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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

TRAVELLER May 2013 | UK Edition

16 HOURS

IN MADRID

use your transfer to check out another city on the map

USE YOUR SENSES IN MUMBAI AND

GET SHOCKED!

BRAZIL FALL IN

LOVE WITH MOTHER NATURE

SPLASHING HOLIDAY IN BORACAY spirit in

£ 3.85

the sea, by the table and in the air


National Geographics Traveller - May 2013

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CONTENTS

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4 IN THIS ISSUE

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14 22 28

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DRIVING INTO THE HEART OF SAMBA MOTION FOR THE OCEAN DANCING THROUGH A TRANSFER LOVING TO HATE MUMBAI

National Geographic Traveller | May 2013

28 DESTINATIONS

BRAZIL PHILIPPINES SPAIN MUMBAI


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WELCOME ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... The philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that travelling is a fool’s paradise. He explains how people always long after new places because sadness and loneliness will be replaced with the happiness of travelling and the cultural beauty of the destination. His words describe a typical nomad lifestyle and I believe this is how you describe a true traveller. The destination or the culture is not very important in travelling, it is your eager and desire to feel, touch, taste, see and smell new things. As a Western the ability to travel is beyond easy living in the “heart” of the World - especially in the UK. It is a luxury to be able to fly direct from to London to so many destinations. But accessibility also makes the world less “special” and we are always pushing the limits for exotic destinations and un-discovered places. Being a traveller with openheart you will soon recognize that exoticness could be in your neighbour country or the coffee shop you passed in a regular tourist destination. It is not only the destination that makes things exotic, but the people and culture. Open your hearts and absorb! Talk, eat, smell and feel.

Jeanette de Souza Lorvik Editor @isolablue www.natgeotraveller.co.uk | National Geographic Traveller

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DRIVING INTO

THE HEART OF SAMBA Picture by Isis Moretti

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two-hour drive into the countryside from Rio de Janeiro’s high waves and ice-blue coast there is a completely different Brazil. A place that makes samba and football merge into shadows of cowboy hats and galloping horses. Welcome to Paraiba do Sul. Words by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik. Photographs by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik and Henrique Gomes Batista. The stereotype holiday in Brazil is often known to be on a beach, in a bar or dancing samba to the rhythms only Brazilian hips can handle. Forget about Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo – if you have seen it all – try out Brazil’s countryside.

Out of town Even the drive to this place gives you butterflies in your stomach. From Rio de Janeiro’s central bus station you will drive up towards the sky on tiny one-way roads, after getting trough the city´s busy traffic. Once the bus starts moving up towards the mountains and the forest you can immediately feel the difference from the big city. How they actually built a road up this mountain is a mystery for a Westerner. The gravity difference and the fogy atmosphere makes you feel like you’re heading to Harry Potters castle – the Brazilian way. 6

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When you look out the window from the bus you see straight down for hundreds of meters. The bus is high and the feeling of tipping over the edge into the forest feels terrifying – but do not worry – the bus drivers here know what they are doing.

Happiness We pass through many villages. It is dusty and you can easily see that it is common to use a horse for transport. When entering our final destination the view of green parks and kids running around creates an atmosphere of happiness. And so does the smiling man receiving us when we get off the bus. Julio, our driver is taking us to his family farm, about a 20-minute drive from the centre of the small town. They have opened up their home to foreigners wanting to see a different Brazil for many years. And now they are ready to celebrate the Christmas holidays with some new Westerns.

“Hold on!” says Julio, the driver and laughs as he looks in to some nervous eyes.

Getting dirty Some of the holes are filled with dirty water, splashing onto the car. Next to the road, an exotic forest proudly shows millions of colors and animals that whisper in the silent landscape. The large and wellequipped car drives up to the enormous ranch. The smell of horses and cows hits through the open window when the car parks next to the horse stables, that are currently empty. Some of the stables are filled with vegetables produced by the family, and chickens are gossiping about today’s news. The 10 km farm is owned by the Rocha family. Today is Boxing Day and the whole family is gathered - even those who live in other cities. The women are working their way around the kitchen and the barbecue, while they’re drinking wine and arguing about which flavours to use and how to make the food.


