2 5 T R AV E L SECRETS Best New Magazine
FALL 2016 lonelyplanet.com
Our experts guide you from America’s most surprising city to the pristine tip of Patagonia
How to Go Now
The Best Things
VEGAS are Free
A Wine Trail in (the Other)
The Cultural Heart of
Easy Trips to BERMUDA, BANFF, SANTA BARBARA, DENVER
contents easy trips
Fall 2016 Volume 2 / Number 3
FEATURES p. 38
25 Travel Secrets Our experts share some of their favorite destinations around the globe, from Pittsburgh to Patagonia and Vermont to Vojvodina.
Tokyo High & Low Journey to Tokyo, a city of many faces, and dig down to find the roots of Japan’s high-rise capital.
A Georgian Wine Trail Visit the former Soviet republic of Georgia and raise a glass to this ancient home of the grape.
Scenes from Cuba A photographer’s view – plus, what you need to know now about traveling to the island country.
Great Escape: Heart of Spain This inland region is as epic as a tale from Don Quixote. We venture to Madrid, Mérida and more.
// Pictured: The town of Consuegra, in Spain’s La Mancha, is famous for its windmills.
All prices correct at press time. Prices for hotel rooms are for double, en suite rooms in low season, unless otherwise stated. Flight prices are for the least expensive round-trip ticket.
Fall Fall2016 2016/ /LONELY LONELY PLANET PLANET
contents JUSTIN FOULKES
Globetrotter p. 9
Easy Trips p. 27
5 Spots Jazz in Morocco, fall foliage in Finland and three other timely destinations you need to know about now.
Ideas for take-them-now trips to Bermuda, Hudson Valley, Santa Barbara and more.
Amazing Places Hotels with outstanding spas.
Sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park, street art in Malaysia and more reader images from around the world.
Gear Essentials for two fall outings.
Mini Guides p. 97
Las Vegas Freebies You don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun in the gambling capital. Check out our list of free sights and activities.
// Above: A visit to dramatically beautiful Lake Louise is a highlight of any trip to Canada’s Banff National Park.
Postcards p. 91
Cover Photo // A view of Spain's ancient university town of Salamanca; Photo by Matt Munro
Florida / Water fun in the Sunshine State. Amsterdam / Tour museums in search of amazing artworks. Munich / A guide to the Bavarian capital’s beer halls.
10 New Ways Rediscover Dublin on the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Washington, D.C. / Free museums for all ages and interests.
Inside Knowledge A Lonely Planet editor shares tips on traveling solo.
Mexico City / What to eat in this sophisticated city.
San Francisco / Experience the City by the Bay on a budget.
DESTINATION INDEX ARGENTINA Ushuaia / 47 BERMUDA Hamilton / 29 St. George / 29 BRAZIL Ilhabela / 41 CAMBODIA Southern Islands / 40 CANADA Banff National Park / 30 CHINA / 26 COLOMBIA Popayán / 11 COSTA RICA / 112 CZECH REPUBLIC Prague / 48 CUBA / 70
ENGLAND Bath / 16 FINLAND Lapland / 10 FRANCE Paris / 49 GEORGIA Kakheti province / 66 Tbilisi / 63 Napareuli / 68 GERMANY Berlin / 44 Munich / 109 GUYANA / 44 HONDURAS Copán, Gracias / 47 HUNGARY Budapest / 9
INDIA Agra / 93 Shekhawati Region / 47 Udaipur / 112 INDONESIA Lombok / 42 IRELAND Dublin / 24 ITALY Pieve / 48 JAPAN Tokyo / 50 Okinawa / 48 Kyoto / 112 MALAYSIA Penang / 95 MALTA Valletta / 39
MEXICO Mexico City / 101 Northern Mexico / 11 MOROCCO Tangier / 11 Taroudant / 47 NETHERLANDS Amsterdam / 95, 105 Weeribben-Weiden National Park / 43 NORWAY Kjerringøy / 44 PORTUGAL Lisbon / 48 SERBIA Vojvodina / 40 SOUTH KOREA Seoul / 40
SPAIN Consuegra and Castile-La Mancha / 84 Madrid / 80 Mallorca / 46 Mérida / 86 Salamanca / 88 Toledo / 82 SRI LANKA Induruwa / 91 TANZANIA Nungwi / 92 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Dubai / 14 UNITED STATES ARIZONA: Carefree / 14 CALIFORNIA: Joshua Tree / 96
Lost Sierra, Quincy / 43 Santa Barbara / 32 San Francisco / 103 COLORADO: Breckenridge, Denver / 36 CONNECTICUT: Washington / 16 FLORIDA: Stock Island, Key West / 40 Crystal River, Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park / 99 MISSOURI: St. Louis / 11 NEVADA: Las Vegas / 20 NEW MEXICO: Albuquerque / 12
NEW YORK: Hudson, Rhinebeck, Tarrytown / 34 PENNSYLVANIA: Pittsburgh / 45 SOUTH DAKOTA / 47 TENNESSEE: Bristol / 33 Nashville / 28 VERMONT: Champlain Islands / 48 VIRGINIA: Abingdon, Bristol, Floyd, Marion / 33 Colonial Williamsburg / 14 Shenandoah National Park / 92 WASHINGTON, D.C. / 107
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: KATE DAVIS; LOUISE TAYLOR BURK COURTESY OF TRAVEL ALBERTA, COURTESY OF BERMUDA TOURISM AUTHORITY, MATT MUNRO
Want to know a secret?
