just barely) two rattan chairs and—best of all, from my point of view—the beds have excellent light for reading. The suite also comes with a personal butler, but we never make use of his services. We have our first dinner on board in the main dining room with two other guests—both guys in their late 30s who are friends, one a travel agent from Fresno, California, and the other a lawyer from Münster, Germany. If I was worried that there would be no other English-speaking passengers, I need not have been: Zoë and I make several friends, including a genial Australian couple who are seasoned expedition cruisers, having been to Antarctica and Greenland, and who are happy to share their knowledge of this corner of the planet. The French, meanwhile, stick mostly to themselves. The ship sets sail at 8 p.m., and the next morning we wake to a pleasant rocking motion and an overcast sky. In fact, we have crossed the International Date Line overnight and in the process skipped a day. After breakfast (flaky croissants and all manner of eggs), the English-speaking passengers—about 16 of us in all—gather in the main lounge to hear about our itinerary from the expedition

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A Russian Orthodox church in the port of Unalaska.

TASTE OF CAYMAN Saturday, Jan 28, 2017

Sample local fare with gourmet flair from local restaurants.

CAYMAN CARNIVAL BATABANO Saturday, May 6, 2017

An electrifying annual carnival for locals and visitors to enjoy the spirit of Cayman.

visitcaymanislands.com


T+L CRUISE GUIDE

crew, a group of six experts in various fields, including an ornithologist, a land and landscape ecologist who “reads” plants, and a specialist in marine mammals. We are informed about the wildlife we may see if luck is with us— orcas, seals, and bears—and are promised a glimpse of fjords and glaciers at the end of the trip, though the expedition leader, Nicolai, reminds us that, this being an expedition cruise, the plans can change at any time. Indeed, our plans change before we’ve even begun. As it turns out, there is a certain improvisational quality to the whole venture, as we find ourselves stopping at places no one has stopped at before and marveling at the air and rock and scenicness of it all. Although the original itinerary called for several stops in Russia, a geopolitical kerfuffle has scuttled these plans, and we are now heading to St. Lawrence Island instead. (In a mini-repeat of the Cold War, it seems that everyone wants to claim the Arctic, and everyone treads carefully so as not to upset the Russians.) But wait: on our way to St. Lawrence, we take an unscheduled detour to a former military base on the Russian side of Alaska, near the Bering Sea. After a few hours’ delay while we wait for our mandatory meeting with Russian officials, we set foot on Provideniya, which at first glance has the desolate feel of a dystopian film set in Eastern Europe circa the 1960s. The buildings look like they have been constructed out of Lego blocks, and there is a general sense of abandonment. Most of the 1,700 inhabitants are Siberian Yupiks, who depend on tourism and hunting (they still use harpoons and kayaks) for their livelihood. A group of them, wearing brightly patterned clothing, performs a series of native dances in the school gym, utilizing birdcalls and subtle hand movements, accompanied by drumming. The drums are made of walrus intestines and the drumsticks are made of baleen or wood. There are tables outside the gym where various tribespeople, young and old, male and female, hawk trinkets and ivory handiwork, priced in American dollars. In Savoonga, a similarly desolate outpost on the American side where we drop anchor the following day, we are treated to another round of ceremonial dances. Afterward, I check out the items for sale in the town’s only supermarket, which are all lavishly priced, from a can of Pam ($10.85) and a small bottle of Bertolli olive oil ($15) to a roll of Brawny paper towels ($4.69). There are no restaurants, and most of the food is imported from Anchorage or Seattle; one young woman I meet in the supermarket tells me that she prefers to order dry goods from Amazon Prime. Savoonga, like Provideniya, has a subsistence economy, with much of the population (1,000 in all) helped by food stamps and government funding. As the sunlight ebbs, Zoë and I stand around talking to the locals—I promise to send a copy of my essay collection to an eager young woman and buy an expensive handmade doll, complete with fur boots and a fur parka, from another woman—until we are the last passengers left behind and have to hurry to board a Zodiac boat to get back to the ship. The lack of pop-culture stimulation other than TV in these towns makes them feel stranded

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WILDLIFE FINDER

Because you’ll want to Instagram some animals.

WHAT TO SEE WHERE

LEOPARD SEALS IN ANTARCTICA

HOW TO SPOT ONE

DID YOU KNOW?

The safest viewing is from a Zodiac, though a few companies like Oceanwide Expeditions offer diving excursions. oceanwide-expeditions. com; 11 nights from $7,950 per person.

These 840pound superpredators are the only seals known to eat warm-blooded animals, including penguins— and sometimes other seals.

BONUS SIGHTINGS

Emperor penguins, orcas, and minke whales.

SLOTHS IN THE AMAZON

ORANGUTANS IN BORNEO

NARWHALS IN THE ARCTIC

TORTOISES IN THE GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS

Aqua Expeditions sails Peru’s Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, accessible only from the water. aquaexpeditions. com; three nights from $3,645 per person. BONUS SIGHTINGS Pink dolphins, capybaras, Amazon manatees, and squirrel monkeys.

It can take up to a month or more for sloths to digest one meal. Good thing they burn only 110 calories a day— the lowest rate of any mammal.

Pandaw offers trips down the Kapuas River system that include a stop at an orangutan sanctuary in Sintang. pandaw.com; seven nights from $2,326 per person.

This endangered primate, the only great ape in Asia, is the only one in the world to spend most of its life in trees.

BONUS SIGHTINGS

Proboscis monkeys, crocodiles, and Storm’s storks. Lindblad Expeditions passengers have reported seeing narwhals off Baffin Island. expeditions.com; 23 nights from $23,100 per person. BONUS SIGHTINGS Polar bears, walrus, ringed seals, and belugas.

That horn is actually a tooth, and can grow up to 10 feet long.

Inca sails regularly and will bring along naturalist Linda Cayot, an alumna of the Charles Darwin Research Station. inca1.com; 11 nights from $8,395 per person.

Researchers are breeding hybrid giant Pinta and Floreana tortoises to try to resurrect the two extinct species.

BONUS SIGHTINGS

Blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and Galápagos finches.


T+L CRUISE GUIDE

A cabin in Nome, Alaska.

and infinitely far away, and the people I meet seem desperate for human contact. The last time a cruise ship stopped in Savoonga was in 2010. Although we will eventually reach more-remote polar regions than Provideniya and Savoonga, my own sense of faraway-ness—of being at an unimaginable remove from the world I know—is most vividly kindled not by majestic rock formations or silent tundras or sightings of glistening seals but by these two ghost towns. They put me in mind of the poet Arthur Rimbaud and his endless sojourns to distant places, rather than the formalized curiosity of even the most intrepid traveler of today. Rimbaud, who grew up in the provincial French town of Charleville-Mézières, read adventure stories as a boy and would eventually alight in 13 countries, becoming the first European to settle in the “forbidden city” of Harer, in what is now eastern Ethiopia. His wanderlust was as elemental as the contemporary traveler’s deluxe safaris are not, suggesting a permanent state of transience rather than an elegantly accoutred and professionally guided break from the digitalized life. In the ensuing days, the cruise begins to exert a rhythm of its own. At sea we make felt bear brooches or white fabric flower pins with Kamel, the ingenious cruise director, or listen to one of two classical pianists. Nighttime diversions include burlesque acts performed by a quintet of dancers, four females and one male, as well as two singers

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HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE TO TAKE AN EXPEDITION CRUISE?

travelandleisure.com

SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL AS SOCIATION OF ANTARCTICA TOUR OPER ATORS

“As long as you can walk and are fairly good on your feet, you can take one,” says Ashton Palmer, president of Expedition Trips, an agency that specializes in this type of travel. Most companies offer excursions that cater to all activity and ability levels, from a walk on a beach with a naturalist to sea kayaking or a five-hour hike up a mountain. At a minimum, however, you should be able to get in and out of a Zodiac and navigate uneven ground. “You’re landing in wild places, so you’re not going to find manicured pathways,” Palmer says. Also be sure you’re comfortable with stairs: many expedition ships don’t have elevators. — Y.C.