BRAZIL

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The contrast between Rio de Janeiro’s coast and countryside is enourmouse. Pictures by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik.

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................. On the way to the countryside we meet hundreds of trailers. Picture by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik

“I make the best lamb steak!” says one of the women, Dinalva, 46. Her long, dark hair lies perfectly down to her tiny waist. Around her, she is surrounded by her aura of the typical countryside accent and body language.

Passionate chefs The “too many chefs in the kitchen” expression seems to fit this family well. Brazilian women are naturally passionate about anything they do and all of them want to have the final word. They are constantly interrupting and raising their voices so they can make their speech. The topic is not so important, nor is proving your point. It is just a mess of loud noises and it is, in a weird way, beautiful. The surroundings are perfect. The grass is green like in the parks of London in May. It is strange how you can be so far from home, and still find similarities. the way they act and talk – macho!

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Nose job

The smell is a bit different though. Obviously it smells of food and barbecue. Brazilians don’t use a lot of spices – but the taste of the food is unique. It must be the combination of meat and vegetables. Perfume is also essential in the general smell. The ladies smell marvellous and the men smell like proper men – you can sense how the strong spices in their cologne fits perfectly to The testosterone-filled men are rigging up the chairs and tables for the never-ending meal that is soon to be ready. During Christmas time it’s summer in Brazil. It is 35 degrees in this area. That’s hot for a foreigner, but even these full-blood Latin Americans are struggling, especially when they are moving furniture.

Liquid “I need a beer,” shouts Paulinho to one of the other guys while he wipes off the sweat on his forehead with his hand. To bear the heat, the guys are constantly pouring ice-cold beers that have been chilling in a Styrofoam box with tons of ice cubes. The beer is called “Skol” and is according to these guys, who claim they are professional beer drinkers, the best beer in Brazil.

National Geographic Traveller | May 2013

“To be a professional beer drinker in Brazil is like an art. You have to know how to prepare it. Whichever brand you pick, the beer has to be on the verge of becoming slush,” argues Rodrigo as he is pouring the beer in glasses. And it works well. Almost all the common brands are light beer that don’t fill you up, but do what they are supposed to do – cool you down!


BRAZIL

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The “too many chefs in the kitchen” expression seems to fit this family well. www.natgeotraveller.co.uk | National Geographic Traveller

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The ‘Rocha’ ranch is filled with colours and natural beauty. Picture by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik

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Before everybody starts eating, they pray. Mountain of food On the dinner table, or what looks more like the buffet table, the dishes are lined up. One of the dishes is codfish imported from Norway. Brazilians never do it halfway, as they need the best quality. And if the local product doesn’t reach expectations, it will be imported. Now, codfish is seen as luxury. It is quite expensive. Any imported item is very expensive in Brazil. The government is very set on using the country’s own products, so the importation tax is 70% of the cost. For codfish you can probably handle to buy some for Christmas, but imagine if you’re buying an imported car. Codfish is usually used to make “Bacalao”, Portugal’s national dish. This dish is very popular in Brazil as well. “Look how beautiful this looks, we are so blessed,” says the grandmother of the family, Mrs. Rocha and points to the table filled with food.

Before everybody starts eating, they pray. “Thank you, God, for all the food, happiness, success, health and love we are blessed to have this Christmas. We will cherish everything with the knowledge that the situation could be different. We don’t take anything for granted,” prays Mrs. Rocha before she signals that everybody can start eating.

Uncle Pedro Brazilian families are usually quite big. Today there are only 20 relatives gathered for Christmas, but they are still only the closest ones – three generations. Normally, on the farm, there is only one, the unmarried Uncle Pedro that won’t reveal his age, but looks around 70 years old. He takes care of the house, the animals and the farm. And according to the family doctor, he is going to keep on doing this for many years.

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“A great man won’t reveal his age. The age of the body is not important, it is the mind,” says Uncle Pedro before he heads off to tend to one of the horses.