Then you’ve come to the right place. This issue is jam-packed with insider tips from our travel experts around the world. We’re sharing insider info on lesser-known places that deserve the spotlight – in destinations like Florida and California as well as more exotic locales, including Malta and Honduras. Our list of 25 “Travel Secrets” (p. 38) will give you plenty of inspiration. I felt like I discovered a new country during my recent trip to Bermuda, one of our “Easy Trips” (p. 29). The chain of islands – often overlooked by travelers – is my own personal travel secret: get there before the crowds do for America’s Cup in June 2017. You’ll be rewarded with turquoise waters and pink-sand beaches, and endless denizens eager to share their culture, lifestyle and history with you. My advice if you’re Bermuda-bound: take the bus! It will inexpensively take you everywhere you need to go without need to rent a moped or worrying about driving on the left side of the road. (Tourists can’t rent cars in Bermuda, which is probably a good thing. The whole look-right-ﬁrst bit is difficult.) The bus tickets are usable on the excellent ferry system as well, and you can get from one end of the island to the city center of Hamilton in an easy 20 minutes for less than your morning cup of coffee. This issue also includes features on the former Soviet republic of Georgia (p. 60), an ancient wine-growing region, and understanding the complexities of Tokyo (p. 50). We’ve also mapped out a journey through central Spain (p. 79) that includes a tapas tour in Madrid. This side of the Atlantic, we’ve got trip ideas for Banff National Park in Canada (p. 30), Santa Barbara (p. 32), New York’s Hudson Valley (p. 34) and more. Lastly, I have some exciting news to share: Lonely Planet was named Best New Magazine at the 2016 min Magazine Media Awards. I’m grateful that our team has been recognized for the original, authentic approach that guides us in the creation of every issue, including this one. Happy travels,
Alcazar de San Juan in Central Spain
Canada’s Lake Louise
Pink-sand beach in Bermuda
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Globetrotter A WORLD OF TRAVEL TRENDS & DISCOVERIES
Budapest, Hungary, will move to the top of travel wish lists this fall after the release of Inferno, the latest film adaptation in best-selling author Dan Brownâ€™s suspense thriller series. Tom Hanks, once again starring as professor Robert Langdon, races through Istanbul, Florence and Budapest (where the majority of the movie was filmed), in an effort to foil a deadly worldwide plot, using clues derived from Botticelli and Dante. The movie opens in late October.
… FOR A SENSATIONAL SPA TRIP
JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY / DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Dubai is known for its over-the-top luxuries, but you’d be hard-pressed to find something more posh than this hotel’s Talise Ottoman Spa. The 86,000-square-foot facility holds 42 treatment rooms, including eight hydrotherapy rooms and two thalassotherapy (seawater) pools. The standouts are the men’s and women’s snow rooms, where guests can partake in the Finnish tradition of a sauna and snow – with real snow, of course.
INSPIRED SPA TREAT-
PLUS // This place is a must-do for any spa-worshipper:
THE BOULDERS, IN ARIZONA (BELOW LEFT), OFFERS
THE BOULDERS / CAREFREE, ARIZONA
The name of the town reflects this luxurious spa’s vibe: think desert living with an emphasis on total Zen at The Boulders. The 33,000-square-foot spa, just outside of Scottsdale, affords views of the region’s 12-million-yearold boulder formations in the Sonoran Desert foothills. The real draw, however, is the list of inventive treatments. Indulge in the turquoise clay body wrap ($210) – the treatment is based on a Native American belief in the color’s positive energy and includes a rainstick ritual – or try a talking tree reading ($155), a shamanic experience designed to offer life insights through ancient symbols.