A

JO E RG MOD R OW/ L A IF / R E D U X

Q

213%

Increase in the number of cruise passengers to Antarctica over the past five years. The 2015– 2016 season saw nearly 484,000 visitors.

who serenade us with sentimental favorites. There are also scholarly lectures in which I learn about the kelp forest, bubble-net feeding, and the flora and fauna of the tundra. I find the crew has a tendency to romanticize the people we encountered in Provideniya and Savoonga, underplaying the poverty and alcoholism, and highlighting instead their close-to-the-ground, unspoiled nature. When I challenge one of them during a presentation, I feel I am ruining the official narrative, but later, other guests tell me they agree with my point. I play Ping-Pong one morning with unseemly competitive spirit but lose to a young boy with his own cheering section. There are occasional shows of wildlife: a flock of short-tailed shearwater birds flies by, a tufted (as opposed to horned) puffin with an orangey beak puts in a fluttering appearance, and some humpback whales breach the waves. The truth is that after two days spent zooming over waves on a Zodiac to a tundra in the Aleutian Islands whose landscape, ripe with edible berries and fireweed, resembles that of northern Scotland—and then on to Chankliut Island, where we walk for what seems like hours on high grass flecked with mini-daisies known as “pearl everlasting”—I can’t make up my mind about what the experience of being on the cruise adds up to, other than a smidgen of foreignness and lots of waterways. I find myself musing upon whether the cruise is aimed at people who just like to get away


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WA N D ER LU S T

W H E R E T O G O N O W F O R C H A R M, C U LT U R E & C U I S I N E

Charleston, South Carolina

With her flickering carriage lanterns, historic mansions, and famed gardens, Charleston is a timeless beauty. While the aesthetics of this jewel box-like destination are classically elegant, a palpable vitality blossoms each spring with a slate of high energy signature events.

SPRING SOCIAL DIARY Book a getaway to this southern

charmer in late winter and early spring to take part in a social season filled with parties and cultural pursuits. Pack a pheasant feather bowtie for February’s Southeastern Wildlife Expo Gala; something uber chic for March’s emerging designer competition during Charleston Fashion Week; suede and mohair during March’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival Bourbon Affair; pearls and pastels for 70th annual Historic Charleston Foundation Festival of Houses and Gardens; and sporting courtside apparel for April’s Volvo Car Open. There is something happening all the time in Charleston, the sophisticated small city with a big personality.


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ROMANTIC GETAWAYS Picturesque cobblestone streets, flickering carriage lanterns, a leisurely pace of life, and luxe hotel suites set the stage for passionate love affairs. It’s easy to see why Charleston is considered one of “America’s Most Romantic Cities” according to Travel + Leisure readers. After all, The Notebook was filmed here!

GOURMET GETAWAYS A modern playground for standout culinary talent, including four James Beard Foundation Best Chef Award winners, Charleston is home to a volume of world-class dining typically associated with cities five times its size. Here, dining out is a form of nightly entertainment.

GIRLFRIEND GETAWAYS Boutique shopping by day, sipping cocktails by night, and snapping Instagram-worthy shots along the way—Charleston is the ideal place for an extended vacation with your best gal pal.

Let the Journey Begin Food nomad. Scenic stroller. Garden lover. Culture connoisseur. History devotee. Shopping enthusiast. Wanderluster.

@E X P LO R E C H A R LE STO N @E X P LO R E C H S

While the underpinnings of this famed Southern city are rooted in three centuries of tradition, Charleston is ushering in a new era of vitality and unique experiences for discerning travelers.There is something special, something alluring, about Charleston—it’s large enough to produce an exciting getaway year after year, yet small enough to feel like your own beloved secret. Plus, pristine barrier islands, five distinctive beach towns, and exquisite plantation estates surround Charleston, making it a destination like no other. Visit Charleston for an unforgettable getaway. FOR INSIDER TIPS ON WHERE TO STAY, EAT & PL AY: EXPLORECHARLESTON.COM


T+L CRUISE GUIDE

Don’t Forget the Insurance

Squaremouth.

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ponant.com; 14 nights from $10,116 per person, all-inclusive.

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THEY SAIL WHERE?

Four new itineraries to take adventurous cruisers farther than they’ve been before.

Macquarie Island.

SUBANTARCTIC HAIDA GWAII, ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND CANADA Unspoiled and rich with wildlife, these protected isles south of the main islands are becoming a destination unto themselves. On a seven-night sailing with Heritage Expeditions (heritageexpeditions.com; from $4,300 per person), expect to see multiple species of albatross and penguins, including the royal penguin, whose only known breeding spot is Macquarie Island.

Few ships are authorized to visit this remote group of islands in northern British Columbia, often called “Canada’s Galápagos.” Maple Leaf Adventures offers eightnight cruises (mapleleaf adventures.com; from $4,912 per person) on either a 92-foot schooner or a restored tugboat, giving passengers plenty of time to explore the archipelago’s rain forests and cultural sites.

BANGLADESH

ISLA DE LOS ESTADOS, ARGENTINA

Silversea will become the first luxury line ever to visit the country when its Silver Discoverer pulls in to Moheshkhali Island on February 22. The 16-day voyage (silversea. com; from $17,150 per person, all-inclusive) also showcases Sri Lanka and India, but the three-day stint in Bangladesh includes excursions to the Sundarbans mangrove forest—home to 350 Bengal tigers— and Charaputia, a unesco World Heritage site.

Until 2015, the only visitors to this ecological reserve off Tierra del Fuego were scientists and naval personnel. Now a select few cruise companies, including Quixote Expeditions (quixoteexpeditions.com; 10 nights from $3,900 per person), have permission to explore the island, home to Argentina’s only fjords and the setting that inspired Jules Verne’s The Lighthouse at the End of the World. — Y.C.

G M P H OTO IM AG ES / A L A MY

from the known world—people like Pete, a veteran L’Austral passenger who says things like “we’re in real frontier country here”—or whether it appeals to the specific interests of the botanically or geologically minded, people who thrill to the distinctions between earless and eared seals, or who go wild for a glimpse of a bald eagle. I know I would have gladly traded in one more sighting of a brown bear to have met more locals and found out about their nearly eclipsed way of life. One afternoon, as we cruise in a Zodiac, watching the salmon jumping, and pause to study a little grotto teeming with mollusks, sea anemones, starfish, and barnacles, Zoë says to me, sotto voce: “This feels like being with every science nerd.” I wonder whether our restive culture has bred a fascination with remoteness for its own sake, for the sheer one-upping experience of being at the far edges of the earth—and then going home and crowing to your friends about it. It is also my growing conviction, based on an entirely unscientific analysis of my fellow passengers, that as much as travel can expand one’s mind, it is also used to confirm who you already are. The most provincial couple on the cruise, filled with insufferably smug opinions, are also the most well-traveled. When my Australian friend Geoff tells the female half of the couple that he got a pedicure in the ship’s salon, she answers sharply: “I’ve never had a manicure or pedicure in my life.” Still, there were moments I will never forget, such as the afternoon Zoë and I skipped the Zodiac run and instead sat on a patch of beach and sunned while she created a portrait of a craggy-faced woman out of stones. Or the afternoon we went out in Hallo Bay and spotted a big black bear as well as some sea otters that beat an exit the minute we came upon them. In the background were beautifully sedimented glaciers, some of them covered with conifers. The sun was out, the bay water sprayed on our faces and clothes, and I felt like I T+L T I P S was having my own Born Free moment—never mind my inner urban skeptic. I felt as far removed from the quotidian universe of reality-show antics and on-camera shootings as I ever will. I have to admit that there was something bracing about being at the A big vacation far edges of the earth, something that purchase like made me put my own life in perspecan expedition tive and gave me a chance to survey the cruise should wide, alien world—a world that has always be existed before me and will go on covered, and existing after me. And if that meant it’s best to get going halfway around the globe a plan tailored and acquainting myself with the Sitka to your needs. spruce, the murre, and the way Weigh your geologically older ice turns blue, I’m options using only the richer for it. InsureMyTrip or


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KINGof

Mehlsack mountain, a popular spot for heli-skiing.