“Put on your shoes and come here,” he shouts to some of the kids. They smile and run after their shoes, anxious about the horses. The horses look perfect. They listen, obey and you can see they are well taken care of. The “cowboy” takes a ride over to the cows that are spread around on the big farm. After a few minutes he has rounded them up. The bull is locked up and you can hear he is confused, angry and impatient. He obviously wants to get out there where the cows are.

This kind of Brazil is much unknown to the regular Englishman. The feeling of being dumped in Texas is clearly there and it is easy to forget that you are actually in the heart of the Samba. But then, the Brazilian rhythms follow you wherever and whenever in Brazil, so you are constantly reminded that you are still in South America’s biggest country. The mixture of Brazilian rhythms and chickens arguing is kind of a weird, but exotic sound. And the happiness and comfort is easy to feel between the animals and the humans.

“Come and dance with us,” says Dinalva while she is moving her hips to the rhythms that can make even the coldest Londoner get in the mood.

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A 20-year-old boy that helps out on the farm has taken one of the horses for a ride. The boy is tall, tanned and with a naturally large build. His cowboy hat and big boots are right where they should be. He also takes out a few horses for the kids, so they can go for a little ride as well.

Brazilian hips


BRAZIL

Paraiba do Sul is filled with joy for the ‘outdoor-person’. Photograph by Henrique Gomes Batista

Cowboy to the bone. Picture by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik

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MOTION FOR THE OCEAN kitesurfing

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kitesurfing

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kitesurfing

The local taxi’s are charming and cheap

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reaming about that holiday that won’t make you fat or make your liver cry, but make your endorphin level jump to the sky? Kite surfing is the new thing and even if you have not tried extreme sports before – you might just fall in love with the island of Boracay with the wind that makes you want to fly. Words by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik. Photographs by Aleksandru Baranesku. In Boracay the shoulders are low and the waves high. The island in the southwest of the Philippines immediately tempts you with coconuts straight from the tree and local dried mango that gives you sweet lips and a smiling face. The art of seduction is the secret this island has a hold of. It feels like Boracay can’t help but seduce you, whether it is kite surfing your hunting or a peaceful holiday on the beach, eating food from palm leafs. Whichever holiday you choose, don’t forget to look up and you will see a hundreds of kites making an artwork of colors in the ice-blue sky.

OCEAN RULES

The sea dominates life on the island and there is an ocean of opportunities to explore the Pacific. Kite surfing and lying on the beach are only two of them. When in Boracay you can sail, dive or even eat your sea experience at one of the vibrant food markets. A bit outside of Boracay’s center, fresh fish and -seafood wait for you ready to be cooked steamed or 16 National Geographic Traveller | May 2013

Boracay offers fresh fruit with no limit

fried. If action is more your thing, you should try to go raw with the food. This market is reckoned to be one of Boracay’s best food haunts, so just walk around on the market, find whatever fish you find exotic or authentic enough, and bargain your way to a meal. After the shopping, the restaurants around the market supply you with a chef and other ingredients to prepare you a mouth filling meal that will knock you over – Filipino style.

MULTIPLE CULTURE

The foreigners staying in Boracay plot an exotic map of the world, while many of them are there with a board, a kite and looking for some wind, some don’t ask for more when they are on holiday - but if the wind is not there, there is trouble in paradise. To get there you have to fly to Manila and then take a local flight to Kalibo or Caticlan. Kalibo is almost half the price, but then you have to take a mini-bus for about two hours and depending on your karma, you could get stuck next to one of the many sweaty Asians that travel to Boracay. From Cataclan you have to take a boat that looks like a homemade one - charming, but scary. But it seems like the natives have it under control, even though the waves splash you for about half an hour. To travel all this way (especially from Europe) to hit the perfect wind – is pretty crazy or not. For some, kite surfing is what they call a holiday. Stephan Hertiz (age 34) on the other hand, calls it a life style.


kitesurfing

The kite’s are big and can be dangerous.