A RAINSTICK RITUAL
PLUS // Not Zen enough for you yet? Then head to
The Boulders’ Native American tepee, where you can participate in silent meditation. Upon request, the spa’s therapist can perform a sage clearing there to purify your energy ($125). From $109; theboulders.com
AND A TALKING TREE READING.
Amazing Places to Stay
there are soaking tubs, slimming rooms, outdoor cabanas, steam rooms, Russian and Finnish saunas, a couples spa and more. More of an outdoors person? Then head to the 193-foot-long infinity pool overlooking the Arabian Gulf, or the private beach, complete with beach butler service. From $260; jumeirah.com
// AT VIRGINIA'S PROVIDENCE HALL (RIGHT), SOME SPA SERVICES ARE INSPIRED BY TREATMENTS FROM PAST CENTURIES.
History buffs, this one’s for you. Five on-site properties make up the lodgings at Colonial Williamsburg; our pick is Providence Hall, perfect for families. Treatments in the signature services collection are based on historical anecdotes and include a 17th-century detoxifying herbal wrap ($265) and a 19th-century African traditional bath and strengthening massage ($285); both were inspired by healing practices identified through research from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s archives. PLUS // Spa time can be a family affair: there are teen services,
men’s services, a mother-daughter “spa day” experience, and pets are welcome, too. There are two outdoor pools, one indoor pool, access to the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, bike rentals and more. From $95; colonialwilliamsburg.com 14
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TOP: COURTESY OF PROVIDENCE HALL; BOTTOM: PETER MALINOWSKI
PROVIDENCE HALL / WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA
Pack & Play
Versant 60L Pack $259.95, thule.com Roomy enough for three to five days’ worth of gear
Cooking System $125.95, jetboil.com Comes with push-button igniter
RELAXED WEEKEND CAMPOUT Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offers sweeping vistas of fall foliage and makes for an ideal family-friendly camping excursion. michigan.org
Women’s Houdini Jacket $99, patagonia.com Folds up neatly into its own chest pocket
Polystriker Fire Starter $17.95, exotac.com Striking tool snaps into handle
LONELY PLANET / Fall 2016
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:
Primus Cutlery Set $15.95, rei.com Durable stainless steel knife, fork and spoon pack neatly into leather sleeve
Easy Trips QUICK ESCAPES FOR FALL
RAUL ROSA / RAULROSA / 500PX
Nashville, Tennessee Bermuda Canada’s Banff National Park Santa Barbara, California Southwest Virginia New York’s Hudson Valley Denver
Bermuda (shown here), host of the 2017 America’s Cup yacht race, is a haven for water lovers.
When it comes to finding the most off-the-radar destinations or discovering a surprising take on places you already know, there's no better place to turn than Lonely Planet’s worldwide network of travel experts. Here, our authors and editors share their latest tips for the places that deserve to be discovered.
Abigail Blasi, guidebook author
Throughout Europe, Malta’s reputation is as a cheap, sunny destination, beloved of elderly tour groups, but these small, big-hearted islands have so much more to offer. Valletta already counts among Europe’s most beautiful capitals, with stirring views across piercing blue waters to stout battlements. The face of the city is evolving: there’s a new, ultra-modern parliament building, city gate and opera house auditorium. As if on cue, accommodation choices have become more exciting, too: the city’s 17th-century mansions now house some glorious hotels, such as the classically elegant Casa Ellul (from $245; casaellul.com) and the high-design suites of Valletta Vintage (from $115; vallettavintage.com). Valletta has also seen a rush of new restaurants opening: try a dish of pork confit with local snails and pork belly at the Black Pig (main courses from $22; blackpig.com.mt). Meanwhile, Malta’s smaller sibling Gozo – an island of steep cliffs and quiet inlets over the water (left) – is home to some of Europe’s best scuba diving. lonelyplanet.com/malta
