Plan Your Next Fall Trip The Perfect Escape to Wisconsin Explore every day
U LT I M AT E EXPERIENCES 22 MOMENTS YOU’LL NEVER FORGET
INSIDER SECRETS OF GREECE, HAVANA, ROME & AUSTIN
On the Oregon Food Trail
CON TEN T S FALL 2018
FEATURES p. 50 THE BEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE 18 of the world’s ultimate experiences
p. 60 ALL ABOARD THE REUNIFICATION EXPRESS Hop aboard Vietnam’s 1,000-mile-long North– South Railway for an unforgettable trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.
p. 72 ON THE OREGON FOOD TRAIL Take a foodie’s trip around scenic Oregon, with stops in Portland, wine country and along the coast.
The Highway Star Cocktail at Ash Bar in Portland, Oregon, featuring fresh beet juice
THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S STORY Benjamin Hardman captures stunning images of Iceland.
p. 89 GREAT ESCAPE
NORTHEAST AEGEAN Set sail for the Aegean Islands to enjoy organic produce, historic villages and (maybe) the secret to long life.
On the cover: Vernazza in the Cinque Terre, Italy For more on this region, turn to p. 57 Photo by: James Relf Dyer
CON TEN T S FALL 2018
Welcome to the Neighborhood: A local’s take on Havana, Cuba
Photo Challenge: “Lost”
The Secret History Of: The VW bus
Try Something New: Multiday cycling trips
Meet the Maker: A Vancouver artist carries on a woodcarving tradition
Moto Rising: America’s roadside motels make a comeback
Well Spent: The best way to spend $150 in Miami
Road Trip: Scenic Door County, Wisconsin
How to Take This Photo: Adding depth to a landscape
My Trip: Varanasi, India’s holy city
Going Further: Traversing Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu
In Search of the Perfect: Barbecued ribs in Memphis
Sketchbook: Bamako, Mali
TOP PIC KS p. 101
Rome / Flavors Austin / Good Times Chicago / Food & Drink
MEET A TRAVELER p. 112
Writer, self-taught cook and career wonderer Von Diaz talks travel, food and more.
Travel Handbook: Using chopsticks, surviving a rip current and opening a coconut
Experience Miami’s endless summer in South Beach.
J O U R N A L
CON TEN T S FA LL 2018
DESTINATION INDEX Borneo / 42 Canada / 22 Colombia / 58 Cuba / 16 Ecuador / 20 France / 20 Gibraltar / 56 Greece / 89 Iceland / 85 India / 40 Italy / 38 Japan / 55 Mali / 49 Morocco / 52, 56 Rome / 102 South Africa / 20 Uzbekistan / 54 Vietnam / 60 United States California / 26 Colorado / 26 Florida / 28, 32 Georgia / 26 Illinois / 108 Louisiana / 26 Maine / 26 New Mexico / 20 Oregon / 72 Tennessee / 44 Texas / 106 Wisconsin / 30
Serving tea in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Contributors WE TRAVEL WRITERS LIKE TO DESCRIBE
PETER GRUNERT HEADSHOT: STEVE RYAN; ILLUSTRATED HEADSHOT: DELPHINE LEE
EXPERIENCES IN A VERY VISUAL WAY.
We hope to draw a map in our reader’s mind of our progression from one stop to another, and build a sense of place through sharing the scenes we witness as we pass through. But what of sound, of scent, of touch? This issue’s “Ultimate Experiences” cover theme encompasses a feature we’ve titled “The Best Moment of Your Life” (p. 50) and others set in Vietnam (p. 60), Oregon (p. 72), Iceland (p. 85) and Greece (p. 89). All have set me thinking about the moment that has most vividly stayed with me after more than four decades of traveling – along with the one sense that helped that memory to root so strongly. Four years ago I was on my first safari, 30 miles north of the equator in the Central Highlands of Kenya. The venue was Ol Jogi, a 58,000-acre game reserve that once hosted lion hunts for the ultra-rich but long since has had a cutting-edge focus on rhino conservation instead. These days the armory at Ol Jogi is equipped to tackle poachers rather than supply hunters: drones, spotter planes, bloodhounds, and rangers with nightscopes and automatic weapons combine in a spectacular effort to preserve the white and black rhinos that live there. When I visited, Ol Jogi was home to one-sixteenth of the world’s population of critically endangered eastern black rhinos; there were fewer than 800 of them left in the wild. To first meet a rhino is to observe a scene that our earliest ancestors might have known well. Nostrils flaring, feet pawing at the dust, horns – a defining feature and a curse – swishing ominously through the air, these immense beasts are a wondrous spectacle to behold, even as they casually wander about and chew at dried grass. Every eastern black rhino at Ol Jogi is precious, and none more so than Alfie. This bull calf developed inoperable cataracts that blinded him, so a fortified stockade was built to keep him safe. Like all hormonal young males, Alfie liked to aimlessly charge about; he only settled when his guards gathered handfuls of clay and used them to give him a back massage. So my moment arrived: I learned what it was like to touch a rhino. Just in case you’re wondering, a rhino is warm, bizarrely soft, and touching one gave the deepest emotional connection to something so ancient and powerfully enduring.
Delphine Lee Illustrator, “Steps Ahead: Mount Kinabalu”
As an illustrator, I find a lot of inspiration in travel. I loved getting a chance to relive those special moments from my own travels while illustrating the climb of Mount Kinabalu. Few things are more rewarding than witnessing the beauty of a sunrise after a challenging hike!
Kevin EG Perry Writer, “In Search of the Perfect Barbecued Ribs”
In Memphis, photographer Rush Jagoe counseled me that finding the city’s best ribs would mean eating such a gargantuan amount of meat that I should limit myself to one or two at each restaurant. It is with enormous pride and terrifying heart palpitations that I tell you I ignored this advice.