“Anybody can learn how to kite surf. Of course it might be a bit harder if your weigh over 100 kilos, but you don’t have to be an athlete to do it,” says Stephan. Stephan has been doing kite surfing for about 10 years. He is one of those dreamers that everybody wants to be. Ten years ago he left his 9 to 5 job as an engineer in Switzerland to do something else. He was tired of the European winters and the straight way of looking at life. In 2002 he moved to Costa Rica. Kite surfing was pretty new back then, so it wasn’t his obvious choice, but after diving and surfing for a while he found his big love – the kite. “Why? I like water sports and it was something new. And it was easy to learn for me. I had been doing a lot of snowboarding back home in Switzerland, so I had a good starting point,” continues Stephan about his kite surfing life. He learned to kite surf in three weeks and then started working as a teacher. After Costa Rica he has been to Venezuela, Brazil, Thailand and Boracay. Stephan runs the kite center ‘Hangin’ on Bulabog beach, on the east side of Boracay.

The beach is huge to be on such a small island - 4 km at least. The beach itself is not so pretty, because of the big waves that the wind creates at night, flushing a lot of “natural” dirt up onto the beach. You can even smell seaweed with a hint of salt. On a windy day it is an amazing view from the beach - hundreds of kites in the air and hundreds of eager kite surfers, fighting with the wind and the waves. It is a colorful view - the kites, the boards and the clothes. You can see a few pink ones as well – that’s the girls. “I have been in Boracay for the last 4 years now, so the island is like a home for me. I go back to Switzerland in the European summer to visit my family, but I don’t think I will move back. Kite surfing is my life, and I can’t do it there,” argues Stephan about his future with a big smile. He seems happy about his lifestyle and it is understandable.

He starts his day by eating breakfast in his hammock and goes to sleep listening to the waves that beat towards the rocks five meters from his home. www.natgeotraveller.co.uk | National Geographic Traveller

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kitesurfing And this lifestyle suits the 34-year-old very well. He still looks in his twenties and with his curly, sun-bleached hair he looks like a good old-fashioned surfer. The Philippines has thousands of islands, but somehow Boracay attracts so many tourists every year. And Stephan has a few answers to that.

scary, but it is a lot of fun, although you should know how to swim.

When Stephan explains how to kite surf, it sounds pretty easy. First you start with a trainer kite (the smallest version) on the beach. Then you learn how to set up a bigger kite. Before even touching the water the instructor will tell you all about “The good thing about Boracay is that there are safety measures. When the instructor decides that no tsunamis here. I think that is one of the reayou are ready, you take the bigger kite out in the sons that western people choose this island to live water and feel the motion of the ocean. and holiday in. Since the island is so touristic you can find your own local food here – that’s nice when the ‘home, sweet, home’-feeling pops by, “ STAY SAFE he explains. Stephan explains the sport is kind of safe, but you have to know how to handle the ocean if LEARN TO SWIM something goes wrong, so at the kite center they Boracay is approximately 10 km wide. With good underline how important it is to learn how to stay wind you can sail around the island in about one safe. hour. The sailboats in the Philippines are a bit “If you don’t take care, you could kill yourself. different than the ones we have in the UK. It is Kite surfing is an extreme sport and you should literally just some wood tied up in a very clever way, because it actually works. But you should be respect the ocean and Mother Nature,” says prepared to handle a few showers and maybe even Stephan, but ensures that the sport is very safe if going under the water for a short while. Sounds you understand the rules.

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Stephan, on a regular day at work - fixing his kite


kitesurfing

You should respect the ocean and Mother Nature He also mentions that normal travel insurance doesn’t cover kite surfing accidents, but usually the kite centers have these starting packages, where you can pay to be insured through the center. A training package usually costs around £ 300 and you get everything you need – equipment, insurance and training.

Hand-made sailboat in the sunset

You can be your worst enemy or your best friend – when you are out travelling having a best friend is essential. In the kite surfing world you find a lot of friends, but your main friends for this kind of holiday are the sea, the wind and your board. Stephan has no plans of moving from Boracay and you can feel his love for the island when he talks about it. It’s like his little baby.

Boracay is amazing. It is definitely worth the long trip to experience the paradise-looking small island with the crazy wind. Like some of the kite surfers put it; “It’s awesome man!”