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When people consider visiting an Asian city, they might think first of Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore. But for my money, Seoul is one of the hippest places in the world right now. It has an amazing food scene, craft beer is on the rise, and the city’s huge metro system makes it easy to get around. Within striking distance are a number of outdoor delights; excellent winter sports and summer hiking can be had in the mountains that surround the metropolis. For me, a perfect trip to Seoul would include dinner at Vatos Urban Tacos (vatoskorea.com) for Korean-style fusion tacos (I like the Galbi short rib ones) followed by a crawl through the microbreweries and bars of Itaewon, known locally as “Craft Beer Valley.” Seoul also has a surprising contemporary art and design scene. A visit to the Mullae Art Village offers the chance to check out the city’s street art, while the Dongdaemun Design Plaza is an architectural wonder with numerous galleries and workshop spaces showcasing the best of South Korean design. I’d top off my visit by spending a night or two at a local temple stay, where you can rejuvenate with Buddhist monks. The Templestay program’s website (templestay .com) has loads of info, including a list of temples within Seoul that welcome visitors. lonelyplanet.com/south-korea/seoul
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3 VOJVODINA, SERBIA Brana Vladisavljevic, destination editor, Southeastern/Eastern Europe
For me, the multicultural Serbian province of Vojvodina is a perfect slow-travel destination. With its laid-back lifestyle and love of gastronomy, it may entice you to stay longer than planned, and it’s so off the tourist radar that you really feel like one of the locals. What I like about travel here is that it’s such an eclectic experience. Artistic and historical highlights range from the Roman ruins of Sirmium to the art nouveau architecture of Austro-Hungarian Subotica, the naive art of Kovačica village and the avant-garde museum Muzej Macura on the Danube. For outdoor adventure, try horseback riding at the 237-yearold stud farm of Zobnatica or bird-watching in the wetlands of Carska Bara. And to completely tune out, pick a spa and go vineyard- and monastery-hopping in Fruška Gora’s forested hills. The convivial Novi Sad, where the citadel of Petrovaradin hosts the rocking Exit festival, is the perfect big-city base for leisurely day trips, but for a true Vojvodina experience, nothing beats the traditional salaši (farmsteads) and bohemian čarde (riverside taverns) dotted around the region. I love their old-world rural appeal, not to mention feasting on local fish specialties. My pick is Salas 137 (salas137.rs). lonelyplanet.com/serbia/vojvodina
4 STOCK ISLAND/KEY WEST, FLORIDA Rebecca Warren, destination editor, Eastern U.S.
Stock Island is an unexpected but welcome counterpoint to the neon-lit strip of Duval Street on Key West. This is where the locals go when they want the best that the Keys has to offer: fresh seafood, cool entertainment and great access to wildlife and the ocean, without having to deal with the throngs of tourists that can, at times, take over Key West. Whether you stay on the island at one of its “boatels” in Marina Village or opt to set up base just across the bridge on Key West and explore Stock Island by car or bike, your efforts will be rewarded with a taste of what Key West was like 50 years ago. With fantastically fresh seafood enjoyed al fresco at Hogfish Bar and Grill, proper Cuban coffee and food at El Mocho, and an exciting mix of arts (screen-printing and concerts), services (boat and board-sport repairs), and shopping at COAST you can have an authentic Keys experience, completely devoid of retail chains and commercialization. visitflorida.com
5 THE SOUTHERN ISLANDS, CAMBODIA
Laura Crawford, destination editor, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines
With its well-developed resorts and renowned full-moon parties, Thailand has long been the natural choice for island-hopping adventures in Southeast Asia. But to enjoy beach life without the crowds, head across the gulf to Cambodia. The southern coast of Cambodia is the jumping-off point for a suite of getaways – some comfortably equipped with all amenities a visitor might want, others appealingly under-developed. Less than an hour by ferry from port town Sihanoukville is Koh Rong Sanloem, where small-scale bungalow resorts sit between the sands of half-moon Saracen Bay and the jungly interior. Here sea eagles soar and walking trails lead to other beaches (will it be Lazy Beach or Sunset Beach that gets you out of the hammock?). For a vacation featuring even fewer people, consider nearby Koh Sdach Archipelago, where only two islands are inhabited, including tiny Koh Totang, home to just one guesthouse (from $90; nomadslandcambodia .com). When not resting in your eco-friendly lodgings, you can pass the time snorkeling or lizard-spotting. lonelyplanet.com/cambodia
PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERT KOEHLER; OPPOSITE PAGE: © KAROL KOZLOWSKI/ AWL IMAGES LTD
2 SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA Megan Eaves, destination editor, North Asia
LOMBOK, INDONESIA Sarah Reid, guidebook author