Austria’s most famous Alpine villages —St. Anton, Zürs, Lech— are about to become one massive, 87-lift ski area, one of the largest and most diverse in the world. Tom Robbins schusses through the Arlberg and discovers that though bigger will indeed be better, these storybook hamlets haven’t lost their small-town charms. PHOTOGRAPHS BY

the

Andrew Phelps

MOUNTAINS


D

usk was falling as I arrived in St. Anton, so I set out for a stroll through the village, my city shoes skidding on the snow-covered sidewalk. I passed an oniondomed church and traditional, half-timbered hotels, then paused and looked up at the ski run that swoops straight down to the main street. It was 7:30 p.m., three hours since the lifts had closed, but the piste was crowded with skiers. Some were moving at a snail’s pace, anxiously feeling their way in the half-light; others were slaloming down with abandon, apparently oblivious to risk. Still others had already come to grief—the snow was littered with clumps of tangled legs, skis, and poles. Yet instead of shouts of pain and recrimination, there were only gales of raucous laughter, ringing out across the moonlit mountainside. This, I would learn, is a near-nightly ritual in St. Anton. The resort markets itself as the “cradle of skiing,” thanks to its pivotal role in the early development of the sport. But a still bigger draw for many visitors is the unadvertised fact that it is also the cradle of après-ski. Actually, après is a misnomer; in St. Anton, the drinking takes place before, during, and after skiing, not just in the village but up on the mountain, too. There, the young, wealthy, and ski-mad from across Europe cluster together in rustic cattle sheds and hay barns converted into bars. After several hours of enthusiastic drinking, they clip back into their skis for a demolition derby of a final run, which ends, conveniently enough, not just beside St. Anton’s pretty, pedestrianized main thoroughfare but also within 20 yards of the local emergency clinic. The tourist office is not amused, concerned that such revelry—good-humored though it always is—lowers the tone. It has tried various ways of cooling the party, attempting, for example, to ban ski boots in restaurants at

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night (forcing merrymakers to change their footwear back at the hotel, where they might decide on a nap instead). But the authorities are fighting a losing battle. In St. Anton, the slightest pretext for a party—a few inches of fresh snow, say—is exuberantly seized upon, and winter 2016 brought the biggest excuse in a generation. The resort was already one of the Alps’ best ski areas, with pistes that stretch west to the much smaller villages of St. Christoph, perched on the Arlberg Pass at 5,900 feet, and Stuben beyond. This winter, though, three new lifts will open, built at a cost of nearly $50 million. These will stretch over the Flexen Pass to join Stuben’s slopes with those of Zürs, the next village to the north. That in itself would scarcely be worthy of note outside St. Anton, were it not for the fact that Zürs is already connected by pistes and lifts to Lech, which is in turn connected to Zug, Warth, and Schröcken. The three new lifts form a kind of missing link that joins two halves of a chain, at a stroke creating Austria’s largest ski area, and arguably the most compelling in the Alps. The eight newly connected villages, known together simply as the Arlberg, will have every type of terrain—from wide-open bunny slopes and heli-skiing to powder-choked couloirs. And on top of the skiing, this scenic swath of mountainside will offer everything from rustic

Below: Servers at Hospiz Alm restaurant, in St. Christoph. Opposite: The village of Lech, in Austria’s Arlberg mountain range.


House Hannes Schneider, a ski chalet in Stuben. Opposite: Alfresco dining at Flexenhäusl, a restaurant in Lech.


Here, skiing is about journeying

through the landscape, touring from one village to the next.

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dumplings to tasting menus, farmhouse B&Bs to fine hotels. Whether skiers come in search of riotous nightclubs or remote chapels, adrenaline or authenticity, all will be represented here. And it will be vast. Consider that an American big hitter like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has 14 lifts, and Park City, Utah—the largest ski area in the U.S. by a hefty margin—has 41. The Arlberg will have 87. The link has been a long time coming. A lift connection over the Flexen Pass was first proposed in 1925, and skiers have been asking for it ever since.

E

arly the next morning, I rented some skis and set out to explore. Forget lapping the same lifts and trails, going up just to come down. Here, skiing is about journeying through the landscape, touring from one village to the next. And unlike purpose-built ski areas, where the trails are laid out to maximize space like the fairways on a suburban golf course, here the runs follow timeworn routes across the mountains. It was a bright, clear day, and from the top of the Vallugabahn, St. Anton’s highest lift, I looked north, beyond Zürs and Lech, to a distant


Opposite, from top: Lunch at Hospiz Alm; skiers on the slopes of Mehlsack.

mountain called the Karhorn. The idea of skiing all the way to that remote peak, then continuing beyond it to the village of Warth—more than a two-hour drive from St. Anton—seemed absurd. But the new lifts will make the route possible for all but the most novice skiers, creating a sort of Alpine expedition, albeit on perfectly groomed pistes, with stops for glühwein along the way. Such journeys might seem pointless if the villages were as interchangeable as the “ski factories” of the French Alps, with their convenient but characterless chain hotels and apartment blocks. But the Arlberg is defined by real, yearround communities, each distinct from the next. Boisterous St. Anton, for example, with its 2,470 residents and bustling streets full of boutiques and sushi restaurants, is a world away from tiny Warth (population 164), where, outside of a handful of hotels, the only bar doubles as the butcher shop. Elegant, upper-crust Lech, home of the world’s first heated chairlifts, couldn’t be less similar to sleepy, humble Stuben, where the ancient chairlifts use a simpler heating system: take a blanket at the bottom, give it back at the top. Dialects change from one valley to the next; locals claim that personalities do, too. As Lech hotelier Gerold Schneider put it, “St. Anton is only a few kilometers away, but it’s a different language, a different culture, really a different mentality.” And everywhere, there are centuries of history and tradition. After taking in the panorama from the Valluga, I skied down to St. Christoph, on the Arlberg Pass, for a bowl of goulash. My destination, the Arlberg Hospiz, was founded by a pig herder in 1386 as a refuge for travelers toiling over the snowbound, avalanche-prone pass. The position, hemmed in by banks of snow high above the tree line, remains austere, but today’s Hospiz is rather different—no longer a refuge but a five-star hotel known in Austria for its wine cellar, which tops out at $92,800 for a Nebuchadnezzar of 2000 Cheval Blanc. Out on the sunny terrace, where waitresses in dirndls balanced trays on their shoulders laden with ribs, goulash, and Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy shredded pancakes with plum sauce), I met Andy Butterworth, a jolly Brit who moved to St. Anton about 15 years ago and who runs Kaluma, a tour operator that also offers a “gourmet guiding” service, helping guests navigate the maze of Arlberg après-ski etiquette, as well as its best restaurants.

“To do St. Anton properly,” Butterworth explained, “you ski hard all day, party hard until eight p.m., then get to bed by ten, so you’re ready for the first lift in the morning.” With lunch over, it was time to set off back toward St. Anton, where the après-ski was about to get under way. Just above the village we veered right beside a 10-foot-high inflatable pair of lederhosen, a sign for the Sennhütte, the first in a series of The bars that dot the trail as it descends Details Hotels, to the village. We propped our skis restaurants, against the chalet, then and more, sat down at the long wooden tables page 98 outside, where a band played Austrian folk songs as the sun began to set. As families and groups of friends joked and compared ski stories from the day, Butterworth gave me a tutorial on the strange drinks that are unique to the Arlberg. We started with a Bauern Tequila (or “farmer’s tequila”), a slice of air-dried ham resting on the glass instead of a lime wedge, and shavings of horseradish in place of salt. Other favorites are the Heisse Witwe (or “hot widow,” a warm plum liqueur with cream) and the lethal Jägertee (“hunter’s tea,” a blend of red wine, rum, schnapps, orange juice, cinnamon, and tea). We finished our drinks and moved on to the MooserWirt, a former sheep barn now fitted out with 23 miles of pipework to keep the beer flowing from the cellars below, and finally to the Krazy Kanguruh, where après-ski in its modern, turbocharged form evolved at the end of the 1970s. Our goggles steamed up the moment we opened the door. We inched our way to the bar past tables groaning under the weight of people dancing in ski boots. St. Anton, Butterworth said, is pretty much always like this—a highaltitude cocoon of perpetual celebration.