LONG FLIGHT

Western people fly all the way to Boracay in the Philippines every year, in the hope for some action on For when you’re not kiting on your the board. You can combine your ADDICTIVE ISLAND ‘kite holiday’, most of the kite ‘kite holiday’ with another holiday as centers also have bungalows or “Actually, Boracay is a bit addictive. well. Many backpackers stop by the apartments you can stay in close to A lot of people stay here for longer Philippines just to get some kite the center. A beach bar and a small periods than planned. But that’s the surfing done. And it’s a good way restaurant is usually by the center as nice thing about life, when you to end a backpacker holiday. After well, so you can socialize with your unexpectedly find something you eating your way through love,” says the well-integrated Swiss Southeast Asia, there is nothing new kite surfing friends. Many about his home island. travel alone on these kinds of better than to get a tan and holidays, but everybody is there for exercise, while salty water splashes And it is easy to understand the same reason – the kite. your sun-heated body.

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kitesurfing

TALIPAPA

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kitesurfing

MARKET Photographs by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik

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CITY LIFE | madrid MADRID, SPAIN

DANCING THROUGH A TRANSFER

Local’s drink wine anywhere at anytime

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madrid | CITY LIFE

Long distance travel often leads to several layovers in different countries. To get the most out of your trip, you can extend the journey in order to get a few hours in the towns you have your layover in. Say hello to 16 hours in Madrid. Words and photographs by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik.

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adrid is a scene of unimaginable history, food feasting and hectic rhythms that sets off your body on a Latino rhythm from head to toe. The city is unique in culture, but still much like other capitals in southern Europe in architecture. Spaniards are known to be people of the night, and this is reflected to the highest degree in Madrid. The social life takes place mostly outdoors, in a bar or cafe - just not at home. A night on the town tends to mean a good mood, but it is a slow marathon with stops at many different bars, all the time with an increasing number of participants. You will cross the finishing line sometime around breakfast, also preferably eaten out.

In Madrid it will never be just you and the city – your only chance at solitude is in a rented rowboat on the pond in the Parque de Retiro. There are too many activities to choose from here. Some will enjoy standing face to face with painting Guernica at the Reina Sofía Museum or strolling the world famous art collections at the Prado Museum. Foodies find happiness with tapas of Serrano ham or Manchego cheese. Dance fanatics can experience a flamenco show or dance themselves, while the fashionistas can shop until they drop and get lost in the huge supply of shoes and bags, which Spain is internationally renowned for.

DO LIKE THE LOCALS

EAT, TALK, ENJOY!

To become a local, the plan for the next 16 hours is to enjoy, because that is what the residents of Madrid do best. Since the transfer is from 10 pm to 12 am, dinner with good wine is a must, continuing on to going out on the town to shake the hips to Spanish rhythms with all the Don Juan’s and Spanish temptresses. The flight to a warmer climate is tomorrow at noon, so the plan is to hold out until dawn, then get on the subway back to the airport and find some lovely breakfast with lots of antioxidants so we survive the next flight.

When you are going to be in a city less than a day, there are some essential things you should know about in order to catch a bit of culture. You must try the local food, including local products and traditional dishes, to best taste what the country has to offer. Talk with natives! Even if they don’t speak your language – use your body language. And here in Madrid, you may be in danger of over-friendliness and easily exchanged contact information – so watch out – you might even have a great time. Spanish people are friendly and helpful, and even if their English is poor, their

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CITY LIFE | madrid MADRID,SPAIN SPAIN MADRID,

Top: Olives is a ‘must’ when visiting Spain and eating tapas Left: Natural beauty - The Spanish way.

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madrid | CITY LIFE hospitality is enormous. In order to make the most out of your transfer, it takes a little planning. If you plan to spend several days in a place, you should book hotels in advance. In this case, the luggage is in ‘transfer mode’ so it can be locked in a locker to sleep safely, while the traveller can go out into the bullfighter’s nightlife of Madrid. Be sure to send your luggage to the final destination when checking-in from the starting point. The planning should start as early as the packing stage, so you only have clothes and toiletries in the hand luggage. And make sure to buy hand luggage sized toiletries (50 ml rule).