Right next door to Bali, just a 45-minute flight away with Garuda, sleepy Lombok offers many of the same highlights as Indonesia’s most famous isle, yet still feels largely undiscovered. Down on the rugged south coast, Kuta Lombok is reminiscent of Bali’s Kuta 20 years ago: this sweet little surf town has a smattering of great new cafés (I love The Corner for brunch) that tempt travelers to stick around for more than just the waves and beaches. If it’s luxury you seek, you’ll find it at the handful of boutique hotels clustered on the island’s lush northwest coast, such as Tugu Lombok (from $261; tuguhotels.com) and The Lombok Lodge (from $498; thelomboklodge.com). Both are perfect places to relax after tackling the ascent of Gunung Rinjani (12,224 feet), Indonesia’s second-tallest volcano (below), to ogle its stunning turquoise crater lake. Just off Lombok’s northwest coast, the three idyllic, palm-fringed Gili Islands offer some of Indonesia’s most accessible diving and snorkeling. Join the party on Gili Trawangan, or head to Gili Air or Gili Meno to soak up the laid-back vibe – while you still can. lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/lombok
PHOTO CREDIT: ABDUL AZIS
el Secre av
el Secre av
8 LOST SIERRA, CALIFORNIA Clifton Wilkinson, destination editor, California and Mexico
It’s hard to imagine that California has any secrets left to discover, but around two hours’ drive north of Lake Tahoe lies Plumas County, offering High Sierra solitude, luxurious accommodations and a range of outdoor activities. Also known as the Lost Sierra, the region isn’t as dramatically beautiful as Tahoe or Yosemite but still has the mighty Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, a host of lakes to splash around in and attractive small towns. Quincy, the county seat, is the most idyllic of these, and was voted one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America” a few years back. Stop at Pangaea Café & Pub for burgers, burritos and sushi (pangaea pub.com). Hiking options are plentiful in the region, and mountain bikers can test their skills on several challenging trails. For a gentler type of outdoor pursuit, try a round of golf at the Nakoma Resort before dining in splendor at its Wigwam restaurant, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (nakomaresort.com). plumascounty.org
NATIONAL PARK, NETHERLANDS
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Sara Van Geloven, editor, Lonely Planet Netherlands
This “Venice of the North” features grand houses, wooden bridges and farms with thatched-roof buildings. The village itself can get rather crowded, but when you take to the water in a rented boat and make your way out of Giethoorn through canals fringed with green, you’ll find peace and quiet among the sprawling lawns. The lesser-known villages of surrounding Weerribben-Wieden National Park are well worth a visit. Like Giethoorn, many have canals instead of roads. Summer is the time to visit; that’s when you’ve got the best chance to soak up some sunshine. You’ll also be able to experience the festive gondola parades that take place in Giethoorn, Dwarsgracht and Belt-Schutsloot villages; among those, Belt-Schutsloot’s is the most magnificent: it not only features festive floats, but also fairytale-like illuminated gardens along the canals. holland.com
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GRAPE EXPECTATIONS In Georgia, where wine has been made for 8,000 years, the grape has sacred significance and the annual harvest is a celebration of the nationâ€™s unique traditions. By Marcel Theroux PhoTograPhs By andrew MonTgoMery
Murtaz Vatsadze (right) and his son Murad maintain a family tradition of winemaking that goes back centuries.
AS TRADE AND TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS EASE, INTEREST IN CUBA CONTINUES TO RISE. HERE, LOS ANGELES-BASED PHOTOGRAPHER LORNE RESNICK SHARES A SNAPSHOT OF THE SPIRIT HE HAS COME TO KNOW DURING 20 YEARS OF PHOTOGRAPHING THE COUNTRY.
“I visited Cuba for the first time in 1995 and completely fell in love with it. I’d planned to stay for two weeks but ended up staying two months; since then, I must have been at least 50 times. Cuba is an amazing country in all aspects, and what really sings to me are the cities, like Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Trinidad; the cars; the colonial buildings, with their gorgeous patina of colors; and, especially, the people. Cubans are very alive, with a sophisticated outlook on life and a capacity for joy that’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been. Everyone is warm and open. Meet one person and you’ll end up meeting the entire neighborhood. In Cuba, you can walk 3 feet and take a thousand pictures, but I’ve tried to dig deeper, revisiting places and people. Over the years, while the country has changed in certain physical ways, the core essence – the Cuban heart and soul – has remained the same. That’s why I’ve kept going back.”