T

oday, the villages of the Arlberg may be places of leisure, but the area’s past could hardly have been more different. For hundreds of years, these were bleak, isolated farming communities, struggling with thin soil, steep ground, and at least four months of annual snow cover. Grinding poverty was the norm, so much so that in the 18th and 19th centuries, many villagers couldn’t afford to feed their children, and would send them away each (Continued on page 100) travelandleisure.com

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confession: I’ve always been afraid of deep water. Like most phobias, mine isn’t entirely rational. It’s not about drowning, exactly, or being eaten by a sharp-toothed creature, although that wouldn’t be ideal. It’s more about not knowing what’s below me, about darkness and emptiness and my own insignificance. And yet there I was, floating in the open ocean, peering down through a snorkel mask into water hundreds of feet deep. Above the surface there was wind and swell, blowing spray, gray sky. In the distance were the limestone cliffs and tousled coconut palms of Vava’u, an archipelago of 61 islands within the Kingdom of Tonga, itself a collection of 176 islands scattered across approximately 260,000 square miles of the South Pacific. Beneath the surface, there was stillness, vastness, silence. There was the saturated cobalt blueness of the Tongan waters, and there was a mother humpback whale 50 feet below, resting with her calf tucked under her. The sight was both familiar and alien. I’d seen countless humpbacks on television and IMAX screens, gazed up at life-size replicas hanging from the ceilings of natural-history museums, even caught glimpses of flukes and fins from whale-watching boats. But now I was floating above a 40-ton, 50-foot-long animal with a beating heart and a mind full of unfathomable instincts and impulses. The white edges of her pectoral fins and fluke glowed bright aqua. The rest of her was a massive charcoal shadow, suspended in space.

a

Nisi Tongia, a local guide who works for New Zealand–based WhaleSwim Adventures, gripped my wet-suited upper arm, anchoring me against the current. We formed a loose cluster with three other swimmers—five of us in all, the maximum number legally allowed in the water so as to avoid crowding the whale. Because scuba diving with the whales is not permitted, we had only snorkels and fins. This was our first of seven days in the water with WhaleSwim Adventures, a tour operator that has led expeditions in Tonga since 1999 and recently expanded to Tahiti (humpbacks) and Sri Lanka (blue and sperm whales). The company offers only multiday trips, a policy intended to give swimmers time to get used to the whales and to avoid pressuring guides into forcing encounters. Sometimes, though, while sitting on the boat’s swim platform, my fins


Divers descend into Swallows Cave, a popular spot in the Vava’u archipelago. Opposite: Humpback whales’ ventral pleats let their throats expand to accommodate water during filter-feeding.

dipping in and out of the wake as I craned around to see columns of vapor sent up by exhaling whales, I did find myself caught up in a certain hectic energy, an Ahab-like thrill of pursuit. The challenge of finding whales is part of what makes encountering them meaningful, but because the quest can be so unpredictable (big ocean, swift wild animals), swimming with these creatures is an activity I can’t recommend for control freaks. On this drop, everything was going according to plan. A pale face, small by whale standards and studded with the wartlike tubercles characteristic of humpbacks, peeked out from under the cow’s chin. We floated, waiting. After a moment the calf emerged and glided upward, nose to the light, eye trained on The Details us, inspecting. A clutch of Activities remoras, or suckerfish, and more, page 98 clung to his underside,

and his white belly was grooved with expandable ventral pleats that would, in adulthood, help him filter up to one and a half tons of krill a day. For now, he was consuming only milk, while his mother ate nothing. The warm, protected Tongan waters provide safety during the whales’ birthing and breeding season, but no sustenance. In a few weeks, this pair would turn south, toward their Antarctic feeding grounds. The calf took a breath, rolled languidly onto his side, and started wiggleswimming in our direction. This was what I’d come for. This was an experience I’d wanted so badly that I’d put aside my trepidation about Big Blue and embarked on a 5,000-mile pilgrimage that could well have ended up becoming an exercise in terror management. Just a few feet from me, the calf rolled onto his back, opening his knobby pectoral fins wide. We made eye contact: a six-week-old, 18-foot-long marine mammal and a woman from California. What could he have made of me? His beauty thrilled me almost to the point of pain. His mother ascended, surfacing to breathe. At such close range, her size was overwhelming, a moving wall of whale, her skin encrusted here and there with barnacles. Her body language was relaxed, tail and flippers low, but she kept her eye fixed on the gaggle of snorkeled paparazzi extending GoPros toward her hammy, curious baby, who was now turning a backward somersault. In the water, whales’ conversation is often audible, and after a few whistles passed between the pair, they swam away, unhurried, their oscillating flukes vanishing into the blue. “Okay,” Nisi said, smiling broadly below his mask as we all popped up among the waves, five pinheads atop a dark and choppy sea. “We go back to the boat, yeah?” travelandleisure.com

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© Franck Bohbot/INSTITUTE

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The city that never sleeps has a mystery and a timelessness after dark. Those qualities are captured here in images by the photographer franck bohbot, from his new book Light on New York City, and in this poem, commissioned by Travel + Leisure, by New York native rowan ricardo phillips .

A Tale of Two Cities

City above the city and city Below the city. The diners, theaters, Dance spots and dives all late-light strobed life Sumptuous as solitude that knows it’s not Loneliness like the blue blue-green peacock Who gales open, waits, doubts and does not doubt. There is a city above the city That thinks of you as you think of it: sky, That you are the sky to it, and these buildings, Iridescent in thick night like flora And fauna, are its clouds. We all are part Of some other distant constellation, A chanced-on font you see on a marquee When you look out and then up, When you think the thought that gets caught in air And rises from your head like steam in the thaw— That is the city above the city Calling out to you through the blued spectrum, That veiled feeling you keep to yourself of The time you stood on a street and could swear Some part, some magnificent part of you Had just turned into a fish and opened Up upwards into the darkness, the light, The darkness, the light, the darkness, the light.


Shaddock-cured pork belly at Balter, a new restaurant on the island of St. Croix. Opposite: Just-caught ďŹ sh at La Reine Farmers’ Market.


F i s h

F a r m

F o r k On St. Croix, a dynamic new generation of farmers and chefs is reinventing what it means to eat local in the Caribbean. By Boris Fishman P H OTO G R A P H S BY K AT H E R I N E WO L KO F F


ANYONE WHO’S USED THE PHRASE

I S LAN D T I M E

HAS NEVER GONE

FORAGING FOR WHELKS WITH DIGBY STRIDIRON. The exuberant, 33-year-old chef helms the kitchen at Balter, the most ambitious new restaurant on St. Croix. When I visited his Christiansted establishment this past April, a month after its opening, the bright dining room, with its wooden tables, iron railings, and brick-and-stainless-steel open kitchen, was still figuring out its aesthetic, and the eager servers were checking on their tables so often that I considered asking ours to join us for dinner. But what a dinner it was. A friend and I worked our way through popcorn dusted with leek ash; local wahoo accompanied by pork-belly mofongo and mango kuchela, a Trinidadian chutney; and a slab of pork belly cured in shaddock, a local, pomelo-type grapefruit, and served with Haitian pickled slaw, chayote coulis, and a sauce made from caramelized yucca juice. Cocktails crafted with ginger beer and herbs from the restaurant’s garden kept us hydrated. Not every dish reached its goals, but you could taste the promise of magic down the line, like the right word moving toward the tip of the tongue. After I introduced myself, Stridiron invited me to go foraging. From our loot, he would improvise lunch. “Like, seven tomorrow morning?” he said. My eyebrows rose. “Eight, maybe?” I replied. St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the most elusive. If St. Thomas offers cruise ships and commerce, and St. John unpeopled majesty (two-thirds of it is a national park), then St. Croix is “where the real people live,” as the local saying goes—it’s the best of both worlds. No beachgoer could wish for sweeter shoreline than Point Udall, the easternmost point in the territorial United States. Meanwhile, there are two vibrantly disparate versions of Crucian life: one on the