SAFE LUGGAGE When you arrive at Madrid’s international airport just go through the passport control and walk past the baggage belts. In the terminal one, two and four, there are lockers, so just go to one of these terminals and consult the information desk about where they are located. Here your luggage is safe for the night. If you are just staying for one night and without a hotel, you may want to take out money at the airport, so you do not have to take the cards to the city. All valuables, passports and such things should also be left, however, the camera may be worth taking for the memories.

“One, two, three or four dishes?” asks the waitress after running through the restaurant. It is a busy night. When visiting Spain you have a mandatory task - eat tapas.

The streets of Madrid are filled with culture, colours and architecture

TAPAS AND CULTURE Generally people associate country and culture with food. Tapas are an important part of Spanish culture. Tapas consist of a variety of appetizers or small dishes. After looking in to several recommendations, tonight’s dinner is dedicated to a restaurant called “Lateral” in the center of Madrid. The restaurant name is scrabbeled on a old note and because of some language confusion the taxi driver drives around in circles for about 15 minutes before we finally see the sign “The Lateral”. Rumbling stomachs are ready to enter. The friends that recommended the restaurant have already warned that the place is popular and you often have to have a drink, or five, before you get a table.

A couple of glasses of the house white wine goes down quickly before the waitress shows the way to our table, one and a half hours after arrival. >>

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CITY LIFE | madrid MADRID, SPAIN

Taxidriver’s is a big part of how a visitor sees Madrid. If the sign says ‘ocupado’ they are occupied.

The menu includes everything from fried tuna fillets with salsa on bread to Spanish meatballs to sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi.The menu seems a bit scattered. When entering the restaurant you get a impression of an evocative tapas restaurant in Spain, but we surf the wave of sushi and salmon sashimi. The Filipino waiter, alternating between English and Spanish does not make the experience any more ‘bullfighter-like’, but she makes up with a charming smile. “When ordering tapas you should have two to three dishes per person,” the waitress recommends. You should always take the recommandation of a waiter – they are experts –

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so without hesitating, she runs off to the kitchen ordering five dishes and a bottle of the house rosé. The dishes taste great and the rose wine topped it off perfectly. Yet another tourist captured by Spanish gastronomy, although some foreign elements created a bit of confusion.

SPANISH COGNAC And to continue in typical Spanish fashion, the dinner is ended with “Carrilho”. “Carrilho” is one of the national drinks of Spain. It is as simple as an espresso shot with a shot of cognac. Some think it is a destruction of the expensive French product, some just roll their eyes after the first sip and say: “mmm”. After tuning down the rumbling stomach a few


madrid | CITY LIFE

spanish rhythms and national

songs are being played on the thumping speakers while everybody dances wildly. Over the bar, there are orders and shouting. Better safe than sorry, so an attempt of ordering two gin and tonics, or

in Spanish: dos gin y tonico, happens quickly. The bartender fills the glasses with quality gin, filling the glasses like there is no tomorrow. notches at the charming tapas restaurant, the trip carries onto some more speed and excitement. The recommandation sources have underlined "Club Cabana", which is a few blocks further down the street. It is supposed to be the ‘it-spot’ of Madrid. After a ten- minute walk, a large man who looks alarmingly similar to Arnold Swartsneger from the early 90’s, is standing in front of the door. He informs us that tonight there is a private event, so no un-invited guests are welcome. “Try going a few blocks down and there are different types of nightclubs,” he recommends before entering the door and closing it behind him. After a bit of walking, spanish rhythms and national songs are being played on the thumping speakers while everybody dances wildly. Over the bar, there are orders and shouting. Better safe than sorry, so an attempt of ordering two gin and tonics, or in Spanish: dos gin y tonico, happens quickly.

The bartender fills the glasses with quality gin, filling the glasses like there is no tomorrow. The earlier rumbling stomach turns uncomfortably, this is a strong drink! ‘Glass’ seems to be the wrong word; this is more like a giant fishbowl. But with the help of a straw, the drink can be handled and a few more orders are made.

NEW HORIZONS The tour continues to a few other clubs in the area and the Spanish rhythms are recognizable at most of the places. The party ends around seven o’clock, in other words, perfect timing to take the subway back to the airport to catch a rejuvenating breakfast. After storage retrieval, clothing changes and a real tooth brushing, we find ourselves at Starbucks with tall green teas and giant sandwiches. Soon it is time to jump on a new plane and speed ahead in hopes of new adventures.