Summer Sewell Writer, “On the Oregon Food Trail” @peter_grunert @petervg73
After a few visits to Portland, I checked the rest of Oregon off my list, thinking I had seen everything there was to see. But I was wrong: by the end of the trip it felt like we’d been not to different parts of one state, but different states in the country.
explore YOUR WORLD OF DISCOVERIES
NICOLE FRANZEN FOR DESIGN HOTELS
The U-Turn Once the heart of the great American road trip, the motor lodge nearly faded out of existence. Find out how boutique motels like the Drifter (pictured) are making something new out of something old.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF
The VW Bus A half-century on from its flower-power heyday, the Volkswagen Type 2 conjures images of carefree life on the road.
The curved, V-shape styling on the front, often picked out by two-tone paintwork, is another hallmark of the T1 vans that’s absent from later models. Along with the split windshield, it helped to improve the aerodynamic rating of this boxy vehicle.
A windshield split vertically down the middle is the distinguishing feature of the Type 2 T1: the first-generation VW bus. After a singlepane windscreen was introduced with the Type 2 T2 in 1967, the two models were nicknamed by fans “Splitty” and “Bay.”
Get Your VW Groove On Rent a restored VW bus from Californiabased Vintage Surfari Wagons for a retroinspired tour of the Pacific Coast. vwsurfari.com Wait for the I.D. Buzz, Volkswagen’s all-electric version of the classic, due in 2022. volkswagen.com
The basic original bus has 11 windows, but there’s a deluxe “Samba” model with 23, including eight thin skylights.
the Volkswagen bus – aka the VW microbus or camper van – is built for practicality, not speed, and its rise to stardom was likewise slow. The Volkswagen factory in Germany, a showpiece project of the Nazi regime, was destroyed in WWII. It was being rebuilt under the British Army’s supervision when Dutch car importer Ben Pon paid a visit. He had a flash of design inspiration from a flatbed utility vehicle in the factory, and sketched out a curved box on top to create a van that would hold a lot for its size.
SHAPED LIKE A LOAF OF BREAD,
The Type 2 went on sale in 1950, and came in variations including an ice cream van and an ambulance. But it really captured the public’s imagination as a passenger microbus. Followers of America’s 1960s counterculture loved the ability to live out of their vans, and found the VWs cheaper to run than their rivals. The vehicle was soon famous enough to appear on a Bob Dylan album cover, but the Grateful Dead was the act most associated with it: when frontman Jerry Garcia died, VW ran a tribute ad showing the van shedding a tear.
Production of the first-generation VW bus ceased in 1967, just as California enjoyed its Summer of Love. The second design picked up the later wave of hippiedom through the ’70s, when a young Steve Jobs sold his VW to raise funds to build the first Apple computer. Volkswagen continues to produce campers, but icon status is reserved for the first two models. The company might have been born in the midst of 1930s militarism, but three decades later its vans would be indelibly linked with peace symbols and psychedelia.
NATIONAL MOTOR MUSEUM/AGE FOTOSTOCK
Watch the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine: the story of a family’s 800-mile U.S. road trip features a bright yellow Bay that’s a character in its own right.
WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Old Havana, Cuba In Cuba’s capital, Havana local Diana Rita introduces us to a neighborhood of vintage cars, old-world stone plazas and Spanish colonial facades that look out over the Caribbean. dianaritac
SUNSET BOULEVARD “If you only do one thing when you come to Havana, you have to go to the Malecón, the city’s 4-mile sea drive, and watch the sun set over the ocean. At this time of day, the Malecón transforms and comes to life. Street performers play all along the thoroughfare as the dusk sets in, couples go walking, and groups of friends talk and watch the waves together. It’s very beautiful.” Avenida de Maceo
MICROBREWS & MARACAS “Havana’s liveliest microbrewery is La Factoria Plaza Vieja. You can buy light and dark beers served in ice-frosted glasses, and sit outside on the cobbled plaza listening to live Cuban music – lots of maracas and guitars. The brewery has large open doors and there’s always a lively crowd in the evenings.” corner of San Ignacio and Muralla
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: AGATHA KADAR/SHUTTERSTOCK. COM; KUMAR SRISKANDAN/AGE FOTOSTOCK; ALEKSANDAR TODOROVIC/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; ILLUSTRATION: MUTI-FOLIO ART
IN HEMINGWAY’S FOOTSTEPS “Calle Obispo is a pedestrianized street that runs from the very heart of the city, Parque Centreale, right up to the ocean. It’s packed with small shops, cafés and food vendors. If you walk down here, you get a real snapshot of Havana, and all the sights and smells of the dusty colonial town. Depending on the block, you’ll smell boiled corn, fried churros or pizza. You might also see the Ambos Mundos Hotel, where Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Calle Obispo
PLAZA DE ARMAS PHOTO: DIANA RITA CABRERA; COURTESY OF LOS MERCADERES RESTAURANT; CARD IMAGE: PRINT COLLECTOR/ GETTY IMAGES
CREATIVE CAFÉ “Close to the National Museum of Fine Arts is Café del Ángel Jaqueline Fumero. Facing onto a small plaza of beautifully painted buildings, the café has a peaceful, artistic atmosphere that will remind you of Paris. It sells cocktails, crepes, iced coffee and more. I love to eat a banana crepe under one of the colorful parasols outside.” Compostela No. 1, corner Cuarteles; cafedelangeljf.com
TO COOL OFF… “A hot day in Havana can reach a roasting 90 degrees, so I’d choose to spend it in the shade of Plaza de Armas, Havana’s oldest square. It’s lined with leafy trees and tall palms, and lots of benches where families come to sit and feed the birds. People laze on the grass and read, picnic or just relax and enjoy the seclusion from the city.” Tacon Street
DINNER FOR TWO “Los Mercaderes is a beautiful restaurant where you can watch the sun go down from a balcony a couple of stories above the bustling streets. It’s a very romantic setting. A violinist and a guitarist duet in the evenings, and the decoration harks back to Havana’s colonial past, with colorful tiles, wooden ceilings, stained glass and posters of iconic Cuban films. The food is partly traditional Cuban, with lots of rice and beans and smashed polenta, but there’s some gourmet seafood as well.” Mercaderes No. 207 THE ACE “Tour guides will often point out the oldest building in Plaza Vieja, but what they won’t often mention is that it’s home to the little Museo de Naipes, Havana’s museum of playing cards! There are 2,000 cards on display with very surprising illustrations – animals, caricatures of artists and politicians – and they even have round cards. Children love this place.” Muralla No. 101
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW BEFORE I ARRIVE IN HAVANA? “There is no public Internet in Cuba. If you want to use the Internet, you need to find a hotspot and buy a scratch card. This means you really have to discover Havana for yourself: download maps offline, ask locals where to go, and wander around with few plans. The city will only reveal itself to you on its own, authentically.”