LONELY PLANET / Fall 2016
previous pages: “Havana’s Malecón roadway is probably my favorite place on Earth. In good weather people always sit out there; locals call it The Couch. A lot of life happens on it.” opposite, from top: “Ana and Alberto are great dancers. I shot them on a roof outside Havana, where I take photography groups for a celebration with Afro-Cuban and salsa dancing; I was walking in the sleepy town of Trinidad when I saw this juxtaposition of a car and a girl on horseback. above: “Some of the most beautiful sights in Cuba are the revolutionary signs, which change every year.” below left: “This motorcyclist, pictured at the Malecón, was attending a rally; there’s a strong love of motorcycles in Cuba.” below right: “I met this girl walking in Trinidad. I’d see the same people and get to know them.”
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Great Escape HEART OF SPAIN
A world away from the busy coastlines of Andalucía and Catalonia, central Spain harbors sleepy villages where few tourists venture, crumbling Roman ruins, storied university towns and – at the heart of it all – the boisterous capital, Madrid.
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BY OLIVER SMITH @OLISMITHTRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHS BY MATT MUNRO
Mérida’s National Museum of Roman Art features objects dating to early Roman civilization.
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Explore the diverse Spanish palate by taking a tapas tour of the capital – or simply lose yourself in the city’s streets, where you might happen upon the perfect bar. The question of where in Spain you’ll ﬁnd the tastiest food is a discussion best initiated with caution (and one that might end in waving ﬁsts and looking up rude words in your Spanish dictionary). But the logical answer is Madrid, for it is here you can taste the A to Z of all Spanish cuisine – from Andalucian gazpacho to lamb cooked in a Zaragoza style. And, thanks to the tapas tradition of sharing small plates of food, it is quite feasible to eat your way across the entire country in one evening. “When you go for a night out, you don’t drink beer and wine because you’re thirsty,” says José Aragon Angel Mozos García, welcoming customers into his seafood restaurant, La Mar, beside the city’s opera house. “And it is the same with tapas in Madrid: people don’t eat because they are hungry; they eat just because it is fun,” he says. “You start at your local and you keep going through the night.” Outside García’s restaurant, the evening tapas crawl is slowly gathering momentum, while inside, the kitchen shuttles off steaming plates containing things that only a few hours ago were swimming off Spain’s Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts: rich and creamy Valencian seafood paella, and prawns from Cadiz now drowned in garlic to make the classic dish gambas al ajillo, beloved of Madrileños. “Food in Spain isn’t about formal dining, white linen and good manners,” continues García, scooping up prawns
LONELY PLANET / Fall 2016
ESSENTIALS STAY // Catalonia Gran Vía has rooms with bare wood ﬂoors, vast beds and tall windows overlooking the busy street of the same name. Be sure to admire the views from the rooftop swimming pool (from $145; hoteles-catalonia.com). EAT // Adventurous Appetites offers an introduction to tapas gastronomy in Madrid, with an added dose of local history. Nightly English-language tours take roughly four hours ($50 per person; adven turousappetites.com). Restaurant La Mar can feature as part of the tour (tapas from $5.75; lalonjadelmar.com).
with a chunk of bread in his handsome, Moorish-tiled dining room. “It is food you eat with you hands – food designed for socializing.” Madrid is a capital that is decidedly short on formalities. Unlike London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, it has few iconic landmarks – no famous triumphal arch, no truly colossal cathedral. It is a city whose spirit comes more from its atmosphere than its bricks. And at no time is Madrid more spirited than the depths of night, when tapas expeditions are in full swing – at an hour when London and Paris are tucked in bed, when even Rome has paid its bill and is ready to go home. Navigating between eateries, you might cross lamplit squares where crowds spill out from the tabernas (taverns) and lean on the pedestals of statues; or stroll beside the locked gates of parks like the Retiro, the scent of pine wafting over the railings; or potter beside the facades of vast galleries, where, inside, the gaunt faces of El Greco portraits watch over empty rooms that hours ago were busy with crowds. Some tapas places are pit stops, like Casa Labra, the founding spot of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), in whose boisterous wood-paneled interiors cod croquetas sell for the democratic price of 1 euro 25 cents to standing customers. Other restaurants invite you to linger longer – La Bola, for example, home of cocido madrileño, a “Madrid stew” of sausage, ham hock, beef, chicken and potatoes, cooked in ceramic pots following an Asturian recipe unchanged since the 1870s (and served in interiors that likewise have barely changed since then). And then there’s the joy of making your own miraculous Madrid tapas discovery: ﬁnding a bar squirreled away on a backstreet off a backstreet, a place that serves the greatest tortilla española tasted by mortals, and which, no matter how much Google Maps detective work is done, cannot be found the following night – or ever again.