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INDIA

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Loving to hate

For the experienced traveler and tourist that has seen, smelled and tasted it all – it is time to dive into Mumbai´s colors, mysterious eyes and spices. When everything else feels boring, Mumbai will capture you with its open-minded personality and diverse mentality. Words by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik >> 28

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culture shock | Mumbai

MBAI Photographs by Andrea Pistolesi

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INDIA

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TANNED SKIN, LONG, BLACK HAIR AND PAINTING ON THE FOREHEAD

- Bombay, as the city was called until a few years ago, gives an image to the rest of the world of belly dancing, yoga and gorgeous Bollywood actors. And it is true, but it won’t be your first meeting with Mumbai. The feeling Mumbai gives you is one of a kind and you will never forget the first time you put your foot in the city. Going down from the plane the heat sticks to your body and makes your senses get turned on to the maximum. In the arrival department beautiful palms trees receive you - along with hundreds of Indians. The airport is crowded. There is a good mixture of tourists, people coming home and people leaving. People’s faces reveal happiness, sadness and an eagerness to see something new – something different. And that is Mumbai described in one word – different.

passion Arriving into the open-air area you will immediately get punched by this extraordinary smell that only a city like Mumbai can produce. Deep into the sun-blasted Indian city the heat along with the exhaust makes a cloud of spices that lies over millions of people. Mumbai is thought to have over 18 million citizens, and those are only the registered ones. All this might feel like a lot, but after getting the grip of it you will enjoy it to the very end. Mumbai is like the frog that turns into a prince. Once you get to know the city and adapt, you will feel a passion for the Bollywood city.

Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India. To put it very simply, one can say that while it is about politics and power in the capital, New Delhi, we are talking about business and pleasure in Mumbai. Mumbai is located on a narrow spit jutting out into the Arabian This big city is everything else than what we are used to Sea. Here you will find Victorian architecture, in Europe and the UK - even though one of the main skyscrapers of glass and steel, teeming bazaars, the top languages is the same, and the fact that this once was a seafood restaurants in Asia and some of the largest slums in the world. British colony.

The streets of Mumbai are colourful and very crowdy. Photographs by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik

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culture shock | Mumbai

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When you leave here, you are groggy, wiser, have seen worse injustices than anywhere in this world, but perhaps also more mature as a person. cultural boost

Mumbai is for the one that needs something new, for the tourist that has seen a lot and needs to get a culture shock. You can choose how you want to experience it - from a five star hotel, sipping cocktails surrounded by many of India’s royalties, or you can try this way; feeling the culture to the bone and shower for two weeks when you return to the UK. “Do you need a hotel - cheap and central? I can help you!” says one of the guys in the entrance of arrivals. His armpit, that immediately captures yet another tourist that haven’t pre-booked a hotel, smells like the rest of India – itchy, bitter and wet. Not the most welcoming armpit. Nevertheless – it is easy to get fooled by these hotel-sharks that promise central accommodation and sunny afternoons.

a smelly town

The backside of India’s marvelous food is the smell your body starts producing after eating it, especially in a city that can only be compared to a sauna. Not only is Mumbai a hot place, but it is India’s answer to New York, so it only gets hotter with the buildings around. This doesn’t sound good, does it? Well, obviously

Mumbai has some hidden treasures, because even with all this crap, the feeling of returning to India could not have been bigger. When in Mumbai, you should definitely eat good Indian food (a selection of good restaurants) and walk around the bazaars (the biggest and best in India). When you leave here, you are groggy, wiser, have seen worse injustices than anywhere in this world, but perhaps also more mature as a person.

hot

If you look carefully on the asphalt, you can see the heat rising. And if you look up to the sky there is a blend of exhaust, pollution and curry mist – in front of the clear-blue sky and a happy sun. Mumbai is a magnet for the poor from the Indian countryside, and there are many who come here to seek their fortunes. While a few succeed, most fail. Mumbai is hope and despair, laughter and tears, middle class who have grown up with MTV India and the poor majority who do not know what MTV India is. www.natgeotraveller.co.uk | National Geographic Traveller

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The slum of Mumbai can be grey and dirty - but still charming. Photograph by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik

EVERY COUNTRY HAS ITS OWN SMELL and the feeling of smelling a country for the first time is like the first time you have sex. It is unique and you can never have it again. But every time you come back to the country memories explode in your head. Even with Mumbai’s odd smells. It’s so much - spices, sweat and exhaust. It is a little bit charming and a little bit uncomfortable.