Moto Rising A new breed of entrepreneurs are reinventing an iconic piece of Americana: the roadside motel. Once having a reputation for sleazy meetups and as a last resort for roadweary travelers, the motel fell out of favor. These five properties are changing that.
Salida, Colorado Opened in 2016 out of the husk of a 60-year-old motel (formerly known as the Aspen Leaf Lodge), the Amigo Motor Lodge is outfitted in a minimalist, retroSouthwestern aesthetic that matches the adventure-friendly vibe of the mountains nearby. From $105. stayamigo.com
Savannah, Georgia Somewhere between Palm Springs art deco and vintage Las Vegas neon sits this 1964 motel in downtown Savannah. In a land of stuffy B&Bs, this groovy place is an oasis, made all the better by local Savannah College of Art & Design student art. From $100. thethunderbirdinn.com
New Orleans, Louisiana The Drifter is a midcentury party that happened to get thrown on Tulane Avenue. Sleek trappings and a Mad Men-esque furniture and design sensibility are enlivened by clean, modern rooms and a pool where parties are thrown and pictures are hashtagged. From $105. thedrifterhotel.com
Lincolnville, Maine This summer-only retreat wins points for its location on the coast of Penobscot Bay, one of Maine’s most scenic regions. White cottages with turquoise doors, a pool stocked with inflatable rafts, and turntables in every room add to the enduring appeal. From $95. lincolnvillemotel.com
Lake Tahoe, California Recycled wood, original naturethemed canvases and creative artifacts gussy up this stylish former motel. Lucky couples can rough it in the “Great Indoors” room with a tented bed and faux campfire, and families can overnight in spacious bunk-bed rooms. From $99. basecamphotels.com
Amigo Motor Lodge
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MEG RANEGAR; AUTUMN MARSHALL; HESSLER CREATIVE; ADAM KUEHL/THE THUNDERBIRD INN; NICOLE FRANZEN FOR DESIGN HOTELS
Amigo Motor Lodge’s sunroom; Opposite: Amigo’s retro exterior
James Harry in his workshop (left); using a blade to cut through yellow cedar
MEET THE MAKER
Carving Tradition Coast Salish carvers have been transforming cedar into mesmerizing artworks for thousands of years. Meet one Vancouver-born artist connected to this deep tradition who’s taking his work in new directions. by JOHN LEE
photographs by KAMIL BIALOUS
HUNCHING ONE SHOULDER and fusing both hands to his No. 3 gouge, James Harry slides the broad blade through curls of yellow cedar as if slowly skimming the surface of a large tray of butter. “I keep my tools really sharp,” says the sneaker-clad Squamish Nation wood carver, before stopping and laughing as he recalls slicing off his thumbnail during a demonstration a few years ago. After honing his craft over countless hours in a live-work studio in Richmond, British Columbia, just south of Vancouver, it’s not a mistake the 29-yearold artist has repeated. Harry began flexing his creative muscles in childhood, while watching his mastercarver father, Rick Harry, at work. Initially emulating his dad’s approach, he found his own path while attending art school. “I’m proud to be indigenous,” Harry says, “but I didn’t want to only be a traditional carver. I needed some conceptual training to force me from my comfort zone.”
His big break came in 2011, when Vancouver International Airport commissioned a 6-foot-tall aluminum totem pole with internal LED lighting that was ultimately viewed by thousands of visitors. Since then, Harry has worked hard to craft a sustainable career that pays the bills but doesn’t require him to sacrifice his creativity. Commissions have helped – Harry’s works are on show locally at Granville Island, the University of British Columbia and beyond. Meanwhile, his approach has grown in three key directions: abstract carved panels, metalwork totems, and collaborations fusing his carvings with paintings of women by his partner, artist Lauren Brevner. Working with wood, particularly red or yellow cedar, remains the foundation of his approach. He has been working from sections of a single ancient cedar for several years. “I start my carvings by drawing a diagonal line on the surface, then sketching
Carving Out a Creative Visit James Harry offers his tips for First Nations arts and culture to discover in and around Vancouver. Visit the Museum of Anthropology (MOA). “Their Bill Reid collection is extraordinary and inspiring. And there are some incredible old totems on display; I used to sketch them when I was younger.” moa.ubc.ca
a gestural image. I try not to think too much; I want the wood to tell me what to do,” Harry says. Each carving can take months of eightto 12-hour days. “I mostly spend that time slowly detailing,” he says, adding that he listens to playlists of R&B and electronica music and inspirational speeches while working. “In the early days, I wondered if anyone would want to see what I was carving. But now it feels like I’m doing something of value.” His work is connected to a rich tradition of cedar use among Coast Salish indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, with roots, bark and wood historically deployed for everything from clothing to fishing nets to bentwood boxes. But carving sculptures, masks and poles has always been a vital part of the creative use of cedar, considered by several cultures to be a spiritual tree. In his work, Harry uses the distinctive, centuries-old palette of visual elements found throughout Coast Salish art.