Clockwise from far left: A tapas tour is the easiest way to explore Madridâ€™s culinary culture. // a seafood platter at El Cucurucho del Mar // paella at La Mar restaurant // outside the Royal Palace
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Clockwise from top left: Sinagoga de Santa MarĂa La Blanca, one of Europeâ€™s oldest synagogues, is open to the public as a museum. // Toledo swords are world-famous. // swordsmith Mariano Zamorano in his workshop
LONELY PLANET / Fall 2016
Drive one hour south from Madrid along the A-42 to the ancient city of Toledo.
Discover mosques, churches and synagogues among the ramparts as you retrace the steps of sword-wielding medieval knights. As you approach Toledo by road, the city reveals itself bit by bit out of the heat haze. First and foremost comes the spire of the town’s 13th-century cathedral, soaring triumphant and unchallenged in a cloudless sky. Then there are the turrets of the fortresses and the towers of lesser churches, jostling for prominence down below. As you draw closer, the rest of the city barges into view: an exquisite muddle of pastel-colored villas, colorful ﬂower boxes and higgledy-piggledy rooftops, cascading down a hillside by a long, languorous bend in the Río Tajo. Madrid is the Spanish capital, but Toledo – its far older little neighbor to the south – better embodies the history of the nation in miniature. A sixth-century Visigothic capital, it was the ﬁrst major city to be reclaimed under the Reconquista and has ever since been a powerful seat of the Catholic Church. Toledo’s golden age, however, came in the Middle Ages when it was known as the “city of three cultures” – a time when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together in peace and harmony, making their hometown renowned for academia and philosophy. Wandering around Toledo today, it’s curious to think that a citizen might in one morning have heard the clanging of church bells, the muttered prayers of a rabbi and a muezzin’s call echoing down from the minarets. And, among the cacophony, they would have surely heard the clanking of blacksmiths making Toledo’s most famous export: swords.
ESSENTIALS STAY // Perched on a hillside southeast of the city, the Parador de Toledo has spacious rooms with timber surfaces and small balconies. There is a grand swimming pool and the restaurant terrace has one of the ﬁnest views in Toledo (from $173; parador.es). DO // If he’s not too busy, Mariano Zamorano welcomes visitors to his workshop (medievalstyle swords from $112; marianozamorano .com). The Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz (admission $3) and the Sinagoga de Santa Mar’a La Blanca (admission $2.75) are both open to the public.
“Toledo swords are the best in the world,” enthuses Mariano Zamorano, in his workshop. “Customers might have chosen one particular sword for stabbing people, and another sword for breaking bones.” Throughout the Middle Ages, knights cantered across Europe to shop for Toledo swords, famed for the strength of their steel. For 150 years, the Zamorano family has kept this tradition alive as the last local dynasty of swordsmiths, and Zamorano still makes swords for every occasion. Shuffling around his sooty workshop, among anvils and cookie tins full of bolts, he points out blades used in theatrical productions, ceremonial swords and replica swords of the kind the conquistadors used to threaten Incas and take the Americas. They are still manufactured following the medieval Toledo process: ﬁred in a forge and bashed into shape manually, work which Mariano insists isn’t dangerous, despite the fact that he’s missing a few ﬁngers on one hand as a result of an unfortunate episode in his workshop. “All children like to play at being knights,” he says, picking up a Moorish blade and waving it about. “However, my father never let me play with real swords when I was little.” If ever there was a city in which to play at being knights, it’s Toledo. Outside Zamorano’s workshop, in the center of a historic area, cobbled alleyways ramble beneath mighty ramparts and fortiﬁed gates. Charging past, it would be easy to miss the humble Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz, with its silent, shadowy prayer hall – the last surviving Moorish mosque of 10 once dotted across the city. Not so far away is the Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca, a whitewashed synagogue with swooping horseshoe arches beyond a leafy courtyard. The city’s time as a bastion of tolerance ended in the centuries following the Reconquista, when anyone who wasn’t Catholic was forced to convert or ushered out of Spain – probably at the sharp end of a Toledo sword. Fall 2016
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From Toledo, take a 40 minutedrive south on the CM-42 to reach the little town of Consuegra.
Castile-La Mancha and
Consuegra Head into big-sky country to follow the tracks of the original Spanish adventurer.