It takes hours in Mumbai’s chaotic traffic before the car even gets to the central hotel. That is how central the hotel is. “Only a few minutes left. The traffic is terrible today,” assures the local taxi driver, but the credibility isn’t quite there. The traffic is probably like this every day – it is just easier to live with unpatient tourists in the backseat if you cool them down.

sun-bading

Along the seafront it is easy to get confused and think you’re in Rio de Janeiro or Miami. It is a nice beach walk with sky high palms trees and the sun is reflecting perfectly to make those sparkling stars in the sea. 32

National Geographic Traveller | May 2013


culture shock | Mumbai

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Don’t be scared, this is just how things work here in Mumbai said by a taxi driver

Everything screams Rio except for one thing: everybody is swimming with clothes. Most tourists in Mumbai live in Colaba, close to the monument Indian Gate. There is a fresh breeze from the ocean, and you’ll find a great mix of everything from the most luxurious hotels in India (Taj Mahal Hotel) to some of the cheapest (Salvation Army hostels). From pompous Boardwalks, to the narrow alley where drug dealers whispers “Hashish, Sir?” Here the western backpackers, Arab sheiks, East African businessmen and Indian Honeymooners, are all mixed

together in a cosmopolitan, fiery jumble.

dirty

Still in the taxi, tired and a bit drowsy from all the noise and intense human presence a new feeling never felt before appears. Dirtiness has reached another level. Mumbai’s smell and moisture, clings easily onto every inch of the body. The taxi driver grins as he sees some exhausted eyes in the mirror. He smiles friendly back, but it is transparent that he wants to laugh his head off – it screams culture shock from the back.

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TOP: The streets of Mumbai offers millions of people and chaotic traffic. Photographs by Jeanette de Souza Lorvik

cultural shock The thing about culture shock is that it is so relative. It basically depends on how much you have travelled before and how open-minded you are. You should have some travel experience before you go to a city like Mumbai – it can really be overwhelming and scary. You will easily find yourself lost in the middle of the street with hundreds of people around you and the same amount of cars and taxi’s. Mumbai must have one of the world’s most chaotic traffic and no wonder - there are no rules and all the drivers ‘Bip’ themselves through the queue – mostly with their head outside of the car – screaming. It’s strange how this can feel so appealing, yet you know how dangerous it is. 34

“Don’t be scared, this is just how things work here in Mumbai,” explains the taxi driver, that has suddenly just upgraded to a personal tour guide. He refers not only to the chaotic traffic, but also to all the people living on the street. Mumbai has approximately 18 million people that are registered in the city, but by the look of it, there must be a few million unregistered people living on the streets as well.

slums Flashbacks to the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” appears in the head. People are desperate, hungry and hurt - emotionally and physically. It makes you wonder if the stories from the movie are the bitter reality. But it is their culture

National Geographic Traveller | May 2013

and the Indians are used to all this craziness. As a Westerner, you just have to leave behind all judgment and pity when you enter the country. Because compaction won’t get you far here and most of the people don’t want that either. Mumbai is a city of adventure and the good thing is that you don’t have to do extreme measures to accomplish this. Find a random bar or cafe, look at the people and observe. There is so much culture to absorb just by walking on the street. Which other big city looks like New York from the sky, smells like something indescribable and sounds like an orchestra from Bangladesh?


culture shock | Mumbai The chef’s of the streets are ready to serve you. Photograph by Benoy Thapa

www.natgeotraveller.co.uk | National Geographic Traveller

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Final Major Project 2013  

Making features that would fit in the travel magazine National Geographic Traveller

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