Clockwise from top left: Harry uses a straight knife to carve into yellow cedar; tools of the trade: gouges, V-parting tools and chisels; Harry adjusts an artwork hanging in his workshop; intricate designs on a house post include a thunderbird (top) and a bear
Recurring shapes include circles and crescents, while creatures range from ravens (often a symbol of creativity and changes in life) to salmon (typically indicating determination and abundance). “Humans are the most challenging to carve, and bear snouts are also difficult if I’m doing them three-dimensionally,” he says. “But I’ve always loved carving eagles. I wanted to be one when I was a kid. I still do!” Finding alternative materials and new ways to visualize his ideas will always push him in different artistic directions, Harry says. But carving cedar – an ancient creative tradition in Coast Salish communities – is something he feels born to do. “Cedar is in my blood; it’s part of who I am. I used to smell it in my dad’s shop when I was a kid and it’s been with me my whole life.” James Harry’s works are on view in galleries and public spaces in and around Vancouver and online at jamesharry.ca.
Discover the region’s artistic diversity. “The Lattimer Gallery has a strong, wellrounded collection of local indigenous artists. From Haida to Coast Salish, there’s a great mix of modern and traditional approaches.” lattimergallery.com
Take a road trip to Audain Art Museum in Whistler. “It’s an amazing collection. I love James Hart’s work The Dance Screen (The Scream Too), but there’s also a metal totem out front that was created by my dad. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him!” audainartmuseum.com
J O U R N A L
TALES FROM THE ROAD
Up in Smoke Memphis is rightly famous for its soulful music, but our writer goes in search of a rich tradition of a different kind.
India’s Holy City San Franciscan Dan Tom traveled to Varanasi and found countless surprises on the Ganges. VARANASI WAS THE last place I visited on my trip around northern India. Built along the banks of the Ganges River, it’s considered the holiest of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities, and is a pilgrimage site. For Hindus, it is the most auspicious place to die; Hindus believe that by dying here, one achieves moksha, an escape from the cycle of death and rebirth on Earth, and attains salvation. I would set off at sunrise and wander down to look at the boats tied up near the ghats, the stone steps leading down to the river. The water was strewn with aartis, candles made using marigold flowers, each representing a wish. There was a lot happening on the Ganges: boats lugging timber to fuel the funeral pyres, kids splashing around, farmers washing their buffaloes, people bathing and doing their laundry, and, sometimes, a dead body floating by, tangled up with flowers and rubbish. The roads leading off from the river were crazily narrow. Near Harishchandra Ghat, where the funeral pyres burn, I came across families bringing their dead to cremation and had to reverse backward out of their way. All the chaos and activity seemed to make sense on this river, though: Ganges simply means “to go.”
See more of Tom’s images on Instagram @dantom.
Lost Each month we present our Instagram followers a new challenge: submit photos on our chosen theme. Here we reveal the winning images for “lost.” @lonelyplanetmags
Our Favorite Shot
“I was near Caserta in Italy for my cousin’s wedding and went to see Caserta Palace. Wandering around its gardens in the late afternoon, my brother and I stumbled across a tunnel. We could see light shining through it so we walked inside. At the other end we found these magnificent ruins, hidden in a silent corner. I felt like an explorer who had just discovered secret treasure.”
ABOUT THE WINNER:
Alessia Falcone is an energy engineer living in Rome. @aleshh23
Lealt Falls’s cliffs overlook the sea on Scotland’s Isle of Skye @davide_odoardo
We climbed up sand dunes near the desert town of Merzouga, Morocco @instagabcab
The Meteora rock formations in Greece, near the Pindos Mountains @domgoes_
Mexico’s Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park is a sea of hills @carmen.romanol
The ethereal path to Sólheimasandur plane-crash site in Iceland @the_boy_who_leaves
Kayaking through the still, cold waters of Auke Bay in Alaska @beezus_supertramp
A ship’s searchlights enter the mouth of narrow Trollfjord in Norway @fsslm
Crossing crystal-clear glacial rivers in Argentine Patagonia @myrandasanche
Among the lanterns at a Shinto shrine in the Japanese city of Nara @nadiakasko
ENDLESS, SLIPPERY, WINDING STEPS. Steps that are steep and
Steps Ahead: Mount Kinabalu Borneo’s highest and holiest mountain features tangled jungle, granite ridges and barren plateaus. Traversing it is a task that requires nerves – and legs – of steel. by OLIVER BERRY
illustration by DELPHINE LEE
shallow. Steps that are deep and broad. Some are formed from intertwining tree roots, gnarled and knotted by centuries of growth. Others are carved into black volcanic rock, slick with moisture. Countless steps behind; countless steps to come. I’ve been on Mount Kinabalu for only three hours, and I’m barely a quarter of the way to the top, but I’ve already climbed enough steps for several lifetimes. At 13,435 feet, Kinabalu isn’t just the highest mountain in Borneo, it’s one of the highest mountains in all of Southeast Asia. A great hump of brooding black rock, thrust up by the movement of tectonic plates from the state of Sabah’s northern coastline, the mountain, in Kinabalu Park, is a formidable sight: more fortress than mountain, a tower of inky granite, wrapped in mist and shrouded in steaming jungle. To local Dusun people it’s known as Aki Nabalu, “the sacred place of the dead.” It’s a holy mountain, haunted by the spirits of their ancestors, and as such, definitely not a place for the living. But ghostly guardians aren’t the only obstacles for the 20,000 or so people who set out every year to conquer Borneo’s highest mountain. For them, and for me, it’s the steps that hold the greatest dread. Though it’s a relatively short climb – from the national park gates to the summit the trail covers little more than 5 miles – Kinabalu’s great challenge is its elevation gain. From start to finish, the trail ascends 7,874 feet – roughly equivalent to scaling seven Eiffel Towers, five Empire State Buildings or three Burj Khalifas. Much of it comes via a punishingly steep staircase that spirals up the mountain; the rest involves climbing over bare, slippery granite or hauling yourself up fixed ropes bolted into the rock. The temperature and humidity levels wouldn’t seem out of place in a Swedish sauna. And to cap it all, the mountain is notoriously earthquake-prone – the most recent tremor struck in 2015. In short, Kinabalu is not a mountain to be taken lightly. Most people require two days to complete the climb: on day one, a six- to seven-hour trek from the park gates at 6,122 feet to the Laban Rata Resthouse at 10,738 feet, followed on day two by a predawn start and a 2,733-foot summit climb to watch the sunrise. The early wake-up call is essential, as the heat of the rising sun causes moisture to boil up from the surrounding jungle; within an hour of dawn, the mountain is frequently swathed in cloud.