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western end, in Frederiksted—scruffier, louder, and more “Crucian”—and the other in Christiansted, a Danish-colonial jewel heavy with “Statesiders,” to the east. Such distinctions are more freighted in a place where, as a local acquaintance told me, “we’re still healing” from slavery, which makes the island’s relative racial harmony feel all the more miraculous. Over the past several years, St. Croix has experienced a radical shift toward better food—which is remarkable in a region where importing ingredients is still the norm, and farm-to-table cooking is a relative rarity. Balter, which sources more than half of its products locally and intends to increase that figure by 15 percent every year, feels like a culmination. It has its own garden, and infuses its own oils, vinegars, and liquors with local fruit and other flora. The restaurant uses no plastic foam, saves gray water for its garden, and will soon invest in solar panels. The wood I saw was native red mahogany, the iron railings came from the local metalworks, and the bricks were 240 years old—they served as ballast for Danish ships on their runs to the island (rum was the ballast on the way home). While Balter finds its way, Zion Modern Kitchen, a casual, two-year-old Christiansted restaurant run by chefowner Michael Ross, offers St. Croix’s most consistently satisfying menu; its


Clockwise from top left: The beach near the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort, on the northern shore; chef Digby Stridiron picking yucca flowers on one of his foraging missions; Christina Gasperi, the co-owner of Art Farm; bread pudding with guavaberries at Balter, Stridiron’s Christiansted restaurant; star fruit at La Reine Farmers’ Market.


Isaac Bay Beach, a prime snorkeling spot on the eastern end of St. Croix.


Local wahoo with sea purslane, yucca flowers, and mofongo at Balter.


tuna in citrus beurre blanc and gooseberry gastrique has infiltrated my dream life. Ross also makes his own breads, pastas, and mozzarella, but Zion is most effusively Crucian behind the bar. “There are fewer rules, fewer people,” Frank Robinson, the restaurant’s resident cocktail wizard at the time, said of St. Croix when I stopped by one afternoon. (This past fall, Robinson opened his own farmto-glass spot, Bes Craft Cocktail Lounge, leaving two mentees behind the bar at Zion.) “You can get lost in it—it’s like New York in that way. But it can uplift you, too.” Robinson, who was born and raised

words until the whole place was rumbling in one voice: “Run away...you can’t run away...from yourself—” And then the power went out. “What happens now?” I asked, a rookie ready to go home. “What happens now,” Robinson said, “is we finish on the grill, and break out the lanterns and flashlights.” He laughed. “Price of paradise, man.” By evening, the outage had endowed the Christiansted streets with a decadent air. The cooks at 40 Strand Eatery, another newcomer that focuses on local fish and produce, were working a grill in the street between tables whose inhabitants were only too happy to have an extra cocktail while waiting. Away from the emergency lights, the town’s warren of boutiques, restaurants, and hotels—each somehow accommodated to a centuries-old Danish-colonial edifice—felt like a ship that had temporarily submerged under the nearby waters. That night, I had dinner at Savant, a veteran of the island’s fine-dining scene. — Passing through its cavelike front room on the way to the low-lit stone grotto that serves MAU BI , G UAVA , G OL DEN A PPL E— as its courtyard, I found it easy to forget that WA S DI Z Z Y I NG TO M E AFT E R A the electricity had come back. But St. Croix, N EW YORK W I N T E R OF OL D it turns out, feels that way a lot of the time, A PPL ES A N D PE A RS. even when the power is on. By 9 p.m., Savant was out of most of the day’s catch, mahion the island, produces his own bitters mahi, so I settled for the fish tacos and beer-battered fritters, and infusions: ginger and gooseberry both made with wahoo. That late in the day, after a power outrums, guava and marjoram vodkas, age, no less, that fish had no reason to be as good as it was. sweet-pepper-and-cilantro tequila. He squeezes all his juices from fresh local fruits. “If you’re consuming alcohol, why n an island as fertile as St. Croix, the shift to lonot make it as healthy as you can?” he cally sourced food shouldn’t have been so rejoked. Robinson told me to pick a liquor, cent or so challenging. St. Croix, which flew the and he’d invent a cocktail around it. flag of five nations, plus that of the Knights of I asked Mary Orr, the manager, why Malta, before becoming a U.S. territory in 1917, she had made her home on St. Croix. She was once the breadbasket of the Caribbean. shrugged: “You have to bring a book to the Unlike many of the region’s islands, it enjoys post office, and there are forty-seven potrelatively flat, nutrient-rich, arable soil: here, holes on the way there. But those are little foraging is just another word for walking. The profusion of things when you can put your feet in the plants and fruits—breadfruit, Moringa, maubi, guava, golden water on the way to work.” apple, mespila, eggfruit, dragon fruit—was dizzying to me afRobinson set down my ter a New York winter of old apples and pears. The drink: plum-infused Bulleit “St. Croix was under sugarcane production as late as 1966,” Details For more on bourbon mixed with lemon Dale Browne told me. He runs Sejah Farm, near the old where to stay juice, orange juice, tamaBethlehem Sugar Factory in the interior, and supplies produce and dine, turn rind, and tarragon, poured to Balter. We spoke in a lean-to surrounded by boxes of peppers to page 98 over unstirred passionand papayas that doubled as the market stand most mornings. fruit juice. It tasted as good as it sounds. “But then the Department of the Interior decided light industry It was 4 p.m., the sun molten and the and tourism would be the thing. People moved into governair heavy with late-April heat, but even ment jobs, and agriculture disappeared.” Soon, St. Croix was with the flames and steam of dinner prep importing nearly all its food. in the open kitchen several feet away, the In 1998, Browne and his wife, Yvette, decided to “get some bar felt cool—no doors and no windows goats so our children could understand eating right, being conmeans a draft all the time. Pressure nected to the land, what it means to care for another life. They Busspipe’s “Run Away” was loud on the got really into it.” Today, the Brownes farm vegetables and raise stereo system, and little by little, the livestock on 15 acres and supply four CSAs. It’s a time of great entire staff, from the servers laying out promise. “For forty years, the land has been dormant,” Browne silverware to the line cooks, picked up the said. “It’s as virgin as land can be.” (Continued on page 102)

THE PROF USION OF PLANTS AND F RUI TS

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The Details

Our guide to this month’s featured destinations, including the best places to eat, sleep, and explore.

(King of the Mountains, p. 74)

GETTING THERE Innsbruck, about an hour’s drive from St. Anton, is the closest airport to the Arlberg. Many more international carriers fly to Zurich and Munich, both of which are between two and three hours from the Arlberg by car. Trains to St. Anton are also available from Zurich or Innsbruck.

TASTING NOTE

Austria’s robust beer culture dates back to the 14th century. Today, there are more than 100 breweries scattered throughout the country, producing more than 600 different beers.

HOTELS House Hannes Schneider Last winter, the childhood home of Hannes Schneider, the father of modern skiing, was transformed into a sleek, six-bedroom private chalet. It’s a short walk from some of the Arlberg’s best powder skiing. Stuben; househannes schneider.at; chalet from $38,580 per week. The Kristiania An elegant, artand-antiques-filled retreat with 29 rooms, each with its own design aesthetic. Lech; kristiania. at; doubles from $400. Lechtaler Hof This peaceful, 20-room lodge is in Warth—the northernmost village in the Arlberg—which is the snowiest town in the Alps, receiving an