Of all the heroes of the Spanish-speaking world, from soccer stars to bullﬁghters, painters to kings, one man in particular stands out. His face grins from bank notes. His silhouette appears on postcards. His story has been told in ballet, opera, ﬁlm, a Broadway musical, a Picasso painting and even a Coldplay song. And, rather uniquely among national heroes, he is revered for being useless. This man is the great writer Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th-century comic creation Don Quixote, and his homeland is Castile-La Mancha, a historic region of central Spain. It is a landscape in widescreen mode: big skies and arrow-straight roads, a patchwork of scrubby ﬁelds extending to the horizon. Every so often, crumbling castles appear, indistinct on hazy, distant hilltops. It is a place where temperatures are high, mirages are many, and inhabitants are few. “La Mancha has a long history of locals who are considered a little bit crazy,” says Santiago Moraleda, a man who, dressed in a long black cloak in the midday heat and with a large tawny owl pecking at his ear, would seem to affirm his own theory. “But we are also people who are known for being very courageous.” Moraleda isn’t as peculiar as he might ﬁrst appear, for he is taking part in the annual medieval festival in the market town of Consuegra. For much of the year it is a sleepy place, where old couples perch on windowsills watching 84
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ESSENTIALS STAY // Hotel Viñasoro has rooms overlooking vineyards near the town of Alcázar de San Juan, a 30-minute drive from Consuegra. There’s also an on-site winery and a vast cellar stocking local vintages (from $86; bodegasvinasoro.com). DO // Anyone can visit Bolero windmill, the ﬁrst you come to on the road from Consuegra’s town center to the castle (free; consuegra.es). Consuegra’s Medieval Festival takes place annually in August (consuegra medieval.com). For details on Moraleda’s birding trips, visit birding lamancha.com.
farmyard traffic rumble past. Every August, however, its citizens engage in a weekend-long binge of mead glugging and pork roasting in the main square, plus some energetic battle reenacting in a medieval castle, which rises regally over the town. Vans full of archers shuttle about the streets, Moorish encampments are pegged beside the soccer ﬁeld, and processions of monks walk solemnly beneath the tourist information office. Though his day job is serving as a guide for birding trips, Moraleda has dressed up as a knight for the occasion and has brought his own collection of birds of prey to the party. Consuegra’s most famous chivalric hero was, of course, Don Quixote, for it was here, some say, that he charged on horseback, lance in hand, at his most fearsome enemy. Moraleda happens to be standing in the shade beneath this particular foe, which was in fact not a many-armed monster at all, but a windmill. It is one of a great many whitewashed towers that still stand sentinel on rocky bluffs overlooking the plains of La Mancha – some preserved as museums, but most abandoned, their sails and cogs jammed solid and their roof spaces home only to nesting birds. They were spinning long before Cervantes published his novel in the early 1600s, and have forever been an icon of the region. Fighting a windmill, and losing, is a deﬁning moment in European literature and encapsulates the story of Don Quixote: a daydreamer who chose to live in a make-believe world of heroic adventures rather than humdrum real life. To some readers, the hero is a blundering lunatic; to others, it is he who is sane, and the rest of the world that is crazy. Moraleda has decided to name his various birds of prey – eagles, owls and kestrels – after characters in the novel. And, just like the Don, he and the other inhabitants of Consuegra have decided for one weekend only to play at being lords, ladies, archers and knights, to brieﬂy inhabit their own world of make-believe. When the festival draws to an end, siege ramps are packed away, arrows are pulled from targets, and Moraleda gathers together his feathered friends to head home. “The most important ingredient in the story is craziness,” he says. “For only with a little craziness can you truly live a life of dreams.”
Postcards WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHAT YOU’VE SEEN INDURUWA, SRI LANKA Tall Order
I was walking along the beach one morning when I saw this man climbing the palm trees like a monkey. He raced up with such skill and speed that I couldn’t believe my eyes. I started snapping away, determined to get a good shot of him. A friend of his was on the ground directing him, and I had a chat to ﬁnd out what they were up to. The man climbing the tree was a “toddy man,” a nickname given to someone who harvests the sap of palm trees to make a potent alcoholic drink. They handed me a coconut and insisted that I sample it. I was touched by their friendliness and in awe of their bravery, as it was clear that this was a very dangerous job. Andrew Lever spent two weeks in Sri Lanka.
Mini Guides 6 TEAR-OUT
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