J O U R N A L
For me, though, the summit sunrise is a far-off dream. I’ve just got to make it through the first day. By lunchtime, I’m drenched with sweat, my leg muscles feel as if they’re on fire, and I’m sure someone has surreptitiously replaced the contents of my backpack with cinder blocks. As I take a breather at one of the pondoks, or rest stations, along the trail, I watch the local porters trudge past, carrying supplies up to the guesthouse: oil drums, sacks of rice, fruit, vegetables. Most are puffing nonchalantly on crooked cheroots as they climb, and nearly all of them are wearing nothing more on their feet than a pair of battered flip-flops. To them, climbing Kinabalu is all in a day’s work. Their stamina would put sherpas to shame. There’s no doubt that Kinabalu is a tough mountain, but it’s also an astonishingly beautiful one. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, it’s celebrated for its biological diversity. As I trudge up the trail, I watch flycatchers, warblers and flowerpeckers blurring through the undergrowth. Creepers tangle around tree trunks. Orchids bloom beside the trail. Pitcher plants sprout among the rocks. And, deep in the jungle, some of Borneo’s rarest inhabitants hide: endangered animals like the sun bear, ferret-badger, moonrat and orangutan, for whom Kinabalu’s forests provide a last, and precious, refuge. It’s 6 p.m. by the time I finally reach Laban Rata, relishing the chance to stop, slough off my pack and admire the view. As darkness falls and a chill descends on the mountain, I share curry and cold beers with my fellow hikers, then collapse into my bunk and instantly tumble into a deep, exhausted slumber. Unfortunately, I barely feel I’ve drifted off when my guide, Edwin, shakes me awake to begin the dawn climb. As we set out from the rest house, a full moon hangs over the mountain; it glows in the blackness like a paper lantern. We trudge onward, then upward, climbing steps, squeezing through gullies, scrambling over rocks, hauling ourselves up ropes. Finally, we reach a sprawling granite plateau and glimpse Kinabalu’s summit – a pile of sharp, shattered boulders known as Low’s Peak. A line of headlamps is bobbing its way slowly across the plateau toward the summit, like a procession of fireflies twinkling in the darkness. I brace myself for the final push. As I climb, the thinness of the air begins to hit me, and by the time I reach the rock pile, I’m gasping for oxygen. Painfully, I haul myself up the boulder heap, step-by-step, hand over hand, slowly inching my way toward the mountain’s apex.
Then, abruptly, the climb ends. I sit down on the top of Kinabalu just as the sun breaks over the horizon, and the jagged pinnacles around the summit plateau light up like signal towers. The sky shifts through a rainbow of colors – scarlet, purple, pink, tangerine – and mist swirls up from the jungle below, transforming the mountain into an island: a black pyramid floating on a sea of cloud. Before long, the entire summit will be swallowed up by the fog, and soon enough I’ll have to face the challenge of somehow getting back down. But for now, the mountain spirits seem content to just let me sit and marvel at the view. I’m more than happy to oblige. For more incredible treks around the globe, pick up Lonely Planet’s Epic Hikes of the World, out in August.
“I’ve been on Mount Kinabalu for only three hours, and I’m barely a quarter of the way to the top, but I’ve already climbed enough steps for several lifetimes.”
Portions adapted from Best Moment of Your Life, coming out September 2018.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:
The Mome Your
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:
Best nt of Life
Whether it’s a weekend trip or a yearlong journey, most of us travel to see unforgettable sights and enjoy new experiences. If we’re lucky, there will be moments that change who we are – moments that become the stories we perfect over years of retelling. These are the encounters that remind us that, sure, maybe each of us only has one life to live, but if we do it right, that’s all we’ll need. Here are 18 ways to find life's ultimate experiences.
The Best Moment of Your Life
The Paris Opera in the Desert SA H A R A D E S E R T , M O RO C C O
Six days into a spirit-crushing endurance event, inspiration and motivation are found in an unusual concert in the desert. In a moment of inexplicable madness, I decided to take part in the Marathon des Sables, a seven-day, 156-mile-long pain-fest in the Sahara Desert. It’s aptly subtitled “the toughest footrace on Earth.” Temperatures amid the barren moonscapes of Morocco regularly top 115°F, endless sand dunes make the simple act of running a tricky balancing act, and participants, in addition to carrying all their own food and supplies, are obliged to camp communally in open-sided Berber tents. By the sixth day, most of the competitors, myself included, had been reduced to physical wrecks, badly blistered and halfstarved. Stumbling across the sizzling Saharan plains in our scuffed footwear and unwashed clothes, we resembled a badly defeated retreating army, the heady exuberance of the starting line replaced by visions of our own mortality. Yet, on the next to the last night, the race director, Patrick Bauer, announced that he had flown in musicians and a singer from the Paris Opera to perform a concert in our battered, Spartacus-like camp (in full evening dress no less). Rock ’n’ roll is normally my music of choice, but I’ll never forget flopping down on my back, drunk with exhaustion, under the star-speckled desert sky, listening to the soothing strings and dulcet soprano, and wondering why I hadn’t really appreciated opera until that moment. It was one of the most bizarre, surreal and beautiful experiences of my traveling life, greatly enhanced by the exhausted, semihallucinogenic state I was in.