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average of 36 feet every winter. lechtalerhof.at; doubles from $246. Reselehof Built in 1490, this is the oldest guesthouse in St. Anton. The original, six-foot-thick walls guarantee quiet even in this party-loving town. reselehof. com; doubles from $175. RESTAURANTS Murmeli Skiers brush off the snow then settle in to this smart dining room for a long lunch of refined Austrian classics— including the perfect Wiener schnitzel—served with superior wines. Oberlech; murmeli.at; entrées $20–$38. Museum Restaurant-Café This beautiful 1912 chalet in the woods at the edge of St. Anton becomes a restaurant at night. Its candlelit, oak-paneled room is one of the Alps’ most romantic places to eat. museum-restaurant. at; entrées $20–$36. Rodel Alm Dry your gloves by the fire while devouring the Tiroler Gröstl, a hearty local specialty of fried potatoes, beef, bacon, and onions, at this retreat near a piste and a toboggan run. St. Anton; rodelalm. com; entrées $13–$29. Rote Wand Schualhus An 18th-century chalet that once housed a dairy and a school. Downstairs, there are strudels, dumplings, and salads for lunch, while the upstairs chef’s table offers a 12- to 15-course tasting menu for 16 guests at dinner. Zug; rotewand.com; tasting menu $193. ACTIVITIES Arlberg 1800 Contemporary Art & Concert Hall The Arlberg Hospiz, a former travelers’ refuge founded in 1386 on the Arlberg Pass, is now a huge contemporary art gallery and concert hall with rotating programs and artists in residence, along with classical and popular musical performances. St. Christoph; arlberg1800.at. Backcountry Skiing The Arlberg is a great place to learn to ski powder. Visitors can hire their own mountain guide, typically for

around $500 a day, or sign up with a ski school for off-piste group lessons. pistetopowder.com. Heli-Skiing The Arlberg is the only place in Austria where you can heli-ski. The helicopter will pick you up at the Flexenpass, one of the highest roads in Austria. Runs include the Schneetälli (starting at 8,038 feet) and Mehlsack (8,700 feet). Ludesch; wucher-helicopter.at.

TONGA

(Among the Whales, p. 82)

GETTING THERE Fly from Sydney or Auckland, New Zealand, to the Tongan island of Tongatapu. From there, Real Tonga Airlines flies to Vava’u twice daily, except Sunday. Fiji Airways also offers a direct flight to Vava’u from Nadi, Fiji, twice weekly. ADVERTISEMENT

Score a hard-to-get business-class mileage ticket to Tonga and many other international destinations using points from virtually any credit card or airline. Awardinsiders.com will find you seats even when phone agents can’t, at rates that will save you hundreds of thousands of miles and hours of frustration.

HOTEL Mandala Island Resort A boat transfer is required to get to this small private island, where you’ll find eco-friendly accommodations, excellent food, and tropical

LOCAL FLAVORS

serenity. mandalaisland.com; bungalows from $320. ACTIVITIES Nai’a Live aboard this 18passenger boat, which takes you from Nuku’alofa to the Ha’apai island group for snorkeling with whales and scuba diving on coral reefs. You’ll have to book way ahead, as the next available slot isn’t until 2019. naia.com.fj; $6,186 for nine days. WhaleSwim Adventures An experienced and conscientious outfitter offering a variety of multiday whale-swimming trips in Vava’u and elsewhere. whaleswim. com; from $4,375 for eight nights with six days of water activities.

ST. CROIX

(Fish, Farm, Fork, p. 90)

HOTELS The Buccaneer This luxe property, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year, has an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, three beaches, and more. Christiansted; thebuccaneer. com; doubles from $299. Starfish Cottage at Judith’s Fancy A cottage with a thoughtful aesthetic, a full kitchen, a wraparound porch, and pool privileges in the gated community of Judith’s Fancy. 340-690-6616; doubles from $100. RESTAURANTS Balter A contemporary West Indian kitchen that epitomizes

Stop by one of St. Croix’s many roadside stands to try dragon fruit, eggfruit, and other crops you seldom see in the U.S.

I LLUST RAT I ON S BY H OLLY WA LES

ARLBERG, AUSTRIA


(Austria, continued from page 81) summer to find work in the “child markets” of southern Germany. The Arlberg’s transformation is in great part owed to a single man. Hannes Schneider was born in Stuben in 1890, the son of a road builder. Jobs were scarce and the village threatened by depopulation so, at age 17, Schneider trekked over the snowy Arlberg Pass to seek work in St. Anton. There, the Hotel Post hired him to teach guests how to ski, an activity just beginning to evolve from a means of transport for mountain farmers into a leisure pursuit for tourists. Schneider quickly set about putting his mark on the nascent sport, adapting the upright stance and telemark turns long practiced by Scandinavian farmers into a forwardleaning, crouched position much like the one taught today. In 1920, he set up what locals claim was the world’s first ski school, and the same year starred in Das Wunder des Schneeschuhs (“The Wonder of Skis”), the first of several films that established his reputation as the Alps’ first celebrity instructor. Wealthy enthusiasts from across Europe and the U.S. came to learn Schneider’s “Arlberg technique,” while other ski resorts around the world sought the prestige of hiring Arlberg instructors, creating a diaspora of experts from the area. Schneider ended up at Cranmore, a modest ski area in New Hampshire, to which he had escaped after having been imprisoned by the Nazis. When he and his family got off the train there, in February 1939, he was welcomed by a crowd holding up an archway of ski poles. “It isn’t the Arlberg,” he said as he looked over the low hills, “but we are going to love it here.” Back home, the incoming tide of tourism reached different parts of the Arlberg at different times, which is

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one reason the villages remain so different from one another today. St. Anton was first—the number of hotel beds soared from the late 1950s onward as skiing went from aristocratic diversion to mainstream holiday activity—followed by Zürs and Lech. Stuben (population today about 90) was comparatively overlooked, stuck on the far edge of St. Anton’s ski area. This winter’s new lifts will finally change all that, putting Stuben in the center of the united Arlberg. Already there have been several developments. The wooden house where Hannes grew up has been renovated as a supremely luxurious rental chalet, filled with modern art and available to rent for $38,600 per week.

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fter three days in St. Anton, I took a cab over the Flexen Pass to Lech, a village of 1,503 residents that is the second-largest in the Arlberg. Perhaps it was the lingering effect of too much hunter’s tea, but when I woke there the next morning, the place seemed somehow dreamlike, a bubble of refined living at 5,000 feet. At my hotel, the Kristiania, I ate breakfast beneath a Lichtenstein, drank coffee from a silver pot, then set off into the village. Elderly couples in fur coats were walking arm-in-arm beside the river; a family was climbing into a horse-drawn carriage. Here, the ugly mundanities of modern life seem to have been banished. I met up with my guide, Luis Lankmayer—red ski-school outfit, deep tan, 55 “but I feel 35!”—and we rode the lifts up out of the village. He pointed out his family’s beehives, then led me to a long off-piste run called the Schneetälli. We started on a steep face that was cloaked in deep powder, delicious waves of cold snow flying up into our faces with every turn. As the gradient eased, we followed a frozen stream, slaloming around bushes that grew tighter and larger the lower we dropped, eventually gathering into a dark, silent forest. There were tracks of deer and rabbit, but we didn’t see another skier. Then at the bottom, after a push and skate over some fields, we emerged, hats, beards, and jackets caked with snow, in the hamlet of Zug.

We followed the smell of baking to a tiny chalet, which was built in 1780 and served as the village school until 1963. The building is still owned by the community, but last winter it reopened as a restaurant, the Rote Wand Schualhus. Inside, we ate warm cheese dumplings in a room that reminded me of a dollhouse, its ceiling, floor, walls, and window frames entirely wooden. I ordered a Coke, but was met with an apologetic smile. Here they only serve local products, the waiter explained, offering me a long list of apple juices instead. The upstairs of the Schualhus is a more high-end restaurant that serves a 12- to 15-course, $200 tasting menu and is open only at night. We went up for a look after lunch, and found three chefs busily whisking and dicing. It struck me that the two floors of the Schualhus are the new Arlberg in exquisite miniature: luxurious, of course, and in touch with global trends, but also deeply connected to the region’s rural identity. Perhaps the key is that the miraculous elevation from poverty has been so rapid that much of the tradition and culture has survived intact, the links with the past remaining close and clear. Lech’s backstreets may be lined with luxury cars, but here and there you still catch a farmyard smell outside a barn where cattle are overwintering. And, with only a couple of exceptions, the hotels are still owned by local families rather than corporations or absentee billionaires. The luxurious, art-filled Kristiania, for instance, is run by Gertrud Schneider (a surname that rings like an echo around these valleys). It was built as a home by her father, Olympic ski champion Othmar Schneider, whose mentor was Hannes himself. Later that evening I met another Schneider, Gerold, Gertrud’s cousin and owner of the Almhof Schneider, a five-star, 53-room hotel that evolved from his family’s farmhouse. “My family has lived on this land since 1451,” he told me as we looked around an old barn he has converted into a multipurpose art venue, Allmeinde Commongrounds, with an exhibition space and


accommodation for visiting artists. We sat at a wooden table surrounded by books on art and architecture, drinking a superb Grüner Veltliner and talking about past and future projects: sculpture by Antony Gormley, photography by Axel Hütte, and an installation by American artist James Turrell that sits high on the mountain above Lech.