It was one of the most bizarre, surreal and beautiful experiences.
– B R E N DA N SA I N S B U RY
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Despite its extreme nature, the Marathon des Sables is a popular race, so start preparing at least two years in advance. Application details can be found on the official race website (marathondessables.com). Expect to pay around $3,600, which includes some meals and two nights’ post-race hotel accommodations. The race typically occurs in March or April.
TRIPS TO TEST YOUR METTLE These experiences will push your boundaries. TREK NEW ZEALAND’S MILFORD TRACK.
Once described as the finest walk in the world, the South Island’s Milford Track is a multiday foot journey beside clear streams, between menacing canyon walls, over an alpine pass and past one of the world’s highest waterfalls. RAFT THE SOURCE OF THE AMAZON.
Deep within the mountains of Peru, the Apurímac River cuts a meandering swathe into the earth, forming a canyon that’s twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. More than 600 miles later, the river joins the Amazon, but you’re interested in the first part: a three-day journey of Class IV and V thrills and spills. BIKE THE GREAT DIVIDE.
Mountain bike the world’s longest off-road cycling route, pedaling from Banff in Alberta, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the U.S.–Mexico border, crossing the Continental Divide 30 times on the way. RACE THE PLYMOUTH–BANJUL RALLY.
A $140 junker, no mechanical knowledge whatsoever and 3,700 miles of driving – from England to western Africa – via traffic-clogged cities, snowy mountains, dubious border guards and the Sahara Desert: this is, without a doubt, the world’s wackiest auto race.
The Best Moment of Your Life
MAKE IT HAPPEN
The overnight train from Urgench to Tashkent departs daily at 2:40 p.m. and arrives at 7:10 a.m. the following day. Check the schedule and ticket prices on the Uzbek Railways website (uzrailpass.uz). The easiest way to buy tickets is in advance at the train station, but you can also purchase them at Real Russia (realrussia .co.uk/trains/tickets) at a considerable markup.
U RG E N C H T O TA S H K E N T , U Z B E K I S TA N
A traveler finds the unexpected on an overnight train through Uzbekistan. Uncomfortable, I drifted between sleep and vigilance, kept in a transient state by the rhythm of the train. I was riding on the overnight service from Urgench to Tashkent, and found myself squeezed into the top bunk of an open couchette car. From my perch I could hear the rustling of people walking back and forth below me, and at an early stop I looked out through the open window to the platform, observing merchants hawking their crispy 12-inch flatbreads. When I turned to look inside the car, I glimpsed more surreal snapshots of Uzbek life: the intricate black braid of a girl; a group of women sitting together watching – of all things – Braveheart, dubbed in Russian; and a couple of men in
Mel Gibson’s painted blue face loomed above me.
kalpoq caps sucking sugar cubes between their gold teeth. The latter pair invited me to share tea. I watched as they carefully demonstrated the proper Uzbek pouring technique, then we drank. I was absorbed in process, all the while Mel Gibson’s painted blue face loomed above me on the video screen. Back in my bunk I felt neither present nor far away, but somewhere in between. As the night went on, the names of the stations floated past like ghosts of the Silk Road: Navoiy, Jizzakh, Gulistan. The desert air blew into my face, brisk and smelling of the sun. From my vantage point, as the light started to return to the landscape, I watched, enthralled, the undulation of the desert dunes outside. – WA I L A N A K A L A M A
Riding The Midnight Train
A True Transition in Transit N A R I TA , JA PA N
Sometimes it’s those unplanned stops that turn one’s life around. I was reeling from my first trip to Southeast Asia – Thailand, Burma, Hong Kong and Macao – and hungry to get back to my apartment in New York City. The last thing I wanted was a 20-hour layover at Narita Airport near Tokyo. But that was what my itinerary called for, so upon arrival I took a shuttle bus to Hotel Nikko Narita and wondered how I could kill the remaining hours. The next morning I saw a sign for a free shuttle into the town of Narita, and since I was sure I’d never be back in Japan, I jumped on. Twenty minutes later, I was walking through narrow lanes of wooden houses up to a 1,000-year-old temple. It was a brilliant day in late October, radiant with the first colors of autumn, but tinged with the first mildness of the coming dark and cold. I didn’t know then that Narita’s temple is a celebrated pilgrimage site and that the faithful sometimes walk almost 46 miles from central Tokyo to visit its prayer halls and garden. I simply knew that the intimate scale of things – from the tatami mats to the day’s mingled feelings – felt, for reasons I couldn’t explain, like a home I’d been looking for all my life. By the time I boarded my plane in the early afternoon, I’d decided to move to Japan. I’ve been here now for more than 30 years.
By the time I boarded my plane . . . I’d decided to move to Japan.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
A five-hour layover at Narita International Airport is all the time you need to explore Narita town and enjoy a meal before heading back for your onward flight. A train ride from the airport to Narita City is about 10 minutes. A visa is not required for U.S. passport holders who are visiting Japan for short-term stays of less than 90 days.
– PICO IYER
The Best Moment of Your Life
Bicycling Beyond Fear M O RO C C O T O G I B R A LTA R
A writer discovers the payoff of doggedly pursuing his chosen path. I had to stop pedaling. Not because of the blistering temperatures. Not to differentiate between the sting of tears and the smart of sweat on my sun-raw skin. Not even to recover enough for a full gulp of air. I stopped because beauty overcame me. As I crested a steep hill on that day’s bicycle ride, I was stilled by a seeming mirage of multiple depths or a woodblock print made real – layer upon lighter pastel layer of hills stretching into the heat-faded distance. I stopped too because of a powerful release of emotion. After nearly nine months of resolve-battering riding, my defenses had finally disintegrated. And I shed proud and terrified tears of realization that my 6,800-mile bicycle journey from Morocco to Gibraltar, the long way around the Mediterranean Sea, was nearly over. Despite numerous warnings, my teammates and I would accomplish our goal. The cautions still resonated. Before setting out, we had been repeatedly reminded how we would never survive. Worse, in each country we visited during the trip, we were asked our next destination only to be advised to avoid it because people across the border would commit terrible crimes against us, which, sure enough, was never actually the case. In principle, we knew that fear of the unknown distorts perceptions. But it wasn’t until that sultry hilltop that I realized how, in practice, we had really and truly conquered fears – our own and others’.
My defenses had finally disintegrated.
– ETHAN GELBER
An epic bicycle journey – one of long distance and duration – takes planning and training. Narrow down your list of destinations based on how much time you have and how far you want to go. Design a route using guidebooks, topographical maps and GPS. Finally, set up a training program. No one should begin a major bicycle trip without first understanding how the body reacts to extended time in a bike saddle.
MINITRIPS AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN Four short trips along the coast of the Med if the full route is out of reach HIKE THE ITALIAN RIVIERA.
Italy’s famed crescent of the Mediterranean is a feast for the eyes: sherbet-colored villages are stacked atop vertiginous cliffs, meandering trails trace through terraced vineyards, and staggering views of the sea are never very far away. FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, is rich in history, both ancient and modern. Visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new incarnation of the ancient Great Library, or search for antiques in the souks of Attarine.
FROM TOP: IMOGEN FORTE; JONAH CALINAWAN/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
EXPLORE TURKEY’S UNDERWATER RUINS.
Kekova Island in western Turkey is skirted by the remains of the Lycian city of Simena, which was submerged following a series of earthquakes in the second century AD. From a kayak, you can see shattered building foundations, staircases and other artifacts obscured by the Mediterranean depths. STEP BACK INTO SPANISH PAST.
For a glimpse of what the Spanish coastline looked like before megaresorts sprouted along the Costa del Sol, head to Cabo de Gata, a wild, rugged, golf-course-free zone where dizzying cliffs clash with the white-capped Mediterranean and fishing boats still reel in the day’s catch.
The Best Moment of Your Life
Exploring Colombia's ‘Lost City’ C I U DA D P E R D I DA , C O L O M B I A
Seeking out lesser-known wonders can sometimes be more rewarding than chasing after the world’s great travel icons. “Don’t bother,” chuckled my guide, Miguel, as I bent down to untie my shoes at the edge of the rushing stream. I’d soon realize that, on this hike, there was no use trying to stay dry. Off-limits for years following narcoterrorist activity in the region, the hiking route to Ciudad Perdida, Colombia’s famed “Lost City,” had recently reopened, and I couldn’t resist the challenge. Following a three-day slog through the stunning but unforgiving jungle and equally unrelenting rain, we finally made it to the edge of the historical site known to local tribes as Teyuna. As we ascended an ancient, moss-covered stone staircase, circular terraces began to fan out from either side like huge shelves of coral. Some were scattered with ancient artifacts, such as huge boulders engraved with maps, abandoned for centuries before being “rediscovered” by treasure hunters in 1972. It was utterly unique compared with any other ancient ruin I’d ever seen. Its wooden structures long-since rotted away, Ciudad Perdida isn’t as visually striking as the more famous ruins of Machu Picchu or Tikal, but, for me, standing on the summit of this mysterious, ancient place hidden in the tropical jungle – which was free of touts, crowds or a mere shred of tourism infrastructure (unless you count the Colombian military outpost) – was far more powerful. In that moment, I savored that rare, delicious taste of pure, raw adventure.
I savored that rare, delicious taste of pure, raw adventure.
– SA R A H R E I D
MAKE IT HAPPEN
The 27-mile round-trip trek to Ciudad Perdida usually takes four days. A guide is essential (independent hiking is not allowed), and tours are booked in the nearby towns of Santa Marta and Taganga. Expect to pay around $300, which includes food and basic accommodations (hammocks or bunks in open-sided shelters) en route. The December– March dry season is the best time to go.
BE YOUR OWN INDIANA JONES More lost cities of the world TIKAL, GUATEMALA
A complex of striking, steep-sided temples rising out of the Guatemalan rainforest, Tikal is the remnants of one of the largest preâ€“Columbian Maya cities. The centerpiece is Temple IV, a mossy structure of stone standing a neck-craning 213 feet tall. From $20; tikalpark.com MESA VERDE, COLORADO
No one is quite sure what happened to the original inhabitants of Mesa Verde, who left behind an incredible network of cliffside dwellings, rock art and mysteries of ancient America. From $15; nps.gov/meve PRIPYAT, UKRAINE
Abandoned after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, this town is a monument to the meltdown: public spaces reclaimed by nature; decaying, Soviet-era buildings; and a towering, rusted-out Ferris wheel. Tours from $84; chornobyl-tour.com
FROM TOP: SCOTT BIALES/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; EXPOTUR
ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA
Crumbling stone temples in the python embrace of jungle vines, flashes of saffron-hued robes disappearing into shadowy alcoves, and intricately carved bas-reliefs of ancient battles and deities: Angkor Wat is made for explorers. Entry from $37; visit-angkor.org HERCULANEUM, ITALY
Like nearby Pompeii, Herculaneum was lost to a river of Vesuvian lava and ash in AD 79. An upper-class town, home to members of the imperial family, it was uncovered in the 1700s and remains a treasure trove for archaeologists. Entry from $13; coopculture.it
Restaurants: $ <15, $$ 15-30, $$$ >30
A big city with a small-town heart, the Texas capital is packed with great music, culinary prowess and a sociable streak that’s impossible to resist. Check out these places where Austinites go to unwind.
Cowboy boots are standard footwear at the Broken Spoke.