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n my last day in Lech, I set out with my guide, Lankmayer, and a young man named Quentin, who was working at the Kristiania for the winter before heading to Yale and had been roped into carrying our picnic. We skied over to Warth, rode up its chairlifts, then climbed for 20 minutes to reach the Karhornsattel Pass, starting point for an off-piste route back toward Lech. In other parts of the world, backcountry ski routes have macho names— Apocalypse Couloir, Delirium Dive—but in true Arlberg style, this one was named after a 19th-century priest, Father Müller, the first person in Warth to buy a pair of skis. Beyond the pass we skied on sunny, open slopes, stopping to watch a family of steinbock move along the ridge. Then, halfway back to Lech, our lunch destination appeared like a mirage among the gleaming white snowfields. This was Bürstegg, a place made up of a chapel and a couple of barns and chalets, their ancient wood blackened by the sun. Quentin laid out our simple picnic on the wooden terrace of one of the barns: cheese, mountain ham, gherkins, and crusty bread cut with a horn-handled knife. I hung my jacket on a scythe left by the door and listened to the drip of snow melting from the eaves. It was heavenly, and as far removed as you could get from standing in line in the giant cafeteria of a mainstream ski resort. But it is also in many ways a memento mori—a note to the sophisticates of Lech and the party animals of St. Anton to remember how lucky they are. For Bürstegg is a ghost village, abandoned in 1898, and a reminder of what could have happened to all the Arlberg’s communities if skiing hadn’t come along to save them.

(Tonga, continued from page 86) blip surrounded by reef in a tranquil bay. The couple had helped a Tongan family with a house loan; in gratitude, the family offered first their unborn baby, then the rights to Fetoko. The Newtons passed on the baby, but they eventually accepted the island, with the stipulation that the family remain shareholders in the eco-resort they’d dreamed up, to be called Mandala. After four years of construction, which they did mostly by themselves, the Newtons opened in 2013 with just a restaurant and a tree house. Since then they have added four bungalows and a yoga porch overlooking the water. “The island already had its own vibe,” Ben said. “We just had to figure out what to do with it.” Though Fetoko Island is only about 70 yards in diameter, the Newtons found space for some big ideas. Ben’s swooping design for the open-air restaurant was inspired by, among other things, manta rays and fractal geometry. Upon arrival by boat, guests are greeted by the couple’s two dogs, Higgs and Boson, named after the Higgs boson, a theoretical subatomic particle. All electricity is supplied by solar panels and all water by the clouds. The toilets operate on a composting system, and plans are afoot for an aquaponics garden, which will allow them to grow more of the resort’s (excellent) food on site. There’s talk of keeping chickens and dairy cows on a nearby island, since there isn’t space on Fetoko. These green measures feel especially urgent in Tonga. Like other Pacific island nations, the kingdom is especially vulnerable to climate change, as rising sea levels and increasing water temperatures have begun to cause inundation of lowlying coasts, reef degradation, and saltwater infiltration of soil and freshwater reservoirs. “Be the change

and whatnot,” Ben said. “We’re not real focused on it as a business. It’s been more about the project, building it and enjoying it as we do it.” One of Ben’s businesses back in San Francisco involved arranging personalized experiences designed to help people confront and conquer their fears—for example, skydiving for those afraid of heights. “I got addicted to it,” he said, “but I realized I hadn’t faced my own biggest fear.” Which was? “Running out of money.” To that end, he and Lisa traded the rat race for the boat. “We sailed through the Golden Gate and turned left,” he said. Three years later, they arrived in Tonga. Money ran out a few times while they were building Mandala, but the rewards have been rich. “How do you beat the tropical island lifestyle?” Lisa asked. As I sipped a rum cocktail in a hammock on Mandala’s beach at sunset, I wasn’t sure you could. s undiscovered as Tonga remains to most people, whale swimming is drawing a growing number of visitors—from a few hundred annually in the early 1990s to more than 3,000 a year in the past decade. That might not sound like a lot, but as with any other tourism enterprise built around encounters with wildlife, whale-swimming companies must balance a desire to spread the gospel of conservation with the risk of intruding on the animals and disturbing their habitats. Australia, the Dominican Republic, and Tahiti are among the few countries besides Tonga that allow operators to put customers in the water with humpbacks. To its credit, Tonga has regulations in place to protect the whales— limits on lengths of swims, mandatory breaks between encounters, prohibitions on harassing the whales, and caps on the number of swimmers allowed and boat licenses issued— though these are largely self-enforced. By 1966, when the International Whaling Commission instituted a worldwide moratorium on killing humpbacks, only about 250 remained (Continued on page 102) in the area

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(Tonga, continued from page 101) around Tonga, down from an estimated original population of 10,000. Nevertheless, subsistence whaling persisted until the king ended it by decree in 1978. By 2010, the local whale population had rebounded to between 1,500 and 2,000, prompting some Tongans to argue that the ban should be lifted. At the moment, however, a reversal seems unlikely, given the economic boon of whale swimming and the public outreach the whales have been doing on their own behalf. “I always hope people are going to get the experience of looking into the eye of a whale and understanding that they’re ancient creatures,” Annah said. “I’ve seen it so many times, people being touched or moved in so many ways.” Every Saturday, the Tongan whaleswim boat captains get together to share a meal and talk shop, as part of a conscious commitment to maintaining a cooperative bond. “It’s good for us if every swimmer sees a whale,” Po’uli Tongia, our skipper and a first cousin of Nisi, told me. “We try to help each other.” The skippers keep in radio contact throughout the day, pooling intel about whales’ locations and behaviors. If one boat isn’t having any luck and another has found a whale amenable to encounters, the two boats might take turns dropping swimmers. On an afternoon when the whales were giving us the cold shoulder, a small boat of day-trippers offered to share a mother-and-calf pair with us. The other swimmers wore blocky orange life vests and held on to a float while their guide towed them. Such arrangements weren’t uncommon, Annah said, as some tourists who couldn’t swim still wanted to see whales. This elicited a few derisive snickers on our boat, but Annah said she admired the day-trippers’ bravery. Then Po’uli learned over the radio that the group was a Japanese ambassador and his family. Japan, we all knew, is one of the few nations that has persisted in commercial whaling despite international censure. We fell silent, watching the orange dots on the water. “Let’s hope they have a wonderful, awe-inspiring experience,” Annah said. In my seven days on the water, we found whales every day, but every

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day—and every encounter—was different. We floated for 45 minutes above a male as he sang to attract a mate, the water coming alive with whistles, chirps, trills, moans, and groans that rattled my ribs. We dropped into a group of five males on a heat run, all chasing a female, and found ourselves immersed in whale chaos. The boys, unafraid, spiraled around us, grunting. As one slid by just under my fins, another passed within arm’s reach to my left, and a third came up from the deep. Gliding and gigantic, they seemed always to be watching us, always careful to arc their flippers over or under us and not to whack us with their tails. We drifted on glassy, calm water above a placid mother and calf, their bodies dappled by sunbeams slanting down into the indigo water like light in the nave of a cathedral. We rocked and rolled on five-foot swells as a different, feistier calf shot up from below and fully out of the water, breaching just yards away. Its mother followed, rocketing up like a missile, water streaming off her as she arced against the sky, fins outspread. As the splash rained down on us, we cheered, exhilarated by her magnificent exuberance. If there was time after lunch, we might go for a non-whale-related snorkel. Near the end of our trip, one such excursion brought us to Mariner’s Cave, on the island of Nuapapu, where we dove down alongside a sheer, coral-encrusted drop-off and through an underwater tunnel into a black hole of rock, a humid air bubble encased in limestone. Such a place was once the stuff of my nightmares, but I finned into the darkness without hesitation. I wish I could say that my swims in Tonga were acts of courage, but my fear of the deep, which had seemed like a part of me, had turned out to be nothing at all—a coward that turned tail as soon as I looked right at it. I hadn’t been afraid, not since my very first drop, when I found myself surrounded by a blue so intense that the sensation was not of dangling above an abyssal depth but of being suspended in light, cradled by color. Wonders are waiting on the other side of our fears: singing whales and hidden caves, the bluest of blues.