SIGHTS Ann and Roy Butler Boardwalk Gaze at the downtown skyline from a series of boardwalks on this scenic 10-mile trail, which loops around Lady Bird Lake, a reservoir east of the downtown area. » austintexas.gov; 1820 Lakeshore Blvd. Bat Colony Under Congress Avenue Bridge Every year up to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats make their home on a platform beneath the
Congress Avenue Bridge, forming the largest urban bat colony in North America. It’s an Austin tradition to sit on the grassy banks of Lady Bird Lake and watch the bats swarm out to feed on insects. It looks a lot like a fast-moving black river. Don’t miss this nightly show; August is the best time to see it. » Congress Avenue Zilker Park This 351-acre park is lined with hiking and biking trails. The park also
EAT Amy’s Ice Cream – South Austin $ The South Congress Avenue location of this beloved local ice cream chain shares its daily flavors on a chalkboard out front. Pick your favorite topping to add from a list that includes hot fudge, crumbled Oreos and pecan praline. » amysicecreams.com; 1301 S. Congress Ave. Franklin Barbecue $ This famous barbecue joint serves lunch only, and only till it runs out – usually well before 2 p.m. To avoid missing out, you should get in line by 10 a.m. (9 a.m. on weekends). Just treat it as a tailgating party: bring beer or mimosas to share and make friends. And yes, you do want the fatty brisket. » franklinbarbecue .com; 900 E. 11th St. Uchiko $$$ Chef Tyson Cole opened this North Lamar restaurant that describes itself as “Japanese farmhouse dining.” It’s hard to imagine being treated to delicacies as fantastic as these in any Japanese farmhouse, though. Try the kamo kamuri – seared duck breast with blackberries – or any and all of the fantastic seafood.
» uchikoaustin.com; 4200 N. Lamar Blvd. Veracruz All Natural $ Two sisters from Mexico run this East Austin taco truck (actually an old bus), which may serve the best tacos in town. Order a migas breakfast taco at the window, then add a quesadilla or torta for variety. Take your buzzer (yes, this food truck has a buzzer) and grab a picnic table. » veracruzallnatural.com; 1704 E. Cesar Chavez St. White Horse $ Two-steppers and hipsters mingle like siblings in a diverse but happy family. Play some pool, take a dance lesson or step outside to sip a microbrew on the patio. The honkytonk features live music nightly and whiskey on tap. » thewhitehorseaustin .com; 500 Comal St. DRINK ABGB $$ Settle in at a picnic table inside or outside at this convivial brewery and beer garden that’s also known for its great food. The boar, pork and spinach pizza? Oh yes, you do want a slice of that thin-crusted specialty pie. Live music daily except Monday and Thursday. » theabgb.com; 1305 W. Oltorf St. Easy Tiger $$ The one bar on Dirty 6th that all locals love? Easy Tiger, an inside-outside beer garden overlooking Waller Creek. The place welcomes everyone with an upbeat, communal vibe. Craft beers are listed on the chalkboard, and
artisanal sandwiches are made with bread from the bakery upstairs. » easytigeraustin.com; 709 E. 6th St. ENTERTAINMENT Broken Spoke Country music legend George Strait reportedly once swang from the wagon-wheel chandeliers at the Broken Spoke, a true Texas honky-tonk. Dance lessons are offered from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. As the sign inside says, “Please do Not!!!! Stand on the Dance Floor.” » brokenspokeaustintx.net; 3201 S. Lamar Blvd. Esther’s Follies Drawing from current events and pop culture, this long-running satire show has a vaudevillian slant, with musical numbers and a magician. » esthersfollies.com; 525 E. 6th St.
WORTH A TRIP Experience Austin from an unusual angle with Austin Duck Adventures (austinducks.com). Get in an amphibious bus that takes you on a tour over land and water: starting at the Visitors Center, you parade around the state capitol, roll down Congress Avenue and 6th Street, then splash into Lake Austin. Tour guides provide a few entertaining historical tidbits along the way. Buses leave at least three times a day during the summer.
CLOCKWISE PEEK CREATIVE FROM COLLECTIVE/ALAMY TOP LEFT: STOCK PHOTO
GOOD TIMES IN AUSTIN
provides access to the famed Barton Springs natural swimming pool and Barton Creek Greenbelt. Find boat rentals, a miniature train, a playground and a botanical garden. » austintexas.gov; 2100 Barton Springs Rd.
Accommodations: $ <150, $$ 150-250, $$$ >250
For More Information Get a copy of Lonely Planet’s Pocket Austin ($13.99) or download the eBook ($9.79). Austin is available on our Guides app, too.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:
MAP KEY SIGHTS Ann and Roy Butler Boardwalk Bat Colony Under Congress Avenue Bridge Zilker Park EATING Amy’s Ice Creams – South Austin Franklin Barbecue Uchiko Veracruz All Natural
WHERE TO STAY DRINKING ABGB Easy Tiger White Horse Broken Spoke Esther’s Follies SLEEPING Driskill Hotel Firehouse Hostel Habitat Suites Heywood Hotel HI – Austin Hotel San José
for old-world charm Driskill Hotel $$$ A beautiful 19th-century hotel, this place is pure Texas, with native stone, wall-mounted horns and leather couches. » driskillhotel.com
for greenery Habitat Suites $$ This quiet, eco-friendly place is north of downtown. Practical travelers will get a lot for their money here. » habitatsuites.com
for the budget-conscious Firehouse Hostel $ In a former firehouse, this downtown hostel still feels fresh, and its location opposite the historic Driskill Hotel is perfect. » firehousehostel.com
for a romantic getaway Heywood Hotel $$$ The first boutique hotel in hip East Austin, the Heywood is a seven-room, sophisticated oasis. The attractive rooms are designed for privacy. » heywoodhotel.com
for river views HI – Austin $$ This 47-bed hostel is located on a shady street right on the shore of Lady Bird Lake. It’s clean and cheerful with great views of the water. » hiusa.org/austin for midcentury design Hotel San José $$ This is a chic SoCo retreat of stucco bungalows, a bamboo-fringed pool and a bar known for its celebrity-spotting potential. » sanjosehotel.com
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