(St. Croix, continued from page 97) The Department of Agriculture is offering subsidized plots to aspiring farmers. Many Crucians have been asking not only what the island lost in its embrace of industry but also what food dependence means during a time of weather extremes caused by climate change. “The supermarkets are asking for local, because customers are asking for local,” Browne said. Ridge to Reef, the only certifiedorganic farm on St. Croix, sits deep in the rain forest in the island’s northwestern corner. (Its name refers to the watershed that runs from the farm’s 134 acres toward the sea.) Here, owners Nate Olive, who grew up in Georgia, and his wife, Shelli BrinOlive, who is from St. Thomas, grow vegetables and raise livestock, lead educational tours, and offer off-thegrid lodging and wilderness-survival workshops, in addition to supplying organic produce to schools. But they’re best known to visitors for their Slow Down dinners, for which local chefs use the farm’s bounty to prepare all-organic, all-local meals for upwards of 60 people. Many guests build their entire trip to St. Croix around the Slow Down schedule. When I stopped by, Nate was away at the University of Georgia defending his PhD dissertation on whether ecoand cultural tourism alone could sustain the island. “Nature versus casinos, basically,” Shelli said, as we walked through a bamboo grove. The farm’s bounty was making me feel like I’d stepped through some prelapsarian wormhole. Shelli pointed out an Antillean crested hummingbird, the only bird that can fly backward; a “painkiller bush” known for the anti-inflammatory qualities of its leaves; and a Moringa tree, a handful of whose leaves could be enough for a day’s nutrition. Ridge to Reef was hosting 39 young Danish


volunteers—a crowd big enough to warrant an unscheduled Slow Down dinner—and I was invited to stay. Michael Matthew, who cooks at the Eat at Cane Bay restaurant on the northern end, braised a Ridge to Reef lamb in a stock made from bones and herbs. He served it alongside Ridge to Reef farm greens tossed with a dressing he’d devised by shaving down and puréeing a ball of cactus fruit. The dinner talk was about pelicans, terns, and the reappearance of a certain mockingbird after two years of drought. The food was worthy of seconds (and thirds). At some point, Shelli’s phone buzzed. It was Nate, texting from Georgia. He had passed.

as we watched fishermen hack and sell fresh catch on pickup beds for half the supermarket price. “People from up north will turn their noses up: ‘Fish from the back of a truck? How do you know it’s good?’ I buy from these people every week, that’s how.” What thrilled me was that I was beginning to recognize the items in the market stalls. That milky-yellow beverage was unfiltered ginger beer, as bracing as a mouthful of the root. That was maubi juice, from the bark of a tree. In my farmless New York life, this kind of aptitude had always seemed reserved for the select. No— you just had to spend time in a place that lived by the soil.

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hat young man can fillet a 20-pound tuna with a machete by the light of an iPhone,” said Susan Kraeger, proudly, as we walked through La Reine Farmers’ Market, already humming shortly past dawn on a Saturday morning. Kraeger, an escapee from New Hampshire, had picked me up at 5 a.m. for her weekly visit to the market, which is located not too far from Sejah Farm. Any later and all the good stuff would be gone. The rise of eco-minded farms and restaurants on St. Croix makes it easy to forget that some local farmers have been working the land responsibly for decades. “This is a big word today, organic,” said Violet Drew, who farms papaya, sour oranges, and more on three acres in a neighborhood near Upper Love. (St. Croix has the best neighborhood names in the world— Upper Love is surrounded by Jealousy, Hard Labor, and Hope.) Her stall also offered golden-apple juice and cassava bread. “I grow what I eat,” she said. “I would come here just to hear ‘Good mornin’, darlin’,’ ” Kraeger said

t. Croix is home—the people, the culture, the beaches, the food,” Stridiron said when he showed up for our foraging session. “Everybody cares about everybody here.” Born and raised on St. Croix, Stridiron joined the Air Force, then studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta and worked under Florida chef Norman Van Aken before returning. Our first stop was the beach at Judith’s Fancy, where I had been staying in a friend’s guesthouse without the least idea I was near a forager’s paradise. Stridiron gathered sea grapes, miracle grass, and sea purslane, at once briny and sweet. “I just ate the beach!” he exclaimed. “When you want fine dining, the Virgin Islands has everything,” he said as we drove away, “but it’s not local. When I was thinking about Balter”—the name tweaks a Danish word that means to dance without particular skill but with joy—“they said I should do it in St. Thomas, where the fine dining is. But then I’d just have to fly the food over from

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here. St. Thomas is the energy. But St. Croix is the motherland.” Stridiron’s mission with Balter is to cook the way Mom and Pop used to, but with modern technique and gastronomy. “They used salted codfish because that’s all they had. But what happens when you do local steak with maubi bordelaise? Chlorophyll soda over citrus-cured wahoo? We’re part of America, but a different part of it.” We pulled over at a nondescript spot on the northern shore and made our way down to a jagged outcrop, where we dodged rushing waves while peeling whelks off the rock. “When I came back here three years ago, there was no farm-to-table in the restaurant scene. Now I’ve watched twenty farms pop up in the last couple of years. A farmer is more powerful than an army. You control your life because you control what you eat.” In Balter’s gleaming prep kitchen, he laid out what he’d foraged, adding ingredients as they occurred to him: yucca flowers, sweet peppers, pungent leaves of Spanish thyme, and green garlic from Art Farm, a small property owned by Luca Gasperi, who was born and raised on St. Croix, and his expat wife, Christina. (The couple, who also have an art space, welcome visitors.) What was he making, I asked. “I don’t know yet!” he replied. That was the way it went for the next hour, as the whelks went into a whey broth on one induction cooker and ginger began steeping in sorrel juice on another: I would ask, and Stridiron would still be figuring it out. In the end, Stridiron served grilled mahimahi steaks in a salty-sweet mix of plantains, pork belly, whelks, white wine, butter, and many of the plants, herbs, and spices I had watched him lay out, along with Art Farm escarole and dandelion dressed with gingerinfused sorrel juice. Patrick Kralik, Balter’s co-owner and sommelier, who runs a farm-to-glass program to complement the cooking, dreamed up a gin-based cocktail with mint, sea purslane, shaddock, yucca flower, holy basil, and tarragon from the garden. The three of us ate at the bar, the shutters closed against the heat, the crunch of wheels echoing down the street, and the sound of passersby calling good day to one another. travelandleisure.com

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Worth Flying For

SWIMMING in the ZAMBEZI RIVER’S DEVIL’S POOL, ZAMBIA Illustration by Jun Cen

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et on the edge of Victoria Falls, in Zambia, the Devil’s Pool lives up to its frightening name. It is a rocky basin that has been hollowed out by thousands of years of erosion as the waters of the Zambezi River swept through it before falling 350 feet downward—twice the height of Niagara. For much of the year, the Devil’s Pool is inaccessible to visitors. But when the river level declines and the current slows between mid-August and mid-January (the region’s dry season), it turns into nature’s version of an infinity pool. These drier months reveal a rock wall at the edge, which acts as a barrier that makes it safe to jump in and take a dip.

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Experiencing this thrill requires a boat ride to a small island in the Zambezi River, followed by a swim to a large rock, then finally a leap into the pool. Just inches away, the torrents cascade over the precipice, producing dramatic clouds of rainbow-dappled mist. Your guide will happily take your picture as you pose to make it look like you’re going over. Floating above the roaring falls, it’s easy to understand why the locals call them Mosi-oa-Tunya—“the smoke that thunders.” — ADELINE DUFF For help coordinating a visit, contact T+L A-List agent Craig Beal (craigb@travelbeyond.com), who specializes in travel to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.



Travel Leisure USA – January 2017